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Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

TN MOVING STORIES: NJ Gov Christie Says Maybe to Port Authority Toll Hikes, and 10 Indian Cities Could Get Bike Share

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Top Transportation Nation Stories:

Anatomy of a Toll Hike Proposal (link)

Drivers are Ruder Than Cyclists, but Taxi Drivers Are Rudest of Them All (link)

Wanted: Someone Brave (Foolhardy?) Enough To Lead the MTA (link)

Both Parties Grapple With Furloughed FAA Workers' Back Pay (link)

Today's Headlines:

Chicago's El (photo by Phigits via Flickr)

 

Chicago's transit authority won't raise fares this year, but will make no promises for 2012 --  especially because the state owes the authority over $102 million. (Chicago Tribune)

The Dutch may charge drivers a tax for each mile they drive, and the government is piloting a meter that tells car owners the cost to society in the form of pollution, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and wear and tear on roads. (New York Times)

Former PA Gov. Rendell op-ed: to save our economy, we must invest in transportation. (Wall Street Journal)

NJ Governor Christie says he won't rule out toll hikes on Port Authority bridges; he'll wait to hear from the public and talk to Governor Cuomo. (The Star-Ledger)

Author Margaret Atwood gets involved in Toronto's bike lane removal controversy. "Are people like me welcome in this city?" (The Guardian)

A NYC council member says that East Harlem will get protected bike lanes in a year or so; the DOT is more vague. (DNA Info)

The FBI is investigating Portland's parking manager after allegations that he took kickbacks related to a parking meter contract. Said manager is now "on leave." (Portland Business Journal)

A plan for bike share in ten Indian cities gets a thumbs-up in an op-ed in The Hindu -- but a reminder that cities need to plan to be bicycle-inclusive.

A sociologists discusses urban bike messengers on today's Brian Lehrer Show.

Thinking about a career change? The intelligent transportation system industry -- the information and communication technologies that reduce traffic congestion and improve safety -- could expand U.S. employment by as many as 6,400 jobs annually through 2015. (Bloomberg)

 

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: Atlanta Transpo Future in Doubt, Rain Falls Inside NYC Subway Station, and Oil Prices Down

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Holland Tunnel (photo by Howard Walfish via Flickr)

TN's Andrea Bernstein talks Port Authority fare and toll hikes on today's Brian Lehrer Show. (You can read Andrea's article, "Anatomy of a Toll Hike Proposal," here.)

A New York Times editorial calls Cuomo and Christie's 'surprise' at the Port Authority's proposal "gubernatorial theatrics."

Just days away from a state-mandated deadline to finish a list of transportation projects for voters next year, Atlanta officials have put off key decisions on road projects while counties lobbied to keep their favorite projects alive. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Oil prices are down almost 20 percent this month -- which means gas prices will be going down as well. (Marketplace)

A computer glitch shut down BART trains for two hours Monday night -- but no one understands why it happened, and it could point to deeper, system-wide flaws. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Good magazine wants to know your best bike story -- and the winner can direct some money to their favorite biking charity.

The aftermath of a derailment is still rippling through the NJ Transit system. Bottom line: delays, delays, delays. (AP via NJ.comLIRR has normal service right now.

And what hath Tuesday's rain wrought upon the NYC subway system? Video below.

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Both Parties Grapple With Furloughed FAA Workers' Back Pay

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Two weeks of back pay for some  4,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees remains in limbo, though everyone seems to agree the FAA employees, sidelined because of a funding dispute, should be paid.

Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) unveiled legislation (pdf) Tuesday that would pay the missing salaries and benefits of the furloughed employees. “For the past two weeks it was important to get these workers back on the job.  Now my focus is to get them back pay and to ensure this avoidable situation never happens again," said Congressman LoBiondo in a statement. ("Never" could be as early as September, when Congress must vote again to authorize the agency.)

For their part, Senate Democrats had introduced a bill two weeks ago to ensure the employees would receive back pay, when Senator Jay Rockefeller had included it as part of his plan to reauthorize the FAA's funding.

Both parties' versions would use money from the Airport and Airways Trust Fund to provide the employees' back pay. The trust fund is the mechanism which collects airline taxes -- $30 million a day worth of them -- and provides the FAA with the lion's share of its budget. Jason Galanes, a spokesman for Congressman LoBiondo, said the fund has "plenty of money in it" and can afford a payout. Galanes also said that the FAA and DOT are still determining whether the agency has the authority to provide back pay. "This (legislation) is in case they don’t. If they do, then this legislation is moot and it will be at the secretary’s discretion," said Galanes.

In a blog post last week, US Department of Transportation head Ray LaHood wrote "we will...do everything we can to get Congress to provide our furloughed employees with the back pay they deserve." A DOT spokesperson said today that they were waiting to see what action Congress was going to take.

The House and Senate are in what's called a pro forma session -- meaning members can gavel in and gavel out and pass legislation by unanimous consent. Spokespeople for both parties said that providing furloughed employees with back pay has bipartisan support, but there's no firm schedule on when that will happen.

Meanwhile, the AP reports that all major U.S. airlines have rolled back fares to about the same prices they were charging before federal ticket taxes expired two weeks ago. Airlines had raised fares to match the amount of the expired taxes; now they're collecting taxes again, they've dropped their fares.

For TN's complete coverage of the FAA shutdown, go here.

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White House: Fuel Economy Standards for Trucks Will Save $50 Billion, Reduce Oil Consumption by 530 Million Barrels

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

(photo by Brian Rosen via Flickr)

Trucks of every stripe -- semis, garbage trucks, delivery vehicles, even fire trucks -- will have to meet pollution standards and trim fuel consumption for the first time, under standards announced today that will begin to be phased in by 2014.  You can read the White House's announcement below.

White House Announces First Ever Oil Savings Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks, Buses

Saving $50 billion in fuel costs and over 500 million barrels of oil

WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama will meet with industry officials to discuss the first of their kind fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles and to thank them for their leadership in finalizing a successful national program for these vehicles.  This meeting marks the Administration’s announcement of the standards, which will save American businesses who operate and own these commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards in close coordination with the companies that met with the President today as well as other stakeholders, following requests from companies to develop this program.  The cost savings for American businesses are on top of the $1.7 trillion that American families will save at the pump from the historic fuel-efficiency standards announced by the Obama Administrations for cars and light duty trucks, including the model year 2017-2025 agreement announced by the President last month.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” said President Obama.  “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks.  They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks.  And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks.”

“Thanks to the Obama Administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school,” said Secretary LaHood.   “These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector, and promote energy independence for America.”

“This Administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe and cutting carbon pollution – and programs like these ensure that we can serve those priorities while also reducing our dependence on imported oil and saving money for drivers,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “More efficient trucks on our highways and less pollution from the buses in our neighborhoods will allow us to breathe cleaner air and use less oil, providing a wide range of benefits to our health, our environment and our economy.”

Under the comprehensive new national program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. Like the Administration’s historic car standards, this program – which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies – was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets which are specific to the diverse vehicle types and purposes.  Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks).  Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.

The standards are expected to yield an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles, and to result in significant long-terms savings for vehicle owners and operators.  A semi-truck operator could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck’s useful life.  These cost saving standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants like particulate matter, which can lead to asthma, heart attacks and premature death.

By the 2018 model year, the program is expected to achieve significant savings relative to current levels, across vehicle types.  Certain combination tractors – commonly known as big-rigs or semi-trucks – will be required to achieve up to approximately 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving up to 4 gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards are required for gasoline-powered and diesel trucks. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to approximately 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018. Under the finalized standards a typical gasoline or diesel powered heavy-duty pickup truck or van could save one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Vocational vehicles – including delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks – will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions  by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018.  These trucks could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Beyond the direct benefits to businesses that own and operate these vehicles, the program will also benefit consumers and businesses by reducing costs for transporting goods, and spur growth in the clean energy sector by fostering innovative technologies and providing regulatory certainty for manufacturers.

White House Announces First Ever Oil Savings Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks, Buses

More information is available on EPA’s web site at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm and on NHTSA’s web site at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy.

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TN MOVING STORIES: First Fuel Efficiency Standards for Trucks, Lobbyists Spent $50 Million On FAA Bill, and Stock Market Drop Could Impact UAW Talks

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The first-ever fuel efficiency standards for trucks will be announced today (Marketplace).  You can read about the new CAFE standards for cars here.

Stock market declines could make it harder for the UAW -- currently in contract talks with GM, Ford and Chrysler -- to win concessions from automakers. (Detroit Free Press)

More than $50 million has been spent so far this year on lobbying for a long-term funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration, a new report says (The Hill). FAA shutdown fact: last month's budget impasse was caused in part by a disagreement over $16 million in rural air subsidies.

As thousands of federal employees move to a new Defense Department complex in Alexandria (VA), a task force will manage traffic, notify commuters of coming construction projects and coordinate transit options. (Washington Post)

A new anti-distracted driving app disables texting when it determines a user is in a moving vehicle. (NY Times)

Slate profiles NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan -- and she writes about her vision for New York's future. "If you're in a car, we're deploying the latest traffic-management technology to keep you moving. If you're walking, you can take advantage of a comprehensive information system geared specifically to navigating New York on foot. If you're making a trip that is just too far to walk but not worth a cab or subway ride, you will soon be able to hop on one of our smart public bikes."

The bicycle is a tool of liberation for women in Zimbabwe. "I was no longer a hostage to religion, tradition or men. I was free. On my bicycle I felt like I was in a room of my own." (The Guardian)

Maryland has its first solar tracking electric vehicle charging station. (WAMU)

When it comes to making the subway system wheelchair accessible, NYC has a long way to go. (DNA Info)

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TN MOVING STORIES: New Rail Lines For Salt Lake City, Staten Islanders Want Bayonne Bridge Rebuild to Have Rail Link to NJ, and Is There a Truck Driver Shortage

Sunday, August 07, 2011

TRAX light rail in Salt Lake City (photo by Steven Vance via Flickr)

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is seeking steep toll and fare increases -- making PATH trains more expensive than the NYC subway, and substantially increasing the cost of Hudson River crossings. (WNYC)

Staten Islanders are pushing for a rail link to NJ as part of the Bayonne Bridge rebuild; Port Authority officials remain noncommittal. (Star-Ledger)

New Jersey's Morris County is studying whether or not it can re-establish commuter rail service along a freight line. "Traffic on Route 23 is absolutely horrendous and getting worse," said one official. "Rail service along this line could help alleviate the congestion."(Star-Ledger)

Will there finally be regional transit cooperation in Detroit? Area officials are looking at extending that city's planned light rail line out to the suburbs. (Detroit Free Press)

Two new light rail lines opened in Salt Lake City -- ahead of schedule and under budget -- but the Utah Transit Authority says it must simultaneously cut bus service by 10% (Salt Lake Tribune). Utah newspapers weigh in: The Deseret News writes that the opening of the TRAX lines represents a transit success story; The Salt Lake Tribune says the lines don't do enough for people living within Salt Lake City proper -- and don't help mitigate sprawl.

Residents in a historically black community of Virginia's Fairfax County are fighting a proposal to widen one of the major roads in their neighborhood. (WAMU)

There are fewer qualified truckers on the road -- and now shipping loads are increasing, there could be a driver shortage. (Marketplace)

The former head of the Democratic National Committee is working on a deal to produce electric and hybrid cars in China. (Washington Post)

Taking one of Heathrow Airport's pod cars out for a spin -- or, rather, it takes you. (New York Times)

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: FAA Standoff Over -- At Least For Now, Battle Over LAPD Ticket Quotas, and MA Green Line Extension Delayed

Friday, August 05, 2011

Don't hold your breath for the extension of Boston's Green Line out to Somerville (photo by Robert Goodwin via Flickr)

The FAA standoff has ended--at least for now. To read TN's coverage, go here.

US Department of Transportation head Ray LaHood is "thrilled" and "very, very happy" the shutdown is over. (video from CNN)

Of the 100 most-delayed flights in the US, 40 take off from or land at Newark Airport. (Wall Street Journal)

Massachusetts' planned extension of the Green Line out to Somerville will be delayed by at least four years; hundreds of angry residents signed a petition in protest. (Boston Globe)

Some LAPD officers are suing the city over what they say are traffic-ticket quotas -- which are illegal under California law. (Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, hundreds of unmarked NYPD cars are without proper registration because of a battle with the city’s Finance Department over $1 million in unpaid tickets owed by cops. (DNA Info)

DC's Metro will be paying more than $100 million in back wages and pensions to unionized employees. (WAMU)

What can NY's MTA learn from Hong Kong's transit system? Tune in to the discussion on today's Brian Lehrer Show. (WNYC)

The DOT awarded California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri $336.2 million to buy trains for passenger rail corridors in routes shared with freight railroads. (Journal of Commerce)

What does it mean to be a "bicycling ambassador?" (The Guardian)

High-speed rail goes pop: the new album by Fountains of Wayne features the song "Acela." Sample lyric: There's a train on a track / Painted silver, blue and black /Heading to Massachusetts /And then it's coming back. Hat tip to Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors for the heads-up!

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TN MOVING STORIES: US Airlines Probably Won't Roll Back FAA-Related Fare Hike, and Korean Automakers on the Rise

Thursday, August 04, 2011

(photo by Jess Gibson via Flickr)

U.S. airlines probably won't roll back their FAA standoff-related fare increases because the industry could net more than $1 billion in unexpected revenue. (Reuters)

An FAA employee talks about the furlough. (The Takeaway)

A New York Times editorial blames the Republicans for FAA standoff.

Want more info on the FAA? Politico has a primer on the shutdown, and Transportation Nation answers 8 questions about it.

The mayor of Los Angeles is kicking off his one-year term as MTA chair by pushing bus-only lanes. (Los Angeles Times)

General Motors made $2.5 billion in the second quarter, beating estimates. (Detroit Free Press)

Through the first seven months of 2011, Hyundai and Kia have sold more vehicles to Americans than all European automakers combined, and are growing faster than any other automaker. (Jalopnik)

One New York politician wants to raise the fine for fare beating. (New York Daily News)

Ray LaHood writes about tribal transit grants on his blog.

Pedestrians and cyclists try to figure out how to share the 72nd Street entrance to Riverside Park. (DNA Info)

A bike sharing program is coming to Oklahoma City. (NewsOK)

 

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Subpoenas Withdrawn in Brooklyn Bike Lane Case

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

All subpoenas in the lawsuit against Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West bike lane have been withdrawn and the lawsuit is now awaiting judicial action. No new court dates have been set.

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Thirty Years Ago Today, Historic Air Traffic Controllers Strike Began

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

1981 picketing in front of FAA headquarters, Washington, DC (photo courtesy of FAA)

From the Department of Weird Coincidences desk:  today -- August 3rd -- is the 30th anniversary of the air traffic controllers strike.

Now, you know from reading this Transportation Nation post that air traffic controllers are on the job right now, despite the FAA shutdown. So they are not directly affected by current events -- but no doubt this date is on their minds.

From a document (pdf) on the FAA's website:

August 3, 1981: Nearly 12,300 members of the 15,000-member Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike, beginning at 7 a.m., EST, grounding approximately 35 percent of the nation's 14,200 daily commercial flights. Shortly before 11 a.m. on August 3, President Ronald Reagan issued the strikers a firm ultimatum: return to work within 48 hours or face permanent dismissal. The government moved swiftly on three fronts -- civil, criminal, and administrative -- to bring the full force of the law to bear on the strikers.

According to a 2006  NPR story, the 1981 strike "redefine(d) labor relations in America."

Labor is one of the sticking points in the current battle over a long-term, full FAA authorization bill. TN's Todd Zwillich wrote last week that while a dispute over funding rural air service is the ostensible reason for the breakdown in authorization:  "it has little to do with the actual shutdown. That’s a full-blown fight over union organizing rules in the aviation and rail industries."

Zwillich continues: "A long-term, full FAA authorization bill is stalled in House-Senate negotiations over a partisan disagreement about federal rules governing how workers can vote to unionize. Last year the National Mediation Board altered rules so that only a majority of workers voting would be needed to unionize a shop. Previously unions had to muster a majority of all workers." That makes it easier to unionize. Republicans want to overturn the ruling. Democrats don't.

There's a big difference between furloughed employees and strike actions. But the similarities? Someone's off the job, and someone's not getting paid at the FAA.

 

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Study: Red Light Cameras Reduce Crashes

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

(Photo by Fringehog/Flickr)

New research says red light cameras in Texas have dramatically reduced crashes in that state.

The findings: crashes in which drivers run red lights dropped by 25 percent, and the most severe type of crash -- crashes in which one car hits the side of another -- dropped by 32 percent. TTI says reductions were seen across the board on all types of roadways.

But red light cameras are not always popular, and opponents of the cameras say they're revenue generators, not safety devices. Voters in Houston narrowly rejected red in last November's election, but a federal judge invalidated the ballot measure and the cameras were turned back on.

The new study, commissioned by the Texas State Department of Transportation and conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute, looked at 275 intersections statewide where the cameras were in place, and compared crash frequencies before and after installation of the cameras.

One type of collision actually rose: rear end collisions. The report attributes that to tailgating.

“These findings show clearly that red light cameras offer significant safety benefits,” says Troy Walden, the author of the TTI study. “Most important, they help prevent the most severe and deadly type of intersection crashes.”

You can download a copy of the report here (pdf),


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Brooklyn Bike Lane Case: All Subpoenas Withdrawn

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Prospect Park West bike lane in Brooklyn (photo by Kate Hinds)

All subpoenas in the lawsuit against Brooklyn's Prospect Park West bike lane have been withdrawn, and the lawsuit is now awaiting judicial action.   No new court dates have been set.

Justice Bert Bunyan could issue a ruling on discovery -- or on the Article 78 merits of the case -- at any time.

That was the outcome of a court hearing in Brooklyn State Supreme Court Wednesday, which focused on the subpoenas Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes/Seniors for Safety attorney Jim Walden had issued to officials including NYC Department of Transportation head Janette Sadik-Khan and New York City Council member Brad Lander.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim the city manipulated data and didn't seek adequate community input before install the 2-way protected bike lane along a 1.1-mile stretch of roadway along Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

But the city notes  the local community board requested the lane, repeatedly approved it, and says the bike lane is  a proven success.  The city says automobile speeding has dwindled dramatically,  and that bike riding on the sidewalk has diminished to almost nothing.

Last week the city requested a temporary restraining to block subpoenas to "non-parties" in the case -- including Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman and Transportation Alternatives chief Paul Steely White. Walden withdrew those subpoenas last week.

After today's hearing, Walden withdrew all the other ones, and agreed not to issue any further subpoenas without judicial approval.

Karen Selvin, assistant corporation counsel with the NYC Law Department, said in an emailed statement: "We are pleased with today's developments, which will go a long way toward ending the harassing theater that has surrounded this case. We look forward to the judge's decision and are confident that we will prevail on this important New York City project."

For his part, Jim Walden said that he agreed to go back to the judge before issuing any subpoenas as a show of good faith. "Obviously, we're always going to accommodate a request from the court." But Walden said he believed that the judge will ultimately grant discovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: FAA Shutdown Could Cost U.S. $1 Billion, Canadian Crude Big Business in the Midwest, And NY's High Line Spurs Imitators

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

TN's Todd Zwillich was on PBS's NewsHour to talk about the politics of the FAA shutdown, why it might continue through September, and how the agency stands to lose $1 billion in uncollected taxes.

More on the FAA from the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Takeaway talks about what the FAA shutdown means for travelers. The Hill writes about Ray LaHood's efforts to end the shutdown.

Most intercity buses departing from DC will soon do so from Union Station. (WAMU)

Cities around the country want to emulate the success of New York's High Line and turn abandoned railway tracks into parks. (New York Times)

48 San Francisco bus drivers are still without commercial driver’s licenses — but Muni says it is just weeks away from a plan to fire them. (San Francisco Examiner)

Oil from the Canadian oil sands has become big business in the Midwest. (Marketplace)

Moscow tries to tackle its traffic problem with parking meters -- something the city previously lacked. (Moscow Times)

A #6 train derailed near Manhattan's 125th street. (DNA Info)

The mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, has a unique method of removing obstacles from bike lanes:

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TN MOVING STORIES: Ford Recalls 1 Million Pickup Trucks, and 40% of DC Metro Escalators Are Probably Not Working Right Now

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

RIPTA bus (photo by Trisha Crabb via Flickr)

Ford is recalling over one million older pickup trucks because their fuel tanks can fall off and catch fire. (Financial Times)

Rhode Island's bus system (RIPTA) faces serious cuts. (AP via NPR)

Only 60 percent of the Metro's 600 escalators in Washington, D.C. are functioning at any one time. (Marketplace)

Four years after a fatal bridge collapse in Minnesota, half of that state's bridges rated deficient have been repaired. (MPR)

Teenage nightmare: General Motors is testing a service that allows people to track their vehicle’s location while a family member is on the road. (Detroit Free Press)

Lightning knocked out Long Island Rail Road's signal system. (WNYC)

A Dutch journalist is being sued by that country's public transit system after he reported about flaws in a new transit chip card. (CNET)

The MTA opened a new entrance to New York's Fulton Street subway station. (DNA Info)

New Hampshire has completed 46 miles of a planned 60-mile Northern Rail Trail -- a former rail line now converted into a recreational trail. (Washington Post)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Audit Faults NY MTA, Holland's Peaceful Coexistence with Bikes, and Few Rules Govern Technology and Car Makers

Monday, August 01, 2011

photo by Ed Yourdon/flickr

A joint audit released by the New York State and City comptrollers says the MTA confuses riders -- and wastes millions of dollars -- on construction-related subway diversions. (WNYC)

Did NY MTA chief Jay Walder quit because of a lack of interest on Governor Cuomo's part? (New York Times)

And who will replace Walder? Transit insiders suggest candidates. (Crain's NY)

The Detroit Free Press has a two-part series about the lack of rules governing what technology automakers can put in cars. Example: "In a 2011-model car during a recent Tigers game, the display screen gave a number and encouraged drivers to "Text the Ticket" to join in a chat about the game." Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Russell Shorto's writes about Holland's peaceful coexistence with bicycles. (New York Times)

Irish cabinet ministers gave themselves special permission to drive in bus lanes. (Irish Independent)

Gothamist puts a positive spin on aging C train cars: "The MTA has just announced that every day for the next six years on that line will be Nostalgia Train Day."

British doctors say forcing people to wear bike helmets means they might give up cycling altogether and lose the health benefits of regular exercise. (Telegraph)

Chicago may have new bike lanes, but the city still has clueless motorists. (Chicago Tribune)

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Fuel Efficiency Standards To Double by 2025

Friday, July 29, 2011

President Obama, Ray LaHood, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (photo courtesy of DOT)

Speaking today in Washington -- half an hour after he urged politicians to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling -- President Barack Obama unveiled an agreement that would double fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The president said these new standards "represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The current fuel economy standards for cars with a 2010 model year are 27.5 m.p.g.

These new corporate average fuel economy standards -- or CAFE standards -- were developed by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. The 54.5 m.p.g. mark applies to the average of the entire fleet of cars and light trucks model years 2017- 2025. Some models could fail to meet 54.5 m.p.g, but then others would have to surpass it to compensate.

Under the plan, the standards for passenger cars will increase by an average of five percent each year, while pick-ups and other light-duty trucks would increase an average of 3.5 percent annually for the first five years. After 2021, both would face a 5 percent annual increase, when cars and light trucks will be required to get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

"Think about what this means," the president said. "It means that filling up your car every two weeks instead of filling it up every week. It will save a typical family more than $8,000 in fuel costs over time."

The President was joined by representatives from GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Volvo, Mitsubishi and Jaguar -- which together account for over 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States -- as well as the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the State of California. Mazda, which was reported to be a last-minute holdout, was also on hand.

Who wasn't present? Mercedes parent company Daimler AG, as well as Volkswagen -- two companies which have invested heavily in diesel engines. (The program incentivizes the development of new technology, and administration officials said diesel is already in broad use.)

The president took the opportunity to needle lawmakers about the debt ceiling impasse. "This agreement ought to serve as a valuable lesson for leaders in Washington," he said. "This agreement was arrived at without legislation. You are all demonstrating what can happen when people put aside differences -- these folks are competitors, you've got labor and business, but they decided, we’re going to work together to achieve something important and lasting for the country."

You can read the president's full remarks here and the DOT press release here.

The new standards, however, aren't loophole-free. The administration promised a midterm review of the new standards, which some environmentalists worry will be used by automakers as wiggle room.

Automakers must pay a penalty for failing to meet CAFE standards. According to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration's website: "The penalty for failing to meet CAFE standards recently increased from $5.00 to $5.50 per tenth of a mile per gallon for each tenth under the target value times the total volume of those vehicles manufactured for a given model year. Since 1983, manufacturers have paid more than $500 million in civil penalties. Most European manufacturers regularly pay CAFE civil penalties ranging from less than $1 million to more than $20 million annually. Asian and domestic manufacturers have never paid a civil penalty." Details about CAFE fines can be found here (pdf).

A White House graphic of the new fuel economy standards (image courtesy of the White House)

The White House also released a report (PDF) about the new fuel economy standards.

The president has some other changes he'd like to see car manufacturers adopt. "It’s only a matter of time until Malia gets her learner’s permit," he said. "So I’m hoping to see one of those models that gets a top speed of 15 miles an hour (and) the ejector seat anytime boys are in the car."

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TN MOVING STORIES: Boston Bike Share Rolls Out, California Fast Train Projections in Doubt, and What NYC Can Learn from Hong Kong

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hubway bikes at Boston's North Station stop (photo by Paul W. via Flickr)

Boston's bike share rolled out yesterday. Mayor Tom Menino: “The car is no longer king in Boston." (WBUR)

The president announces new CAFE standards today -- we'll have more after the announcement.

New York Daily News op-ed: "What Jay Walder's new city, Hong Kong, can teach us about transit: Make money, don't just spend it"

A new report casts doubt upon rider and revenue projections for California's high-speed rail system. (Los Angeles Times)

Police in a Manhattan precinct have embarked upon a "don't text and walk" campaign. (DNA Info)

California reported that traffic death-related fatalities have dropped for a fifth consecutive year. (FastLane/DOT)

Last weekend's bullet train crash in China has spurred a "microblogging revolution." (New York Times)

Pay-by-phone parking now available at all DC parking meters. (WAMU)

A much-needed moment of humor from The Onion: Al-Qaeda Claims U.S. Mass Transportation Infrastructure Must Drastically Improve Before Any Terrorist Attacks.

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LaHood Wants Politicians To Put Aside "Their Own Egos" and Pass An FAA Extension

Thursday, July 28, 2011

As the FAA shutdown approaches a full week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood upped the ante, addressing White House reporters at their daily briefing. (Video below.)

"This is a time that I think most of us that have watched politics have never seen before, because there are people in Congress who don’t like the word compromise, who don’t believe in it," said LaHood, a former Republican Congressman from rural Illinois.

"That’s what we need today.  We need for people to come together, set aside their own egos, a certain part of their own agenda for the American people -- to make sure we maintain the strongest economy in the world; to send a signal to the world that we can get big things done, Washington can still get big things done," LaHood said, while noting that "as some of you know, I’ve been in public service and politics 35 years -- 17 years as a staffer, 14 years as a member, and now two and a half years in this job."

Since the agency's funding ran out six days ago, he said 4,000 employees have been furloughed, dozens of FAA-funded construction projects have ground to a halt, 70,000 construction workers have been thrown out of work, and the US is losing $200 million a day in uncollected airline taxes.

While not pointing fingers at any particular political party, LaHood called on Congress to pass a "clean extension," which is the opposite of what the GOP-controlled House has done.

But, speaking earlier this morning on The Takeaway, Republican  House Transportation and Infrastructure committee chair John Mica maintained it's not the Republicans who are the problem.

When asked if he's holding up the bill in order to force the Senate to change a federal rule governing how workers can vote to unionize -- a charge that Democrats have leveled -- Mica put the ball back in the Democrat's court. "They are trying to shift the debate away from what's actually in the extension -- and that's the prohibition on these subsidies. That's the only provision in the extension," Mica said, referring to a controversial House provision that would reduce subsidies to airlines that fly into small, rural airports. You can listen to the interview below.

Also today: TN's Todd Zwillich was on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show . Todd has been reporting on the FAA impasse, and he said this morning that on the surface the two biggest obstacle continue to be cuts in funding to rural airports (Essential Air Service) and the aforementioned union rules -- a "poison pill" provision which President Obama had said he'd veto. But, Todd said, it's really the current toxic political atmosphere. “It’s somebody else’s fault, somebody else slighted you, somebody else is intransigent, somebody else doesn’t know how to make a deal," he said. "It’s like a microcosm of the debt limit debate.” You can hear that conversation below as well.

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TN MOVING STORIES: New Fuel Economy Standards Debut Tomorrow, 59% of New Yorkers Like New Bike Lanes, and SEPTA Ridership Hits 22-Year High

Thursday, July 28, 2011

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood shows off the new fuel economy label prototype (photo courtesy of US DOT)

President Obama will unveil the 2017-25 fuel economy standards tomorrow -- 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. (Detroit News)

A new poll says 59% of New Yorkers approve of the city's new bike lanes. (New York Daily News)

A commuter rail line linking Milwaukee to the suburbs is officially dead. (Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel)

SEPTA ridership numbers have hit a 22-year high. "Officials credited service improvements, higher gasoline prices, Center City population growth, and a growing use of transit by young adults." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

John Mica says Democrats are to blame for the FAA shutdown; listen below. (The Takeaway)

NY's MTA wants the city to kick in $250 million for the Second Avenue Subway. (DNA Info)

DC's Capitol Bikeshare is undergoing a major expansion. (Washington Examiner)

Nissan wants its customers to come up with an official "Leaf wave" -- a  mobile greeting to identify Leaf drivers and "reservationists." (Wall Street Journal)

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TN MOVING STORIES: FAA Shutdown Update, Seattle Eyes Streetcars, and Boston To Get Purple Train Engines

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

FAA shutdown update: Ray LaHood says he's unaware of any negotiations, lawmakers say the impasse deserves more attention, and most airlines have actually raised fares to keep pace with the lost tax revenue. (Time)

House Democrats filed an FAA reauthorization bill that retains funding for rural air service. (The Hill)

Seattle's new master transit plan says four transit corridors are ripe for streetcars. (Seattle Post Intelligencer)

Following this weekend's crash, China's chances of exporting bullet trains to other countries are now slim to none. (Marketplace)

The people of Boston have spoken: the T's new commuter rail engines will be purple. (WBUR)

(photo courtesy of the MBTA)

New York's MTA is seeking almost $7 billion in new debt to pay for capital projects. (Wall Street Journal)

The MTA said it would upgrade subway stations in the Bronx. (New York Daily News)

Meanwhile, a water main break disrupted subway service in that borough. (WNYC)

Tesla will be powering Toyotas in 2012. (Triplepundit.com)

More on contract negotiations between the Big Three and the United Auto Workers union. (The Takeaway)

Fines for distracted walking are taking hold in various states. (Guardian)

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