Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

Feds Stop, Yield To Cash-Strapped States on Road Sign Requirements

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

(photo by Abby flat coat via Flickr)

States will be able to squeeze a little more life out of their existing road signs, rather than replace the majority of them by 2018 to comply with government requirements.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday that "a specific deadline for replacing street signs makes no sense and would have cost communities across America millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses."

LaHood was referring to a 2009 decision by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which publishes the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) -- the national book of road sign standards -- which would have required states and municipalities to upgrade existing road signs to make them more legible.

But then the feedback began rolling in -- and the DOT began backing away.

Last year, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said “I believe that this regulation makes no sense. It does not properly take into account the high costs that local governments would have to bear.  States, cities, and towns should not be required to spend money that they don’t have to replace perfectly good traffic signs."

Some state DOTs had delivered sober assessments of how much the regulations would cost to implement. "Based on Caltrans' limited assessment, it could cost between $500 million to $1 billion to implement the FHWA 2009 MUTCD requirements," said one. Another featured excited exhortations about typeface: "ALL CAPS signs are easier to read then mixed case signs! And mixed case signs are uglier too!" And many of them conveyed the same theme, summed up by a Tennessee official: "this... estimated cost for reflective sign replacement with the current time restrictions will further devastate an already strained budget."

Some changes, however, are non-negotiable. Ray LaHood wrote on his blog that "DOT has retained 12 deadlines for sign upgrades that are critical to public safety. These include installing “ONE WAY” signs at intersections with divided highways or one-way streets and requiring STOP or YIELD signs to be added at all railroad crossings that don’t have train-activated automatic gates or flashing lights."


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Amtrak: Post-Trenton Flood, No New York - Philadelphia Service Just Yet

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trenton, as seen from the air on Sunday, August 28 (photo by Tim Larsen/NJ Governor's Office

The aftereffects of Hurricane Irene continue to disrupt Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia.

"There was significant flooding in Trenton," said Amtrak spokeswoman Danelle Hunter. "But water has receded and we are making progress on track repairs."

Right now there is  no Acela Express, Northeast Regional or other Amtrak service between Philadelphia and New York.

Amtrak restored service between New York and Boston on Monday, and it will resume operations between Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven Tuesday afternoon.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Feds Scrap Road Sign Replacement Rule, Indy Eyes Streetcars, and House GOP Leader Would Cut Federal Funding to Bike Share Programs

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Commuter rail is returning to service after this weekend's hurricane. (Link)

Flooding, downed power lines and debris continue to hamper roads in the New York/New Jersey area. (Link)

(photo by Felix the Cat via Flickr)

The Obama administration is scrapping a rule that required hundreds of thousands of street signs to be replaced by 2018 — and instead will allow communities to upgrade them as they wear out.  (New York Times, Detroit News)

Streetcars may run in Indianapolis once again. (AP via Chicago Tribune)

Although the Egyptian economy is fraught with unrest, the one area that's still growing with local and foreign investment is natural gas. (Marketplace)

San Francisco looks to all-door boarding to speed travel times on its bus fleet. (San Francisco Chronicle)

House GOP leader Eric Cantor doesn't think the government should be supporting bike share programs. (TBD)

Ray LaHood talks about Irene; praises transportation workers for East Coast recovery assistance. (Fast Lane)

After implementing safety upgrades, pedestrian fatalities in Maryland's Montgomery County have fallen. (Washington Examiner)

A new app lets you sell your parking space to the highest bidder. (DNA Inf0)

BMW is testing an "autonomous" vehicle -- which sounds an awful lot like autopilot. (Autopia)

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Road Update: NJ and NY

Monday, August 29, 2011

Upstate New York roads, as viewed by helicopter (photo by Karen DeWitt/NYS Public Radio/WXXI)

For New Yorkers trying to get in -- or out -- of the Catskills, flooded roads and downed trees continue to limit travel in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

The New York Thruway says sections of I-87 remain closed in both directions between exits 14 and 17.

Flooding has also closed parts of the east-west highways of 17, 28 and 23.  Those roads lead into some of the hardest hit regions in the state including Margaretville and Windham. For New York road updates, go to 511NY.org.

In New Jersey, conditions are better today than yesterday -- the DOT says it's only dealing with 85 incidents statewide, down from Sunday's 300+ -- but new problems are cropping up as storm waters continue to rise in some areas.

All lanes on NJ Route 17 northbound in Hasbrouck Heights (near the interchange with Route 46) are now closed due to flooding.

I-287 northbound in Boonton and Parsippany, near exits 43 and 44, is also closed. Route 80 is experiencing a number of ramp and lane closures, particularly in the towns of Parsippany and Wayne.

The New Jersey Turnpike has some delays as crews continue to pick up debris.

The NJ DOT says the Garden State Parkway is in good shape, although there are some delays in Southern Ocean County.

For up to date conditions, visit 511nj.org.

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Metro-North to Resume Extremely Limited Service Today at 2pm

Monday, August 29, 2011


Mudslide on Metro-North's Hudson Line (photo courtesy of the NY MTA)

This just in from the MTA: Metro-North will begin operating a Sunday schedule at 2 PM this afternoon on the Lower Hudson and Lower Harlem Lines. UPDATE 4:29: The MTA says that Metro-North's Hudson & New Haven Main Lines resumed service at 4pm, but on a Sunday schedule. On the Harlem line, trains are still not operating north of North White Plains. Travel on the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury Branch Line Services remain suspended.

There is still no service on the New Haven, Pascack Valley, or Port Jervis lines. Check the MTA's website for updates.

Metro-North to Resume Service at 2 PM Today Operating On A Sunday Schedule

On the Lower Hudson and Lower Harlem Lines Only

Metro-North will begin operating a Sunday schedule at 2 PM today, Monday, August 29, on the Lower Hudson and Lower Harlem Lines.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Metro-North crews continue to work around-the-clock, assess conditions, clear the tracks and repair the infrastructure.

Metro-North will continue to restore as much service as possible once it is safe to do so.

The following service will be in effect:

On the Lower Hudson Line, a regular Sunday Schedule will be in effect between Grand Central and Croton-Harmon only beginning with the following trains:

Inbound Departures from Croton-Harmon:

•           2 PM from Croton-Harmon; All stops to Grand Central.

•           2:34 PM from Croton-Harmon; Limited stop express to Grand Central.


Outbound Departures from Grand Central:

•           2:20 PM to Croton-Harmon; All stops to Croton-Harmon.


On the Lower Harlem Line a regular Sunday Schedule will be in effect between Grand Central and North White Plains only starting with the following trains.

Inbound departures from North White Plains:

•           2:01 PM:  North White Plains & White Plains, then Express to Grand Central

•           2:08 PM:  All stops to Grand Central

Outbound Departures from Grand Central:

•           2:25 PM:  All stops from Fordham to North White Plains

•           2:48 PM: Express to White Plains/North White Plains

Customers may use our interactive schedules page to view all train times.

New Haven Line, Upper Hudson, Upper Harlem and New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury Branch Line Services remain suspended. There is still no signal and third-rail power because of downed transmission poles, trees continuing to fall and water-damaged substations.  Following all repair efforts, patrols trains have to operate to ensure the safety of the tracks before resuming service.

On the West of Hudson, Port Jervis and Pascack Valley Line service remains suspended today.  In particular, water continues to flood sections of the Port Jervis Line making it difficult to assess the full impact of the hurricane to critical infrastructure.

Off-Peak fares will be in effect, and Metro-North will honor West-of-Hudson tickets on the Hudson Line.

Overnight, hundreds of Metro-North crews addressed several mudslides and washouts along the Hudson Line, removed numerous fallen trees on all three train lines, pumped water out of key locations, restored signal and power systems, repaired and replaced switch motors.  The difficulty of these efforts was compounded by the significant road closures in the territory.

Customers are urged to monitor media reports for the latest information, check the MTA's website at http://www.mta.info and sign up for customer email and text message alerts.

Metro-North regrets any inconvenience you may experience as a result of this service disruption due to Hurricane Irene.

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After Irene: Your NYC Morning Commute

Monday, August 29, 2011

Triumphant notice in NYC subway (photo by Kate Hinds)

TN/WNYC reporter Jim O'Grady went on the Brian Lehrer Show earlier today to update listeners on the NYC area commute. You can listen to the audio below; click on this link to read comments on the website.



WNYC has transit updates here.


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TN MOVING STORIES: Transit Agencies Dig Out from Irene, and Times Square Bike Lane Becomes Slip 'n Slide

Monday, August 29, 2011

Top stories on TN:

NY shuts down its subway service in preparation of Hurricane Irene. (Link)

Want to see some pictures of the transit shutdown? (Link)

Here's where transit stands for the NYC region. (Link)


Bus service resumes in New York after Hurricane Irene (photo courtesy of NY MTA)


Your DC-area Monday morning commute is surprisingly normal. (Washington Post)

A Times Square bike lane becomes a slip 'n slide during Hurricane Irene. (Gothamist)

The Takeaway talks to stranded travelers at JFK Airport.

NYC apartment hunters want bike storage. (New York Times)

A subway station in Queens is plagued by the "musky scent of death." (New York Daily News)


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New York: Here's What We Know About Your Monday Morning Commute

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The quick update: subway service begins to be restored Monday morning at 6am. There will be no Metro North service, but there will be Long Island Rail Road service on six branches. PATH trains will be operational as of 4am. There are no NJ Transit trains, and NJ Transit buses and light rail will be on a modified schedule. Area airports will be open. There's no Amtrak service between Boston and Philadelphia. The Staten Island Ferry and the Staten Island Railway are operational. There have been no reported problems on NYC's bike lanes. Details below!

The parking lot of the Metro-North's Beacon station (photo courtesy of the MTA)

Subway service resumes Monday morning at 6am. Caveat: trains will not run as frequently and you can expect crowding. See the MTA's service advisory here.


  • 3 trains will operate between 137th Street/City College and New Lots Avenue; substitute bus service will be provided between Harlem 148th Street and 135th Street connecting with the 2 train.
  • C trains suspended; A trains will make all local stops from 207th St. to Lefferts Blvd.
  • No service in the Rockaways. (Rockaway Blvd. to Far Rockaway and Rockaway Park)
  • 6 trains runs local in the Bronx
  • 7 trains run local
  • S Franklin Avenue Shuttle (FAS) Suspended
  • N trains terminate at Kings Highway. Shuttle bus service between Kings Highway and Stillwell Terminal.

· The Staten Island Railway will resume normal service at midnight tonight.

Buses: Limited bus service was restored in all five boroughs of New York City earlier this evening. Service levels will continue to increase but may not reach normal levels tomorrow.

Bridges and Tunnels: All MTA Bridges and Tunnels are open as of 7:00 p.m.

Access-a-Ride and Able Ride are expected to be operating normal service beginning at noon tomorrow. In the morning, these services will help return evacuees to their homes.

Long Island Rail Road service will be restored on the Babylon, Huntington, Ronkonkoma, Port Washington, Hempstead and West Hempstead Branches. Service remains suspended on the Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Long Beach and Far Rockaway Branches and as east of Babylon and east of Ronkonkoma.

Metro-North service remains suspended on Monday. Grand Central Terminal will open as usual at 5:30am.

The MTA's website is here. And check out their Flickr page for pictures.

NJ Transit: No rail service tomorrow, with the exception of the Atlantic City Rail Line. Buses will operate on a modified schedule. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and River Line will operate on a weekend schedule. Newark Light Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule. Details can be found on NJ Transit's website.

PATH trains will be operational as of 4am on Monday morning. (Website)

Airports: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says JFK and Newark Airports will open to arriving flights at 6am on Monday, and departures will resume at noon. LaGuardia will open to both arrivals and departures at 7am on Monday. AirTrain JFK is expected to be back in service at 4 a.m. with AirTrain Newark scheduled to resume operations at 6 a.m.

The Staten Island Ferry is running.

Amtrak is canceling all trains between Boston and Philadelphia Monday -- including all Acela service. Check out their Northeast Corridor twitter feed for more details.

Roads: the storm has caused extensive damage in upstate New York; check road conditions here. NJ's Department of Transportation says roads are open but work continues on removing downed tree limbs and power lines. Check the NJ DOT's website here. A map of Connecticut roadway conditions can be found here.

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NYC Subway Service To Resume 6am Monday

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The MTA using portable water pumps to pump out tracks at 145th St. and Lenox Ave. (Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Leonard Wiggins)

This just in from Governor Andrew Cuomo's office:


Buses Already Running in NYC; SI Railway Returns at Midnight Tonight

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Jay Walder tonight announced that the MTA will begin restoration of service on the subway system at 6:00 a.m. on Monday. The subway restoration is part of an MTA service plan that will restore some service to the subways, buses, and SI Railway by the morning rush. Damage assessment is continuing on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, which was hit hard by widespread flooding and mudslides.

Governor Cuomo said, "Today government worked. Days of preparation and coordination prevented much injury and loss. The MTA will begin resumption of subway service Monday morning. I applaud the good work of the thousands of MTA professionals, National Guard and first responders for their advanced planning. Suspending service allowed the MTA to secure equipment, thus expediting the return to service. None of us should underestimate the damage caused by Hurricane Irene. One thing we can all be proud of is how New Yorkers came together as one. In the darkest hours New Yorkers shine the brightest. They did once again."

MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder said, “We still have a lot of work to do in parts of our 5,000-mile territory that were hit extremely hard by the storm, but we can now see very visible progress. Customers should stay tuned to mta.info for the latest updates."

Service Plan for Monday Morning Subways: With limited exceptions, service will resume across the subway system at 6:00 a.m. Monday morning. Service will be less frequent than normal, and customers should expect longer waits and more crowded trains. Frequency of service will improve over the course of the day.

· Exceptions:

o 3 trains will operate between 137th Street/City College and New Lots Avenue; Substitute bus service will be provided between Harlem 148th Street and 135th Street connecting with the 2 train.
o C trains suspended; A trains will make all local stops from 207th St. to Lefferts Blvd.

§ No service in the Rockaways. (Rockaway Blvd. to Far Rockaway and Rockaway Park)

o 6 trains runs local in the Bronx
o 7 trains run local
o S Franklin Avenue Shuttle (FAS) Suspended
o N trains terminate at Kings Highway. Shuttle bus service between Kings Highway and Stillwell Terminal.

· The Staten Island Railway will resume normal service at midnight tonight.

Buses: Limited bus service was restored in all five boroughs of New York City earlier this evening. Service levels will continue to increase but may not reach normal levels tomorrow.

Bridges and Tunnels: All MTA Bridges and Tunnels are open as of 7:00 p.m.

Access-a-Ride and Able Ride are expected to be operating normal service beginning at noon tomorrow. In the morning, these services will help return evacuees to their homes.

Additional details on Metro-North and LIRR service will be provided as soon as they become available.

The MTA’s regular fare and toll policy will resume tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m.

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Hurricane Irene: Photos From New York's Transit Shutdown

Saturday, August 27, 2011

As New York City undertook its first-ever weather-related transit system shut down, New Yorkers were greeted with a sight that many haven't seen since the 2005 transit strike: gated, taped off subway stations.

A subway station prepares for Hurricane Irene  (photo by Kate Hinds)

If that's not eerie enough for you, this picture of an (almost) empty Grand Central looks like it could be preparing for the sequel to "I Am Legend." (Full disclosure: I adapted that thought from Dan Diamond's twitter feed.)

Hurricane Irene: MTA Metro-North Railroad closed Grand Central Terminal as the hurricane approached. Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Marjorie Anders.

At 11am this morning, a white board in the token booth warned customers that time was dwindling to get the heck out of Dodge (or in this case, the West 81st Street subway station):

Sign inside the West 81st Street B/C station (photo by Kate Hinds)

Want to check the subway service status? It's pretty straightforward:

Meanwhile, MTA employees installed barriers to try to prevent water from entering train tunnels...

LIRR employees install an AquaDam to help prevent water from flowing into the LIRR's tunnels to Penn Station. Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Sam Zambuto.

...while city buses prepared to help move New Yorkers out of the mandatory evacuation zones.

Hurricane Irene prep: Buses lined up in Far Rockaway to help with evacuations. Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Palmer Reale.

Even the gates are coming off of rail road crossings.

LIRR employees removed the gates from 295 railroad crossings to prevent damage from high wind. Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Harry Baumann.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Transpo Agencies Prepare for Hurricane Irene, NJ Declares Fracking Moratorium, Georgia Transpo Vote Date Falls Apart

Friday, August 26, 2011

Top stories on TN:

San Francisco's BART is debating when to shut down cell phone service on its subway system. (Link)

Houston's red light cameras are off for good -- for now. (Link)

Car thieves like American-model SUVs and pickup trucks. (Link)

Hurricane Irene from space (photo by NASA Astronaut Ron Garan via Fragile Oasis/Flickr)


Area transportation agencies scramble to prepare for Hurricane Irene  -- and NY MTA says it could begin shutting down the system on Saturday. (WNYC, WNYC)

Amtrak began canceling trains, and airlines are scotching flights and moving planes out of Irene's way. (The Hill, USA Today)

Chicago's senior citizens are mailed reduced-fare transit cards without instructions; confusion reigns. (Chicago Tribune)

NJ Governor Christie vetoes fracking ban, but orders a moratorium on the practice. (WNYC)

The agreement over when to hold Georgia's transportation sales tax vote has fallen apart. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

General Motors and LG are teaming up to develop new battery-powered electric vehicles. (Wall Street Journal)


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Car Thieves Appear Not That Concerned About Gas Mileage

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Cadillac Escalade (photo by Roger Barker via Flickr)

The Cadillac Escalade is more than six times as likely as the average vehicle to be stolen, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute, which just released information parsing the last two years of insurance claims for newer model cars.

Also in the top ten list of most costly insurance claims: several pickup trucks, the Ford F-250, F-350 and F-450 models, the Chevy Silverado, and the GMC Yukon SUV.

"Car thieves aren’t going green," said Russ Rader, VP for communications at HLDI. "They’re after chrome and horsepower."

But they're also patriotic -- all top ten vehicles are manufactured by the Big Three.

The Escalade has headed the highest theft claim rate list since 2002. "Part of it is the pop culture appeal of the Escalade – it’s the car of the stars," Rader said. It also doesn't hurt (or help, depending on your point of view) that some people like to bling up their ride, installing accessories like aftermarket wheels that can cost thousands of dollars.

But sometimes thieves aren't necessarily in it for just for the vehicle -- they might also covet what's inside. A pickup truck stolen with tools in the back, or a SUV boosted with a Tiffany & Co. bag in the trunk can result in a big insurance claim for theft.

And you can put the image of seedy chop shops out of your head--these cars are more valuable in one piece. Rader said a lot of these vehicles are stolen by professional thieves who have figured out how to defeat ignition immobilizers, and "a lot of these end up on ships and they’re sent abroad." He said this is the reason why car thefts tend to be higher in port cities like Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Newark, or on border cities like Detroit.

Surprisingly, there is some automotive eye candy on the cars with the lowest claim rates. Newer models of BMW, Audi, and Lexus are in the top ten of vehicles less likely to be stolen.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Christie May Ban Fracking, Amtrak Moves Ahead on Fast Trains, and Chicago Checks Off 2mi of Bike Lanes -- 98 More To Go

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The car-crushing mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania -- beloved by bike lane advocates worldwide -- says tanks will roll again. (Link)

DC's post-earthquake gridlock raises questions about emergency evacuations. (Link)

Rating NYC's subway lines from best to worst: Straphangers releases their annual report. (Link)

Vancouver bus (photo by Matt Schroeter via Flickr)

Why aren't more Canadians using public transit? A new study tries to drill down on the reasons. Here's a big one: transit takes twice as long as driving. (Globe and Mail)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's first 100 days in office: he checked off two miles of bike lanes. Only 100 more to go by the end of his term! (WBEZ)

Amtrak is hiring an accounting firm to plan the financing for its high-speed rail proposals. (The Hill)

Governor Christie will announce his decision today on whether New Jersey will become the first state to ban fracking. (AP via NJ.com)

On today's Brian Lehrer Show: what does the future of Libya mean for the global oil markets -- and how will the oil-rich country recover economically?

Even though gas prices are lower, people are still driving less. (New York Times)

Auto manufacturers see Ohio as fertile ground for future investments. (Changing Gears)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Post-Earthquake Morning Commute, September 30th Gas Tax Deadline Looms, and Chicago's Transpo Authority Sues Over Lost Revenue

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Selling rubble from the Second Avenue Subway project can be big business -- but it's financially risky. (Link)

Lots of arrests in the latest BART protest. (Link)

New rules protecting airline passengers kicked in. (Link)

Earthquake damage at 10-N NW in Washington, DC (photo by Andrew Bossi via Flickr)

The DC area's morning commute should be relatively normal, post-earthquake. The only exception: Maryland's MARC commuter rail, which may leave late so the crew gets enough rest time. (Washington Post)

On September 30th, the government's authority to collect federal gas tax and spend that revenue on transit and highway projects is due to expire -- making state transportation officials very nervous that they'll have to shut projects down if a deal isn't reached on reauthorization. (Washington Post)

Chicago and the city's Regional Transportation Authority are suing several Illinois municipalities and businesses to halt a "tax avoidance kickback scheme'' that is allegedly diverting hundreds of millions of dollars in sales taxes away from the Chicago area. (Chicago Tribune)

Connecticut residents vent about possible double-digit fare increases on Metro North and buses -- a move the state says is necessary to balance the budget. (Hartford Courant)

The Phoenix area is bracing for a possible bus strike. (The Arizona Republic)

The NYC Department of Transportation is converting unused parking meters into bike racks. (West Side Rag)

Well-known Upper West Side fossil shop to close; owner blames local bike lane for impeding business. (DNA Info)

Kentucky State Fair to bicyclists: leave your wheels outside the gate. (Courier-Journal)

A couple retrofitted the last Ellis Island Ferry and turned it into a floating home on the Hudson River -- complete with a chicken coop. Lots of very cool pictures can be found at Curbed NY.


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Photo of the Day: President Obama and Daughter Biking On Martha's Vineyard

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia biking in Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in West Tisbury, Massachusetts (photo by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Ford and Toyota to Collaborate on Hybrids, and the Country's Most Famous Parking Garage Gets a Plaque

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top stories on TN:

After months of political wrangling, Amtrak finally gets its $450 million to upgrade power on the Northeast Corridor. (Link)

New York Mayor Bloomberg wants red light cameras at every intersection -- and speeding cameras, too. (Link)

The wickedly hot summer is causing more tire debris to litter Texas highways. (Link)

Inside a BART station on Monday (photo by Ryan Anderson via Flickr)

Authorities repeatedly closed two San Francisco BART stations yesterday as protests against the transit agency continue. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Ford and Toyota will collaborate on a hybrid system for pickup trucks and SUVs, so the companies can share costs and bring the technology to the market sooner. (Detroit Free Press)

The feds say New York is behind schedule and over budget on two big projects (East Side Access and the 2nd Avenue Subway); the MTA disagrees. (AM New York)

Boston named an interim manager for its transit system. (WBUR)

BoltBus is relocating its West 33rd Street stop nine blocks south -- news which surprised many Chelsea residents. (DNA Info)

Inside Metro's 'bus rehab' program, where DC buses with 250,000 miles on them get a midlife facelift. (Washington Post)

The Star Ledger and PolitiFact fact check a statement about exactly how much NJ Transit has raised fares.

The parking garage where “Deep Throat” met Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and helped uncover the Watergate scandal has now received its own Civil War-style historical marker. (Washington Post)

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is standing by her promise to lower gas prices below $2 a gallon if elected president -- a pledge that one Republican rival said isn't "real world." (The Hill)

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Bloomberg Supports Red Light Cameras on Every Corner

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference Monday he thought red light cameras were "very effective" and that using that technology instead of cops on corners made sense a lot of sense.

Comments [2]

After Months of Political Wrangling, the Northeast Corridor Gets $450 Million

Monday, August 22, 2011

(Photo: (cc) Flickr user JPMueller99)

Months of political wrangling came to an end today, when US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the release of nearly $450 million to upgrade rail electrical systems and tracks between Trenton, New Jersey and New York City.

(Update, 5:12 pm: Amtrak is the recipient of the $450 million. An additional $295 million is going to the New York State DOT to improve the Harold Interlocking rail junction in Queens, where a new flyover will separate Amtrak trains traveling between New York and Boston from Long Island Railroad and Metro-North commuter trains, and NJ Transit trains accessing Sunnyside Maintenance Yard.)

“These grants are a win for our economy and a win for commuters all along the Northeast Corridor,” said Secretary LaHood in a statement. “We are creating new construction jobs, ordering American-made supplies and improving transportation opportunities across a region where 50 million Americans live and work.”

The Northeast Corridor is the busiest passenger rail line in the country. Pre-construction work on the upgrade is expected to begin later this year.

The money -- which had been initially rejected by Florida Governor Rick Scott -- was obligated to the Northeast Corridor in May. But in June Republican congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, who represents New Jersey, proposed diverting the money away from the Northeast toward flood-ravaged states in the Midwest. This spurred New Jersey's senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, to write Ray LaHood a letter, urging him to release the money so work on the high-speed rail project could move forward.

Senator Lautenberg expressed relief in a press release. “It is great news for New Jersey that this funding has been saved from Republicans’ chopping block and awarded to Amtrak. Rail service is the lifeblood of our state’s economy and it is our responsibility to protect and strengthen it for our commuters,” he said. “This federal funding will significantly upgrade the rail lines for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak commuters, reduce delays that plague the Northeast Corridor and make our state home to the fastest stretch of high speed rail in the country.”

And rail delays seem particularly prevalent this summer. A derailment disrupted service on NJ Transit earlier this month (and renewed sniping over the canceled ARC tunnel), and in June, power problems hobbled service on both NJ Transit and Amtrak for three consecutive days.

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Mayor Bloomberg: We Should Have Red Light Cameras on Every Corner

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Brooklyn's Steiner Studios, fielding a question about red light cameras (photo: Edward Reed/Office of the Mayor)

Today, while kicking off this year’s television season (23 series are being filmed in New York City, including the upcoming Pan Am), Mayor Michael Bloomberg was asked about red light cameras in New York City.

Some background: in 1988, New York enacted legislation that permits red light cameras in cities of over 1,000,000 people. There are currently 150 cameras across New York City, and the New York Daily News reports that they brought in $52 million in fines last year.

Even though studies show that red light cameras save lives, many people oppose them, saying that they represent a Big-Brotherish invasion of privacy and that the motivation behind them is driven by revenue, not safety concerns.  Houston, Texas, is poised to become the second large city in America to turn off its red light cameras.

You can listen to the mayor's comments here, or read the transcript below.


Question from reporter: There are reports that the city might want to install 40 more red light cameras.

Mayor Bloomberg: I think we should have them on every corner if we could. Using technology instead of having cops makes a lot of sense, and something, because of the economics, that we really have to do, and it does show that they are very effective.

Question: I had read that after a while people know where the red light cameras are...

Mayor Bloomberg: Well, if that were the case, the fines from the red light cameras would be diminishing, and it's not. So, just the evidence that you have, says whoever wrote that doesn't know what they're talking about. I'm sure there's somebody -- but if you know that there's a red light camera there, and you stop, rather than running through the light -- isn't that what we like? So I hope they're right, although the evidence says so far  they're wrong. But if they watch you on television, I know they're going to say 'I'm never going to go through a red light again.' And incidentally, if people didn't go through red lights, you'd save a lot of lives, of elderly and kids and that sort of thing.

The mayor went on to say that it's a particular safety issue for seniors. "I can tell you as I get older, you don't hear as well, see as well, you don't react as quickly, and a disproportionate percentage of people who get hit from people running red lights are ... the seniors."

Another reporter: what about speed cameras?

Mayor Bloomberg: A lot of places are using these...we can fight this all we want. But the world as you saw in the studio is going towards using technology. We cannot afford to put a cop on every corner, a firehouse in every place -- we have to find ways to do more with less...we just can't afford to pay to have people do a lot of things that society needs done.

Question:  back to city speed cameras...

Mayor Bloomberg: I have no idea. But we'd certainly need Albany legislation, because ... we can't impose a fine without Albany acquiescing. We can put up cameras, and in fact you do see places where there's a sign that says 'you're going 30 miles an hour, the speed limit's 20.'  But we can't fine you unless Albany agrees. That's the thing. We can put red light cameras on every single intersection -- you just can't use them. Maybe what we should do is do it and start publishing in the paper who does it and then the list of the senators and assemblymen who keep us from having cameras, and every time there's somebody hit, say 'okay, assemblyman and senator so-and- so didn't think that person's life...this our lives of our people we're talking about, this is not something cute, and we've got to do something about it.



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No Car, No Public Transportation in the Tri-State Area?

Monday, August 22, 2011

(Photo by Doug Kerr via Flickr)

This morning's Brian Lehrer Show took a look at the recent Brookings Institution study about Americans who live without cars or access to transit. One-third of the no-car owners live in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania region, and Brian spoke to Adie Tomer of Brookings about people in the tri-state region who don't own a car by choice -- or could really use one, but their finances don't permit it.

Brian also took calls from listeners -- like John from Long Island, who called in to talk about his neighbor -- a house cleaner who gets to work either by bus or by bike. "The other day she rode from Massapequa to Islip to clean someone's house."  (Google Maps says that's 16 miles, one way.) And Lisa in Croton, who moved out of transit-rich Brooklyn to save money on rent. But, she says: "The money I'm saving I'm spending more on transportation."

You can listen to the conversation below.

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