(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) As part of its Safe Streets for Seniors program (see detailed project PDF here), the NYC Department of Transportation is in the process of installing "pedestrian refuge islands" on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn's Borough Park. The islands drew some community ire, which was then gleefully covered by favorite Streetsblog bête noire, CBS's Marcia Kramer. In an attempt to get everyone to dial down the rhetoric, New York City Councilman Brad Lander, who represents the neighborhood, wrote an op-ed in last Friday's Hamodia that caught our eye (It Could Be Your Bubbe or Zeide: How We Can Make Fort Hamilton Pkwy. Safer).
He writes: "The goal of these islands is to keep any more of our grandparents — or anyone else — from getting seriously injured or killed. In a world with terrorism and crime, hunger and homelessness, maybe we should save our “outrage” for something other than an effort to keep pedestrians safe." Put that way, the DOT is doing a mitzvah!
Read Lander's op-ed below.
(Detroit -- Rob St. Mary, WDET) From his office above the toll plaza, Neal Belitsky, the general manager of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, has a commanding view of downtown Detroit. But this morning he stares into a computer monitor displaying dozens of camera views of the almost mile long international crossing.
"This is the pillar section down the tunnel, and these are all pan tilt zoom cameras," he said, explaining what we're looking it. "They're fine enough that if someone dropped a quarter on the roadway we'd be able to see it. And they are all digitally recorded."
Belitsky runs the tunnel's day-to-day operations for both owners - the Cities of Windsor (Canada) and Detroit. Although both municipalities now have a stake in the tunnel, it didn't start out that way. In the late 1920's, the border crossing was conceived as a for-profit competitor to the Ambassador Bridge. But that idea changed.
"What happened was folks back then who were granting the permits said you know, maybe we need to do something a little bit different from the Ambassador Bridge," Belitsky said. "So, where they got the rights in perpetuity, they told the tunnel folks they could go ahead and do that--but they could only have it for 60 years."
The tunnel was given to both cities in 1990--which means 2010 marks the 80th anniversary of this unique structure. But why is it so unique?
(Billings - Jackie Yamanaka, Yellowstone Public Radio) Overcast skies and a few snowflakes didn't deter a group of cyclists, runners, government officials and others from christening a newly completed tunnel under Montana's busiest highway.
Darlene Tussing is the Alternative Modes Coordinator for the City of Billings. "It's seven lanes of traffic," she says. "And it's not someplace you'd like to take your family on a bike ride."
A just-released 300 page audit shows that DC Metro failed to keep up with escalator maintenance in its subway stations (WAMU)--and knew that its escalator brakes were faulty a month before an incident that left six people injured.
The cash-strapped Chicago Transit Authority wants to sell naming rights to its L stops, lines, and bus routes. (Chicago Sun Times)
NJ Transit's "quiet cars" pilot program is such a hit, they're expanding it to additional lines. (Star-Ledger)
One thing NJ Transit does want to trumpet in a loud voice: "You can see, we really are about more than just one big project — no matter how big that project is," said exec director Jim Weinstein, at the first post-ARC NJ Transit meeting. (Star-Ledger)
Now everyone is joining in the "save HSR in my state" fray on Ray LaHood's Facebook page.
Behold: scenes from inside the Chevy Volt Factory.
Montreal unveils its "bus shelters of the 21st century," complete with solar panels, STM network maps, signs showing bus schedules and routes, and motion-sensors that turn up lighting when people enter.
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) “No bike lanes to nowhere” was the message today from bicycle advocates, who were rallying on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to deliver about 2,500 handwritten letters to Mayor Bloomberg. They want the city to follow through on a proposed plan to build protected bike lanes along Manhattan’s First and Second Avenues, from Houston Street to East 125th Street. The lanes were initially endorsed by the city—but construction has stopped at 34th Street, with no plans to move northward at this time.
The rally, which was sponsored by Transportation Alternatives, drew about 50 people, including elected officials State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Jose Serrano, and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito.
Viverito, who represents East Harlem, said that extending the lanes to 125th Street was only fair. “We're also talking about equity for our neighborhoods,” she said. “Why should only Midtown get the benefit of having these protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands?”
“No bike lanes to nowhere” was the message today from bicycle advocates, who were rallying on the steps of City Hall this afternoon to deliver about 2,500 handwritten letters to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Last month, the U.S. government pledged another $2.5 billion for high speed rail. That money will go toward building train lines between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Chicago and Detroit--the kind of short trip a business traveler right now takes to the skies for. So what will happen to airlines when trains will get us to a place almost as fast? Listen to the story here.
And you can see the whole Marketplace series on the Future of Transportation here.
An iconic symbol is facing a makeover: NYC is holding an international design competition to redesign the yellow cab. The winner will have the exclusive right to make taxis for the next decade.
Currently 16 different vehicles are approved for use as taxis. But the city is looking for a single model that will be used by all: one that is safe, comfortable, fuel efficient, affordable and accessible. One taxi to rule them all!
Read the story at WNYC.
Wisconsin gov-elect Scott Walker's response to Ray LaHood: fix roads before you build rail. Also, some friendly advice: "All across the country, in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, the voters chose new governors who are opposed to diverting transportation funding to passenger rail. I believe it would be unwise for the Obama administration to ignore the will of the voters." (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
New Jersey is not exactly whipping out its checkbook to repay $271 million to the Federal Transit Administration for the canceled ARC tunnel project, because "NJ Transit does not agree that the issues are as clear cut as portrayed in the FTA letter." (Asbury Park Press)
US airlines are stranding less passengers--but canceling more flights. Unintended consequences of the tarmac rule? (Bloomberg via MPR)
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 41% of drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point. (Los Angeles Times)
How can you improve GPS directions? Ask a cabbie. (Good)
Lansing wants to dip its toes into bus rapid transit. (Lansing State Journal)
Czech transport minister loses his license for 6 months for driving without valid license plates. (Czech Happenings)
Good Magazine wants to know: What is the best bus route in America?
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) In his latest blog post, Ray LaHood talks about an "explosion of notes from people urging Department of Transportation support for high-speed rail in New York State."
Ever since governor-elect Andrew Cuomo wrote to LaHood last week to say New York would be happy to take federal money for high-speed rail that other states turned down, people have taken to LaHood's Facebook page to post variations on the theme "I support HSR for NY!"
"I don't know who started it," LaHood writes, "but (it) sure got my attention!" He goes on to say "I hope other states will join the engaged New Yorkers who have reached out to me this week by saying a resounding, 'Yes' to high-speed rail.
Do you know? Post a comment, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meantime, LaHood isn't saying if NY will get more money.
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Each month, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) releases a monthly transit savings report, in which it calculates the cost savings that residents in 20 different cities (with the highest transit ridership) would realize if they dumped their cars and relied upon public transit.
In theory, you know that untethering yourself from insurance payments and gas prices will save you money. And yet perhaps you will be unprepared to read this month that you might save $13,962 annually if you dumped your car, which is what APTA estimates car-owning New Yorkers would save.
APTA is a public transit advocacy organization -- one of my colleagues refers to it as "the Chamber of Commerce for transit agencies"--so bear that in mind. However, $13,962 is a large enough number to make most people want to read the fine print. The average cost savings for these 20 cities was $9,515.
Here's how APTA explains their methodology. (I roughly interpret their equation as "the price of your monthly transit pass - cost of car ownership [gas, insurance, parking]=savings.)
The iconic constellations on the roof of Grand Central Terminal are shining again after new LED lights were installed yesterday. Read the story--and see more photographs--over at WNYC.
Ray LaHood's "congratulatory" phone call to Wisconsin's governor-elect, Scott Walker, involved threatening to yank $810 million in stimulus money if Mr. Walker doesn't soften his opposition to a high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison (Wall Street Journal). Don't worry, Wisconsin--Illinois will take that federal money off your hands. (But hey! New York already called dibs on that cash!)
Speaking of money, the Federal Transit Administration sent New Jersey a bill for $271 million for the canceled ARC tunnel, plus the promise of an audit. (AP via WSJ)
Last night's Community Board 7 meeting about the new Columbus Avenue bike lane focused on complaints from business owners about parking--and an admission from the DOT that the actual number of spaces taken was 67, not the 55 that was originally projected. (DNA Info)
New York's MTA put together a birds-eye view of Sunday's marathon, weaving together footage from its traffic cameras.
A newly popular John Mica, who may head the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is already fielding calls from Ray LaHood and Joe Biden. (St. Augustine Record)
Amtrak officials are looking at resuscitating the ARC tunnel. (AP via WSJ)
Less trains, more buses: Indianapolis's new transit plan tables light rail until the 2030's. (Indianapolis Star)
The rise of the roundabouts: places like Chattanooga, Central Louisiana and Indiana are putting in traffic circles to reduce crashes; the Wall Street Journal talks about why. Meanwhile, there's a traffic circle backlash in Petaluma.
The Great Urban Hack visualizes what taxi rides look like in NYC -- who takes them, how far they go. Their findings: "At least 1 out of every 4 current NYC taxi rides could be shared with another rider."
Chrysler posts operating profit, narrows net loss to $84 million (Detroit Free Press)
Following last week's Qantas A380 engine failure, the Telegraph has some helpful suggestions on "How to Survive a Plane Crash."
Fast and slow lanes come to...the sidewalks of London's Oxford Street, to divide the dawdlers from the power walkers. (Marketplace)
Outgoing Wisconsin governor halts work on its high-speed rail line "temporarily" after rail opponent Scott Walker's victory in the governor's race (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Walker repeated his vow this week that he would kill the project.
Capital New York asks: post-campaign, will Cuomo get serious about public transportation?
Taxi drivers in New York want a 19% fare hike--which means the base fare would increase to $3. (New York Daily News)
Does Jim Oberstar have a future in Washington after all? Say, in the Department of Transportation? Let the guessing begin! (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
The Transport Politic tries to assess John Mica's transportation goals, but points out that "he will have to operate within a labyrinthine system of conflicting goals and limited funds. Whether he — or anyone — will get anything done under those conditions remains an open question."
AOL ranks the top ten international transit systems. You go, Curitiba, Brazil!
The victory celebration for the San Francisco Giants shattered records for both BART and Caltrain. (San Francisco Chronicle)
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) It doesn't have the same worrisome connotations as the Department of Homeland Security's threat advisory system, but the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is implementing a color coding system of its own.
The city says that there are about 50,000 licensed for-hire vehicles (non-yellow taxi) in New York--and countless unlicensed ones. So the TLC has introduced a system in which stickers are placed on the back windows of vehicles. And you shall know the type of vehicle by the color of the sticker:
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) A New York City council member wants to legitimize a de-facto parking practice that has been going on for decades: ending alternate side parking restrictions as soon as a street is cleaned not when the time period on the sign (see example above) ends. This would let city parkers leave their cars unguarded hours earlier without fear of being ticketed.
I see it on my block every day (well, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday): drivers double park, leaving the side of the street scheduled to be cleaned empty. Some wait in their cars, some leave notes on their windshields with their cell numbers and go about their business. But one thing is certain: when the sweeper truck passes by, drivers immediately jump in their cars and then park back on the other side of the street. (And many of them sit in their cars to run out the clock while keeping their engines idling, presumably to run heat or a/c.)
City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (10th District; Democrat) refers to this in a press release as an "ALTERNATE SIDE DISASTER."
Oberstar's defeat ends era of transportation policy influence (Minnesota Public Radio).
Not to mention the probable death of the president's proposed $500 billion transportation bill, which insiders say will be "a lower number and probably a shorter [duration] bill." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
General Motors goes public...again. (The Takeaway)
As Bangladesh prepares to open up its ports to its neighbor countries--as well as join the UN's trans-Asian road and rail network--that country's finance minister takes some flack for reportedly saying that "Bangladesh is geographically a transit country and those who deny it are fools." (Bangladesh News24)
The dilemma of the Baby Boomers: when should Mom and Dad stop driving? (USA Today)
Derailed? Many, many stories today are talking about the impact that newly empowered House Republicans will have upon high-speed rail grants. Especially representatives like John Mica, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who said: "We'll revisit all of those projects."
John Mica, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, released a statement today:
Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), the Republican leader of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, released the following statement regarding yesterday’s elections and the next Congress:
“On Tuesday, the American people spoke clearly at the polls. Jobs and the economy continue to be their top concerns. The next Congress must focus on improving employment opportunities and sound fiscal policy.
“If selected by my peers to chair the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the next Congress, my primary focus will be improving employment and expanding economic opportunities, doing more with less, cutting red tape and removing impediments to creating jobs, speeding up the process by which infrastructure projects are approved, and freeing up any infrastructure funding that’s been sitting idle.
“Among my top legislative priorities will be passing a long-term federal highways and transit reauthorization, a long-overdue Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, a new water resources measure, and a long-term Coast Guard reauthorization.
“I will also focus on major initiatives to find ways within the Committee’s jurisdiction to save taxpayer dollars. That includes better management and utilization of federal assets, including real property, and more efficient, cost effective passenger rail transportation, including a better directed high-speed rail program.”
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) There were competing rallies two weeks ago over the Park Slope bike lane. Now, the Columbus Avenue bike lane, which stretches from 96th Street to 77th Street, will have its own moment of heated public expression at the upcoming Community Board 7 meeting on Tuesday, November 9th.
CB7, which approved the protected lane in June after much debate, will no doubt be getting an earful about the lanes. (The meeting, which was initially scheduled for tonight, has been moved back a week because of what CB7 says was a scheduling conflict.) Some neighborhood businesses have posted signs on their doors, trying to encourage people to attend the meeting to speak out against the bike lane. And Zingone's, a popular mom-and-pop neighborhood grocery store, has started a petition against it.
Meanwhile, Streetsblog wants to counter the bike lane negativity and is encouraging people to attend the meeting. "Defending it strongly now can only help when extensions come up for consideration."
Are you planning on attending Tuesday's CB7 meeting? If so, let us know what happens! Post a comment or email us at email@example.com.