Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

Chicago Bike Share, Virginia Toll Road Big TIGER III Winners

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A map of TIGER III grants (image courtesy of U.S. DOT)

Ray LaHood loves Rahm Emanuel. Chicago was a big winner in this round of TIGER grants, getting some $20 million to establish a bike share program and overhaul the Blue Line.

The state of Illinois received another $24 million, putting the Land of Lincoln at the top of the list. Other big winners were California and Virginia, which received funding for work on HOT lanes and highway projects; and St. Louis for a road project near the Arch.

In a phone call with reporters Thursday, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood touted the winners in this round of Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovering (TIGER) grants. These grants, which were created as part of President Obama's federal stimulus program, are earmarked for surface transportation projects.

The grants were handed out ahead of schedule, part of President Obama's promise to accelerate federal grant-making to create job opportunities after Congress failed to pass his American Jobs Act.

The 46 projects were selected from 828 applications.  "All told," LaHood said, "communities requested some $14.1 billion in funding, which was no match for the $511 million we had available." He called the requests a "powerful testament" for the American people's enthusiasm for transportation.

LaHood was speaking from Cincinnati, which won almost $11 million for its streetcar system. "We like streetcars," he said. "It's something that we have always felt was a good project."

The DOT was authorized to award $527 million for this round of grants, and today it formally committed $511 million. LaHood said the program cost $16 million to administer. "We have to make sure this money is spent correctly," he said. "There's a lot of administrative work."

LaHood was asked about the recent decision that pulled the plug on light rail in Detroit in favor of a bus rapid transit system. He said he was taking his cues from Michigan's governor and Detroit's mayor. "We don't try and dictate what kind of innovative approaches people want to take when it comes to transportation," he said. "We''re willing to put some significant dollars into a regional transportation, a regional transit plan in the Detroit area, because this is what the mayor and the governor would like to see."

To see a complete list of grants, go here (pdf)


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Taxi Advocates Plead Their Case To New York's Governor

Thursday, December 15, 2011

(photo by Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

(Kathleen Horan -- New York, WNYC) Taxi industry insiders attended a meeting in Albany on Wednesday in a last bid attempt to resolve issues surrounding the Bloomberg administration’s outer borough taxi bill. The two-hour discussion was convened and chaired by Governor Andrew Cuomo himself -- who will spend still more time on the issue on Thursday.

Following Wednesday's summit, Cuomo said “even though government comes with the best of intentions, to redesign a system, there can be unanticipated consequences.” He said one of the main sticking points in the plan to allow livery cars to accept street hails is wheelchair accessibility — and if anyone would purchase accessible permits since the vehicles are more expensive.

"The industry says that nobody is going to buy those permits because it’s not economically feasible. They can’t afford to buy the cars given the revenue. That's a big hole in the current plan," Cuomo explained.

He added another key issue to be worked out is how the plan would be enforced.

The governor has until next week to veto or sign before the bill before it expires. If he does sign, it’ll likely to be contingent on significant changes to the bill happening through a chapter amendment.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky called the meeting a "very productive discussion." Yassky said the city will keep working to try and hash out an agreement.

If it becomes law, the plan would green-light the sale of about 2000 yellow medallions, adding about $1 billion dollars in revenue to the city's budget.

Speaking Thursday on an Albany radio station, Cuomo said that he's spending time more time on the issue this week. "There's no 'quick' on the taxi bill. It's a very complicated matter." He added that "the devil is in the details, and this is designing a new taxi and livery system for the city of New York."

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TN MOVING STORIES: California Bullet Train Time Mandate Adds to Cost Increase, Hybrid Cars Safer in Crashes, and Happy 75th Birthday, Henry Hudson Bridge

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top stories on TN:
NY & NJ Port Authority Chief Expects Transpo Building Push Once World Trade Center Is Done (Link)
NTSB Head: Distractions Behind the Wheel Have Always Existed — But Cell Phones Make It Worse (Link)
D.C. Pedicabbers Say Park Police Still Targeting Them (Link)

The Henry Hudson Bridge under construction (Photographer: Richard Averill Smith, June 19, 1936. Photo courtesy of MTA Bridges and Tunnels Special Archive.)

Part of what's complicating building California's bullet train: the fine print in the ballot measure requires the trip from San Francisco to L.A. to take no more than two hours and 40 minutes. (Los Angeles Times)

Starting today, the Chinese government says it'll levy duties on imported cars made in the United States -- which came as a big surprise to U.S. automakers. (Marketplace)

Hybrid cars are 25% better at protecting motorists from injuries in accidents than their conventional counterparts. (USA Today)

TIGER III grants will be announced today; we'll have the full story after noon today. Meanwhile, Transportation Issues Daily has a list of some of them.

The Takeaway follows up with listeners on using cell phones while driving. (Link)

Taking a bus ride across 42nd Street could take you back in time to the 1950s. (Gothamist)

The Henry Hudson Bridge, which links Manhattan to the Bronx, turns 75 today. (New York Daily News)

Tune into today's Brian Lehrer Show for a discussion about a recent court decision about selling unlimited Metrocard swipes, which ruled that it does not fit the definition of larceny. (WNYC)

Touching the hearts of bus drivers through touching ... oh, just watch the video. (Hat tip to Gothamist)

I Heart M15 from Paddle Productions on Vimeo.

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NTSB Head: Distractions Behind the Wheel Have Always Existed -- But Cell Phones Make It Worse

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman

Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, went on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show Wednesday morning to talk about the Board's recent recommendation for a national ban on cell phones.

She also fielded calls from listeners -- like Lisa in Forest Hills, who called to ask about generational differences in cell phone capabilities.  "I'm 45," she said, "and if I try to have a conversation while I'm driving, unless it's with someone physically in the car it's very distracting." So: if you grew up talking on cell phones, is it different?

Hersman said the generational differences have to do with the actual activity, not level of distraction.  She said while older drivers talk more -- younger drivers are different.  "What they're doing much more than talking is texting, or posting to Facebook, or tweeting," she said.

And are hands-free devices safer than holding the phone next to your ear? "What we're concerned about," said Hersman, "goes back to...the cognitive distraction. How the brain is engaged, and not just the hands or the eyes. It's that you're focusing your attention away from the task at hand...accidents develop and happen in the blink of an eye."

To which Brian interjected: "It's Siri versus the NTSB at this point."

Karen in South Harlem called in to say she's often "a completely cognitively alert passenger" on highways between the city and the Adirondacks. Frustrated by the amount of texting while driving she says she witnesses, she wanted to know if she could participate in "a citizen's arrest situation" using her cell phone -- either to call law enforcement or to photograph offenders.

Hersman wasn't willing to deputize passengers, but she agreed that there needed to be a mechanism in place to report on activities like this -- "just like if you suspect someone's drunk driving, making sure those types of things are reportable to law enforcement and they know how to handle those are important."

But the question of what constituted a distraction behind the wheel got the attention of both callers and Brian. Is listening to talk radio distracting? Music? Or eating? Why are those things any less dangerous than talking on the phone?

"Distractions have been around since the Model T," Hersman said, "whether it's people eating, or looking at things on the side of the road or reading billboards...I think there are a lot of distractions but what we're seeing with personal and portable electronic devices is that they're becoming more prevalent, being more used, and people are being more distracted behind the wheel."

You can listen to the segment below, or swing on over to the Brian Lehrer Show page, where you can also take part in the discussion via the comments section.



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TN MOVING STORIES: Detroit's Light Rail Plan is Dead, a BRT Plan Emerges; Republicans Link Payroll Tax to Keystone Pipeline; Rio Relaunches Bike Share

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The NTSB wants a federal ban on cell phones while driving. (Link)
Overcoming travel phobias: a success story. (Link)
Picture this: got a flat? Call the tow bike. (Link)

Bike share in Rio (photo by riopravoce via Flickr)

NTSB Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman tells the Takeaway the urge to tweet in a car is just too great (The Takeaway).

A controversial Republican version of the payroll tax -- now linked to the Keystone XL pipeline -- passed the House and heads to the Senate. (Washington Post)

California's governor announced $1 billion in budget cuts; free school bus transportation is among the programs slashed. (Los Angeles Times)

Plans for light rail in Detroit have been scrapped in favor of a system of high-speed city and suburban buses. (Detroit Free Press)

Rio de Janeiro relaunched its bike share program -- with better results. (Atlantic Cities)

The cost of canceling Toronto's planned Transit City light rail lines could exceed $65 million. (Globe and Mail)

New York's Court of Appeals rules that selling MetroCard swipes is not larceny; overturns 2009 conviction. (New York Times)

Indiana unveiled a ten-year, $1.3 billion transit overhaul. (Indianapolis Star)

New York Times editorial: Governor Cuomo, you don't need more meetings about the taxi legislation--just sign it.

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NTSB Calls for National Ban On Cell Phones While Driving

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(photo by mscholar14 via flickr)

Federal investigators today called for a nationwide ban on using cell phones while driving.

"More than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents," said National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving."

The Board is normally charged with investigating accidents, not setting policy.

The board's recommendation came on the heels of an investigation into a multi-car pileup that happened in Missouri last August, when a pickup truck ran into the back of a truck-tractor that had slowed due to an active construction zone. The pickup truck, in turn, was struck from behind by a school bus. That school bus was then hit by a second school bus that had been following. Two people died and 38 others were injured.

According to the NTSB's press release, the investigation revealed that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the truck-tractor.

Department of Transportation Ray LaHood has made distracted driving one of his key issues. When he unveiled crash statistics for 2010 earlier this month, he announced a new category: the "distraction-affected crash” measure, which collects data about the role distracted driving plays in accidents. He wrote in a blog post that "data confirms that driver distraction continues to be a significant safety problem. For example... more than three-quarters of the drivers told us they answer calls on all, some, or most trips when they're behind the wheel."

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PICTURE: Got a Flat? Call the Tow Bike.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Seen on SoHo's Charlton Street Tuesday morning: a bicyclist with two additional bikes in tow.

(Okay, we have no idea why these bikes were being towed, but we like to imagine that there's someone roaming the city, ready and able to provide a helping hand to bicyclists in need.)

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TN MOVING STORIES: GOP Ties Payroll Tax to Keystone Pipeline, New Marlins Stadium Lacks Transpo Plan, Big Changes for Chicago Taxis

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Mitt Romney: metro-friendly moderate? (Link)
NY's governor signed the MTA tax reduction into law. (Link)
Northern states are looking for eco-friendly road de-icers. (Link)
Protesters disrupt West Coast ports. (Link)

The new Marlins stadium (photo by Ghost of Fire via Flickr)

The GOP is tying the payroll tax cut extension to the Keystone pipeline. (WNYC)

The Los Angeles MTA released a one-year action plan to address civil rights violations cited in a federal audit. (Los Angeles Times)

The New York MTA’s final 2012 budget plan won’t restore any of the bus or subway service officials eliminated last year. (New York Daily News)

A group of senators is pushing to extend the commuter tax benefit before it runs out. (The Hill)

The transportation plan for the new Miami Marlins stadium remains incomplete -- four months before opening day. (Atlantic Cities)

And: The city of Miami --which owns the stadium -- has yet to lease any of the store and restaurant spaces in the new ballpark's parking garages. "The city administration’s effort to fill 53,000 square feet of commercial space in the publicly owned parking garages flanking the stadium has barely gotten off the ground." (Miami Herald)

The City of Chicago is introducing broad changes to its taxi industry regulations. (WBEZ)

An article about Finland's education system yielded this factoid: "Speeding tickets are calculated according to income." (New York Times)

Cities and counties across Texas are increasingly demanding that drunken-driving suspects who refuse to take breathalyzer tests submit to blood tests. (Wall Street Journal)

Colorado decides today whether to make energy companies list all the chemicals they use to do hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But environmentalists want them to disclose much more. (Marketplace)

Mobile speed cameras in Maryland are racking up ticket money from nailing drivers who speed through work zones. (Washington Post)

Check out an 1896 map of California bike routes. (LA Curbed)

And on this morning's Brian Lehrer Show: tune in around 11:30am for a conversation about one scientist's subway sleeping experiment. (WNYC)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Texting While Driving Up 50%, House To Hold Hearing on CA Bullet Trains

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top stories on TN:

What Cuomo's tax bill says about transit. (Link)
And: Cuomo says he'll include transit in his infrastructure fund. (Link)
Bloomberg is still optimistic that the governor will sign the taxi bill. (Link)

Waiting for a bus in L.A. (photo by Laurie Avocado via Flickr)

A federal audit says Los Angeles's transit agency failed to fully research its impacts on riders and communities, especially when eliminating bus lines, adding service or changing fares. (Los Angeles Times)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing this week on California's high-speed rail project this week. (Link)

The pre-tax commuter benefit rewards drivers more than transit riders. (New York Times)

And: if Congress doesn't act before the end of the year, the benefit expires. (Washington Post)

New Jersey's Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program has become popular that it may be expanding to other types of communities -- diluting the original intent of the program. (NJ Spotlight)

Texting by drivers is up 50%, even as states pass laws against it. And what’s more, many drivers don’t think it’s dangerous when they do it — only when others do. (AP via Washington Post)

Ford kills a line of small pickup trucks, says demand is for full-size. (Marketplace)

The new Apple store at Grand Central Terminal is a good deal for New York's transit agency. (NY Daily News)

Deaths on Caltrain tracks are increasing--horrifying train engineers, who are the last people to see the victims alive. (Bay Citizen)

More on Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor problem. (New York Times)

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TN MOVING STORIES: House to Hold Hearing on Volt Fires; Christie "Concerned" About Port Authority Toll Explanation

Friday, December 09, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Port Authority: no transportation funds are going to WTC reconstruction. (Link)
The redistricting proposal put out by Florida's House spells trouble for Mica. (Link)
The number of New Yorkers commuting by bike has doubled in the last four years. (Link)
Houston drivers + winter = danger. (Link)
The number of electric vehicles able to power buildings and feed the power grid will grow to more than 5 million in 2017. (Link)

London taxi (photo by kenjonbro via Flickr)

A U.S. House subcommittee will hold a hearing into reports of GM's Chevrolet Volt catching fire (Bloomberg); meanwhile, Ray LaHood insists the vehicles are safe and that information hadn't been withheld from the public. (Detroit Free Press)

Governor Christie is "concerned" about the Port Authority's changing explanation for the toll hike, calls former head Chris Ward "an awful manager...who didn't tell the truth."  (The Star-Ledger)

Salary information for all Port Authority employees is now on the agency's website.

Talks continue on an FAA bill. (Politico)

Suspension cables on the 80-year-old George Washington Bridge are being replaced. (New York Times)

New York Daily News op-ed: Governor Cuomo, sign the livery bill already.

Learning to drive a taxi in London changes your brain. (Atlantic Cities)

Does my EV's butt look big in this docking backpack? (GizMag)

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Port Authority: No Transportation Funds Are Going to the World Trade Center

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Holland Tunnel (photo by mrZiad.123 via Flickr)

The Port Authority didn't mislead anyone last summer when it raised the specter of a large price tag for rebuilding the World Trade Center while arguing for steep toll hikes for its Hudson River crossings.

That's according to Chairman David Samson, who says the authority's been clear:  it needs the money for its transportation network.

"Do I think there was consistency? Yes," said Samson after a Port Authority Board meeting Thursday. "Do I regret that somebody may have misunderstood  that, in some of the public statements? If there was misunderstanding, on the point of view of the listener, sure I regret that."

Samson's remarks came just hours after the AAA said in court on Thursday that the Port Authority's Interstate Transportation Network -- its revenue-producing bridges and tunnels -- is a cash cow. The motorist association says the Port Authority is using that money to pay for the financially draining World Trade Center rebuilding.

The Port Authority says the ITN is drag on its system and has operated at a deficit for half a century -  since the agency acquired the PATH train system in 1962.

That's the issue at the heart of a lawsuit wending its way through federal court. AAA is suing the Port Authority over toll and fare hikes which took effect in September. The judge heard arguments today and said he'd issue a written decision, but gave no timetable.

The Port Authority's ITN consists of  several bridges and tunnels, as well as the Port Authority bus terminals, the PATH train system, and trans-Hudson ferry service.

When the agency made the case for the toll hikes in August, it repeatedly talked about its 10-year, $25 billion capital plan. Forty-three percent of that amount -- or $10.7 billion -- is slated to go towards projects for the ITN, including hoisting the Bayonne Bridge, replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix, and modernizing the PATH system.

The next big ticket item, coming in at $6.9 billion, is the cost of rebuilding the World Trade Center. The Port Authority insists it's funding the WTC rebuilding through borrowing, federal grants, and insurance -- not toll revenues.

Samson wouldn't comment on any of the specific details of the pending litigation, but he disagreed with the AAA's assertion that the agency had misled the public into believing toll revenues would support the WTC.

"I think we were pretty clear about what we were talking about at the time," he said. "There's no doubt that in discussing the proposed toll and fare increase, we attempted to describe the overall financial condition of the agency. Inevitably, if you're going to be talking about the overall financial condition of the agency, you're going to talk about security that was added post-9/11 and the World Trade Center redevelopment site. There was to my knowledge, no reference, no specific statement, that said the proposed toll and fare increases were going to some other use, or some other place, other than what the executive director said was the integrated transportation network."

Pat Foye, the Port Authority's executive director, wasn't heading the agency in August. But he said the Port Authority's message has always been consistent. And the bottom line, he said,  was if the agency hadn't raised tolls this summer, "there would have been a drag in the amount of $3 billion dollars on the rest of the organization, the non-interstate transportation part of the organization. And the fare and toll increase reduced the drag, reduced the burden, on the rest of the organization."




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Judge to Decide on Challenge to Port Authority Toll Increase

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A judge said he would soon issue a written opinion after hearing arguments from AAA on Thursday claiming that the Port Authority is turning a profit from its bridges and tunnels and has no need – or legal authority – to raise tolls.


TN MOVING STORIES: LaHood Wants Federal Ban on Texting While Driving, Cuomo Threatens to Veto Street Hail Legislation, and the 10 Best Transit Poems

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Transpo advocates are livid over deeper cut to NY MTA revenue stream. (Link)
A lawsuit challenging Port Authority's toll increases is in court today. (Link)
Cities have their moment -- and the 2012 TED Prize. (Link)
LOOK: NYC unveils haute scaffolding. (Link)

One of the approximately 200 wheelchair accessible cabs in the city. (photo by Kate Hinds/WNYC)

Ray LaHood wants a federal ban on texting while driving -- and he'll announce today that traffic fatalities in 2010 have hit the lowest level since 1949.(USA Today)

Governor Cuomo says lack of resolution over accessibility issues means he'll probably veto Mayor Bloomberg's plan to allow livery cabs to pick street hails and start over next year. (New York Daily News)

More people are walking in New York City, according to the increasing "pedestrian volume index." (New York Times)

Public transit ridership is up. (USA Today)

Why Gabe Klein (Chicago's transportation commissioner) is the way he is. (New City)

And: Chicago further proves its bike lane street cred, gets snowplow especially for protected lanes. (The Northwest Passage; h/t Gabe Klein)

Atlantic Cities has a list of what it says are the world's 10 best transit poems. Like this one, by Carl Sandburg: Night from a railroad car window/is a great, dark, soft thing/broken across with slashes of light

Peer-to-peer bike sharing gets rolling. (Fast Company)

A new app turns riding the London Underground into a game. (Good)

How a bike recreated the light ribbons from Tron. (Guardian)

Recreating the light ribbons from Tron (photo: Laura Aldred)


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LOOK: NYC Unveils Haute Scaffolding

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

(photo by Samantha Modell)

It's called the Urban Umbrella (PDF of design), and it won the urbanSHED International Design Competition hosted by New York City to find a, well, less unsightly scaffolding.

With more than 6,000 construction sites in the city using sidewalk sheds to cover more than 1,000,000 linear feet of walkways, there's a lot of eyesore removal to to turn all those painted plywood rafters into something out of Belle Époque Paris.

The winning entry the Urban Umbrella pictured above, was designed by Young-Hwan Choi, a 28-year-old student from the University of Pennsylvania.

The prototype is under construction now to be installed in Lower Manhattan soon.

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Port Authority Challenged in Court on Toll Increase

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The first public court hearing in a lawsuit challenging the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's recent toll hikes was held Thursday — and at the heart of the dispute is the shifting justifications for the increase: either to fund transportation or help pay for the $11 billion World Trade Center redevelopment.

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Lawsuit Challenging Port Authority Toll Increase in Court Thursday

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Lincoln Tunnel traffic (Getty Images)

Thursday will be the first public court hearing in a lawsuit challenging the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's recent toll hikes. And at the heart of the dispute is whether the Authority is using that revenue to pay for the $11 billion World Trade Center redevelopment, not transportation.

Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the New York and North Jersey chapters of the Automobile Association of America, the group suing the agency, says the WTC -- "far and above the most expensive thing they are talking about doing"--is not a transportation expense. “Why should motorists pay for a half-empty office building that they’re having a difficult time attracting tenants to?” he said. The AAA wants a federal judge to block the Authority's toll increases.

In legal filings, The Port Authority says the money from the toll increase is being used to fund its Interstate Transportation Network (ITN), which consists of its tolled bridges and tunnels, as well as the PATH train and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. But back in August, a press release cited the cost of the WTC site as an example of the financial stresses it faced. And during the public hearings on the fare hike, that issue kept coming up -- as did the Authority's $33 billion, 10-year capital plan.  That was an emotional argument for politically unpopular hikes, coming as it did less than a month before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Neither New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, nor New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who control the Port Authority, have explained the shifting justifications for the hike.

The AAA says the ITN is in the black -- making the toll hike unnecessary. The Port Authority disputes this, saying in an affidavit (pdf) that "even with the tolls and fares increase, the ITN will still operate at a deficit and will likely require support from other facilities."

The Port Authority says it needs the toll revenues to fund its $25 billion 10-year capital plan and the lawsuit should be dismissed.

Last week a New Jersey assemblyman asked Governor Christie to investigate how the Port Authority is handling the toll and PATH fare hikes.

The Port Authority approved the toll increase in August-- one month before the tenth anniversary of 9/11-- raising the cash cost of crossing the Hudson River bridges and tunnels from $8 to $12. At the time, the agency's then-executive director, Chris Ward, said the hikes were "absolutely necessary to ensure the financial strength of the Port Authority and to maintain and grow the critical transportation infrastructure that serves the bi-state region."

In September, just before the increase went into effect, the AAA asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to block it. The DOT declined, and so the AAA brought suit.

AAA says it's relying on legal precedent from the last time it sued the Port Authority, which was over the agency's 1989 toll hikes. "We didn’t want motorists paying to subsidize the PATH," said Sinclair.  A court ruled against the AAA, saying the Port Authority could use toll hikes to fund transportation projects.

You can see the AAA's complaint against the Port Authority here (pdf).

For more TN coverage on the fare hike, click here.

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East Harlem Bike Lanes: 'Change Is Scary'

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The city's transportation department made their case for bike lanes to an East Harlem Community Board Tuesday during a heated public hearing.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Republicans Grill LaHood About High-Speed Rail, MTA Testfies about Winter Storm Readiness

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Top stories on TN:

NY Governor Cuomo's deal on the MTA's payroll tax won't cut its budget--yet. (Link)
Following a drunk driving arrest last weekend, FAA head Randy Babbitt resigns. (Link)
HOT lanes deal for I-95 in Northern VA was announced. (Link)
A new poll says Californians would vote to kill high-speed rail funding. (Link)

A NYC bus stuck in the aftermath of the 12/26/10 blizzard (photo by John Chevier via Flickr)

House Republicans "treated Ray LaHood’s high-speed rail program like a piñata" at yesterday's hearing. (Politico/MT)

The prime minister of Somalia is back on the job in New York's Department of Transportation. (New York Times)

NYC transit officials told City Council they forgot about a stranded subway train during last year's blizzard. (New York Times)

The new head of New York's MTA is facing his first big labor relations test. (Gotham Gazette)

Are parking maximums as bad for New York City as real estate developers say they are? (Atlantic Cities)

More than half of Americans oppose body scanners because of cancer fears. (ProPublica)

Scottish politicians said they'd pay for high-speed rail if Parliament builds a network north of Birmingham. (Guardian)

Princeton's plan to add an arts and transit hub to the neighborhood moved one step closer to reality. (NJ.com)

More than 110 House members from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to the White House supporting a six-year transportation bill. (New York Times)

A Swedish group is offering insurance for fare beaters. (Atlantic Cities)

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East Harlem Bike Lanes: "Change is Scary"

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


NYC DOT's Joshua Benson, presenting the city's plans for bike lanes in East Harlem (photo by Kate Hinds)

In a long and often contentious public hearing Tuesday night, Manhattan's Community Board 11 revisited arguments for and against a pair of proposed bike lanes on First and Second Avenues.

CB11 had voted overwhelmingly to support the lanes, which would run from 96th Street to 125th Street, earlier this fall. And the city had said they'd begin construction in the spring of 2012. But that schedule was thrown into doubt last month when the board voted to rescind their support of the lanes after local business owners protested.

So on Tuesday night, the New York City Department of Transportation made their sixth visit to CB11 to made the case for the lanes once again. They showed a PowerPoint of the street redesign, talked about its benefits, and pledged to work closely with business owners and other community members to address concerns.

And concerns were plentiful. Business owners, like Frank Brija, who owns Patsy's Pizzeria and is also a member of CB11, said he was a bike rider himself and liked bike lanes in general--just not on his street. "I'm here to say, why can't we just compromise," he said. "First Avenue we know is like a next highway to the FDR Drive. When there's traffic there, it becomes so congested." He suggested that the bike lanes be relocated to Pleasant Avenue or Paladino Avenue.

Erik Mayor, another CB11 member and the owner of Milk Burger, agreed with Brija."The people who drive up First Avenue don't live here," he said. "And it's not realistic to think that people are going to ride their bike to work, when most people live in the Bronx." He said the lanes would increase traffic and pollution, and that the DOT's rationale for installing protected bike lanes in the neighborhood was flawed. "What works in Denmark, or Colombia, or Bogota, that's not El Barrio. That's not East Harlem. That's not Spanish Harlem."

But they were in the minority. During the public comment session, person after person got up to speak in favor of the lanes. Members of Community Board 7 on Manhattan's Upper West Side -- which recently unveiled data on its own year-old bike lane -- were on hand to assuage fears. "We had a debate on our board which was very similar to what you're currently experiencing," said CB7's Ken Coughlin.

"I'm here to tell you that now we have more than a year of experience, all these concerns are basically groundless." He told the group that Columbus Avenue had seen reductions in injuries, speeding cars and double parking since that lane's installation. "Change can be difficult, but what we got for our change was a safer street, a more livable street, a more functional street for everyone, and, I think, a more beautiful street."

One by one, public health officials, doctors, local activists, mothers with small children, and even school students stood up to speak in favor of the lanes. One of the supporters, Raphael Benavides, said: "The new proposed configuration is a win/win for everyone involved. It is safer--just look at the numbers. It is healthier, it is good for the environment...and it is good for business." He said the lanes would bring more people to East Harlem. "Cyclists are explorers. They will come to our community. And I am a business owner, so I do have a vested interest in this endeavor."

At several points people spoke over each other and at times the discussion got heated enough that a board member intervened to smooth over hurt feelings. One CB11 member, Yma Rodriguez, said she was insulted by the implication that bike lane supporters had been brainwashed by the city. "That the DOT would get us all together to conspire...could you not believe that we have minds of our owns, that we also have opinions, that we also have concerns that are legitimate?"

Brija and Mayor left before the meeting was over. At the end of the evening, one of the last members of the public to speak, local resident Diego Quiñones, surveyed the room and summed up the events of the evening:  "Wow, change is scary, huh?"

Matthew Washington, the chair of CB11, said afterward that the board would formally revisit the lanes at the committee level in January. "We have to mold this proposal, as it's been molded already, to get to that ultimate point where all people feel that issues have been addressed," he said.





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TN MOVING STORIES: Vermont Swiftly Repaired Irene-Damaged Roads; LaHood To Testify About High-Speed Rail Today

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Top stories on TN:

FAA Chief Randy Babbitt is on a leave of absence after being arrested for drunk driving Saturday night. (Link)
The White House declined to call for Babbitt's resignation. (Link)
MIT developed an algorithm to predict which vehicles will run a red light. (Link)

Repairing a post-Hurricane Irene Route 106 in Weathersfield, Vermont (photo courtesy of the Vermont Agency of Transportation)

Vermont’s success in swiftly repairing roads damaged by Hurricane Irene "is a story of bold action and high-tech innovation." (New York Times)

NYC DOT head Janette Sadik-Khan -- "the high priestess of people-friendly cities" -- went on Rock Center with Brian Williams to talk about street redesign. (NBC)

U.S. DOT head Ray LaHood will be on the hill today to testify about the nation's high-speed rail program. (The Hill)

California's high-speed rail program is starting to look iffy. (KALW)

Deepwater Horizon update: BP accused Halliburton of destroying evidence about possible problems with the cement slurry that went into drilling the oil well. (AP via NPR)

A California law going into effect next year puts a statewide cap on the amount of greenhouse gases coming out of smokestacks and tailpipes. (NPR)

NY's MTA is installing more cameras and driver partitions on hundreds of city buses. (New York Post)

England has tabled a decision on whether to begin work on HS2 -- the high-speed rail project running from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds -- until next year. (The Guardian)

Men over 45 are more likely to crash their cars on snowy, icy roads. “There may be a sense of invulnerability with four-wheel drive trucks leading the drivers to not slow down as much as they should," says a researcher who conducted the study. (Chicago Tribune via Inforum)

Sales of GM and Ford cars are on the rise in China. (Marketplace)

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