(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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) U.S. representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN), who was narrowly defeated yesterday by Republican Chip Cravaack, will speak today at 2pm Eastern time. This will be his first statement since losing the election.
Political newcomer Cravaack defeated Oberstar by about 4,000 votes and a single percentage point--but the margin isn't small enough to trigger a recount. Cravaack accused Oberstar of neglecting his home district and told supporters his victory should serve as a warning. "The voters have spoken, and I hope they are paying attention in Washington," Cravaack said. "Because you have spoken loud and clear, not just from Minnesota, but from across this great nation. Let this serve as a warning to Congress. We don't work for you. You work for us."
Speaking on Minnesota Public Radio this morning, MPR reporter Stephanie Hemphill said that "there will be a lot of people waking up this morning and pinching themselves, including Chip Cravaack and Congressman Oberstar. It's hard to believe that someone who was in Congress since 1975 is not going to be there anymore."
Oberstar chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He was the only member of Minnesota's congressional delegation to fail to win re-election, and his defeat leaves many wondering what this means for transportation projects.
To hear Chip Craavack's victory speech, go here.
The Transport Politic does election analysis, says that "for advocates of alternative transportation, (it was) a difficult election day."
London subway workers go on strike for the third time in as many months. (AP)
New York City's transit court will soon provide translation services via telephone. This is a change from their current policy, in which "people who do not speak English are asked to bring a friend or family member who can translate." (New York Times)
The PATH train, at $1.75 a ride, is a bargain for New Yorkers who use it to avoid the MTA's higher fares. (New York Times)
The Guangzhou subway system is struggling to cope with an explosion in riders, as the system is free in advance of the Asian Games. (Global Times)
The Infrastructurist asks: where should ARC money go? They have a couple of ideas.
Fast Company profiles the Springsteen-loving founder of HopStop.
San Francisco's population of computer workers has boomed in recent years--in part because employers like Google, eBay, Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook provide private shuttle buses to their suburban campuses. "Like Google's buses, the Yahoo buses run on biodiesel, giving environmentally conscious employees another reason to feel good about their commute, besides comfortable seats, the cup holders and the Wi-Fi." (Silicon Valley Mercury-News)
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Not even home run kings are above the law.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that former San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds was issued a ticket for talking on his cell phone while driving -- "just as his former team was celebrating its first World Series title since moving to San Francisco."
But not even the prospect of a $125 fine could curb his enthusiasm. Bonds issued a statement last night that said "I am ecstatic for the team, the city and all the fans – you truly deserve it."
The Infrastructurist says: the survival of American high-speed rail hinges upon today's vote.
Grist talks to PolicyLink's Angela Glover Blackwell about why she says transportation is a civil rights issue--and what her worries are for today's election. "It is probably safe to assume that if the Congress becomes more Republican that having the support for infrastructure investment in public transportation will become a divisive issue."
Tow your charger: one Indiana company plans to market a "range extender"--a trailer that you tow behind your electric car that contains a generator to keep your car charged (Wired). Which you might need: GM's Volt has ten million lines of software code. "A car in the 1980s was roughly 5 percent electronics. The Chevy Volt is 40 percent. GM likens the product development for the Volt to a rocket program." (Smart Planet)
Speaking of GM: it goes public today. "In the next 24 hours or so GM is expected to file final papers for an Initial Public Offering. That sale of shares to private investors would change Uncle Sam from a majority owner into a minority owner." (Marketplace).
Behold: the first 3-D printed hybrid car. (Fast Company)
The head of the Allied Pilots Association opposes body scanner screening for pilots, says that the "practice of airport security screening of airline pilots has spun out of control and does nothing to improve national security." (Dallas Morning News.) Meanwhile, international cooperation over aviation security is gaining attention. (Wall Street Journal)
Seattle's Metro Transit is watching La Niña and preparing for a snowier-than-usual winter--and hoping to not repeat what happened in 2008, when bad weather caused Metro to cut service in half. (Seattle Times)
NJ Transit officials are wondering what to do with $47 million of North Bergen property, purchased for the ARC tunnel entrance. (Jersey Journal)
The Detroit Free Press cheers that state's recent high speed rail grant, but says they should have gotten more money. "The failure of Michigan politicians to address transportation funding needs certainly did not help."
AC Transit service cuts began yesterday, hitting Bay Area with a 7% reduction in service. (Silicon Valley Mercury-News)
General Motors officially retired the Pontiac brand, and the New York Times wrote an obituary.
This weekend's "Rally to Restore Sanity" set DC Metro ridership records. (WAMU)
"Underbelly Project:" an art exhibit (illegally) mounted in an abandoned New York City subway station. (New York Times)
Election tweet of the day, from Matt Laslo: "Totally just saw a Fimian for Congress truck smack and bend a parking meter."
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) On this morning's Brian Lehrer Show: their pre-election series 30 Issues in 30 Days tackles the issue of New York's MTA and how it might be affected by the upcoming election. Guests are Gene Russianoff, staff attorney at the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, and Andrea Bernstein, WNYC reporter and director of Transportation Nation. Tune in on 93.9FM, AM820, or WNYC.org. (Audio from the segment will also be available on WNYC's website later on this afternoon.)
New York City's MTA to quiet 6,000 city buses with mufflers. (NY Daily News)
A survey says that most DC Metro workers see safety violations, but fail to report them because they feared retaliation--or indifference. (Washington Post)
Airport security measures to get...more personal: "moving from the screener's traditional hand pat to more of a hand-sliding motion." (AP)
We have electric cars -- what about electric planes? Apparently they're making inroads in flight schools. (Wired)
If elected to office, Andrew Cuomo will bring not only his professional experience to Albany, but also "his garage full of 1970s muscle cars and a custom-made motorcycle, which he has labored and obsessed over since his days as a teenage gas station attendant in Queens." (New York Times)
More people took an Amtrak train in the last year than ever before, bringing in record ticket sales for the national rail service. But it's feeling the competition from inexpensive inter-city bus companies like Bolt.
Amtrak's most popular line continues to be the Northeast Corridor - the Boston-to-Washington route that boasts the Acela (with a top--albeit rarely achieved--speed of 165 mph, it's the closest thing the U.S. has to high speed rail right now--although today's DOT grants aim to eventually change that). Nancy Solomon reported on NPR that Amtrak passengers cite the convenience, the internet capability, and the relative comfort as being the big draw (NOT the train food, of which one rider says: "That's like plane food, that's just, no — that's, that's creepy.") And they're willing to pay -- a round-trip Acela ticket can cost $300.
To continue to attract passengers, Amtrak is trying to upgrade its culinary options--and expand internet access to more of its trains.
You can read Nancy Solomon's story here.
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) It's a sure sign that the holiday shopping season has begun: the Hess Corporation has announced that the newest addition to its toy truck lineup will be available for purchase at its gas stations in mid-November. This is a much-anticipated event among children and adults alike--some of whom have been collecting these toy trucks since the company began making them in 1964.
This year's truck is actually a truck-and-jet combination (to the untrained eye, it looks like a tractor trailer carrying a space shuttle on its back). To quote from the source: "Loaded with chrome detailing, the 14-wheeler tractor trailer features a flatbed trailer with hydraulic lift and runway lights that doubles as a launch pad for the accompanying high-powered jet." It costs $25.99 plus tax--and comes with batteries.
A quick web search revealed adulatory blog posts, historical society exhibits, lots of auctions, and a Facebook fan page where you can learn about the Hess toy truck's enduring role in family tradition
Possible routes for LA's Westside subway extension to be unveiled today, along with details of light rail connector. (Los Angeles Times)
Vote "O" for potholes: seven Bay Area counties will vote on whether to add fees to vehicle registration to pay for road repair (San Jose Mercury News)
MBTA's "Charlie cards" will start working today on buses in Boston's western suburbs. (Boston Globe)
Body scanning machines debut at Newark Liberty International Airport today. (Star Ledger)
A "motley, uncomfortable alliance" of Metro Atlanta officials met to talk about regional transportation needs. The meeting was described as "uneasy." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The Takeaway unpacks the political motivation behind the Obama Administration's high speed rail grants.
New Jersey is moving to privatize toll collection on the Garden State Parkway and NJ Turnpike. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
World Series tweet of the day: "The BART announcer keeps on teasing Texas. It's nice to see this city rally behind something besides an iPhone every now and then."