It would take 30 years and $117 billion, but Amtrak today unveiled an "initial look" at a high-speed rail system linking Boston to Washington DC. More to come on this later, but you can read the report here (PDF).
The Department of Transportation wants airlines to refund baggage fees in the event of lost or delayed luggage. Unsurprisingly, there's opposition from an airline trade group, which says defining a timely delivery is "subjective." (Marketplace)
The Hudson River rail tunnel saga continues: Senator Lautenberg says that Governor Christie won't let NJ Transit staff meet with the Federal Transit Administration. (Star-Ledger)
A Maryland ban on (cell phone) talking while driving goes into effect this week. (WAMU)
Bangladesh to develop the "Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Corridor Project," which contains BRT lines and an elevated expressway. (Daily Star)
(Detroit - Jerome Vaughn, WDET) - Hyundai is recalling nearly 140,000 sedans because of steering wheel problems. The affected vehicles are from the 2011 model year, and the recall includes Hyundai Sonata sedans built between December 2009 and this month.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the universal joint connections in the steering column may have been insufficiently tightened or installed improperly. The problem could allow the connections to loosen, possibly resulting in a loss of steering and increasing the possibility of a crash.
Dealers will inspect the steering column and make repairs at no cost to consumers. The automaker will also update power steering software during those inspections.
The New York City MTA, in an effort to encourage scofflaws to pay up, has declared October to be late-fee amnesty month for subway and bus riders who have received tickets (New York Post). Meanwhile, lawmakers give the MTA a "B" for its work on the Second Avenue Subway (New York Daily News). And: this weekend saw planned work on nearly every subway line, culminating in the largest MTA shuttle bus deployment ever (Gothamist).
People have begun moving into Masdar, Abu Dhabi's "zero-carbon" experimental city--where the ground level was elevated 23 feet so that a fleet of electric vehicles could operate below the surface. (New York Times)
Southwest Airlines to buy rival AirTran, expand service on East Coast. (Wall Street Journal)
Ray LaHood says that this year the Department of Transportation has "completed more NTSB safety recommendations than in any of the last five years" (Fast Lane). But: a recent investigation found that "Americans are exposed every day to risks in highway, air, rail and water travel because of government delays in acting on recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board." (Washington Post)
The Transport Politic takes a look at the long-term consequences the recession has had upon urban transit agencies.
Los Angeles and Beijing are teaming up to share ideas on dealing with traffic. (AP)
Decrease in traffic deaths nationwide, and Florida has the country's largest drop. But why? (Florida Times-Union)
California's budget stalemate has put $3.9 billion in transportation funding on hold. (San Jose Mercury News)
DC Metro safer than last year, but needs more whistleblowers. (Washington Post)
General Motors' return to the stock market might be a smaller sale than previously thought. (Marketplace)
MARTA cuts roll out Saturday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Walking too passé? Biking getting boring? AltTransport lists the eight strangest transportation devices you can actually buy. Like the below PowerRiser.
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) WNYC went out on the Brooklyn Bridge last week to check on the progress of that structure's $508 million, four-year rehabilitation. The galvanized steel containment shields are going up, the off-white canvas is being hung, and the pedestrian/bike walkway has narrowed about a foot and a half.
To read the rest of the story, click here.
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its first "Transportation Performance Indexes" today, which look at how the country's infrastructure is "serving the needs of the U.S. economy and business community."
The report looks at both the overall picture and on a state-by-state basis, and draws the conclusion that the transportation system is not keeping up with the demands placed upon it.
"The bottom line is this: our nation's deteriorating infrastructure is placing a major drag on our economic growth," said Thomas Donohue, the Chamber's president and CEO. The indexes' web page quotes one statistic that says it will take $148 billion just to keep freight rail operational in the year 2035--which is a bit more than President Obama's $50 billion infrastructure plan. -- Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation
As part of the U.N. General Assembly events, President Barack Obama is hosting a reception for visiting heads of state at the American Museum of Natural History Thursday night. The museum has been closed to the public all day in preparation.
(Jackie Yamanaka, Yellowstone Public Radio) Montana has no law banning cell phone use or texting while driving--but that will soon change in the state's largest city. An ordinance going into effect next month says if a Billings City police officer sees a driver holding up a cell phone to their ear, or texting while driving, that driver can be immediately pulled over and given a written warning or a citation.
For a first offense, the fine is $110. Billings Police Chief Rich St. John says he’s hoping the law will deter drivers from using a cell phone while driving. “If we don’t write a ticket for this, I’m okay with that," he says, "as long as we get compliance. Because ultimately the goal is to get people’s heads out of the cell phone or Blackberry and out on the road where it belongs.”
People who use a hands-free device are exempt from this ordinance, as are emergency responders, such as police and firefighters. The ban takes effect October 31, 2010.
We went out on the Brooklyn Bridge last week to check the progress of the work.
Dozens of New York City taxi drivers have been arrested on charges that they defrauded customers by doubling fares. (WNYC)
More than a year after Virginia implemented a statewide ban on texting while driving, local police officers say they're unlikely to write a ticket for a violation. (WAMU)
Another round of strikes hobbles transportation in France. (NPR)
The results of an audit of Virginia's Department of Transportation are expected to reveal that the department has almost $500 million in unspent funds. (Washington Post)
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Crossing the streets around New York City's Union Square got a little bit easier today, with the official completion of the redesign of the sidewalks and streets surrounding the area. The neighborhood, which hosts the city's flagship Greenmarket four days a week, sees tens of thousands of visitors on a daily basis, and there have been 95 pedestrian injury crashes from 2004 to 2008. The updates include a bike line and changes to the traffic pattern, and a pedestrian plaza has been added to the east side of Broadway between 17th and 18th Streets.
San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency wants to "focus on moving people, not cars," says agency head. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Lights out, Minnesota: some towns are turning off streetlights to save money. (Minnesota Public Radio)
Freight railroad companies balk at sharing rails with high speed passenger trains. (Wall Street Journal)
Did Governor Christie say that he'd replenish NJ's Transportation Trust Fund with the Hudson rail earmark? What he meant to say was that he was waiting for recommendations. (Star Ledger)
The Infrastructurist reports on a (fairly unscientific) trial to determine: which makes you crazier, commuting by bus or by car?
(Washington, DC — Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Commercial interstate truckers hauling cars or chickens are already banned from texting while behind the wheel. So you'd think it would be a no-brainer that rig drivers hauling gasoline or other flammable materials would be banned too.
In fact, federal rules laid down last year prohibiting texting while driving in the federally-regulated commercial trucking industry left out rigs hauling hazardous materials. Now that loophole has been closed, under planned new regulations announced by the Department of Transportation Tuesday.
In addition to the trucking ban, Obama Administration officials also said they want to lean on private companies to do more to curb distracted driving in their vehicle fleets.
Starting Tuesday, one of the three shuttle trains running between Grand Central Station and Times Square has what the MTA calls a subway first: an advertiser-sponsored video campaign. The ten-inch screens are promoting TBS's coverage of the baseball post-season.
(Detroit -- Noah Ovshinsky, WDET) Supporters of mass transit are touting a new study that looks at the economic impact of high-speed rail in the Midwest. According to the Public Interest Research Group In Michigan (PIRGIM), a new rail network would create 58,000 jobs and tap into the manufacturing base that already exists in Michigan. Several Midwest states, including Michigan, have received stimulus money to help establish high speed train routes.
Meghan Hess of PIRGIM says she hopes the report keeps the issue in the public eye. “There is some money coming in from the recovery act but its not enough to fund the whole system," she says. "It needs the political will and the public pressure behind that political will to make that system a reality.”
Michigan is using stimulus money to build new train stations in several cities along the Chicago-Detroit rail corridor. Advocates say a new high speed rail system would allow passengers to travel between the two cities in less time than it takes to drive.
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Beginning today, one of the three shuttle trains running between Grand Central Station and Times Square has what the MTA says is a subway first: an advertiser-sponsored video campaign. The ten-inch screens will be running highlights of the previous night's baseball games. Although the screens are just repeating a commercial right now, subway rider Janet Vasquez appreciates it.
"I think it's great," she says. "I mean, I enjoy baseball, so it's a little different than looking at the regular, everyday mundane."
The MTA says it earns more than $100 million dollars a year from advertising -- but isn't saying how much it will earn from the video commercials. The baseball campaign will run on the Times Square Shuttle for a month.
Today the Department of Transportation kicks off its second Distracted Driving Summit. Members of the Transportation Nation team are there and will be posting later on today.
But in the meantime: there's no need to let, say, your work schedule interfere with your desire to follow the proceedings. A recent Ray LaHood tweet reads: "Can't watch at work? Staff blogging distracted driving summit live at http://fastlane.dot.gov You can participate w/comments!"
The NYPD is monitoring 500 subway cameras, 24/7. (WNYC)
Houston's Metro has been criticized for a lack of transparency. So it's now streaming board meetings live. (KUHF)
The New York Times wrote an editorial that's critical of the Koch brothers efforts to overturn California's clean energy law on the November ballot.
NJ Transit officials are in the hot seat for bad service this summer. Just how bad? "We encountered a series of events that caused 1,400 delays," says the executive director. (Asbury Park Press)
It's like magic: with a wave of your hand, you can ride the San Francisco Muni for free. D'OH! (San Francisco Weekly)
New York's state Public Transportation Safety Board wants subway motormen to have an early warning system to reduce track deaths. (NY Daily News)
And just in time for the UN General Assembly: it's Climate Week NYC, a series of events focused on global warming.
Marti Reinfeld is a big BikeShare fan. She can now easily make short trips within the city, instead of having to commute in all the way from home. "I can ride it in a skirt and heels - that's what I'm most excited about - so I don't have to change after work to ride my bike," she says. Ed Neugent says - as he rides one of the red and yellow BikeShare bikes - he'll use the service to get to work meetings. "Sometimes our meetings are held in other buildings and a lot of times we can probably hop on a bike and go to the meeting if we can't get a vehicle to travel. Plus, it's a good form of exercise too," he says.