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Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

Senator Schumer Blasts Christie on ARC

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(Photo by: Jim O'Grady) U.S. Sen Charles Schumer talks NY region transpo infrastructure while taking a shot at NJ Gov Christie for canceling the ARC Tunnel.

New York U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is calling NJ Governor Chris Christie's decision to cancel the ARC tunnel a "terrible, terrible decision...By not completing the ARC tunnel, we are sacrificing the region's growth for the exigencies of the moment."

Schumer's remarks came at a Crain's New York Business breakfast forum, a venue politicians often choose to make pithy remarks about regional policy.  Schumer has so far been restrained in his public comments on ARC -- expressing disappointment with Gov. Christie's decision, but not taking him on directly.

But today Schumer went all out.  Governor Christie's proposal to use $1.8 billion of ARC money for other projects, he said, "compounds one mistake with another."

And Schumer pooh-poohed Mayor Bloomberg's plan to extend the number 7 line to Secaucus. "Let's be honest - this is Mayor Bloomberg taking lemons and trying to make a little lemonade."

We'll have more on this story later today.  You can read his prepared remarks here or below.

Schumer Crain's 1.18.11

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TN Moving Stories: NYC's Transit Police Scooters, Airlines Set to Report Robust Profits, and Seats Available for 2013 Ride to International Space Station

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Transit police scooters in Union Square subway station (Kate Hinds)

The New York Daily News says that "law enforcement in the subways has taken a cartoonish turn with transit police increasingly tooling around on three-wheeled standup scooters."

Having failed to get federal stimulus money to establish new Amtrak passenger rail service from Jacksonville to Miami, the Florida Department of Transportation wants to spend $118 million out of the state's transportation trust fund. (St. Augustine Record)

As it prepares to enter one of the largest construction booms in its history, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is operating with an internal watchdog staff that has been cut by more than half since 2000. (Los Angeles Times)

Seats are available for a 2013 ride to the International Space Station. All you need are many (many) millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of training. (Wired/Autopia)

The Washington Post says that Metro's board is off track.

Continuing a recovery from one of the worst economic slumps in airline industry history, the nation's air carriers in the weeks ahead are expected to report robust profits for 2010. (Los Angeles Times)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it hasn't received any complaints from F and G train riders in Brooklyn after big service changes went into effect on Monday. (WNYC)

The Mountain Line--Missoula's bus service--is setting ridership records and planning high-tech upgrades. (The Missoulian)

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TN Moving Stories: MTA Defends Performance During Blizzard, and Disconnect Over Transit Btw. Candidates and Voters in Chicago Mayoral Race

Monday, January 17, 2011

MTA officials went before the New York City Council to defend their handling of the recent blizzard.  Speaker Quinn: "It really left me not feeling any greater level of confidence that the MTA can handle the next storm." (Wall Street Journal)

The Chicago Tribune says that transit is a sleeper issue in that city's upcoming mayoral race--and highlights a big disconnect between candidates and voters. "Transportation issues are not raised on the candidates' campaign Web pages, and no one has put together a position paper.  But a new public-opinion poll on mass-transit issues found that the Chicago electorate cares greatly about CTA service, extending even to individuals who don't ride the system."

Are drivers just eminently distractible? USA Today looks at federal distracted driving efforts and wonders if the focus on phones and texting is misplaced.  One hospital researcher says that cellphones are "yet another thing that's distracting people," but a "flood of new distractions are being built into vehicles."

Edmonton, the only city in Canada that doesn’t allow alcohol advertisements on its buses and rail, wants to overturn a long-standing ban on transit ads for liquor. (Edmonton Journal)

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: The new GOP chief is not a fan of high speed rail.  One study says that biking infrastructures create more jobs than road-based ones. And Governor Cuomo appointed a state DOT commissioner.

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TN Moving Stories: Florida Gov Lifts Freeze on Transpo Contracts; DC Metro Considering Selling Station Names, and LaHood Tells Bike/Ped Advocates That Now Is Th

Friday, January 14, 2011

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: NYC MTA raids show evidence of ongoing faked subway signal inspections.  DC's Metro is eliminating phone booths, and New Jersey Transit's website was briefly derailed when they failed to renew their domain name. And in other news:

DC Metro's budget has a $72 million gap (Washington Post). Metro now considering selling naming rates to stations (WAMU).

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has approved 71 transportation contracts worth nearly $90 million--a day after the state Senate's Democratic leader complained that the new Republican governor's 90-day freeze on state contracts is delaying job-creation. (AP via Bloomberg)

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood blogs about a new report that says "on-street bike lanes and pedestrian measures created more direct jobs, more indirect jobs, and more induced jobs per dollar than either road upgrades or road resurfacing." LaHood writes: "Now is the time for advocates of cycling and walking to get into gear once again."

Drivers entering San Francisco during the morning rush hour have shaved four minutes off their commute, says a new report about the Bay Bridge's congestion toll pricing. (San Jose Mercury News)

Southeast Queensland (Australia) public transportation will be free for a week in the wake of flooding. “Making the network free for a week will keep unnecessary cars off the road, help people do some shopping and get around to help others if needed," says the region's premier. (Brisbane Times)

Orange County transportation officials are seeking to change their funding guidelines to resolve whether a mega transit center planned for Anaheim can receive almost $100 million in sales tax revenue that has been earmarked for the project. (Los Angeles Times)

Calgary Transit is looking for passenger love stories.

Hmmm...How to put a positive spin on this? Let's see: the New York Daily News reports that one subway passenger was awakened by the furry caress of a rat crawling on his face. (Warning: if you find rats upsetting, avoid the video):
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NJ Transit's Website Briefly Derailed

Thursday, January 13, 2011

(robotbrainz/Flickr)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  Transportation Nation received a tip this morning from a reader:

Is it possible that NJ Transit did not renew their domain name for the website?  http://www.njtransit.com/ Sure looks that way...
This makes it difficult to find schedules, to say the least.  Thought it might be worth looking into.

And it was.

"For a brief time this morning, the domain name lapsed and needed to be renewed,"  agency spokesman Dan Stessel told Transportation Nation, who also said that it was dealt with promptly. "It was quickly detected--an hour from detection to resolution."

Stessel said while 80% of people trying to access the website never noticed an issue, there were still some users who were being directed to a holding page. "We believe it affected one in five users between 7am and 9am today," he said.  He said that customers who had signed up for the agency's My Transit bus and rail service alerts continued to receive text messages throughout the morning.

Network Solutions, the company that hosts NJ Transit's website, said that the website actually expired on January 7th and the agency renewed it this morning.

NJ Transit seemed to have been caught by surprise. "We don’t have any record of notification, which is unfortunate," Stessel said. "We’re looking into it further. Our domain name provider says 'we sent emails' -- but they did not seem to be received."

Stessel wanted to reassure customers that this wouldn't happen again anytime soon -- or at least for the next two decades, because "we’ve renewed the domain name for 20 years."  For the cost of $279.80--less than price of a monthly rail pass between New Brunswick and New York Penn Station.

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TN Moving Stories: The Auto Industry Looks Into the Future; NJ Transit Studies Light Rail Over Bayonne Bridge, and Will BART Operate 24 Hours A Day?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BART station (Jason Schlachet/Flickr)

New Jersey Transit is considering a future expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail over the Bayonne Bridge into Staten Island; a Port Authority spokesman said it's far too early to say whether it's a realistic proposition. (Jersey Journal) (More on the upcoming Bayonne Bridge work can be found here.)

Missouri approves new rules for speeding and red light cameras on state roads. The key phrase: "regulate," not "eliminate." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KALW takes a look at BART's new year resolutions--and previews what transportation changes will be coming in 2011 for the Bay Area.  Will BART operate 24 hours a day? Stay tuned...

Want to know what the auto industry will look like in five years? The Detroit Free Press reads the tea leaves at this week's Auto Show.

A state panel votes to replace Texas Transportation Commission with a single chief. "I see this as being an almost Cabinet-level-like appointment," says the panel's vice chair. (Dallas Morning News)

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require bicycles to have license plates; bike advocates are not amused. So far, no one else has signed on to the bill. (NorthJersey.com)

Do London's bike superhighways boost cycling? Streetsblog says yes.

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: it snowed -- and New York City didn't grind to a halt. One weapon in the war against snow: GPS devices on snowplows.  Meanwhile, in Houston, a state vs. county battle is brewing over who will build the Grand Parkway -- a 180-mile ring around the city that will traverse seven counties. And: author Tony Hiss talks about his new book, In Motion: The Experience of Travel.

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Changing The Way We Look at Left Turns

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Superstreet (photo courtesy of Dr. Joe Hummer, NCSU)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  What kind of traffic design "results in significantly faster travel times, and leads to a drastic reduction in automobile collisions and injuries?"

According to a new study by North Carolina State University, the answer is...a *Superstreet.

These roads, which are also more dryly known as  "restricted crossing U-turns," are streets in which drivers have to make right turns in order to go left (although some do allow direct left turns, like in the photo above).  Doesn't that seem counter intuitive to the "faster travel times" claim? But the NCSU press release addresses this:  "While this may seem time-consuming, the study shows that it actually results in a significant time savings since drivers are not stuck waiting to make left-hand turns or for traffic from cross-streets to go across the thoroughfare."

More importantly: one of the academics behind the study, NCSU civil engineering professor Dr. Joseph Hummer, says: "We also found that superstreet intersections experience an average of 46 percent fewer reported automobile collisions – and 63 percent fewer collisions that result in personal injury.”

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TN Moving Stories: LA Retires Last Diesel Bus, Why Taxis Are Scarce in NYC at 5pm, and Snowstorm Disrupts Travel -- but Newark Is Prepared

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Giant amoeba-shaped" snowstorm blankets northeast, snarls flights, causes some transit disruptions. (New York Times)

Get your NYC winter storm travel advisories here.

Senator John Kerry warns that partisan fighting threatens US's global standing, urges colleagues to invest the hundreds of billions to repair the nation’s decaying transportation infrastructure and build a renewable-energy technology sector. (The Hill)

Wondering how Newark prepared for today's snowstorm? Wait no more!

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority retires its last diesel bus today, becomes first (and only) major transit agency in the nation with a fleet that is totally equipped with alternative-fuel technologies. (Los Angeles Times)

Ever feel like you can't get a taxi on a NYC street at 5pm? You're right, because data proves cabs disappear by the hundreds between 4pm and 5pm. (New York Times)

Chicago's Metra commuter rail introduces a quiet-car program, providing a haven for passengers who don't want to "hear about every medical malady in the world." (Chicago Tribune)

A federal audit sharply criticizes Miami-Dade Transit for shoddy financial management and weak internal controls -- including improper accounting for bus fare boxes and a failure to document how federal grant money has been spent. No word yet on when federal transit dollars will flow to Miami again. (Miami Herald)

TheCityFix takes a look at how transit systems worldwide use symbols to help you find your way.

The Takeaway looks at hybrids vs. electric cars at the Detroit Auto Show; listen below!

New York Daily News cartoonist Bill Bramhall neatly combines Mayor Bloomberg's apparent flight from Bermuda during the 12/26 blizzard with his attempts at improving city snowplows.

Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News

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Throgs Neck Bridge Turns 50: Moses Celebrates (Then, Not Now)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Aerial view of the Throgs Neck Bridge. Photographer unknown. (Courtesy of MTA Bridges and Tunnels Special Archive)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New York City's Throgs Neck Bridge -- which the MTA calls "the first major bridge of the postwar era," officially turns 50 today.

So it's a good time to look at some history.

"Plans to build a new bridge to try and relieve traffic on its sister Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, two miles to the west, had been in the making for some 15 years," writes the MTA. Robert Moses, who was then the head of the Triborough Bridge Authority, conceived of the bridge as a way to relieve traffic on the Bronx Whitestone Bridge. (Which was built to relieve traffic on the Triborough Bridge -- now known as the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.)

You can hear Moses talking about the need for the bridge in this piece of WNYC audio from the bridge's  October 1957 groundbreaking. (Audio is courtesy of the NYC Municipal/New York Public Radio Archives.)  Moses beings speaking about 15 minutes in.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and the speakers included Moses and a man named John Johnson, who was then the New York State Superintendent of Public Works.

Lest you think public protest against construction projects is a recent phenomenon, make sure you listen to the audio at about 11:45 minutes in, as Johnson bemoaned the difficulty of building large scale projects like highways and bridges.

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The Mayor Who Mulches

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

(Photo courtesy of New York City Parks Department)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Mayor Michael Bloomberg celebrate Mulchfest 2011 at Travers Park in Queens.

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TN Moving Stories: NJ Gets Another ARC Repayment Extension, and Will NYC's MTA Preemptively Shut Down Some Subways During Blizzards?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Public-private partnerships are winning converts for transportation projects. (Marketplace)

New Jersey now has until January 18th to repay the federal government $271 million for the ARC Tunnel. (Star-Ledger)

Day one of the North American International Auto Show, wrapped up by a Detroit News reporter who had to be at a 6:30am press conference:

The New York Daily News says the MTA may shut down at least some subway service during future blizzards rather than risk trains getting stuck.

Illinois lawmakers voted yesterday to end the practice of giving all senior citizens free rides on local buses and trains. (Chicago Tribune)

Some California transportation officials are pleased with Jerry Brown's budget. (Mercury News)

Who's to blame for this week's spate of flight cancellations: Mother Nature or the federal government? (Wall Street Journal's "Middle Seat" blog)

Governance reform is in the works at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA): according to Greater Greater Washington, "the plan highlights a good set of proposals for immediate action, but cuts out Northern Virginia governments in a way that could hurt the region and Metro."

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TN Moving Stories: NJ Transit's "Quiet Car" Program Spurs Not-So-Quiet Debate, and Has London "Misjudged Bike Demand?"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bicyclists in Dubai (Danny McL/Flickr)

The Star-Ledger's editorial board is not loving New Jersey Governor Christie's transportation plan, which they describe as a short-sighted "money grab — all to protect his image on the gas tax."

Speaking of the Garden State, NJ Transit's recently expanded "quiet car" program is experiencing some growing pains, like hearty debates over the difference between "silent" and "merely quiet." (New York Times)

Police in Fairfax, Virginia, are cracking down on distracted driving -- and say there's been a 45% decrease in fatal crashes and a 42% decrease in all crashes. (WAMU)

Bike sharing comes to Dubai -- along with a plan to build 900 km of bike tracks (lanes) by the year 2020 (Khaleej Times).

$500 million subway "boondoggle?" The New York Post says that more than a decade after the MTA pledged to transform the subway data network, the equipment is still busted and the multimillion-dollar price tag is growing.

Is London "a rather unpleasant place for cyclists?" That's the assertion made by an article in The Economist, which says London may have "fundamentally misjudged the nature of bike demand." “There has never been a shortage of bikes in London,” says one transport economist. “It’s just that people are afraid to use them.

Florida Governor Rick Scott met with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara at the Capitol to discuss trade -- and high-speed rail. (AP via the Miami Herald)

The New York Times profiled that friend to bicyclists, Denver mayor -- now Colorado's governor-elect -- John Hickenlooper.

California's new drivers' licenses are so complicated to produce that "up to 80% of some batches have had errors, forcing tens of thousands of motorists to wait as long as six weeks, rather than a few days, to get their cards." (Los Angeles Times)

Best Buy will sell 240-volt home charging stations for Ford's 2012 electric Focus. (Fast Company)

Supporters rally to save Toronto's Transit City; city councillor says “Transit City is a lot more than a transit plan, it’s a city-building exercise." (Toronto Star)

Stripping for public transit? Sunday was the 10th annual No Pants Subway Ride, an "international celebration of silliness."  (Good Magazine)

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TN Moving Stories: Boxer rends garments over House rules: Scott casts doubt on FL High Speed Rail; NY Subway Signal Fraud May Be Vast; But Hey, You Can Ride You

Friday, January 07, 2011

A downtown Manhattan parking meter--whose rates ARE rising (Kate Hinds)

New Florida Governor Rick Scott's Administration releases a report prepared by a Libertarian group that says Florida's High Speed Rail might be too costly. (WESH-TV, Orlando)  Scott said during the last debate that he wasn't necessarily against the Orlando-Tampa rail line, now funded with some $3 billion federal dollars -- but only if it didn't cost Florida taxpayers another penny.

California Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says if House Republicans act on threats to raid transportation fund "all our plans to do more...are thrown aside." (Streetsblog)

New York rolls back parking meter hikes--but only outside of Manhattan. (WNYC)

Subway officials unsure of extent of signal fraud in NYC subways:  (NY1)

NJ Governor Christie proposes a five-year, $8 billion transportation infrastructure spending plan that relies on borrowing -- as well as repurposing ARC money.  (Wall Street Journal, New York Times)

An advisory panel says the Texas Department of Transportation needs new leadership, consolidated financial operations and better communication with the public. (AP via Houston Chronicle).

Colorado's New Gov, John Hickenlooper Tells NY Times "Rather than  going to health care first, I would have gone, I think, to transportation infrastructure." (NY Times)

The US proposes reopening roads to Mexican trucking companies. "We can't say the Mexican trucking dispute is over, but we can now say that, at last, the end appears to be in sight," says one stakeholder. (AP)

The Illinois legislature voted to give the state's top ethics official new watchdog power over Chicago's mass transit agencies. (Chicago Tribune)

Norfolk tests light rail (AP via Washington Examiner).

Tesla releases some engineering porn to a car-hungry public (via Wired/Autopia). Video: Tesla Vehicle Engineering - Part 1 from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.

A Wisconsin woman bikes to the hospital...while in labor. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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TN Moving Stories: LA's Westside Subway Gets Federal OK, JSK is Compared to Robin Hood, and New Version of OnStar Is Essentially Omnipotent

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

(photo by Dre Batista/Flickr)

Federal officials okay preliminary engineering on LA's Westside subway and light rail line. (Los Angeles Times)

Profiling the grid: Nashville utility planners use research and census data to try to determine who will be buying electric vehicles.  Where should they build substations? In the neighborhoods of female Democrats who live close to work.  (AP via New York Times)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 85% of U.S. adults now wear seat belts. "Only 11 percent wore them in 1982, before the first state law requiring seat belt use."  (NPR)

The Guardian calls NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan "a modern day Robin Hood." And regarding congestion pricing, she says "I do think it's a matter of when, not if."

Two New York City Council members have introduced bills that shrink the no-parking zone on either side of a fire hydrant. (New York Times)

Planned construction on New York's F and G subway lines has been postponed due to the last snowfall. (WNYC)

Brooklyn bicyclists who don't obey the law: the NYPD is coming for you. (Gothamist)

The web war of American Airlines vs. travel sites continues to heat up: now, a company that provides ticket information to travel agents has ended its contract with the airline. (CNN)

A former CEO of Amtrak is the latest addition to the board of DC's Metro. (WAMU)

This could be Ray LaHood's worst nightmare: at the Consumer Electronics Show, General Motors and Verizon unveiled a new version of OnStar. Among its features: Exterior cameras that can detect and record hit-and-runs, and then send the video to the car's owner via a secure server. The ability to watch what's going on in and around the car using a smartphone or home computer. Access to social websites such as YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia using voice commands. Video chatting via Skype through a dashboard-mounted video display. Remote-controlled home appliance and energy use using an application accessible through the car's video console. Live video images from traffic cameras, to view in real-time congestion. (Detroit News)

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House GOP Majority Passes New Rule: It Can Now "Reappropriate" Transportation Funds

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Despite protests from an unusually broad coalition of transportation groups -- from the highways lobby to the New York transit system, the GOP voted today to rescind a 1998 rule that prevented it from taking transportation funds supported by the highway bill for other purposes.  That 1998 rule shielded Highway Trust Fund from being raided for other (non-transportation purposes).

The move comes even as transpo advocates nervously watch the new GOP-led congress for signs it will cut overall transportation funding to meet budget-cutting targets.

Read from the bottom of page 10 to the top of page 11 in the below document:

Rules for 112th Congress

Writing on The Hill's Congress blog, Republicans say that the new rules mean simply that "highway funding, with some exceptions, will now be treated as other general spending and therefore be subject to any member's attempt to reduce the spending."  One Republican spokesman told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that it's meant to keep the Highway Trust Fund from spending more than it’s bringing in.

But a number of industry and transit groups oppose this change. "The provision.. would hurt investment in transportation infrastructure, reduce jobs, and break faith with the American taxpayer," says a letter to House leadership signed by over 20 organizations.

New York's MTA says that transportation projects require "steady, predictable,  multi-year funding" (a PDF of their letter is here).

And New York Congressman Anthony Weiner sent out a press release that reads: "Buried in the rules written by the GOP majority is a change that is opposed by the City of New York and the State Transportation Department and which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said would cause 'significant damage.'"  He continues: "New Yorkers have already paid money at the gas pump that is guaranteed for transit, subways and roads.  Under the new rule change, this money would be put on the annual chopping block and not guaranteed at all."

The change does not require Senate approval, and is now in effect.

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TN Moving Stories: the Vehicle Saturation Point, Are Transit Advocates in SF Too White, and is 2011 the Year of the Swagger Wagon?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Takeaway asks: is 2011 the year of the minivan? Toyota hopes so, and is reimagining the Sienna as a "swagger wagon." The below ad captures a white nuclear middle-class family, in all its gangsta glory:

Listen to the conversation (and find out if the Takeaway's guests would be caught dead in a minivan) below:

Have we reached the vehicle saturation point? A study of eight industrialized countries (not including China!) says passenger travel appears to have peaked in 2003. (Wired)

Could the future makeover of the Bayonne Bridge mean transit connections from Staten Island to New Jersey? It's not being ruled out. (Staten Island Live)

A bill that's being introduced in the Washington state legislature would mandate more distance on the road between bikers and cars. (Seattle Post Intelligencer)

San Francisco's city supervisors take the opportunity to wonder, while voting on a nomination to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board, if transit advocates are too white (Bay Citizen). Meanwhile, San Francisco is looking to increase the number of parking citations it writes to "help close a projected $21 million deficit in the $775 million operating budget for the current fiscal year that ends June 30." (San Francisco Chronicle)

DC's Metro is having trouble selling its new bag search policy to the public. (Washington Post)

24 hours of flight, time-lapsed. Doesn't it look like bees swarming?

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Let's Go Ride the Light Rail, Baby

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Phoenix's Valley Metro has commissioned a series of earnest, unironic music videos in which local bands sing about the virtues of public transit.  Designed to educate the public about transit by embedding a catchy tune in your frontal lobe, Valley Metro Notes (as the animated video series is called) takes on topics like "How to Ride the Light Rail," "How to Ride the Bus," and "All Day Transit Pass."

Lady Gaga it ain't, but then again, "Poker Face" won't explain transit etiquette or fare vending machines.  On the other hand, as the two animated figures show, you can always swing dance on the light rail.

"People have told us that they're apprehensive about riding transit, because they're not exactly sure how to do it," one Valley Metro staffer told a Fox News affiliate.  The Valley Notes web page continues: "While you’re smiling and singing along, you’ll learn all about what pass to use, riding light rail, taking your bike, routes and schedules, riding safely, and much more."

The video campaign comes on the heels of tough year for Phoenix transit: bus ridership fell by millions of fares, the transit agency suffered a sizable drop in tax revenue, and contract woes and strike threats dragged on for much of the year.  Meanwhile, according to one recent national study, Phoenix residents face one of the worst--and most expensive--commutes in the nation.

Valley Metro has also made the songs available as free MP3 downloads.

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TN Moving Stories: New Fees on Metro North/LIRR Trains, Houston Revives its Rail Building Program, and Skateboard Commuters Want Legitimacy

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

(LIRR ticket; photo by Michael Caruso/Flickr)

A raft of new fees on Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road can be even more costly to riders than the recent 8.8 percent rise in prices. (WNYC)

Unsnarling Penn Station: "The MTA is investigating whether it can run trains through Penn and into New Jersey, shaving precious minutes off the amount of time each spends on a platform, freeing up some capacity. It's also looking at running some Metro-North trains into Penn once a project to provide LIRR access into Grand Central Terminal is finished." (Wall Street Journal)

After nearly halting light rail projects last year because of mistakes in its planned purchase of rail cars, Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority is reviving its rail building program as it becomes more confident the federal government will deliver a $900 million grant. (Houston Chronicle)

As Virginia lawmakers try to figure out funding transportation maintenance, some are looking at targeting overweight vehicles to cover the costs of repairing the damage they cause.  "They see some really remarkable things: the roadway being squeezed out like toothpaste when they stop at a traffic light. And the weigh station just can't catch them all." (WAMU)

Seven insurance companies have sued Toyota in an attempt to recover money paid to cover crashes they blame on sudden acceleration. (Los Angeles Times)

F is for "fix it up:" two Brooklyn F train stations will be partially closed until May while being rebuilt. (New York Daily News)

The NYC MTA's inspector general will be investigating how the agency handled the blizzard. (Wall Street Journal)

Volkswagen and Porsche move closer to a merger. (Marketplace)

Who will speak for the skateboard commuter? Skateboarders across the USA are pushing to end bans so they can legally use longboards — a more stable type of skateboard than those typically used for skate park tricks — as a means of transportation. (USA Today)

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TN Moving Stories: Rise in NYC's Transportation Costs Outpaces Inflation, American Airlines Breaches Protocol, and Did WI Gov Set Transit Back 20 Years?

Monday, January 03, 2011

(Michelle Thompson/Flickr)

NYC transportation costs rose 3.7% in last 12 months, outpacing inflation. (New York Times)

The New York Daily News has some suggestions for the MTA about how to handle blizzards. Step one: admit your mistakes. "A series of screwups before and during last week's blizzard contributed significantly to the stranding of scores of bus and subway riders."

If Fort Worth doesn't want its $25 million in federal streetcar funding, Dallas will be happy to spend it on its own ambitious efforts. (Dallas Morning News)

NJ Transit's "quiet commute" program "significantly" expands today.

The Examiner says Governor Jim Doyle set back transit in Wisconsin by 20 years.

NPR follows one man's illegal journey into New York's subterranean infrastructure.  Remember: "The big thing here is not to get killed. So don't touch the third rail. If a train's coming, get out of the way. That might mean — in the worst situation I can imagine — that might mean standing in between two third rails and two pillars with trains coming on either side of you."

The NTSB says American Airlines breached protocol, and takes the unusual step of barring it from inquiry proceedings. "The National Transportation Safety Board ...said the airline improperly downloaded information for its own use from the flight-data recorder of a Boeing 757 that rolled past the end of a runway at Jackson Hole on Dec. 29.....It is the first time in decades that a major U.S. carrier has been kicked off an investigation into an accident or incident involving one of its own aircraft." (Wall Street Journal)

Much to the chagrin of mountain bikers, Los Angeles bans bikes from trails designated for hikers or horses (Los Angeles Times). "A comprehensive update of the city's bicycle plan still gives precedence to hikers and equestrians."

The Takeaway looks at the year ahead for the auto industry -- and Studio 360 looks at the future of car design.

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Counting City Kestrels

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A lot of New Yorkers tend to think of red-tailed hawks as the city’s most common bird of prey. One Bronx man wants you to learn how to identify the bird that really is the city’s most common raptor.

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