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Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

TIGER Grants: DOT and HUD Get Together

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) As we reported earlier today, the United States Department of Transportation released the full list of transportation investment grants (known as TIGER II)--a pool of money totaling $600 million for 75 separate projects. How does this round differ from the previous TIGER grants, announced earlier this year? Not very--but there's one key difference:  HUD got involved in the planning grants.

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press release today: "This marks the first time that the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have joined together in awarding grants for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing and urban development."

That sentiment was echoed today by the Pratt Center's Joan Byron, who spoke to WNYC about the $1.5 million planning grant that New York City received to look at sustainable ways to redevelop the Hunts Point area of the Bronx.  She said:  "It feels like a real vindication for the community organizations of the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance and for ourselves that the federal government is now on the page where South Bronx communities have been for ten years."

While HUD and the DOT collaborated on the first round of TIGER grants, this is the first time that planning grants were jointly awarded--which seems to indicate that the Obama Administration is putting its money where its mouth is in terms of taking livability and sustainability criteria seriously.

TIGER grants were awarded in two categories: capital and planning. Atlanta was the big capital winner, with a $47.7 million grant for its streetcar project. Fort Worth received $34 million to upgrade its rail capacity, and Seattle also received $34 million for a bridge replacement.

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New York Gets Money To Look at Possible Post-Sheridan Future

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The question of whether New York will tear down the “highway to nowhere” in the Bronx is closer to being answered. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that the city will receive a $1.5 million planning grant to create a neighborhood development plan for the Sheridan Expressway and Hunts Point area.

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Proposed Billings Bypass Divides Montanans

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

(Billings, Montana - Jackie Yamanaka, Yellowstone Public Radio) I-90 in Billings, Montana is part of the Camino-Real International Trade Corridor-- a well-traveled NAFTA route that truckers use to move goods through Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

But: things aren't exactly seamless in Billings, because truckers have to leave the interstate and be rerouted through city traffic.

That traffic has turned Billings' Main Street into the most congested, heavily-traveled highway in the state of Montana. Transportation planners had proposed building a bypass to re-route semi traffic away from Main Street, but the lack of a reauthorized federal transportation bill has meant no money for the project.

Stefan Streeter is the administrator for the Montana Department of Transportation office in Billings. He says despite the lack of full funding, part of the project is funded. And planners have an eye toward a full truck bypass.

“When you put all of this together there's a lot of long range plans between the city, county and the state to alleviate what is by far the most congested route in the state of MT and also provide for emergency access," he said.  "At 5:00 if you need an ambulance on Main Street, lord help you, because I don't think it can get up there.”

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TIGER II Grants Officially Announced

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the winners of their $600 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant competition today. According to the DOT's press release:  "Roughly 29 percent of TIGER II money goes for road projects, 26 percent for transit, 20 percent for rail projects, 16 percent for ports, four percent for bicycle and pedestrian projects and five percent for planning projects."

We'll do a fuller analysis later on today, but in the meantime, you can find the complete list of capital grant winners here (pdf), and planning grant winners here (pdf).

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TN Moving Stories: ARC Supporters Fan Out Across NJ; Critical Mass Bicyclists Win Suit; and You Say You Want a Rail-Volution?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ARC tunnel supporters fanned out across the state yesterday to rally, get signatures, pass out fliers. Can the tunnel be saved? Governor Christie's response: "I don't know. I’ll wait to see what they tell me on Friday about the money. It’s all about the money." (Star Ledger)

"Critical Mass" bicyclists win suit against city. (WNYC)

NYC's MTA adds buses to the M15 Select Bus Service line. How's the new line doing? "Things are incrementally getting better," says spokesperson. (New York Daily News)

Now, even BlackBerry users in Boston will know when their train or bus is coming. (Herald)

The New York Times debates the question: "The number of drivers over 70 will triple in the next 20 years. How will they stay safe and mobile?"

16th annual Rail-Volution conference held this week in Portland, Oregon--a model city for transit oriented development...but one participant notes: "The extensions into the suburbs are the real test." (Portland Tribune)

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Construction Workers Rally to Save ARC Tunnel

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

(North Bergen, NJ -- Scott Gurian, WNYC) Supporters of a new commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River rallied Tuesday in North Bergen, New Jersey, to save the project, saying it represents thousands of construction jobs for the region.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has put the project, known as the ARC Tunnel, on hold pending a review of the costs. Speaking today in front of hundreds of unionized construction workers, William Mullen, the president of the New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council, said New Jersey can't afford to lose those jobs in tough economic times.

"Is this state broke, and doesn't have the money?” he asked. “Yes. But do we have to find a way to come up with it? Yes we do! If we're gonna make this state grow and survive for our children, our grandchildren, it has to be done."

The U.S. Department of Labor recently reported that the unemployment rate in the construction industry rose to 17.2 percent last month.

Governor Christie has said he doesn’t want New Jersey taxpayers on the hook for cost overruns. After an appeal from the U.S. Department of Transportation, he is expected to announce later this week whether he's killing the project once and for all.

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Cuomo: The MTA Shouldn't be an Authority and other Transit Ideas

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Candidates in last night’s New York State Gubernatorial debate had 60 seconds to describe how they would to fix the MTA. (The exact question came from a Parkchester resident who was interviewed by News 12 on the street. She asked: "I just want to know what the next governor is going to do to possibly audit the MTA's books, open up those books, see why they're always in such a deficit. What about the salaries of some of these executives? How come they're not cutting their salaries to give us better service?")

While this question gave Anti-Prohibition Party candidate Kristin Davis the opportunity to deliver the zinger of the evening (when asked what she would do to reform the MTA, she said: "The key difference between the MTA and my former escort agency is I operated one set of books, and I offered on-time and reliable service”), both major party candidates described their plans to put the MTA under control of the governor's office. Their full responses are below.

Unfortunately, the question did not address the MTA's biggest problem right now -- its continuing budget problems and how the authority should be financed.  And no one volunteered a plan.  (Andrew Cuomo's only hint to date is that he might eliminate the tax voted in in 2009 as part of the MTA's bailout plan, but he hasn't say what he'd replace that with.)

Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic candidate: “In some ways, the MTA is just a gross symbol of the problem that a lot of these state agencies and authorities have. Number one:

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TN Moving Stories: Moynihan Station Breaks Ground, ARC Rally Today, and Are Electric Car Subsidies A Good Idea?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Moynihan Station breaks ground; will expand Penn Station and become the railhead for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. (WNYC)

There's an ARC tunnel rally today in North Bergen (WNYC).  Meanwhile: "I don't want to hear about the jobs it will createIf I don't have the money for the payroll, it will not create the jobs," Governor Christie said yesterday. "This is not a difficult decision for me." (Star Ledger)

The BBC is reporting that because of the strikes against oil refineries, 1,500 French gas stations are either dry or about to run out of gas.

Politicians who railed against the stimulus passionately sought its funding, especially when it came to transportation projects. (Washington Post)

An FAA-funded study says that flight delays cost passengers $16.7 billion in 2007. (AP via NPR)

Marketplace asks: are electric car subsidies a good idea?

Porsche plans a hybrid in every model line and plans to have an electric sports car hit the market in three to four years. (AutoWeek)

And just in time for Halloween: the Detroit Free Press has a primer on how to remove candy stains from car upholstery.

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TN Moving Stories: TIGER Grant Winners Leak Out, Flights into France Cut, Tappan Zee Bridge Replacements Unveiled

Saturday, October 16, 2010

TIGER II grants to be announced this week, but the winners have begun to leak out. (Streetsblog)

Swiss complete drilling for 35.4 mile tunnel, the world's longest (BBC)

Unrest continues in France over possible increase in retirement age. Today, government to cut flights into French terminals by 50%. (New York Times)

Final replacement Tappan Zee Bridge spans unveiled.  With: rail link. Without: funding. (Second Avenue Sagas)

Q&A about the Chevy Volt, including the key question "Is the Volt an electric car or a hybrid?" (New York Times)

On a list ranking 10 low-stress jobs, transportation engineer comes in at #2. "(They) love what they do because they often interact with the folks that use the crosswalks or traffic systems that they develop." (CNN Money)

Build a Better 'Burb exhibit showcases different futures for Long Island. Like: "'SUBHUB' envisions a multipurpose commuter train station, along with shuttle buses that pick up passengers and products at schools and take them to the station." (New York Times)

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TN Moving Stories: GM Gives Volt a Boost, HUD Funds Development Along Transit Corridors, and Christie Says Sen. Lautenberg Should Find Money to Pay For ARC

Friday, October 15, 2010

HUD awards $100 million in sustainability grants (Streetsblog).  Among the winners: the Twin Cities area, which received $5 million to plan for development along transit corridors. (Star Tribune)

GM says consumer demand for the Volt is so high, it will boost production (Detroit Free Press)

MTA still working out the kinks in the whole electronic countdown clock process (New York Daily News). Meanwhile, a mistake in the Second Avenue Subway work cuts the gas off for more than 100 families (New York Times). But there is some good news: love is now allowed on the subway.

The Southtown Star looks back at the career of Metra's first female engineer, who's now ready to retire.

Are driverless taxis in Berlin's future? (Marketplace)

And, from the Star-Ledger: a video of Governor Christie's response to Senator Lautenberg's press conference yesterday: "Senator Lautenberg should find the money to pay for it."

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The ARC of the Covenant: ARC Tunnel Update

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ARC tunnel supporters are taking advantage of the two-week reprieve that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave the project to make their case again. Christie canceled the project last week because of cost overruns, though he later agreed to study more options after a meeting with federal government officials.

Today New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and Regional Plan Association president Bob Yaro unveiled a new study ("The ARC Effect") that reiterated some of the arguments in favor of the $9 billion dig. And they said the study demonstrates the importance of the tunnel to a group of people whom, they said, had been overlooked: the Garden State's commuters.

"Just wait a few years. If there's no ARC tunnel, New Jersey commutes will come to a complete stop," warned the senator. "And if we cancel this project, New Jersey will continue to expand its role as a parking lot for New York City, isolated from job opportunities in Manhattan by making the travel time longer. Jobs that will have gone to New Jerseyans will instead go to people in Connecticut, Westchester, and Long Island."

The benefits of the tunnel, Lautenberg continued, are legion: better transit options would increase property values by $18 billion. Commuting times would drop on average by 15 to 30 minutes, which mean more family/leisure time. And the tunnel was critical for Homeland Security purposes.

But above all, he hammered home the point he's been making for some time now: New Jersey needs the tunnel, it has committed to building the tunnel, and it must respect that commitment. The senator wouldn't directly answer questions asking about what specific plans are under way to save the tunnel. But he said he wouldn't rule out going back to the federal government for more money.

"I'll certainly make the plea," he said. "I want the federal government to help out here. But New Jersey has to pick up its responsibility."

Bob Yaro said the need for the tunnel was a foregone conclusion, and that it was never going to be cheaper than now. "The congestion's only going to get worse. And the next governor, or the governor after that, is going to have to move ahead with this thing. And that's when you really will see a $15 billion or a $20 billion price tag."

Senator Lautenberg was asked if New York would be contributing money to the tunnel. "They haven't asked to do so," he said cagily, and he continued that he'd only ask them "warily." He said he hasn't gotten a response yet from a letter he wrote to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, asking them to help with any additional cost overruns. "They haven't said no," he said. "That doesn't mean they've said yes."

Governor Christie's office had no additional comment today beyond the statement they released last week, which reads:

“The fact that the ARC project is not financially viable and is expected to dramatically exceed its current budget remains unchanged. However, this afternoon Secretary LaHood presented several options to potentially salvage a trans-Hudson tunnel project. At the Secretary’s request, I’ve agreed to have Executive Director of NJ Transit Jim Weinstein and members from his team work with U.S. Department of Transportation staff to study those options over the next two weeks.”

That two week mark is coming up on Thursday, October 21.

Read the RPA's study here (pdf).

Listen to the audio from today's press conference by clicking on the following link: Senator Frank Lautenberg and Bob Yaro, Regional Plan Association

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Repurposing ARC Money: Let the Wishing Begin

Thursday, October 14, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Although the ARC tunnel seems to have received a temporary stay of execution (and today's news is that Senator Lautenberg is seeking private money to help save the project), that hasn't stopped other people from opining about how the billions of dollars could--or should--be spent in the region.

Sam Schwartz (aka Gridlock Sam) thinks the money would be better spent on Staten Island. He writes in the Daily News that using the money to "build an actual tunnel between the borough and the rest of the city...would finally level the playing field for the only borough without a subway line - but with terrible traffic from end to end." (And yes, I'm sure he knows that Staten Island has one lone, self-contained rail line.)

Meanwhile, speaking yesterday at a breakfast sponsored by Crain's New York Business magazine, the message from MTA chairman Jay Walder was straightforward: If they don't want it, we'll take it. He said that the cash-strapped MTA (which is hiking fares in January in an effort to combat their $900 million deficit) would try to get that money.

The Jersey Journal writes: "If the state and Port Authority want a tunnel, build one for the overburdened PATH trains. Another PATH tunnel, tracks and rail cars would serve more people and communities closer to the Hudson River, who are in need of better mass transit."

While these all fall under the category of wishful thinking rather than actual plans (I, for one, am tempted to use the money researching and developing clean energy jet packs), it raises the question: if the ARC tunnel dies, how would you like the money to be spent? Comment below!

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TN Moving Stories: More Ethanol Allowed in Gas; Ray LaHood's High-Speed Rail Dream; and Car-Eating Rabbits in Denver

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Iowa, the new Saudi Arabia? The EPA is now allowing up to 15 percent ethanol in gas. (NPR)

A plan to to pave parking lots and roadways with solar panels (turning them into solar grids) gains traction--and a little more R&D money. (Wired)

London's bike share program is on track to turn a profit--making it the only Transport for London system to do so.  (The Guardian)

California's Proposition 21 aims to tax motor vehicles to fund state parks. (East Bay Express)

Jay Walder, head of New York's MTA, wants to stay in his post through 2015 (Bloomberg). That's a lot of bus and subway rides: so far he's taken 887 in his first year on the job (New York Daily News). But some of those trips get thwarted, because sometimes he forgets to check for subway diversions before he goes out on weekends (WNYC).

Arlington and Alexandria officials to meet today to talk about joint transportation issues. Why is this news? Because "this is the first meeting of the two local governmental bodies in recent memory." (WAMU)

Ray LaHood imagines a United States in which 80% of all cities are accessible by high-speed rail by the year 2035. (Las Vegas Sun)

Car-eating rabbits plague Denver International Airport's parking lots.  Mmmm...soy-based wiring compounds!  (Jalopnik)

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Shovel-Ready Projects? Obama Admits There's No Such Thing

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  In the upcoming New York Times Sunday Magazine, journalist Peter Baker's profile of President Obama, "Education of a President," includes this quote:

"There’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects."

No real surprise, as the president has already been saying watered-down versions of this, like the 2009 comment: "The term 'shovel-ready' — let's be honest, it doesn't always live up to its billing." But it's a hard lesson to publicly learn a month before an election which might lose your party the majority.

His full quote, which the paper includes in an online transcript of the interview, reads: "Infrastructure has the benefit of for every dollar you spend on infrastructure, you get a dollar and a half in stimulus because there are ripple effects from building roads or bridges or sewer lines. But the problem is, is that spending it out takes a long time, because there’s really nothing — there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects."

With this week's announcement of the president's hope for a six-year transportation plan (itself a more refined version of last month's $50 billion infrastructure announcement), it's clear that he's trying to take the long view and win bipartisan support.  "I think we have to have infrastructure that keeps up with the demands of the 21st century," he says in the New York Times transcript. "We can’t have a China that has the best airports, the best railways, the best roads, and we are still relying on infrastructure that was built 200 years ago or 100 years ago or even 50 years ago when it comes to things like broadband lines." Not to mention frame it as financially sound and historically popular. "Investing in our infrastructure is something that members of both political parties have always supported," he pointed out on Monday.

It's clear he's trying to implement one of the lessons learned in the first two years of his presidency, at least according to Baker's article: "You can't be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion."

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Can a Tunnel Under the Hudson Fix "The Great Traffic Ordeal?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lincoln Tunnel, New Jersey side approach, circa 1955

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)

"I don't think it is necessary for me to dwell upon the obvious significance the construction of this new tunnel has in helping us to keep abreast of the great traffic ordeal which surely represents one of the inexorable headaches of the City of New York....The benefits which will accrue upon the completion of this tunnel are, in my judgment, self-evident."

Think those words are about the ARC tunnel? Think again. That's the 101st mayor of New York City, Vincent Impellitteri, speaking on the WNYC airwaves on September 25, 1952, following the groundbreaking of the third tube of the Lincoln Tunnel. You can listen to the audio below; Mayor Impellitteri begins speaking about four minutes and 30 seconds in.

1952 Lincoln Tunnel Groundbreaking, Part 1

1952 Lincoln Tunnel Groundbreaking Part 2

The tunnel cost just over $94 million to construct. When it opened five years later, the New York Times called it "the first post-war breakthrough of the New York-New Jersey traffic bottleneck."

Other speakers on this vintage 1952 broadcast—which took place from the roof of the Hotel Astor in Times Square—were: New York State Lieutenant Governor Frank C. Moore; New York City Mayor Impellitteri; Ransford J. Abbott, commissioner of the New Jersey State Highway Department; Paul L. Troast, chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and Harold W. McGraw, chairman of the West Side Association of Commerce. The master of ceremonies was Howard S. Cullman, chairman of the Port of New York Authority.

Thanks to assistant WNYC archivist Haley Richardson and the NYC Municipal Archives

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If The Volt Is Electric, Why Does It Have A Gasoline Engine?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

President Barack Obama drives a new Chevy Volt during his tour of the General Motors Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Mich., July 30, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(Detroit -- Jerome Vaughn, WDET)  When is an electric car truly electric?  That’s what some auto industry watchers are asking, after seeing new information released by General Motors.

The Detroit automaker says the gasoline engine on the new Chevy Volt can sometimes help power the wheels.

The Volt has been championed as General Motors' effort to make a viable all-electric car that consumers will demand in large quantities.

The car can travel between 25 and 50 miles on an electric charge.  After that, the gasoline engine recharges the Volt’s battery pack for longer distances.

But GM’s revelation that there’s a connection between the gasoline engine and the powertrain makes the car seem more like a plug-in hybrid vehicle to some auto enthusiasts.

GM says it hadn’t previously shared all of the details on the Volt, because it was protecting proprietary information while awaiting patent approvals.

Production of the Volt is scheduled to begin next month.

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TN Moving Stories: Airline tarmac delays down, complaints up; MTA sued for lack of access; and New York's most veteran cabbie retires after 62 years

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A class-action lawsuit being filed today says that New York's MTA "makes travel next to impossible for New Yorkers with physical disabilities." (New York Daily News)

Ridership on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line is up almost five percent over last year -- which translates into $900 million more in revenue for Amtrak. (WBUR)

Long tarmac delays for airlines continue to decline (Los Angeles Times). It's not all rosy, though: complaints about airlines are up over a third (Columbus Dispatch).

DC's Metro conducts review of escalators and elevators, finds a host of problems (WAMU)

Vancouver creates a continuous network of protected bike lanes (Good)

Will Silicon Valley become the Detroit of the electric car industry? (NPR)

New York City cabbie hangs up license after 62 years behind the wheel (New York Daily News)

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Teens And Learning To Drive: Not Enough Practice, Not Enough Variation

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) How well are parents doing in terms of teaching their teenagers to drive?  Not so great, according to a recent study.

"Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States." And motor vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center installed cameras in the cars of 52 families for four months shortly after the teenagers obtained their learner's permits.  (The sample videos on the AAA website range from bracing to hair-raising.)  The tapes revealed parents often don't spend enough time teaching their teens to drive -- and they tend to stick to the same types of driving situations.

Image: AAA

Supervised driving experience often accounted for less than two hours a week, and a lot of that experience was under benign conditions in residential neighborhoods. There was very little practice under more challenging circumstances-- highways, heavy city traffic, at night, or in bad weather.

The parent-teen relationship was also key, with many parents and teens struggling to maintain equilibrium during the emotionally charged process of learning to drive.  On the one hand, you have to feel for the parents, whom the study says, has to balance being "a driving instructor, mentor, role model and psychologist." On the other hand:  16% of teens refused to drive with one of the parents because they perceived them as being hypercritical.  But as always, perception is key:   "From the driving clips, yelling between parents and teens was rarely observed. On the other hand, there were a number of instances where a teen told their parent to stop yelling when the parent’s voice was barely raised, if at all."

While most states require 50 hours of practice before a license is awarded, the AAA Foundation would like to see 100 hours of quality time.  As the report says, "Parents in the present study seemed well aware that  'lots of driving experience' is key to learning. What they did not seem to grasp is the importance of 'appropriate experience."

Read the report here (pdf).

To see the permit and licensing systems are in each state, click here (pdf).

Watch clips of the driving videos here. (.wmv)

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TN Moving Stories: Combating "Range Anxiety," NJ Transit wants commercial development of Hoboken Terminal, and remembering "the bus station from hell"

Monday, October 11, 2010

NPR takes a look at the efforts in the U.S. to make electric vehicle charging stations more widely available -- thus combating "range anxiety." One place charging stations will be: big box store Best Buy. (Earth2Tech)

As wrecking crews tear down San Francisco's Transbay Terminal ("the bus station from hell"), KALW talks to the people who have spent years commuting through it.

NJ Transit to propose commercial development of historic Hoboken Terminal. (Star-Ledger)

Google is testing a car that can drive itself (New York Times). But the BBC wonders:  are drivers really ready to "surrender the pleasures and frustrations of life behind the wheel?"

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was on today's Brian Lehrer Show to talk about his new report on bike lane chaos.  Listen to the audio below.

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GM To Recall 4000 Vehicles

Friday, October 08, 2010

(Detroit -- Jerome Vaughn, WDET)  General Motors is recalling nearly four thousand vehicles in the U-S because of a power steering issue.  The recall affects Cadillac SRX crossover vehicles from the 2010 model year with two-point-eight or three liter engines.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says some of the vehicles’ power steering pressure lines may have been damaged during manufacturing, and could lead to a leak.  If power steering fluid sprays onto hot engine parts, the fluid could ignite and cause an engine compartment fire. GM says it has a report of one such fire, but no reports of accidents or injuries related to the issue.

Dealers will inspect the power steering lines and, if necessary, replace them at no cost to consumers.  Affected owners will be notified by mail.

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