Tuesday, May 22, 2012
(Washington, DC -- Armando Trull, WAMU) It's early morning at Renee Scarlett's red brick row house house in Hyattsville. The single mom has just said goodbye to three-year-old twins Jayden and Amani. Her two other children, Anthony, 8, and Marquis, 10, were packed off to school just a few minutes ago.
Up until recently, this would have been the time that Renee embarked on her 2.5 hour commute to work in Gaithersburg on foot, then on Metro, and finally on a bus.
"Yes, that's how I had to take care of my family," Scarlett says.
There are 195,000 households without a car in D.C.; of those, there are 7,000 for whom that status makes it difficult to get and keep a job, according to a Brookings Institution study published last year. The nonprofit Vehicles for Change is trying to combat this problem — they helped Scarlett get her own vehicle last year — and today they will introduce community leaders to her and other families with similarly daunting transportation challenges.
For Scarlett, the breaking point came when her employer, Peapod, moved 22 miles away to Hanover, Md. It might as well have been to the moon, given Hanover's lack of public transportation options.
"I wouldn't have had any public transportation, and I would have been forced to resign my position," Scarlett says.
Then, she got a helping hand from Vehicles for Change. They helped her purchase a 2000 Chrysler SUV for just $750. It came with a 6-month, 6,000-mile warranty.
"It's all about getting families like Renee's to and from employment," says Marty Schwartz, the president of Vehicles for Change. "We have families in the region who are trying to do the right thing … but without a vehicle you can't even do daily chores, let alone get to and from work, even with good public transportation."
Today's event, called 'Walk in Their Shoes,' is designed to help community leaders better understand the transportation challenges of many in the D.C. area.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Port Jervis commuter line, cleaved in two by raging floodwaters roiled by Tropical Storm Irene, reopens today. The washout of 14 miles of track was the most severe damage sustained by a transit agency in modern history.
Scientists and government officials say climate change will bring more frequent weather events like Irene, and without preventative action, similar washouts could become more commonplace. (Full story here.)
For the past three months, passengers traveling to Rockland and Orange counties and points north and west of New York City have endured a frustrating commute.
During Tropical Storm Irene, a raging Ramapo River, otherwise little more than a creek in areas, surged to buckle the tracks, wash out the support ballast, and undermine railroad bridges. Fred Chidester, the manager of the line for Metro North, called it the worst damage he's "seen in 28 years of working for the MTA."
The 14 mile stretch Irene undermined runs from the southernmost tip of Rockland County to Harriman, cleaving the 90-mile line in two. Passengers commuting to New York have had to, in some cases, take a train, then a bus, then a train, adding up to an hour to already long commutes.
About 2600 passengers ride the Port Jervis line each day.
The MTA originally projected the line would be out until the new year, but about a month ago said trains could run down the entire track beginning November 29. Trains will be somewhat slower and run less frequently than before Irene, while track workers complete their work.
The repair work is projected to cost the cash-strapped transit authority $40 million.
Monday, June 06, 2011
[UPDATED to add Video - AG]
The DOT just pointed us toward this video of Transpo Secretary Ray LaHood biking to work. He just oozes Washington, D.C. pride, calling the area "one of the most livable communities in America."
And, in response to an off camera question, he says "everybody has a right to the roadways, and certainly cyclists."
As promised, U.S. Secretary of Transportation rode a bike to work today. Heres' how he describes it on his blog: "This morning I biked to work with a group of DOT commuters from the Washington Monument to our headquarters building. The route was safe and well-marked; we enjoyed some exercise; and we didn't burn a drop of gas--which saved us some money.
That's what I call a successful commute."
Monday, May 02, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) On September 12th, 2001, New Yorkers tried to go to work. Since so many subway lines were disrupted, that often meant taking routes WAY out of the way, and miles and miles of walking. But, accustomed to getting around obstacles, New Yorkers shrugged and tried anyway. What else could we do?
When, a few days later, the city began offering a ferry service from Brooklyn to replace the lost subways, those ferries were packed. I rode the first one over into Manhattan, tilting my head from side to side, trying to comprehend the Lower Manhattan skyline without the twin towers.
Later that fall, when the U.S. declared war on the Taliban, Mayor Rudy Giuliani encouraged everyone to go out, go to work, "go see "Proof" -- referring to a popular Broadway show. The streets were packed that day, a gorgeous October Sunday, even though New York City was more or less on red alert.
After the London Underground was bombed in July 2005, I was posted at Grand Central station. Commuters were taken aback that I would even ask if they'd thought twice about going to work. "What else would I do, stop my life?" was the general sentiment. (And "No" was the answer.)
Today was no different. Osama bin Laden was shot and killed, the government is on high alert for retaliation, and we are going to work.
WNYC's Jim O'Grady has been at Grand Central Station. He writes:
"Checked every train, bus and light rail line on NJ Transit website and found no current delays. Boards at Grand Central still reporting good service, as is the MTA website, but for a train delayed on the Ronkonkoma line due to medical emergency.
"In a sign of normalcy, a man billing himself as Galdort Gumbo is playing a Yamaha piano in the lower concourse and singing emo versions of Billy Joel, James Taylor and "Easy" by Lionel Ritchie. America endures."
WNYC's Ailsa Chang was reporting from Times Square. She noted any obvious increased police presence as "very minimal. Times Square looked only slightly more policed today, but I think I only noticed because I was trying to look for police cars."
One WNYC staffer's husband said the car commute through the Lincoln Tunnel was faster than usual, but so far, most other reports are that this was a normal morning commute, and MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin says the Authority didn't note any drop in ridership.
Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.
TN Moving Stories: New Yorkers Face Long Commutes, More DC Residents Are Taking Public Transit, And How To Modernize Air Traffic Control
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Census data, commuter edition: More DC residents are using abandoning their cars and taking public transit to work. "Only New Yorkers take the subway to work more than Washingtonians do." (Washington Post)
Meanwhile, four of New York City's five boroughs logged the nation's longest average commute times to work (New York Post). The country's worst commute continues to belong to Staten Island, where residents spend 42.5 minutes each way traveling to work (Staten Island Live). But remember, New Yorkers --commutes cost less in NYC.
The blog Ride The City published data about more than 600,000 NYC bike rides planned on their site since April 2009. Median ride length: a little over 4 miles. And: 85% of all rides started or ended in just 7% of census blocks.
New York City has launched a new pilot program that will allow some disabled Access-A-Ride customers to take taxis instead. (WNYC)
Amtrak passengers can now bring unloaded guns on some trains. All aboard! (NPR)
Richard Florida digs into neighborhood walkability--which he writes is "a magnet for attracting and retaining the highly innovative businesses and highly skilled people that drive economic growth, raising housing values and generating higher incomes." (The Atlantic)
Monday, October 25, 2010
One of our partners The Takeaway has opened a collaborative project to get people like you all across the country helping us really understand the American commute. You can send in snapshots and sounds of your daily routine.
Share the pictures and the sounds of your morning commute. Send us a photo, a video or audio of one thing that tells the story of your commute. It could be the train that always comes late. The people you see on the bus line. The spot where you always park your car.
The Takeaway will harvest your daily observations, insights and gripes and post the collection here for listeners to vote on their favorites. You can upload a photo or audio file here, or you can download The Takeaway iPhone app and use that.
What is the American commute? Tell us.
Friday, October 01, 2010
(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) It’s been said that transportation planning in San Francisco is a contact sport. People around here have very, very strong opinions about their transit, and they’re not shy about sharing them. A lot of the time, things can get nasty.
But there’s one place where things are a little different. Call it a throwback. Caltrain started in the 19th century, and in some ways the railroad still has an old kind of feel. The locomotive cars run on diesel, and you can still hear that satisfying rumble of the wheels on the tracks when you ride.
For all of its historic charm, Caltrain has very modern budget problems. Facing a $2.3 million deficit, the agency is considering raising fares, cutting service, or both. There’s a worst case scenario where everything but weekday peak trains could disappear. That won’t happen for a while though: not if the passengers have anything to say about it.
Head over to KALW News to hear the full story of this emerging rider community of tech savvy, DIY professional types trying to save their train service through bike access and old-fashioned organizing.
TN Moving Stories: Daley Pines for High Speed Airport Rail Link, Villaraigosa wants better federal transit financing, and roll-bar rebate rolling out in Vermont
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
LA Mayor Villaraigosa testifies before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, asks feds to create a "national program of innovative financing tools" for major transit projects (Los Angeles Times). At same hearing, committee chair Barbara Boxer questions the need for President Obama's proposed infrastructure Bank (Streetsblog).
Delta flight attendants begin voting on union representation today. (Minnesota Public Radio)
Caltrain installs suicide prevention signs on tracks. (Silicon Valley Mercury News)
Roll-bar rebate: a new Vermont program will reimburse farmers to prevent tractor rollover deaths -- the leading cause of death on farms. (Burlington Free Press)
Chicago's Mayor Daley visits China, admires high speed rail, hopes that foreign investors will build a similar link between O'Hare and downtown (ABC7Chicago).
Just how politically divided is the country over the issue of high-speed rail? The Infrastructurist has a chart that breaks it down by state. Just about every Republican candidate opposes it, while Democrats support it.
Following up on last week's story about a man who commutes to work via kayak, here's a more...vertical commute story: follow along as a technician climbs 1,700 feet into the air to get to his job, repairing broadcast antennae (via AltTransport).
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) A little after five o'clock, and you might find yourself on your way back home after a long day at work. How would you describe your commute? A drag? Hilly, boring, sweaty, tedious? Those are a few of the words people in our newsroom used to describe theirs.
But recently, we heard a man characterize his commute in this way: "Conditions: sunny and absolutely bluebird. Number of seals spotted: 8. Amount of road rage experienced: none. Number of waves surfed: about five."
That’s how Stephen Linaweaver describes his daily commute to work crossing the San Francisco Bay in his kayak. And, as far as we know, Linaweaver is the only person to get to work this way. Want to hear what it's like out there? Listen to the full story at KALW News.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Service changes for the Long Island Rail Road go into effect today. Some trains will have scheduling adjustments, while other lines are canceled altogether. The Atlantic Terminal, Long Beach, Montauk, Far Rockaway, Port Washington, Ronkonkoma, Greenport and West Hempstead lines are all affected by the changes.
Monday, August 30, 2010
The Long Island Rail Road says commuters can expect normal train service today, after a week of schedule changes and delays. A fire severely damaged the switching system last Monday, disrupting service on the nation's largest commuter railroad.