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On The Media

Palm Monday

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bob visits the iconic Palm Restaurant, where DC A-listers go to see and be seen, to meet his guide to all things Washington, Mark Leibovich,

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The Takeaway

A Look at the Project Congress Actually Agrees On

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Even when it seems like there is nothing Congress can agree upon, our representatives have come together to conclude that the broken structure that houses them—1,300 cracks and all—is something that absolutely needs to be fixed.

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On The Media

If You're Following the DC Navy Yard Shooting, Here's a Few Good Sources

Monday, September 16, 2013

We'll update this throughout the afternoon, please add any feeds you're finding useful in the comments. 

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Transportation Nation

In About Face on Parking Minimum Plan, DC Appeases Car Owner Concerns

Friday, July 12, 2013

WAMU

In D.C. a zoning proposal is a proxy debate for philosophies over what the city should be, and what roles cars should play in it. Today, on WAMU, a key planning official announces an about face on a contentious proposal to removing parking minimum requirements in some circumstances. 

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Transportation Nation

D.C. Again Takes On Upstart Competitor To Taxicabs

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The D.C. Taxicab Commission has a message for drivers using the new ridesharing mobile app SideCar: they are breaking the law.

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Transportation Nation

Capital Bikeshare Expansion Halted By Parts Problems

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

(photo by James Schwartz via flickr)

(Armando Trull - Washington, D.C., WAMU) A lack of parts is putting the brakes on the expansion of the Capital Bikeshare program in the District, according to a District Department of Transportation official.

Existing plans to add 54 bike share stations this fall will likely come up short, department spokesman John Lisle told The Washington Post, because they have not been able to get all the needed equipment from a supplier.

The system, launched in 2010 in the District, Arlington and Alexandria, has about 175 stations. It has struggled to keep up with demand at times.

The expansion delay has also raised questions about whether supplier Alta Bicycle Share can keep up with growing demand from cities for bike share programs. New York City's bike share program, which will also be operated by Alta, has been delayed due to software problems, as has Chicago's program.  Meanwhile, Alta picked up another big contract earlier this year: it will be the vendor for Portland's bike share. And in the D.C. region, Maryland's Montgomery County unanimously approved measures to expand bike share, most of which is expected to integrate with Capital Bikeshare.

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Transportation Nation

D.C.: Car U-Turns Through a Bike Lane Are, In Fact, Illegal

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane (photo by Elvert Barnes via flickr)

Almost 80% of bike crashes on Pennsylvania Avenue -- home to the city's only center bike lane -- are caused by cars making U-turns. But until recently, there was some confusion over whether the maneuver was illegal or not.

Earlier this month, DCist reported there were apparent inconsistencies in D.C. law regarding when and where U-turns are permissible.

On Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray ordered an "emergency rulemaking" to leave no doubt: cars can't drive across a bike lane to turn around.

"This is an effort to ensure the safety of our increasing numbers of cyclists in the District by closing a regulatory gap,” Gray said. “This action is in line with my efforts not only to protect public safety, but also to encourage a greener, healthier, more sustainable District through my Sustainable DC plan.”

(As he put it in a tweet, "U-turns across bike lanes are illegal. Fine=$100.")

Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Gray, said "in 2010 and 2011, 11 of the 14 bike crashes on Pennsylvania Avenue involved vehicles making those U-turns."

Mid-block U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue are one of the biggest safety concerns in the District. Dave Salovash bikes on the street every morning with his ten year old daughter. When he noticed the frequency of the mid-block U-turns, he decided to bring his camera one day.

"So I picked one spot and just stood there for half an hour and counted U-turns made across the bike lanes. I saw about 25 people doing it and managed to get pictures of about 20 of them," Salovash says.

The bike lanes have been in Pennsylvania Avenue's center median since 2010.

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Transportation Nation

Virginia County Approves $2.3B Tysons Corner Transportation Plan

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Metro Rail construction from Tyson's Corner to East Falls Church station on Route 267 in Northern Virginia. (Photo by Trevor Wrayton, VDOT)

The Fairfax Board of Supervisors has given final approval to a massive transportation funding plan for the future Tysons Corner.

The Tysons Plan looks 40 years into the future, anticipating 113 million square feet of new development by 2050 in a modern city rising west of Washington. The board on Tuesday approved $2.3 billion to build a new transportation network for the future Tysons Corner, which includes a grid designed for buses, pedestrians, and cars -- as well as four new Metro Stations. It will be paid for in part by commercial and residential taxes.

Fairfax County Board chairman Sharon Bulova heralded the move, calling it "a major step in the right direction" for the area. “Investing in Tysons is an investment in the future of Fairfax County," she said. "Never before has such a long range, comprehensive plan been developed to support a major redevelopment initiative."

But the vision of high-rise condos and gleaming corporate offices doesn't mean much to Lucille Weiner, a senior citizen who lives in a condo in Tysons and who spoke at a public hearing Tuesday before the board approved the plan. She said the tax increases on residential properties in Tysons Corner would make her life more difficult.

"As I read the reasoning around taxing the neighborhood that is Tysons Corner, I read the phrase 'the folks that will benefit the most,'" said Weiner. "It sure isn't me who will have to move if this happens. I appeal to my elected representatives to help stop this frivolous idea on the extra tax on the people who live in Tysons."

Michael Bogasky, the president of the residents association in Weiner's condominium, agreed with that assessment. "Let's create a new tax district so that we can pay more in taxes than anyone else in Fairfax County," he said.

Weiner believes the new taxes should not be on homeowners at all.

"When the Metro reached Greenbelt [Maryland], residents of Greenbelt did not get taxed, nor did residents of Vienna [Virginia]. when the Metro reached Vienna," she said.

Developers stand to gain the most from Tysons' future growth. One of them, CityLine Developers, supports the tax plan.

"If I ever thought there was a day that I would come and ask you to approve $13 a square foot in transportation proffers and ask you for a 7- to 9- cent tax on top of that, I probably should have retired," said Thomas Fleury a CityLine vice president, with a laugh. "That's what it takes to get the job done."

Other critics argue there is a risk to predicting tax revenues over 40 years and if the county's projections don't work out, the plan will fall apart.

But lawmakers say the plan is flexible enough to adjust to swings in the economy and the real estate market.

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Transportation Nation

DC's Metro Prepares for Inauguration Day

Monday, October 15, 2012

(WMATA)

DC's transit agency is circulating proposed designs for a commemorative fare card that will be sold for the presidential inauguration.

(WMATA)

According to a WMATA spokeswoman, the agency will print 100,000 of these $15 cards, which would come pre-loaded with a one-day rail pass. (Functional and collectible!)

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Transportation Nation

Smartphone App Offers What DC Cabs Can't Yet -- Ability to Take Credit Cards

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

M Street in Georgetown (photo by Victoria Pickering via flickr)

One of the biggest gripes about D.C.'s taxicabs is that so few of them accept credit cards -- but that could be about to change.

The D.C. Council passed regulations last spring requiring all cabs to have credit card machines, but since then the changeover has been mired in red tape: the city is still trying to settle a dispute among contractors who bid on the $35 million contract to install new credit card readers in the city's cabs.

Meanwhile, a new app launching in D.C. allows customers to order a ride on a smartphone — much like the smartphone-based Uber service, which has caused some consternation among the city's cab drivers. myTaxi's GPS will locate the nearest taxi and send the driver a notification on his smartphone, and the driver has five seconds to accept. Payment is made at the end of the trip using the passenger's previously approved credit card.

"We support Visa and Mastercard, or if you are with PayPal you can also store your PayPal account," says Lina Wuller, spokesperson for the Germany-based company. She notes that the GPS feature of that app means that a person doesn't need to have an exact address to order a taxi — which is the case with Uber.

Customers do not pay any surcharges when they pay their fares.  The taxi drivers pay myTaxi 99 cents per fare --- but not until next year.  It is free till then.

Passengers can begin downloading the app today, but it's still unclear how many taxis are actually participating. Wuller declines to disclose how many taxi drivers have signed up, but she says one of them is taxi driver Masood Medgalchi.

Medgalchi is also active in the D.C. Professional Taxicab Drivers Association, which opposes the Taxicab Commission's proposed reforms, including the plan to install the credit card machines.

"We were trying to be proactive about what the government of the District wanted us to do without having the government impose on us," he says.

Medgalchi's group calls the credit card system the district is attempting to push into taxis "antiquated." It's also on hold until the District clears up a dispute over what company should install the card readers.

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Transportation Nation

DC "Pioneer" in Walkable, Transit-Friendly Neighborhoods

Thursday, September 13, 2012

(photo by Martin DiCaro)

(Washington, DC - WAMU) D.C. is known for its great tourist attractions -- not to mention political scandals -- but among real estate developers the metropolitan area is receiving attention for what one expert says is a pioneering approach to the development of neighborhoods.

The D.C. metro area is leading the nation in the creation of WalkUPs --Walkable Urban Places -- according to a report released by George Washington University professor and smart growth advocate Christopher Leinberger.

In Leinberger’s view, developers are reversing decades of thinking about how people want to live, work and be entertained by creating anti-sprawl: densely-built office space, housing, and retail space in urban settings where residents can have most of their daily needs met within 1,500 to 3,000 feet of where they live.  While WalkUPs may differ in many respects from neighborhood to neighborhood, they all share one thing in common: access to multiple modes of transit, including commuter rail, bus, and bike sharing.

“There are 43 regionally significant WalkUPs in this region and they total only 17,500 acres, less than 1 percent of the land mass,” said Leinberger, who heads the political advocacy group Locus. “But this is the future of where most regionally significant job growth and development will go over the next generation.”

(photo by Martin DiCaro)

How walkable is your neighborhood? Leinberger developed a zero-to-100 scoring system at walkscore.com.

“These walkable urban places that I have been studying have a walk score that is a minimum of 70. As [a neighborhood] gets more walkable we have found that its economic performance goes up, and this is why developers are so fascinated by these places. Greater walkability, higher rents. But there is a downside to higher rents and that is basic affordability.”

Capitol Riverfront neighborhood Southeast -- near Navy Yard Metro (photo by Martin DiCaro)

The Capitol Riverfront neighborhood in Southeast D.C. may demonstrate the success of the WalkUP model. A blighted industrial landscape of oil storage tankers and trash transfer stations that was scarred by crime, prostitution and poverty, Capitol Riverfront – just five blocks from the U.S. Capitol building with two miles of riverfront real estate – has witnessed a rapid transformation over the past decade. The catalyst for change was the completion of the Navy Yard Metro Station in 1999, according to Michael Stevens, the executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (BID), a non-profit that performs planning and infrastructure analysis.

“It was only until the Navy Yard Metro station opened in 1999 that I think people started to understand this could be an in-town neighborhood,” said Stevens, who said once the redevelopment of downtown D.C. was accomplished, developers could “jump” into adjacent neighborhood ripe for change.

In the past decade, the Green Line corridor has caught up to -- and exceeded -- the Rosslyn-Ballston Orange Line corridor in attracting the coveted 18-34 demographic, according to data compiled by the BID.  From 2000 to 2010, the Green Line corridor attracted more than 3,400 new households in that age group, slightly more than Rosslyn-Ballston.  In the previous decade such growth was nearly non-existent along the Green Line.

“We survey residents living down here on an annual basis and year in and year out the most important factor for them choosing to live in the neighborhood has been the access to multi-modal transit and the Metro station,” said Ted Skirbunt, the BID’s director of real estate research.

(photo by Martin DiCaro)

The WalkUP model has thrived because there's been an attitude shift among young professionals. Less interested in living in drivable suburbs where the costs of home ownership are incompatible with college debt bills, this cohort has been seeking smaller living spaces where cars -- and the parking spaces they require -- are unnecessary.

“We call it the five-minute neighborhood. Within a five-minute walk you can be at the grocery store, at the park where your kids are going to play or where you’re going to hear a concert. You can walk to your job. You can walk to a restaurant, a bar or entertainment venue,” said Stevens.

During an interview with Transportation Nation, Stevens pointed to an explosion of development taking place in an area covering just a couple square blocks: new loft apartments with ground floor restaurants, an old industrial building being converted into a retail and restaurant cluster, a 50,000-square foot grocery store, and 30,000-square foot health club.  In a suburban setting, such development would require many more acres of space considering the parking lots that would be necessary.

“We are seeing a paradigm shift from an almost entirely suburban model to a generation that doesn’t necessarily want cars. They want multi-modal transportation choices. They want to live close to the urban cores where the action is and the jobs are,” Stevens said.

For more about DC's history with development, check out the TN documentary Back of the Bus: Race, Mass Transit and Inequality

To read more about this issue, check out How Transit Is Shaping the Gentrification of D.C., Part 1

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Transportation Nation

Maryland County Debates Joining DC's Bike Share Program

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

(photo by Kevin Kovaleski/DDOTDC via flickr)

(Armando Trull and Matt Bush -- Washington DC, WAMU) Maryland's Montgomery County is considering a $2.1 million plan to expand Capital Bikeshare to more than 48 locations, including Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Friendship Heights and the NIH/Medical Center Metro station. Funding for the 350 bikes and their respective stations will be a combination of money from state grants, the county and the private sector.

Two bills were introduced in the County Council today to encourage bikesharing. One would eliminate a zoning requirement needed to set up a bikesharing station, while another would allow county transportation money to be spent on such stations.

"Twenty-nine stations in Silver Spring, Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Medical Center — all the places where you would most want to provide the kind of biking community integrated with the District of Columbia," said Council President Roger Berliner. He said both moves would encourage bikesharing with businesses and their workers.

While passage of both bills wouldn't necessarily mean that D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare would be coming to Montgomery County, Berliner says whatever bikesharing program there is in Montgomery County would have to be integrated with the city's.

Councilwoman Nancy Floreen warned though that Montgomery County has a long way to go in updating its roads to ensure bikers are safe.

"There are many, many accidents that are occurring on a regular basis," said Floreen. "Whether or not they reported. I'm going to a lot of hospitals to visit folks."

Floreen added the county can take its cues from D.C. on this issue as well, pointing to how the city increased the number of bike lanes and bike markings on major roads by turning some of them into one-way streets for vehicle traffic. Public hearings on both bills will take place late next month before the council.

The county has already received federal money to purchase 200 additional bikeshare bikes in the Rockville and Shady Grove Life Sciences Center. The bike rental program -- the most popular in the country -- already operates in the District and Arlington County and the City of Alexandria in Virginia.

 

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Transportation Nation

Special Report: How Transit Is Shaping the Gentrification of D.C., Part 1

Monday, September 10, 2012


This is the first of a two-part series on the relationship between gentrification and access to transit in Washington D.C.'s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. Part 1 examines the Shaw and Pleasant Plains neighborhoods in the Georgia Avenue corridor in Ward 1. Listen to the WAMU radio version of this story here.

This two-mile stretch of Georgia Avenue NW, sandwiched between two Metro stations, looks like a construction zone. Every few blocks a new apartment building with ground floor retail space is under construction, surrounded by scaffolding or heavy equipment. A neighborhood that has changed dramatically in the past decade is in store for further gentrification.

"There were eight major development projects that were in various stages of planning," says Sylvia Robinson, 51, a community organizer who helped form a neighborhood task force to monitor proposals for new development over the past two years.

According to data compiled by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank, the 20001 zip code -- which includes the Georgia Avenue corridor in Ward 1 -- was the sixth-fastest gentrifying zip code in the entire country last decade, based on the change in the share of the white population. In 2000, whites were only 6 percent of the population; by 2010 the white population had increased to 33 percent in the zip code, according to U.S. Census data. Washington has several of the fastest changing neighborhoods in the country.

Gentrification is an attitude

While gentrification is often simplified to mean the displacement of poorer black residents by wealthier white newcomers, Robinson says the change is more complicated where she lives.

"I consider gentrification an attitude," Robinson says. "It's the idea that you are coming in as a planner, developer, or city agency and looking at a neighborhood as if it's a blank slate. You impose development and different economic models and say that in order for this neighborhood to thrive you need to build this much housing, this much retail."

Robinson does not oppose gentrification; she wants her community to have a voice in the inevitable changes. "We are primarily an African-American, low-income community. Typically, we are not asked about changes that are coming," she says. For instance, in addition to new market-rate condominiums, neighborhood advocates are lobbying for new affordable housing units to prevent the displacement of long-time residents when property values ultimately rise.

Changes here have been dramatic. The Shaw and Pleasant Plains neighborhoods are safer, have seen property values increase and shopping opportunities multiply.

"It's an extraordinary change," says Peter Tatian, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute. "I've been in D.C. over 25 years and I remember when that part of town was considered off limits by many people, that you wouldn't want to even go there. And now it's become one of the priciest areas." The median price of a home is over $500,000 in many parts of Ward 1, Tatian says.

The transportation angle

"The development of our community is really going to hinge on people being able to move up and down that segment of Georgia Avenue freely and easily," Robinson says.

The congested corridor connects two Metro stations in Northwest D.C: Petworth in the north and Shaw/Howard University in the south. Significant new development is being constructed close to the Shaw Metro station, leaving Robinson concerned that hundreds of new apartment units and thousands of square feet of retail space will focus economic activity there at the expense of older neighborhoods further away.

"[Developers] don't have a sense of what the natural boundaries are for the neighborhood," Robinson says. "Neighborhoods were here before the Metro Stations came in, so it's not like you are creating a new neighborhood. You are already in a neighborhood and that neighborhood can really benefit from that Metro station, but not if you are only focused on the station as a center of development."

When a "thriving neighborhood" is measured largely by how much money people are spending or how high rents are climbing, Robinson says gentrification causes damage.

"That is my main issue with all of this: everything is looked through the lens of shopping," she says.

Just a mile or so north of the Shaw Metro on Georgia Avenue, one will find shops and restaurants that are long-time establishments in the neighborhood. To get to them, Robinson says residents and Howard University students will have to rely on the 70 bus line.

"It's just notoriously unreliable and always has a very interesting set of characters on it," she says. "They're supposed to run every ten minutes, but what you'll get is three buses in a row and then nothing for half an hour."

Anika Rich, a Howard University senior who has witnessed the neighborhood's transformation, doubts the current bus service is adequate to connect people to different parts of the Georgia Avenue corridor.

"I don't think that people are going to be connected to it. I know that there are plans that Howard University has to lure us to the other side of the street, and have us patronize a section that doesn't necessarily get much attention from other people," Rich says.

Robinson worries that "isolated" pockets of economic development will be the result. Moreover, as the population of this part of the city continues to grow (14 percent increase in the 20001 zip code between 2000-2010), so will pressure on the existing infrastructure to efficiently move people between work and home, home and shopping.

"We're talking about improving the bus lines. We're talking about the Circulator bus... moving up this corridor. We're talking about possibly working with Howard University to have shuttles circulate further north," she says.

While Ward 1 has the look and feel of a dramatically different neighborhood, other areas of the city have not seen development follow access to transit. In part two of this series, we will visit the Deanwood and Kenilworth neighborhoods in Ward 7 to examine why development has been slow to rise up in an area that has had four Metro stations for many years.

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Transportation Nation

Will This DC Bridge Become a Park?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

An illustration for a park proposed for Washington's old 11th Street Bridge. If realized, the park would span the Anacostia River, linking the Capitol Hill neighborhood with lower-income Anacostia. (Ed Estes/Courtesy of D.C. Office of Planning)

A plan to turn DC's old 11th Street Bridge into a pedestrian park is gaining traction. "What we're proposing to do is to transform this old freeway into a place of active recreation," says one supporter. The city of D.C. and some locals are on board with the idea, but worries about gentrification -- and how to pay for the project -- are hurdles that must be dealt with.

Read more -- and hear the story -- at NPR.

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Transportation Nation

Capital Bikeshare Opens First University Station

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Capital Bikeshare on the streets in Washington D.C.

(Patrick Madden -- Washington, D.C., WAMU) Capital Bikeshare will now be a campus staple -- at least at one school in D.C.

Gallaudet is the first university in the District to host a bikeshare station, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says he believes other schools will soon follow Gallaudet's lead.

"We are trying to get people out of automobiles, and certainly bikes represent a good way to get people around the city without the environmental consequences," says Gray.

Capital Bikeshare continues to grow in DC, with more than 165 stations. The program just recorded its 2 millionth ride.

Gray says the goal is to add 84 new bikeshare stations in DC by the end of the year.

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Transportation Nation

Survey: Capital Bike Share Saved 5 Million Driving Miles

Monday, June 18, 2012

Capital Bike Share on the streets in Washington D.C.

A new survey of Washington's Capital Bikeshare, done for Capital Bikeshare, says four in ten users report using cars less -- for an average savings of 523 miles for those users.

The survey's authors say that translates to a total of 5 million miles not driven.

But the survey also found that bike share users tend to be, "on average, considerably younger, more likely to be male and Caucasian, highly educated, and slightly less affluent" than the adult population of the Washington, DC area.

And even though the survey found most (56%) of trips were for non-work purposes, more than nine in ten bike share users are employed, compared to just seven in ten adults in the Washington region.

Other results:

* 64 percent said they would not have made the trip without bike share;

* 15 percent said they joined bike share because of a "Living Social" offer;

* More than half of respondents used bike share as a feeder to reach transit stops.

Lots of other interesting nuggets. You can read the full survey here.

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Transportation Nation

Washington-DC Area Planning Board Approves Complete Streets Policy

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, representing the nation's capital and 22 counties in Maryland and Virginia has voted to approve a complete streets policy.

Though it does not contain the force of law, the vote pushes local governments to:

"create or adapt transportation facilities that safely and appropriately accommodate motorized and non-motorized users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, freight vehicles, emergency vehicles, and transit riders of all ages and abilities."

Only one member of the 35-member board voted against the recommendation.

Lewis Miller, a board spokesman, says some initial opposition fell away after board members, who are appointed by the local governments, realized the proposal was a best practices recommendation, not a mandate.

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Transportation Nation

D.C. Brings Back Potholepalooza

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

(photo by Wayan Vota via flickr)

They come in a variety of shapes, are several inches deep, and can cost hundreds of dollars in car repair bills: potholes, the bane of every driver's commute. In an effort to eliminate some of them, the District of Columbia is launching its annual Potholepalooza.

Along one stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the Anacostia neighborhood of southeast D.C., the road looks like it used to be riddled with potholes but has been patched up with globs of asphalt. It's not a smooth ride, but resident Anthony Johnson says it's a minor improvement.

"They are getting better," Johnson says. "They have started working on it, but they have been bad for years. That's nothing new. There are still a lot of them that's not done."

Johnson says the District's Potholepalooza, which filled 5,000 potholes during a single month last year, is much needed again.

"See that truck over there? I want to keep it for a little while," he says.

Potholes are car killers. Portia Perkins says her friend hit one pothole on Pennsylvania Avenue in southeast that wound up blowing a huge hole in her bank account.  "It messed up her muffler, and so she had to get that fixed," says Perkins. "It cost her a couple thousand dollars."

The city is asking for help in locating potholes. Individuals can email repair requests, tweet them to @DDOTDC, call information at 311, or use the District's new smart phone app. The DDOT says it will work to repair identified potholes within 48 hours; normal response time is within 72 hours.

After hearing this report, a WAMU listener who identified herself as Karen said in an email, "I hit a pothole the morning of 4/12/2012 on 15th just north of Euclid, NW.  I was going about 15-20mph and the force of the impact cracked my oil pan and knocked the alignment out.  The car was towed and the repair was approximately $1,100."

Listen to this story here: http://wamu.org/news/12/04/15/dc_brings_back_potholepalooza

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: SF's Newest Subway Line Moves Forward; DC's Population Is Up, But Cars Are Down; LaHood Bearish On Transpo Bill

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top stories on TN:
NY MTA Board Member: Overnight Shutdowns Too Broad--And More are On the Way (Link)
Will High Gas Prices Hurt Obama’s Reelection Chances? (Link)
Residents Look at Ways to Bring Walkability Back to Old Houston Neighborhood (Link)

(photo courtesy of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency)

It's all systems go for San Francisco's newest subway. (San Francisco Chronicle)

DC's population is up, but car registrations are flat lining. (Or as WTOP puts it, "New DC residents: I couldn't 'car' less.")

Airline co-pilots would have to meet the same experience threshold required of captains—the first boost in four decades—under regulations proposed Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration. (AP via Mercury News)

Ray LaHood is bearish on Congress' chances of passing a transportation bill before the March 31st deadline. “I’m going to use past as prologue. We’ve gone 3½ years beyond the last bill...I don’t see Congress passing a bill before this one runs out, before this extension runs out." (Politico)

Meanwhile, state and local transportation officials are anxiously watching Washington for news about the transpo bill. (Politico)

Auto sales are growing so fast American auto makers can barely keep up -- which could lead to shortages that drive up prices. (NPR)

Lawyers for NYC are heading to court today seeking an appeal of a judge's order that the Taxi and Limousine Commission must submit a long term-plan for wheelchair accessibility. (WNYC)

Following safety concerns, NYC will unveil proposed changes to the Prospect Park loop in Brooklyn that would reduce cars to one lane -- and create two separate lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians.  (New York Times)

Future roads will have new technology to ease congestion -- and more congestion because of the new technology. (Marketplace)

TransCanada says it will start building the Oklahoma-to-Texas portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. (NPR)

A bill calling for more transparency at the Port Authority was approved by a New Jersey state senate committee. (Star-Ledger)

New York Times' Room for Debate: how to make cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians? The answers: better street design -- and better enforcement. (Link)

One DC bus rider wrote a song about the errant #42 bus: "One bus, two bus, three bus, four/Can't seem to find those open doors/At this rate how am I gonna get anywhere." (Washington Post)

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Transportation Nation

Gas Prices Creep Higher -- Especially in DC

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

(photo by Markette Smith)

(Markette Smith -- Washington, DC, WAMU) Gas prices in the D.C. Metro area are up nearly 10 cents from a week ago, and the threat of a conflict in the Middle East may be driving prices up.

In the nation's capital, the average cost per gallon is $3.70, causing people to grumble as they make their regular trips to the pump.

At a gas station on M Street in Northwest, motorists are filling up for $4.49 per gallon for regular fuel. It's one of the highest priced stations in the area.

While fuel prices are traditionally low during the cold weather months, several issues in play at this time may translate into higher gas prices.

"There are three things right now going on that might be driving up oil prices, or that could in the future," says Jeff Colgan, an International Relations professor at American University. (WAMU is licensed to American University).

"One is the U.S. and European embargo on Iranian oil," Colgan continues. "Second is the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran and the third is the Iranian response to all of that, which is the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and therefore cut off a huge portion of the world's oil supply."

That would include oil from Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, according to Colgan.

"19 million barrels of oil per day flow through the Strait of Hormuz and if it gets restricted that could drive up gasoline prices around the world, including obviously here in DC," Colgan says.

But John Townsend of AAA-Mid Atlantic says the situation in the Middle East cannot be blamed, because crude oil prices are at a six-week low.

"There's demand destruction out there," he says. "People aren't driving as much and this time of year, they're all working and all nestled down in their jobs, so what, then, would be the reason for gas prices at record highs for this time of year other than pure greed?"

Townsend says D.C. area consumers can expect to pay record high amounts for gas in the coming spring and summer.

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