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D.C.'s Pennsylvania Avenue Bike Lane Gets Presidential

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Inauguration Day 2013 (image courtesy of the First Lady's twitter account)

Monday's inauguration went off without any serious hitches. Sure, there's some Tuesday morning quarterbacking. It turned out that Beyoncé lip-synched the national anthem. Michelle Obama might have directed a sarcastic look at John Boehner during the post-inauguration luncheon. That could be a Supreme Court justice nodding off during the proceedings.

But the District's Department of Transportation (DDOT) couldn't have been happier.

"See that?! See that?! NO, not that great coat, the bike lanes!!!" the agency tweeted, referring to a photo of the First Couple walking on the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes.

The photo, which was circulated by the First Lady's Twitter account, quickly made waves among bike advocates.

"Obama Becomes First Prez to Walk Down a Bike Lane on Inauguration Day," read a Streetsfilms headline. One wishful bike blog took it a step further:

"One of the things that we were most proud about was that the inaugural parade was the chance to show off our bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue," said DDOT spokesman John Lisle. The lane, which was installed in 2010, did not exist during the last inauguration.

Lisle added that about 600 bikes were parked in the DDOT's bike corrals and bike parking lots as well -- a lower number than the 1,000 bikes parked during the 2009 presidential inauguration -- but then again, Capital Bikeshare didn't yet exist.

A DDOT bike corral on 17th and K (photo by Eric Gilliland via flickr)

As it turned out, fewer people rode Capital Bikeshare than expected. According to Lisle, there were 4,572 total trips on Inauguration Day -- but 5,772 the day before.

Meanwhile: D.C.'s Metrorail recorded 779,787 trips during the 2013 inauguration. That's about 70% of the ridership reached during the 2009 inauguration.

The transit agency chalked up the lower crowds to Monday's federal holiday, which cut down on work commuters.

Cowds outside of L'Enfant Plaza Monday afternoon after the temporary closure of the gates (photo by Jonathan Wilson/WAMU)

(with reporting from Martin DiCaro)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

DC's Capital Bikeshare Expanding by 30 Percent

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

(photo by Kevin Kovaleski/DDOTDC via flickr)

Washington, D.C. will add 513 bikes to Capital Bikeshare this winter, expanding the nation's largest operating bike share program by more than 30 percent.

The move was planned for the fall, but the Capital Bikeshare's operator, Alta, faced a shortage of equipment.
District Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle told Transportation Nation the 54 new stations will add docking spaces for 1,026 bikes. "You want about 50 percent of your docks on the street filled with bikes. That's kind of the ratio that we aim for," he said.

Lisle said there are 1,645 bikes on the streets now at in 2,524 docks, at 191 stations. Some stations have as many as 30 docks, and during special events, far more.

Balance is crucial to a well-functioning bike share program. So central, in fact, that employees of CaBi who shift bikes from location to location to meet demand are called rebalancers.

The proposed locations for the new stations, which you can view on this map (or see the below list) come in a mix of new neighborhoods and existing bike share neighborhoods. “We need to balance the desire to expand into new areas with the need for more docks and bikes in existing areas, particularly downtown, where demand is heaviest,” said Chris Holben, DDOT Project Manager for Capital Bikeshare, in an emailed statement. “Basically, for every ‘expansion’ station we also need more spaces downtown to keep up with demand.”

Capital Bikeshare has been been struggling to keep up with demand. It's expanded to the Virginia suburbs, and one Maryland county just voted to join. All 54 of the new docks will go inside the District.

Despite the popularity, CaBi loses money, although the program operates close to profitability. DDOT foots the bill, and pays Alta to operate the program. The additions mean DDOT will increase what it pays Alta as operator but could potentially earn more if it means more members sign up. DDOT spokesman John Lisle did not share projections for how the expansion might impact potential profitability.

"We are in the process of selling advertising on the stations, which should help on the revenue side," he said. "Installations most likely will be after the inauguration" on January 21st, Lisle said.

Alta is the same company that operates bike share programs in Chicago, and is contracted to launch programs in New York and Portland. Those programs have also suffered from delays.
 
First Round
 
1
18th Street and Wyoming Avenue NW
2
11th Street and M Street NW
3
14th Street and Clifton Street/ Boys and Girls Club NW
4
15th Street and Euclid Street NW
5
20th Street and Virginia Avenue NW
6
Ellington Bridge, SE corner NW
7
Elm Street and 2nd Street (LeDroit Park) NW
8
New Jersey Avenue and R Street NW
9
Hiatt Place between Park and Irving NW
10
13th Street and U Street NW
11
17th Street and Massachusetts Avenue/JHU NW
12
5th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW
13
8th Street and D Street NW
14
11th Street and Florida Avenue NW
15
11th Street and K Street NW
16
L'Enfant Plaza at Independence Ave SW
17
11th Street and F Street NW
18
23rd Street and W.H.O. NW
19
Constitution Ave and 21st Street NW
20
34th Street and Water Street NW
21
Connecticut and Nebraska Avenues NW
22
Connecticut Ave and Albemarle St NW
23
O Street and Wisconsin Ave (east) NW
24
Wisconsin Ave and Fessenden St NW
25
Wisconsin Ave and Veazy Street NW
26
14th Street and Upshur Street NW
27
14th Street and Colorado Avenue NW
28
5th Street and Kennedy Street NW
29
Georgia Ave and Decatur Street NW
30
V Street and Rhode Island Ave at Summit Place NE
31
2nd Street and M Street NE
32
Hamlin Street and 7th Street NE
33
12th Street and Irving Street NE
34
Neal Street and Trinidad Avenue NE
35
Rhode Island Ave Metro entrance NE
36
18th Street and Rhode Island Ave NE
37
8th Street and F Street NE
38
Pennsylvania Ave and 3rd Street SE
39
8th Street and East Capitol Street NE
40
15th Street and East Capitol Street NE
41
Independence and Washington/HHS SW
42
Constitution Ave and 2nd St/DOL NW
43
6th Street and Indiana Avenue NW
44
New Jersey Avenue and D Street SE
45
15th St, F St and Tennessee Ave NE
46
9th Street and M Street SE
47
Tingey Street and 3rd Street SE
48
Deanwood Rec Center and Library NE
49
Burroughs Avenue and 49th Street NE
50
Burroughs Ave and Minnesota Ave NE
51
Minnesota/34th Street and Ely Place SE
52
Alabama Avenue and Stanton Road SE
53
MLK, Jr. Ave and Alabama Ave SE
54
MLK, Jr. Ave and Pleasant Street SE
 
Next Round
 
55
MLK, Jr. Ave and St. E's Gate 5 SE
56
14th Street and Fairmont Street NW
57
18th Street and C Street NW
58
L'Enfant Plaza at Banneker Circle SW
59
G Street at MLK Library NW
60
Wisconsin Ave and Ingomar Street NW
61
Brandywine St and Wisconsin Ave NW
62
Connecticut Ave and Porter Street NW
63
O Street and Wisconsin Ave (west) NW
64
Massachusetts Ave and 48th Street NW
65
Van Buren Street and Rec Center NW
66
Ft Totten Metro Station NW
67
Cedar Street underpass (Takoma) NW
68
Piney Branch Rd and Georgia Ave NW
69
1st Street and K Street NE
70
Rhode Island Ave and Franklin St NE
71
18th Street and Monroe Street NE
72
New Jersey Avenue and L Street NW
73
Haines Point Rec Center SW
74
2nd Street and V Street SW
75
Burroughs and Division Avenues NE
76
Ely Place and Ft. Dupont Ice Rink SE
77
16th Street and Minnesota Ave SE
78
MLK, Jr. Ave and St E's Gate 1 SE

 

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Transportation Nation

D.C. to Start Testing Streetcars Next Spring

Friday, December 14, 2012

The first three streetcars to roll downs tracks in the District of Columbia since 1962 will be ready for testing next spring, DDOT officials said at a news briefing on Thursday.

The district is building a track in Anacostia to test its streetcars with the goal of launching them into service late next year or early 2014 on the planned H Street/Benning Road corridor, a two-mile, ten-stop segment of a planned 22-mile trolley system that will take five to eight years to complete -- barring further delays.

“From a safety standpoint, we have to start what we call burning in the cars, to get them used to the traffic systems,” said DDOT chief engineer Nick Nicholson. “We have to make sure everything, especially the emergency response, is working well. Sometime after that we complete that burn-in period and get a safety certification, we will begin revenue service.”

Fares and operating hours have not been decided, but officials said they are looking into seamless fare payment technologies, including using Metro’s SmarTrip cards. The final pieces of infrastructure have to be completed, too, on H Street/Benning Road.

“You will start seeing us build our switches in so we can switch the cars from track to track.  You will see power plants starting to come in to run the cars.  You will see the upgrades of the overhead wires and reinforcement of the Hopscotch Bridge to be a stop for the streetcar and we will build a maintenance facility,” said DDOT director Terry Bellamy.

Between now and the day the first passengers climb into a D.C. streetcar in fifty years, DDOT will employ a public awareness campaign to help businesses in the emerging H Street corridor.

“We think pedestrians will probably be used to streetcars because they are used to buses. Our real concern is the automobile driver, because he is used to having the road to himself,” Nicholson said. “Those cars in the district that like to double (park) or just stop and wait, in a streetcar path they're going have to move on.”

Nicholson said delivery trucks will have to alter their schedules or find alleyways to idle because the fixed-rail streetcar system cannot swing around them like buses. The streetcars will flow from the H Street’s median to pick up passengers outside the parking lane.

The district’s ambitious vision for a trolley system that will help residents and visitors efficiently move within the city, as opposed to Metro’s outside commuter-oriented design, foresees streetcars crossing east-west from Benning Road to Georgetown and from Buzzard’s Point to Anacostia, and north-south from Takoma to Buzzard’s Point.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has pointed to the transformation of Portland, Oregon by a new streetcar line as a model of economic growth, and district officials are depending on the H Street/Benning Road line to increase property values and enhance shopping and entertainment options in the corridor.

Progress may have a cost. A study by the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University found  that neighborhoods that get new rail transit systems like streetcars experience a significant increase in housing prices -- leading to renters and low-income households getting priced out.

In a prior series, WAMU examined the relationship between transit and gentrification in D.C.’s Ward 7, where a plan to extend the H Street/Benning Road streetcar line east of the Anacostia River is under consideration.

To learn more, check out D.C. Streetcar's latest media briefing here.

 

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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

Bike Advocates Wonder Where the Completed Met Branch Trail Is

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

More than two years after its southern segment opened, bicycling advocates are asking District and Maryland transportation officials why there has been no progress extending the 8-mile Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) that is supposed to run between Union Station and Silver Spring, Md.

The southern segment is a completed, off-road bicycle path running straight north from Union Station through Northeast Washington to the Brookland neighborhood, but the remaining three segments are a combination of off-road and “interim routes” that force cyclists to leave the path and crowd onto city streets.

“In a couple of places it actually goes up relatively steep hills. In one place it goes against traffic,” says Shane Farthing, the executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. The group is urging the District Department of Transportation to begin work on the northernmost segment inside the district, from Riggs Road to the Montgomery County line.

“We’d like to see DDOT pushing harder on that,” Farthing says.

But starting work on the MBT’s center segment in D.C. is more complicated: there are outstanding land-use issues that have to be resolved by the National Park Service, DC's transit agency (WMATA), and the DDOT concerning federal property around Fort Totten, where the proposed trail makes a sharp left turn in the vicinity of a trash transfer station.  That is where bicyclists face the thorniest part of their ride as two-way bicycling traffic has to squeeze into one of the “interim trails,” a one-way street for cars.

“For kids and novice cyclists who might want to try this connection, I do think where you are sent into oncoming traffic it is intimidating,” says Farthing, who gave an interview at the noisy intersection of Fort Totten Drive NE and Gallatin Street NE.

“All of the area around Fort Totten is National Park Service land, and there are certain agreements that WMATA has with rights of use to get the Red Line through. So they have to make sure (that) all those different legal agreements on land use work together to allow for the trail access,” he added.

The partial completion of the MBT is not stopping bicyclists from using it as part of their daily commutes or for recreation. There were 11,503 trips on the MBT last year, a nearly three-fold increase from 2010, according to DDOT figures.

Sam Zimbabwe, DDOT’s associate director for policy, planning, and sustainability, said funding and land use issues have delayed progress.

“Some of what we face is a challenge of resources and dealing with multiple trail projects moving forward at the same time,” he says, adding that the Fort Totten area “is probably one of the most challenging sections of the trail in terms of dealing with competing needs of the right of way.”

Zinbabwe countered criticism that the DDOT isn't prioritizing the project.

“We don’t feel that we are [idle]. I think that we continue to try to move it forward,” he says.  Although Farthing says he believes the entire bike trail could be finished in two to three years, Zimbabwe called that goal “optimistic.”

In Montgomery County, where the proposed trail would end at Silver Spring, there are also outstanding conflicts concerning land use.

The group Montgomery Preservation Inc. is unhappy with a plan to run the trail between its building that houses a B&O Railroad museum and Metro’s Red Line tracks.  The plan also calls for building a bicycling bridge over Georgia Avenue that would block views of the historic railroad bridge.  The MBT is part of the county’s master plan and the Montgomery County Council has approved funding.

“The county council, county executive, and bicycling community are all interested in completing the design and construction and opening up this important part of this heavily used trail,” says Bruce Johnston, the chief of MCDOT’s division of transportation engineering.

Although frustrated by the slow progress, Farthing looks forward to a day when commuters can ride their bicycles all the way from Silver Spring to Union Station without squeezing past moving vehicle traffic.

“The ability to take your bike on and off Metro, the ability to mix it with bike share, we’ve got a lot of different ways that you can integrate biking into daily life, but it is important to have the trail so the people can do it safely and easily,” Farthing says.

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Transportation Nation

Hacker Charity Helps Detroit Buses Take Tech Leap: Real Time Arrival Info by Text

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


A Detroit bus stop. (By Flickr user JSmith Photo)

It may be called the Motor City, but a third of Detroiters don't have a car. They depend on the bus and it ain't easy. In the past few years, riders have suffered three-hour waits, dangerous conditions culminating in a driver strike, and watched service cut by a third. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing even suggested privatizing the bus system as a possible way to make ends meet in the municipal budget. These are gloomy times for the city's transit users.

But on Tuesday, Detroit's battered bus system took a leap forward -- not to mention a leap over some other larger bus systems. Riders can now text their location to "50464" and receive the next arrival time of the nearest bus -- not scheduled arrival but actual projections based on the location of the bus at that moment. It's designed for people who ride the bus every day: school kids, teenagers, folks who don't own a car. This isn't a fancy smart phone app -- anyone with text messaging service can use this. New York City has experimented with a similar plan but hasn't rolled it out citywide yet.

(click to enlarge)

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing issued a statement calling the new #TextMyBus service "an essential resource for all of our citizens as we continue our efforts to improve DDOT service and provide reliable bus transportation.”

To pull this off, Detroit's Department of Transportation partnered with the Federal Transit Administration, the Detroit Public School system, the White House Strong Cities initiative, and the Knight Foundation. It also managed to wrangle three "fellows" from Code for America, which calls itself "a Peace Corps for geeks."

CfA is a nonprofit organization that sends web designers, computer engineers, and software coders to beleaguered cities around the country. These fellows then work with city agencies on digital improvements for the collective good.

In Detroit's case, #TextMyBus is CfA's first project. The group's fellows are also working on other projects, including a way to streamline the process to buy city-owned property.

For those of you not in Detroit, the online brochure -- partially excerpted above -- does a good job explaining how the app works.

 

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Transportation Nation

Why Don't More Blacks Use DC's Bike Share?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Capital Bike Share in Washington D.C.

Virginia Tech has just released a study of casual users of Washington, DC's bike share system, and the numbers on African American usage are startlingly low.

The study, based on 400  surveys of those who buy either 24-hour or 5-day passes, shows that just 5 percent of such users are "black/African American."

Caucasians represent 78 percent of casual users.

That contrasts starkly with the population of the District, which is 50 percent black,  and 34 percent white.

(Hispanic use is also low, but the Hispanic population of DC is only 9 percent.)

Ralph Buehler, the VT Assistant Professor who oversaw the study, cautioned that their sample only looked at casual users.  "Many of those users are tourists," Buehler said. "It's not surprising that would be more heavily white than the population of DC."

But Capital Bikeshare's own numbers for annual membership look even worse.  According to CaBi data from 2010, cited in the report, just two percent of annual members are black.

Chris Holben, DC's Bikesharing Project Manager, tells us more recent data shows an increase.  African American participation doubled by the end of 2011 -- but it's still only at four percent.

Ralph Buehler ran the numbers for us, and as it happens, participation in bike share is lower than general cycling rates for African Americans. According to the American Community survey, 12 percent of the population is African American, and 11 percent of the people who bike to work are African American.

Holben says DDOT is working to address the problem. One barrier to entry, he says, is the need to have a credit card to join the system. DDOT is participating in a "Bank on DC" program to get bank cards to the "unbanked," a population that typically tends to be more black than the general population. DC is running a promotion to offer discount Capital Bikeshare  memberships ($50 instead of $75) with the bank cards, and is looking into ways to create a monthly payment plan to make it even easier to join.

Holben also suggests that geography may play a role. The heavily African American neighborhood of Anacostia is separated from the rest of DC by a long bridge, it's more hilly than other parts of DC, and highways  further serve to cut off bike access.

Buehler adds: "There is a relative lack of bicycle infrastructure in the neighborhoods East of the Anacostia River (in Wards 8 and 7; the neighborhood of Anacostia is actually only a small part of that area).  Moreover population density is lower there than in downtown"

DDOT says it plans more outreach in African American neighborhoods as the weather warms up.

But the question remains: why do so few African Americans use DC's bike share?

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Detroit Bus Strike Slows City, Wins Safety Promises from Mayor

Friday, November 04, 2011

A Detroit bus stop. (By Flickr user JSmith Photo)

About 100 Detroit city bus drivers refused to work this morning to demand safer working conditions after a driver was beaten by a group of teens on Thursday afternoon at the city's main transit terminal.

Riders were stranded across the city until after lunch--more than 100,000 people use the transit system daily. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who has been criticized for not paying enough attention to transit, reacted quickly by promising new measures to improve safety for drivers and riders alike. Buses were rolling again by 1:30pm, according to Mayor Bing.

WDET reporter Quinn Klinefelter tells Transportation Nation the strike comes after months of mounting frustration. For the past six months the city and the union representing bus mechanics have been sparring, resulting in what the city calls a slowdown. "So there should be 300 or so buses on the road but there have been only 200 buses," Klinefelter says. That's led to hour-long delays and an increasingly dissatisfied ridership, some of whom have been taking it out on drivers.

Kleinfelter says that on Thursday, "a driver got off and got beaten up by teenagers" at the Rosa Parks Transit Station in downtown Detroit. The number of teens and exact circumstances are still unclear. The Detroit Free Press reports the teenagers were angered that the driver refused to wait for their friend. It took police 30 minutes to arrive even though headquarters is only blocks away.

In response to the attack and slow police response, this morning 100 drivers showed up to work but refused to get on the buses and drive, saying they didn't feel safe behind the wheel.

Mayor Bing, finding himself confronted by a second transit union, scrambled to react and get buses rolling again. He told a press gathering this afternoon that he had met with drivers, DDOT officials and Detroit Police about driver safety today. He said they reached "an understanding."

"The city is committed to providing security to both bus drivers and passengers alike," Bing said. "There will be zero tolerance for unacceptable behavior toward our bus drivers." He said the Detroit Police Department will institute random stops of buses to inspect them for safety and additional officers will be stationed at the Rosa Parks Transit Station. He also announced a $1,000 reward for tips leading to arrests of the attackers.

WDET's Klinefelter said Henry Gaffney, the head of Amalgamated Transit Workers' Union Local 26 representing the drivers, told WDET the city has agreed to put in bullet proof partitions around drivers. The city, however, denied any knowledge of the promise to Klinefelter.

Speaking to WDET earlier in the day, Megan Owens, the Executive Director of Transportation Riders United, explained why this strike was a long time coming. "For a lot of DDOT drivers [the attack] was the straw that broke the camel's back. They've been bearing the brunt of the bus problems for a long time with passengers verbally assaulting drivers pretty frequently, and they say if they can't feel safe going out on the roads, they're not going to drive."

The full conversation with WDET covers systemic needs and root causes behind today's strike in more detail. She argues the full DDOT system has been ignored and underfunded for years and calls for a regional transit authority to be created.

For a sense of the inconvenience the unannounced work action caused, see this video by the Detroit Free Press with stranded riders from earlier this morning.

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Transportation Nation

DC Giving Away Helmets to Capital Bikeshare Members

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

photo by sciascia via Flickr

(Markette Smith -- Washington DC, WAMU) Members of Capital Bikeshare who don't have helmets could soon be getting them for free.

The District Department of Transportation plans to give away 500 helmets his fall. There are more than 1,000 bikes for rent in the D.C. area through the program, but riders who rent their wheels may not own a helmet. DC does not have a helmet law for cyclists over 16.

DDOT officials say they're doing the giveaway to encourage these riders to bike safely. Previously, members were offered a 10 percent discount on helmets at bike shops that partner with DDOT.

Cyclist Benjamin Crane thinks it's a good idea. "I'm a member. I wear a helmet. But a lot of them don't," he says. "Maybe it messes up your hair, maybe you don't own a bike so you haven't bought a helmet. I didn't buy a membership until I bought a helmet, because I know there's a lot of risk of brain injury, and I like my brain."

DDOT has said that they won't stop at 500 helmets for the giveaway, and that when they run out, they'll give away more.

You can listen to WAMU's story here.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: China Halts HSR Line, Atlanta's Suburbs May Finally Be Ready to Accept Mass Transit, and Happy Bike To Work Day

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bike to Work Day, 2010 (photo by greenperalta/Flickr)

Today is Bike to Work Day.

Atlanta's suburbs may finally be ready to embrace mass transit. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

China halted work on a high-speed rail line due to environmental concerns.  (Wall Street Journal)

The Guardian has an enormous amount of data about Britain's train stations. (The Guardian)

GM will increase Volt production, and plans to close a plant for a month to prepare. (AutoBlog)

Hear TN's Andrea Bernstein talk about how gasoline prices are affecting driving behavior on The Takeaway (and don't forget to participate in our survey on how gas prices affect YOU.)

Toronto's mayor is set to unveil his bike lane plan. (The Star)

New York City approved an increase in fines for cab drivers who break a wide range of rules — from being caught using a cell phone while driving to refusing to accept a credit card. (WNYC)

Food trucks -- so popular on the coasts -- are hitting legal roadblocks in the Midwest. (Changing Gears)

The DDOT won't be available to fill potholes after Saturday's 'Rapture.' (Fox News)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- The Yankees paved paradise and put up a parking lot -- with public money (link)

-- it's not gas prices you have to worry about in Montana, it's snow...even in May (link)

-- NYC's dollar van program, meant to replace cut bus lines, is a total bust (link)

-- SF wants to make its taxis more efficient (link)

-- public transportation: it's good for you (link)

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DDOT Makes Its Director Official

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Terry Bellamy, the new director of the District Department of Transportation

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) DC mayor Vincent Gray today officially appointed Terry Bellamy the director of the District Department of Transportation. Bellamy, who has been with the agency since 2008, had been acting as DDOT's interim director since Gabe Klein departed the office a few months ago.   WAMU's David Shultz reports that Bellamy says his priorities will be roughly the same as his predecessor's.  "Many of the programs and activities that we've been doing have been planned for over 20 years and we'll continue to carry that forward," Bellamy says.

From the mayor's official press release (which also covers another mayoral appointment):

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Transportation Nation

New Director for DDOT?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) DC's Department of Transportation has not had a permanent director since Gabe Klein resigned five months ago.  (Klein is now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Director of Transportation.) And as we reported last week, other top officials have also recently left the agency. But a change may be on the horizon: the mayor's spokesperson, Doxie McCoy,  says in an email that Mayor Vincent Gray will announce a new director for the DDOT tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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Transportation Nation

D.C. To Impose New Fees On Booming Intercity Bus Industry

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) The intercity bus industry is red-hot here in the Northeast Corridor. Almost a dozen companies have sprung up seemingly overnight to meet the demand for inexpensive, scheduled service between Washington D.C. and New York City.

These buses are more colloquially known as Chinatown Buses, because many of them pick up passengers on the curb in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood and drop them off on the curb in New York's Chinatown neighborhood. (And vice versa, of course.)

But now, for the first time, District officials are attempting to regulate this largely unregulated new industry. D.C.'s Department of Transportation will start charging bus companies a public space rental fee for use of the curb, which could total $80,000 a year or more. DDOT will also now be able to prevent bus companies from operating in certain locations in D.C.

For more info about this nascent industry and the rationale behind these new regulations, check out this story on WAMU.

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Transportation Nation

Top D.C. Transportation Officials Resign As New Mayor Struggles to Fill Leadership Vacuum

Friday, May 13, 2011

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) It's five months into his first term, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray still hasn't selected a permanent head to his Department of Transportation. Now, two of the Department's top deputies are resigning and one says this leadership vacuum was a factor in her departure.

Deputy Director for Resource Management Leah Treat and Associate Director for Policy Karina Ricks are leaving DDOT, the organization for which they've worked for a combined 22 years. Ricks says she will be leaving later this summer. According to sources within DDOT, Treat is already gone.

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TN Moving Stories: LAPD Experiments with Electric Bikes, Ray LaHood Wants to Broker Dulles Metrorail Agreement, and Poll Shows Support Stable for NYC Bike Lanes

Friday, May 13, 2011

The LAPD is experimenting with electric bicycles. (Los Angeles Times)

Ray LaHood wants to help resolve differences in the Dulles Airport Metrorail project. (Washington Post)

DC's Metro has given Google Transit access to its data. (Washington Post)

New York City's bike lanes: a new poll says that support for them is stable, even if people think the lanes are unused. (Wall Street Journal)

NJ Senator Robert Menendez talked about oil company tax breaks -- and the senate finance committee hearing on the issue -- on the Brian Lehrer Show. (WNYC/IAFC)

AC Transit will be raising fares, and service cuts may also be coming within a year. (Contra Costa Times)

More on the osprey nest that's foiling DDOT construction from Marketplace.

The New York Post profiles the man who spent his life savings on the Doomsday ads now running in the subway. Bonus fact: he's a former MTA employee.

Who wants to see Estonians simulate bicycle riding on an airport people mover? You do! (video below:)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- light rail could be pushing west in NJ (link)

-- speed in NYC, and you might see skeletons (link)

-- the world's most dangerous roads (link)

-- a new Brookings report came out, ranking access to transit (link)

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Transportation Nation

Local D.C. Bus Service To Both Grow And Contract, Riders Not Happy

Friday, April 01, 2011

DDOT got an earful from angry riders of its Circulator bus service.

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) The District of Columbia began operating its own local bus service in 2005. It's called the Circulator.

The idea behind the Circulator was not to supplant the regional bus service provided by Metro, the local transit authority here, but rather to supplement it. The Circulator was meant to be a way to encourage people to go from the District's bustling downtown area to nearby economic "activity centers," as the city called them.

The buses were brand new and, thanks to shorter routes and limited-stop service, they come every ten minutes. Also, Circulator fares are 25 to 50 cents cheaper than the buses run by Metro.

By all accounts, the Circulator was an instant hit. Ridership boomed, new routes were added and City Council members began clamoring for the Circulator to come to their respective wards.

So it's surprising that the District is now scaling it back. Beginning today, the Circulator route that went around the National Mall is eliminated. And D.C.'s Department of Transportation, or DDOT, is proposing more route cuts, in addition to a 50 cent fare hike, for later this year. This would equalize the Circulator's fares with Metro's.

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Marti Ann Reinfeld, a planner with DDOT, says the Circulator is a work in progress. While some of its routes have been successful - very successful - others, such as the National Mall route, haven't. She says the District plans on adding several more Circulator routes in the next few years as they get more data and refine exactly what this bus service is and could be. As for the fare hike, Reinfeld says that was planned since the Circulator's inception almost six years ago.

How are Circulator riders reacting? For that, check out this WAMU story. (Spoiler alert: they're not happy.)

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Transportation Nation

The Revolving Door: Despite Ethics Rules, Former Metro Executive Now Lobbying On Behalf Of Metro Contractor

Monday, March 21, 2011

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/waba/2511198017/

(Washington D.C. -- David Schultz, WAMU) A private email obtained by WAMU shows that Emeka Moneme, a former top executive at D.C.'s Metro, may have violated ethics rules by lobbying his former coworkers on behalf of one of Metro's largest contractors.

Metro says it still believes in the integrity of its contracting process.

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Transportation Nation

DC Mayor Slams Predecessor On Transportation, Could Politics Be Involved?

Friday, February 18, 2011

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) A scathing report has just been released by the transition team of incoming D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. The report is something of an indictment against the city's Department of Transportation, as led by Gray's mayoral predecessor, Adrian Fenty, and his young, charismatic transportation director, Gabe Klein.

Among its grievances:

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