Krulwich Wonders: How About A Little Drive, Hmm? (A Horror Story)

Monday, December 10, 2012


Dashboard video cameras are common in Russia. In case you get bumped into, or bump someone else, insurance companies want to see what happened. So we have a video record of what it's like to drive there. You don't want to see this compilation video. (Oh yes you do.)

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Transportation Nation

It's Toll Roads vs. Surface Streets in Race to the Orlando Airport

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

At the starting line, outside Orlando City Hall

Thursday morning, 9am: two law-abiding drivers, two routes to the airport, one winner.

WMFE reporter Matthew Peddie and news director Mark Simpson wanted to figure out the fastest route the airport from downtown Orlando. In a thoroughly unscientific experiment, they put two kinds of roads to the test. The toll road to the airport tacks on distance but promises a speedier ride. Surface roads are free and more direct -- but are studded with traffic lights.

Whose route was victorious?  Listen to the radio story, below.










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Transportation Nation

Will SunRail Change Central Florida's Driving Habits?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SunRail will run right through the center of Florida Hospital's Health Village campus (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Listen to an audio version of this story here

Developers are building apartments along Florida’s new commuter rail line -- but if SunRail isn't reliable, both the idea of transit-oriented development -- not to mention SunRail -- could flop.

The SunRail tracks run straight through Florida Hospital’s campus on North Orange Ave. When the commuter train starts in 2014 it will be an important part of the hospital’s plans for a health village, which will include a mix of apartments, shops and businesses clustered around the yet-to-be built rail station.

Developer Craig Ustler says the project will transform the surrounding neighborhood.

“It would look like a lot of people walking, a pedestrian friendly environment, and maybe an evolution to a place where the car doesn’t win all the time.”

"It’s not a perfect set up yet," says Craig Ustler, standing at the site of the future Florida Hospital SunRail platform "they’ve got to build an administrative building and some retail to tie it all together, but a lot of pieces in place already to make a quality environment built around the transit.”

Ustler is counting on residents for a 250 apartment, $38 million complex he’s building a few blocks from the hospital.

The idea behind transit-oriented development (TOD) is to create pedestrian- friendly environments with access to transportation alternatives to the car. Local officials, like Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, are excited about its potential.

“Transit-oriented development is popping up all around these stations, giving us new places to work, live and play," said Dyer when SunRail got the final go-ahead a year ago.

"New companies moving in, new jobs being created. People saving money because they don’t have to use their car. People saving time because they’re not stuck on I-4.”

With ten thousand hospital employees and about three thousand  students at the College of Health Sciences, all of them potential rail passengers, shoppers or tenants, Florida Hospital is ripe for TOD.

To make it work, though, the rail has to run often and on time. And right now SunRail won’t run on weekends.

Gregg Logan, managing director of the Orlando real estate advisory services firm RCLCO, says that could be a problem.

“If it’s not convenient, then people won’t use it and that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘see, we shouldn’t have funded it because people aren’t using it,'" says Logan.

"Well, people will use it if it’s convenient.”

SunRail says it will extend the service if there’s demand.

TOD is still untested in Central Florida, and that’s made it challenging for developers to get financing for big projects around rail. Compared to cities with well-established mass transit system like New York, Central Florida’s urban environment is relatively young, with most of the big growth springing up in the last 50 years. But Gregg Logan says that could be an advantage.

“I guess the good news is we can go to some of these other places and look at what worked," he says, "and borrow some of their best ideas.”

RCLCO's Gregg Logan points to a map of the SunRail commuter train route (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Logan says Central Florida should take inspiration from Portland’s street car and the Washington DC Metro, where TOD has driven up the value of land around rail stations. While Florida Hospital has big plans for development, some of the other stops along the rail line aren’t as far advanced.

One landowner trying to attract business for a potential development is Tupperware. Spokesperson Thomas Roehlk says the company has 100 acres for mixed use set aside at its headquarters near the Osceola Parkway station.

“We haven’t had the interest yet from businesses, partially as a consequence of the fact that we are in phase two, so we’re four years out from having a station, and secondly just because of the slow uptick to the economy," He says.

However, Roehlk believes Tupperware’s plan will succeed in the long run because of the location’s proximity to another major transport hub -- Orlando International Airport.

Meanwhile, developer Craig Ustler says once the train starts running past his building at Florida Hospital, Orlando residents will begin to see the potential for a well-planned urban environment.

“I think the vast majority of people have woken up to the fact that living 30 miles away from where they work, and driving, and the price of gas and all that is probably not the most efficient thing in the world," says Ustler.

"We still need some time to work through exactly how to fix that and how to give people the tools to make a move.”

Ustler's apartment complex breaks ground next month.




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Transportation Nation

More Texans To Drive This 4th of July Holiday

Friday, June 29, 2012

Weimar Motel, historic roadside lodging in Weimar, Texas. Photo by Gail Delaughter/KUHF

(Houston, TX — Gail Delaughter, KUHF) Following a trend that began during the Memorial Day weekend, AAA Texas says more Texans are planning to hit the road for the Independence Day holiday this year. The organization predicts close to three million Texans will travel at least 50 miles from home. That's nearly a five percent increase over last year's numbers.

AAA Texas Vice-President Rhonda Wilson says a lot of people are extending their vacations due to the the fact that Independence Day falls in the middle of the week. The holiday period this year is defined as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8. Wilson says people are also encouraged to travel because of lower gas prices. Some stations in the Houston area are selling regular unleaded for as low as $2.89.

Of the three million Texans who will travel, 2.5 million are expected to drive to their destination. AAA Texas says the average traveler will make a round-trip of a little less than 1,000 miles and spend about $700 on transportation and travel.

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Transportation Nation

More Texans Are Traveling This Summer -- But They're Staying Close To Home

Friday, June 15, 2012

Vintage roadside lodging in La Marque, Texas. Photo by Gail Delaughter/KUHF

(Houston, TX — Gail Delaughter, KUHF)  "The sun has riz, the sun has set, and we ain't out of Texas yet."  The old saying is attributed to a train-hopping hobo but it still holds true for the modern traveler barrelling across Texas on I-10 or I-20. East-west driving distance from the Louisiana state line to El Paso is close to 800 miles. Drivers traveling out of central Texas face many hours on the road before they even get out of the state.

That could be the reason why many road-tripping Texans like to stay close to home. According to a new survey by AAA-Texas,  the two top destinations for Texas travelers this summer are San Antonio (home of the Alamo and the Riverwalk), and Galveston, the Gulf of Mexico resort town south of Houston. Other popular destinations include Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Big Bend National Park.

AAA-Texas spokesman Doug Shupe says they polled about 400 members and found that 75 percent are planning to travel this summer. That's about three percent more than last year. Forty-four percent of travelers say gas prices are affecting their travel plans very little or not at all. Gas prices in Texas have been dropping steadily over the past month, with prices in the Houston area now as low as $3.21 a gallon.

But Shupe says prices at the pump are still too high for some Texans. Nineteen percent of respondents say they're not going anywhere this summer. Of that group, 42 percent cite gas prices.

Other Texans say they're not traveling because of too many household expenses, or they can't afford rising prices for hotels and meals on the road.

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WQXR Features

WQXR Hosts Pick Music for a Road Trip

Friday, May 25, 2012

With the summer travel season underway, we asked the WQXR hosts to name the music they'd listen to when behind the wheel or riding shotgun.

Comments [6]

Transportation Nation

Live NY Traffic Map...And Everything You Need to Know to Stay Sane on the Roads & Rails This Weekend

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Traffic started backing up on Thursday afternoon along the blocks approaching the entrance to the Holland Tunnel in Manhattan. (Photo by Kate Hinds.)

The American Automobile Association projects 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, an increase of 1.2 percent - or 500,000 travelers - from the 34.3 million people who traveled one year ago.  That's despite relatively high gas prices (though they're a bit lower than they were last year at this time.)

In the New York-NJ-PA region, some 3.7 million Americans are expected to drive to their Memorial Day weekend destinations, the AAA says.

NY-NJ Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman says that bi-state authority is "expecting about 5 million people to travel either by air or car thru our facilities, either the crossings over the Hudson River, or through any of our major airports." He said that's about a three percent increase over 2011 numbers.

Travelers will no doubt be fleeing New York by every mechanized means possible. If you live in the New York region, below is a handy guide for planning your escape.

If you're driving, the NYC DOT will show you just how agonizing your trip will be via its live traffic cams.

(While we're at, California readers can check here. )

The NY MTA will be adding extra trains for the Memorial Day weekend. For details, go here.  You can also subscribe to the authority's free email or text message alerts, or use Tripplanner+ (see top right hand column) to plan your ride ahead of time.

New York City Subway

Subway customers are reminded to use the A, C, D or Q instead of the B. They should also take the J instead of the Z.   Passengers can bring bikes on the subway, 24-7.

Metro-North Railroad

Beginning at noon on Friday, Metro-North will offer extra early afternoon departures from Grand Central Terminal on all three lines – Hudson, Harlem and New Haven.  No bikes on trains scheduled to depart Grand Central Terminal between 12 Noon and 8:30 PM on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels

MTA Bridges and Tunnels will suspend all routine maintenance work beginning 1 p.m. on Friday through the end of the morning rush on Tuesday. Reminder: speed up your trip by using E-ZPass.

Long Island Rail Road

The LIRR will be adding extra trains on Friday.  No bikes on many LIRR trains this weekend (regulations here.)  Monday's train operate on a Sunday schedule.

Staten Island Railway

MTA Staten Island Railway will add extra trains on Friday beginning at 2:30 p.m. from the St. George Ferry Terminal. There will be one express train and one local train awaiting every boat until 7:50 p.m.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be suspending all routine maintenance work on its bridges and tunnels, and all of its toll booths will be at "full staff." Go here to sign up for travel alerts about traffic conditions at Port Authority crossings.

The agency’s airports are expected to carry 1.53 million passengers. New customer service representatives will be deployed at airports to help passengers navigate terminals and find things like rest rooms, bus stops and taxi stands.

Sign up here for Airport Alerts that send info about weather delays, parking lot capacity, and AirTrain service delays. 

The PATH train will run extra trains as necessary on Friday. On Monday, trains will run on a Sunday schedule. Travelers can also text their origin and destination on the PATH system to 266266, and receive up-to-date service information.

New Jersey Transit will suspend all construction on state highways from 6 a.m. Friday until noon Tuesday.


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Transportation Nation

VIDEO Belgian Organization Tells Teens to Text While Driving (So They Won't)

Friday, May 18, 2012

How do you convince drivers not to text while driving? FORCE them to text while driving.

That's the reverse psychology applied by a Belgian organization called Responsible Young Drivers (RYD). The group has produced a video in which an actor, playing a driving instructor, told actual test takers that a new government regulation says they must demonstrate the ability to successfully text while driving to receive a license.

"Plenty of people will crash, I'm telling you!" says one would-be driver. Others scream, curse, swerve wildly and plow into traffic cones while trying to text instructor-dictated messages. (To up the difficulty level, the instructor criticizes their spelling.)

The end of the film provides the message that RYD wants to hammer home -- a frazzled teen saying "I can't do both!"

"Worldwide, vehicle crashes are the biggest cause of mortality of youngsters between 15 and 24 years of age," Axel Druart, RYD's European Project Director, told the BBC. "We have to do something about it."

Watch the video below.






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The Takeaway

Why are Young Americans Driving Less?

Friday, April 20, 2012

The open road: it’s part of the American dream. Or, at least, it used to be. A new study finds that 16- to 34-year-olds without driver’s licenses rose to 26 percent in 2010 from 21 percent a decade earlier. At the same time, biking, walking, and other driving alternatives rose among young people in the past decade. Tony Dutzik is a senior policy analyst at the Frontier Group and co-author of the study. Takeaway listener Emily is a 25-year-old who rarely drives, and didn't get her license until she was 19.

Comments [5]

Transportation Nation

Study: Teen Driving Deaths Up After 8 Years of Decline

Thursday, February 16, 2012

(photo by Jesuspower via flickr)

More than 200 16- and 17-year old drivers died in the first half of 2011, the first increase after more than eight years of decline.

From the report by the Governors Highway Safety Association:

"The numbers of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths in passenger vehicles in the United States were slightly higher for the first six months of 2011 than in the first six months of 2010, based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Deaths of 16-year-olds increased from 80 to 93 (16 percent). Deaths of 17-year-olds increased from 110 to 118 (7 percent). Overall, 16-and-17-year-old drivers deaths increased from 190 to 211 (11 percent ). Twenty-three states had increases in deaths of 16- and 17-year-olds, 19 had decreases, and there was no change in 8 states plus the District of Columbia. Most of the changes were small.

If this trend continued in the second half of 2011, it will mark a reversal of longstanding yearly declines in teen driver deaths, especially among 16-year-olds....Deaths reached historic lows in 2010: 158 deaths of 16-year-old drivers compared with 508 in pre-GDL 1995; and 250 17-year-old driver deaths compared with 507 in 1995. These are much larger decreases than occurred in other age groups."

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NY Public Library Chief Pleads Guilty to Driving While Intoxicated, Loses License

Friday, December 09, 2011

Judge Jennifer G. Schecter removed Marx's license for six months, fined him $500 and sentenced him to attend a defensive driving program, enroll in 16 sessions of counseling with a state-certified substance abuse counselor and install ignition interlock devices in his vehicles.

Comments [2]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Behind the Wheel: Looking Ahead

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This month's Brian Lehrer Show series on cars and driving continues with a look at the automotive industry in 2012 with Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at and editor in chief of

Comments [10]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Behind the Wheel: Buying a Car, Used and New

Friday, October 21, 2011

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at and editor in chief of, continues this month's Brian Lehrer Show series on cars and driving with a discussion on buying a car, whether it's used or new.

Comments [13]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Behind the Wheel: Rentals and Car Shares

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This month's Brian Lehrer Show series on cars and driving continues with car shares and rentals - and we take your calls on what you use. Our guest is Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at and editor in chief of

Comments [21]

Transportation Nation

NY: NJ Drivers Are Terrible; NJ: No, You Are; Expert: You're Both Bad

Thursday, October 06, 2011

(photo by Elizabeth Thomsen via Flickr)

The Brian Lehrer Show kicked off their month-long series about driving today. This week's installment: the differences between New York and New Jersey drivers--and which flavor is worse. But the guest, Michelle Krebs of Edmunds and, debunked the premise right away.

"Most states are full of really bad drivers," she said.  "Part of it is because we never go back and take driving lessons again, (and) it's really important because the technology changes."

Some callers wanted to expand the conversation beyond the two states. For example, Jordan in Mamaroneck "learned to drive a stick shift on Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn." He continued: "I can tell you from regular experience...the scariest license plate on the road is not New York or New Jersey, it's Connecticut."

To hear how local drivers are stymied by highway turning lanes called jughandles, making a right turn on red, and undertaking a maneuver known as "the Jersey Left," listen to the segment below.


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Comments [1]

The Brian Lehrer Show

Behind the Wheel: License to Drive

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at and editor in chief of, kicks off a Brian Lehrer Show series on cars and driving with a discussion on the peculiarities of driving in New York and New Jersey.

Comments [57]

Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: NYC Closer to Completing Manhattan Greenway, Buffalo's Main Street Wants Cars Back

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The outgoing head of the Port Authority says "I was burned by politics." (Link)

GM warms to car sharing; will adapt its OnStar anti-theft technology to facilitate personal car rentals. (Link)

When it comes to car colors, white is the new silver. (Link)

(photo courtesy of East River Greenway Initiative)

Virginia begins a year-long study looking at current and projected commuting patterns, the goal being to reduce the number of Northern Virginians who commute by car. (Fairfax Times)

NYC announced a deal that could give the city the money it needs to complete a greenway around Manhattan. (WNYC)

Buffalo wants to bring cars back to Main Street -- undoing the half-billion dollar project from the 1980's to remove cars from the area. (WIVB)

Michigan got a grant to bring speedier rail service between Kalamazoo and Detroit; the Detroit-Chicago corridor also got some good news. (Detroit Free Press)

Virginia's power company is incentivizing nighttime charging for electric car owners. (WAMU)

Montana landowners are suing ExxonMobil's pipeline company over this summer's spill in the Yellowstone River. (KUHF)

A Norwegian energy company has installed 'bicycle care stations' at select gas stations in Copenhagen. (Good)

The Brian Lehrer Show looks at driving in NY and NJ today. (WNYC)

The community board for Manhattan's Upper East Side wants bicyclists to be licensed. (DNA Info)

The MTA is trying to deal with a rat problem at 25 NYC subway stations. (NY1)

Tweet of the day, by MSNBC's Christopher Hayes: "Pro-tip: the best way to cover a mass protest or street action is on your bike."


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The Takeaway

Follow Up: Women Fight for Their Right to Drive in Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Around the world, driving is a common part of a woman's everyday life, but in Saudi Arabia, religious edicts prevent women from being able to practice this simple act—even though it’s not technically illegal for them to do so. Saudi women decided to quietly and peacefully revolt last Friday, by driving. Many drove their cars, or rode with other female friends who hold international drivers’ licenses; and they plan to continue doing so in the days and weeks ahead.

Comments [1]

The Takeaway

Texting While Driving: Is It Dangerous?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

According to a Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association report roughly two trillion text messages were sent in the U.S. last year; that figure nearly doubles the number reported in 2009. In the past few weeks, texting drivers have caused deaths in Michigan, California, and Georgia, and to date, 33 states have outlawed texting while driving. The Takeaway asks whether text messaging really is as dangerous as critics say, and if so, is outlawing texting while driving the best solution?

Comments [11]

The Takeaway

App Assignment: Your Most/Least Favorite Road

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What's your most or least favorite stretch of road? Everybody has one. Maybe it's two miles of straightaway splitting farming fields you drive with your truck, or a winding stretch through a forrest you traverse on your bicycle. Alternatively it could be a smog-choked creeping mass of metal along I-95, or a particularly harrowing entrance ramp to Highway 42 in Louisiana. As many Americans will be driving short and long distances this summer, hopefully to take some time off to relax, we want to see your picks for superlatives. Take a picture or send us a video...NOT while in the driver's seat. It can be of anything you want — technically even your driveway probably counts. We'll play your descriptions on the air and post them here to the website. 

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