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Transportation Nation

Chicago Wants to Zero Out Traffic Fatalities By 2022

Friday, May 11, 2012

New York's transportation department has had safety bragging rights -- reducing traffic fatalities to their lowest level ever.

But Chicago wants to go one better.  In a sweeping action agenda (.pdf), Chicago's DOT Chief, Gabe Klein, is promising to eliminate all traffic fatalities within a decade, and to reduce bike and pedestrian injuries by 50%.

Klein says this can be done through improved design, more vigorous enforcement, and safety education.  Among the proposals are a 20 mph speed limit in residential neighborhoods and more clearly marked crosswalks.

The document also promised to increase the number of under 5-mile trips taken by bike to 5% of all trips, and to "make Chicago the best big city in America for cycling and walking."

That's a distinction NYC DOT Chief Janette Sadik-Khan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have tried to claim for New York, which has added hundreds of miles of bikeways in the last five years, and tripled the number of cyclists.

The Chicago document also promises more transit options including BRT, better on-time performance by the CTA, and more real time transit information.

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Transportation Nation

NY's Rocky Road to a Bike Share Sponsor -- or Why The Rollout Will Take Longer Than Planned

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan at the rollout of New York's "Citibike" bike share. (Photo: Andrea Bernstein)

When New York  Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson and New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced New York's bike share program last fall, the intention was clear -- they were setting up "a new system to be comprised of 10,000 bikes and 600 stations in parts of Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn -- at no cost to the taxpayers" as Sadik-Khan put it then.

The system, it was explained, needed to be large to make it work -- the more potential users could depend on finding bikes in a variety of locales, the more it would be an actual public transportation network -- not some urban folly.

But when the system was presented Monday under its brand new-name, Citibike, to be funded through a five-year, $41 million contract with Citibank and a $6.5 million Mastercard sponsorship, it was somewhat less extensive -- at least at first.  "It will be a phased-in deployment," Sadik-Khan said at Monday's press conference.  "I mean we can’t just airdrop 10,000 bikes in. It will be between August and spring of 2013 that we'll have the deployment of the full system."

The bike share program, it turned out, would NOT hit the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, or much of Brooklyn beyond Bergen Street until a year from now.

Sadik-Khan wouldn't explain why, or when, this decision was made.   No other DOT officials would speak to this issue, implying that this was always the plan. When I asked Alta president Alison Cohen about delays in implementing the program, Sadik-Khan's spokesman rushed over to prevent her from answering.

But speaking to elected leaders, officials and several sources familiar with negotiations over the bike share contract, a story has emerged of a far more rocky road to a sponsor than yesterday's happy news conference would suggest.

"I got a call sometime last week, that’s when I first heard of  a delay," said Council member Gail Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side. Brewer says she was told there would be 7,000 bikes rolled out at first, with the balance coming next spring. Was she disappointed? Brewer, a big bike share backer, was philosophical.  "I'll be disappointed if I don't get my day care slots back," Brewer said, referring to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget. "You have to have priorities."

When the city announced that Alta Bicycle Share would be operating the bike share it made one in a series of splashy promises -- there would be no cost to New York taxpayers. "Alta will be getting a sponsor," Sadik-Khan said at the time. That would make New York the only large-scale system in the country to be entirely privately funded.

"We're getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money," Bloomberg said at Monday's press conference. "Who thought that could be done?"

Apparently, there were a lot of doubters. Puma was approached, and Adidas (New Balance has sponsored Boston's "Hubway.") So was American Express. "All the usual suspects," said one source familiar with the negotiations. "The list of companies who could spend this kind of money just isn't that long. And it was unprecedented to raise that kind of capital  for an unproven system --  bike share on European scale, an order of magnitude larger than any system in existence in north America."

By February, officials were beginning to sweat. If New York didn't find a sponsor, the city could be on the hook to Alta -- but worse, many officials thought, the bike share program could be imperiled.

"It's a lot of money and each company has to decide whether the opportunities they'll have by sponsorship fit their clientele," said Bloomberg on Monday, maintaining he never worried.

But Alta's business plan was confusing, sources say, making it hard to reel in the big money. In late winter, the city involved its Economic Development Corporation in the planning, adding some business gravitas to the discussions.   (The EDC is a quasi city agency that usually hands out loans to entities willing to locate or create jobs in New York.)

Ed Skyler, Bloomberg's former Deputy Mayor for Operations (and Sadik-Khan's old boss), is a top Citibank executive. Citibank was lured in.

(Even so, everyone, from the Mayor on down, credits Sadik-Khan. "I never worried," Bloomberg said, "because Janette went after it. And anyone who knows Janette knows if she sets her mind to it it's going to get done.")

Eventually, Citibank was sold. "We think this is a very innovative program that makes people’s lives easier, that’s what we do, that’s what we do as a bank," Vikram Pandit, Citibank's CEO, told me Monday.

Was he worried about controversy surrounding the program? "This is a program supporting bikes, bikes are environmentally friendly, they're good exercise. There’s always controversy  -- but on balance we think this is a great program," Pandit said.

The Citibank contract was signed only two weeks ago -- far later than officials had hoped. Without the contract, there wasn't the upfront capital to get the bikes produced. And that, multiple sources confirm, was the major reason for the delay in getting the bikes to some neighborhoods.

Bike share boosters are, for the most part, expressing just the faintest disappointment at the delay in bringing bike share to the full footprint.

"The reality of implementing an entire transportation network from scratch for a city as large and complicated as New York will obviously require a careful approach," said Transportation Alternatives chief Paul Steely White. "The city is working with local communities to roll out bike share with as little disruption as possible. Sometimes that means revising timelines. The important thing is to keep moving forward and work toward meeting the huge demand for bike share in New York City."

Steely White, Brewer and others are willing to cut the city some slack -- willing to give credence to what the city says. "We said we would find a sponsor.  And we did," mayoral spokesman Marc LaVorgna said. " We're doing something that's never been done before."

When the bright blue bikes were unveiled Monday at City Hall plaza, there were smiles and claps. And the idea of "Citibike" seemed to convey exactly what the city wanted -- these bikes are for transportation, for getting around the city. These are urban bikes. And they are intimately tied with the city's economic future.

"A perfect outcome," Sadik-Khan told me yesterday.   I told her I was guessing she was exhaling right about now. A faint smile played across her lips.

 

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Transportation Nation

OMG! It's Green! New Yorkers React to New Cab Color

Monday, April 30, 2012

The city's new outer-boro street hails, inspired by the color of Granny Smith apples (photo: Brigid Bergin/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- Brigid Bergin, WNYC) Move over, Granny Smith. Apple green taxis are coming to an outer borough near you.

That's the official color the city selected for the new boro Taxis. Cars this shade of green, a color WNYC reported was on the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s short list, are scheduled to bring taxi service to Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx and northern Manhattan starting this summer.

Taiwo Whetstone, 30, gasped at the green hue. “Oh, my! That's really bright. Bright green. I mean it seems like the Brooklyn version of a taxi cab,” suggested Whetstone who lives in Clinton Hill.

But she liked the idea of it and said it would make her feel better about hailing a cab, “Coming from Brooklyn, you know, that’s kind of nice to have taxi cabs that are that obvious.”

Looking at a picture of the new cab color, Andrew Lis, 38, and his 7-year-old daughter Josie gave it a luke-warm reception.

“It's ok. It doesn't look like a cab,” said Lis as his daughter Josie chimed in, “It looks booger-colored.”

 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined TLC Commissioner David Yassky and other elected officials for the big reveal on Sunday in City Hall Plaza. The mayor called the vibrant shade “attractive” and “distinctive” adding, “It’s easy on the eyes and easy to pick out from a distance in traffic and that's going to help customers.”

“I think that green matches the leafier nature of the boroughs, as opposed the office towers of midtown,” said Yassky.

The TLC plans to issue 18,000 permits that will allow livery vehicles to legally pick up street hails, a practice that is currently illegal and subject to tickets and fines through TLC enforcement agents.

Yassky said the city has a “zero tolerance policy” on illegal street hails with 36,000 tickets issued in fiscal year 2012.

Under the new plan, current livery drivers will be eligible to apply for the $1,500 boro taxi permit on a first-come, first-serve basis starting Tuesday May 29. In June, the city will issue the first 6,000 permits, with two subsequent waves to follow.

A group of yellow cab owners have filed a suit to block the plan. That lawsuit is still pending.

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Transportation Nation

I Think That I Shall Never See A Poem As Lovely As That One, Over There, By Mayor B

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It could not be determined by press time whether this was Ovid or Michael Bloomberg.

(New York, NY -WNYC) UPDATED  Question: Which of these names does not belong with the others? Dante, Ovid, Michael Bloomberg, William Butler Yeats?

Answer: Trick question. Each of those poets will have their work displayed on a large Times Square video screen Thursday as part of Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Before the the Mayor's Office released poet Bloomberg's verse, we imagined some. (Actual poem at end of post.)

For example, this Bloombergian haiku:

New York needs further
remaking. On that, I’m firm.
Therefore, my third term.

New York has celebrated Poem in Your Pocket Day since 1992. But this appears to be the first year that the mayor's metric prosody will be beamed onto MTV's video screen at 44th Street and Broadway, beginning at 10 a.m.

The Poetry Society of America, which is sponsoring the event, said in a statement that the mayor's "original poem" will share time with "the five winning poetweets of the Mayor’s Office 'Poetweet' contest; images from the MTA Arts for Transit and Poetry Society of America’s newest Poetry in Motion initiative; and poems by famous authors."

Set aside, if you will, the syllabic abomination that is the word "Poetweet" to consider the possibility that Dylan Thomas' defiant line, "Rage, rage against the dying of the light," could be followed by a scrap of mayoral doggerel about the salutary effects of quitting smoking. Perhaps:

I have promises to keep
And besides, a pack of Marlboros isn't cheap.

SUGGESTION: Compose your own fake example of a poem by Mayor Bloomberg and leave it in the comments section below, or "Poetweet" it at us at @TransportNation. 

50.5 Million Can’t Be Wrong

By Mike Bloomberg

Hey there, fella!  Lady, hey!

Didja hear? It’s “Poem in Your Pocket Day!”

Tenth anniversary – the bubbly’s flowing

People are cheering… yelling… Tebowing

Where best to celebrate this whole affair?

The Crossroads of the World – Times Square

Historic site of many a saga

And on New Year’s Eve… one Gaga

From across the globe, they visit here

50.5 million last year

Wanting to see all they’ve anticipated

Just follow directions – it’s not complicated

Bronx Zoo?                 (Take the  or the )

Rockefeller Center?    (Walk 6 blocks, then enter)

Empire State?              (Bus to Fifth, then go straight)

Ferry to Staten?          (At the tip of Manhattan)

Unisphere in Queens? (Get there via several means)

NY Aquarium?           (Too far for kids to walk.  Just carry ‘em)

“Mamma Mia”?           (Right behind you.  See ya.)

So on this big birthday of PIYP

Have a fantastic day in NYC

Take in the town – there is so much here to do!

(Just have a Poem in Your Pocket when you do)

 

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Transportation Nation

Stringer Puts Transit on the Mayoral Map, But Backs off Support of Congestion Charging

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

LIRR commuters (photo by @MSG via flickr)

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer -- a likely 2013 New York mayoral candidate -- put transit squarely in the middle of the 2013 debate Tuesday by proposing a reinstatement of the commuter tax and an infrastructure bank to fund long term capital projects, including more rapid buses in the outer boroughs and a subway from Brooklyn to the Bronx.

"I believe we need to get back to an era in which public transportation is acknowledged as an essential civil responsibility," Stringer said in a speech to the Association for a Better New York.  "Right alongside public safety and education."

Stringer wants to re-jigger the way capital construction is financed, setting up an infrastructure bank seeded by the NY Mortgage recording tax, which now funds transit operations.

But to do that, he needs a replacement source of funds for transit operations, and he's looking to the restored commuter tax to supply more than $700 million a year to do that.

Still,  the fate of the commuter tax, which would be borne exclusively by suburbanites, is cloudy at best, and it's already being blasted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who's calling it "penny-wise and pound-foolish."

And in supporting the commuter tax, Stringer is backing away from his previous support of congestion charging. The commuter tax would only affect suburbanites, who won't vote for the next mayor, while a congestion charge would hit some city residents.

The commuter tax -- a 0.45 percent surcharge on income -- died in 1999 when Democratic Assembly member Sheldon Silver brokered a deal to eliminate the tax in order to help a Democrat win a special Senate election in Orange County. The Democrat lost. The tax was detested by suburbanites.

But Stringer says he thinks he can get it passed. "Every Mayor, when they get elected, gets one big ticket from Albany," Stringer said in a question-and-answer session after Tuesday's speech. " Mayor Bloomberg got mayoral control of the school system. Other mayors came up and asked for something from Albany that can change the discourse in this city. I believe the next mayor can go to Albany, rearrange the commuter tax, build a partnership with suburban elected officials, and finally finally finally get this transit system on sound footing because this is not just a New York City issue, it’s a regional issue. And if we flounder, we could take our economy with us, and that’s the argument we have to make."

In 2008, a congestion charging plan backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg passed the New York City Council, but died in the legislature, where it found little support.

Congestion charging is “our last best chance to reduce the number of cars and trucks on our streets, lessen the business costs associated with congestion, reduce asthma rates, build new mass transit, and prepare New York City for another million residents," Stringer testified in 2008.

But Stringer stopped short of endorsing the latest congestion charging plan -- Sam Schwartz's  "Fair Plan" -- which would charge drivers entering Manhattan while  lowering some other tolls around the city. Stringer said that was an idea that deserves "discussion." His prepared remarks said "serious consideration."

When questioned after the speech, Stringer said "I am supporting my plan...I’m not endorsing the Sam Schwartz plan. I’m not endorsing those ideas today, but I wanted to say to people, elected officials, potential candidates, why don’t we dig in and have a real discussion and not be afraid to talk about new ideas?"

Stringer's press people were also quite clear that Stringer does not favor congestion charging -- although he doesn't not support it either.

The MTA stopped short of supporting Stringer's call for a commuter tax, but spokesman Adam Lisberg said "we're glad that he’s started this conversation about how to get more funding for the MTA, because the MTA needs money."

Neither the congestion charge nor the commuter tax have much support in Albany. Governor Andrew Cuomo, when asked about the congestion charge while campaigning for Governor, called it " moot." He's shown a distinct distaste for taxes -- especially dedicated transit taxes -- this year eliminating a dedicated tax surcharge for the MTA paid by suburbanites.

In supporting a commuter tax over the congestion charge, Stringer is hewing a politically less treacherous route -- he's not pushing for a tax or a toll that some outer borough residents detest. No constituents of Stringers, should he be elected mayor, would be affected by the commuter tax.

Of the other 2013 candidates for Mayor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn helped steer the congestion charge through the city council -- where Public Advocate Bill Di Blasio, then a council member, voted against it. City Comptroller Bill Thompson, a 2009 mayoral candidate, opposed congestion charging, but supported more expensive registration fees for heavier cars.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, before he withdrew from the 2009 Mayor's race, supported congestion charging -- but only for people who didn't live in New York.

In 2005, no Democratic candidates for mayor supported congestion charging.  I know, because I asked them about it during the primary debate.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Bloomberg Wants To Talk Transit With Cantor

Monday, March 12, 2012

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, March 2012 (photo: NYC Mayor's office)

Does New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg want money for the 9/11 museum?  Apparently, he wants money for transit, more.

At his daily press conference, Bloomberg was asked about an upcoming meeting with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor -- and if the Mayor would ask for federal funding for the 9/11 museum.  Bloomberg didn't address the 9/11 museum, instead riffing on the need for transit funding.  Here's the transcript:

Q: Are you going to ask Representative Cantor to support Federal funding for the 9/11 Museum?

Mayor: It’s a whole bunch of things. You know the biggest thing that we really, I think, could get done with him because it probably fits in with what the politics are on both sides of the aisle in Washington at the moment, I’d like to see if we can’t get some help in getting a tax credit for commuters. You know, the highway bill helps you if you drive, but it doesn’t help mass transit and we’re very dependent on that. But there are a whole bunch of issues that are nationwide issues that I- we really care about – immigration and those kinds of things.

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Transportation Nation

Bloomberg Not Budging on Bike Share, More Bike Lanes

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mayor Michael Blooomberg, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (NYC Mayor's office photo, 12/29/11)

SCROLL DOWN FOR TRULY FUNNY VIDEO OF MAYOR "RIDING" TO THE STATE OF THE CITY
In his state of the city address today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to add more protected bike lanes and touted the city's planned summer launch of North America's largest bike share program.  He also promised to step up traffic enforcement.

The Mayor started off with highly-produced video (at the bottom of the post) nodding to several of his signature initiatives from last year, including creating a plan to allow hailing of livery cabs outside of Manhattan. The video also featured a cameo of Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan riding a  bike in a bike line, as Bloomberg admonishes Wolfson to "stay in the bike line."

The Mayor has faced withering criticism and even a lawsuit -- since dismissed -- over protected bike lanes, particularly one along Prospect Park, in Brooklyn.

“Now, I realize the debate over bike lanes has sometimes been hot and heavy," the Mayor said in his address, delivered in a Bronx High School and largely focusing on education.

"But the reality is more and more New Yorkers are biking, and the more bike lanes we put in, the fewer deaths and serious injuries we have on our streets."

He continued:

“This year, we’ll take steps to enforce the law requiring every delivery rider to have proper safety equipment and clothing that identifies the name of the business. At the same time, we’ll launch the largest bike share program of any city in the country. Those bikes will create another option for getting around town faster and easier, and so will new Select Bus Service in Brooklyn, which we’ll launch in partnership with MTA Chairman Joe Lhota."

The Mayor, whose NYPD has also faced criticism over lax traffic enforcement,  also promised more vigilance.

“We’ll also make our city smarter and safer by deploying Traffic Enforcement Agents to safety hot spots at key intersections, doubling the number of 20 mile-per-hour zones for schools.

The Mayor also name-checked the proposal to start a "select bus service" in Brooklyn, with off-board payment and priority lanes.

 

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Transportation Nation

New York's Taxi Bill's Long and Bumpy Ride

Friday, December 23, 2011

(New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) The path for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s outer borough taxi plan was much like long a cab ride: bumpy and expensive.

It’s been a mix of big political personalities and deep pockets that will lead to the virtual dismantling of the way New York's  for-hire transportation industry will operate in the future.

Now that the Bloomberg sponsored legislation has Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature, and both sides have called the agreement a win, much of the rest of the industry is trying to assess what the changes will actually mean.

Street Hails for Livery Cabs Causes a Stir

It all began last January, when Bloomberg announced he'd push for legislation that would allow all New Yorkers to hail a cab, whether it was black or yellow. That  raised the ire of much of the taxi industry, who said the Bloomberg administration never consulted with them or gave them a heads up that the mayor intended to change the way the taxi business operates.

Bloomberg’s people said they worked hard to reach out to all sides as the legislation was being drafted and agreed upon.

The mayor only needed Albany’s approval to sell more yellow medallions. But he hoped to by-pass the yellow medallion industry’s pull with the City Council --  and the industry passionately opposed sharing the exclusive right to accept street hails with livery counterparts.

In the six months between the announcement of the plan in January and the passage of the legislation in June, there were feverish negotiations and loud rallies organized by various factions of the yellow and black car stakeholders. Lobbyists were hired to fight the proposal upstate.  In those first months alone, the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, the group representing 23 yellow taxi fleet garages, enlisted three different lobbying firms, paying out more than $100,000.

Bloomberg said in a written statement  at the time that “The legislation marks an historic turning point for the riding public in New York City and solves a problem that has proven intractable for decades.”

What it marked was another serving of intractable for the mayor.

The Bill's Loud, Vocal Opposition

Bloomberg’s Senate sponsor, Martin Golden, said he signed onto the plan too soon without understanding the “repercussions.” Critics said Golden agreed to sponsor the bill, in part, because Bloomberg is generous to Republicans, in the city and upstate. But the state senator didn’t realize how many in the industry opposed the plan.  His phone — as other lawmakers' — rang off the hook. Angry livery base owners and others in their constituency complained that the plan would hurt their business.

As insiders continued to fight the plan or support it, the legislation seemed to be getting the cold shoulder from Governor Cuomo.

Then, in October, Cuomo showed his political hand by commenting on an opinion letter the U.S. Attorney filed on a lawsuit alleging the city violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by not having enough accessible cabs in its fleet (about two percent of more 13,000 taxis).

Cuomo said, “I understand and appreciate the concerns raised by the U.S. Attorneys office. Moreover, I understand the human needs of the disabled community when it comes to taxis. We will be addressing the issue as we consider modifications to the pending legislation.”

The governor continued to hammer Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky about wheelchair accessibility. In his public comments, Cuomo didn’t shy away from threatening veto if it wasn’t changed.

Cuomo held 2 “taxi summits” calling industry stakeholders to his office. One was held in New York City and the other was held in Albany last month — chaired by the man himself.

At one point, a deal was said to be struck, and details were leaked. The number of outer borough permits would be cut and the number of accessible medallions would increase. But Cuomo denied any ‘plan.’ Insiders said the governor resented officials in the Bloomberg administration discussing the deal and shut it down as punishment.

Countdown Begins: To Veto or Not Veto

The bill landed on Cuomo’s desk without changes and the ten day clock began to tick.

Bhairavi Desai, head of the drivers group the Taxi Workers Alliance said, “Cuomo’s meeting was very surreal. We’ve always known our opposition was wealthy and politically connected. Everyone around that table had like millions of dollars or more in assets.”

There were yellow fleet owners, lenders, financial institutions and credit unions, along with their lobbyists. Livery groups and representatives from the disability community were also in attendance.

Desai said the city offered her group some sweeteners, but it was also about opposing the fat cats. “They say it’s about the medallion value—but it’s about the monopoly—their sense of control.”

The last couple days before the deadline, political insiders and industry stakeholders forecasted a veto by Cuomo. He himself said on numerous occasions that outcome was possible. When Bloomberg was asked by reporters each day if a deal would be passed he dismissed questions with a yes. But each successive day his mantra seemed less likely.

On the ninth day, the governor’s office sent out a release at 5:20 PM saying a taxi deal was struck.

At the press conference Cuomo and accessibility activists were there, along with TLC Commissioner Yassky. But Mayor Bloomberg was not. He made his comments via loudspeaker, not unlike the Wizard of Oz.

When asked at Bloomberg's celebratory press conference, surrounded by livery and taxi drivers on Wednesday, why he didn’t attend the event announcing an agreement he had fought for the whole year, Bloomberg said, “My job is here, I’ve got to work here. I was honored to speak, I don’t need my picture on TV all the time. I had the person there in the administration [David Yassky] that did the work. I was pleased and as I remember I had to cut my presentation short to light the world’s tallest menorah!”

Bloomberg also denied there was any bad blood between him and the governor. He said the negotiations actually resulted in a better bill. “What I wanted was 500 more yellow cabs for more city revenue and the Governor was focused on more accessibility.”

Waiting for the Final Language

Both camps have quieted down now that an agreement has been reached, but likely not for long.

Several issues still remain, such as will the city actually get over $1 billion from the sale of 2,000 yellow medallions and what the long-term Disabled Accessibility Plan will look like.

Marty McLaughlin who works with the lobbying firm Connelly, McLaughlin and Wolowz, forecasts much less revenue for the city than it projects.

“When you dilute a market — any market — the product itself is diluted,” he said. “No way they’ll get a billion dollars for these medallions, they’ve been diluted.”

The Livery Roundtable’s Guy Palumbo said industry opponents are taking the holidays to rest after actively fighting the plan for a year. “It’s taken a big physical toll, people are relieved either way. There’s a feeling of let’s cool our heels till January 1st then decide what to do.”

He said they’re also waiting to see what the actual language of the law will be and if the chapter amendment passes both houses of the legislature in January. “All the advisors have been telling everyone it could be good or it could be terrible. What’s in the law? No attorney will go to court without the law. We understand what’s agreed upon but without the actual language it’s never-never land.”

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Transportation Nation

Despite Cuomo's Suggestion That Taxi Talks Failed, Bloomberg Still Optimistic

Friday, December 09, 2011

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (photo NYC Mayor's Office)

(New York, NY -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday he remains optimistic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign a bill that would put $1 billion in the city's coffers and allow street hails of some livery cabs in residential areas.

Bloomberg said on his weekly WOR Radio appearance Friday that he'd spoken to Cuomo the day before. He didn't disclose the details.

Cuomo said Wednesday that talks had failed to resolve significant issues with the bill. He said that without agreement, he'd veto it and wait for it to be brought up again next year.

The plan to allow a new class of livery car to accept street hails in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs was at the center of Bloomberg's legislative agenda this year.

The bill passed the state legislature last summer and is finally expected to be sent to Cuomo on Friday to sign. He said Wednesday he will veto it because a myriad of issues  remained unresolved, including ensuring more wheelchair accessibility into the plan.

"I’ve said from day one, if we don't have a resolution of these issues I'm going to veto the bill because you don't have an agreement. We have been trying we've had numerous meeting over the past few weeks but we failed to reach resolution.”

The bill has faced passionate opposition from yellow taxi fleet owners, some in the livery industry and advocates for the disabled.

When Bloomberg was asked by reporters on Thursday if the bill was going to die, he appeared to be holding out hope for his plan, which he has said will increase taxi options beyond Manhattan.

“Many times the governor has assured me this would pass with some minor changes," he said. "We’ve worked on it with the governor’s staff, the state senate staff, the state assembly staff for months now.”

Cuomo has 10 days to decide whether to sign the bill or veto.

He has said that if he vetos the legislation it could be reintroduced early next year.

 

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Transportation Nation

NYC On Track to Have Lowest Traffic Fatalities in a Century

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Some 214 people have died in traffic accidents so far this year including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and passengers, according to the NYPD.  That's compared to 256 deaths at this time last year.

In 2009, a record low 258 people died.  The total for all of 2010 was 269.

But Noah Budnick of the group Transportation Alternatives says that number is still way to high, saying it exceeds the number killed by guns.

"Like the other crime and public safety issues that the NYPD solves, traffic deaths and injuries are preventable. New Yorkers deserve more leadership than Ray Kelly’s acceptance of the status quo," Budnick said.

Transportation Alternatives held a protest Wednesday at NYC police headquarters.  The group has been particularly incensed by a recent incident in Williamsburg, where a driver left the scene after fatally colliding with Brooklyn resident Mathieu Lefevre.  Police did not bring charges, saying "that's why they call it an accident."  TA calls that "a cavalier attitude," towards enforcing traffic laws.

Budnick noted  Mayor Michael Bloomberg's private foundation has contributed some $125 million to reduce traffic deaths in third world countries.

But,NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says police have  issued 770,000 summons for moving violations this year, and that traffic accidents have declined by almost half over the last ten years in New York City.

In an email, Browne said:  "The  NYPD, which  has  3,700 uniformed and civilian personnel engaged in traffic safety and enforcement, more than any Police Department in the nation, has  issued over 770,000 summonses for  moving violations so far this year, and has made over 8,000 arrests for drunken driving. The department has seized 1,363 vehicles in connection with DWI and other offenses. Over 21,000 vehicles have been seized since the program began in  1999. We regularly stop and summons drivers  for unsafe, accident-related  practices such as use of a hand-held phones while driving."

Browne has not yet responded to an email request for more details in its summons.  But as Transportation Nation's Alex Goldmark has reported from an examination of earlier data released by the NYPD, this year the department issued more tickets for tinted windows than speeding.

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WNYC News

Mayor Bloomberg: Anti-Truancy Program is Working

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said an anti-truancy program that assigns mentors to chronically truant students is showing results.

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WNYC News

City Announces Nation's Largest Bike Share Program

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WNYC

The city has chosen Alta Bike Share to run a 10,000-bike network of one-way, short-term rentals that it says will augment the transit system.

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Transportation Nation

New York Announcing Bike Share Program Today

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bikeshare users in Washington, DC (Photo: Tara Bahrampour)

New York City's transportation chief, Janette Sadik-Khan, will announce the selection of a vendor to run its 10,000-bike bike share system today. The city has been promising it would make the announcement in  summer, 2011 -- which, by the calendar, if not convention, ends next week.

A pair of articles in this weekend's NY Times signal the impending announcement will arrive under the most favorable PR conditions possible, a stark change from previous press coverage of bike share.

Saturday's Times reported that the city council -- which has no official role in the selection process or approval of the selection -- would be holding city-sanctioned hearings on bike share. And on Sunday, columnist Frank Bruni penned a front-page Sunday Review article titled "Bicycle Visionary" with a huge graphic that said "thank you," and went on to detail all the ways in which he thought transportation chief Janette Sadik-Khan, backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had made life better in New York City.

You cannot make this stuff up.

(For more on the goddess/zealot split in thinking about Sadik-Khan, see my Marketplace story from last winter here)

Both Sadik-Khan and the Mayor were roiled by several tough profiles last spring, and a lawsuit with some juice behind it asking for the removal of a bike lane along Brooklyn's Prospect West.  New York Magazine wrote a lengthy feature giving significant voice to bike lane critics, and a Times profile in March led with an anecdote in which former Rep. Anthony Weiner promised to rip out all the big lanes when he was elected Mayor.

(Did I just tell you, you cannot make this stuff up?)

But the lawsuit was dismissed, bike lanes' popularity continues to rise to landslide levels, a relatively mild summer has fueled an increase in bike riding, and now Frank Bruni goes for a spin with Sadik-Khan and it seems nothing could be more fun than a ride with the transpo commish on one of the city's new bike lanes.

Not only that, but Boston's launch of its Hubway bike share  seems to have gone off without a hitch, and Capitol Bikeshare in Washington is already looking to expand because of demand.

Officials confirm an announcement for New York City is coming very, very soon.   The bike share itself is expected to launch mid-2012.  Keep an eye on this space.

 

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Transportation Nation

Stephen Goldsmith, Deputy Mayor who Oversaw NYC DOT, Departs

Thursday, August 04, 2011

UPDATED with analysis:  Stephen Goldsmith, the Deputy Mayor who oversees the NYC DOT, is leaving after just over a year on the job.   Goldsmith will be pursuing unnamed  "private-sector opportunities in infrastructure finance."

Goldsmith, the former Republican Mayor of Indianapolis, was always seen as an ideas man, someone who could help the city think its way through problems like how to deliver services more cheaply.  Goldsmith tended to chew on -- and address -- problems like back-office duplication, how much the city spends on gasoline, and whether the threat of increased fees could prompt people to recycle, save water, or leave their cars at home.

But the Deputy Mayor for Operations is also responsible for things like garbage pick-up and Goldsmith never seemed to easily slip into that role, unlike his predecessor,  Ed Skylar, whoalways seemed to have his fingers on the trigger of his blackberry when it came to operating the city.

Under Goldsmith's watch there was a scaling-back of some Bloomberg transportation initiatives, like protected bike lanes that were to run all the way up First and Second Avenue to Harlem (which Goldsmith addressed in a interview with us here) and a true, physically-segregated Bus Rapid Transit on 34th street.  The bikes now stop in midtown, and the BRT won't be built.

To be sure, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has received strong push-back on his transportation initiatives during the period when Goldsmith was Deputy Mayor, and its possible those projects would have been curtailed no matter which Deputy Mayor was overseeing them.

Any criticism the Mayor received about bike lanes (which remain extremely popular) paled compared to what the Mayor heard after mishandling of a December blizzard left buses stranded and streets unplowed for days,  responsibilities that had been part of Goldsmith's portfolio.  Both men were out of town as the blizzard began.

Goldsmith is being succeeded by Caswell Holloway, the Commissioner of the City Department of Environmental Protection

Here's the press release from NYC City Hall.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today appointed Caswell F. Holloway, who has served as the City’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection since 2010, Deputy Mayor for Operations. Holloway replaces Stephen Goldsmith, who is leaving to pursue private-sector opportunities in infrastructure finance.

“As New Yorkers, we were extraordinarily lucky to have Steve Goldsmith make our City government more innovative and efficient,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Just as he did at DEP, Cas Holloway is going to jump right in, and build on everything that Steve has been able to accomplish and continue the progress he has made in reforming our government and making it work better.”

“This week, I informed the Mayor of my decision to resign my job as Deputy Mayor of Operations,” said Deputy Mayor Goldsmith. “This job has been a special opportunity to contribute to the City of New York and further the substantial accomplishments of Mayor Bloomberg. I am proud of the work we have done over the last year to pass an aggressive budget, and put in place the foundation and plans for dozens of initiatives and best practices that will dramatically further customer service and cost savings in the City. Over the last month, I received important overtures in an area with which I have long been associated – infrastructure finance.

“After thirty years of long hours in public service, the change will provide me, at age 64, with more flexibility for me and my family and a secure foundation for our future. In addition, I intend to continue my academic work and the school year is about to start. Now that we have the ball rolling on our initiatives, I am comfortable that the person taking over for me will do an exceptional job moving things forward. Cas is not just a colleague, but a friend and a person who I trust to take over for me, and whose talents are among the most exceptional I have seen in my public career. He has developed a career in New York, and will accelerate the agenda and build on the progress we have made. It has been a unique honor to be part of the high performing Bloomberg team. City Hall and the agencies are truly alive with the spirit of service and innovation.”

“I am proud of everything we have done at DEP to advance Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to strengthen our infrastructure, protect our world-renowned drinking water, and make New York City a model for new sustainability approaches, like green infrastructure,” said Deputy Mayor Holloway. “I’m thrilled and honored at the opportunity to come back to City Hall and work even more closely with Mayor Bloomberg on the issues that are so important to the daily lives of New Yorkers. Building on the foundation Steve Goldsmith has built, we will continue to transform City services to ensure that government is doing all it can to work efficiently and effectively for the millions of people who live and work in New York City.”

As Deputy Mayor for Operations, Stephen Goldsmith spearheaded the creation of Mayor Bloomberg’s “NYC Simplicity” agenda, which seeks to transform New York City government to make it more customer-focused, innovative and efficient. As part of NYC Simplicity, Goldsmith launched the City’s shared services initiative, which will save the City $500 million by 2013 through the consolidation of back-office operations such as fleet, real estate and information technology. He developed new programs to improve customer service, such as “Get It Done. Together,” in which the Department of Buildings consolidated approvals and extended hours of operation to speed the approval process, as well as the NYC Business Acceleration team, which will create true one-stop shopping and coordinated inspections for small business owners.

Under Deputy Mayor Goldsmith, the City created new methods to interact with the public and its employees, including “Change By Us” – the City’s new online platform that will enable New Yorkers to team up to transform their own communities. Goldsmith oversaw the development of the update to PlaNYC, including the creation of the City’s Clean Heat program, which will eliminate the use of the most polluting grade of heating oil – No. 6 fuel oil – in the city and accelerate the deployment of new natural gas infrastructure. Goldsmith also was tasked with piloting some of the City’s most complex technology projects.

He also took the reins of CityTime, the City’s automated payroll system, which has now been successfully deployed to nearly the entire targeted workforce. Similarly, Goldsmith created the City’s Office of Emergency Communications, which has made significant strides in implementing the City’s Emergency Communications Transformation Project and reduced the cost of the construction of the City’s Public Safety Answering Center in Bronx by more than $100 million.

As Commissioner, Cas Holloway has significantly cut costs at DEP while improving customer service, reduced planned water rate increases to their lowest levels in years, developed a ground-breaking green infrastructure plan to capture rain water, reduce sewer overflows and save the City $2 billion over 20 years and he ended 15 year-old labor disputes that were hampering the city’s ability to conduct operations effectively.

Prior to serving as DEP Commissioner, Holloway served as Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler and as Special Advisor to Mayor Bloomberg. Holloway took a leading role in the writing and implementation of the Administration’s report on the health impacts of September 11th and led negotiations on 9/11 health legislation that was signed by President Obama. Following the tragic fire at 130 Liberty Street, he led a comprehensive review of abatement and demolition operations that resulted in an overhaul of the asbestos abatement process. He also played a lead role in developing the City’s comprehensive cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal, and in the passage and implementation of the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan.

Deputy Mayor Holloway graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and graduated with honors from University of Chicago Law School.  Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Deputy Mayor Holloway was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and served as law clerk to Judge Dennis G. Jacobs, now Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to Law School, Deputy Mayor Holloway also served as Chief of Staff at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. He lives in Brooklyn Heights with his wife, Jessica.

 

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WNYC News

Obama, Bush to Attend 9/11 Anniversary Ceremony

Friday, July 29, 2011

President Barack Obama and George W. Bush are expected to be in New York City this fall for the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, the mayor announced Friday.

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It's A Free Country ®

CityTime Payroll Manager Fired Over Pay Scandal

Thursday, May 26, 2011

To date, the alleged fraud relating to CityTime has only involved subcontractors. This latest development now implicates the prime contractor and compels a comprehensive review of SAIC's billings to the city.

-City Comptroller John Liu, in a letter to Mayor Bloomberg.

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WNYC News

Snapshot | Bloomberg Presents President of Mexico With Silver Apple

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In a visit to New York City, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon got a tour of City Hall with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday. Calderon praised the mayor's anti-gun program Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He presented the mayor with a silver bowl and was given a silver apple in return.

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WNYC News

Bloomberg: Any Alleged NYPD Ticket Fixing Has Been Corrected

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said "there seems to be a lot of evidence" that NYPD officers were allegedly fixing traffic tickets.

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WNYC News

Look | Coney Island Unveils First New Roller Coaster in 84 Years

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PHOTOS. Coney Island unveiled its first new roller coaster since the iconic Cyclone opened in 1927 on Wednesday.

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Transportation Nation

Prefeito de Nova Iorque, Michael Bloomberg, visita São Paulo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

O Prefeito Do Nova Iorque, Michael Bloomberg, em Hong Kong

(New York, NY -- Gisele Regatao, WNYC & Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) For all our readers in Brazil – obrigada.  This one’s for you.

O prefeito de Nova Iorque, Michael Bloomberg, estará em São Paulo no mês que vem para uma conferência internacional sobre cidades e mudança climática. Bloomberg, que é o líder do C-40, um grupo das maiores cidades do mundo trabalhando em questões de mudança climática, diz que está ansioso para colaborar com o prefeito de São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab.

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“Nós todos reconhecemos que as cidades – aonde, pela primeira vez na história, mais da metade da população do mundo vive e que respondem por mais de 70 porcento da emissão de gases que provocam o efeito estufa – são as responsáveis pelo futuro da humanidade”, disse Bloomberg numa conferência em Hong Kong no começo do ano. O prefeito de Nova Iorque estava então falando para uma platéia de muitos dos prefeitos que estarão em São Paulo para a reunião do C-40.

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