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WNYC News

Metro-North's New Haven Line to Have Full Service Restored

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

WNYC

Riders on Metro North Railroad's New Haven Line will get their regular service back on Monday -- much sooner than expected. The MTA cut the line's schedule by 10 percent in early February after winter storms disabled its old cars faster than repairs could be made. A return to full service wasn't expected until spring, with the arrival of new train cars.

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WNYC News

MTA Chief, Legislators Spar Over Paying for Transit With Payroll Tax

Monday, February 28, 2011

WNYC

MTA Chairman Jay Walder faced repeated questions at a hearing in Albany Monday from suburban legislators about a payroll tax that the state legislature approved in 2009 to bail out the agency. The tax applies to businesses in the 12 counties the MTA serves.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: WTC Transit Hub Costs Bloom, NY Goes After Cabbies Who Refuse Outer Boro Fares, and Another Toyota Recall

Friday, February 25, 2011

The cost of the transit center at the new World Trade Center site has ballooned to $3.4 billion -- a figure once deemed "simply unacceptable" by the Port Authority. (New York Times)

An Illinois congressman who voted to eliminate funding for an Amtrak line sounds like he hopes to get the chance to reconsider. (WQAD)

WNYC looks at the differing accounts of how the NYPD and the MTA coordinated efforts to capture an accused stabber on a subway train earlier this month.

NY's Taxi and Limousine Commission wants to stiffen fines for cabbies who refuse to make outer borough trips. (WNYC)

SF's BART owned up to their decision to illegally fire their general manager --then rescind that firing -- but her fate as head of the transit district remains unclear. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Denver may have to refund $1.2 million in parking tickets after an investigation showed that they were issued by non-authorized agents. (Denver Daily News)

Toyota is recalling over 2 million vehicles for carpet and floor-mat flaws that could jam gas pedals. (Bloomberg)

Los Angeles's historic Union Station will be purchased by the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for $75 million under a deal that will clear the way for the expansion of transit operations and new development on the property. (Los Angeles Times)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Florida's high-speed rail project is dead again -- which enrages -- and disappoints -- some politicians.

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WNYC News

Police, MTA Timelines Differ in Accused Stabber's Subway Capture

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WNYC

The MTA and New York Police Department have differing accounts of how they coordinated efforts to capture accused stabber Maksim Gelman on a subway train earlier this month.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: DOT Doesn't Like Mica HSR Plan, Israel Lowers Transit Fares, and Some Cities Get On Board With A "Crash Tax"

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Department of Transportation doesn't like Congressman Mica's plan to scale back Florida's high-speed rail. (Miami Herald)

A New York Times editorial accuses some federal fund-rejecting governors of trying to "keep up with the Christies."

Census data shows that Chicago's central core gained population over the past decade, while outlying neighborhoods lost. (Chicago Tribune)

Some communities are imposing a "crash tax" -- a fee for services -- after car accidents. (Marketplace)

Israel's cabinet lower bus and rail fares and increase subsidies in an effort to encourage the use of public transportation as an alternative to private vehicles. “This will greatly benefit society,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “Who uses public transportation?  Not the people in the top decile, but rather those without means and those who want to, and can, use buses and trains, as well as whole groups of people who want to avoid traffic jams while entering cities.  We want to encourage this." (Jerusalem Post)

The NY Daily News's Pete Donohue says the MTA knew it needed better snow-thrower cars two years ago -- but "relies in part on a bunch of deafening relics" to clear the tracks.

The Star-Ledger profiles Jim Weinstein, the head of NJ Transit, and previews the "balanced scorecard" the agency plans to release this summer detailing on-time performance, employee safety, financial stability and customer service.

Snow day tweet, courtesy of Newark Mayor Cory Booker: "Snow Snow get out of here/ Leave my city alone until Jan of next year/ Snow Snow I want rain instead/Cause of u my budget is heading 2 red"

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: John Mica proposes a plan to save Florida's high-speed rail, after Rick Scott's rejection of the program leaves bidders perplexed. DC's new mayor slams his predecessor over transportation. And: do more cyclists mean safer streets?

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WNYC News

MTA Unveils New Text Alerts for Metro-North Commuters

Friday, February 18, 2011

WNYC

Metro-North commuters can now get transit information via text.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Canadian Oil Keeps Midwest Gas Prices Lower Than The Coasts, Republican Budget To Hit NY's MTA, and Americans Like Transportation, They Just

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Rockefeller Foundation survey says Americans support road upkeep and transit systems --  but they don't want to pay for them. (Washington Post).  (A storyline we've been following:  check out these stories from September 20, 2010: "Election Report:  Give Us Transportation, Just Don't Make Us Pay For It," and this one from November 1, 2010;  "Wariness about Spending on Transportation and Infrastructure Accompanies Voters To the Polls."

Gas prices are rising faster on the coasts than they are in the Midwest, thanks to bargain-priced oil coming in from Canada. (NPR)

New York's MTA would lose $73 million in federal aid under the House Republicans’ budget plan to be voted on this week, according to a study released yesterday by Rep. Anthony Weiner. (AM New York)

All five candidates in Tampa's mayoral race support light rail and improved transit -- as well as high-speed rail in Florida. (Tampa Tribune)

A light rail system that would stretch from Detroit's downtown to one of its business districts and then several miles further to the border with its northern suburbs was the topic of a hearing this weekend. Some fear that even if the project advances beyond its initial 3.4-mile stage and links the riverfront to the Eight Mile Road city limits, it will not stretch far enough. "Where's it going to go from there?" said one resident. "Ain't no jobs in this city. It needs to go into the suburbs, not just stop at Eight Mile Road." (Chicago Tribune)

NPR says the U.S. is in a streetcar boom, and more than a dozen cities either have them or are actively planning for their development, according to Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

The NY Daily News rejects one local politician's idea to make platforms safer -- but says the MTA "has a responsibility to do something when a train hits someone on average once every four days. It should test platform doors in a pilot program and not be rattled by critics."

Colin Beavan (remember No-Impact Man?) says bring on the bike lanes. "The fact of the matter is that it would be safer for New York as a whole if we had more bike lanes. And not just the people who travel along the streets, but the people, like you and me, who live on them

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Transportation projects are set to take a massive, immediate hit under a spending bill headed for the floor of the House of Representatives this week. One city in France is considering an 18 mph speed limit. We test drive the MTA's real time bus info. And there's a new lawsuit for Indiana's I-69 highway project.

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Transportation Nation

Metro North Debacle Won't End Soon

Friday, February 04, 2011

(New York -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Riders on Metro-North's New Haven Line will wake up Monday to find their rush hour service on already overcrowded trains cut by ten percent. Railroad officials are blaming bad weather for a backlog of repairs that has left them with too few train cars to meet the demands of regular service.

The line carries commuters to New York City from points north, including Connecticut. Explanations of the debacle imply good service will be back up once the wintry conditions pass.

Don't count on it.

For the rest of the story, read here.

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Transportation Nation

City Finally Puts $$ Behind Subway to New Jersey

Friday, February 04, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Call it the return of the Secaucus 7. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has finally put some muscle into his proposal to extend the number 7 subway train under the Hudson River to New Jersey, making it the first NYC subway train to go to another state.  It would be a substitute for the NJ Transit commuter tunnel, known as the ARC, or Access to the Region's Core, that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie killed last fall.

This week, Mayor Bloomberg's Economic Development Corporation voted to put a quarter of a million dollars into a three-month feasibility study of the tunnel.  The contract for the study goes to Parsons Brinckerhoff, a major engineering firm that had been working on the ARC tunnel.

The firm is tasked with assessing demand and cost -- which Mayor Bloomberg, without any engineering studies behind him -- has said would be roughly half that of the ARC tunnel.

The head of the MTA, Jay Walder, has been genial about the project, but the agency is already struggling to pay for capital costs for its current system, and this week learned it would be faced with another $100 million in cuts from the state budget.  Bloomberg does not control the MTA -- NY Governor Andrew Cuomo does -- though Bloomberg does have representation on the MTA board.

When the city was pushing construction of a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan, Bloomberg succeed in gaining MTA approval for extension of the #7 train to the far West Side of Manhattan by promising to foot the $2 billion in construction costs.  But that was during flusher times, when neither the MTA nor the city was broke.

It's unclear whether the federal government's investment of $3 billion, lost when the ARC tunnel died, could be applied towards this project, or whether the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would contribute funds, as it did to the ARC.

Here's the EDC documentation on the contract:

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Transportation Nation

Staten Island To Get Real Time Bus Info By End of the Year

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Placard Advertising Bus Info on Brooklyn Bus

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  It's hard to think about next Christmas before Valentine's day, but the MTA says Staten Islanders will get a Christmas present in 2011 -- real time bus information on all 900 of their buses by the end of 2011.

The MTA is currently piloting such a program on its B63 bus. in Brooklyn. (For details on that pilot, including where to get the information, check out Transportation Nation's story on the program here.)  Small field tests of that pilot show the information to be accurate, though right now, you either have to know the code or go to the website mta.info/bustime, enter B63, choose a direction, and then find your stop.  In the near future, the MTA says, placards at each stop will give text number codes riders can enter.

Real time information enables riders to plan trips, to stay inside in inclement weather until shortly before a bus arrives, or to make decisions about whether to take a bus, walk, or pursue another mode of transit.  It's improved customer satisfaction -- even in a time of service cuts and fare hikes -- in Boston, Chicago, and other cities.

The MTA says once all of Staten Island is outfitted, it shouldn't be too long before the rest of the city's 6000-bus fleet gets buses, but it isn't giving an exact date for the other four boroughs.

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Transportation Nation

NY MTA Criticized for Considering Anti-Suicide Platform Barriers

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Paris Metro Platform with Glass Barrier. (Getty Images)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Should New York subway platforms get barriers to protect people from falling onto the tracks or littering on them?

The Daily News reported yesterday that the MTA is seeking proposals from third parties to build sliding-door barriers like those already in place in some stations in London, Paris and Tokyo. Today, the MTA is taking heat for the idea.

Kevin Ortiz of the MTA told the Daily News, "We are very early in the process of looking at the possibility of installing platform doors that would go a long way toward enhancing passenger safety and station appearance."

Today, one State Senator is criticizing the idea in a sharply worded statement and letter to MTA Chairman Jay Walder. Senator Diane Savino points out, a mere ninety passengers out of the system's 1.6 billion annual riders fall onto the tracks. Only .00005% of the subway riding public.

“Much to my surprise the MTA found the notion [of platform barriers] intriguing.  To even contemplate this nonsense is self-evidently a waste of time, effort, energy and yes - money; money the MTA does not have.  The cost to install the barriers would be astronomical. The cost to maintain the doors in good operating condition would be even higher,” Savino said.

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WNYC News

Some Brooklyn Bus Riders Get Real Time Bus Info

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

WNYC

Riders of the B63 bus from Cobble Hill to Bay Ridge can now track their bus by mobile phone or computer.

Real-time information about buses along the route is available by Google Map and a dedicated website. Riders can also text a code number for their stop and be texted back about when the next bus should arrive.

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WNYC News

MTA Pilot Program Lets Riders Use Phones to Track Buses

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

WNYC

Riders of the B63 bus from Cobble Hill to Bay Ridge through Park Slope and Sunset Park can now track their bus by mobile phone or computer.

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WNYC News

Cuomo to Cut MTA Budget By $100 Million

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

WNYC

The MTA said Governor Andrew Cuomo's call on Tuesday for a $100 million cut from its already squeezed budget will be painful but can be done without additional fare hikes or service cuts. Still, riders may see dirtier buses and trains.

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Transportation Nation

Art Project Turns NYC Subway Map into Musical Instrument

Monday, January 31, 2011

Conductor: www.mta.me from Alexander Chen on Vimeo.

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Forget riding the subway, try playing it. Conductor: mta.me is an impressive digital art project inspired by the New York City subway system.

Artist Alexander Chen recreated, and then animated, the famous Massimo Vignelli subway map. He combined real data from the MTA made available as part of their effort to encourage the creation of more third party transit apps for mobile phones and the internet. They were thinking more like HopStop, but this is certainly creative use.

Each time a train leaves the station in the MTA dataset, so does a dot on Chen's interactive map, trailing a line the color of the train line. The music comes in when two train lines cross. Each intersection causes a twang, like a plucked string on viola, for example--Chen's chosen instrument.

The data isn't 100 percent accurate though. The system has changed since 1972 when Vignelli made his map so Chen made the K train and the old Third Ave El train run as well. But only on a limited schedule.

You can also use your mouse to pluck strings/subway lines on the site, though not on the video above sadly. For all you techies who want to know who he did it, Chen explains it all here.

See if you can tell what portion of the map is visible in the animation.

(Via Mashable.)

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WNYC News

Crush of Commuters Max Out MTA Website

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The MTA's Web site was inaccessible many commuters who tried to log on Thursday morning to find out about storm-related mass transit disruptions but were unable to load the site.

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WNYC News

East Side Buses, After Sluggish Start, Now Save Riders Time

Friday, January 21, 2011

WNYC

After a slow start, Select Bus service on First and Second Avenues is consistently faster than the old M15 express bus service, according to new data from the MTA. 

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WNYC News

MTA Moves Closer to Electronic-Only Tolling

Thursday, January 20, 2011

WNYC

"We're here to usher in a new era in toll collection," said MTA chairman Jay Walder when announcing that drivers are one step closer to cashless tolling on the agency's nine crossings, "the beginning of the end of the toll booth."

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Park Slope Residents To Air Feelings About Bikes Tonight, and Tulsa Transit To Do a Fast Forward

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Support for making people register their bicycles hits Park Slope (Gothamist)--which is also where, tonight at 6:30 (Old Reformed Church - Carroll and 7th Avenue) the NYC DOT will present their preliminary Prospect Park West bike lane findings to Community Board 6. The Brooklyn Paper says that the bike lane is working, and "accidents have plummeted dramatically since the installation of the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane in the spring, new city data reveals."

The NYC MTA says Select Bus Service has sped up travel on Manhattan's East Side by up to 19% (NY1).

Gen Y housing preferences were the subject of at least two panels at the National Association of Home Builders convention. A key finding: They want to walk everywhere. (Yahoo Real Estate)

Tulsa unveiled Fast Forward, that city's new transit plan, which will include standard buses, express buses, streetcars, commuter rail and light rail transit.  (Tulsa World)

China is planning on installing 10 million electric vehicle charging stations by by 2020. (Autoblog Green)

Ray LaHood blogs appreciatively about PBS's recent episode of Need to Know, which tackles high-speed rail.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials kicked off a six-week social media campaign Wednesday to generate public response about the country's transportation needs. The group plans to present the videos and comments to federal officials in March. (Washington Post)

These are strange transit days in Toronto. One Globe and Mail columnist writes: "First, a new mayor refuses to go ahead with a light-rail network that has been planned, approved, announced and funded, with contracts signed and construction under way. Now, the regional transit agency, Metrolinx, recommends going ahead with a project – electrification of GO Transit lines – that would take two decades to plan, approve and build and that lacks any government funding whatsoever."

Brooklyn residents say MTA platform closures leave them stranded. (WNYC)

Chrysler is partnering with the EPA to develop a new minivan that doesn't use batteries or electric motors to drive it (CNN Money). Meanwhile, Toyota is developing a car battery that doesn't use rare earth metals (Gas 2.0).

Is Venice going on a "road diet?" Suck it in, cars! (LAist)

One KALW listener witnessed a bus rider roasting marshmallows with a Bic lighter on a MUNI bus.

Mayor Bloomberg tweet from yesterday's State of the City address: "If subway fares increased as fast as pensions, by next year it would cost $8.39 a ride!"

Top Transportation Nation stories that we’re following: Mayor Bloomberg talked about livery cabs and ferries in yesterday's State of the City address.  NYC's first rental of a Chevy Volt happened yesterday. And: What can the US learn from Europe's restrictive parking policies?

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WNYC News

Brooklyn Residents Say MTA Platform Closures Leave Them Stranded

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WNYC

Brooklyn City Councilmember Brad Lander said platform closures in Windsor Terrace and Gowanus, coupled with bus route cuts that went into effect last spring, mean some Brooklyn residents are stuck with few transit options.

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