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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: New York Looks At Taxi Refusals and Parking Rules; Boston's Bike Share Program Launches in July

Thursday, April 28, 2011

(photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

New York's City Council members hold a hearing on taxi refusals -- and share some stories of their own. (WNYC)

Speaking of the City Council: it may pass legislation today that reduces alternate side parking rules. (Wall Street Journal)

Denver won't be seeing a FasTracks sales tax increase on the ballot this November because its transit agency has concluded it likely wouldn't pass. The transit expansion project -- which includes six new train lines -- is at least $2 billion short of what is needed to complete the project by the end of this decade.  (Denver Post)

Boston is moving forward on its bike share program; a contract has been signed and "Hubway" will launch in July. (Alt Transport)

Chrysler says it will take out bank loans and sell debt later this quarter to repay $6.6 billion in bailout loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments. (Detroit Free Press)

China is offering incentives for companies to produce electric vehicles in that country -- you just have to hand over your tech secrets first. (Marketplace)

You know about the royal wedding; now the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee is throwing an "R-Oil Wedding" which "celebrat(es) the sacred and lasting union between the Republican Party and Big Oil." The invitation also takes the opportunity to photoshop John Boehner's head onto what looks like a Medieval gown. (Politico)

What should Oakland do with the spaces under elevated freeways? A city council member is seeking ideas. (Oakland Local)

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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

– a new report found that almost half of NYC's parking placards are used improperly or are outright fakes (link)

– the Twin Cities' Central Corridor got a formal promise for federal funding (link)

– NYC cabbies say they don't want to go to outer boroughs because it costs them more (link)

-- New York's MTA voted to end its contract to provide Long Island Bus (link)

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Transportation Nation

Parks Are For People, Not Cars, Says City Councilwoman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Central Park (photo by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) A New York City Council member is pushing to ban cars from the loop drives in Central Park and Prospect Park.

Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, said this isn't the first time the idea's been floated. In 2006, the City Council held a hearing on this issue, but the legislation was withdrawn after Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned cars in the parks for much of the day.

Which, Brewer said, made the parks even more popular.

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"Parks are supposed to be livable, and you're supposed to be able to do exercise, and you're supposed to be able to breathe," Brewer said. "I think that cars do not have a place in these two parks...That’s why I’m introducing this legislation – to just have the people, not the cars."

Read the full story at WNYC.

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WNYC News

Bloomberg Admin Rejects Council Recommendations on Blizzard Response

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

WNYC

The City Council has introduced a package of 17 bills in the wake of the city's botched response to last December's blizzard. But at a Council hearing Wednesday, Bloomberg administration officials rejected the bills, saying they would hamstring the city's flexibility in emergency response, or duplicate efforts already in place at various agencies.

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WNYC News

Workers Set to Testify at Second Wal-Mart Hearing

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wal-Mart workers, former and current, will testify Thursday at the City Council's second and final hearing into the labor practices of of the retail giant, which is expected to get blasted by the employees following a fiery council meeting that drew protesters two weeks ago.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Cuomo's Budget Hits Transit With $100 Million Cut, NYC To Begin Year-Round East River Ferry Service, and Right Now Is a Good Time To Be In th

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget cuts transit by $100 million. (WNYC)

Right now is a good time to be in the road salt business. (WBUR)

Rock salt in Chelsea, MA (David Boeri/WBUR)

Year-round ferry service will begin on the East River this June. "The service is an attempt by the Bloomberg administration and the City Council to create a robust and viable mass transit alternative for a growing waterfront population that has struggled with clogged subway lines and bus routes that have been truncated or eliminated altogether." (New York Times)

Toyota's sales jumped 17% last month. Pretty good -- but not as good as Ford. (CNBC)

A new report says that President Obama's goal of putting 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road within four years is unlikely, because automakers aren't planning to make enough cars due to uncertain consumer demand. (Washington Post)

...And this is illustrated by Jalopnik, which says that Chevy sold 312 Volts last month. And 28,172 Silverado pickups.

Chicago's Metra commuter line gets a new director. (Chicago Tribune)

Transportation Nation director Andrea Bernstein will be on today's Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC). Topic? "The Interstate of the Union."

San Francisco has cut school buses by 50 percent while increasing transit fares; one Bay Area politician wants to help students out by making the system free to students for the rest of the school year. (Bay Citizen)

And you shall know them by their bikes: Good says that the graphic Bikes of San Francisco "makes (a) compelling case for the bike as the marker of neighborhood identity, and does so with uncanny accuracy."

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following:  Real-time bus information finally comes...to one line in Brooklyn.  House Republicans want to dump the federal urban transit program "New Starts," which could imperil a number of projects -- including Houston's light rail expansion.  Red light cameras save lives--and engender controversy.  And: as reported above, Governor Cuomo's budget hits NY's mass transit with another $100 million cut.

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WNYC News

New Yorkers! Meet the Candidate, Wal-Mart

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The midterm elections are over and the 2012 campaign for President has not officially started, but in New York City, a campaign of a different sort is already underway.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: MTA Defends Performance During Blizzard, and Disconnect Over Transit Btw. Candidates and Voters in Chicago Mayoral Race

Monday, January 17, 2011

MTA officials went before the New York City Council to defend their handling of the recent blizzard.  Speaker Quinn: "It really left me not feeling any greater level of confidence that the MTA can handle the next storm." (Wall Street Journal)

The Chicago Tribune says that transit is a sleeper issue in that city's upcoming mayoral race--and highlights a big disconnect between candidates and voters. "Transportation issues are not raised on the candidates' campaign Web pages, and no one has put together a position paper.  But a new public-opinion poll on mass-transit issues found that the Chicago electorate cares greatly about CTA service, extending even to individuals who don't ride the system."

Are drivers just eminently distractible? USA Today looks at federal distracted driving efforts and wonders if the focus on phones and texting is misplaced.  One hospital researcher says that cellphones are "yet another thing that's distracting people," but a "flood of new distractions are being built into vehicles."

Edmonton, the only city in Canada that doesn’t allow alcohol advertisements on its buses and rail, wants to overturn a long-standing ban on transit ads for liquor. (Edmonton Journal)

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: The new GOP chief is not a fan of high speed rail.  One study says that biking infrastructures create more jobs than road-based ones. And Governor Cuomo appointed a state DOT commissioner.

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WNYC News

Wal-Mart Takes Aim at Critics as Opponents Prep for (Delayed) Hearing

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The back-and-forth between Wal-Mart and its opponents heated up in the days before a city council hearing to examine the retailer. But due to the pending snowstorm expected to blanket the city on Wednesday, the council postponed the hearing until Feb. 3.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Council Hosts "Heated Discussion" on Bikes

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bicyclists outside the City Council hearing rooms at 250 Broadway (by Kate Hinds)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New York City Council’s Transportation Committee held a meeting today on the impact of bicycles and bike lanes in the city. Committee chair James Vacca told the packed room that when it came to bikes, he knew passions were high. “Believe it or not,” he said, “few issues today prompt more heated discussion than bike policy in New York City.”

And it showed: there was a long wait in line to clear security, and the City Council hearing room’s overflow room had to be used. More than 70 speakers signed up to voice their opinions about bikes and bike lanes, but the hot seat belonged to City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who was grilled by council members for almost two hours. (Click the audio player to hear her statement, as well as the extensive—nearly two hour—question and answer session, below. The transcript -- all 296 pages -- can be found here.)

Sadik-Khan said that her department's goal is to create an interconnected bike lane network citywide.  “Half of the trips in New York City are under two miles, we think cycling has a strong role to play in the transportation network,” she said. In other words, if you build it, they will ride. “The addition of 200 miles of new bike lanes between 2006 and 2009 coincided with four straight years of double-digit percentage increases in our commuter cycling counts,” she said, adding that the increase in cycling, and the concurrent pedestrian improvements made to streets, made 2009 “the lowest overall traffic fatality rate in New York City’s history.”

But some council members felt that their districts had been left out of the planning process, and Brooklyn’s Lewis Fidler said that the DOT needed to do a better job of getting public input.  “You gotta go back to communities and ask them again,” he said emphatically.

"That's what we do! That's what we do, that’s what we do, council member!” the commissioner interjected. “I'm asking that it be institutionalized,” said Fidler.  Sadik-Khan said during her statement that her agency “remain(s) committed to problem-solving for and with the people of the City on a nearly 24/7 basis.”

She also said that the lanes have proven to be a good investment, because bicycle commuting in New York City has increased by 109 percent since 2006. It's a bargain according to her figures: the federal government bears 80 percent of the total cost, leaving New York City to pay just 20 percent of the bill for bike lanes.

But the topic of enforcement—of bicyclists who run afoul of the rules of the road, of buses and cars who block lanes—came up continually, with many council members wondering how best to ensure that cyclists obey the rules of the road.

Sadik-Khan said that the DOT is planning a major media campaign in the spring that will feature celebrities “bluntly tell(ing) cyclists to stop riding like jerks.” There will also be a bike ambassador program to help people obey the rules of the road.

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