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Transportation Nation

To Replace One Station After Sandy, A Cost of $600 Million

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Three and a half years before Sandy, the NY MTA unveiled a new subway station, at South Ferry.  The station would enable far faster turn-arounds for trains than the old station build a hundred years ago, speeding commutes for tens of thousands of straphangers each day.

The new station was "visible proof that when the MTA is provided with adequate capital funding, we build monumental works for generations of New Yorkers for decades to come," then MTA Chief Jay Walder said.

But Sandy completely submerged the station, wiping out the vital signaling room.  Replacing it will cost $600 million, more than a tenth of the damage to the MTA during Sandy. It could take a year, or more.

Flyer, posted pre-Sandy, remains on the platform where it was washed up. (photo: Andrea Bernstein)

The storm flooded the station with 14.7 million gallons of brackish water that rose 80 feet up from the train beds and completely engulfed tracks, platforms, signs, and escalators.

And most critically, says Wynton Habersham, Chief Electrical Officer in charge of signals and power for NYC Transit, the relatively brand new signalling room was inundated with saltwater: live wires hardened, signals corroded, and even electronic track-moving equipment was rendered unusable. "It's like just taking your computer and dipping it in saltwater," Habersham says.

Habersham says crews tried to clean off the signals, but the corrosion reappeared, and the supplier advised junking them.

A room the size of a basketball court full of signalling equipment was completely submerged. (photo: Andrea Bernstein)

Four such relay rooms, out of some two-hundred systemwide, were submerged and rendered useless by Sandy.

The dispatcher's office in South Ferry, post-Sandy. (photo: Andrea Bernstein)

Rebuilding the brand new South Ferry station, opened only three years ago after a laborious expansion using 9/11 recovery money, will cost $600 million. Habersham says no construction will take place until the MTA can figure out how to defend the station from future storms. Possible fixes include installing a horizontal barrier over the station's entrance, raising the signal room, and protecting components from saltwater.

MTA officials say no one is contemplating not rebuilding the station, which is normally used by 30,000 of the 70,000 people who ride the Staten Island Ferry on a weekday.

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Transportation Nation

Joe Lhota, The MTA's Rider/Chairman, Unanimously Confirmed

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Joseph Lhota (center), officially the new MTA head

After sailing through two committee hearings, Joseph Lhota was unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate to be chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday.

"I'm very pleased and honored," Lhota said afterwards, speaking to reporters outside the Senate gallery. "I'm looking forward to this opportunity to make a difference."

But it was the state senators themselves who sounded humbled.

"We're honored Joe would come back to public service," said state Senator Malcolm Smith, who seemed to be speaking for most of his colleagues. Lhota was a former New York City deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, and had been an executive vice president at Madison Square Garden when  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tapped him for the MTA to replace Jay Walder.

Many senators expressed astonishment that the new MTA chair would want the job. The MTA is largely viewed by legislators as "insular, inefficient, and — dare I say it — arrogant," state Senator Andrew Lanza said. Senator Charles Fuschillo, chairman of the senate's transportation committee, summed it up: "We’ve heard this is the most bloated bureaucracy in the country, we’ve heard about the double books, we’ve heard about every problem – we’ve even seen people on the front page of the (New York) Post the other day, playing chess when they should be working."

Lhota, for his part, was even tempered throughout, although he did use his time on the hot seat to to impart a couple of teaching moments. After hearing several legislators trot out the old trope that the agency has two sets of books -- a misperception that is almost a decade old -- he bristled. "The fact of the matter is when you go to our website and drill down, you’ll see an enormous amount of information," he said, adding that the MTA is one of the most transparent agencies in New York State. "There never was two sets of books," he said, "and there never will be two sets of books.”

But the senators knew they had a political macher, not a transportation wonk, in their court, and they seemed to be going through the motions. While Lhota fielded questions on everything from the MTA's finances, to overtime pay, to his stance on tolling the East River bridges, the only legislators who seemed able to muster genuine indignation were the perpetually offended Ruben Diaz, who was unhappy about a subway station in his district, and representatives from Dutchess and Orange Counties -- two of the four so-called "quarter pounder" counties, who share one vote on the MTA board and feel overcharged and underserved by Metro-North.

When senators opined wistfully about the possibility of cutting back on taxpayer support, Lhota sought to nip that in the bud. “I do have to bring up one thing, and I’ll be very honest and very blunt," he said. "There is no way that the MTA can operate without taxpayer money. It was never envisioned to be run nwithout taxpayer dollars. There is not a transportation or commuter rail or transit system in the country that doesn’t work without some other infusion of cash...The entire operation of the MTA cannot be paid for from the riders. It was never envisioned that way when the legislature created the MTA in 1968. I just want to be able to say that.”

During the hearings he talked about his vision for the MTA -- one in which the already pared-down agency further streamlines while improving service. Lhota said he'd be looking closely at the agency's back office operations. “Each one of the operating agencies of the MTA (has) an enormous amount of redundancies," he said. "They all have their own legal staff…. All of the administrative functions are duplicated. I think the time has come for there to be one MTA.”

And he said he was realistic about the challenge: “The bottom line is there’s no consistent standard of excellence across all the MTA. In most cases the service is reliable, stations are clean, and employees provide good customer service. But we’ve all seen dirty subways, we’ve all seen elevators and escalators out of service, buses that crawl at four miles per hour, commuter rail service crippled by bad weather, we’ve heard about projects over budget and behind schedule."

By the end of the afternoon, when the full senate convened to vote, legislators buoyed by the promise of a new era at the MTA rose to their feet to give the new chairman a standing ovation.Lhota told reporters afterwards that he's ridden the subways all his life, and he'll continue to do so. (But with a power that few straphangers can exercise.) "As a rider, I’m also going to be a critic, when I see something wrong on the subways I’m going to make sure it gets fixed," he said. "So the type of chairman I’m going to be for riders? I’m going to be a rider/chairman."

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TN MOVING STORIES: Troy KO's Transit Center, Palo Alto Opposes California Bullet Train, and Beijing Airport Will Soon Be World's Busiest

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Sweating Bullets: Body Scanners Can See Perspiration as a Potential Weapon (Link)
Real Time Train Arrival Info Coming to LIRR (Link)
NY Senator Schumer: Transit Tax Benefits Dying in End-of-Year Congressional Frenzy (Link)
Where Astronauts Do Their Christmas Shopping (Link)
The Ten Worst Holiday Bottlenecks in the New York Area (Link)
Straphangers Campaign Top-10 Worst (And Best) NYC Transit Moments of 2011 (Link)

Beijing Capital Airport (photo by John K via Flickr)

Troy turns down a regional transit center, passing on federal funds to build it. (Detroit News)

Who will be the next head of the FAA? Guesses abound. (Politico)

A report by the New York MTA's Inspector General takes the agency to task for mistakes during the 2010 blizzard -- but says it's better prepared for a storm now. (New York Daily News)

Beijing Capital Airport will soon be the world's busiest airport -- and China is preparing for the coming passenger influx by building airports built big and well-staffed. (Marketplace)

The Maryland Transit Administration says it has to raise Baltimore-area transit fares by 40 percent jump in order to meet state revenue goals without cutting service. (Baltimore Sun)

Virginia's governor wants to shuffle millions of dollars from public schools and health care to his top priorities of pension reform, higher education and transportation. (Washington Post)

The city of Palo Alto formally opposes California's high-speed rail project. (Mercury News)

The expedited Lake Champlain Bridge went over budget, but some say it was worth it. (Burlington Free Press)

Two rapping teachers protest cuts to California's school transportation budget. Sample lyric: I teach little children/I don't mean to cuss/but how in the @#! will kids get to school without a bus? (Good)

Want to buy the apartment of the former head of New York's MTA? (New York Times)

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TN MOVING STORIES: GOP Ties Payroll Tax to Keystone Pipeline, New Marlins Stadium Lacks Transpo Plan, Big Changes for Chicago Taxis

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Mitt Romney: metro-friendly moderate? (Link)
NY's governor signed the MTA tax reduction into law. (Link)
Northern states are looking for eco-friendly road de-icers. (Link)
Protesters disrupt West Coast ports. (Link)

The new Marlins stadium (photo by Ghost of Fire via Flickr)

The GOP is tying the payroll tax cut extension to the Keystone pipeline. (WNYC)

The Los Angeles MTA released a one-year action plan to address civil rights violations cited in a federal audit. (Los Angeles Times)

The New York MTA’s final 2012 budget plan won’t restore any of the bus or subway service officials eliminated last year. (New York Daily News)

A group of senators is pushing to extend the commuter tax benefit before it runs out. (The Hill)

The transportation plan for the new Miami Marlins stadium remains incomplete -- four months before opening day. (Atlantic Cities)

And: The city of Miami --which owns the stadium -- has yet to lease any of the store and restaurant spaces in the new ballpark's parking garages. "The city administration’s effort to fill 53,000 square feet of commercial space in the publicly owned parking garages flanking the stadium has barely gotten off the ground." (Miami Herald)

The City of Chicago is introducing broad changes to its taxi industry regulations. (WBEZ)

An article about Finland's education system yielded this factoid: "Speeding tickets are calculated according to income." (New York Times)

Cities and counties across Texas are increasingly demanding that drunken-driving suspects who refuse to take breathalyzer tests submit to blood tests. (Wall Street Journal)

Colorado decides today whether to make energy companies list all the chemicals they use to do hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But environmentalists want them to disclose much more. (Marketplace)

Mobile speed cameras in Maryland are racking up ticket money from nailing drivers who speed through work zones. (Washington Post)

Check out an 1896 map of California bike routes. (LA Curbed)

And on this morning's Brian Lehrer Show: tune in around 11:30am for a conversation about one scientist's subway sleeping experiment. (WNYC)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Texting While Driving Up 50%, House To Hold Hearing on CA Bullet Trains

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top stories on TN:

What Cuomo's tax bill says about transit. (Link)
And: Cuomo says he'll include transit in his infrastructure fund. (Link)
Bloomberg is still optimistic that the governor will sign the taxi bill. (Link)

Waiting for a bus in L.A. (photo by Laurie Avocado via Flickr)

A federal audit says Los Angeles's transit agency failed to fully research its impacts on riders and communities, especially when eliminating bus lines, adding service or changing fares. (Los Angeles Times)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing this week on California's high-speed rail project this week. (Link)

The pre-tax commuter benefit rewards drivers more than transit riders. (New York Times)

And: if Congress doesn't act before the end of the year, the benefit expires. (Washington Post)

New Jersey's Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program has become popular that it may be expanding to other types of communities -- diluting the original intent of the program. (NJ Spotlight)

Texting by drivers is up 50%, even as states pass laws against it. And what’s more, many drivers don’t think it’s dangerous when they do it — only when others do. (AP via Washington Post)

Ford kills a line of small pickup trucks, says demand is for full-size. (Marketplace)

The new Apple store at Grand Central Terminal is a good deal for New York's transit agency. (NY Daily News)

Deaths on Caltrain tracks are increasing--horrifying train engineers, who are the last people to see the victims alive. (Bay Citizen)

More on Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor problem. (New York Times)

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Hurricane Irene: Photos From New York's Transit Shutdown

Saturday, August 27, 2011

As New York City undertook its first-ever weather-related transit system shut down, New Yorkers were greeted with a sight that many haven't seen since the 2005 transit strike: gated, taped off subway stations.

A subway station prepares for Hurricane Irene  (photo by Kate Hinds)

If that's not eerie enough for you, this picture of an (almost) empty Grand Central looks like it could be preparing for the sequel to "I Am Legend." (Full disclosure: I adapted that thought from Dan Diamond's twitter feed.)

Hurricane Irene: MTA Metro-North Railroad closed Grand Central Terminal as the hurricane approached. Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Marjorie Anders.

At 11am this morning, a white board in the token booth warned customers that time was dwindling to get the heck out of Dodge (or in this case, the West 81st Street subway station):

Sign inside the West 81st Street B/C station (photo by Kate Hinds)

Want to check the subway service status? It's pretty straightforward:

Meanwhile, MTA employees installed barriers to try to prevent water from entering train tunnels...

LIRR employees install an AquaDam to help prevent water from flowing into the LIRR's tunnels to Penn Station. Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Sam Zambuto.

...while city buses prepared to help move New Yorkers out of the mandatory evacuation zones.

Hurricane Irene prep: Buses lined up in Far Rockaway to help with evacuations. Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Palmer Reale.

Even the gates are coming off of rail road crossings.

LIRR employees removed the gates from 295 railroad crossings to prevent damage from high wind. Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Harry Baumann.

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Transportation Nation

Reinstated - And It Feels So Good

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

New York State Senator Marty Golden, holding up bus schedules for the reinstated express bus lines (photo courtesy of Senator Golden)

A year after New York's MTA discontinued two Brooklyn-to-Manhattan express bus lines, the agency has brought them back.

The resurrected X37 and X38, which operate between the Bay Ridge/Sea Gate/Bensonhurst neighborhoods and Midtown Manhattan, began running again today after being eliminated in June 2010 as part of the MTA's attempt to close an $800 million budget gap.

Deirdre Parker, a spokesperson for the MTA, said that the agency had tried to fill gaps in service by creating two bus lines (the X27B and the X28B), but "it didn't really perform as we had anticipated." She said: "There was crowding, traffic delays, it was like a loading imbalance, where you'd have one bus that was too crowded and another that was almost empty."

There was also a lawsuit, brought by a local politicians and litigated by a former NYC Taxi and Limousine commissioner, which accused the MTA of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by cutting the bus lines. Now that the lines are restored, the suit has been dropped.

State Senator Martin Golden, who had been battling the MTA for the return of the bus lines, released a statement today that said: “I thank the Metropolitan Transit Authority for listening and the plaintiffs for their advocacy on behalf of the many who need better transportation services. But the fight continues as Southwest Brooklyn still needs more of the service we lost returned to operation including weekend express bus service.”

Josephine Beckmann, district manager for Brooklyn's Community Board 10, said residents are thrilled to have the bus lines back. "We're delighted, we're ecstatic," she said.

 

 

 

 

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TN Moving Stories: Feds Tell California It Can't Change Bullet Train Route, and NY Pol Wants Delivery Bike License Plates

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The DOT told California that it can't postpone the deadline to start construction of that state's $43 billion bullet train project --  or make changes to the route. (Los Angeles Times)

NYC's bus ridership is down, subway ridership is up; MTA says traffic congestion may be partially to blame. (Wall Street Journal)

Any officer suspected of ticket-fixing in the Bronx is being asked about it on the stand -- whether it's on a related case or not. (New York Times)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing today on how to boost rail service in the Northeast Corridor through private investment. (The Hill)

Jalopnik reports that one Austin resident found a baby owl perched on his bicycle tire.

Here's a good excuse for being late to work (photo by Adam Norwood via Jalopnik)

A New York City Councilman wants delivery bikes to have license plates. (NY Daily News)

KPCC chronicles efforts to make Beverly Hills bicycle-friendly.

Good writes that Texas is spending $4.4 billion to widen a 28-mile highway at the same time it's preparing to lay off 100,000 teachers.

Vancouver says it's on track to reach its goal of 45% of all trips into town being made by bike, foot or transit by 2020. (Vancouver Sun)

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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- thinking about taking your bike on a NY-area commuter rail this holiday weekend? Think again. (link)

-- as gas prices go up, so does ride sharing and transit use (link). And car sales go down (link).

-- the feds unveiled new fuel economy stickers (link)

-- the NY MTA's new website highlights transit apps (link)

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NY's MTA Votes to Cut Ties With Long Island Bus

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) After running Long Island Bus for nearly 40 years, the MTA voted Wednesday to end its contract with Nassau County to provide the service.

The agency said it made the move because it has had to cover an increasingly large share of the costs, and it will cease responsibility for the bus service by the end of the calendar year.

The MTA and Nassau County had been negotiating for months about how much the county should contribute to the MTA. On Wednesday, the MTA board said it wanted to give Nassau County as much lead time as possible — in this case, eight months — to prepare to assume responsibility for Long Island Bus.

"To take care of the riders of Nassau County, the MTA has provided $140 million, which has not been provided to the riders of Suffolk County, Westchester County, Dutchess County, Rockland County, Orange County, Putnam County and the City of New York for the bus systems that we took over," said board member and Suffolk County resident Mitchell Pally.

"I think it's clear to say that the only people who have been protecting the riders for the last 10 years in Nassau County is this board, not Nassau County."

But Nassau County executive Edward Mangano took issue with the MTA's decision — as well as with who owes whom.

"It's a sad day in America when a government agency such as the MTA chooses to maintain its bloated bureaucracy over the services it is charged to provide its residents," he said in a statement released Wednesday. "Because the MTA has failed taxpayers time and time again, Nassau County will move forward with a public-private partnership that maintains bus service without demanding an additional $26 million from taxpayers. ... The MTA's monopoly over transportation in Nassau County ends now."

A spokesperson from Mangano's office said that plans for privatization of Long Island Bus are underway. A committee is reviewing bids from three private companies and is expected to provide a recommendation to the county executive by May 15.

Any recommendation would then have to be approved by the state legislature. The spokesman said that a new operator will be in place by January first.

Long Island Bus carries about 95,720 383,000 riders each weekday and serves 48 routes.

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TN Moving Stories: Texas Looks At 85 MPH Speed Limits, Seattle Looks at a Highway's Next Generation, and: Funding Troubles Ahead for NY's MTA?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Seattle looks at how to replace a highway: dig a tunnel - OR put in a surface boulevard with "new public transit options"? (New York Times)

The Texas legislature is considering a bill that would raise speed limits to 85 mph on some highways (Houston Chronicle).

Funding trouble for New York's MTA? Cuts in federal support look likely. Meanwhile, a state senator wants to eliminate the 50-cent surcharge on city taxis. (Crain's NY)

The New York Daily News reports on misdemeanor sex crimes on the subway --  "the No. 1 quality-of-life offense on the subway," says one former official.

As Washington DC gains whites and Latinos, some talk about the city's demographic change -- including one political strategist, who says: “The new white voters....want doggie parks and bike lanes. The result is a lot of tension." (Washington Post)

A professor from the Netherlands has designed a six-wheel electric 'super bus' with top speeds of 155 mph. Video, in Dutch, below. (Jalopnik)

Arizona public transit drivers competed in a ‘Rural Transit Roadeo’, which consisted of an obstacle course, written test and safety skill demonstration. (KNVX-TV)

The Colorado cities of Loveland and Fort Collins are looking at establishing a regional system. (The Coloradoan)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: the former head of the NTSB criticizes both bus companies and the government. NJ Transit got $38.5 million to replace a balky bridge. We take a close look at New York's parking placard reform efforts. Texas wants high-speed rail money for a Dallas-Houston line. And: does DC need a second Beltway?

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TN Moving Stories: Gas Prices A Political Problem for Obama, and Saab Stops Production--For Now

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

President Barack Obama inspects an AT&T all-electric vehicle on display during a tour of the UPS facility in Landover, Md., April 1, 2011. (Office White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Rising gas prices present a problem for President Obama's reelection hopes. (Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania yesterday, he talked about electric vehicles, increasing fuel-efficiency standards, and alternative energy sources. (White House transcript)

Gothamist interviewed the bicyclist who was arrested on Manhattan's Upper West Side for either running a red light or resisting arrest.

Swedish automaker Saab has temporarily shut down production due to "limited liquidity," lack of supplies, and ongoing negotiations with suppliers who need to be paid (Wall Street Journal). Meanwhile, a slowdown in Toyota's production is causing ripple effects in Japan (NPR).

But it's not all bad news for Toyota, which just sold its one millionth Prius in the U.S. (Wired/Autopia)

New York's fire department is expanding a program that requires firefighters to follow traffic laws, operate at reduced speeds and turn off lights and sirens when responding to certain non-life threatening emergencies to Brooklyn and Staten Island after a successful pilot program in Queens. (WNYC)

Caltrain cuts may not be as bad as originally projected, but "there is still some pain." (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Citizens Budget Commission released a report that says New York's subways are among the most efficient in the country -- but the MTA's bus operations, and two commuter rail roads, are "relatively inefficient."  Download the report (pdf): Benchmarking Efficiency for the MTA's Efficiency Standards

Stanford University has founded a program for the cross-cultural study of the automobile. (New York Times)

The New York Yankees and the MTA agreed to return the B, D and 4 subway lines to the "Great New York Subway Race," the animated mid-game scoreboard segment. (NY Daily News)

Make mine a double: new double-decker buses roll out in Seattle. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: After Transportation Nation report,Governor Cuomo says he'll overhaul  the state system of handing out free parking placard as perks to state employees. A NY State Senator introduced a license plate bill that he'd benefit from.  The applications are in for Florida's rejected high-speed rail money.Congress floats new motorcoach safety bills. And labor leaders and transit advocates talk about equity with DOT officials.

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TN Moving Stories: Cost of Driving Up, Budget Battle Threatens Transpo Reauthorization, and it's Yankees Vs. MTA in the "Great New York Subway Race"

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

At a Municipal Arts Society panel (hosted by TN's Andrea Bernstein), NYC DOT head Janette Sadik-Khan talked about public plazas -- and Gridlock Sam talked about the backlash to current street changes. (Streetsblog)

The budget battle is endangering the Obama administration's transportation reauthorization plans. (Greenwire via New York Times)

The NY Daily News is reporting that an Inspector General probe found widespread misuse of police parking placards by lawmakers and other state officials, says Governor Cuomo will call for major changes in the way the parking passes are distributed.

AAA says the cost of driving rose 3.4% over last year. (USA Today)

San Francisco's Muni has a plan to bring riders more frequent service and faster trips on its busiest lines. But it will take nine years and cost $167 million - including at least $150 million the agency doesn't have. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The New York Yankees and the NY MTA are in a dispute about the "Great New York Subway Race." But it sounds like it was a misunderstanding and fans will hopefully see the epic battle between the B, D and 4 trains on the scoreboard soon.  (Article from NY Daily News; see video of the Subway Race below.)

March Madness fans broke Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority's light rail ridership record numbers with an estimated 148,000 basketball fans riding trains to and from the NCAA Final Four games during the four-day event. (Houston Chronicle)

Stanford University tops the League of American Bicyclist's list of bike-friendly university. (Kansas City Star)

Richard Branson has launched Virgin Oceanic, a deep-sea submarine project. (BoingBoing)

Actor Kevin Spacey rode a DC's bikeshare program bike. (DCist)

The 2011 NYC Cycling Map (pdf) is now available.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: New York's MTA is installing...subway communicator thingies on some station platforms. California applies for high-speed rail funds. And the DOT says that airline tarmac delays were down last month.

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TN Moving Stories: President to Speak About Energy Security, NY's MTA May Put Welfare Recipients To Work Cleaning Subways, and Birmingham Bus Cuts Held Off -- F

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President Obama will be speaking about energy security this morning at 11:20 am -- and TN will be live tweeting the speech. Follow along here. (And you can watch the president's speech here.)

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Atlanta's mayor and its City Council are at odds over transportation funding. (Atlanta Journal Constitution).

Bicycle shops on Manhattan's Upper West Side say they're losing customers because cyclists are avoiding Central Park due to the ticket blitz. (DNAinfo)

Speaking of tickets: Rep. Anthony Weiner, who's made himself a top New York parking scold by complaining about UN diplomats who fail to pay parking tickets, racked up a whopping $2,180 in violations himself in Washington, according to a report. (New York Post)

New York's cash-strapped MTA may soon put welfare recipients to work scrubbing and cleaning the subways. (NY Daily News)

Critics of San Francisco's $1.58 billion Central Subway have called it expensive and unnecessary; now they're calling it inefficient and unsafe. (San Francisco Examiner)

Vermont wants Florida's rejected high-speed rail money, bringing the total of states competing for it to at least 33. (Vermont Public Radio)

The Birmingham City Council today approved $1.8 million for mass transit, deferring a slashing of that city's bus service--at least for now. (The Birmingham News)

NPR looks at the how the Canadian oil bottleneck in Cushing, Oklahoma, affects gas prices.

And here's your bizarre car picture for the day.

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TN Moving Stories: MTA May Halve LI Bus Service, LaHood Orders Air Traffic Controller Staffing Review, and Regional Bike Share Being Explored in Boston Area

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Columbus Avenue bike lane being installed last year (photo by Kate Hinds)

NYC deputy mayor Howard Wolfson goes on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning at around 10:25 (give or take a few minuites) to counter charges that the city has gone too far with its bike lane program.

Long Island Bus may put the brakes on 27 of their 48 lines this summer because, according to MTA chairman Jay Walder, Nassau County is not paying enough toward the service's $134 million annual budget. Walder said 16,000 people may lose bus service and 200 workers will be laid off. (WNYC)

After two planes landed without being able to reach an air traffic controller at Reagan National Airport, DOT head Ray LaHood ordered an additional controller to staff the overnight shift (Washington Post) -- and a study of air traffic controller staffing at airports around the country. (AP via BusinessWeek)

Towns in the Boston area are exploring a regional bike share program. (Boston Globe)

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Accused of raiding local transit money, a Republican-led Minnesota House committee  dropped a provision from a major state transportation bill that would have shifted money from new rail projects to existing bus operations. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The Queensboro Bridge will soon be known as the Ed Koch Bridge. (WNYC)

Vice President Joe Biden chastised Gov. Rick Scott in Tampa, saying he cost Florida thousands of jobs and cutting-edge infrastructure improvements by rejecting $2.4 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail. “Your governor, God bless him — I don’t know him — but I don’t get it,” Biden said at a private fundraising reception for Sen. Bill Nelson. (Miami Herald)

Changing Gear's Micki Maynard looks at Detroit's decline. "Sixty years ago...people in all parts of the city could walk to work, or take a streetcar or bus. Some of them chose to drive, because they earned enough to afford to vehicles they were making (something their parents and grandparents might not have been able to do)."

A day in the life of Manhattan parking court -- real life, in-person court, not the newfangled online court. (NY Times)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The Central Park Conservancy is removing the confusing signs that led the NYPD to ticket nine cyclists improperly for speeding. What’s more, the NYPD took the unusual step of making house calls to apologize for the erroneous citations.  Speaking of Central Park: a NYC council member has introduced legislation that would ban cars from both Central and Prospect Parks. The attorney litigating the Prospect Park West bike lane lawsuit appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. And: a new transportation advocacy group grows in Houston.

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TN Moving Stories: Feds to Investigate LA's MTA Over Civil Rights Complaints, Downtown Brooklyn Wants Its Own Bike Share, and TSA Vs. Congress Over Body Scanner

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spurred by complaints about cuts in local bus service, federal officials said they would investigate whether the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority had discriminated against minority and low-income transit riders. (Los Angeles Times)

The TSA initially refused to send officials to a Congressional hearing on body scanners, but they later relented (WSJ). Republicans said the technology was "flawed and that "sometimes there's nothing like a good old-fashioned German shepherd." (The Hill)

Money from New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund will pay for much of a proposed commuter rail line between Camden and Gloucester County, according to the state senate president. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Downtown Brooklyn is putting together proposals for a bike share program. (The Brooklyn Paper) (UPDATE: The NYC DOT says this is the same RFP that was announced last November.)

The December blizzard spurred a shake-up in the MTA's management. (NY Daily News)

The governor of Connecticut is meeting with Ray LaHood today to lobby him for some of Florida's rejected high-speed rail money. (NECN)

Jalopnik writes that Scott Burgess resigned today as The Detroit News auto critic after his editors bowed to a request by an advertiser to water down his negative review of the Chrysler 200.

Did your commute take longer than usual today? INRIX says Thursday is the worst commuting day of the week.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The MTA's pothole-filling truck hits YouTube. Massive megaloads travel through a Montana city. And: two city planners talk about trying to de-sprawl Houston.

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TN Moving Stories: NY's $14m Fare Beaters, and NJ's Legal Bills to Fight ARC Tunnel Repayment Mounting

Monday, March 14, 2011

A blind man in California uses echolocation to ride a bike. (NPR)

The NY Times Week in Review takes a look at anti-bike lane sentiment, and offers an interesting theory about bike lane acceptance and normative behavior: Yeah, mini-van drivers are unhappy, Elisabeth Rosenthal writes,   "But of course, that is partly the point. As a matter of environmental policy, a principal benefit of bike lanes is that they tip the balance of power away from driving and toward a more sustainable form of transportation." (New York Times)

New York plans a $3 billion overhaul to the waterfront - complete with more waterfront parks and biking paths, dredging for bigger ships, and more ferries. (AP via WSJ)

Fare beaters cost NY's MTA $14 million annually. (New York Daily News)

So far, NJ has racked up a $330,000 legal bill in its fight with the feds over the repayment of ARC money. (Star-Ledger)

DC's DOT is considering new regulations for curbside intercity buses. (Washington Post)

"Smart bridges" use electronic sensors to check structural health. (New York Times)

Top Transportation Nation Stories we're following: Florida's high-speed rail money will be available to other states through a competitive process. If gas hits $5 a gallon, that could mean over a billion new trips on public transit. And economists are weighing in on the bike lane debate.

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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

TN Moving Stories: MTA Prepares To Go Beyond MetroCard, JetBlue Goes NextGen, and House Transpo Committee Announces ReAuth Road Trip

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A bill will be introduced in Albany today that would give NYC more authority to regulate discount, intercity buses (think BoltBus). State Senator Daniel Squadron told the New York Times that the scramble for curbside space and shifting loading zones, with their potential to confuse customers, had produced an atmosphere akin to the Wild West.

A Bolt Bus boards on New York's 33rd Street (Alex Goldmark)

The Toronto Transit Commission has approved a scaled-down plan to cut weekend and late-night service on some bus routes. (CBC News)

The Los Angeles Times has an editorial about the bus lane drama unfolding in that city. "Ever wonder why L.A.'s public transit system seems haphazard, with rail lines that don't go where they're most needed and inadequate bus service? A political battle over bus-only lanes on Wilshire Boulevard serves as an instructive example of the ways the best-designed plans of transit engineers are often thwarted."

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz says the city's cycling policy stigmatizes car owners. From his State of the Borough address: "For the majority of New Yorkers, it is simply not feasible to make bicycles their primary mode of transport. And unfortunately, that's the direction I believe the city's policy is heading. They are trying to stigmatize car owners and get them to abandon their cars, when the fact is, even many bicyclists also own cars. Cycling is no substitute for mass transit. And there are still tens of thousands of Brooklynites who live far from public transportation and who rely on a car to reach their jobs and live their lives." (NY1; video)

In the most extensive effort of its kind in the California Bay Area, the Valley Transportation Authority on Thursday approved a plan to give qualified homeless people in Santa Clara County free bus and light rail rides beginning in April. (Mercury News)

JetBlue goes NextGen: the carrier has signed an agreement to equip as many as 35 planes with satellite-based technology that allows air traffic controllers to see the planes at all times. (Wall Street Journal)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced locations (but not final dates) for a series of national field hearings and public forums on the reauthorization bill.  First stop: February 14 in West Virginia. "At least a dozen other sessions across numerous states are currently planned for February 17-25."  A list of cities can be found here.

The MTA is preparing for the next generation of MetroCard--or, as Second Avenue Sagas puts it, "the death clock for the MetroCard moves another second toward midnight."

According to the MTA (and the commuter railroad industry), a train that arrives within five minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival time is not late. But an official advisory council says the MTA should set a higher standard than that. (Gothamist)

The residents of a new urbanist village built around planned light rail (or bus rapid transit) have decided that they don’t actually want the transit their community was designed for.  (NRDC/Switchboard)

Did you abandon your car along Lake Shore Drive in this week's blizzard? The city of Chicago is using the web to reunite you with your relocated vehicle.  (Jalopnik)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Virginia scales back HOT lanes after lawsuit; Karsan unveils a prototype for NY's Taxi of Tomorrow, and Staten Islanders will get real time bus info by the end of this year.

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