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Transportation Nation

U.S.Senators: Port Authority Exec Was "Argumentative," Lacked "Civility and Decorum"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The George Washington Bridge (photo by Kate Hinds)

The conflict between New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is escalating -- and now another U.S. Senator has added his signature to a letter formally complaining about the behavior of a Port Authority executive at a hearing in April.

The letter charges that Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority, "failed to meet the basic standards of civility and decorum" during his testimony at the hearing. It is addressed to senior executives at the Port Authority and co-signed by Lautenberg and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV).

The bruising hearing, ostensibly about toll hikes, quickly devolved into a barbed back-and-forth between Lautenberg and Baroni. Lautenberg wanted Baroni to answer questions about the fairness of the agency's 2011 toll hikes. Baroni replied that "it is impossible to argue fairness in tolls if you don’t pay them" -- a reference to the senator's use of an agency-funded EZPass. Many listeners perceived the remark as an attempt to embarrass the senator. (Listen to some audio from the hearing here.)

The comment rattled Lautenberg and Baroni avoided answering a key question: what did New Jersey Governor Christie know about the toll hikes and when did he know it?

The Senate's Commerce Committee, which is chaired by Rockefeller, later followed up by sending questions in writing to Baroni. But the Port Authority said releasing any communications between the agency and the governors' offices would be "inappropriate."

In the letter, the two U.S. senators do a slow burn. "This repeated failure to respond to the Committee's questions not only shows a lack of respect for legitimate congressional oversight; it also directly contradicts repeated assertions by Port Authority officials that the agency is increasing its transparency." The last line of the letter reads: "Please provide this information to the Committee no later than August 14, 2012."

A Port Authority spokesman would not comment.

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Transportation Nation

NYC DOT: Megabus Can Continue Curbside Pickup by Bus Terminal

Monday, May 07, 2012

(Photo CC by Flickr user Nick Busse)

The buses stay at the sidewalk... right in front of the bus station.

That's what New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told reporters Monday: discount bus carrier Megabus can continue to pick up passengers at the curb right outside the city's main bus terminal. "For now, they're going to stay," she said, before adding a caveat: "This is not a permanent solution."

As curbside bus ridership--including so-called Chinatown bus companies--has risen faster than any other mode of transportation, the prevalence of idling motorcoaches on city streets around the country has caused frustration. Neighbors bemoan the crowded sidewalks. Fellow drivers say the buses clog traffic and take up parking spaces. And the proprietors of bus stations, along with the companies that pay to use them, cry foul when a curbside carrier picks up passengers just a block or two away from the terminal. That's  what Megabus has been doing near New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.

The Port Authority of NY/NJ, the agency in charge of the terminal, is one of those complaining. Executive Director Pat Foye has called for Megabus to move to another location.

Sadik-Khan said she hadn't spoken to the Port Authority about the problem. But she explained that, "we moved [Megabus] there because of the safety and congestion concerns that we got in front of Penn Station," about 10 blocks away. "What we really need is a comprehensive solution." NYC DOT has long petitioned state legislators to allow it greater control over where curbside carriers can stop. Right now the state holds that power. It is not clear how the NYC DOT would comprehensively re-order curbside pickup locations if it had the authority, but the agency is in talks with local community boards about suggested locations.

Washington D.C. started charging a fee last year on curbside buses for using parking spaces, which  are city real estate. Shortly thereafter, D.C. moved discount carriers off the curb into a special section inside the parking lot of Union Station train terminal, a few inconvenient blocks away from the city's lamented bus station. That plan has generally been well received.

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New Jersey News

Lautenberg, Port Authority Exec Spar Over Tolls

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Senate committee hearing on the fairness of toll hikes devolved into a slugfest between Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)  and Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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Transportation Nation

Lautenberg, Christie Appointee Feud Over Toll Hike, ARC Tunnel

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Port Authority's Bill Baroni, testifying at a Senate hearing

Listen to a conversation about the hearings -- and hear some audio from them - below.

UPDATED A Senate hearing ostensibly on the fairness of toll hikes devolved into a slugfest between Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)  and Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Lautenberg has been seething since New Jersey Governor Chris Christie killed the ARC commuter tunnel under the Hudson River in late 2010.  Last summer's  Hudson River toll hikes -- raised by as much as 50% -- only added fuel to the fire.

Lautenberg had a line of questions prepared, including when the Governors of New Jersey and New York knew about the 2010 toll hikes and whether Baroni thought they were fair.

But Baroni, a Christie appointee, was prepared. "It is impossible to argue fairness in tolls if you don’t pay them," he said, pointing out that the senator -- a Port Authority commissioner from 1978-1982 -- had used an agency-funded EZ Pass at Port Authority toll crossings 284 times (a perk -- since discontinued -- formerly available to Port Authority commissioners for life).

Lautenberg seemed caught off guard by the statement, and although he quickly brought the line of questioning back to the toll hike, it looked like he had brought a butter knife to a switchblade fight.

The senator was also unable to pin Baroni down on one of his key issues: what did Governor Christie know about the Port Authority's plans for last summer's toll hikes, and when did he know it? Baroni wouldn't get specific. "I'm not going to talk about conversations that I have with different administration officials," he said -- spurring Lautenberg to retort: "Are you running a protection agency there?" "Excuse me?" responded Baroni, all wounded indignation.

But with all things Lautenberg and Christie-related, all roads lead back to the ARC tunnel. Senator Lautenberg is furious with the governor for canceling the trans-Hudson tunnel -- a project which the senator had long championed. "Why did the administration that we have in office now cancel $6 billion worth of money that we raised through this place to build a tunnel and get 22,000 cars off the road?" he spat at Baroni. A brief mic outage muted the Port Authority executive's response.

Lautenberg went on to grill Baroni about accusations of political patronage at the Port Authority, and told Baroni he had two weeks to supply the Senate committee with the names of people Governor Chris Christie had recommended for employment at the Port Authority.

"Sure!" said Baroni. "Should we go through them now?"

"Your impertinence is barely tolerable," Lautenberg told Baroni.

Later in the hearing, which stretched to almost 70 minutes, Baroni described the agency's plans to expand platforms at Harrison's PATH station. "Under the plan, we're going to be able to go to ten cars, and that's going to help us bring more rail —"

The senator abruptly hit the gavel twice. "Thank you very much. This hearing is over."

After the hearing, Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee chided Baroni: “I am troubled and disappointed by accounts of inappropriate discourse and decorum by a witness at the Senate Commerce Subcommittee this morning. A basic level of civility is expected from every witness who testifies in a formal Senate hearing and reports suggest that standard was not met today.”

Later this afternoon, Governor Chris Christie's press secretary, Michael Drewniak, sent the following statement dripping with enmity: (full statement at end of post) "Let’s accept the obvious:  the hearing was a partisan charade. Senator Lautenberg is deluding himself if he actually believes the practices he oversaw, participated in and encouraged during his time as a commissioner with the Port Authority are not relevant in explaining the Port Authority inherited by Governors Cuomo and Christie."

For his part, Lautenberg sent out a statement saying "Mr. Baroni engaged in distraction, deception and diversion.  I am very disappointed that the Port Authority continues to operate behind a veil of secrecy."

Lautenberg has requested that the GAO examine interstate tolling authorities. Meanwhile, late this afternoon, word was released that a joint New York-New Jersey hearing on the Port Authority -- scheduled for this Friday on Staten Island -- is being postponed.

Read below for a partial transcript of a piece of this morning's exchange. You can watch a archived video of Wednesday's hearing here.

Here's a transcript of part of this morning's exchange:

Lautenberg: The question is: did the size of the increase strike those of you who make decisions at the Port Authority as being fair? I mean, that’s a substantial -- 50% increase to cross the bridge. That’s a lot of money.

Baroni: Senator, thank you for the question, and I know that the conversation we heard, some of my colleagues talking about much it is. But as I described before, Senator, that if you are a cash-paying, non-EZPass using, rush hour driving truck, you are causing the most challenges physically to our crossings.  For every fully-loaded tractor-trailer that goes across our bridges, it (causes) 10,000 times the damage to our bridges as one car. But one of the reason we built all of the discounts in, Senator, is to be able to -- those folks who are commuting, who have an EZ Pass, or drive in off-peak, and, Senator, respectfully I understand the concerns that people have about paying tolls across the Hudson. It is something that commuters as you mentioned, Senator, each and every day – but respectfully, Senator, you only started paying tolls recently. For years, Senator, as former commissioner of my agency, you received free EZ Pass. Year after year – in fact, I have a copy of your free EZ Pass. I’ve got letters from ‘01 --

Lautenberg: how often was it used? Do you know?

Baroni: yeah, actually. ’01, ’02, ’03

Lautenberg: what? how many times?

Baroni: I can tell you. In...

Lautenberg: I’m not going to permit you to continue with this silliness.

Baroni: Well, Senator, you took 284 trips for free in the last two years you had the pass.

Lautenberg: I want you to answer this question. (Baroni. Sure!) Is this fair? Is this toll increase fair to the public at large?

Baroni: I think, Senator, for those--

Lautenberg: talk about the individual cars (crosstalk) I want to keep you on track. So. Let's go.

Baroni: Senator, it's impossible..certainly, Senator. It is impossible to argue fairness in tolls if you don’t pay them.

After that testy exchange, Baroni talked about the Port Authority's discount toll programs and how many vehicles use EZPass (81%) -- but  Senator Lautenberg was doing the slow burn.

Lautenberg: To pull out that little thing that I got after serving after in the Port Authority for four years -- I don't even think about using it, Mr. Baroni.

Baroni: of course not, because we took it away.

Lautenberg: Well, what happened, what happens, it was there, that's what they did, that's what I took and I'm not going to defend it. That's a silly thing to bring into this. I want to discuss your direction of this grand agency and where the money is gone, and why the increases were so large. What - what - is that fair play in your view? Why did the administration that we have in office now cancel $6 billion dollars worth of money that we raised through this place to build a tunnel and get 22,000 cars a day off the road? Do you want to talk about those things?

Christie's office sent out the following statement:

"As we learned today, Senator Lautenberg himself perpetuated some of the very dysfunction that only now, under Governors Christie and Cuomo, is being reversed through reforms and intensive audits.  A few counterpoints raised by Deputy Executive Director Baroni:

→ Senator Lautenberg, a wealthy businessman who was a commissioner of the Port Authority from March 1978 to December 1982, received free annual passage at Hudson River crossings and parking privileges at all NY/NJ airports for 24 years.  Mr. Baroni pointed out that in the final two years of his free EZ Pass, the Senator made no less than 284 free toll crossings.

→ At the height of his hypocritical moments today, Senator Lautenberg became enraged when Mr. Baroni pointed out that one of Sen. Lautenberg’s 2002 campaign staffers in charge of “U.S. Senate Candidate Visibility” was hired at the Port Authority after the campaign as a “principal energy specialist.”

While Mr. Baroni told the Senator he was available to talk all day and present evidence about PA tolls and operations, the hearing ended abruptly with Senator Lautenberg visibly angry over the turn of events.  Repeatedly, Senator Lautenberg tried to stop Mr. Baroni from providing answers that didn’t fit the hearing game plan or that held inconvenient truths.

→ “I’m not going to permit you to continue with this silliness,” Senator Lautenberg said as he cut off Mr. Baroni’s discussion of EZ Pass discounts available to motorists and the Senator’s free privileges.  “Certainly Senator,” Mr. Baroni replied, “it is impossible to argue fairness in tolls when you don’t pay them.”

→ Let’s accept the obvious:  the hearing was a partisan charade. Senator Lautenberg is deluding himself if he actually believes the practices he oversaw, participated in and encouraged during his time as a commissioner with the Port Authority are not relevant in explaining the Port Authority inherited by Governors Cuomo and Christie.

→ The toll hikes at the NY/NJ crossings were the last thing the Governors wanted to see happen.  But by 2010, the agency was mired in a fiscal crisis years in the making that required the reduced toll hikes the two Governors finally had to approve.  And the undisputed fact of history is that only since Governor Christie took office have reforms been enacted, payroll numbers and costs beenreduced and independent audits – warts and all – been ordered.  Sure, hold a hearing, ask all the relevant and necessary questions you like, but Senator Lautenberg should have spared us the hypocrisy and fake outrage.

 

And

Here's Senator Lautenberg's statement:

PORT AUTHORITY’S BARONI CALLS $12 TOLLS “FAIR”

LAUTENBERG PRESSES PORT AUTHORITY ON ALLEGATIONS OF PATRONAGE AND MISLEADING THE PUBLIC

BARONI ENGAGES IN “DISTRACTION, DECEPTION AND DIVERSION” AT HEARING

WASHINGTON – At a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Surface Transportation subcommittee hearing today, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg pressed Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni on the Port Authority’s recent toll hikes and allegations of patronage and mismanagement.

During his testimony, Mr. Baroni stated that $12 tolls on drivers are “fair” and repeatedly refused to answer questions about when Governor Christie became aware of proposed toll increases.

In contrast to Mr. Baroni, witnesses from AAA and the American Trucking Associations were very clear about their strong opposition to the toll hikes, the burden they put on families and businesses, and the lack of opportunity for public input about the toll increases.

“We called this hearing to help New Jersey drivers understand the reasons behind these massive toll increases and what steps the Port Authority is going to take to fix their serious problems,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “Instead, Mr. Baroni engaged in distraction, deception and diversion. I am very disappointed that the Port Authority continues to operate behind a veil of secrecy. Despite this stonewalling, I will continue to stand up for New Jersey commuters and businesses.”

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WNYC News

Port Authority Awaits Fed Decision on Bayonne Bridge Project

Sunday, April 08, 2012

WNYC

Port Authority officials are waiting to find out whether the federal government will allow a project involving the Bayonne Bridge to move through a faster permit process.

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WNYC News

Security Overhaul Planned for the Port Authority

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Port Authority of NY & NJ announced Thursday that it is overhauling its security operations, starting with the hiring of a Chief Security Officer.

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WNYC News

Port Authority to Cut Nonunion Benefits

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey voted Thursday to cut bonuses and other benefits for its nonunion employees in a move expected to save $41 million over 18 months.

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WNYC News

Partial Evacuation of Port Authority Bus Terminal Due to Smoke

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Fire Department of New York says a fire in a trash compactor at Port Authority has been brought under control. The busy bus terminal in Midtown Manhattan had been partially evacuated during the evening rush hours because of smoke caused by the fire.

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WNYC News

NY Ports Chief Calls Docks Bastions of Discrimination, Vows Action

Friday, February 24, 2012

The head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wants to use the agency's clout as landlord to get more dock workers of color hired.

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Transportation Nation

NY Ports Chief Calls Docks Bastions of Discrimination, Vows Action

Friday, February 24, 2012

Red Hook, Brooklyn. (Photo (cc) by Flickr user f.trainer)

The head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wants to use the agency's clout as landlord to get more dock workers of color hired.

Patrick Foye said, "I regret having to say it, but the docks at our ports on both the New York and New Jersey side appear to be one of the last bastions in the region of what can only be described as  deliberate racial and gender discrimination."

He said that dock workers are approximately 85 percent white and over 90 percent male, citing statistics from the Waterfront Commission. "This is not acceptable," Foye told union members and academics gathered for an NYU event about low pay rates for airport workers Wednesday.

Foye also called the racial and gender homogeneity of dock workers, "inexcusable inertia with respect to fair and diverse hiring." The PA head, who is took his post in November, promised strong action. The Port Authority owns the docks and leases the property to freight shipping and other companies.

"I intend to use every tool at our disposal," he said, "including leases with new customers, lease extensions and modifications with our existing customers, and most importantly, conditioning the Port Authority's future investments of billions of dollars in improvements on first reaching acceptable, concrete and enforceable, diversity hiring plans."

The International Longshoremen's Association, the union representing workers at the port of New York and New Jersey, controls hiring for new dock workers. At hearings last year, the ILA argued that they could not find sufficient non-white candidates for stevedore positions. The ILA did not return TN's requests for comment.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: White House Threatens Transpo Bill Veto, NY Seeks Tappan Zee Loan

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top stories on TN:
NY City Council Summons Police on Traffic Crime Investigations (Link)
Transpo Bills Set Off on A Long, Bumpy Road (Link)
NY MTA Chief Apologizes for Rat Comments (Link)
DOT Head Ray LaHood Takes Another Whack At House Transpo Bill: It “Takes Us Back to the Horse and Buggy Era” (Link)
Brooklyn Bike Lane Lawsuit Rolls into 2012 (Link)
New York Senate Votes to Restore a Tax Break for Transit Riders (Link)
USDOT: On Time Airline Arrival Highest in 17 Years (Link)
Regulators Soon To Release Reports On Yellowstone River Pipeline Break And Oil Spill (Link)

An aerial view of the George Washington Bridge (photo courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

New York has asked the federal government for a $2 billion loan to help finance the $5.2 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. (Bloomberg)

The White House is threatening to veto the House transportation bill. (Politico, The Hill)

And now transportation sits firmly atop the political agenda. (AP via Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

The Port Authority will spend half a billion dollars to renovate the George Washington Bridge. (nj.com)

Nine New York city cyclist deaths that raise questions. (MetroFocus)

A New York law cracking down on distracted driving has generated nearly 119,000 tickets statewide to motorists using their cell phones or texting while driving since July. (New York Daily News)

The green paint used in Los Angeles' bike lanes is not digitally erasable -- causing some film crews to have to relocate to bike lane-free streets. (Los Angeles Times)

Chicago's transit agency wants customers to know that its survey about "hypothetical fare scenarios" doesn't mean that it's hiking fares. (Chicago Tribune)

A group of bus companies is suing New York after the city's Department of Transportation gave Megabus a free spot outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. (DNA Info)

Australia pours money into its car industry while slapping huge tariffs on used cars...but some are arguing for the New Zealand model, where second-hand cars are much cheaper.  (The Global Mail)

DC's Capital Bikeshare has hit 1.5 million trips -- in less than a year and a half of operation. (TBD)

New York is phasing in new benches in its subway system. Goodbye, wood; hello stainless! (New York Daily News)

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: President's Infrastructure-Heavy Budget, Impromptu Whitney Houston Subway Tribute

Monday, February 13, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Former Governor David Paterson: Port Authority Problems No Secret (Link)
New York Republicans May Defect on Transportation Bill (Link)
Undaunted by Redistricting, John Mica Declares He’s Staying Put (Link)
Watch Out Lovers: 7th Avenue Subway Line Shuts Down Overnights Week of February 13th (Link)
Photos: Take BART to Rural California (Link)

Metrolink train (photo by LAWad via Flickr)

President Obama's 2013 budget includes hundreds of billions of dollars in spending on infrastructure. (Wall Street Journal, Marketplace)

Two bills proposing federal safety standards for subways and light rail systems will go before the House and Senate this week. (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, Metrolink -- Southern California's commuter rail system --  is forging ahead with the most sophisticated collision avoidance system in the country... (Los Angeles Times)

...despite efforts in Congress to relax requirements to install the crash-avoidance technology nationwide. (Los Angeles Times editorial)

New York Daily News editorial: The Port Authority audit "blamed a bureaucracy that everyone loves to hate while turning a blind eye to the truth that the governors of New York and New Jersey were in control through the debacle."

Officials wary about mounting costs plan to scale back the first segment of work for New York's future Moynihan Station. (Wall Street Journal)

The warmer-than-average winter is extending ferry service in Lake Superior, but depriving locals of a favorite seasonal ice road. (Duluth News Tribune)

Impromptu Whitney Houston tribute on the #2 subway: a group of riders sang "I Will Always Love You." (Gothamist)

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Transportation Nation

Former Governor David Paterson: Port Authority Problems No Secret

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Construction at the WTC site (photo: Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

(New York, NY -- Bob Hennelly, WNYC) Last week’s audit calling the Port Authority dysfunctional and running up billions of dollars in cost over-runs made eye-catching headlines.

The audit called the bi-state authority a "dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership." That void, the report concluded, manifested itself in "insufficient cost controls" and "a lack of transparent and effective oversight" when it came to managing the World Trade Center's site's re-development.

But to long-time observers of the Port Authority and many of those involved, it was more like a Captain Reynault moment in Casablanca.

They were hardly shocked to find gambling in this establishment.

Instead, the latest 50-page report from Navigant is just one more critical audit and fact-finding volume in a library generated over decades by state comptrollers by former and current state lawmakers.

This particular audit was commissioned by Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, who found themselves in political hot water after backing a toll-hike to pay for rising costs at the bi-state authority. Both men had been elected on platforms that pledged to make government, even independent authorities like the Port Authority, more accountable.

But former Governor David Paterson says the audits findings were hardly a secret to those close to the World Trade Center project.

“The truth has to be told about this," Paterson says. After September 11th there was tremendous political tumult in both states. Sex scandals toppled a Governor in each state. The instability at the top had repercussions.

"Five governors of New Jersey, four governors of New York, changes to the Chair of the Port Authority and the executive director," recalls Paterson. "Every stakeholder, every real estate person within 150 miles wanted to be involved. What started out as a demonstration of vigilance and response to the terrorists turned into a real estate boondoggle."

Paterson says then-Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward, in an attempt to get the 911 Memorial completed by the psychologically important tenth anniversary, did not sugarcoat the site's overall status.

"In the memorandum written to me by Chris Ward he says there are likely to be cost overruns and delays. And there were," says Paterson.

“While significant progress has been made, that memo said, the schedule and cost estimates of the rebuilding effort that have been communicated to the public are not realistic. In fact, as other reports by the FTA and LMCCC/LMDC have already suggested, the schedule and cost for each of the public projects on the site face significant delays and cost overruns,” the memo said.

"And the whole issue that there could be toll hikes -- all that was discussed before the project was even built," says Paterson. "When we started putting this together we knew that the costs that were assessed were way below what the actual price to build those structures would be."

There was something else driving up costs, the former Governor said. “Every dime that was spent to rebuild the World Trade Center was assessed in the Port Authority Board room as a New York contract for which the New Jersey members wanted equal value. I am not blaming them but it becomes a cesspool driving costs up."

Paterson says the Federal government should have shouldered the entire multibillion dollar burden of re-building the complex not the Port Authority.

"They did not attack the Port Authority on September 11th nor did they attack the states of New York and New Jersey. They attacked America."

Check back soon for Part 2 of this story...how the Port Authoiry, once a national model, found itself adrift in a sea of red ink.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Mica's District Decision, Toronto's Transit Plans, GPS Units Talking to Insurance Companies

Friday, February 10, 2012

Top stories on TN:
GOP House Works to Undo Reagan Legacy on Transportation (link)
Port Authority Pushes Back on Scathing Audit, But Acknowledges Need for Reform (link)
New York State Makes It Easier for Vets to Get Commercial Drivers Licenses (link)
Poll: Sixty Percent Think Stickers on Cars are Okay (link)
European Cities Allowing Bikes to Run Red Lights (link)
After Red Light Cameras Are Turned Off, Houston City Council Approves Big Settlement With Vendor (link)

(photo by miss604 via flickr)

Port Authority audit and the governors: reality check. "Little about this political bill of indictment seemed properly hinged to reality." (New York Times)

The Senate's transportation bill restores the commuter tax benefit. (The Hill)

An internal review finds no conflicts of interest but cites shortcomings in the State Department's environmental review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project. (Los Angeles Times)

In the U.K., GPS units are communicating with car insurance companies to monitor driver behavior. (Marketplace)

A reclaimed Los Angeles bus yard begins life as urban wetland. (Los Angeles Times)

Toronto's city council voted for light rail over the mayor's subway transit plan... (National Post)

...but the mayor's not ready to give up just yet. (Toronto Star)

D.C. no longer requires parallel parking skills on its driving test. (Washington Examiner)

Congressman John Mica -- the head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- will announce what district he's running in today. (St. Augustine Record)

And: TN is #10 in a list of top 25 transportation twitter feeds. (UrbanLand)

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WNYC News

Agency Rebuilding WTC Vows Reforms After Scathing Audit

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is defending the expanded costs for the World Trade Center project, but it also admits it needs to become leaner and more transparent after an audit called the organization "dysfunctional" and wasteful.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Transpo Bill, Tappan Zee, and Cracked Metro Rails

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Top stories on TN:
US Chamber of Commerce: House transit cuts could pass (link)
Crossing Delancey Street will soon get safer (link)
LaHood says high-speed rail in California is all about jobs (link)
FTA head Peter Rogoff joins list of officials who hate the transportation bill (link)
Photo: the ugliest rat (link)

DC Metro Station (photo by Jill Robidoux)

TN's Andrea Bernstein talks about the House's transit cuts on this morning's Brian Lehrer Show. (WNYC)

A New York Times editorial provides a "brief and by no means exhaustive list of the (transportation) bill's many defects"; calls it "uniquely terrible." (New York Times)

And: NYT critic: move Madison Square Garden to far west side to fix Penn Station. (New York Times)

A TSA program that pre-clears passengers --and lets them keep their shoes on while being screened by airport security -- is being expanded to more airports. (Star-Ledger, The Hill)

California labor groups are running ads that hammer home U.S. DOT head Ray LaHood's message that high-speed rail=jobs. (Sacramento Bee)

Pennsylvania's governor didn't budget for transportation because its problems are too overwhelming. "This is not a budget item. It is too large for that. Transportation must be confronted as its own distinct and separate topic." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

A German carpooling website plans to enter the U.S. market. “We think all trips by car could be shared,” says the founder. “Whenever you want to go with your car, you could take people with you, and therefore reduce carbon emissions and your costs.” Everybody say Mitfahrgelegenheit! (The World)

The four consortiums picked to bid on New York's Tappan Zee Bridge rebuild include some of the world's most successful construction companies -- and some with histories of delays and millions of dollars in cost overruns. (Journal News)

Why is there an uptick of cracked rails on the DC Metro? (Washington Post)

A pair of lawmakers from New York and New Jersey are pushing legislation to roll back last summer's Port Authority toll and fare hikes. (Star-Ledger)

Manhattan's Hudson Square neighborhood sees bike boom, installs more racks. (DNA Info)

Megabus is moving its Manhattan pickup site -- and doesn't have to pay rent. (DNA Info)

A map that replaces London Underground station names with anagrams is getting second life. You can get from Arcadian Noodle to Satan Dew, and you don't even have to transfer at Mind Eel!

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Transportation Nation

Audit: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a "Challenged and Dysfunctional Organization"

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The World Trade Center site in late August 2011 (photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

More analysis after we've finished reading, but the first phase of an audit of the bi-state authority finds an 'organization at a crossroads' and says the Port Authority needs a top-to-bottom overhaul of its management structure.

More findings: " a challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership, a siloed underlying bureaucracy, poorly coordinated capital planning processes, insufficient cost controls, and a lack of transparent and effective oversight of the World Trade Center program that has obscured full awareness of billions of dollars in exposure to the Port Authority."

Read the Port Authority Audit (pdf).

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Port Authority Toll Hike Can Stay, For Now; SF To Test Drive Electric Bike Share, and Megabus Too Heavy for NYC?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Top stories on TN: The Senate gave final approval to a four-year authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The world may be falling apart, but at least you'll be safe in your car: that was the theme of ads during the Super Bowl. And: a group of New York officials painted a doomsday scenario if a Republican plan to slash transit funding comes to pass.

Megabus (photo by Anz-i via flickr)

A federal judge denied a request to roll back a toll hike by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -- while also refusing to dismiss a lawsuit against the agency. (Star-Ledger)

Meanwhile: New York politicians -- like their colleagues across the Hudson -- want to pass legislation that aims to rein in the Port Authority. (Staten Island Advance)

More unhappiness with recent transportation legislation comes from New York Congressman Nadler, who writes an opinion piece calling the GOP bill "a dagger aimed at the hearts of urban and suburban areas across the country." (The Hill)

Megabus' fleet of double-decker buses exceed the legal weight limit for NYC streets, according to a New York State police study. (DNA Info)

Was Clint Eastwood's "it's halftime in America" Chrysler ad pro-Obama? (Slate, Wall Street Journal)

Hills? No problem! San Francisco will test drive an electric bike share program. (New York Times)

Why does it take decades to build a subway system in the U.S.? Seven reasons, from Salon.

Italy has imposed emergency measures on businesses to conserve gas supplies as freezing weather continues to grip the country and much of Europe. (BBC)

A strike by French aviation workers is now in its second day. (CNN International)

Airline passengers are getting creative about how to save on baggage fees. (New York Times)

Illinois' governor signed a law that allows Chicago to use automatic speed enforcement cameras to monitor drivers around the city's parks and schools. (WBEZ)

To keep people from riding on the roofs of trains, Indonesia will swat them with "brooms drenched in putrid goop." (AP)

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WNYC News

Judge Gives Green Light to Port Authority Toll Hikes, For Now

Monday, February 06, 2012

A federal judge in New York has declined to order the elimination of toll increases imposed last summer at bridge and tunnel crossings in New York and New Jersey.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Transpo Bill a "Legislative Train Wreck," California Restores School Bus Funds, NJ Pols Want To Rein In Port Authority

Friday, February 03, 2012

Top stories on TN: New York's MTA announced the winners of its app contest. The MTA and the transit workers union formally resumed contract talks -- but not without some controversy. Efforts to preserve the surface transportation bill's  dedicated bike/pedestrian funding failed yesterday. U.S. DOT head Ray LaHood hates the bill. Senator Harry Reid says next week will be a big one for transportation. And: an expert in infrastructure financing has been tapped to head the California High Speed Rail Authority.

(photo by Patricia Towne via flickr)

Yesterday's markup of the five year, $260 billion surface transportation bill lasted 18 hours. Congresswoman Corrine Brown: "This has been the worst day of my life...This is the worst bill I have ever seen." (Politico)'

And: the bill's truck weight increase was killed. (The Hill)

Los Angeles Times on transpo bill: It's a "legislative train wreck."

And: the House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled today to debate and vote on ending the 30-year policy of devoting 2.86 cents of the 18.4- cent gasoline tax paid by U.S. motorists to public transportation. "The money would instead go toward keeping a U.S. account for road and bridge construction solvent." (Bloomberg)

Meanwhile, after four years of wrangling and one shutdown, the FAA will soon get a bill of its own (NPR). Tweet from  the AP's Joan Lowy: "What will aviation lobbyists do now?"

In other news...when will New York State release the names of the bidders for the Tappan Zee Bridge project? (Wall Street Journal)

NJ lawmakers -- still fuming over last year's toll hike -- released four bills from committee intended to rein in and open up the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. (Star-Ledger)

California's legislature restored $248 million for school bus transportation that was particularly crucial for small and rural school districts. (Los Angeles Times)

Madison's buses set a ridership record in 2011. (Wisconsin State Journal)

Is there a NYC ticket blitz? (NY Times)

Carjackings in Newark rose for the third straight year in 2011. (Star-Ledger)

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