Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
(Houston, Texas - Melissa Galvez, KUHF) Houstonians live in a largely-lawless world when it comes to using a phone and driving. The federal push and coverage of distracted driving's dangers has yet to change the mind of Texas lawmakers. The KUHF News Lab has been profiling the enforcement challenge faced by cops and the national regulatory environment surrounding talking and texting while driving. But I also sent a query out to my KUHF colleagues: would anyone be willing to go cell-phone free while driving, for three full days-- and then talk with me about it? Two drivers recorded their thoughts, which we've turned into audio.
Friday, July 09, 2010
(Houston, TX - Melissa Galvez, KUHF News Lab) For most drivers in Texas, it is legal to both talk on a cell phone and text while driving — except in school zones and certain cities. There are some who say one or both of those should be outlawed. In the second of a series on distracted driving, a look at how such a law could be enforced.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Five flights had tarmac delays of more than three hours in May, the first full month with new, steep federal fines. (USA Today)
California high-speed rail planners defend ridership estimates, as critics tell them to "do it right." (LA Times)
Duck boats high-and-dry nationwide after Philly fire, crash leaving two missing. (SF Chronicle)
Thursday, July 08, 2010
"Day 2. I consider myself to be a light phone user while driving, I have to suppress a need to check my phone every few minutes. I see my right hand inching toward my purse in the passenger seat, snatch it back, repeat. Day 3: I almost broke today..."
Houston is a place almost totally free of laws against talking or texting while driving. But Texas and other states stand in the path of a federal push to change that, and research showing distracted driving is a deadly problem and, potentially, an addiction. So, we asked drivers to keep a diary, and let us in on the experience of distracted driving as part of a series looking at how Texas view this debate.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) A Washington, DC, lobbying firm has nixed a campaign against federal distracted driving initiatives after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood lashed out at the plans.
LaHood accused the lobbyists, some of whom represent mobile phone device manufacturers, of cynically trying to undermine efforts to curb distracted driving. DOT claims distracted driving, including the use of PDA's and cell phones while behind the wheel, causes 6,000 deaths per year on U.S. roads.
“Those of us who care about safety will join our effort, not undercut it. Thousands of lives are at stake,” LaHood said a press conference at DOT headquarters in Washington.
Friday, June 18, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) President Barack Obama travels to Columbus , Ohio today to cut the ribbon on the 10,000th Recovery Act highway project. The move, clearly timed to emit some good news in the cloud of BP spill-related bad news, was heralded Thursday in a conference call by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Biden's Chief Economist, Jared Bernstein.
LaHood said the news could be even better. "The problem is getting the governors to enter into contracts through their Departments of Transportation to get these contracts awarded so people can be hired."
Friday, June 18, 2010
Obama, LaHood to Ohio to mark start of the 10,000th road project launched under recovery act. (Columbus Dispatch)
Boston commuter rail link to South Coast takes step forward with purchase of frieght tracks. (Boston Globe)
Toyota resumes building Mississippi facility, promising 2,000 jobs. UAW accuses company of skirting union shops. (AP)
Seattle jaywalking spot becomes YouTube sensation, police concern. (Seattle Times)
Monday, June 14, 2010
(New York, NY - Collin Campbell, Transportation Nation) Jet Blue Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster has a refreshingly comprehensive view of transportation. "I may be shooting ourselves in the foot here, with five daily flights from JFK to Boston. But it just may not make that much sense for an airplane on a 150-mile route to fly over 300 air miles to get there. Maybe there's a different mode of transportation that may be better to carry those customers from point A to point B," Maruster said today.
He was speaking at a forum on the future of airports and air traffic control. It was an event filled with charts and maps that drove home how overwhelmed and outdated current air traffic control technology is. One solution Maruster said was obvious is taking airline passengers off some routes, like New York to Boston.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)
(This post has been updated) U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells WNYC's Brian Lehrer the administration has not endorsed is not endorsing Senator Christopher Dodd's Emergency Transit Aid Bill. " In the interview, LaHood did not say whether he or the administration might support the bill or one like it in the future. "We really need to look at how we pay for that," he said.
In an email exchange, LaHood's Press Secretary, Olivia Adair, went to pains to convey that LaHood's use of the present perfect tense does not imply anything as to to the future. "He said we have not endorsed it because we're still looking at how to pay for it. He never says we are not endorsing the transit bill." When asked if that meant LaHood might endorse a bill in future, Adair would not go beyond his broadcast remarks.
There's room for interpretation of LaHood's statement -- politicians have been known to use the "looking at how to pay for it" explanation to avoid supporting a bill altogether. "Looking at how to pay for it" can also signal a yellow light -- Congress has certainly passed emergency aid provisions in the past without first figuring out a funding mechanism. But it can also mean that, if and when LaHood and President Obama are satisfied there is a funding mechanism for emergency transit aid, they'll support it.
Here's the full audio of the interview:
Here's a partial transcript of the interview:
Brian Lehrer: We are happy to have with us the U. S Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, a former member of congress from Illinois, Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for coming on WNYC, Good Morning.
RL: Good Morning!
BL: As part of the fiscal crisis for state and local governments, as you know, there seems to be a mass transit bloodletting, underway, in my area the cuts to the MTA and NJ Transit are really bad for mass transit. I’ve heard about Atlanta, where 25 percent of the service could be threatened, there’s a possibility that Silicon Valley could be left without mass transit with CalTrain cut under consideration, imagine no mass transit to Apple and to Google Are you paying close attention to the shrinkage in mass transit taking place nationally right now?
RL: We sure are. We are in communication with our transit folks all over the country on a very regular basis and we know because the economy is lousy and the recession continues that ridership on every transit district around the country is down and has been for quite some time.
At the request of many transit groups, to Congress and to us, Congress was able to provide provisions that allowed transit districts to use some of their operating money so they can keep the buses running and keep the schedule in away that accommodates people that need to go to work early in the morning or come home late at night. And this is certainly true in cities like New York or Chicago or Atlanta or elsewhere in big cities. We’re very attuned to it and we’re trying to do everything we can to try and accommodate the downturn in ridership and the downturn in resources that the transit districts have.
Bl: Unfortunately I think the downturn in resources outpaces the downturn in ridership and that’s the problem but Senator Dodd has an emergency mass transit aid bill is it something you or the President has endorsed?
RL: We haven’t endorsed it because we really need to look at how we pay for that or how the Congress is going to pay for it. But we’re in discussion with Congress on a regular basis about these kinds of transit problems -- lower ridership and lower resources. It’s an issue. We’ve talked to Congress a lot about it, these things have to be paid for too, it’s one thing to say you’re going to appropriate x amount of dollars but we’ll continue to keep a watchful eye on it.
Friday, May 21, 2010
The president starts the process for fuel standards for trucks.
From today's Rose Garden ceremony.
"And today, we’re going even further, proposing the development of a national standard for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, just as we did for cars and light trucks."
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
(United Nations - Collin Campbell, Transportation Nation) - Distracted driving is a top priority at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Which isn't saying much some days. Secretary Ray LaHood talks about it a lot. The department is funding researching into how cops can write more tickets for talking and texting while driving. LaHood often appears in public with people from Focus Driven, a non-profit that he helped create to raise awareness.
But the secretary's push faces a world moving the other way. Cell phones have maps and GPS, automakers do things like put Twitter in the dashboard, and minivans are becoming wireless hot spots. According to LaHood, the world now has 4.6 billion cell phone subscriptions and 600 million cars. The math adds up to drivers who must resist many distractions. And, even in the U.S., most cities, states and cops have yet to pass or enforce laws and regulations to back new behavior.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
(Collin Campbell, Transportation Nation) - Ever since President Obama announced billions in funding for high-speed rail projects in the U.S. early this year, the excitement over a transformation of transportation has built. But the projects being funded by that money have also abused the definition of "high-speed" a bit. Most of the money is going to improving on-time performance in places like Chicago and Seattle, as well as speeding up trains across the country, and not to rates that will blow your socks off.
And even the marquee high-speed rail projects in California and Florida aren't likely to deliver what Secretary Ray LaHood called "the thrill of a lifetime" today. That's him above riding a MAGLEV train in Japan (above), with Central Japan Railway Chairman Yoshiaki Kasai. It's a train that actually floats above its rails, and can hit over 350 mph. Japan only has a short route running now -- it's incredibly expensive to build -- by they plan to have a web, speedily connecting major cities by mid-century. The technology has been universally ruled too expensive to build in the U.S., at least with stimulus funds.
It's technology and photo-ops like this that Central Japan Railway, the company making MAGLEV and other high-speed trains for export to the U.S., hopes will get it the multi-million dollar contracts to set up the California and Florida's rail systems. They've also hired people like Richard Lawless, a seasoned veteran of the CIA and State Department, to navigate the corridors of Washington and get federal backing to beat off competing proposals from Spain's Talgo or Germany's Siemens. The world is still waiting to hear who will build America's (semi) high-speed future.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Andrea Bernstein and Brian Lehrer discuss the controversy over bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, why US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is such a surprise, and what the new Times Square should look like. Listen Here.
Monday, April 26, 2010
(Collin Campbell, Transportation Nation, April 26) We're following the changes in how public transit projects are planned and funded under the Obama Administration's DOT, which has made it quite clear that it wants to see new lines and routes serve wide groups of riders, especially those traditionally underserved. Nathanael Johnson of KALW News has been following BART's efforts in San Francisco to reconnect with the community, after its plans failed to meet new criteria and lost $70 million.
Guillermo Mayer is the lawyer who fought BART and found himself backed by a new White House. He won, and is now looking at ways the new Transportation Reauthorization in Congress can be used to fund this kind of civil rights argument for transit. "This breathes life back into Title VI Civil Rights enforcement," Mayer said. "We didn’t win much under Bush."
Today on The Takeaway, Mayer said "at this time we're pretty much seeing transit service in the Bay Area get decimated. The buses are running with much longer headways. They're much more expensive to ride now. Transit drivers are being laid off." And so why should agencies be building expensive new ways for well-off riders to get to the airport?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The federal government is on the verge of spending billions of dollars on highways and public transit projects, beginning in 2010. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood views this as a historic moment in American history, when federal money will back policy aimed at getting Americans off the highways, out of our cars and into public transit and high-speed rail. LaHood steps through the many areas of American life in which he's now shaping policy.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
As the MTA prepares to make deep cuts, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood sat down with WNYC's Andrea Bernstein to discuss how much help the federal government should give transit systems and whether the Recovery Act has helped.