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WQXR Blog

Musicians Protest New Parking Rules Near Theater District

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Broadway musicians are protesting new parking rules they say make it more difficult to find spaces on Ninth Avenue, near the theater district.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Surviving Penn Station

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Jim O'Grady, WNYC transportation reporter, and Nancy Solomon, managing editor for New Jersey Public Radio, discuss their reporting on the ups and downs of trying to get around Penn Station.

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Transportation Nation

Ray LaHood: If You Want Federal Transportation Money to Go to Biking and Walking, Start Agitating Locally

Monday, July 23, 2012

By Ray LaHood, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation

Last week Transportation Nation readers sent me a number of great questions to answer in my latest "On the Go" video. Today, I'd like to return the favor by answering one or two more questions right here on Transportation Nation.

Greg asked: "How can DOT give Americans more transit, walking, and biking options when the vast majority of the money will just be passed to state DOTs to buy more highways?"

Well, Greg, as I acknowledged in "On the Go," some readers of Transportation Nation may not be happy with every part of the new transportation bill, MAP-21. But at DOT, we aren't about to stop moving American transportation forward.

The new bill actually increases the portion of funding going to transit. It broadens the New Starts program to include projects that expand capacity on existing transit lines, and that's a great opportunity for cities with legacy systems. It also provides a big bump to our transit State Of Good Repair program.

And, although highway formula funding is passed to the states, states can still use some of those funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects and other activities that improve air quality and relieve congestion. It's true that MAP-21 permits the states to redirect transportation enhancement funding for purposes other than active transportation, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will.

If accessibility advocates and biking and walking advocates make their voices heard in their state capitols and in their county and city councils, there's no reason to believe that the tremendous progress we've made in the last three years can't continue.

(video of Secretary LaHood from "On The Go")

Tanya asked, "What's your favorite transit line? What city works the best?"

I don't know if Tanya is testing me here or not, but I've already been asked to pick my favorite Olympic sport, and I am not about to pick a favorite transit line or city and arouse the disappointment of every other community in America.

I will say that our nation's transit agencies are doing a great job of moving people where they need to go as safely and reliably as they can. Whether it's by bus, light rail, commuter rail, subway, paratransit, or streetcar, Americans are taking more than 10 billion transit rides each year. And the American Public Transportation Association recently reported that the first quarter of 2012 was the fifth consecutive quarter of ridership growth. As our economy continues to recover, those numbers are only going to increase even more. So my favorite transit line is any one that helps people get where they need to go.

I'm also pleased that MAP-21 gives the Federal Transit Administration a safety oversight role for the first time. We worked with Congress for more than two years to secure that authority, and I know the folks at FTA will hit the ground running in their new mission.

Okay, that's it from here. Thanks again to Transportation Nation and its readers. I appreciate your interest, and I encourage you to stay engaged.

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WNYC News

MTA Restores Some Cuts, Adds Bus Routes

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The MTA is expanding service on nearly 40 bus, train and commuter rail lines in part as a reversal of cuts it made to close a budget deficit in 2010, its chairman said Thursday.

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New Jersey News

To Combat Counterfeiting, NJ Transit Unveils Secure Tickets

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Jersey Transit officials are cracking down on counterfeit tickets. Weekly and monthly passes will now feature an anti-counterfeit device, which can only be detected by the transit staff's special UV scanners.

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WNYC News

Bus Shelter Maintenance Lacking, Audit Finds

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WNYC

In news that might not come as a shock to most bus riders, a city audit released Wednesday found that bus shelter maintenance is lacking. The city outsourced the job to a private company in 2006

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WNYC News

Bus Returning from Casino Crashes on I-95

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Twenty-four people were hurt Wednesday after the driver of a bus returning from the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut lost control and crashed on Interstate 95.

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Transportation Nation

BREAKING: Transportation Bill Conference Report Released

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The details of what's in the transportation bill compromise are now available.

The conference report was released Thursday morning. (Read a pdf of the entire report here; a more condensed statement on it can be found here.)

More details later.

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WNYC News

No Longer an Option, Plan to Raze Sheridan Left on Side of the Road

Thursday, June 28, 2012

New York City was studying a plan to remove the Sheridan Expressway and replace it with affordable housing, commercial space and parks in the South Bronx. But then the city decided, in the middle of the study, to take the tear-down option off the table.

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Transportation Nation

BREAKING: Congress Close to Deal on 18-Month Transportation Bill

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

UPDATED WITH BARBARA BOXER'S STATEMENT  Congressional negotiators appear to be locking down an 18-month transportation bill-- just before current funding expires at the end of the week.

Final numbers on the developing deal are not yet available, and aides stress none of its provisions are final until the whole package is inked. But aides from both parties  confirmed key details for Transportation Nation, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent out an email indicating that it's basically a done deal.

“I am so glad that House Republicans met Democrats half way, as Senate Republicans did months ago," she wrote. “The bill is funded at current levels."

Politically-charged provisions forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and rolling back EPA rules on coal ash will not be included in the final deal, according to aides. That could make it more difficult for House GOP leaders to secure votes for a final deal from Republicans, who have voted several times in favor of the measures and in many cases insisted on its inclusion in the highway bill.

In a concession by Democrats, extra money for land and water conservation looks to be left out of the deal. There are likely to be further reductions to transportation "enhancement" requirements forcing states to spend a certain portion of their highway funds on bike paths and other non-road projects.

Boxer's email referenced an agreement on the enhancement requirements.  "For the first time, we send half of the funds for bike paths and pedestrian walkways directly to local entities," she wrote, "and we protect those funds while giving states more flexibility on their share."

Republicans appear to have scored a victory on the pace of environmental reviews for projects. While the original Senate bill limited reviews to 15 years, the deal afoot among conferees limits reviews to eight years, aides said. The final deal also appears to include extra money for rural schools and for Gulf Coast states ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Lawmakers and aides are rushing to ink the deal and file it in the House before midnight Wednesday. That would allow the House to pass the agreement Friday and still comply with House Republicans' three-day preview requirement before bills can reach the floor. The transportation deal is likely to get paired up with a separate deal preventing a student loan rate hike.

Senate aides say it is unlikely senators would remain in town Friday to stamp the deal with an official vote. That means senators would have to have broad agreement to approve it by unanimous consent some time after the House acts.

Follow Todd Zwillich on Twitter @toddzwillich

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Transportation Nation

Ask the US DOT Secretary Your Transpo Questions!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is inviting questions from TN readers. Want to know how the nation's transportation priorities are shifting? Wondering about the future of high-speed rail? Or how he decides where to spend the DOT's $70 billion budget? Or do you just want to know if he really does honk at drivers he sees texting behind the wheel?

For the next episode of his Q&A video series called “On the Go," Secretary LaHood is inviting questions from Transportation Nation readers. To ask him a question, you can:

Post questions on the Secretary’s Facebook page

Tweet using the #q4ray hashtag

Leave a comment on the Secretary’s blog, or

Leave a comment on this page

He will choose three or four to respond to. Let him know we sent you – write ‘TN’ at the end of your question.  We’ll post his video when it’s available.

Want to see what "On the Go" is like? Watch Secretary LaHood field questions from TN readers in 2011!

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WNYC News

Apple Drops Transit from Maps App, Drawing Ire

Monday, June 18, 2012

WNYC

Early adopting gadget lovers tend to love transit, but for once, they're feeling left behind by Apple.

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WNYC News

City's Refusal to Tear Down Sheridan Expressway Irks Activists, Locals

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano is fuming over the city’s decision last month not to tear down the aging Sheridan Expressway and replace it with mixed-use development.

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WNYC News

Summer Streets to Debut New Zip Line

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The fifth annual Summer Streets will have something new this year: a 30 foot zip line, which  will give New Yorkers a new way to appreciate the car-free streets.

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WNYC News

MTA Upping Service on L Train to Reduce ‘Sardine Crush’ of Riders

Monday, June 11, 2012

WNYC

The chronically overcrowded L train is now running 98 more times a week. The MTA just finished installing a new radio-based signal system that allows trains on the line to travel close together and, as a result, more frequently.

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WNYC News

Report: Transit Fares High and Rising? Blame Bailed-Out Banks

Thursday, June 07, 2012

WNYC

A transit union says in a report that one cause of the MTA's recent fare hikes and service cuts has been hiding in plain sight: financial arrangements called interest rate swaps. Those are deals the authority made with banks on 10 percent of its $33 billion of debt —deals that have gone against the authority and in favor of the banks.

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Features

25 Musical Acts Win Spots to Play Underground

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Latin-ska-reggae fusion band, a female mariachi group and a wind quintet were among the 25 new musical acts selected to be part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Music Under New York program.

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Transportation Nation

The New York City Council Praises Sadik-Khan, Instead of Burying Her

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

NY City Council Member James Vacca during a 2011 hearing (photo by William Alatriste via flickr)

Let's go back in time to December 2010. The city's tabloid editorial pages are just beginning to sink their teeth into the transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, for -- among other things -- her avid support of bike lanes and pedestrian plazas. In Brooklyn, well-connected residents are preparing to sue to remove a bike lane.

On December 9, New York's City Council holds a standing-room-only, overflow-room-inducing, five hour-plus hearing on bikes and bike lanes in New York City. Bronx councilman James Vacca, who chairs the council's Transportation Committee, kicks things off first by warning the crowd to be polite, then sets the stage by pointing out "few issues today prompt more heated discussion than bike policy in New York City."

In the hours that followed, he was proven correct: Sadik-Khan was grilled, interrupted, and accused of ignoring the will of the public, prevaricating, and acting by fiat.

And she was put on the defensive, repeatedly exclaiming "That's what we do!" when yet another council member excoriated her for not soliciting sufficient community input.

At one point, Lewis Fidler, a council member from Brooklyn, told Sadik-Khan her answer was "kind of half true. I don't say that to be snooty. I say it because I think maybe you're not aware."

And then he reeled himself him. "This is not like you've got to be for the cars or you've got to be for the bikes or you've got to be for the buses. It's really not...the cowmen and the farmers can be friends."

The mood at this week's Transportation Committee hearing, held in the same hearing room as the 2010 hearing -- and with many of the same players in attendance -- was markedly different.

Now more New Yorkers are biking. More than two-thirds give the city's bike share program, which is launching in July, a thumbs-up. Traffic fatalities are at record lows.

"I want to first off say thank you to the agency," Fidler started, before launching into an encomium. "Quite frankly I don't always get the answer I like from DOT, but we get a lot of answers from DOT. And they're very responsive, your agency, your Brooklyn office continues to be a very responsive one."

He then waxed on about major construction work going on on the Belt Parkway -- a roadway almost entirely in his council district. "I will say for a project of that size to have gone on, without my getting repeated complaints from constituents -- that says something all by itself, and the work that's been completed looks really good."

Back in 2010, Fidler's questioning of Sadik-Khan was one of that hearing's most contentious exchanges, with the two of them repeatedly interrupting each other. Fidler at that time told Sadik-Khan that her answers were "half true;" he later accused the DOT of failing to solicit community input on bike lanes -- a charge Sadik-Khan repeatedly denied.

On Tuesday, Fidler asked Sadik-Khan to look into repairing a bike lane in his district (a lane under the Parks Department jurisdiction since it's on their land. Sadik-Khan said she'd make sure her office reached out to the Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe.)

So maybe the cowmen and the farmers might be friends after all.

(You can listen to the audio from the 12/2010 hearing -- and read the transcript -- here. A video of the 5/29/12 hearing can be found here; the transcript isn't available yet.)

To be fair, Tuesday's hearing was not one in which members of the public could comment (public hearings on the budget will be held next week), and biking wasn't the only topic on the agenda.

But still:

Peter Koo is the Queens councilman who represents Flushing (a neighborhood so heavily trafficked by pedestrians that the DOT said Tuesday that it's slated for a sidewalk expansion project.) At the 2010 hearing, Koo complained that bikes lanes had been implemented at the expense of motorists and pedestrians, and that they were empty. "I hardly see any people using the bike lanes," he said at the time. (Transcript here; Koo's remarks begin on page 39.)

At Tuesday's hearing, Koo had a different complaint. "I find a lot of bicycles chained to the fence, to the trees, light poles, meter poles, everywhere." He wants the NYPD to cut the chains of bikes that are illegally parked. But before that happens, he said, "we have to find a place for them to park."

Letitia James   -- long a bike lane supporter, put the cherry on the Charlotte Russe. "Commissioner, I want to thank you for all the docking stations in my district. I want to thank you for the bike share program. I want to thank you for using my picture, my image, on your website, on the bike -- it's absolutely fabulous. Thank you for the plazas in my district...thank you for all the street renovations...thank you for the bike lanes, thank you for recognizing that we all have to share the space and no one is entitled to a city street."

A few minutes after James spoke, the May 29th hearing ended.

"I do think since that hearing in 2010, many actions my committee has taken, and the legislation that we have passed, has brought New York City DOT to a realization that they could do a better job when it comes to community consultation," Council transportation chair Jimmy Vacca said in a phone interview.  "I think there's been more outreach, there's been more involvement, so I think that the strongly held views that existed in 2010 have somewhat been mitigated by DOT realizing that it's better to work with local neighborhoods where possible and to try to seek areas of consensus."

And is he happy with bike lanes? Yes -- even though he said the ones in his Bronx district weren't heavily used. "I do think in time, though, people will be bicycling more in neighborhoods where they are not bicycling now. And I think the groundwork that we've laid legislatively will make that reality more positive, have a more positive impact on neighborhoods throughout the city."

Vacca said the Bronx bike lanes have been successful in reducing speeding.  "They've had an impact in slowing down vehicular traffic, and that's always a positive thing," he said, adding that that's a persistent issue for his constituents. "In my neighborhood there's not a block party I go to, there's not a civic association I go to, where people are not demanding speed bumps, where they're not demanding police enforcement for ticketing of people who speed in their cars."

Next up for the City Council: reigning in rogue delivery people -- a project they're collaborating with the DOT on. "We cannot have commercial bicyclists driving the wrong way on one-way streets, we cannot have them ignoring red lights, we cannot have them on sidewalks," Vacca said, adding that he's working on legislation to address this. "I think within the next several weeks we should have a consensus bill that will reflect my views as well as the views of the Department of Transportation. We're working together to come up with type of bill, and I think we're making good progress."

 

 

 

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It's A Free Country ®

Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Both rock stars in their own right, both trying to right their states' ships, and both building serious momentum for a potential presidential run. Every Friday, we'll look at whose week will look better on a résumé come 2016.

Check out last week's results here.

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WQXR Features

WQXR Hosts Pick Music for a Road Trip

Friday, May 25, 2012

With the summer travel season underway, we asked the WQXR hosts to name the music they'd listen to when behind the wheel or riding shotgun.

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