Saturday, October 30, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) -- Four days before election day, Democratic Candidate for NY Governor Andrew Cuomo released a green agenda. It's slighter than some of his other agenda books -- about half the size of his urban agenda -- but it does contain both an endorsement of construction of "sustainable communities" -- a big agenda item of the Obama administration, and a call for "improved public transportation" as part of an environmental agenda. Here's what he has to say about public transportation (in its entirety.)
We must Encourage Alternative Vehicles and Public Transportation. Technology has made it possible for cleaner, greener modes have transportation. From high speed rail to other alternative forms of transportation that reduces pollutants, the State should encourage the research, development and manufacturing of alternative modes of transportation. Such investment is a positive step for the environment and economic development. Moreover, the State must continue to invest and improve public transportation in order to improve the environment.
He does not address the transit financing issue that came up at the press conference releasing his urban agenda.
There's also a section on sustainable communities, which hews closely in philosophy to the Ray LaHood-Shaun Donovan-Lisa Jackson (DOT-HUD-EPA) effort.
You can read that part, after the jump.
Monday, October 25, 2010
One of our partners The Takeaway has opened a collaborative project to get people like you all across the country helping us really understand the American commute. You can send in snapshots and sounds of your daily routine.
Share the pictures and the sounds of your morning commute. Send us a photo, a video or audio of one thing that tells the story of your commute. It could be the train that always comes late. The people you see on the bus line. The spot where you always park your car.
The Takeaway will harvest your daily observations, insights and gripes and post the collection here for listeners to vote on their favorites. You can upload a photo or audio file here, or you can download The Takeaway iPhone app and use that.
What is the American commute? Tell us.
Friday, October 22, 2010
(New York -- Matthew Schuerman, WNYC) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was expected to make his final decision on the Access to the Region's Core train tunnel under the Hudson River today, but it's increasingly unclear whether that will happen.
The Associated Press and WNBC are reporting that Christie has extended the deadline, but do not attribute the information to any source. (WNBC says the governor will deliberate over the weekend.) They state that the governor is not meeting with US Secretary Ray LaHood.
An official close to LaHood told me there never was a meeting planned (even though LaHood said Monday, while at a ceremonial groundbreaking at New York's Moynihan train station Monday, of Governor Christie: "He and I agreed that over a two week period we would put together a plan for a path forward and we will be meeting with him at the end of that two weeks and presenting that information."
Another official involved in the deliberations said that a meeting was never formally scheduled but was in the works for today. The official said the meeting fell through after the Associated Press reported last night that the true estimate of the tunnel's cost was $9.77 billion--much less than the $13.7 billion that Christie said it might cost. The official said the revised estimate comes from the federal government--as opposed to NJ Transit, which is in charge of the project--and that LaHood gave that estimate to Christie when the two met two weeks ago.
No comment from Christie's office so far. He's scheduled to campaign for Republicans in New Jersey later today.
TN Moving Stories: TIGER Grant Winners Leak Out, Flights into France Cut, Tappan Zee Bridge Replacements Unveiled
Saturday, October 16, 2010
By Kate Hinds
TIGER II grants to be announced this week, but the winners have begun to leak out. (Streetsblog)
Swiss complete drilling for 35.4 mile tunnel, the world's longest (BBC)
Unrest continues in France over possible increase in retirement age. Today, government to cut flights into French terminals by 50%. (New York Times)
Final replacement Tappan Zee Bridge spans unveiled. With: rail link. Without: funding. (Second Avenue Sagas)
Q&A about the Chevy Volt, including the key question "Is the Volt an electric car or a hybrid?" (New York Times)
On a list ranking 10 low-stress jobs, transportation engineer comes in at #2. "(They) love what they do because they often interact with the folks that use the crosswalks or traffic systems that they develop." (CNN Money)
Build a Better 'Burb exhibit showcases different futures for Long Island. Like: "'SUBHUB' envisions a multipurpose commuter train station, along with shuttle buses that pick up passengers and products at schools and take them to the station." (New York Times)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a hopeful pilot program Tuesday to reduce the amount of cars, traffic and pollution caused by municipal employees. Three-hundred City workers will carshare 25 vehicles, mostly housed in downtown Manhattan.
According to a press release, the program will start as a one-year pilot in partnership with the private company Zipcar, but the city is already projecting cost savings four years out at more than $500,000 in reduced fuel, maintenance, and vehicle purchase costs.
There is solid precedent for that kind of thinking. Washington has a succesful program, as does Philadelphia. In fact, when Philadelphia started their program in 2004, the City was able to sell off 329 vehicles. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg ordered City agencies last year to reduce non-emergency, light-duty vehicles by 10 percent, resulting in the sale of 750 vehicles already, 50 additional cars will be sold as part of the pilot program announced Tuesday.
The New York City program will also use a computer reservation system and restrict the amount of cars available during rush hours to prevent the shared vehicles from being used for, or clogging commutes. After hours, most of the 23 hybrid cars and 2 mid-sized vans, will be open for public reservation.
When Austin launched a similar program with 200 cars in May 2009, initial demand was triple expectations. That program also offered a feature that let city workers check out cars for personal use with a pay-by-the-minute rate to remove the incentive to bring your own car for personal transport and running errands. Oh, and Austin used a fleet Smart cars, easier parking that way, cute too.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Three sources familiar with the $8.7 billion tunnel under the Hudson river from NJ, say, barring an unexpected, last-minute change of heart from Governor Chris Christie, the ARC transit tunnel under the Hudson river is dead. The sources say Christie will likely announce this week that he's restructuring NJ's portion of the money to go to roads. The FTA and the Port Authority will recoup their $3 billion each, though the Port's money will likely go into other regional projects.
Governor Christie's office, NJ Transit, the FTA, and the Port Authority of NY and NJ all decline comment.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) -- Supporters of the federal government's largest transit new start are steeling themselves for an announcement that could come this week that NJ Governor Chris Christie will not fund a transit tunnel under the Hudson River, the nation's largest transit new start project in the works.
Christie has said he's worried the $8.7 billion project could run over by as much as $5 billion, and that if that's the case, he says NJ doesn't have the funds to back it. And he's said, with the NJ highway trust fund broke, the roads need the money.
But though this project has always been more a child of NJ than NY, NYC stands to benefit by one of the tunnel's promises -- doubling the number of New Jerseyans who live within a 50 minute transit commute of New York City. That brings more workers and shoppers to the city, and serves an off-stated Bloomberg goal of reducing carbon emissions.
Today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, NYC won't step in and keep the project from dying, if that's what Christie decides.
"We are not party to this," the Mayor said at a City Hall news conference. "It is a Port Authority Project," he added, before saying some nice things about Port Authority staff. "They have their own financial problems, and they can afford some things and not others. "
The Port Authority, a bi-state authority, it should be said, is fully behind the project -- it's Christie who has indicated he may take his $2.7 billion and re-purpose it to roads.
The death of this project would be a major blow to the Obama administration, which has made quite clear that it believes that denser, more transit,oriented development, prioritized over road-based sprawl, is what's needed for a more sustainable future.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
By Casey Miner
(San Francisco – Casey Miner, KALW News) A huge inspiration for new transportation projects – and the Bay Area has a lot of big ones in the works right now – is efficiency. How much more efficient is the Oakland Airport Connector, the BRT or High Speed Rail going to be than what we have now?
As it turns out, the answer to that question isn’t as straightforward as you might think. When calculating travel times, planners don’t just calculate how long it actually takes to get from point A to point B. They calculate how long people think it takes. And people think it takes more than twice as long as it actually does.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
(Golden, CO -- Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Here in the Western suburbs of Denver, where the suburbs meet the Rocky foothills, libertarianism reigns. Jefferson County is a classic swing county, one that has voted for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, where well-educated professionals look to Denver for work and the soaring mountains to the west for recreation. No one is particularly happy with incumbents here, and refrains of "I'm voting against anyone who's in office" echoed against the buttes that creep right up to town center.
The stimulus isn't all that popular, and in advertisements, having voted for the health care bill is akin to having voted to raise your taxes and their pay.
But when it comes to the race for Governor, somehow, the Democrat, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who is presiding over one of the largest transit expansions in the nation, is running away with it.
The reason, certainly,
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) A number of communities around the country, including Palo Alto, CA and Hoboken, NJ, have created special on-street parking for car shares, often by auctioning off the spots. New York City isn't going that far, but it's getting into the act (or a version thereof) by rewriting its 1961 zoning resolution to allow buildings to provide up to 40 percent of their parking garage spaces to car shares like Zipcar or MintCar. Buildings that are primarily residential can provide up to twenty percent.
The city believes the new zoning resolution -- which it calls a "clarification" of existing regs, which are silent on the issue -- will make it a lot easier for car shares to distribute their cars around the city, thereby encouraging car sharing and discouraging private car ownership.
The city planning commission couldn't exactly explain the maximums concept other than to say they "strike a balance," presumably between promoters of car share and residents who believe they'll have no place to park if more than 20 percent of their garages contained shared cars.
Richard Ull, CEO and Founder of New York-based Mint Cars-on-Demand, says the new regs "can only make my life a lot easier, though he acknowledges "we've never been blocked from a garage." But Ull did say that neighborhoods like Brooklyn's Park Slope, Williamsburg, and Brooklyn Heights are limited more by the lack of garages than by the ability of garages to allocate space to car shares.
The biggest benefit of the new regs, Ull says, is in the "city bringing attention to car sharing."
The resolution passed the City Council with only one negative vote, by Peter Vallone, Jr.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) For 25 years, the Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Report has been the gold standard in traffic congestion rankings. It now has some competition from a group that has released its own report--with glaringly different findings.
"Driven Apart: How sprawl is lengthening our commutes and why misleading mobility measures are making things worse" was crafted by CEOS for Cities, a non-profit that is pushing more sustainable urban practices. Where the UMR looks at travel speed and amount of time spent in a vehicle, Driven Apart looks at time spent in cars during "peak" travel times--and concludes that the very cities the UMR ranks as worst are often, in fact, the best. That's because a longer commute, if partially traffic-free, is considered better than a shorter commute, with traffic all the way.
By this standard, the greater the sprawl, the better the commute. The more compact the city, the worse.
In a statement on their website, CEOs for cities says the UMR "actually penalizes cities that have shorter travel distances and conceals the additional burden caused by longer trips in sprawling metropolitan areas."
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation) - I did a double take in downtown Indianapolis. Was that grass where there once was concrete? It was! And what a difference it made.
The transformation of car lanes into people-friendly park space has become a familiar sight in pedestrian-driven New York City and San Francisco, but the sight is startling in cities where the car is still king.
On Meridian Street, just south of Monument Circle, a loading zone in front of a Borders books had been turned green. Tiles of sod covered a rectangle of asphalt from curb to dotted line, and benches and potted shrubs stood at the corners. Just that bit of green gave the iconic Soldiers and Sailors spire new pop. But on closer inspection there was something sloppy about the patch too. In the middle sat an unlit campfire pit—a flourish that made it clear this was some kind of stage set and drove home the fact that for many Hoosiers a "park" is a place you go camping.
TN Moving Stories: SF Wants to Move People, Not Cars; Freight vs. Passenger Rail; and It's Awfully Dark in Minnesota
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
By Kate Hinds
San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency wants to "focus on moving people, not cars," says agency head. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Lights out, Minnesota: some towns are turning off streetlights to save money. (Minnesota Public Radio)
Freight railroad companies balk at sharing rails with high speed passenger trains. (Wall Street Journal)
Did Governor Christie say that he'd replenish NJ's Transportation Trust Fund with the Hudson rail earmark? What he meant to say was that he was waiting for recommendations. (Star Ledger)
The Infrastructurist reports on a (fairly unscientific) trial to determine: which makes you crazier, commuting by bus or by car?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
(Jackie Yamanaka, Yellowstone Public Radio) As the then-Republican Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, John Robert Smith watched as the city’s $1 million expenditure for the multi-modal Union Station blossomed into a $135 million public-private investment in the historic downtown.
Smith says the area was once a run down inner-city neighborhood. Then, Union Station became a one-stop location for Amtrak, city bus service, shuttles to the airport and a nearby Navy base. After that, restaurants and boutiques opened nearby, and the area became walkable.
“There’s a conference center there now. There’s a restored performing arts center there. There are condominiums, market rate apartments, very affordable apartments, and opportunities there in the downtown that didn’t exist 14 years ago when we opened this station.”
He says Meridian was already the retail, medical, employment, cultural, and educational center for an 11-county region. But the new transit center, he says, was what spurred new growth. Union station, he says, “became the most heavily used public space in Meridian, MS. Over 350,000 passengers a year use that station. Keep in mind you’re talking about a city of 40,000 people.”
More important, he says, it gave young people a reason to come home to rural Meridian when they graduated from college.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Public garden designer Lynden Miller talks about the benefits of enhancing cities with gardens, parks, and street trees. Her work has changed the face of New York City’s public places—in neighborhoods rich and poor. In Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape, she calls on the public, gardeners, urban designers, architects, landscape architects and public officials to create and support well-planted parks and gardens.
Friday, July 16, 2010
In an average year, Americans report that they drive under the influence of alcohol as many 159 million times. Maybe more. By the CDC's count, one person dies every 45 minutes in a crash that involves an alcohol-impaired driver, and these wrecks cost the country more than $51 billion [the way the government adds this up is interesting: among other things, men are more likely to get in alcohol-related crashes, and lost earnings are more severe].
But curbing this practice is tough. The strongest factor, according to UCLA transportation scholar Eric A. Morris is better enforcement of the law. Morris is wrapping up a series on the Freakonomics blog about drinking and driving. Among his writings is the stunning fact that, by the time the average person is caught driving drunk, they've gotten away with it 87 times. Morris will be on The Takeaway next Tuesday with more. -- Collin Campbell
Saturday, June 12, 2010
In the last five years, New York has added hundreds of miles of bike lanes and closed parts of Broadway to cars, a re-allocation of street space that has caused no small measure of controversy. But those plans? Child's play, compared to what a group of international planners wants the city to do: tear down the lower part of the FDR drive.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in Copenhagen this week to take part in the Climate Summit for Mayors. Last week, the Mayor passed his Greener, Greater, Buildings Plan, and this week he hopes to inspire leaders from other cities to follow suit. With cities around the worldproducing more than 80 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions, changes in urban systems can have green effects globally. We speak with Bloomberg from Copenhagen.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Saturday, October 04, 2003
Niall Kirkwood teaches Landscape Architecture at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard where he is also the director of the Center for Technology and Environment. His passion for trashed and neglected landscapes has led him to focus his work around urban brownfields, Superfund sites, and closed landfills.