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DDOT Makes Its Director Official

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Terry Bellamy, the new director of the District Department of Transportation

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) DC mayor Vincent Gray today officially appointed Terry Bellamy the director of the District Department of Transportation. Bellamy, who has been with the agency since 2008, had been acting as DDOT's interim director since Gabe Klein departed the office a few months ago.   WAMU's David Shultz reports that Bellamy says his priorities will be roughly the same as his predecessor's.  "Many of the programs and activities that we've been doing have been planned for over 20 years and we'll continue to carry that forward," Bellamy says.

From the mayor's official press release (which also covers another mayoral appointment):

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Floodwaters Threaten Refineries, NYC Cabbies Extradited Over Fare Scheme, and DC Will Pay You To Live Near Work

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mississippi floodwaters are heading south to Louisiana -- home to more than 10% of the nation's oil refining capacity. (Marketplace)

NYC has extradited (from Kansas City and Miami) two former taxi drivers accused of intentionally overcharging passengers by illegally setting their meters to an out-of-town rate. (WNYC)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiles Todd Long, the state’s powerful director of planning for transportation. AJC describes him as "an unelected bureaucrat (who) is the initial gatekeeper for the $8 billion referendum that many say will shape metro Atlanta’s future for decades to come."

NJ Transit unveils its first locomotive powered by an engine that can operate on both diesel and electric lines. (NJ Record)

Want to live near your office? Washington, D.C.'s Office of Planning is launching a pilot program to incentivize it. (Good)

The White House says "tough love" saved General Motors (The Hill). Meanwhile, the Big Three are hiring (Detroit Free Press) -- but Toyota's profit slipped 77% (NY Times).

Breaking: Ray LaHood doesn't know the meaning of the word 'hipster.' (The Atlantic )

Cruiser culture in Boise: "They have a blue house, they want a blue bike," says a bike shop owner. (Boise Weekly)

More on New York City's "Don't Be A Jerk" bike behavior campaign in the Wall Street Journal, the NY Post, and Streetsblog.

The NY Post says NYC's bike share program plan will "visit perpetual terror" on New Yorkers.

And bikers: is your morning commute less bumpy? One Brooklyn Bridge rider says it's smooth sailing.

From WNYC's Amy Pearl: "Nothing beats the feel of freshly laid blacktop against my bike tires. It looks like they finally repaved the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge!"

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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

--get ready for dueling petro-bills in Congress (link)

--NYC to cyclists: don't be jerks (link)

--Chicago's mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel releases transpo report (link)

--Texas wins $15 million for high-speed rail study (link)

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Transportation Nation

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Transportation Nation

Titan of D.C. Transit Abruptly Resigns

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chris Zimmerman

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) In news that has come as a shock to many—especially myself—Chris Zimmerman announced this morning that he will be stepping down from the Board of Directors of Washington D.C.'s Metro system at the end of this year.

Zimmerman had served on the Board for more than a decade, and he had been instrumental in guiding Metro through the darkest period of its 34 year existence. Over the past 18 months, Metro has faced multiple budget crises, a rapidly crumbling infrastructure, federal condemnation and a train collision that killed eight of its passengers. Zimmerman, whose main job is as a local politician in Arlington, Va., was there through it all, rarely—if ever—missing a Board meeting.

Before I joined WAMU, I reported for a weekly newspaper in Arlington, so I got to know Zimmerman fairly well. And I can say definitively that he lives and breathes transportation. His influence in the D.C. region far exceeds that of his job title, as he sits on no fewer than four regional transportation bodies. (Although, after today, that number is reduced by one.)

Zimmerman has become something of a boogeyman for the pro-roads set in Northern Virginia. Many believe he is the man pulling the strings behind Arlington's efforts to block the expansion of several major highways that lead in and out of the District. But he is also a hero to the burgeoning transit-oriented anti-sprawl community in D.C.

We will continue to follow this story and watch to see if other changes are coming to Metro's leadership.

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Transportation Nation

DC Metro Governance: What Does It Mean? (And Why Should I Care?)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) I know, I know -- the makeup of a local transit authority's board of directors is not exactly the sexiest topic, especially not at a time when most people are thinking of turkey, football or some weird combination of the two.

But while this may seem like something only a wonk could love, there's actually a sneaky political power play in the works here that could shift the balance of influence in the D.C. region and fundamentally alter the way Metro operates.

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Transportation Nation

Remainders: Traffic EVERYWHERE

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's the busiest traffic day of the year, whaddya expect?   But if you're a glutton for punishment, you can check NYC traffic conditions via live cam here.  Here's the CalTrans link, Houston is here.  Doesn't look so bad in Washington.  Downtown Minneapolis? NotSoGood.  But hey, you can buy your way out of congestion in the Twin Cities.  Or, if you're stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel, trying to get out to New Jersey, you can dream about a  new train under the Hudson.    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! -- Transportation Nation

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Transportation Nation

When Public Transit Kills, Who To Sue?

Friday, November 05, 2010

(Washington, DC — David Schultz, WAMU) You can sue your boss, you can sue your spouse, you can sue your best friend - you can even sue yourself!

But you can't sue the government.

Photo courtesy: flickr user kristinashan

If the government enacts a law or a policy that injures you in some way - either physically or financially - you can't sue it for damages. That's because of a legal clause known as "sovereign immunity."

The clause has roots dating back to monarchical times. It's designed to give legislative bodies the freedom to make laws in the public good without fear of crippling legal payouts that would deplete their treasuries.

Of course, if you or your loved one has had your lives upended by, say, a horrific subway train crash, you're not a huge fan of sovereign immunity.

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Transportation Nation

Feds Foil DC Metro Bomb Plot in Planning Phase

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Federal officials indicted a naturalized American citizen on charges that he was plotting a series of attacks on DC area Metro stations. He was arrested after meeting with men he thought were part of Al-Qaeda about the plan.

Authorities stress the plot was in the very early stages, the public was never in any danger, they say.

The Washington Post has more.

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Transportation Nation

"Fare Media" And Other Logistical Nightmares

Thursday, October 14, 2010

(Washington, DC — David Schultz, WAMU) "Fare media" is the transit industry term for the stuff you use to pay for a ride on a bus or a train. It used to be tokens, then slips of paper with magnetic strips. Now many cities use a rectangular piece of plastic that riders can put money on, much like a debit card.

D.C.'s version of this is called the SmarTrip card. (Note the photo at the right of my SmarTrip card. And of my hand.)

Metro, the transit agency here, would like as many people as possible to use SmarTrip cards. Unlike paper fare cards, they're reusable and, thus, cost much less to produce. So, earlier this year, Metro's Board of Directors cut the price of a SmarTrip card in half - from $5 to $2.50 - as an incentive to get more Washingtonians to use them.

And that's where the trouble began...

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Transportation Nation

The New Frontier of Highway Safety: Distracted Driving

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) In the 70s and 80s, highway safety advocates waged fierce public awareness campaings to convince drivers that not wearing a seat belt is dangerous. In the 80s and 90s, their cause shifted to the dangers of drunk driving.

Now, it appears that cause has shifted once again.

This week, dozens of people involved in the transportation field - from industry execs to federal regulators to non-profiteers - convened in Washington D.C. for the second annual Distracted Driving Summit. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave the opening address, calling on more states to pass bans on texting while driving and announcing nationwide texting bans for train operators and commercial bus and truck drivers.

But LaHood also said this problem can't simply be legislated away. Each individual driver needs to be aware of how dangerous distracted driving is, he said, just as they're already aware of the dangers of drunk driving and the importance of wearing seat belts.

For more, check out this story from WAMU.

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Transportation Nation

Capital Bikeshare Launches, But Who Will Be Sharing The Bikes?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

(Washington, DC — David Schultz, WAMU) A new regional bike sharing program launches today. Riders can rent a bicycle for a few hours at several dozen stations in D.C. and Northern Virginia.

Marti Reinfeld is a big BikeShare fan. She can now easily make short trips within the city, instead of having to commute in all the way from home. "I can ride it in a skirt and heels - that's what I'm most excited about - so I don't have to change after work to ride my bike," she says.  Ed Neugent says - as he rides one of the red and yellow BikeShare bikes - he'll use the service to get to work meetings. "Sometimes our meetings are held in other buildings and a lot of times we can probably hop on a bike and go to the meeting if we can't get a vehicle to travel. Plus, it's a good form of exercise too," he says.

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Transportation Nation

DC Metro Gets a Good Rap, Musically-Speaking

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Chronic delays, elevator outages, comically dysfunctional escalators. So many things give Washington DC's Metro system a bad rap. So much so, apparently, that Metro's badness actually has... a rap.

Local musical lampooner Remy Munasifi has just hit Metro with a new rap video,

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Transportation Nation

Can I Interest You in a Car, Congressman?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

(Washington, DC - David Schultz, WAMU News) Car dealerships, as downtown businesses go, aren't great neighbors.  They bring grease-stained service centers, and large, open asphalt lots to blocks.  At night, they turn strips of development into dark, foot traffic-free areas.  Adding something like that to Washington D.C. would be unthinkable, you might think. This city guards its scenic vistas and grand avenues like some grizzlies guard their cubs.

So then why is the D.C. Mayor's office not only supporting but also facilitating a car company's bid to open a dealership on K and 11th Streets NW - right in the heart of downtown D.C., just a few blocks from the White House?

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Transportation Nation

Nation's Capitol Gets its First Bike Traffic Signal

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Washington, DC, WAMU) Earlier this summer, Pennsylvania Avenue got a bike lane leading up to the home of a certain famous resident. Officials say the lane will be part of an 80-mile network of dedicated lanes. Now, life is going to get even better for cyclists in the nation's capitol. This just in from the DDOT:

"(Washington, D.C.) – The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is making safety improvements at the intersection of 16th Street, U Street and New Hampshire Avenue, NW that includes installing the first traffic signals for cyclists in the District. DDOT has also installing contraflow bike lanes on New Hampshire Avenue and “bike boxes” for cyclists on 16th Street as part of this experimental project approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

“We know that this is already a very popular route for many cyclists, but it can be treacherous getting through the intersection,” Said DDOT Director Gabe Klein. “These changes will make it safer without impacting other traffic.”

Will members of Congress now be taking bikes to dash over to their meetings at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Monday, July 19, 2010

Signal problems or sabotage among suspected causes for Indian train crash which killed 60 (Times of India)

Republican opposed to higher gas taxes, privatizing roads takes over powerful Texas transportation committee (Austin American Statesman)

Pay by phone parking?  It's coming to DC (Wash Post)

NYC makes traffic lights longer, runs shuttle buses to make city more friendly to elderly (NY Times)

Nazi airport becomes "wild and free" park in Berlin (LA Times)

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Transportation Nation

One Year After Crash, Is Metro Safer?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rescue workers respond to the site of two Red Line Metrorail trains that collided with one another last June in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Washington, DC - David Schultz, WAMU News)  One year ago today, a Washington, DC Metro train slammed into the back of a stopped train.  Nine people died and dozens were injured in the deadliest crash in the capital system's history.  Since then, Metro has made changes, but it's not clear what is making the ride for passengers safer.  In a series of reports on the year since the crash, David Schultz looks at whether Metro is safer than it was one year ago.  Earlier, WAMU News reported on the debate over federal regulation of transit started by this crash and the feelings of Capital residents, some of whom see little signs of change.

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Transportation Nation

Boston Bike Share Postponed

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein Transportation Nation) Boston's bike share was supposed to start this summer, but it's been pushed off at least until April, 2010. Nicole Freedman, Director of Bicycle Programs for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, explains "we felt like we need more time to ensure we could get the operations correct." Each city's structure for bike share is different. Montreal has contracted out operations to Bixi, Washington's DDOT has hired Alta Bike Share to run the system, and Denver and Minneapolis have non-profits setting up theirs.

But Boston is still working out the details of how its system will be run. Freedman says Boston might have been ready by early fall, but setting up a system so close to Boston's notorious winters didn't seem wise.

The news comes on the heels of announcement by New York that a major expansion of protected bike lanes, seen as a prerequisite for bike share, was being postponed.

But cheer up bike share enthusiasts. As MPR reports, Minnesota's bike share starts tomorrow. And DC's now has a name.

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Transportation Nation

New, Bigger Bike Share Has a Name in DC

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"Capital Bikeshare" it is, rolling toward 100 stations in Washington and 14 in Arlington.  DC's DOT reports that the name beat out George, GoBike, Capital Bixi and ShareCycle.  DC's SmartBike was the first big city bike share pilot, launching with a small number of bikes in 2008.  Capital Bikeshare promises more than 1,000 bikes and hopes to big biggest in the nation.  Launch date still a murky "later this year."

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Transportation Nation

DC Bus, Metro fares to go up?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

(David Schultz, WAMU) The Board of Directors of Metro, Washington D.C.'s transit system, was scheduled to vote on a package of historically large fare increases and services cuts late last month.

They did not.

Instead they delayed for two weeks a vote on the package, which was meant to close a nearly $200 million shortfall in Metro's budget.

Two weeks later, on May 13, the Metro Board met again. And again, they decided to delay the vote another two weeks to today.

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Transportation Nation

DC Streetcar Dead, Victim of Budget Woes

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Photo: DDOT

Takeaway Correspondent Todd Zwillich writes from Washington: "The DC City Council Budget Battle is killing streetcar program, at least for now." DCist has more details.

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