Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

Transportation Nation Jingle: World Premiere!

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's not often that Transportation Nation receives musical fan email. We're more used to getting missives from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics or press releases from elected officials. (Or emails from publicists asking "are you a SERIAL RELATIONSHIP KILLER? How to stop the sabotage!" or offering to teach us "how to winterize your dog" -- but that's another story.)

So we weren't sure what to expect when we got an email from a reader named John Fauller, who said he was a fan. And as a gift, he wrote, he had composed a jingle for TN. We opened the file with trepidation...and then were immediately delighted. Give it a listen, below. And John: THANK YOU! Hope your boss wasn't angry with you for being late to work!

 

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TN MOVING STORIES: Senate Transpo Bill Moving Forward, Ron Paul Challenges Rivals To 25-Mile Bike Ride, Hoboken Eyes Bike Share

Friday, January 27, 2012

Top stories on TN: a Chinatown bus company that ignored a shut down order in December now has a restraining order to prevent it from operating. A new Chevy Volt ad conveys the message 'it's morning in Hamtramck.' And a senator is introducing a bill that would require a new health study of x-ray body scanner machines used in airports.

Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ (photo by incendiarymind via flickr)

Ray LaHood's gloomy prognosis for a long-term surface transportation bill has set off a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill...(Washington Post)

...and improved his outlook, at least for the Senate bill. (Politico)

Question to Ron Paul in Thursday's Florida Republican presidential debate: Are you fit enough to be president?  Answer: "I'm willing to challenge any of these gentlemen up here to a 25-mile bike ride any time of the day in the heat of Texas."  (Video; YouTube)

New York State legislators are frustrated by the State DOT's lack of information on funding major infrastructure projects. (Poughkeepsie Journal)

...which worries some: just where is this $15 billion going to come from? (AP via Wall Street Journal)

Hoboken and Jersey City may collaborate on a bike share system. (Jersey Journal)

California is preparing to force auto manufacturers to slash smog-producing tailpipe pollution by three-fourths, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that more than one out of seven cars sold can run on electricity within the next 13 years. (Bay Citizen)

If the United States wants to continue to be the major player in the global economy, it needs an efficient, robust aviation system. (Marketplace)

Concerns over transportation continue to plague the London Olympics, which are just six months away. (Washington Post)

When it comes to buying cars, women do their homework -- and they generally get better deals than men. (NPR)

NY MTA head: subway stations need more entrances. (New York Daily News)

Ford Motor Co. reported $20.2 billion in net income for 2011 Friday — its best year since 199. (Detroit News)

What's so bad about a little public (sticker) shame -- especially if it helps deter illegal parking? (New York Times)

The Texas Transportation Commission approved raising the speed limit to 75 mph on about 1,500 miles of interstate highways in the state. (American Statesman, KUHF)

Alaska Airlines has ended its 30-year practice of giving passengers prayer cards with their meals. (USA Travel)

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Feds Issue Restraining Order on Chinatown Bus Service

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Federal transportation officials have obtained a restraining order against a charter bus company that serves Chinatown.

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Bus Company Ignored Shutdown Command; Feds Get Restraining Order

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A discount bus (Wikimedia Commons)

Double Happyness - a Philadelphia-based bus company -- now can add a restraining order to its growing pile of legal notices from the federal government.

Last month the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered the company to immediately cease operations after declaring it an "imminent hazard to safety." On Thursday, the feds put some teeth into that order: the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the company from "operating in or affecting interstate passenger transportation service."

DOT head Ray LaHood said in a statement: “We will not tolerate irresponsible bus companies that jeopardize the safety of bus passengers and other motorists.”

The DOT says it sought the temporary restraining order "based on evidence that Double Happyness was selling bus tickets and conducting bus trips in direct violation of the agency’s previous orders to immediately cease all transportation operations. "

The company runs buses from Albany, Baltimore, and Wilmington, Delaware, to midtown and Chinatown in New York City.

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It's Morning in Hamtramck (Or: Let's Put the Nightmare Of The Volt Battery Fire Hearing Behind Us)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On the heels of a blistering Congressional hearing yesterday, where officials from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration were accused of sacrificing public safety to protect the government's investment in General Motors (sample tweet from committee chair, Republican Darrell Issa: @GOPOversight's Mike Kelly "takes the gloves off" to deliver accountability for #ChevyVolt subsidies you paid for), GM's new Volt ad is more in line with President Obama's take on the auto bailout in the State of the Union: “We bet on American workers.  We bet on American ingenuity.  And tonight, the American auto industry is back.”

The ad is the latest in a spate of 'Detroit pride'- themed commercials (think 'Eminem's "this is the Motor City. This is what we do"' Chrysler commercial from last year's Superbowl). In this one, a Chevrolet Volt assembly line winds through the streets of Hamtramck, Michigan -- described by Chevy as "a city within a city in the heart of Detroit."

“This isn’t just the car we wanted to build,” a narrator intones. “This is the car America had to build.” Watch below!

(Hat tip to The Hill)

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Bill Would Require Independent Study of X-Ray Body Scanners

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The TSA testing new scanning technology at McCarrin Interational Airport in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Michael Grabell, ProPublica) Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the homeland security committee, plans to introduce a bill in the coming days that would require a new health study of the X-ray body scanners used to screen airline passengers nationwide.

The Transportation Security Administration began using the machines for routine screening in 2009 and sped up deployment after the so-called underwear bomber tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day of that year.

But the X-ray scanners have caused concerns because they emit low levels of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that has been shown to damage DNA and mutate genes, potentially leading to cancer. ProPublica and PBS NewsHour reported in November that the TSA had glossed over cancer concerns. Studies suggested that six or 100 airline passengers each year could develop cancer from the machines.

Shortly after our report, the European Union separately announced that it would prohibit X-ray body scanners at its airports for the time being “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”

The new bill drafted by Collins would require the TSA to choose an independent laboratory to measure the radiation emitted by a scanner currently in use at an airport checkpoint. The peer-reviewed study, to be submitted to Congress, would also evaluate the safety mechanisms on the machine and determine whether there are any biological signs of cellular damage caused by the scans.

In addition, the bill would require the TSA to place prominent signs at the start of checkpoint lines informing travelers that they can request a physical pat-down instead of going through the scanner. Right now, the TSA has signs in front of the machines noting that passengers can opt out. But the signs mostly highlight the images created rather than possible health risks.

The bill is the latest volley in a back-and-forth between Collins and the TSA. At a hearing in November, TSA administrator John Pistole agreedto a request from Sen. Collins to conduct a new independent health study.

But a week later at another hearing, Pistole backed off the commitment citing a yet-to-be-released report on the machines by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.

“I have urged TSA to move toward only radiation-free screening technology,” Collins said in a statement to ProPublica. “In the meantime, an independent study is needed to protect the public and to determine what technology is worthy of taxpayer dollars.”

The TSA uses two types of body scanners to screen passengers for explosives. The X-ray machines, known as backscatters, look like two refrigerator-size blue boxes and are used at Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, New York’s John F. Kennedy, and elsewhere. The other machine, which looks like a round glass booth, uses electromagnetic waves that have not been linked to any adverse health effects. Those machines are used at airports in Dallas and Atlanta, among others.

The TSA says the radiation from the X-ray machines is minute, equivalent to that received in two minutes of flying at altitude. That measurement has been verified in previous tests by the Food and Drug Administration, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Army Public Health Command.

“All the previous independent testing showed that the machines are well below the national standard,” TSA spokesman Greg Soule said.

A group of vocal critics, primarily based at the University of California, San Francisco, has cast doubt on those tests, suggesting that the device used to measure the radiation isn’t equipped to provide accurate measurements on body scanners, among other flaws.

While not commenting specifically on the drafted legislation, Soule said, “the TSA is committed to working with Congress to explore options for an additional study to further prove these machines are safe for all passengers.”

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TN MOVING STORIES: House To Take Up 5-Year Transpo Bill, Port Authority Audit Expected to Slam Former Head, Obama's Old Car Available eBay

Thursday, January 26, 2012

 Top stories on TN: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doesn’t think there’s much chance Congress will pass a surface transportation spending bill this year -- but he's standing firm on the Obama administration's goal to connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail by 2036. New York's MTA loses its only board member who's married to a Beatle. A Supreme Court ruling on GPS could affect a NYC taxi suit. And: Central Park gets its first crosstown shared bike/pedestrian path.

 

New York's subway (photo by Kate Hinds)

The new federal highway bill that will be taken up by the House of Representatives next week will be a five-year, $260 billion proposal. (The Hill)

Egyptian authorities are barring several U.S. citizens — including Ray LaHood’s son — from leaving the country after Egyptian government forces raided the offices of Washington-backed groups monitoring recent parliamentary elections there. (Politico)

A preliminary audit of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey's spending, initiated by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, is expected to criticize the agency's prior leader Chris Ward -- but offer few suggestions on how it could save money. (Crain's New York Business)

House Republicans accused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday of trying to keep secret a battery fire in a Chevy Volt out of fear of damaging the value of the government’s investment in the car’s manufacturer, General Motors, and jeopardizing President Obama’s re-election prospects. (New York Times)

Calgary has taken steps toward launching a public bike share program as soon as mid-2014, but even the city official who oversees cycling improvements won't promise there will be enough on-street bike lanes in time. (Calgary Herald)

Look out, Midwest: Austin, Texas, wants its share of the auto industry. (Changing Gears)

Editorial: at long last, Michigan lawmakers are finally confronting that state's crumbling roads. (Detroit Free Press)

Why California Governor Jerry Brown is standing firm on high-speed rail. (Christian Science Monitor)

After spending $160 million on a failed radio system for police to communicate in New York's  subways, the city is buying transit cops two-way radios that will finally allow them to communicate with police above ground. (New York Post, New York Daily News)

What transit agencies can learn from Twitter."The most interesting thing we found is that transit riders do not give any positive sentiment at a particular time. They only give negative sentiment," said a researcher. "If there’s no negative sentiment at any given time, that means that things are running smoothly." (Atlantic Cities)

 

A 2005 Chrysler 300C that Obama reportedly traded in while he was a senator is on eBay for $1 million. (Politico) (And: six days left to bid! Come for the car, stay for the photoshopping.)

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PHOTOS: Central Park Gets First East/West Shared Bike/Pedestrian Path

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The shared bike/pedestrian path in Central Park (photo by Kate Hinds)

In the past, bicyclists wanting to cross Central Park had two legal choices: ride a couple of extra miles around the loop, or use the more direct -- but narrow and often dangerous -- transverses used by vehicles.

Until now.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Shortly before New Year's, the New York City Parks Department and the Central Park Conservancy began a six-month pilot program permitting bicyclists to share a pedestrian path south of the 97th Street transverse. According to a Parks Department spokesperson, the path will be monitored to see if it should continue -- or possibly even be expanded.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

When the shared path program was first announced last June, there were supposed to be two. Parks wouldn't comment on why the number of paths in the trial program had been reduced to one. But the lanes were not exactly welcomed by Community Board 8 -- the board representing the east side. And last year, Central Park seemed to become center stage for a bike ticketing crackdown.

But earlier this week, when TN checked out the path, all was quiet. The park was relatively uncrowded at 10:30 in the morning on the west side.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Earlier reports indicted that there might be posted speed limits for cyclists, but the signs currently in place tell bicyclists to "ride slowly."  Other rules: yield to pedestrians, ride in single file, and no bicycle groups over four people.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

If you're looking for it, the path is just south of the 97th Street transverse and passes just north of the tennis courts on the West Side. (For a map of Central Park, go here.)

Have you used the path yet? Let us know your experience, and comment below!

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High Court Ruling on GPS Tracking Could Affect NYC Taxi Suit

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

NYC Taxi (photo: Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

(New York -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) A local attorney will argue a case using the recent Supreme Court decision banning law enforcement from using GPS to track suspects without a warrant to challenge the use of data gathered from GPS systems in cabs as evidence. He's defending a taxi driver in a lawsuit against the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The driver, Mr. Robert Carniol, is one of thousands of cabbies who were accused of overcharging passengers by pushing the out-of-town rate on their meter in 2010. He was found guilty in an administrative hearing and lost his license. But attorney Dan Ackman is arguing in State Supreme court next month that officials obtained GPS data about his client and others illegally.

"Taxi drivers did not consent to be followed around individually 24 hours a day," Ackman said.

He said Monday's Supreme Court decision against law enforcement using GPS to track suspects is relevant, because the information in both cases was seized without a warrant that presents an illegal search and seizure.

"When you're seeking someone's livelihood by taking their license, as the TLC is, to me that's also law enforcement," Ackman said.

But Diana Murray, senior counsel with NYC Law Department, said "the courts have long recognized that 4th amendment privacy protections aren't applicable to highly-regulated industries such as the pawn shop and like taxi industries. The GPS in cabs is only active when the driver is on-duty and is deactivated when the driver is off-duty."

The city is seeking to have the case dismissed.

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Family of Brooklyn Man Killed By Train Sues MTA

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The mother of a 24-year-old Brooklyn man killed by a subway train last November says the MTA should have done more to save her son.

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TN MOVING STORIES: House Blasts Feds Over Chevy Volt Battery Fire Investigation, PATH Ridership Booming

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Top stories on TN: The president gave two nods to transportation in his State of the Union address -- to the auto industry and cutting red tape. San Francisco and Medellin won the ITDP's Sustainable Transport Award. New York State released a report saying there were no environmental barriers to replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge. A Maryland county is exploring bike share. Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood -- which has only one bus line -- will get two more buses added to that route later this year. And the Bronx will join Staten Island in having real-time locating information for all its buses.

A natural gas hydraulic fracturing site near Platteville, Colorado (photo courtesy of Senator Mark Udall's Flickr stream)

The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to give more weight to factors including affordable-housing policy in deciding which local mass-transit initiatives will get federal money. (Bloomberg)

Hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- has produced so much gas that the price is at a ten-year low. (NPR)

Maryland's Montgomery County wants to use bus rapid transit, not rail, for its Corridor Cities Transitway project. (Washington Examiner)

California's high-speed rail project relies on risky financial assumptions and has just a fraction of the money needed to pay for it, the state auditor said in a new report. (AP via San Francisco Chronicle)

Adolfo Carrion Jr. -- former Bronx Borough President and HUD executive -- will launch a consulting firm that will advise "private sector businesses that are building roads and bridges and pipes and wires and buildings." And: "I'm going to work with players in the affordable housing production universe and I'm going to advise governments about smart growth here and around the country." (New York Daily News)

Airlines are turning increasingly to renting planes -- and the trend is likely to keep growing. (The Economist)

The head of the MTA’s largest union — currently locked in bitter contract negotiations with the transit agency — refused yesterday to rule out the possibility of a crippling subway strike. (New York Post)

Elected officials in Toronto are pushing a new transit plan that could have a new busway operational in less than three years -- and shovels in the ground for new light rail lines by 2014. (Toronto Star)

Disabled parking placard abuse is rampant in downtown Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)

House Transportation Chair John Mica intends to release text of the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs” proposal perhaps as soon as Friday. (Transportation Issues Daily)

A House committee is holding a hearing this morning on whether NHTSA delayed warning consumers about possible fire risks with the Volt because of the federal government's financial investment in General Motors. (New York Times)

Residents and officials in Tenafly (NJ) blasted a plan to extend the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail through the community, saying it would bring pollution, accidents and noisy train horns. (The Record)

Customs officials intend to shut down their inspection station at Brooklyn's Red Hook terminal. (New York Times)

More commuters rode PATH trains across the Hudson River in 2011 than in any other year since the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took over the rail system in 1962. (Wall Street Journal)

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New York State: No Reason Not To Replace Tappan Zee Bridge

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Tappan Zee Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River and connects Rockland and Westchester Counties (photo by Patsy Wooters via Flickr)

UPDATED WITH NYS DOT COMMISSIONER JOAN MCDONALD'S COMMENTS: New York State says there are no serious environmental challenges facing its planned replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), which was posted on the state's Tappan Zee website Tuesday, signaled no major changes in the state's approach to replacing the aging span. It states the bridge should be replaced -- and transit won't be immediately included.

"The Replacement Bridge Alternative would not preclude future bus rapid transit (BRT) or commuter rail service at the Tappan Zee Hudson River crossing," says one paragraph of the DEIS (see page 20, here), "but such a proposal would be subject to a separate environmental review and approval process at the time that it is foreseeable and financing is available...Therefore, the Replacement Bridge Alternative would not adversely impact transit services."

Speaking by phone, Joan McDonald -- the New York State Transportation Commissioner -- said that the state's position hasn't changed.

"That is what we have said all along...Our position has always been you cannot build transit until you replace the bridge," she said. "We don’t think it is financially feasible at this time for transit to be included, but we are building a bridge that will last for 100+ years, so at some point in the future, if the ridership numbers, and the fare box recovery ratio warrant the investment, we will make sure that it happens. So we are building the bridge to not preclude it in the future. And what that means is the footings will be spread appropriately and there will be enough weight-bearing capability on the bridge to hold transit in the future."

When asked if there was anything anyone could say at the upcoming hearings that would change the state's position, McDonald answered “most likely no, but we will see what comes out of the public comment process.”

The DEIS is part of the regulatory process the state must follow in order to replace the bridge. It must address concerns made during the public comment period -- including at a pair of hearings held in October.

A quick scan of the DEIS revealed no major surprises. Under a heading entitled "unavoidable impacts" (p. 26, here), the DEIS states several properties would need to be purchased, the views of some Rockland County residences may be obstructed, and the oyster bed habitat in the Hudson River will likely be disturbed during construction. The state would also need to use a small portion of the Elizabeth Place Park in South Nyack for construction purposes. McDonald said that the state has paying close attention to the possible construction impacts on the river. "That is probably the area of most significance," she said, "that we don’t disrupt [the Hudson River] habitat."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made rebuilding the bridge one of his key issues. He toured the bridge before he formally took office, and in October of last year he announced the Obama Administration had granted the project expedited approval. Most recently, he mentioned it in his State of the State address this month.

In a press release today (pdf), the state DOT lined up a number of state officials and and labor leaders, praising Governor Cuomo's leadership.

Advocates haven't yet given up hope for bus rapid transit. Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, says the DEIS doesn't adequately address why BRT isn't being included, and that her preliminary review of the massive DEIS documents had raised a number of other issues, including an "explanation of how this project fits into goals in legislation recently passed by the state to implement projects that are consistent with smart growth principles." Her group has put together a website calling for BRT on the bridge.

Cuomo has not yet announced how he plans to pay for the bridge's construction, estimated at over $5 billion, but he has said he intends to use a proposed infrastructure bank to finance it. In December, the state hired new financial advisers for the project.

The state has scheduled two public hearings about the DEIS -- Tuesday, February 28th in Nyack, and Thursday, March 1 in Tarrytown. Comments on the DEIS will be accepted until March 15 -- after which point the state will move forward on crafting a final environmental impact statement for review by the federal government.

"It’s an exceptionally exciting project," McDonald said. "It is a necessary component of our transportation network, and it will create many jobs during construction, and it’s critical for the economic vitality of the New York metropolitan region and the lower Hudson Valley."

The state has set a goal of breaking ground on the new Tappan Zee Bridge later this summer or early in the fall.

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Transit-Poor Brooklyn Neighborhood To Get Some Bus Relief

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Riders on the B-61 (photo courtesy City Councilmber Brad Lander)

The B61 -- Red Hook's only bus line -- will get some additional bus service this spring. New York's MTA said at a committee meeting Monday that it will tweak the schedule and add service on the beleaguered line.

This change follows a report put out last month by Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander that said buses on the route don’t come often enough -- and bunch up when they do. Lander said he was happy the MTA plans to add buses to the line, but added there's more that could be done to improve service.

"We're looking forward to sitting down and talking with them about the crowding, about all the long waits, about all the buses that are skipping stops, and the need for real-time bus information and some route changes," he said, "but this is an important first step."

The B61 goes from Windsor Terrace to downtown Brooklyn. The MTA, which monitors schedules and makes adjustments to bus service quarterly, will put two additional buses into service along the route during the afternoon rush hour. But that's not the only bus service change this spring. The agency is making 82 bus schedule changes on 63 different routes.  (See the list here, beginning on page 73 of the pdf.) Thirty-eight of those changes reflect increases in service frequency or running time. The remaining 44 represent reductions in frequency.

The changes go into effect in April.

 

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Texting While Walking: The Terror Stalking Our Sidewalks (VIDEO)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To be filed under "how did we miss this!" ... Casey Neistat -- the filmmaker who gamely used himself to illustrate the hazards of blocked bike lanes -- has made a cautionary video about texting while walking. It first appeared in the New York Times and was picked up today by Laughing Squid.

The practice, Neistat says, "may lack the social stigmas of drunk driving or smoking crystal meth, but it can be just as dangerous."

Luckily, there are ways to text on the street and not become the subject of an afterschool special. Neistat has a tip: "Proper technique is putting your back against the wall and standing in one place while you text, allowing foot traffic to safely flow by."

See for yourself!

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Next Up for Real Time Bus Information is the Bronx

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Following on the heels of Staten Island, the Bronx will become the second of New York’s five boroughs to get real-time bus information.

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Bronx To Get Real-Time Bus Info

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

(photo by bitchcakesnyc via flickr) Following on the heels of Staten Island, the Bronx will become the second of New York's five boroughs to get real-time bus information.

New York's MTA is currently installing GPS units on the 1,025 buses that serve the borough. The agency said the service will go live sometime this year.

In a press release, MTA head Joe Lhota heralded Bus Time as a time saver (and caffeine-enabler). "Knowing how far away your next bus is means you can spend more time with your family or more time at a coffee shop instead of waiting at a bus stop in a state of uncertainty," he said. "About 90% of our customers carry text-message enabled cell phones, so this is a big step forward to help make the lives of our customers a lot easier."

This technology debuted on Brooklyn's B63 last year and went live on all buses in Staten Island earlier this month.

The MTA's press release enigmatically states: "the next borough will also come online in 2012," leaving two more boroughs -- which the MTA says will get Bus Time by 2013.

Want to read more about Bus Time? TN's field test of Staten Island's system is here.

 

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NYC Mayor Stuck On "Shame Stickers"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An example of the "shame sticker." (Photo by Kilgub via Flickr)

(New York -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he plans to veto legislation that would put an end to the Sanitation Department's so-called 'shame' stickers on cars. The mayor said he supports the 25-year-old practice of plastering a fluorescent sticker on cars that violate alternate side parking rules.

"I think it’s one of the less productive things that could be legislated," Bloomberg explained. "Stickers are an enforcement tool that have helped to keep our streets clean and if you take them away, there's no reason to believe that we won't go back to the dirty streets that we had before stickers were put in there."

The City Council approved legislation last week that would ban the stickers, saying they unfairly punish drivers before they're allowed to prove their innocence... and because they're too difficult to remove.

The Sanitation Department has said the threat of the stickers has helped increase compliance.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Real-Time Bus Info Extends To the Bronx, The Port Authority's "Mission Drift," And Mexico City's Parking Evolution

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top stories on TN:  Work is about to start on the first phase of a billion-dollar redevelopment project at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. NYC's first ever weeknight subway shutdown could be the first of many. The House is set to vote on a month-long extension to the  Federal Aviation Administration authorization. KQED takes a look at California's high-speed rail woes. And: the city of Houston reached a deal in its court battle over its cancelled red light traffic camera program.

An iron worker atop One World Trade Center (photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

TN's Alex Goldmark talks about President Obama's infrastructure shift on The Takeaway.

The human problems of driverless cars -- legal liability, privacy and insurance regulation -- might prove more difficult to resolve than the technological ones. (New York Times)

The new head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says the agency's focus on rebuilding the World Trade Center has led to "mission drift." (Crain's New York Business)

House leaders have increasingly meddled in the affairs of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, slowly turning the bottom-up legislative process into a top-down regime. (Politico)

New York's MTA could jack up the fine for farebeating from $100 to $500 under legislation the state Senate passed Monday. (New York Daily News)

Breaking down the DC Metro's proposed fare hikes. (Washington Post)

Real-time bus information will come to the Bronx later this year. (DNA Info)

Mexico City's franeleros -- the ubiquitous men and women who control parking spaces -- are being forced out by parking meters. (Los Angeles Times)

Plans to extend NJ Transit light rail service into eastern Bergen County will face public comment today. (The Record)

Microsoft just received a patent for a new trip-planning app that has an “avoid ghetto” feature. (Transit Wire)

The long reach of American TV show "Pimp My Ride" extends into Morocco, where car-tuning has become a mass movement. (Marketplace)

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TN MOVING STORIES: GM Once Again World's Largest Automaker, LA Reaches Out to China to Fund Transit, NY Area Airport Terminals Among World's Worst

Friday, January 20, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Union Suspends Talks with NY MTA Over Contract (Link)
Children in Low-Income Manhattan Neighborhoods More Likely To Be Hit By Cars (Link)
MTA: Subway Blasting Not Creating Pollution (Link)
D.C. Metro Workers Charged in Coin-Stealing Scheme (Link)
Rural College Campuses Solve Student Transportation Challenges With Shuttles — And Bikes (Link)

photo by sciascia via Flickr

General Motors reclaims the title of world's largest automaker. (Detroit Free Press)

Federal safety regulators lack the expertise to monitor vehicles with increasingly sophisticated electronics, says one agency. (New York Times)

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke with a Chinese investment group about funding for a dozen transportation projects. (Los Angeles Times)

But what happened to the opossum after he rode the D train? (New York Times)

More information emerges from Capital Bikeshare data. Most common trips? Bike lane usage? It's in there. (Greater Greater Washington)

Opinion: Obama Throws SOPA and Keystone Red Meat to Liberals (It's a Free Country)

Watch a bicycle get stripped down on NYC's mean streets over the course of a year. (Video)

What's the best way to get users to embrace mass transit? (Slate)

New Jersey is preparing to use facial-recognition technology to scan 18 million photographs for signs of driver's license fraud. (AP via NJ.com)

Airport terminals at three New York-area airports are among the world’s 10 worst, according to travel group Frommer’s. (WNYC)

Road rage bleeds over to the bipeds in Canada: pedestrian bites driver. (CBC)

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Children in Low-Income Manhattan Neighborhoods More Likely To Be Hit By Cars

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Children under 18 account for 43% of car crash victims in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood. But just a few blocks south, in the moneyed Upper East Side, the same age group accounts for less than 15% of neighborhood car crash victims.

That's the conclusion of the new report "Child Crashes: An Unequal Burden"(pdf), released Thursday by Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group. According to the group's research,  of the East Side's top ten intersections for motor vehicle crashes that kill or injure child pedestrians and bicyclists, "nine are located in close proximity to public housing developments in East Harlem and the Lower East Side."

The report  draws upon data from 1995-2009 that the group received after filing Freedom of Information Law requests to the New York State  DMV.

The city DOT is disputing the way Transportation Alternatives (TA) is presenting the data.

"There were a record-low three child pedestrian fatalities citywide last year, none of them in any of the neighborhoods cited in the report," said Seth Solomonow, a department spokesperson.

He cited agency statistics that show serious crashes went down 64% in the Lower East Side’s Community Board 3 and 38% in Harlem’s Community Board 11 over the course of the study period. In 2011, the number of traffic deaths in New York City fell to the lowest levels in a century-- a 40% drop from 2001.

A deeper dive into the data shows rates did indeed drop everywhere -- but that injury rates remain consistently higher in poorer neighborhoods.  In East Harlem in 1995, for example, 107 children were injured by cars. By 2009, that number had fallen to 47.  But that's still higher than the Upper East Side, which had 32 injuries of children at the highest point, and 17 in 2009. Children under 18 make up about 30% of the population of both neighborhoods.

TA concludes children on Manhattan's East Side are three times more likely to be hit by a car in a neighborhood where public housing is nearby.  Just last week, a 12-year-old girl was killed crossing a street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. She was a resident of the Jacob Riis Houses.

The report singles out East 125th Street and Lexington Avenue as the worst intersection in Manhattan for children.

Melissa Mark-Viverito, the New York City Council member who represents East Harlem, called the report "alarming."

"This really just kind of exacerbates the urgency and really demonstrates that particularly in my community, where I represent the most public housing in the city of New York, where I have the most number of developments, that this is a real immediate danger," she said.

She said she will bring together community groups and the NYC DOT to work collaboratively on the problem. Mark-Viverito has also been working with the local community board to bring protected bike lanes to East Harlem -- a project which was recently derailed but she said is expected to go before the board again in March.

In an email, Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives' executive director, said “the NYPD must protect these children and hold dangerous drivers accountable.” The report calls for more targeted enforcement of traffic laws by the NYPD, as well as speed cameras. The group also says other city agencies, like the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as the New York City Housing Authority, need to further study "what neighborhood built environment factors...may drive these neighborhood-based differences in child crash rates."

Transportation Alternatives acknowledges that the DOT has worked hard to make the streets safer. “We’re pushing the NYPD to step up,” said Jennifer So Godzeno, pedestrian advocacy manager.  But, she says, "the NYPD is completely failing to use these penalties. When you look across time, 60% of these crashes are attributable to drivers breaking laws. But we don’t see the NYPD making enforcement of these laws a priority at all.”

No response yet from the NYPD.

 

 

 

 

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