Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

Port Authority Commissioner Kenneth Lipper | Photo: PageSix.com/NYPost

PANYNJ Commissioner Kenneth Lipper | Photo: PageSix.com/NYPost

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

Winners

Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Commissioner Kenneth Lipper  Leading up to the (now-postponed) vote regarding the Port Authority’s financial backing of the 3 World Trade Center tower, Lipper reminded the Board that it will be “triaging necessary transportation improvements to finance what will be an empty building.”

Amalgamated Transit Union and Sierra Club  The two organizations have announced a partnership “to highlight the key role public transit plays in combating climate change and pollution” and declared that May will be Transit Action Month.

New Britain (CT) business owner Nick Augustino  Seeing the benefits that the new CTfastrak busway will provide for his business, Augustino is considering running his own shuttle to get passengers from the New Britain terminal to his restaurant, and is also lobbying for a new secondary bus route that will pass by his restaurant.

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Variable Pricing on the New NY Bridge: No More Breaks for Big Trucks

As the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project sails along, a recent letter in The Journal News called for free crossings for motorists between the off-peak hours from 1 to 5 a.m., to encourage drivers, especially commercial drivers, to travel when there is presumably less congestion.

While the goal to shift vehicles to off-peak hours as a way to reduce congestion has been proven successful in the area, around the country and internationally, with research even showing that non-work travel constitutes up to 56 percent of trips during the a.m. peak travel period and 69 percent of trips during the p.m. peak, the author’s proposed traffic solution misses the mark. The problem here is twofold: First, according the NYSTA’s own consultants, trucks already are not paying their fair share. According to one report, road damage caused by a single 18-wheeler is equivalent to that of 9,600 cars, yet trucks pay “only five times the rate of the average passenger vehicle,” according to NYSTA Executive Director Tom Madison. By some calculations, trucks cause up to 99 percent of all road damage.

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Groups Call for Bus Capital Improvements in PANYNJ’s 2014-2023 Capital Plan

TSTC Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool addressed the media today in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal at a rally for increased funding for bus infrastructure in the PANYNJ capital plan. | Photo: Madeline Marvar

TSTC Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool spoke today outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal at a rally for increased bus infrastructure funding in the PANYNJ capital plan. | Photo: Madeline Marvar

In advance of today’s Port Authority Board Meeting, advocates from community, business, transit, real estate and environmental groups gathered in front of Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal to call for more spending on bus infrastructure in the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s recently approved 2014-2023 Capital Plan.

Nearly 2.6 million buses, which carry over 90 million passengers, travel to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the George Washington Bridge Bus Station every year, but the Port Authority hasn’t allocated any capital funds in its $27.6 billion capital program for badly-needed improvements at these two facilities.

One such improvement, a new West Side Bus Garage, was postponed from the previous capital program. The garage would provide indoor parking for hundreds of NJ Transit and other buses, “sparing dozens of communities on Manhattan’s West Side from the dominating presence of buses on their residential streets.” The lack of a bus garage and an expanded bus terminal puts a strain on local communities contending with idling, parked, and moving buses through their neighborhoods.

According to Christine Berthet, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 4 and also a founder of the Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS), the Midtown West area has long suffered, not just from congestion caused by buses queuing and parking on local streets, but also from bus exhaust. “The asthma rate for our children is the third highest in Manhattan,” Berthet said in a press release.

While the 2014-2023 capital program was approved by the Port Authority board in February 2014, there is an opportunity to modify the agency’s budget and capital program each year as the agency reviews its revenue and costs prior to releasing its annual budget.

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Support TSTC this Earth Day

The UN Climate Panel recently reported that “decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever.” Tri-State’s charge is to spur this political foot-dragging into action in the transportation sector, but we can’t do it alone!

Please consider making an Earth Day donation to support our green advocacy!

Tri-State’s advocacy helps build a resilient and sustainable region by advocating for initiatives such as:

Bus Rapid Transit: Anti-idling measures for buses can reduce emissions by up to 40 percent, while switching to hybrid buses can reduce emissions by as much as 75 percent. Mayor de Blasio promised “world-class BRT” for New York City, and TSTC intends to hold him to his word while also ensuring that BRT is fully implemented in the Tappan Zee Bridge corridor and successfully launched in Connecticut via CTfastrak.

Complete StreetsReplacing car trips with walking or biking trips can reduce annual emissions by up to 12-22 million tons. After a recent win for Complete Streets on the Jersey Shore, we’re now working to ensure that NYSDOT fulfills its Complete Streets mandate for future projects.

Transit-Oriented DevelopmentLocating housing close to transit can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 78 percent. TSTC has led successful efforts to fund TOD projects, and continues to advocate to make TOD a priority across the region.

The transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey and the second largest in New York and Connecticut. Help us do our part in advocating for zero to low-emissions transportation options and reduce the effect of transportation on climate change – support our efforts today!

 

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Proposed Capital Program Bolsters Transit and Smart Growth in Suffolk County

The proposed 2015-2017 Suffolk County Capital Program includes funding that would help the Ronkonkoma Hub TOD project take another step forward. | Image: Newsday

The proposed 2015-2017 Suffolk County Capital Program includes funding that would help the Ronkonkoma Hub TOD project take another step forward. | Image: Newsday

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone proposed a three-year, $789 million capital program last week, which offers a blueprint of priorities for the second half of his first term in office. Although the bulk of the plan focuses on waste water management needs, advocates for sustainable transportation, smart growth and transit-oriented development have much to be happy about.

In a letter accompanying the 2015-2017 program’s release, County Executive Bellone highlights the need to diversify Suffolk County’s transportation system, saying “we need to make it easier and safer for people to travel around Suffolk County, but we cannot grow our economy by simply adding more cars to the road…creating a system which allows residents to move around without having to get in their automobiles.” Some projects that will help ensure Bellone’s rhetoric becomes reality include:

Transit Oriented Development/Smart Growth: In addition to doubling the Downtown Revitalization Program to $500,000, the Program also includes $2.5 million for infrastructure improvements that support workforce housing in downtowns throughout Suffolk County. The funding is available for sidewalks, sewage treatment plants, landscaping and other projects integral to the success of affordable housing projects. The plan also helps the Ronkonkoma Hub project move forward by including $25 million for sewers to support the 1,450-unit TOD project at the Ronkonkoma LIRR station. “Jumpstart Suffolk” also received $2.5 million to fund projects that support place-making, mixed-use housing development and environmental sustainability.

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This Week: Community Planning Workshop for Queens’ First Select Bus Service Route

At long last, SBS is set to descend on dangerous Woodhaven Boulevard. Image: nyc.gov

At long last, SBS is set to descend on dangerous Woodhaven Boulevard. Image: nyc.gov

Since its initial launch in 2008, Select Bus Service (SBS) routes have been increasing the speed of bus service in all boroughs except for Queens.

That’s about to change.

The community engagement process for Queens’ first SBS route, which will run along Woodhaven Boulevard, is now underway. The New York City Department of Transportation and the MTA will be holding a series of public workshops, the first of which is scheduled for Wednesday, April 23 at 6 p.m. at JHS 210 Elizabeth Blackwell, 93-11 101st Avenue in Jamaica, Queens.

This project focuses on converting the limited-stop Q52/53 bus routes that travel along the Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard corridor to SBS. The corridor’s massive width – six central lanes and four service lanes – allows for the potential to employ full-featured bus rapid transit (BRT), complete with exclusive bus lanes in the center median, that could help decrease travel time by 30 percent.

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Camden Night Garden Demonstrates how Public Spaces Can Help Revitalize and Connect Neighborhoods

The Camden Night Garden transformed a vacant plot of land on the Delaware River into a festival of art, music, food and bicycling.

The Camden Night Garden transformed a vacant plot of land on the Delaware River into a festival of art, music, food and bicycling. | Photo: Courier-Post Online

Over 3,000 local residents and visitors came out to bike, dance, eat and celebrate at the Camden Night Garden on the Delaware River waterfront in Camden (NJ) last night. The event, which was sponsored by Cooper’s Ferry Partnership and Nuit Blanche New York, with funding from the William Penn Foundation, highlighted the power of transforming abandoned or underutilized spaces into places where people can walk, bicycle and spend time outdoors.

A BMX biker from Bulldog Bikes performs tricks with the Philadelphia skyline in the background.

A BMX biker from Bulldog Bikes performs tricks with the Philadelphia skyline in the background. | Photo: Cooper’s Ferry Partnership

The site of the event, which was previously home to the New Jersey Riverfront State Prison, has sat vacant since the prison was demolished in 2010. The 15-acre plot of land is directly adjacent to the Ben Franklin Bridge in North Camden and includes a section of trail that will eventually become part of the Circuit regional trail network, connecting the North Camden waterfront to downtown Camden, Philadelphia and beyond.

Public spaces that are designed to reflect the needs and desires of local residents don’t just provide recreational opportunities; they can also help to revitalize neighborhoods and improve public safety. While long-term plans for the site have yet to be decided, the Camden Night Garden allowed local residents to envision a future North Camden where waterfront trails connect residents to new public spaces, including Pyne Poynt Park, which is currently being rehabilitated. With the City’s commitment to complete streets and plans for new bike lanes throughout the area, residents will soon find improved access to the Delaware River Waterfront, which has been largely inaccessible to the public for more than half a century.

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Nassau County: Ready for Speed Cameras

The Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved a home rule message in support of speed camera enforcement yesterday. The home rule message serves to formally endorse a New York State bill that would authorize 56 speed cameras for Nassau County (one for each of Nassau County’s school districts).

speed-camera

Nassau County took a critical step toward getting speed enforcement cameras yesterday. | Photo: CBS 2

Nassau County is home to some of the deadliest roads to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in the region. According to a TSTC analysis of federal data, 88 pedestrians were killed along roads in Nassau County between 2010 and 2012. According to Governor Cuomo’s Traffic Safety Committee, 185 motorists and passengers, and 13 cyclists were killed during the same time period.

There were over 100,000 crashes from 2010-2012, roughly 70 percent of which the Nassau County Police Department was the lead investigating agency. Yet speeding tickets made up only 11 percent of all tickets issued during the same time period, a number that is shockingly low to anyone who has driven Nassau County’s roadways, where drivers often speed without consequence.

Nassau County has taken significant steps to combat dangerous driving with better enforcement. In 2009, the New York State Legislature, at the County’s request, authorized red light cameras for 50 intersections in Nassau County, and in 2013, the County adopted a Complete Streets policy.

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Metro-North Survey Provides Insight into Westchester’s Emerging Mobility Needs

The Harlem Line's third track is part of the reason why Westchester job centers have had success in attracting reverse commuters. | Photo: Peter Ehrlich

The Harlem Line’s third track is part of the reason why Westchester job centers have had success in attracting reverse commuters. | Photo: Peter Ehrlich

Starting in 2007, the MTA undertook customer surveys on Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road, as well as in New York City (for New York City Transit). As MTR previously reported, the MTA’s New York City survey showed large income and age differences between bus and subway riders.

The 2007 Metro-North on-board survey — the railroad’s first origins and destinations survey — highlights the differences between those traveling from Westchester County to Manhattan (for both work and non-work purposes) and those traveling to and within Westchester. The survey had a 45 percent response rate, with 206,000 surveys distributed and 93,000 returned. The survey asked riders about the trips they were taking at the time surveyed, and riders’ planned return trips.

While work travel from Westchester to Manhattan comprised the largest share of the railroad’s passengers — 60 percent — more than one in five Metro-North passengers surveyed were either traveling from New York City into Westchester or traveling within Westchester (what the survey calls “Intermediate Travel”).

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Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

Photo: nyc.gov

NYC Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg | Photo: nyc.gov

A weekly roundup of good deeds, missteps, heroic feats and epic failures in the tri-state region and beyond.

WINNERS

New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto – With the state’s Transportation Trust Fund “run dry, starved of revenue for close to 20 years”, Assembly Speaker Prieto has joined Tri-State and other advocates in calling for a “modernization” of the state’s gas tax, which is currently the second lowest in the country.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone – As the benefits of sustainable, transit-oriented development are becoming more widely acknowledged on Long Island and with success stories such as the rebirth of previously downtrodden downtown Patchogue Village, it’s no surprise that County Executive Bellone would double the amount of funding available for downtown revitalization projects from $250,000 in 2013 to $500,000 for 2014.

New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg – Commissioner Trottenberg made a strong leap from rhetoric into action last week as she announced Atlantic Avenue is to became the first arterial slow zone in New York – “We’re going to be demonstrating our commitment today to Vision Zero and declaring once again the de Blasio administration wants to reduce fatalities across New York City.” Though the speed limit reduction is slight, officials say that New York City police officers will also zero in on traffic violations in the area, and there is still hope for speed cameras to be added to the project.

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