Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

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

New York State Senator Jose Peralta | Photo: nysenate.gov

New York State Senator Jose Peralta | Photo: nysenate.gov

WINNERS

New York State Senator Jose Peralta — Despite loud opposition in recent weeks from other Queens electeds, State Senator Jose Peralta of Queens became the first state senator to outright support the Move New York toll reform plan.

U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) — The Senators have reintroduced their Innovation in Surface Transportation plan, a bipartisan bill that “would give local officials more control over the transportation planning process in their states and communities.”

New York Legislative transit champions  The State Senate has released their budget resolutions, which like the Assembly also include increases to statewide transit spending. The Assembly has also updated its resolutions to include $100 million for Bus Rapid Transit projects, a portion of which will help support Staten Island’s North Shore BRT, thanks to Assemblymembers Michael Cusick and Matthew Titone.

State Farm Insurance — The firm is aligning its future planning at three major sites to concentrate its employees near transit to create a “live-work-play environment that will give employees easy access to their work from the neighboring communities.”

Village of Hempstead, NY — Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. has attributed the village’s vitality to its proximity to a transit hub, which in turn spurred a major downtown revitalization project.

» Continue reading…

Westchester Sets Affordable Housing Precedent in Harrison Development

Renderings for the AvalonBay transit-oriented development proposed for downtown Harrison | Photo: Avalon Bay

After months of press events and testimony at MTA board hearings calling for the inclusion of affordable housing in a transit-oriented development (TOD) project in Harrison, the Westchester Workforce Housing Coalition applauded a cooperative agreement between the MTA, the project developer, […]

Transit-Oriented Development Is Key to Making Long Island More Affordable

N-S Housing_TransportationAccording to a recent report by “research engine” FindTheBest, the Nassau-Suffolk metro region is the nation’s most expensive place to live—a claim Long Islanders probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear. The rankings were based on a cost of living index based on six indices—housing, taxes, healthcare, childcare, transportation and “other necessities”—and while the report acknowledges that the Nassau-Suffolk metro “doesn’t have any nationwide highs for individual indices,” all six factors combined give it the top ranking.

The study found that in the Nassau-Suffolk metro area, monthly housing costs averaged $2,029—more than twice the national average of $965, and even more costly than the New York Metro Area, which averaged $1,600—and monthly transportation costs were roughly the same as the national average at approximately $450. Considering Long Island already has the makings of an extensive, albeit disjointed, multi-modal transit network in place, this is all the more reason for Nassau and Suffolk Counties to capitalize on that network by investing in interconnectivity of transportation options and prioritizing transit-oriented development (TOD) with affordable housing components. This hefty one-two punch would reduce the monthly costs of both housing and transportation by reducing dependency on cars and suburban sprawl, making Long Island a more attractive and more affordable place for residents and visitors.

» Continue reading…

Thursday Winners (& Losers)

We’re sorry to deliver Winners & Losers a day late  we were busy getting our annual analysis out. Have you seen it?

New York City Councilmember Brad Lander (top) and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson  (bottom) | Photos: NYTimes (top) and WNYC (bottom)

New York City Councilmember Brad Lander (top) and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson (bottom) | Photos: Karsten Moran/NYTimes (top) and Stephen Nessen/WNYC (bottom)

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

WINNERS

New York City Councilman Mark Levine — Disappointing politics have limited 125th Street bus lanes to the east of Lenox Avenue, but Councilman Levine is fighting back by launching a petition to bring service west of Lenox.

Sea Bright, NJ bicyclists — The town council passed a resolution in support of NJDOT’s Route 36 traffic signing and striping concept plans, which includes both north- and southbound bike lanesconnecting existing bike routes in surrounding towns.

Hartford and New Haven – Job growth is on the rise in Connecticut’s urban cores – a good sign for CTfastrak and Hartford Line ridership — while Connecticut suburbs are losing jobs.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – Mayor de Blasio has pledged $250 million to improve four of New York City’s most dangerous outer-borough arterials.

New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson — Despite strong pushback from legislators opposed to NYC’s Right of Way law, Lander and Thompson are seeking harsher penalties for drivers who injure or kill pedestrians or bicyclists, and have announced a Driver Accountability Task Force.

Farmingdale, NY Village Board — The village board unanimously approved a proposal to rezone downtown for mixed-use development, giving the green-light to a Farmingdale transit-oriented development project.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. — Ahead of the four new Bronx Metro-North stations announced in Governor Cuomo’s Opportunity Agenda, the Borough President is calling for areas near the stations to be rezoned for transit-oriented development.

» Continue reading…

Wednesday Winners (& Losers)

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

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. | Photo: bronxboropres.nyc.gov

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. | Photo: bronxboropres.nyc.gov

WINNERS

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. — During his State of the Borough speech, Diaz called on the state to stop dragging its feet and redevelop the Sheridan Expressway.

Hicksville commuters — Governor Cuomo has announced a $120 million improvement project for the Hicksville LIRR stationthe busiest station on Long Island.

Fair Haven, NJ Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli — The bike-friendly mayor is taking his campaign for streets safety to Washington to participate in the USDOT’s Mayors’ Challenge.

Ossining Village Board of Trustees  Ossining has adopted a Complete Streets policy which will take effect immediately.

New Rochelle, NY — The City Council has approved two development projects near the town’s Metro-North station, which will include affordable housing.

Metro-North riders — By mid-April, all Metro-North conductors will carry credit card machines.

Statewide transit riders — On Thursday, state and local electeds came together at separate events in Buffalo and in Yonkers for a unified call to action: the State must prioritize funding for statewide transit systems.

New York City road users — WNYC analysis of NYC’s speed camera program has found that the program is improving safety, as both tickets and crashes have decreased in areas with cameras.

» Continue reading…

State and Local Electeds Join Transit Operators and Advocates in Urging Governor Cuomo to Support Statewide Transit

New York State Assemblymember Shelley Mayer

New York State Assemblymember Shelley Mayer

Yesterday morning in Westchester, a group of more than 30 elected officials, transit users, transit operators and transportation advocates braved the bitter cold for a press conference to call on Governor Cuomo to increase funding in his Executive Budget to support statewide public transit systems, which face a collective need of $33 billion over the next five years.

Transit ridership across New York is at an all-time high, yet Albany’s investment is not rising to the occasion—the proposed 2015-2016 Executive Budget keeps operating assistance flat at 2014-2015 levels for all non-MTA transit systems. The advocates and electeds called for more than $140 million in new operating aid investment for non-MTA transportation systems, and also called for a fully-funded MTA Capital Program.

The Westchester stakeholders have a vested interest in transit investment because of the role transit plays in both the urban and suburban areas of the county. Bee-Line, considered to be the ‘backbone‘ of county employment, is one of the country’s largest suburban transit programs, providing nearly 33 million trips annually, according to Assemblymember Shelley Mayer. Yet despite a 3.5 percent increase in ridership from 2011 to 2013, state operating support has leveled out, leaving riders to shoulder the burden. Tri-State’s Veronica Vanterpool testified that “Every dollar invested by Westchester County into Bee-Line yields $23 in economic activity and supports 1,260 jobs. Few other investments yield this rate of return while also reducing traffic congestion and pollution, spurring transit-oriented development, and creating equitable communities.”

And given the role of Metro-North in supporting housing, employment and economic development across Westchester, lawmakers and advocates are refusing to settle for anything less than a fully-funded MTA Capital Program so that Metro-North riders can be ensured safe, reliable service in the future. Nearly $3 billion of the five-year Program is slated for Metro-North improvements.

» Continue reading…

Technology Can Help, but Transit and Walkability Are Keys to Reducing Automobile Dependence

A new report from USPIRG, The Innovative Transportation Index: Cities Where New Technologies and Tools Can Reduce Your Need to Own a Car, examines “technology-enabled transportation services” which, its authors suggest, “make it easier to conveniently get around without owning a car.” The report’s Executive Summary begins

“Rapid technological advances have enabled the creation of new transportation tools that make it possible for more Americans to live full and engaged lives without owning a car.”

There’s no doubt that car ownership isn’t required for living a “full and engaged” life. In fact, in some cities car ownership can be more of a hassle than a convenience. But are these tools, like Uber, Zipcar, bike share, and apps like NextBus really what makes a car-free lifestyle possible, or are there other factors at work?

To get a better understanding, we looked up the numbers on zero-car households for the top 20 (of 70) cities included in the Innovative Transportation Index (percentage of households that don’t own cars in parentheses):

pirg-tech-report

  1. Austin  (6.5)
  2. San Francisco  (31.4)
  3. Washington  (37.9)
  4. Boston  (36.9)
  5. Los Angeles  (13.6)
  6. New York  (56.5)
  7. Portland  (15.3)
  8. Denver  (11.7)
  9. Minneapolis  (19.7)
  10. San Diego  (7.4)
  11. Seattle  (16.6)
  12. Dallas  (10.1)
  13. Columbus  (10)
  14. Chicago  (27.9)
  15. Houston  (10.1)
  16. Miami  (26.7)
  17. Milwaukee  (19.9)
  18. Tampa (6.6*)
  19. Nashville  (8.5)
  20. Orlando  (4.9**)

The result is a mixed bag. While cities like New York, Washington and Boston, where more than a third of households are car-free, appear in the Innovative Transportation Index’s top 20, so do cities like Austin, Nashville and San Diego, where fewer than 10 percent of households do not own cars. It’s not clear that new transportation technology is having much of an impact in reducing car ownership.

Given that many of these new technologies are only a few years old, we thought we’d also look to see what direction these cities are headed in. Austin, Columbus and Dallas, for example, may not be leading the pack of cities with the most zero-car households , but could they be headed in that direction?

» Continue reading…

New Camden Development Must Prioritize Transit and Active Transportation

Subaru plans to move its U.S. headquarters to the Gateway Office Park site in Camden, NJ. Image Source: Philadelphia Business Journal

Subaru plans to move its U.S. headquarters to the Gateway Office Park site in Camden, NJ. Image Source: Philadelphia Business Journal

It was recently reported that car maker Subaru of America will be moving its national headquarters to Camden, New Jersey, bringing along 500 of its employees who currently work in Cherry Hill and Pennsauken, NJ. The company has also pledged to add 100 new jobs to the new headquarters in the next two years. Subaru will become the anchor tenant of a vast tract of land known as the “Gateway Office Park” owned by Campbell’s Soup, which is based adjacent to the site.

With such significant new development in this section of the city, it is imperative that the City of Camden continues to work with developer Brandywine Realty Trust, and with Subaru and Campbell’s, to promote access to nearby transit and active transportation amenities. The development site is just over half a mile from the Walter Rand Transportation Center, which houses the Broadway PATCO High Speed Line station, NJ Transit RiverLINE and 25 NJ Transit bus lines – not to mention the planned Glassboro-Camden light rail and South Jersey Bus Rapid Transit lines. The new offices will also be adjacent to existing and planned Circuit walking and biking trails. By using transit and trails, employees can quickly and easily travel to and from downtown Camden, Philadelphia, Trenton and the surrounding South Jersey suburbs.

The development is also adjacent to two major highways, so it will be essential for the site and surrounding area to be designed in a way that promotes transit usage and active transportation. In order for this to be successful, the following must occur:

» Continue reading…

All Aboard the “Hartford Line”

Central Connecticut’s forthcoming commuter rail system, until today known as the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Program, is being branded as the “Hartford Line” according to a press release from Governor Malloy’s office today.

This is the second time Connecticut officials have rebranded a transportation service in the years prior to launching. In 2012, the State officially renamed […]

Revitalizing Sunrise Highway: WALC Recommendations

sunrisehwySunrise Highway has long been a safety concern for residents of Nassau County, and the news that the New York State Department of Transportation was to focus on safety improvements along the notoriously dangerous roadway — which saw eight pedestrian deaths, 94 collisions involving motorists and pedestrians and 32 collisions involving motorists and bicyclists between 2010 and 2012 — was well-received. However, NYSDOT had undertaken the planning process for a $3.8 million pedestrian safety plan for Sunrise Highway without any local community input.

AARP New York, in partnership with Vision Long Island and Tri-State, reached out to the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute (WALC) to conduct three walking audits with community members along the highway. In June, internationally-renowned traffic safety expert Dan Burden led Nassau County elected officials, planners, advocates and residents through Valley Stream, Baldwin and Freeport, guiding the group through an in-depth examination of how design directly impacts behavior on roadways and discussing ideas to make Sunrise Highway safe for all users. WALC then gathered the input, along with Dan Burden’s observations, and generated a series of recommendations for how to transform the corridor into a Complete Street.

» Continue reading…