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Send Us Your Nominations for the Sorriest Bus Stop in America

Last year's winner: this sorry bus stop in greater St. Louis

Last year’s winner, a very sorry bus stop on Lindbergh Boulevard in greater St. Louis.

Streetsblog’s “Sorriest Bus Stop in America” contest is back by popular demand.

Last year, readers nominated dozens of forlorn bus stops to call attention to the daily indignities and dangers that bus riders have to put up with. This sad, windswept patch of grass between two highway-like roads in a St. Louis inner suburb took the prize.

We’ve been hearing from readers and transit advocates who want another shot to name and shame the public agencies who’ve let bus stops go to seed. So the Sorriest Bus Stop competition is back. (If you have a great bus stop you want to recognize, don’t worry, we’ll cover that in a different competition later this year.)

We’ll be doing the contest as a Parking Madness-style, 16-entry single elimination bracket. Below is an early submission from downtown Austin and reader Chris McConnell, who says, “This has to be the saddest #busstop in Austin. It has no shade, no seating, and no stop ID for checking times. AND it’s at the main transfer point downtown. FAIL.”

Read more…

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DOT Bike Planning Starts From Scratch in Clinton Hill

So long, Clinton Avenue Greenway. Image: DOT

The Clinton Avenue Greenway is not going to happen. Image: DOT

After withdrawing its plan for a two-way protected bike lane on Clinton Avenue last month, DOT will start over with a series of public workshops to develop a new plan for walking and biking safety in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene.

DOT Bicycle and Greenway Program Director Ted Wright shared the news at last night’s Community Board 2 transportation committee meeting.

At the same meeting, the committee declined to endorse a new signalized crosswalk at the Jay Street exit ramp from the Manhattan Bridge, one of the final elements in the agency’s plan for a protected bike lane on Jay Street.

Wright said the purpose of the upcoming meetings will be to develop a new plan for bike and pedestrian safety in the neighborhood. “Everything is on the table. This is not just going to be us talking about Clinton Avenue again,” he said. “It’s a full scale re-look at the entire process.”

Read more…

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Columbus Wins $50 Million “Smart City” Grant. What Put It Over the Top?

Columbus has been chosen to help pioneer innovation in transportation technology. Image: Columbus

U.S. DOT chose Columbus to model how new technologies can improve urban transportation. Image: City of Columbus

U.S. DOT announced the winner of its $50 million “Smart City” grant yesterday, and Columbus, Ohio, bested finalists San Francisco, Portland, Austin, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Denver for the prize. Many other cities had applied for this federal funding to demonstrate how new technologies can improve urban streets and transportation.

In its application, Columbus focused on improving job access for low-income residents via shared cars and self-driving buses. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland considered the winning bid from the perspective of his city’s close-but-no-cigar application. Here’s what he thinks set Columbus apart:

Though many of the elements of Columbus’s proposal are similar to Portland’s ultimately unsuccessful one — a multimodal mobility app, electric vehicle charging stations — two things jump out as being absent from Portland’s proposal:

• Local Columbus companies pledged $90 million of their own investment in smart transportation technology as part of the matching-fund total.

It’s hard to say how much of this is just clever repackaging of money that would have been spent anyway, but it’s a very impressive sum. Portland’s application drew lots of letters of support but no local financial commitments like that.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Clinton Ave Bike Lane Not Happening in Any Form (Bklyn Paper)
  • Maybe If Cuomo Reduced Crowding, Fewer Sex Crimes Would Be Committed on the Subway (News, Post)
  • Red Light-Running Green Cab Driver Rams Another Car Onto Rego Park Sidewalk, Injuring 2 Peds (DNA)
  • The Daily News Can Declare Victory in Its War on Elmo and Painted Breasts (NYT, Crain’s, DNA)
  • Brooklyn Heights Residents Fancy the Notion of a Streetcar But Don’t Want to Pay for It (DNA)
  • City Council Votes to Allow Retail in Water Street Arcades (Crain’s)
  • Survivor Recounts Sudden Violence of High-Speed Crash in East Village Three Years Ago (News)
  • Video: Sociopaths With Cars on the LIE (News)
  • All You Need to Do to Keep Cars Out of a Lincoln Tunnel Traffic Lane Is Move a Few Cones (Post)
  • Frequent Service Matters (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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MTA Says Proof of Payment May Increase Fare Evasion, History Says Otherwise

The introduction of the MTA's "Eagle Team," which checks for fare compliance on city bus routes, has resulted in a decrease in fare evasion. Image: MTA

The introduction of proof of payment on Select Bus Service routes has resulted in less fare evasion, not more. Image: MTA

Last week, transit advocates called on the MTA to ensure that its next-generation fare payment system allows for “electronic proof of payment” on buses. By enabling bus riders to board without dipping a farecard or carrying a paper receipt, such a system would simplify and speed up the boarding process, saving passengers time on every route in the city.

In response, the MTA cited the “threat of fare evasion” as a reason not to embrace electronic proof of payment. But experience suggests there’s no cause for concern. In fact, in San Francisco and right here in New York, proof of payment systems have led to less fare evasion, not more.

New York’s Select Bus Service routes rely on proof of payment via ticket vending machines and paper receipts to speed up trips. To ensure people don’t cheat the system, inspectors occasionally check for receipts on board. The MTA’s own data show that on these routes, fare evasion is lower with the proof of payment system than without — between 50 and 80 percent lower, depending on the route.

The experience has been similar in San Francisco, where the SF Municipal Transportation Agency implemented proof of payment and all-door boarding on its bus lines in 2012. A 2014 SFMTA report on all-door boarding showed that fare evasion continued to decline after the new fare system was implemented. The rate decreased from 9.5 percent to 7.9 percent between 2009 and 2014.

Read more…

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Massive Highway Expansion Threatens to Destroy Tampa Neighborhoods

Grassroots advocates have waged a dogged campaign against Tampa's plan to add $6 billion in highway lanes. Now they're starting to gain key political support. Photo: Sunshine Citizens

Grassroots advocates have picked up key political support in their campaign against Florida DOT’s $6 billion plan to widen 90 miles of highways around Tampa. Photo: Sunshine Citizens

Most people still think of Tampa as a sprawling, car-centric town, but that is starting to change. In 2014, Smart Growth America [PDF] found that Tampa is shifting toward a more walkable development pattern. The city is starting to build out a bicycle network, and its Riverwalk project is bringing people out to stroll downtown.

Tampa’s recent progress could be overwhelmed, however, by Florida DOT’s $6 billion Tampa Bay Express project, a 90-mile road widening scheme that will chew up city neighborhoods to add toll lanes to three interstates. Information about the project’s finances is hazy, and Florida DOT has proven that its traffic projections for toll road projects are worthless. Neverthless, regional decision makers are set to take up the plan this week.

On Wednesday, the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization will vote on Tampa Bay Express.

Tampa's centrally located Seminole Heights historic neighborhood, a former streetcar community filled with charming bungalows, has begun to see reinvestment after decades of decline, but a $6 billion highway plan could deliver another blog. Photo: Wikpedia

Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood is threatened by FDOT’s $6 billion highway widening plan. Photo: Wikipedia

If the highway widenings are built, Governor Rick Scott’s state DOT will seize properties to ram through the new lanes. Of the residents who’ll be uprooted, 80 percent are black or Latino, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Sprawling development is sure to follow. “You would see a weakening of the trend toward the revitalization of in-town neighborhoods and instead new housing stock farther and farther from the urban core,” said Thomas Hawkins of the smart growth advocacy group 1000 Friends of Florida.

But there’s a chance the highway plan will be defeated, thanks to a grassroots coalition known as Sunshine Citizens that has pushed back against Florida DOT’s agenda.

“For $6 billion we could have a truly multimodal, comprehensive transportation system,” said Michelle Cookson, a leader of Sunshine Citizens who lives in Seminole Heights, one of the neighborhoods that will be affected by the widening. “We know this is the absolute worst choice for us.”

Read more…

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Antonio Reynoso: DOT Should Forge Ahead With Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza

A one-day trial of the Myrtle-Wyckoff plaza worked wonderfully. Council Member Antonio Reynoso wants it to be permanent. Photo: David Meyer

Council Member Antonio Reynoso wants DOT to move forward with its safety plan at the busy Myrtle-Wyckoff transit hub, with or without the endorsement of the local community board.

Photo: NYC Council

Photo: NYC Council

Last Wednesday, Brooklyn Community 4 voted against DOT’s plan, which would dramatically reduce potential conflicts between drivers and pedestrians and create a car-free plaza on one block of Wyckoff Avenue between Myrtle and Gates [PDF]. The transportation committee of Queens Community Board 5, which serves the north side of the future plaza, will vote on the project this evening.

Since 2009, three pedestrians have been killed by turning drivers at the location. Minor changes implemented after Ella Bandes was struck and killed by a turning bus driver in 2013 failed to prevent the 2014 death of Edgar Torres, who was also struck by an MTA bus driver while he had the right of way.

Reynoso commended DOT’s plan, which he called “amazing,” on a phone call yesterday.

“I’ve been asking ever since I’ve been an elected official that we figure out a way to deal with this Myrtle-Wyckoff intersection and how dangerous it is,” he said. “The changes we made were progress but they didn’t stop one more person from dying.”

The community board voted against the project because it would reroute buses, according to CB 4 District Manager Nadine Whitted. But the safety improvements at the six-legged intersection won’t be possible without adjusting the routes of the B26 and Q55.

Read more…

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New Transit Line Can Stitch St. Louis Together. But Can It Beat Parochialism?

A north-south Metrolink line is just what the St. Louis region needs, says Alex Ihnen. Map via NextSTL

A north-south Metrolink line is just what the St. Louis region needs, says Alex Ihnen. Map via NextSTL

It’s been 20 years now since planners in the St. Louis region first envisioned a north-south route for the Metrolink rail system. The region’s rail system is currently oriented in an east-west pattern.

Outgoing St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay recently made a move to advance a transit project that would improve access to jobs for residents of economically struggling areas north and south of the city. Slay is seeking a $500,000 FTA grant to study the rail line.

But the political rivalries that have made St. Louis a poster child for regional dysfunction are already surfacing. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger refused to support the city’s application because, he said, the north-south line will “divide” the region.

That is absurd, writes Alex Ihnen at NextSTL:

Fixating on the issue that a north-south line would likely use a different technology than existing heavy rail MetroLink, Stenger states, “Transportation should not divide us. A light rail decision that would further fragment our region is not in our best interests.” This is a logically torturous, myopic, and simply wrong view of the function of transit…

So what in the hell is Stenger thinking? He’s playing the classic role of political “leader” in our fractured region. He hangs his argument on representing “more than one million citizens” and St. Louis County being the largest local funder of Bi-State [Development, the agency that runs Metro-Link]. In short, it’s ours-ours-ours and who cares about what a transit system is, or how it could affect the region. In that respect, his opposition is somewhat predictable, and yet still absurd.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Hope for Move NY Next Year? Staten Island Republican Andrew Lanza Supports Modified Version (Crain’s)
  • Fallback Traffic Reduction Plan: Bribe a Few NYPD Officers (Post)
  • Driver Killed 70-Year-Old Man Walking Across Atlantic Ave at Clinton Street Sunday Night (DNA)
  • Engineer: Finishing 2nd Ave Subway in 2016 Will Take “Unprecedented Performance” (AMNY)
  • Contractor Schiavone Construction Isn’t Staffing 2nd Ave Subway Work Sites Properly (News, Post)
  • New Select Bus Service Routes Launching This Year: M23, B46, Q70 (AMNY)
  • Daily News: Make the Q70 a Free Link to LaGuardia
  • More Victims Are Coming Forward to Report Sex Crimes on the Subway (DNA, NewsNY1, AMNY)
  • Ydanis Rodriguez Hasn’t Been Confirmed to MTA Board (WNYC)
  • Recent Carnage: Motorcyclist Killed in Crash, Stolen Cab “Joyride” Ends in Bloody Wreck (News 1, 2)
  • To Catch a Bike Thief, It Helps to Have Photos of You on Your Missing Bike (Velojoy)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Brooklyn CB 4 Not Sold on Myrtle-Wyckoff Safety Overhaul Despite Lives Lost

The city held a successful one-day plaza at the location in April. Photo: David Meyer

A successful one-day plaza in April also wasn’t enough to convince the community board that the streets around the Myrtle-Wyckoff transit hub need to change. Photo: David Meyer

Three people have been killed by turning drivers at the crowded Myrtle-Wyckoff transit hub since 2009, and the local community board still won’t vote for a city plan to improve pedestrian safety at the complex six-legged intersection.

Last Wednesday, Brooklyn Community Board 4 declined to endorse DOT’s plan to simplify the intersection and create a car-free plaza on one block of Wyckoff Avenue between Myrtle and Gates [PDF]. Since the project straddles the Brooklyn-Queens border, DOT will also seek a vote from Queens Community Board 5’s transportation committee tomorrow evening.

People outnumber vehicles three-to-one at the Myrtle-Wyckoff intersection, which is located at the convergence of two subway lines and six bus routes. The current configuration leads to too many conflicts between drivers and pedestrians: Three pedestrians were killed there between 2009 and 2014.

Two and a half years ago, hundreds of people gathered at the intersection to remember Ella Bandes, who was struck and killed by a bus driver in 2013, and call for safety improvements. Minor changes afterward were not enough to prevent the death of Edgar Torres, who had the right of way when he was struck and killed by a turning MTA bus driver in 2014.

Making a block of Wyckoff car-free would do what previous adjustments could not: give pedestrians safe passage between the train and the Ridgewood Bus Terminal on Palmetto Street. Turning movements would be dramatically simplified, reducing potential conflicts.

CB 4 District Manager Nadine Whitted could not provide a vote tally from Wednesday’s meeting but said only two board members sided in favor of the project. Whitted did not explain why the board rejected the project other than to say members did not like the “bus reroutes,” by which she was presumably referring to the B26, which currently utilizes the block of Wyckoff that would be pedestrianized.

Read more…