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TRANSIT SYSTEM NEWS
The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) has preliminary approved the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) application for a $967 million loan to install positive train control (PTC) technology for Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Commuter Railroad. By law, railroads are expected to implement PTC systems, which prevent collisions and derailments by ensuring that trains are not travelling at excessive speeds, by Dec. 31, 2015.
Pedestrians at New York City intersections will receive warnings when a bus is turning — from the bus itself — under a pilot program being developed by the MTA. The pre-recorded safety messages will be played through speakers mounted on the exteriors of buses in the program, which is expected to be launched in the fall. Transit agencies in a handful of U.S. cities have either adopted or are testing it, including Los Angeles, Portland and Baltimore. The two leading providers are ProTran, based in Newtown, N.J., and Clever Devices, headquartered in Long Island.
The New York Thruway Authority's inability to place in location a long-term plan to pay for the new Tappan Zee Bridge has left commuters in limbo and politicians staking out ground on each sides of the Hudson. Transportation advocates, meanwhile, have questioned the Cuomo administration's ardor to develop a mass transit element for the new bridge, in spite of the governor's commitment of $20 million for the bus fast-transit project in April. It would include things like state-of-the-art buses, bus stations, some committed bus lanes, and a unified fare structure.
The chairman of the House Transportation Committee says passing a bill to pay for America's aging roads and bridges will be a top priority next year, but he is ruling out a gasoline tax increase or motorist user fees as the way to do it. Rep. Bill Shuster, whose committee is working with the House Ways and Means Committee to figure out a funding solution, said a long-term highway bill may be paid by repatriating offshore corporate taxes or from oil exploration and production offshore and on federal lands — proposals that supporters of a gas tax hike contend aren't long-term answers.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he will introduce legislation when the new session of Congress convenes this month to authorize a $1 trillion, multi-year program to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges and invest in other infrastructure modernization projects. The investment not only would begin to address a growing backlog of badly-needed repairs, it also would put 13 million Americans to work at decent-paying jobs, according to Sanders, who will take over this month as the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
More than 2.7 billion trips were taken on US public transportation in the third quarter of 2014, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This is a 1.8 per cent increase over the same quarter last year, representing an increase of more than 48 million trips and the highest third quarter ridership since 1974 (the oldest third quarter APTA has available for comparison). Some public transit systems that reported record third quarter ridership for their entire system or for a specific line are located in: Albany; Ann Arbor; Birmingham; Denver; Minneapolis; New York City (Metro North); Oakland; St. Petersburg; Peoria; Seattle; and Wenatchee.
OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
Auto sales may be on the uptick and the demand for more highways remains high, but proponents of transportation alternatives to single-passenger vehicles still say car ownership is slowly disappearing from the urban landscape. "I haven't seen any evidence that driving is picking back up again," said Danny Katz, executive director of Colorado Public Interest Research Group, a non-profit advocacy group. CoPIRG and other organizations argue that mass transit is slowly eclipsing car ownership in the United States.TRAINING AND EVENTS
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