Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Citizen journalists on prowl for train and bus operators asleep at wheel. FOX News. July 16, 2009.

"Several high-profile public transportation accidents and a lack of a national, regional or local surveillance system to monitor the operators of the nation's public transportation have prompted a flood of citizen journalists to try to capture operators asleep at the wheel or texting."

LIRR campaign aims to stop 'suicide by train'. newsday.com/long-island. July 23, 2009.

"The Long Island Rail Road has launched a public campaign to directly address a tragic problem that for years was a taboo topic—suicide by train. LIRR president Helena Williams, who also is interim chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Wednesday announced that the agency has joined with two Long Island suicide prevention organizations to create a pilot program aimed at combating the number of suicides on the railroad's tracks."

Metro rolls out big red RapidRide bus design: New federal funding to help service start next year. SEATTLEPI.COM. May 4, 2009.

"King County Metro Transit rolled out sleek new buses for its planned RapidRide routes Monday and announced $13.8 million in new federal funding to help the service start next year.
'This is a transit-happy city,' Matthew Welbes, executive director and acting deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, said in front of the new red-and-yellow, articulated bus Monday morning."

The Costliest Ride: Transportation service for the disabled can be a budget-buster. Cities are looking at a variety of new approaches. governing.com. July 2009.

"In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a city of just over 150,000 people, almost half of the annual public transit budget doesn't go for buses, or trolleys, or any newfangled light-rail system. It goes for vans—to provide mobility to disabled people who can't use the regular vehicles. These riders receive curbside service outside their homes, and are dropped off at their destination of choice, at a cost to Sioux Falls of $25.61 per trip. Every sizable city has some version of this program. It’s called paratransit."

Mass transit and smart growth save time, $ and the environment. dailykos.com. July 8, 2009.

"One of the primary assumptions of the so-called 'Smart Growth' movement has long been that smart growth, combined with expenditures on mass transit (especially transit such as light rail or streetcar that encourage 'choice' riders who might otherwise drive) save everyone time and money and protect the environment. The latest statistics from the Texas Transportation Institute show this to be the case. This diary will briefly describe Oregon's land use system as it applies to Smart Growth and our investments in public transportation, along with their impacts."

Beacon Hill's light-rail station filled with colorful art. Seattle Times. June 23, 2009.

"By the time your light-rail train arrives at Beacon Hill Station, you've already taken a trip.
From the street, one of four elevators will speed you roughly 16 stories down. When the doors open, look ahead to the screen showing video from the Hubble Space Telescope, and images from an artist's microscope. Stars appear on a midnight-blue porcelain ceiling. Above the boarding platform, luminous mobiles hang, in an artwork titled 'Space Forms.' A purple starship, a spotted red dragon, green jellyfish. Are they aliens or bacteria?"

'Transit Cities' face roadblocks. New York Times. June 21, 2009.

"The state's emphasis on 'transit-oriented development,' most particularly with its 10-year-old Transit Village program, has brought transformative change in city after city along commuter rail lines...By providing planning models and incentives for developers to create mixed-use projects around transit stations, New Jersey has established a national reputation among planners for its 'smart growth' approach. And for a long time, the program's momentum seemed unstoppable. Then came the roadblock of a severely strained economy. As Jeffrey Otteau, a residential analyst, put it in a recent interview, 'Nothing has been able to escape the economic and financial collapse we’ve seen over the last year — transit-oriented development included'".

US Railcar to Resume Production of Former Colorado Railcar DMU. July 2009

"Private investors affiliated with Value Recovery Group, Inc. (VRG) of Columbus, OH, have acquired the Colorado Railcar DMU and will resume manufacturing this modern domestically produced passenger train in a new manufacturing facility to be established later this year pending state/local incentives and final round investments. Assets acquired by US Railcar include the former Colorado Railcar DMU proprietary rights and information, manufacturing documentation, inventory, and other equipment necessary for production."

Muni floats plan to pull hundreds of S.F. stops. SFgate.com. June 11, 2009.

"Hundreds of bus and street car stops could be eliminated in San Francisco under a proposal unveiled Wednesday by Municipal Railway officials to speed transit travel. 'This will be controversial,' said Muni chief Nathaniel Ford. It also would be one of the cheapest ways to improve Muni's on-time performance, which hit a record-high 74.5 percent in the latest reporting period that covered the first three months of the year but still fell far short of the 85 percent on-time performance mark mandated by city voters 10 years ago."

RTD scraps real-time updates of light-rail arrivals. The Denver Post. July 9, 2009.

"RTD has decided to swap a system that provided live "next train" announcements to passengers on light-rail platforms for a simpler one that tells travelers when the next two trains should arrive based on a published schedule."

Bus stops of the future: are they realistic? Fastcompany.com. May 19, 2009.

"Bus stations are generally information-poor, displaying little more than the time of the next bus arrival. But MIT's SENSEable City Lab envisions a richer bus station experience that could, according to MIT's Carlo Ratti, 'change the whole experience of urban travel.'"

On Smart Cards

Bus drivers say Metro’s new smart card isn’t so smart. PostGlobe. June 8, 2009.

"It's supposed to make "public transportation fast, easy and seamless" – one fare card, a smart card nicknamed ORCA, that can be used for the ferries, Sound Transit, Metro or several other transit agencies. But bus drivers predict they'll cause delays and problems collecting fares.
And maybe even accidents. The problem, say bus drivers such as Brian Sherlock and Joshua Laff, both leaders with the union that represents the drivers, is that the system is too cumbersome to use."

Visit Tom Strader's Smart Card News page for more

Blogs, Twitter and other social media

Blurring the line. govtech.com. July 2009.

What happens when employers and employees end up on the same social network?

"Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the
daily commute to San Jose and hating the work," tweeted a Twitterer known as "theconnor,"
a San Francisco Bay Area job seeker. "Who is the hiring manager? I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web," responded a Twitterer known as "timmylevad," a.k.a. Tim Levad, a business development manager at Cisco.

"Web 2.0—social networking, in particular—is changing the way we communicate.
Now we can all share our inner monologs with the world. For good or ill, each of us
can give in to the fantasy that someone actually cares what mood we’re in or that we just
woke up from a nap. Unfortunately for people like “theconnor” who use the popular social
network Twitter, it turns out inner monologues are inner for a reason. Just because we
have thoughts rattling around in our brains doesn’t mean all information is suitable for
mass consumption."

Bright green blog- environment: How green are trains, public transportation, and hybrid cars? It depends. Christian Science Monitor. June 9, 2009.

"Most of us assume that some things are givens when it comes to environment-friendly transportation choices. Among those assumptions: Taking the subway is better than driving an SUV, riding a train tops hopping on a plane, and a hybrid car is much preferred over a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. But that’s not always true. Recent research (see Environmental Research Letters below) points to just the opposite, sometimes."

Human Transit: A blog by public transit planning consultant Jarrett Walker. Posted by Jarrett at HumanTransit.org at 11:41 AM | 04/10/2009.

"I'm Jarrett Walker, and this is my professional blog. Since 1991 I've been a consulting transit planner, helping to design transit networks and policies for a huge range of communities. My goal here is to start conversations about how transit works, and how we can use it to create better cities and towns...I'm in this business because as a teenager in the 1970s, I lived through a revolution in a place called Portland, Oregon."

Debbie Huntington's notes from the Internet Strategy Forum she attended July 23.

Topic: The future of the Social Web. Jeremiah Owyang, Senior Analyst, Social Computing, Forrester Research

His presentation content was excellent! The PDF link above is pretty much word for word what he presented. A must read!

"Expect the Groundswell to continue, in which people connect to each other–rather than institutions. Consumer adoption of social networks is increasing at a rapid pace, brands are adopting even during a recession, so expect the space to rapidly innovate to match this trend.

Today’s social experience is disjointed because consumers have separate identities in each social network they visit. A simple set of technologies that enable a portable identity will soon empower consumers to bring their identities with them — transforming marketing, eCommerce, CRM, and advertising. IDs are just the beginning of this transformation, in which the Web will evolve step by step from separate social sites into a shared social experience. Consumers will rely on their peers as they make online decisions, whether or not brands choose to participate. Socially connected consumers will strengthen communities and shift power away from brands and CRM systems; eventually this will result in empowered communities defining the next generation of products."

Reports & other useful resources


The purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of Data.gov provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of Data.gov by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. Visit today with us, but come back often. With your help, Data.gov will continue to grow and change in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

The Transit wire website

The Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) has developed a new Website designed to highlight state-of-the-art technologies used in the public transportation industry. The goal of the new webite is to present timely information useful to transit properties, government agencies, researchers, consultants, and vendors."

National Transportation Atlas Database


The 2009 edition features 10 updated datasets from last year’s NTAD and premieres the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS). Also, substantial revisions were made to national parks, waterways, National Bridge Inventory and railways. This year’s NTAD consists of 28datasets. The NTAD also includes: intermodal terminals, national railway crossings, non-attainment areas and transit rail lines and stations, among other data layers.

Thanks to my usual group of contributors: David Crout, Nathan Banks, Rex Fisher, Joe Recker and also Dion Glisan, Debbie Huntington and Tom Strader. I am only using some of the material sent as this list is long enough!

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