March/April 1998, p.7

Metropolitan

New York City
Where's the @#%*! Bus?

Not a surprising refrain, considering the 25% decline in bus service over the last ten years recently reported by Straphangers Campaign. Manhattan bore the brunt, with a 29% decrease in scheduled service. The report also found decreasing reliability, i.e. increasing bus breakdowns, abysmal on-time performance, and poor results in basics like bus cleanliness and route announcements. Despite all this, ridership is up a 17% since free subway-bus transfers began in July '97, with even greater gains on DOT's franchise lines. Ridership should rise even more when day/week/month transit passes arrive in July '98. NYC Transit says it has 350 buses on order, including 190 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.
Straphangers' report calls for immediate increases in bus service to meet growing demand and make up for the decade-long reduction. Also called for: enforcement of bus stop no-parking rules; expanded exclusive bus lanes and serious enforcement; and cleaner buses through an accelerated move to CNG and alt-fuel vehicles.

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Westchester
How to Earn a Page in Auto History

AAA reported to its membership that an "army of anti-auto activists" were responsible for the demise of the I-287 HOV expansion. And who were these radical activists? A diverse group of public officials, residents and businesses (themselves, in all likelihood, regular auto users) who simply realized that more pavement does not equal more mobility. The longtime practice of the AAA being behind closed doors with state transport policy makers is over, thanks in part to years of grassroots organizing by alternatives advocates. Indeed, count another victory for the "army": Gov. Pataki ordered a 12-month hold for road widening plans for Rt. 120 in eastern Westchester. On cue, AAA and others have again sounded the old refrain of "cars pay their way." Comprehensive studies illustrate the opposite. General tax revenues subsidize NY drivers to the tune of at least $2 billion a year.

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New Jersey
Whitman's Bike/Ped Cash: Jackpot or Mirage?

Realizing perhaps, that much of the Garden State is evolving into the Pavement State, NJ Gov. Whitman recently pledged $15 million for 2,000 miles of bikeways in the next 10 years, better pedestrian facilities for seniors and kids, and tough new anti-sprawl measures. The pledge could mean state bike/ped money in NJ's capital spending plan - the first dollars allocated besides federal ISTEA Enhancement dollars. NJ already has a formidable Bike/Pedestrian Master Plan, published in 1995. The challenge now is getting the new money to work for real change. Tri-State Transportation Campaign allies, including T.A., have written to NJDOT Commissioner Haley, asking that specific 1997 projects be included in the state's project list for capital funding. The $26 million of bike-ped projects have broad local support. NJDOT has not responded.
Not in the DOT slow lane: NJ Transit and the town of Maplewood may soonteam up to install bike racks and lockers for some 50-60 bikes at the local train station. NJT even has a bike locker hotline: 973/491-8348.

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Region
Tunnel Dreams - NJ to NYC

The oft-mentioned cross-harbor rail freight tunnel got another boost recently as the Economic Development Corp. began seeking consultants for a $5 million freight needs Major Investment Study. Two route options under consideration are Brooklyn-Staten Island and Brooklyn-Greenville. Results are at least 2 years down the road. Another long-time study project, Access to the Region's Core (ARC), recommends another Hudson River tunnel for passenger rail. It's a popular idea, but its scary multi-billion dollar price tag means mustering the political will to see it through will be a challenge. One NJ State senate leader recently pledged to "give life" to the ARC proposal, saying NJ could not afford to let this one "sit on the shelf."