Is V.P. Canidate Sarah Palin A Transit Advocate?

The question got posted after an article in Tuesday’s Washington Post. The article which mainly focuses on earmarks the V.P. candidate secured while being the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Here is a sample of the article by Paul Kane of the Washington Post:

laska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group.

There was $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project — all intended to benefit Palin’s town, Wasilla, located about 45 miles north of Anchorage.

Click here for the complete article.

I wonder if Sarah is really a transit advocate or were these typical deals setup to line the pockets of connected contractors. I am curious to find out if she really believes in needing a solid transit infrastructure or is she your typical politician saying one thing & doing another. Transit infrastructures across the country need to see action not more lip service.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Staten Island Railway Looks To Close Walking Loophole

Have you ever wondered why some Staten Island commuters have nice legs? Maybe you thought it was their dedication to a lower body workout that helped carve out that nice shape or attention to detail. If you thought that, you were most likely wrong. The most likely answer is the dedicated percentage of commuters who use the famous “S.I. Railway Walking Loophole” to avoid paying the $2 fare. The railway only collects the $2 fare from passengers boarding & exiting at the St. George Terminal. The loophole to avoid paying is to get off one station prior at Tompkinsville & walk to the terminal a .5 mile away.

Unfortunately the loophole might be getting closed very soon if the railway has its way. With more on that story, I turn your attention to 2 different reports. The original report comes from The Staten Island Advance:

The hike just got longer for Staten Island Railway passengers who get off at Tompkinsville to avoid paying the $2 fare: The gate leading to Victory Boulevard was closed after yesterday morning’s rush hour and folks were shunted to the more-distant Hannah Street gate.

And there’s more bad news: Their free ride is going the way of the steam locomotive.

The city has begun construction of a new, wider platform and station house, which will contain turnstiles and MetroCard vending machines. The five turnstiles, which are expected to go into operation next spring, will require that passengers swipe their MetroCards to enter or leave the station.

At that point, the eight-minute, fare-saving walk between Tompkinsville and the St. George Ferry Terminal will become obsolete.

The turnstiles will be monitored by closed-circuit televisions observed by MTA police, and passengers can expect targeted enforcement of the new fare system from day one, said Railway President John Gaul.

St. George is currently the only station where fares are collected since conductors were phased out in 1997.

Click here for the complete report.

Now onto the second report by Jake Mooney of the New York Times’ City Room Blog:

In these tight economic times, with transportation costs rising, how far will people go to save a few dollars on their commute? For the last 11 years, on Staten Island, the answer appears to be about half a mile — the distance some riders of the local commuter train walk every day to avoid the system’s $2 fare.

By this time next year, we’ll know if they are willing to trek six-tenths of a mile on top of that.

Within a few years, it may become even harder for riders on the Staten Island Railway to get a free ride.

The situation, reported in The Times in 2004, is this: For reasons that are somewhat complex, the only station on the railway where fares are collected — for people getting both on and off trains — is St. George, at the ferry terminal at the island’s northern tip.

Riders who don’t want to pay, then, can get off the train a stop early, at Tompkinsville, and walk the half-mile to the ferry in about 10 minutes, free of charge.

Click here for the complete report.

I suggest you check out the reader feedback to the New York Times piece which has started an interesting debate of free public transportation versus the current pay model.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Service Diversions 09-05

I have just updated the service diversions page with the latest scheduled diversions for this weekend plus next week (and beyond in some cases). Don’t forget to check in for any changes to the page. I also suggest printing out a copy of the page to use while riding the system. Have a safe & wonderful weekend & try to stay dry!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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NYC Transit & MTA Bus To Test New Double-Decker Bus

I just received a press release a short time ago announcing a press/photo opportunity by NYC Transit & MTA Bus to test a new double decker bus in customer service. Here are the complete details:

MTA NYC Transit and MTA Bus introduce new double-decker bus into passenger service for a 35-day test. The bus combines the efficiency of high-capacity with a low-floor entry and exit.

WHO: Elliot G. Sander, MTA Executive Director/CEO and Joseph Smith, MTA Bus President/SVP of Buses, MTA NYC Transit.

WHAT: MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus introduce new double-decker bus into passenger service for a 35-day test.

WHEN: Monday, September 8, 2008 at 11 a.m.

WHERE: 26th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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More On The New Generation Hybrid Electric Buses

Earlier this morning I posted a press release about the MTA’s plans to introduce new generation hybrid electric buses this morning at a press & photo opportunity on Staten Island. The press & photo opportunity has passed & the MTA has issued a press release to continue talking about the new buses.

Sleek, modernistic and efficient. These are hardly the words one usually uses when describing a bus, but that could soon change with the introduction of a new fleet of Orion VII New Generation Hybrid-Electric buses, which are now making their first runs on Staten Island.

The new buses, part of an 850 bus order, boast an attractive new look that sets them apart from current buses. The Orion VII has a traffic-stopping, modern design aimed at appealing to bus customers. Aside from its unique look, the Orion VII Next Generation bus incorporates proven hybrid-electric technology which offers efficient operation and reduced tailpipe emissions.

“Our Staten Island bus customers are the first to benefit from these attractive new transit coaches. Aside from being pleased by their good looks, all Staten Islanders will appreciate their clean air propulsion systems. These buses represent a huge step forward for New York City Transit,” said Joseph Smith, MTA NYC Transit Senior Vice President for Buses.

One hundred and twenty-five of the new buses will be assigned to Staten Island, replacing buses built in the early 1990s. These buses will be powered by BAE Systems’ HybriDrive(R) diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system. All 850 buses are scheduled to be delivered by 2010.

The MTA and NYC Transit have been pioneers in the development of Hybrid bus technology, with experience going back more than a decade. The technology boasts lower exhaust emissions and improved fuel economy over standard buses. Bus customers also benefit from the low-floor design of the Hybrid Electrics. When completed, the current order will bring the MTA’s diesel-electric hybrid bus fleet to nearly 1,700 buses, the largest diesel-electric hybrid fleet in the world.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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