Transportation headlines, Wednesday, October 22

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.  

Rail to River moves forward (Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas website)

The post concerns a motion by Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas that asks Metro to supply $2.8 million in funding for more planning and design work on a new walking and bike path in South Los Angeles. The motion will be heard at Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors.

As envisioned by Ridley-Thomas, the path would convert the old Harbor Subdivision Right-of-Way owned by Metro and convert it to a walking and bike path between the West Boulevard Station of the future LAX/Crenshaw line and the Los Angeles River.

The article and the accompanying video on MRT’s website invokes New York City’s “High Line” as well as the Greenway Trail in Whittier as examples of projects that successfully have converted unused railway to assets that benefit the surrounding communities. Here’s a Source post from earlier this year about the concept.

This item from the Source’s Steve Hymon:

Times, ABC 7 and Metro’s parking stores are wrong and misleading (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Joe Linton responds to stories on parking — and the lack thereof — at some Metro transit stations (L.A. Times and ABC-7). Among his key points: 1) it’s often free parking that is in short supply at some stations stations while paid parking spaces may be available or could be available if managed better, and; 2) there may be other important reasons why people choose not to ride other than parking — such as frequency or quality of transit service.

Whether to include parking at transit stations is a tough piece of public policy, especially given that free parking is subsidized by Metro for better or worse (depending on your point of view). I’ve heard good arguments on all sides of this debate. I’ll offer the same disclosure that I did in yesterday’s headlines: the $2 I pay to sometimes park at the Gold Line’s Del Mar Station makes my transit trip to work a little quicker.

Lyft, Uber secure SFO deal (S.F. Examiner)

The deal means that the three most used app-based rideshare services (or “transportation network companies“) can now legally pick up and drop off passengers at San Francisco International Airport as part of a 90-day pilot program. Sidecar, another popular service, reached an agreement with the airport last week. The terms of the deal will allow the airport to limit the number of vehicles available at the airport at a given time. SFO is the first airport in California and the second in the U.S. to reach an agreement with app-based ride services.

Meanwhile in L.A., Los Angeles World Airports last spring asked for comments on a draft agreement for a potential pilot program to allow transportation network companies at LAX. There’s been little news out of either camp regarding progress on granting permits since then.

In June, the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the fledgling rideshare industry in California, issued cease-and-desist letters to a handful of companies specifically citing unauthorized airport operations. Police at both LAX and SFO were reportedly cracking down on unlicensed drivers throughout the summer. But despite such a rough start, SFO and rideshare companies were still able to strike deals within a few months. So is it only a matter of time before similar agreements will be inked at LAX?

NYC sets one-day subway ridership record (WNYC)

Passengers board the New York subway in September. Photo by Jim Pennucci, via Flickr creative commons.

Passengers board the New York subway in September. Photo by Jim Pennucci, via Flickr creative commons.

There were 6.1 million boardings on Sept. 23, the most since records started being kept in 1985. Officials say the subway was only averaging 3.6 million boardings a day 20 years ago and credit the growth to the New York MTA’s efforts to improve the system’s efficiency and capacity.

Washington State traffic forecast finally recognizes reality (Sightline Daily)

The blog post by Clark Williams-Derry of the Sightline Institute cites a recently published forecast from Washington state that predicts traffic growth in the state will be modest and eventually decline. This trend is a striking change from the same orecast from last year which, like many other traffic growth forecasts across the country, indicated steady traffic growth. Williams-Derry calls the forecast a “refreshing change” because:

First, it reflects the growing empirical evidence of a long-term slowdown in the growth of vehicle travel, evident on major roads in Washington, for Washington State roads as a whole, for the US, and for much of the industrialized world.

Second, even if the forecast is wrong, assuming that traffic won’t grow much is the most fiscally prudent way to plan a transportation budget.

The article goes on to say a consequence of slowed traffic growth combined with unrealistically optimistic traffic forecasts (if more cars on the road is an optimistic prospect to anyone) is reduced revenue from gas tax and tolling, most of which the state of Washington is forced to use on debt repayment instead of much-needed infrastructure improvements.

It will be interesting to see if more agencies use the recent trend in declining traffic growth as a basis for predicting a long-term trend, especially considering per capita vehicle miles of travel in the U.S. declined for the 9th straight year in 2013. Even more interesting: whether funds will shift toward other ways of getting around.

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Oct. 21: to park or not to park at Metro stations?

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Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit (L.A. Times) 

Parking at the Expo Line's Culver City Station. Photo by Metro.

Parking at the Expo Line’s Culver City Station. Photo by Metro.

An updated look at a long-debated issue in transit circles: how much, if any, lack of parking at transit stations. Forty of Metro’s 80 stations have parking — and parking at some of the most popular stations is often gobbled up early on weekday mornings (Norwalk, NoHo, Universal City and Culver City are a few examples).

On the other hand, Metro has thousands of free spaces — as well as some paid ones — and I can definitely point to places where parking is relatively easy. This interactive map gives you an idea where the parking is located.

Excerpt from the Times article:

“Today I got lucky,” said Ashley Scott, 30, as she waited for her train to Hollywood on a recent Thursday morning. “I was this close to just getting on the 101.”

Scott’s daily dilemma illustrates an often overlooked but significant choke point in the ambitious growth of L.A.’s light-rail system. Metro’s six-line network, which has seen steady ridership gains over the last five years, now carries about 350,000 people on work days. Parking shortages could complicate Metro’s goal of shifting hundreds of thousands more drivers to public transit in coming decades.

Planners say it’s impractical, perhaps impossible, to build enough free parking. Train station lots have low turnover because most commuters leave their cars all day. To meet demand, Metro lots would have to sprawl far beyond the station—or, in dense urban areas, rise several stories.

It’s a tough issue as many planners believe that it’s far wiser in the long-term to build developments with more jobs and/or residences near transit. Their belief is that promoting density near transit will ultimately produce more riders than sprawling parking lots and also lead to building cities with a higher quality-of-life.

On the other hand, it’s undeniable that — at least for now — parking is the carrot that makes taking transit possible for some of our riders.

And then there’s the issue of expense and space. For example, there is no parking planned along the Purple Line Extension subway, which largely follows densely developed Wilshire Boulevard. On the other hand, the Gold Line Foothill Extension — in the more suburban San Gabriel Valley — will eventually have parking at each of its six new stations.

As it happens, I just got off the phone with Andrew Young, who recently co-authored a study with David Levinson at the University of Minnesota that ranked Metro areas according to their transit accessibility to jobs. The Los Angeles area ranked third, so I asked Andrew what he thought about the parking conundrum.

“You can build parking lots that makes transit useful to those who live some distance away from stations or you can build housing and destination adjacent to that station that will be used by those in future who will work and live there,” he said. “The question is: do you want to build for an existing constituency or do you want to build for a currently nonexistent constituency that one day will live next to the station. In many places, building for the future is hard for current politicians….people like the status quo and people in the status quo are the ones who vote and it’s always hard to change that.”

Well said.

Of course, there’s a related issue here, too — whether parking, where it exists, should be free? Streetsblog L.A. has written about that, criticizing Metro for offering free subsidies for auto users that it doesn’t necessarily offer for those who get to stations on foot, bikes or even transit.

Personal disclosure on this item: I often pay $2 to park at the Gold Line’s Del Mar station, where there is always plenty of parking to be had. I could ride my bike, walk or try to snare a ride from the Domestic Partner (when not working herself), but I’ve found driving to be quicker.

More headline funtivitity after the jump! 

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Transportation headlines, Monday, October 20

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No winners in this MTA train wreck (L.A. Times)

In his opinion column, Jim Newton looks at the dispute between rail car manufacturer Kinkisharyo and a local union that resulted in Kinkisharyo announcing that it won’t build a permanent manufacturing facility in Palmdale. Excerpt:

That won’t be quite the end of it, of course. Kinkisharyo will still do assembly work in Palmdale as long as its MTA contract lasts and will still employ almost 200 people in its existing assembly plant, but the company says it’s finished with the idea of a long-term manufacturing plant in the area. Labor leaders maintain that the company has an obligation under its contract to create these jobs in Los Angeles County, but the MTA disagrees. Officials at the agency say that while Kinkisharyo had committed to doing the rail car assembly locally, the agency cannot, under federal law, force the company to build in the area. Lawsuits already are being filed, and courts will sift through the arguments for months, maybe years.

But that’s all squabbling over the wreckage. The undisputed fact is that a stubborn company and a stubborn union went to war, and because of it, the residents of Palmdale, who could have had a couple of hundred good new jobs, instead will be looking at a vacant lot. Who won that battle? No one. But there are plenty of losers, including California, Los Angeles County, Palmdale and the of men and women who would have built and staffed the manufacturing facility.

 

As Newton writes, the real story here is probably the difficulty of doing business in California. In the meantime, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich — also a member of the Metro Board of Directors — held a news conference this morning at the County Hall of Administration to discuss the situation.

Photo by Paul Gonzales/Metro.

Photo by Paul Gonzales/Metro.

Antonovich called again on Gov. Jerry Brown to ask the union, the IBEW Local 18, to drop its state lawsuit against Kinkisharyo. He also accused the union of supporting a different rail car manufacturer during the bidding process with Metro and that this is a back door attempt by that firm to gain business with Metro. The union is perhaps best known recently for its significant financial support for the losing candidate in last year’s election for mayor of Los Angeles.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said that he was devastated by the news and that it reinforces the notion that California is not business friendly. He reiterated that Palmdale is very open to working with local businesses to keep and create job and that he remains committed to building the new permanent facility for Kinkisharyo.

Officials celebrate Gold Line milestone in Azusa (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Coverage of the last piece of track work being completed in Saturday for the 11.5-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension between Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border. Azusa officials say they are using a Metro grant to study the best ways to use and/or develop land around the two stations in Azusa — one is downtown and the other is adjacent to Citrus College, Azusa Pacific University and the Rosedale development.

Streetsblog L.A. also had a four-part series over the summer on the Gold Line Foothill Extension which includes a ton of photos. Part one, part two, part three and part four. Just to give you an idea how quickly the track work was done, here’s a pic I took back in February when the work was getting underway:

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Did diversity miss the train in Union Station’s architecture (Denver Post) 

A bar in the refurbished Union Station in Denver. Photo by Misty Facheux, via Flickr creative commons.

A bar in the refurbished Union Station in Denver. Photo by Misty Facheux, via Flickr creative commons.

Post architecture critic Ray Mark Rinaldi has been visiting the newly revamped Union Station in downtown Denver and by his own counts found the place to be filled with white faces. He finds that troubling, given that 47 percent of Denver’s population are minorities.

His take: the local transportation agency, the RTD, put too much emphasis on restoring the building to its older European roots and put too much emphasis on attracting businesses that catered to an exclusive, upscale and white clientele. Excerpt:

Still, something is missing. There’s no traditional Mexican restaurant, no soul-food restaurant, no sushi bar, as if no one noticed that the Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American families that own and operate those places across the city are also our best food purveyors.

This country is full of union stations, old train depots, once the center of civic life, that fell out of use in the auto era. St. Louis fixed up its station by adding a mall. It’s not as successful, but it’s diversified. Kansas City filled its hall with a science center, and kids from across the city’s neighborhoods are regulars there.

Washington, D.C.’s train station now has swank shops, but also a food court. It has, notably, a B. Smith’s restaurant, part of a small, African-American-owned chain that is a touchstone in the black community.

Interesting article and worth a read. I haven’t been to the station in 20 years and have no idea what it’s like now — so it’s hard to form an opinion about the article. Obviously with our Union Station on deck for a major refurbishment and expansion, it’s worth considering such opinions.

The emptying of New York City (Salon)

Manhattan has gotten taller in the past century. But it has also gotten much less dense. The suspected reason: wealth, with fewer people taking up more space. Reminds me of a recent item here on a new Gotham skyscraper that will be the tallest in the city (1,396 feet) and will house only 104 residential units.

Again, something to chew on as development continues in downtown.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, October 16

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Why the 405 isn’t any faster with more lanes (KPCC Take Two)

An economist says expanding a road — 405 over the Sepulveda Pass included — will probably mean an increase in the number of vehicles that use the road. His answer to quickening commutes: congestion pricing, a la the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeway that help discourage everyone from driving at the same peak hours.

Labor dispute kills Kinkisharyo’s AV plant (San Fernando Valley Business Journal)

The rail car manufacturer under contract by Metro to produce new light rail vehicles has decided not to build a $50 million, 400,000-square-foot facility in Palmdale. The firm had said it would build the new facility as part of its contract with Metro. But a labor-supported residents group — specifically the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 — tried to hold up a needed zoning change unless Kinkisharyo agreed to be a “card check” facility. “Card check is a process by which a workplace can unionize if 50 percent or more of workers sign cards stating they want to be represented for collective bargaining,” reports the Business Journal.

Excerpt:

Agency spokesman Marc Littman said he was disappointed by the company’s decision but added it would not affect the delivery of Metro’s cars.

“This is a real loss,” Littman said. “We wanted them here to help the local economy but we cannot require Kinkisharyo do (manufacturing) here.”

IBEW Local 11 was in the news in 2013 when it got heavily involved in the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles. It didn’t work. Eric Garcetti, now the chair of the Metro Board of Directors, easily won the election without the union’s support.

Metro moving forward with flawed ‘Complete Streets’ policy (Streetsblog L.A.)

Joe Linton takes a look at the Complete Streets policy being considered this month by the Metro Board of Directors. While parts of it are commendable, he opines, other parts are vague with no assurance that the policies will be enforced to encourage roads where walking and biking are safe and desirable. While street design is usually up to local cities (or the county in unincorporated areas), Metro may have the ability to influence street design in rail corridors or with projects that involve Metro funding.

California high-speed rail wins big round in state Supreme Court (Sacramento Bee)

The California Supreme Court turns away a lawsuit challenging the issuance of state bonds needed to help pay for construction of the first segment of the high-speed rail line that is eventually planned to run between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s good news for the project but there are other remaining legal challenges that assert the project doesn’t live up to what was promised voters in Prop 1A in 2008.

The self-driving Tesla may make us love urban sprawl again (Slate)

The key graph — and something I’ve pondered in this space before:

As driving becomes less onerous and computer-controlled systems reduce traffic, some experts worry that will eliminate a powerful incentive—commuting sucks—for living near cities, where urban density makes for more efficient sharing of resources. In other words, autonomous vehicles could lead to urban sprawl.

In other words, if you can sit in your own car and not have to drive or pay much attention to the road, would your commute seem less onerous? Yes, there still could be a lot of traffic with self-driving cars. But perhaps the door-to-door attractiveness of a car coupled with technology (i.e. playing PacMan, Asteroids or Missile Command) on your tablet will trump the yuckyness of traffic.

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Oct. 15

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The many reasons millennials are shunning driving (Washington Post)

New research from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group dives deeper into a phenomenon that has been well-documented to date: the generation known as millennials are driving much less than any generation since World War II. Among some of the reasons why:

•Millennials are marrying later and starting families later, meaning they’re also waiting longer before moving to homes and the ‘burbs (if they do).

•Gas prices are high and millennials don’t know the concept of cheap gas.

•Technology has made car sharing, bike sharing and ride sharing far easier — and the advent of the internet and smart phones and tablets makes taking transit more appealing.

•Millennials don’t see cars as valuable as previous generations — they would rather spend money on technology or experiences.

Interesting stuff. None earth-shaking news perhaps. However, the Post doesn’t get into another reason that I think is worth mentioning: a lot of metro areas across the U.S., including our area, have made considerable investments in new transit in the past 25 years. While the new transit may have come along too late to get 40somethings and later out of their cars, millennials are a generation that is growing up with transit.

What remains to be seen is whether millennials flex their political muscles when it comes time for ballot measures and other elections around the country that determine how transportation gets spent. Thoughts, readers?

The Molina Station naming mess (Downtown News)

The DN’s editorial board takes the Metro Board of Directors to task for their vote earlier this month to name the East Los Angeles Civic Center Station after Board Member Gloria Molina and the NoHo Red Line Station after Zev Yaroslavsky. Their main issue: Supervisor Molina has announced her intent to run for the Los Angeles City Council and a station with new signage is not appropriate during an election, the Downtown News argues.

Why Minneapolis’ bike freeways are totally the best (Grist) 

Great post on the new network of bike and pedestrian paths around the Twin Cities. Explanation:

How did this happen? Minneapolis is unusual, as cities go, because it has a funny-shaped park system called the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway that encircles most of the city like a ring road. The Grand Rounds had a network of entirely separate paths for cars and pedestrians that dated back to the WPA era, but in the mid ’90s, Minneapolis began to lay down new paths for cyclists, too. These paths were mostly recreational until, in the last decade, Minneapolis began to draw lines between different points on that circle by converting old railroad infrastructure, like the Midtown Greenway, for pedestrians and cyclists, and connecting them to the city itself.

Cities like New York and San Francisco have added bike routes to the grid of regular street traffic, but if you look at the map of what Minneapolis is doing, it becomes clear that something entirely different is happening: Minneapolis is building a freeway system for bikes. But a nice one — a freeway where you can bike past flocks of geese rising off the lake in the morning and never have to breathe truck exhaust.

 

Of course, there is that little thing called “the weather” that Twin Cities denizens must contend with. Then again, when not icicling, they can listen to one of our favorite radio stations, The Current, whose great music is available online. WNKU in Northern Kentucky is also great if you’re out and about on transit and want to try a new station. Of course, our own KCRW’s music programming gets major hugs, too :)

How not to measure traffic congestion (Planetizen)

Todd Littman performs a well-reasoned takedown of data and conclusions from a new report by the firm Inrix that predicts a significant rise in congestion and related costs in the next 20 years. Excerpt from Todd’s blog post:

Such very large numbers are virtually meaningless. For economic analysis it is usually best to convert impacts into annual costs per capita – let’s see what that means for these congestion impacts. According to the graph on study’s page 40,average annual hours of delay for an average automobile commuter are projected to increase from a current 22.0 up to 23.4 in 2030, a gain of 1.4 hours per year or 42 seconds per day for 200 commute days. Since adults devote about 90 daily minutes to travel, current 22 annual hours of congestion delays add about 4% to total travel time, and the projected increases this to 4.5%. These impacts are tiny overall.

The INRIX report makes several other basic errors. It describes traffic congestion as “gridlock,” a greatly abused term. Gridlock refers to a specific situation in which vehicles in a network are totally stuck due to clogged intersections. It almost never occurs. In fact, congestion tends to maintain equilibrium: it increases to the point that some potential peak-period automobile trips shift to other times, modes or routes, so threats of “gridlock” based on extrapolating past trends are almost always exaggerations.

 

Smart piece. I’m not wild about apocalyptic predictions of future traffic, although I do think trying to understand its impacts has some merit (smog, cultural, etc.). I tend to think the whole subject can be easily summed up in one sentence: “If we don’t do anything, traffic may get worse and there won’t be enough alternatives to sitting in it.”

And today’s closing photo…looks like I transferred to the wrong bus….

Rail is a thing of the past in Cincinnati, where transit means "Go Metro." Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Rail is a thing of the past in Cincinnati, where transit means “Go Metro” on the bus. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Oct. 14

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Art of Transit, sort of: Fall colors earlier this month along U.S. 395 near Conway Summit. Photo by Fred Moore, via Flickr creative commons.

Art of Transit, sort of: Fall colors earlier this month along U.S. 395 near Conway Summit. Photo by Fred Moore, via Flickr creative commons.

Metro bus driver quarantined after passenger yells ‘I have Ebola’ (L.A. Times)

Non-hysterical and straight-up coverage of yesterday’s very unusual incident in which a bus passenger wearing a mask said he had ebola and then exited the bus. “Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials don’t believe the rider has Ebola and believe the incident was a hoax, spokeswoman Sarah Kissell Garrett said,” reports the Times.

The only verified cases of Ebola virus in the U.S. have involved either healthcare workers who had been in Western Africa and were brought back to the United States for treatment and the patient who died in Dallas last week and one of his nurses. From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.

The CDC has plenty of information on Ebola on its website. Obviously it is not a disease to be taken lightly but it’s also important to understand the facts.

What would L.A. look like if 100-year-old transit plans come true? (KPCC CityCast)

A brief article and podcast covers some well-trod but interesting ground: the many transit plans that burped forth in our region over the year, some of which were permanently shelved and some of which eventually were built and are busy today — i.e, the Red Line, Blue Line and Orange Line. My three cents: when you hear about a transit project, a good first question usually is: “and how will you pay for it?” If there isn’t a solid answer, be leery.

Hopes rise again for abandoned Philly rail line (Next City)

Interesting story about possible plans for a rail tunnel abandoned in the early 1990s that runs under Broad Street in downtown Philadelphia. Several bus rapid transit alternatives are under study.

Seattle bike share kicks off (Post-Intelligencer) 

Bike sharing kicks off with about 50 stations across the Emerald City. “The Seattle program is the first in the U.S. that includes helmet use as part of the rental. Annual memberships for the bike share program range from $85 to $125. The first half hour of usage is free and there is a charge beyond that for use of the bike,” reports the PI.

I’ve been in Cincy for the past 10 days or so (helping the parents) and was pleasantly surprised to see bike share has also landed in the Queen City with some colorful Red bikes. Of course, Metro is working on a bike share program for Los Angeles County and is currently trying to finalize station locations for phase 1 of the program in downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena and Santa Monica. See this recent Source post.

The startingly artful world of Soviet bus stops (Architizer)

Christopher Herwig used a Kickstarter campaign to fund a photography book on these unlikely bus stops. He traveled thousands of kilometers and spent 12 years assembling this impressive collection of photos.

 

 

 

Transportation headlines, Monday, Oct. 13

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

The past, present and future of Metro Rail (KPCC AirTalk)

Host Larry Mantle has a segment that includes Metro CEO Art Leahy and Ethan Elkind, the UC professor whose new book is “Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City.” Good conversation includes the topic of how rail corridors are selected in our region. Larry’s first question for Art: is rail worth the expense? Listen for the answer! Listeners also get to throw some questions at the guests — including the “is it safe to ride” question. Another listener gives taptogo.net a Darth Vader-type hug (read: the kind of hug you don’t want).

Transit project’s cover was a bit of a trip (L.A. Times)

Reporter Laura Nelson gets to the bottom of the original, colorful and now-replaced cover page of the High Desert Corridor’s draft environmental document. She also reveals Brad the Tortoise’s true identity and scores this gem of a quote: “I feel like I know the tortoise intimately.” You don’t hear that everyday in transportation journalism.

In Texas, traffic deaths climb amid fracking boom (Houston Public Media & Houston Chronicle)

Excerpt:

The Texas Department of Transportation says that between 2009 and 2013, the state’s traffic fatalities rose by eight percent, even as those in most other states continued to fall. And deaths linked to commercial vehicle crashes, like trucks, soared by more than 50 percent over the same period.

The boom has triggered a huge demand for both tractor-trailers and drivers.

“People who’ve never been in the seat of a truck before go to school for two weeks, and they graduate, and now they’re a truck driver, you know,” says Larry Busby, the long-time sheriff of Live Oak County in the Eagle Ford shale region of South Texas. “Well, they’re not a truck driver yet. They’ve just passed the school.”

The Texas Trucking Association, an industry trade group, says the rising death toll has more to do with drivers sharing the road with trucks than with the truckers themselves.

Smart series of article that expounds on a public safety issue that is probably not obvious to many people. This is probably a Pulitzer candidate.

Meet the man who has met ‘about 500′ women on the subway (New York Post) 

In a story that perhaps is better suited to April 1 or the Stone Ages, the Post interviews a “railway Romeo” who claims to have dated 500 or so women he has met on the New York Subway in the past 15 years. He says he’s written a book about it, thus triggering the Post’s interest. The article’s kicker is my favorite part in which we get this stale/creep advice: once a phone number is secured, never call for at least 60 hours. Reminds me of “Swingers.” Perhaps Gawker’s take on the Post article is more accurate (warning: adult language).

I include the article here as a teachable moment. Look, we’re all for people being friendly when they take mass transit and, yes, we even held a speed dating event on Valentine’s Day when willing riders could meet other willing riders. Outside of such events, we encourage riders to respect other riders’ privacy and private space and remember ‘no’ means ‘no’ — not ‘mabye’ or ‘I’m thinking about it.’ Bottom line: please do not stare, leer or pester folks who want to be left alone.

New Park Avenue Tower: the tallest, if not the fairest, of them all (New York Times)

A pretty ordinary looking kitchen at 432 Park Avenue if you ask me. Photo: 432 Park Avenue website.

A pretty ordinary looking kitchen at 432 Park Avenue if you ask me. Photo: 432 Park Avenue website.

Talk about densifying….construction is underway on a 1,396-foot skyscraper that will be the tallest skyscraper in New York (excluding the spire of the One World Trade Center). Here’s what is amazing: it’s a condo building, not an office building and there will be 104 residential units spread out on its 96 floors with the penthouse listed at $95 million and the cheapest unit costing $7 million. If there are any of the ‘have nots’ left in Manhattan, please raise your hand!

Closing tweet: