By the Mighty Mumford

A big railroad and a small,

Exchanging rail cars on call…

The little guy waits

For the bigger road’s freights,

Ready to run with it all!

–Jonathan Caswell

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Google Maps will soon tell you when it’s time to get off your train or bus

Google is about to launch a small but useful update to Google Maps that will give you live guidance and interactive real-time notifications during your journey.

The idea here is to give you real-time updates while you are on your transit journey. These updates will appear in the Google Maps app and, maybe most importantly, on your Android lock screen.

To get started, you search for your transit directions in Google Maps as usual. So far, so good. What’s new here is that you’ll soon be able to tap a “start” button at the bottom the screen with the details about your transit journey and then get live updates as you walk or ride on your local buses and trains.

Freight train derails in New Jersey, causing commuter delays

WTNH Channel 8

A freight train en route to upstate New York derailed in northern New Jersey on Friday afternoon, leaving rail cars strewn across the tracks and snarling the evening commute for thousands of people leaving New York.

Fire officials in Union Township, southwest of Newark, said the roughly 140-car train operated by CSX Transportation derailed about 1:30 p.m. on its way to Selkirk, New York, a suburb of Albany.

Fire Chief Michael Scanio said the tracks suffered “severe damage” but that the train cars were empty according to the engineer’s manifest, and there were no injuries.

Overhead images showed at least a dozen rail cars off the tracks or lying on their sides.

People were evacuated from nearby homes and businesses, Scanio said, but were being allowed to return to their homes by late afternoon after hazmat teams cleared the accident scene.

The tracks affected by the derailment are owned by Conrail and are also used by commuter railroad New Jersey Transit, which suspended service on its Raritan Valley Line in both directions in the area of the derailment.

There was no immediate indication about what caused the derailment or how long it would take to restore rail service in the area.

Propelling Your Blog As The Next Hot Ticket Item

The Little Mermaid

Eureka! I’ve finally discovered the secret to blogging success! The good news is that I can’t wait to share the magic potion with all of you! Whoot!


Let’s get started…

What is ‘blogging success’ at the outset? Is it something achievable? Is it quantifiable? For me, a successful blog is one that is loved by all. A blog that is pampered in its niche attracts thousands of visitors, garners hundreds of likes and is home to a never-ending string of comments. A successful blog stands out from the rest because, well, it is amazeballs. But what does it take for an amateur to get there? Did it cross your mind at some point in time that those established bloggers were starters, like you? Yeah? Good!

1. Passion

Passion is the key to unlock the door to blogging success. When you blog, you have to do it out of love…

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The Boring Company publishes map of proposed tunnels

Motor Authority News

The Boring Company, one of many projects under Elon Musk’s watch, has released a map showing where it imagines its first network of tunnels to run, if and when it receives government approval.

The map depicts two major arteries which follow Interstate 405 and 101 in California. It also shows that The Boring Company’s proposed tunnels will feature small offshoots running into Santa Monica, Venice, South Bay, Los Angeles International Airport, and Hawthorne, while the main artery will run all the way from Sherman Oaks to Long Beach airport.

The secondary tunnel runs to Dodger Stadium from LAX. As for the red color on the map, The Boring Company noted its intentions to build a proof-of-concept tunnel at the location.

It would run 6.5 miles and verify all systems work as intended. Public use wouldn’t start until it is “deemed successful by County government, City government, and The Boring Company.” The routes are merely a concept and do not represent any final decision, however.

Musk proposed the company’s solution as a way to alleviate Los Angeles’ infamous traffic congestion problems. A car would enter an elevator and then ride a sled through the underground tunnel at speeds up to 125 mph.

The CEO previously said a trip from the Westwood suburbs to LAX would take roughly five minutes. The drive normally takes an hour with traffic. Bikes and other pedestrians would use the same elevator and then enter pods to be transported to various destinations as well.

Previously, Musk said he received “verbal approval” to build a Hyperloop through New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. Hyperloop was never a project under Musk’s belt, but he recently converged The Boring Company and Hyperloop to build its own system. As for other Hyperloop projects, Virgin made a sizable investment into Hyperloop One, a leading hyperloop project. The transportation method would move riders at speeds up to 800 mph, but a full-scale test last year was limited to 125 mph.

All Aboard Florida receives $2B of bids for tax-free bonds

Read the full Wall Street Journal story here.

All Aboard Florida last week appeared to have raised the $600 million it sought to finance part of its passenger railroad, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The company received $2 billion in bids for the $600 million in private-activity bonds it was selling, leading to prices “a little better than we thought,” Wes Edens, chairman of Fortress Investment Group, All Aboard Florida’s parent company, told the Journal.

Brightline has said it plans to begin limited passenger service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach this month, with service between West Palm and Miami beginning early next year.

Full service through the Treasure Coast, which largely has opposed the project, and on to Orlando International Airport is still several years away, according to Brightline.

Subway chooses STI for European logistics

STI UK acts as the European control tower, managing the supply chain of the sandwiches across Europe with the exception of STI Sweden.

The contract will be on behalf of STI’s client IPC Europe, an independent purchasing organisation for Subway franchisees.

“Our European network gives us the possibility to serve Subway’s various regional markets quickly and efficiently”, said Roy Evans, business development manager at STI UK. “STI Freight Management’s dedication to quality and the diversity of its available equipment are some of the elements that make the organisation so attractive to IPC Europe.

“Our aim is to be more than just a transport service provider. We see ourselves on the journey to becoming strategic partners, always looking to foresee and offer solutions to IPC Europe’s logistical challenges.”

Schenectady-based GE Power to cut 12,000 jobs, but it’s unclear where

From John Cropley at the Schenectady Gazette

GE Power on Thursday announced it will reduce its workforce by about 12,000 people as it strives to make the $1 billion in cost cuts mandated by General Electric CEO John Flannery.

GE Power did not say where the cuts will be made, but multiple media outlets reported they would mostly come in Europe, rather than in the United States. GE Power has already made a series of much smaller workforce reductions this year at its headquarters in Schenectady, where about 4,000 people work, most of them for GE Power.

GE Power spokeswoman Katie Jackson would not say where the personnel reductions would be made, nor what other cost cuts would be undertaken to reach the $1 billion savings target.

With Thursday’s cuts, General Electric took the lead in 2017 job cuts by U.S. companies: A total of 19,242, according to the calculations of Bloomberg News. With three weeks to go for the year, General Motors is No. 2 in job cuts and Macy’s No. 3.

A few round numbers are being floated for the 12,000 jobs GE Power plans to eliminate: Reuters reported that 1,600 jobs will be cut in Germany, 1,400 in Switzerland and 1,100 in Britain. Bloomberg reported that GE Power is not making job cuts at this point in France because of an agreement General Electric made with the French government when it purchased the power-generation business of Alstom.

In his Nov. 13 address to shareholders, Flannery noted that GE Power had 153 manufacturing, repair and service sites and suggested this was an area where efficiency could be increased.

In announcing the “global headcount reduction” Thursday, GE Power cited challenges in the electrical power generation market worldwide. Demand for fossil fuel power products has decreased, it said, as renewable energy has grown. GE Power said it is shrinking its footprint and structure to match this environment and is focusing on “improving operational excellence.”

“This decision was painful but necessary for GE Power to respond to the disruption in the power market, which is driving significantly lower volumes in products and services,” Russell Stokes, president and CEO of GE Power, said in a news release. “Power will remain a work in progress in 2018. We expect market challenges to continue, but this plan will position us for 2019 and beyond.

“At its core GE Power is a strong business,” he said. “We generate more than 30 percent of the world’s electricity and have equipped 90 percent of transmission utilities worldwide. Our backlog is $99 billion and we have a substantial global installed base. This plan will make us simpler and stronger so we can drive more value for our customers and investors.”

The plant at the foot of Erie Boulevard in Schenectady manufactures steam turbines and generators, and has a significant backlog of work.

The job reductions made there this year have affected salaried managers and professional workers, not the hourly wage workers who do the manufacturing work.

GE Power said the 12,000 job cuts announced Thursday will affect both professional and production workers.

General Electric is working to cut costs by $3.5 billion companywide, increase profitability and boost stock value. The cuts GE Power announced Thursday didn’t yield much progress toward that third goal: GE’s share price rose only 5 cents, closing at $17.71, still near its 52-week low. As a percentage, that was a hair less than the Dow Jones Industrial Average increase. GE stock has plunged 44 percent this year even as the Dow as a whole has risen 22 percent.

In another cost-cutting move, General Electric cut its stock dividend in half last month, only the second such reduction since the Great Depression.

General Electric has about 300,000 employees in more than 100 nations around the world. GE Power was the conglomerate’s biggest component business in 2016, with sales of $26.8 billion, Bloomberg reported. The total would have been $36.8 billion after accounting for the effects of a reorganization this year in which General Electric added some energy businesses to the unit, Bloomberg said.

City and MTA Still Have No Clue How L Train Shutdown Will Work

Featured Image: All these people will need a new way to get to work starting in April 2019.

A while ago, our boss announced an upcoming change in our employment!

I love working in Nice, France but would love to move back to New York City! In addition, it’s BROOKLYN!

But project is on HOLD!

How will the roughly 200,000 New Yorkers who ride the L train from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back each day get where they need to go when the tunnel is shut down for more than a year in early 2019? With just sixteen months left before the Canarsie tunnel undergoes extensive repairs from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the MTA and the New York City Department of Transportation still have not come up with a plan.

“The deadline is drawing nearer and nearer…and the information getting back to us from the MTA and DOT has been extremely limited to nonexistent,” Williamsburg Councilmember Antonio Reynoso said at a press conference on Monday morning.

Reynoso was one of roughly a dozen lawmakers and representatives from community organizations who appeared before the media to say that both the DOT and the MTA have failed to communicate with them on how they are addressing the crisis, and that time is running out.

“In terms of business planning, next year is like tomorrow for our businesses,” said Leah Archibald, the executive director of Evergreen, a trade group for industrial businesses in North Brooklyn. “The pending L train shutdown is a big deal to the hundreds and hundreds of industrial businesses that we work with and their many thousands of employees.”

This past March, nearly a year after the coming shutdown was revealed, the MTA announced that the L train repairs would take 15 months, beginning in April of 2019. Both agencies said that a mitigation plan would be presented to communities and finalized by the end of this year.

In May, the DOT and the MTA briefed lawmakers on ideas for addressing the commuters affected by the shutdown, including bus-only and HOV lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge, as well as a new ferry line to run between North 6th Street in Williamsburg and East 20th Street in Manhattan. But about 70 percent of L train riders, they noted, were expected to be diverted to the J/M/Z and G lines, which would see their service increased.

Asked when the MTA or DOT last had a meaningful discussion with lawmakers and community members about mitigation efforts during the shutdown, some attendees at the press conference said “never.” Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin replied, “Many months.”

“What we’re hearing from DOT and the MTA is that they have plans drawn up but they aren’t ready to share them with us yet,” said Minna Elias, the district chief of staff for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, whose district encompasses parts of North Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. “We understand that they’re sitting on the mayor’s desk or somewhere at City Hall, and it’s time for them to release their plans so that the public can comment on them.”

GEE!!! It is important to US!

Five Over-the-Top New York City Transit Expansion Ideas

In the last few days we have heard a lot of ideas for subways (except how to finance it). Today, the Village Voice comes in with THEIR ideas.

The Regional Plan Association wants to build rail and streetcar lines more or less everywhere to improve service and please developers, but money will be an object.

Featured image: The Fourth Regional Plan would turn Madison Square Garden into a Madison Square Garden–shaped train station.

Last week, the Regional Plan Association made headlines when it suggested that New York’s subway problems have gotten so dire that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is not up to the task of fixing them. Instead, urged the report, New York should create a “subway reconstruction public benefit corporation,” whose sole purpose would be to modernize and repair the system’s decaying infrastructure.

The report is only the fourth in a century to be released by the influential planning organization, whose board is composed mostly of business and real estate leaders from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It lays out a master plan for the future of the region, including significant recommendations related to affordable housing and environmental protections, but its most ambitious proposals are for local and regional transit, a cause the RPA has long advocated. The last Regional Plan, released in 1996, called for a Second Avenue subway line from the Bronx to the Lower East Side (one piece of which, at least, has been completed) and the creation of a West Side business district (what would become Hudson Yards); it also laid out a number of grand plans that have yet to come to fruition, including an East Side terminal for the Long Island Rail Road (expected completion date 2022) and a rail line connecting the outer boroughs.

This year’s report includes a number of promising proposals that are within reach, such as congestion pricing, and a number of less promising ones, including shutting down the subway on weeknights to speed up repairs. But it also has even grander ambitions than the 1996 report, envisioning a hyper-connected New York region that, given the political and financial difficulties currently involved in even keeping the subway from collapsing, will probably never come to be.

Here, though, because one can always hope, are the five most dramatic pie-in-the-sky transit proposals from the new report.

1. Move Madison Square Garden: The report urges the city not to renew Madison Square Garden’s special zoning permit on the land above Penn Station when it expires in 2023. Instead, they suggest that the venue be turned into a second grand entrance hall to complement the converted James A. Farley Post Office across the street. The building’s cladding would be torn down and replaced with a curtain wall of glass to create a snow-globe-like entryway. The report claims this would allow for the removal of 200 columns that currently support the structure, which would enable further expansion and aeration of the underground concourses.

Who Would Benefit?: Everyone who currently hates either the Madison Square Garden building or Penn Station’s network of unfriendly entrances — so, everyone — and, presumably, real estate developers who could cash in on the freed-up air rights.

Why It Won’t Happen: A recent report suggested that moving the venue would cost some $5 billion and take more than a decade to do without interrupting any rail service. Governor Andrew Cuomo has expressed doubt about its practicability, too, and no one can quite seem to agree on where exactly a new Garden should be put. (The report doesn’t touch that question.)

2. Summon a T-REX: In what may be the report’s grandest proposal, the authors lay out plans for what they call the Trans-Regional Express (or T-REX — yes, really). The “new regional rail network” would build on Amtrak’s long-delayed Gateway tunnel between New Jersey and Long Island, which replaced the more ambitious ARC project after the money for that was diverted by Chris Christie to Pulaski Skyway repairs and Jersey Shore ferries. Unifying the existing commuter rails would involve first building a new track extending from the Gateway tunnel to Jamaica, then one extending from near Grand Central to Atlantic Terminal, then a “Harlem Line New Express Tunnel” for the Metro-North extending from Wakefield in the Bronx to the Gateway. And that’s just the new construction in the city limits: There are also sketches for light rail lines between Newark and Paterson, New Jersey, and Hempstead and Oyster Bay on Long Island.

Who Would Benefit?: Future residents across the tri-state area, of course, but the plan’s regional rail proposals aren’t luxury projects. The report considers them nigh-essential supplements to Amtrak’s existing suite of Gateway expansion plans, which RPA estimates will already run into capacity issues by 2040 due to ever-increasing ridership.

Why It Won’t Happen: Cooperation between the MTA, Amtrak, NJ Transit, and the Port Authority is already strained when it’s not outright combative. Putting aside the question of funding, negotiating the rights-of-way for the dozen or so completely new track projects would take multiple lifetimes and require, as the report has it, “reforms to bring down project costs.”

3. Expand outer-borough subway service: In addition to building eight new Long Island Rail Road stations in Queens and significantly increasing train frequency, the report calls for linking a number of currently underserved portions of Queens to the subway. A new spur off the Queens Boulevard line at Jewel Avenue would connect the M and the R trains to Pomonok, Fresh Meadows, and Bayside, while a new train line, the “H Train,” would run along Northern Boulevard from Long Island City to College Point or northern Flushing. Also called for are much-needed train extensions in southeast Brooklyn, including an extension of the 2 and 5 trains all the way down to Marine Park and an extension of the 4 train into East Flatbush to accommodate what the authors call “the next wave of growth” in Brooklyn.

Who Would Benefit?: Tens if not hundreds of thousands of residents who currently have to take a bus to a train in order to commute into Manhattan, but also developers who would presumably be hungry to capitalize on increased property values.

Why It Won’t Happen: Even if there weren’t right-of-way issues to consider, the simple answer is a lack of funding and political will. Building four new stations in ritzy Manhattan neighborhoods took more than a decade. How long would it take to build a dozen new stations in East Flatbush?

4. Streetcars galore: The report reaffirms longstanding (and long-debated) demands for both a BQX streetcar line from Astoria to Sunset Park and a Triboro Rx (TRx, not to be confused with T-REX) line through the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, mostly via already existing rail corridors that could support passenger and freight rail. But that’s only the beginning: It also calls for a number of outer-borough streetcar lines that have never received major discussion before, including one from Downtown Brooklyn to Ridgewood and Glendale, one from Roosevelt Island to LaGuardia Airport, and a thicket of lines connecting Upper Manhattan with Fordham, Soundview, and other parts of the Bronx. “Eight streetcar routes should be considered,” the report says nonchalantly, and “depending on how well these projects progress, 22 more routes should be considered” for either streetcar or Select Bus Service (SBS) conversion.

Who Would Benefit: Residents of Brooklyn and the Bronx who presently waste away on buses that travel at a citywide average of less than eight miles an hour, assuming streetcars can get exclusive rights-of-way that are more clear of traffic than current bus lanes. Also, the growing number of people who take crosstown commutes in the outer boroughs — “more than 50 percent of New York’s job growth in the last 15 years,” the report says, “has occurred outside Manhattan.”

Why It Won’t Happen: Funding and right-of-way, mostly. But there would presumably also be unanticipated challenges in reviving a form of transit infrastructure that hasn’t been used in the city in decades, even if streetcar tracks would be cheaper than new subway lines. (The report’s authors note that streetcar lines, though far more expensive than SBS routes, would be much more likely to trigger new development.)

5. Expand JFK and Newark: Building off the soaring costs and endless slog of the LaGuardia renovation, the report calls for significant expansions of the region’s other two airports, which it notes have some of the worst delays in the country. Newark’s ongoing Terminal A reconstruction would be reconfigured for a thirty-year lifespan, then torn down to make room for a new runway. The airport would also have to be “adapted” (no specifics) to protect it from flooding fueled by climate change. JFK, on the other hand, would see the construction of two new runways and the consolidation of its six terminals into four shared-use terminals.

Who Would Benefit: Anyone who’s ever spent a long night suffering through endless delays at Newark or spent hours on the tarmac at JFK waiting to take off. Oh, and also any Newark customers who don’t want to see their airport underwater.

Why It Won’t Happen: Even the generally optimistic authors admit here that the two expansions combined would cost a staggering $48 billion. The Port Authority, they suggest, could generate that revenue through “airline fees and passenger facility charges” — sounds like an easy sell — but only if airport fees stopped subsidizing other Port Authority projects, as they currently do.

Ambitious though these proposals are, they would make transportation in and around New York a great deal easier, faster, and more equitable. Some measures, like airport expansion and increased cross-river access for commuter rail, will become no less than necessary as the region’s population grows and its infrastructure decays.

Already, though, discussion of the report has centered on its scathing assessment of the subways and the suggestion that the system close on weeknights until the repairs are complete. The immense cost of these repairs, plus the never-ending Cuomo–De Blasio–Lhota squabbles, may mean that the conversation never gets beyond that, and the region’s leaders never look past rebuilding to just plain building. If they do, though, they’ll find in the RPA’s report a robust (though expensive) blueprint for extending transit access to underserved and overcrowded parts of the region, and for capitalizing on opportunities to update aging infrastructure.

Should cross-borough streetcars and new suburban railways ever arrive, they will bring with them questions about gentrification and affordability. Furthermore, the report’s enthusiasm for redevelopment opportunities — as well as its suggestion that union agreements be weakened in order to bring down project costs — should be taken with a grain of salt coming from a board made up largely of real estate executives. The authors are right, though, that New York’s transit infrastructure needs to be transformed, not just patched up. The proposals in this report go a long way toward outlining what that transformation could look like.

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