Welcome to Connecticut, kinda sorta maybe

First impressions count.  Arrive at any airport or train station, and you immediately start forming opinions of your destination.  Is it clean and modern, warm and welcoming?  How does the place make me feel?  Are the locals proud of themselves? Well, the same “first impressions” rule is true when you are driving.

Connecticut: Love it or, okay, leave it

The recent debate over tolling our highways should remind us of just how divided our state has become.  Not red vs. blue and not even just upstate vs. downstate.  The real divide is between those who commute by car vs. those who take mass transit. I’ve written for years about the fact that riders on Metro-North pay the highest commuter rail fares in the U.S., and those fares will only keep going up.  Most rail riders have little choice, especially if headed to New York City.  What are they going to do… drive?

Time to curb transportation pollution

The cars, trucks, buses and trains that make up our transportation system are responsible for more pollution than any other sector. Tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide are Connecticut’s largest contribution to global climate change, but our vehicle emissions are also directly responsible for problems in our communities. Pollution from transportation is a leading cause of asthma, strokes and heart attacks in the state, and our most vulnerable populations are being hit the hardest. It’s time we get serious about cleaning up Connecticut’s transportation system, and we don’t have to look far to find the solutions.

Congress must act to fix Connecticut’s crumbling railways

The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package recently approved by President Donald Trump and Congress includes much-needed infrastructure funding that could help Connecticut rebuild its crumbling railways. But it is now up to the Appropriations Committees in both the Senate and the House to take the next step by prioritizing more federal funding for critical repairs and upgrades along Connecticut’s stretch of the Northeast Corridor rail system.

Without privacy protections, you’ll be giving more than money to CT tolls

Picture your daily commute. Now imagine making that drive with Connecticut’s government tracking where and how fast you are going every time you drive through a toll. In this world, the federal government also sees that information and can use it to pinpoint your location and travel habits. Thousands of detailed scans about your travel habits are kept in a state database, without rules for how the government secures or shares them. If Connecticut lawmakers don’t act soon, this could be reality in our state.

Cheap oil and gasoline: Enjoy them while you can

Tired of paying $3 or more for a gallon of gasoline? Well, your pain has just begun. For decades, we’ve lived — and driven — in denial, somehow assuming we have the “right” to cheap gasoline, and therefore, low-cost transportation. Now it’s time to face reality and consider what will happen when — not if — gas hits $10 a gallon, not because of taxes, but because we will use up the planet’s petroleum. Here are some predictions:

Saving money riding Metro-North

Whether you’re a daily commuter, an occasional day-tripper or have friends visiting from out of town, everyone can save money when you go into NYC on Metro-North by following this time-tested advice:…

Let’s act for — not against — prosperity

At some point, once informed by the outcomes of studies, action is needed. Over the past two decades, there has been a stream of studies on the importance of the state’s transportation infrastructure — all concluding that additional investment is essential. … Four studies, four warnings about the consequences of doing nothing and four sets of similar recommendations. It is time to act — during this legislative session — to restore the State Transportation Fund to meet our immediate needs and to commit to a diverse and sustainable stream of funding to meet our long-term transportation, economic and quality-of-life needs.

Public transportation hearings or political theater?

In recent weeks I’ve been criss-crossing the state talking to folks about our transportation crisis:  the proposed fare hikes on trains and buses coupled with service cuts on the branch lines, and the multi-billion dollar spending cuts at the Connecticut Department of Transportation. I call it the “Winter of our discontent” magical misery tour. From Woodbridge to New Canaan, from Old Lyme to West Haven, I’ve talked to crowds large and small, explaining what’s going to happen July 1 and why.  Most folks knew something about our impending doom, but they all left unhappy about the cuts’ specific impact on their lives.

Big Brother is along for the ride

Don’t look now, but someone is joining your travels:  Big Brother. You assume you’re alone, traveling in your car to and from work?  No, you are being watched.  All along I-95 TV cameras are looking for accidents and slow downs.  Though there are specific state laws prohibiting the use of those cameras to write speeding tickets, they can follow your car by model, color and license plate number. Many local cops’ cruisers have license plate readers, scanning every plate and sending its information to a national database that can alert the officer to outstanding warrants, lack of insurance and other stoppable offences.  Some departments store their scan data for weeks, others for years. Now, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is contracting with a private company to have access to a billion license plate records, allowing the agency to know where you were and when.

Time for Connecticut to act on Tesla

Automobile accidents are fourth leading cause of death in the world.  If these new technologies save a single injury or death, I say bring it on. I will gladly get ready for the future knowing that we will need to adapt to thrive and survive. But not everyone in our state is ready to embrace change.   For those of you who may not have been paying close attention, Tesla – the electric car manufacturer that has been leading the charge against climate change – is trying now for the fourth year to gain the ability to sell its vehicles and other products here in Connecticut.

Get back on the bus, Gus

Though maybe not the most glamorous means of mass transit, Connecticut’s 12,000+ local and commuter buses form a vital link in our transportation network. “We’re not just a service for the needy few,” says Greater Bridgeport Transit’s CEO Doug Holcomb, the feisty young leader of one of the state’s largest and most successful bus systems. In other words, single-occupancy car drivers’ perceptions notwithstanding, it’s not just poor folks and the car-less who must rely on the bus. According to Holcomb, 90 percent of GBT’s ridership is either going to school or work. Like rail commuters, some bus passengers own cars but prefer to take the bus for any number of reasons.