Let’s spend transportation money on… transportation

Should money intended for transportation projects be spent on transportation projects? I think so. As far back as December 2015, the General Assembly was discussing the importance of ensuring that funding in the Special Transportation Fund (STF) be used “solely for transportation purposes.” In 2017, the House and Senate turned this matter over to the electors in a ballot measure. Now it is up the citizens of Connecticut to answer the question.

Voters should reject the ‘lock box’ ruse

Every state relies on its transportation network to drive economic development and maximize quality of life. For this reason, insufficient transportation funding and mismanagement of spending on projects presents a major roadblock to Connecticut’s economic recovery.
The unacceptable state of our infrastructure has a direct impact on all residents, making commuting a nightmare while constraining existing businesses and dooming many newer ones. A study by U.S. News & World Report named Connecticut’s transportation system the third worst in the nation overall, with the very worst road quality out of all 50 states. Meanwhile, rail and bus services are threatened with cuts on an almost annual basis.

Secret hacks of Grand Central Terminal

There is possibly no more beautiful railroad station in the world than New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. As the destination of over 55,000 daily rail commuters from Connecticut, it’s a place where many of us spend a fair amount of time. I’ve been riding in and out of Grand Central for over 50 years. So to help you maneuver the station’s labyrinth of tunnels, ramps and stairs, here are some of the “secrets” of Grand Central that I find most useful.

Help protect the climate and create jobs with a transportation lockbox

This November, voters will have an opportunity to ensure that Connecticut has the resources needed to modernize our transportation system.  Voting “Yes” on the Transportation Revenue Lockbox Amendment will protect funding for repairing our state’s roads and bridges while expanding access to public transit.  Those investments will help reduce the traffic congestion that costs commuters time and money and chokes our cities with harmful pollution.

Trucks as traffic scapegoats

“Why don’t we just ban all trucks from our interstate highways in rush hour?” The question was asked of me by a small town mayor in Fairfield County who’d obviously given a lot of thought to solutions to our traffic woes.  He’s a smart guy and thought he’d come up with “the answer” to our transportation crisis.
He said he wasn’t in favor of tolls, but liked them as a traffic mitigation tool.  By charging trucks more to drive our highways in rush hour, they’d be incentivized to instead go off-peak.  He was just taking the idea a step further: ban them completely at certain hours.

Too hot to fly

Is it hot enough for ya? Even if you don’t believe it’s caused by humans, there is no doubt our planet is heating up.  And as global warming increases, so will our travel problems. Meteorologists agree that thunderstorms, tornados and hurricanes are all getting stronger and causing greater damage. Hardly a summer passes without extensive flight delays caused by storm-fronts, let alone hurricanes like Harvey and Maria.

As primaries approach, beware the politician’s promise

I used to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and politicians. I actually thought the first two brought me gifts and the latter cared about me and my community. Well, those days are gone. We are now neck deep in the primary round of campaigning for our state’s top officials and I hope you’ve been paying attention. The promises and the BS are piling up pretty fast, especially when it comes to the issue of transportation.

Connecticut’s travel trainers

Imagine being afraid to ride the bus, or being unable to read a timetable. Can you think of what your life would be like without access to a car or mass transit? There are hundreds of our neighbors who live lives of isolation because they are physically, emotionally or mentally unable to ride the bus or train. Some have physical handicaps while others are autistic or have learning disabilities. Shouldn’t they be able to travel like the rest of us?

The Metro-North ‘CALMmute’ or how to ruin a good idea

“Train time is your own time” was the old marketing slogan of Metro-North, encouraging commuters to kick back and enjoy the ride while reading, working or taking a snooze. But in reality, train time is shared time.  They don’t call it “mass transit” for nothing as passengers much share their space with a hundred other commuters on each rail car. 

The Automotive-Construction Complex or why we love our cars so much

How did Americans develop their love affair with driving? Visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington and the transportation exhibit “America on the Move” will sell you on the commonly held theory that when Henry Ford made cars affordable, Americans loved them and demanded more and more highways. But University of Virginia history Professor Peter Norton, author of “Fighting Traffic:  The Dawn of the Motor Age in American cities” says that’s a myth.  Just as outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex, Norton says an automotive–construction complex took over our country, paving from coast to coast.

A railfan reflects

True confession (as if you didn’t know): I am a railfan. But don’t call me a “foamer!” People who love trains come in all shapes and sizes, but “foamer” is a term they universally hate. “Foamers” is how railroad employees refer to railfans because they think we “foam” at the mouth anytime we see a train. To them, railroading is just a job. To us, it’s a passion. Not that I’d want to work for a railroad, mind you.