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.

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:…