Connecticut’s transportation Armageddon

Fare increases, reduced train service, less highway snow plowing, postponed construction.  All of these and more are on the horizon, say Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut DOT because our Special Transportation Fund (STF) is running dry. I hate to say I told you so, but…

How will the Real ID Act affect you?

Something like 1.73 million Americans board airplanes ever day.  And each of them must go through a very necessary screening by the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration.  But beginning late this month, a lot of passengers will be denied boarding because they don’t have the right kind of ID. You can thank (or blame) the Real ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 after 9/11 to make sure people really are who they claim to be.  As any teen can tell you, it’s too easy to obtain a fake ID.  And if teens can do it, terrorists can also.

Some analysis, please, on tolls versus higher gasoline tax

We need a serious comparison of the costs and benefits of tolls vs. higher gas taxes.  Some obvious issues are…
Costs: It should cost next to nothing to raise gas taxes, while tolls might involve significant capital and operating costs.
Equity: It would seem fair that all drivers pay a share of maintaining and improving roads, not just ones using particular highways.
Contribution from drivers from out-of-state: How would the two options compare?

Congestion pricing: Would a toll system really be put at locations that enable effective congestion pricing?  Border tolls would not do so.  Could congestion pricing really be fair and effective in a state with limited alternative transportation options and limited number of lanes on highways?

Feeling sorry for Dannel Malloy; more sorry for us

Six words I never thought I’d write:  “I feel sorry for Dannel Malloy.”

Sure, we’ve had our differences. And yeah, the governor does have the personality of a porcupine and the disposition of a bully, sometimes.  But the man is not evil and he doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him now.  Nor do we. Our governor is a lame duck.  Because he’s announced he’s not running for re-election, he has the political clout of a used teabag.  And even though he’s our state’s leader for another 11 months, nobody cares about him or his ideas any longer.

Updates on the billion dollar bridge and high-speed rail

A few updates on some recent items: HYPERLOOP: In July I wrote about tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s idea to build a 700-plus mph tube system to whisk passengers from Washington D.C. to New York City in 29 minutes using a combination of a near-vacuum and linear induction motors. I noted that Musk has yet to build a working full-scale prototype, and called him “the PT Barnum of technology” offering “more hype than hope.”
At the time, Musk had just gone public after a meeting at the White House saying he’d been given “approval” to start boring giant tunnels for his project. I scoffed at the notion, but have been proven wrong.

There’s more to road paving than you and your automobile know

Tired of driving on potholed roads? Who isn’t? We may not (yet) have tolls, but the terrible condition of our highways takes its toll on our vehicles with bent rims, alignments and other repairs. There are more than 10,000 lane-miles of state highways in Connecticut, of which only 300 are repaved each year. But that work involves more than just slapping a new layer of asphalt on those roads.

The Hyperloop is more hype than hope

Imagine traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York City in 29 minutes, not by airplane but in a large underground tube, sucked along at up to 700 mph.  That’s Elon Musk’s vision for Hyperloop.  But to me, it’s more hype than loop.

Just say no to Connecticut tolls

Some of my otherwise sane fiscally-conservative friends like the idea of tolls, arguing that they have to pay them in other states while citizens from these states get a free ride in Connecticut. This makes no sense. Just because other states are ripping you off, why do you want to be ripped off in your home state too? These same friends also believe the money coming in from the tolls will repair our roads and bridges because the politicians will put the receipts in a “lock box” and only use the money for infrastructure repair.  If you believe this, I will gladly sell you the Statue of Liberty for a mere $1,000.

The MTA management meltdown

It’s not just the summer heat that’s causing an operational meltdown at the MTA, parent agency of Metro-North and the NYC subways.  It’s the years of neglect, under-funding and misplaced priorities that are taking a toll on our vital transit infrastructure. And it’s only going to get worse, as the President of Metro-North has chosen to retire, long before his work is done.