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Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

Free parking isn’t really free

Our obsession with automobiles is not only creating gridlock and ruining the quality of our air, but it’s eating up our real estate and sending land costs upward. Because, once we drive our cars off the crowded highways, we assume it’s our constitutional right to find “free parking.” Why are Connecticut’s towns slaves to antiquated zoning mentalities that assume all humans come with four tires rather than two legs? Why do we waste precious land on often-empty parking spots instead of badly needed affordable housing?

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

It’s time for tolls

Nobody likes the idea of paying tolls. But tolls are coming back to Connecticut and I just wish that lawmakers in Hartford would be honest with us about why. We are running out of money for the Special Transportation Fund, that’s why. And none of the re-funding alternatives are attractive: vehicle miles tax, sales tax, gas tax and yes, tolls. But tolls on our highways would not be a tax.

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

Who should pay for highway sound barriers?

Building and maintaining our highways is expensive. But here’s a quiz question: on interstates 95 and 84, what costs a half-million dollars a mile to construct? The answer: sound barriers. Why are we spending that kind of money to enshroud our interstates simply to protect the peace and quiet of their neighbors? Didn’t they know that living that close to a highway came with the twin costs of increased noise and air pollution along with the benefits of proximity to the highways?

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

Should we widen I-95 in Connecticut?

Gov. Dannel Malloy wants to widen I-95 to alleviate traffic congestion and has commissioned a $1.2 million study to support the idea. But I found a similar study from 2004 that looked at the idea and rejected it for a number of reasons. Why are the governor and CDOT re-studying the same issue and spending valuable tax dollars to do so? Because the first study rejected their widening idea completely and they don’t like that answer.

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

Conductor, collect all the tickets, please

Imagine you’re in a store and you see somebody shoplifting. You’re embarrassed to say anything or to make a scene, but inside you’re pissed-off. You pay for your merchandise, so why should that guy get it for free? And if he’s ripping off the store, doesn’t the merchant actually make you pay more to make up for that loss? It’s morally wrong and it’s just not fair. Yet this is what happens every single day on Metro-North when conductors don’t collect all riders’ tickets.

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

Staying safe on the train

“I’m afraid to get back on the train,” said the trembling woman, obviously shaken and possibly injured in the Hoboken terminal train crash of a NJ Transit train in September. The shock of what she had seen was slowly sinking in and she was wondering how she was going to resume her life and its daily train commute after this horrific experience.

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

So many transportation questions, so few easy answers

Every week I bump into someone on the train or at a store who says… “Hey… You’re that train guy!” Who knew that this job would come with such notoriety? But while nobody seems to want my autograph, they all want to talk about their favorite transportation problem, usually in the form of a question. Here are a few of my favorites, by category:

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

It’s the CT transportation system’s turn to feel the pain

“If our trains and buses rely on the Special Transportation Fund as it exists and is funded today, we will be back for more hearings like this for years to come. What we need is systemic change in how we fund transit. Yet I know of nobody in Hartford with the guts to be honest with commuters and taxpayers about what is coming.”

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

Bikes now allowed on Metro-North… sometimes

Days before the Connecticut Department of Transportation opens public hearings on a proposed 5 percent fare increase on Metro-North, Gov. Dannel Malloy held a media event to promote good news about “improved service” on our highest-fares-in-the-nation railroad. What? A return of the bar cars? More seats on crowded trains? No, nothing that monumental: just a new e-ticketing app and word that bike racks have been installed on our trains.

Posted inCT Viewpoints, Talking Transportation

Connecticut’s rail history offers summer day-trip fun

If you’re looking for family fun this summer, consider visiting one of Connecticut’s many living museums celebrating our rail heritage… All of these museums are run by volunteers who will appreciate your patronage and support. They love working on the railroad and will tell you why if you express even the slightest interest in their passion.