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Philadelphia International Airport eyes expansion

The Philadelphia International Airport has its eyes on International Plaza, a 27-acre parcel.

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced the legislation, calling for the city to buy the office buildings and the 27 acres and lease them to the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development.

Officials said the buildings could be demolished to make room for some combination of new facilities for the airport and possibly for United Parcel Service.

"If you had asked me 20 years ago, does it make sense for the airport to acquire International Plaza, my answer would be the same as it is today: absolutely," said James Tyrrell, deputy Philadelphia aviation director of property and business development.

Original source: Associated Press via Lancaster Online
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Amtrak crash raises huge questions about transportation and infrastructure spending

The train disaster, which happened only a few miles from 30th Street Station, raises a lot of questions about the state of our country's infrastructure. 

Investigators into the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia are focusing on excess speed, but there is a related issue: the overall condition of Amtrak and the nation’s infrastructure. One of the reasons that American trains should not travel 100 miles an hour in many places is that the state of our rail system — like the state of our bridges, highways and airports — is not good...

Much of the problem of crumbling infrastructure has existed for years. There is, however, a new development that has made things worse. The combined money that federal, state and local governments spend on construction has dropped significantly, relative to the size of the economy, in the last five years. And only part of the decline stems from the end of the stimulus program, which temporarily lifted infrastructure spending.

Such spending now represents about 1.5 percent of total economic activity, down from about 1.8 percent on average from 1993 through 2008. It’s at its lowest level in at least 22 years. (A hat-tip to Joe Weisenthal, of Business Insider, who calculated this statistic in 2013, after the collapse of a bridge near Seattle.)

Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president, sent an email to us today making an argument similar to Mr. Weisenthal’s: More infrastructure spending would both make accidents less likely and bring economic benefits.

Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia rolls out Indego bike share

The city's long-anticipated bike share has launched following years of planning.

Philadelphia's bike share program is finally rolling.

Mayor Michael Nutter launched the Indego system Thursday with a ceremonial ride in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Officials in the nation's fifth-largest city say the program has 600 bikes and 70 docking stations that operate 24 hours a day.

Users will be able to get a bike at any station and return it to any other station by using a member card or a credit or debit card.

The city has invested $3 million and another $4.5 million is coming from state, local and foundation funding.

Original source: The Associated Press
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Philadelphia named 4th most walkable city in the country

As Wired reports, the City of Brotherly Love has been named the fourth most walkable city in the country by Redfin.

Cities that make life easier for pedestrians are, to many, better places to live. Studies have shown that walkable urban areas are healthier, wealthier and safer (perhaps in part because wealthy people can afford to live in nicer places)—and anyway, who doesn’t want to go outside every once in a while?

If getting around without a car appeals, you should head to New York City or San Francisco (if you can afford either). That’s according to a new ranking of the most walkable large US cities by Redfin, a real estate analysis website and brokerage.

The site uses something it calls Walk Score, an algorithm to measure how convenient it is to do daily errands without wheels, on a 100-point scale. It doesn’t take into account public transit systems (there’s a different score for that), but looks at things like the walking distance to schools, restaurants, and grocery stores, from any given point.

Here's whole list:

New York: 87.6
San Francisco: 83.9
Boston: 79.5
Philadelphia: 76.5
Miami: 75.6
Chicago: 74.8
Washington, D.C.: 74.1
Seattle: 70.8
Oakland: 68.5
Baltimore: 66.2

Original source: Wired
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Could the Broad Street Line extension to the Navy Yard finally happen?

As PlanPhilly reports, PIDC is pushing forward with the idea of extending the Broad Street Line into the Navy Yard.

The Navy Yard is booming right now, adding about 1,000 jobs per year. New buildings are fully leased before construction on them can even begin. Plans for adding 1,500 residential units over the next few years are in the works. And the streets connecting the Navy Yard to the rest of the city are reaching capacity. According to Agate: “You have to find ways other than by strictly automobile to bring 1,000 more employees per year into the Navy Yard.”

“Frankly,” said Agate, “it’s a race against time to make sure that the infrastructure … is keeping pace with the growth the Navy Yard wants to experience.”

Right now, the BSL ends at AT&T Station near the sport stadiums. PIDC hopes to extend the line another 1.5 miles and to add one or two stations in the Navy Yard.  

Original source: PlanPhilly
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Rideshare company Lyft plans Philadelphia roll-out

Lyft, the rideshare competitor to UberX, is planning to launch in Philadelphia; it already operates in Pittsburgh.

Billy Penn reported on a Craigslist ad asking for drivers as well as Lyft signage at City Coho, a co-working space at 2401 Walnut Street.

After several controversies surrounding Uber, 
The New York Times Nick Bilton wrote the company is a “moral alternative.” Lyft costs about the same as UberX, the lower-cost alternative to Uber Black.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Frontier Airlines grows its Philadelphia presense

Frontier Airlines, the budget carrier, is adding routes out of Philadelphia -- a boon for local travelers.

Frontier Airlines has announced it will fly to Chicago O'Hare, Charlotte, and Atlanta daily from Philadelphia International Airport, beginning March 13.

An introductory fare starting at $19 one-way will be available until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday at www.flyfrontier.com for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through April 29...

"This added service gives travelers in the region access to more low-fare flights to popular destinations," said Philadelphia airport CEO Mark Gale. "More choices mean more competition, which is good news for the consumer."

The Denver-based airline began flights in December from Philadelphia to Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, Fla., and Cancun, Mexico.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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A velodrome for South Philly?

An exciting new cycling-centric project has been proposed for South Philly. Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron weighs in.

A group of Philadelphia bicycle-racing enthusiasts is speeding ahead with plans for an ambitious, Olympic-class arena that is intended to position the city as the leader of the nation's growing track-cycling culture, while also providing space for the public to learn and practice the sport.

But to realize the $100 million velodrome, whose swooping form would echo the banked curves of a bicycle track, the city would have to give the organizers a four-acre parcel in South Philadelphia's historic FDR Park, the city's only green space designed by the famous firm founded by Frederick Law Olmsted.

Named Project 250, the privately planned arena has excited the imaginations of cyclists, who believe a state-of-the-art, 250-meter bike track would become a top U.S. venue for international races. The arena, which would occupy a Broad Street site across from the Sports Complex, has already won strong backing from Mayor Nutter and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, as well as from the Friends of FDR Park and neighborhood groups.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philly's transit system blasts into the future

Septa's long-anticipated high-tech update is on the way -- and Philly is jumping straight to the top of the queue. 

A public transit system that still uses metal tokens and paper transfers - yes, in the 21st century - appears finally to be moving into the era of debit cards and pay-by-cellphone technology.

Philadelphia riders can now see evidence of SEPTA Key, the long-awaited smart card system for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Dozens of computerized kiosks, turnstiles and fare boxes have popped up in stations and on vehicles, and testing begins this month.

"We see this project as taking us in the fare payment industry from last place to first place," said Kevin O'Brien, SEPTA senior program manager.

Original source: The Associated Press via The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Big drama over UberX in Philadelphia

The launch of UberX, the company's more casual cousin, in Philadelphia has been full of drama -- and there's no end in site.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In its PUC filing, Uber said it "has no intention to launch service in the Counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without authority from the Commission."

That night, Uber announced the launch of UberX service in Philadelphia, citing the insurance issue and saying it wanted to "ensure you have the convenient and affordable transportation options you deserve."

Asked about the apparent conflict, Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said in an e-mail:

"What we have in Philadelphia is a real transportation emergency. When a number of taxis still don't have adequate insurance, going from one unrated company to another, Philadelphians deserve the safe and reliable options they're demanding."

From the Daily Pennsylvanian:

During the two days after UberX’s Oct. 24 launch, PPA Officials stopped six UberX drivers and impounded their cars.

“Our policy is to do everything we can to shut them down,” Fenerty said. He explained that when UberX drivers are caught, they will be fined $1,000 and have their cars impounded. Uber will also be fined $1,000 for “aiding and abetting an illegal taxi service,” as well as an additional $750 for operating an illegal dispatch system.

But Uber is fighting back. As of Oct. 15, more than 43,000 individuals signed a petition that asked for the state to legalize UberX, but legislators say that it is not going to be approved until 2015. Uber has spent almost $100,000 on lobbying efforts to get this bill, known as HB 2468 , passed in the house.

“Philadelphians have made it abundantly clear that they demand more transportation options in the city. UberX gives residents and visitors the safe, reliable and affordable ride they deserve,” an Uber representative said via email.


Friction over bike lanes in Fairmount

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron weighed in on a bike lane controversy brewing in Fairmount.

Unlike so many of Philadelphia's polar-vortex-ravaged streets, the stretch of 22d between Spring Garden Street and Fairmount Avenue is as smooth and dark as a chocolate bar. It was repaved in August, and yet no white lines ruffle its silky surface. The way things are going, there won't be any for a long time.

Perhaps if the Streets Department had simply presented the roadwork as an effort to calm traffic, reduce crashes, and make the street safer for pedestrians, those stripes and glyphs would have been painted on long ago. Instead, the department's traffic engineers made the mistake of mentioning the B-word - as in bike lane - and now the worthy improvement project is ensnared in the web of City Council politics...

What opponents don't understand is that bike lanes can be a tool to make conditions better for all users. By clearly delineating space for cars and bikes, all players know their place. On Spruce and Pine Streets, which were turned into major bike corridors under Nutter, accidents have fallen by 30 percent, says Andrew Stober, who runs the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities.

The explanation for the drop is simple. The two streets have been reduced to one car lane each, forcing motorists to drive more slowly. Cyclists feel safer, too, so they're less likely to ride on the sidewalk. That increases the chances that pedestrians will have the space all to themselves.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Market East to become 'Jefferson Station'

The naming rights for Market East station have been sold to Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals will pay $4 million for a five-year deal to put the Jefferson name on SEPTA's Market East commuter rail station in Center City.

For an extra $3.4 million, Jefferson can keep the naming rights for an additional four years - a decision it will make at the end of its initial term.

SEPTA will get 85 percent of the money, and its New York-based advertising agency, Titan Worldwide, will get 15 percent, officials said.

The new Jefferson Station name was unveiled in ceremonies Thursday morning at the 30-year-old subterranean rail hub...

SEPTA will use the Jefferson money to make customer improvements at the station, including upgrading entrances and restrooms, SEPTA assistant general manager Fran Kelly said.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Every bike shop in Philly, mapped

Hotpads has put every bike shop in Philly on a handy map. Check it out here.

Original source: Hotpads.com.

Exercise equipment arrives at Philadelphia International Airport

As Flying Kite witnessed on a recent trip out west, Philadelphia International Airport is now home to exercise equipment for antsy travelers. When we walked through, many of the stationary bikes were occupied.

Sitting on an exercise bike in Terminal D on a recent morning, Ms. Donofree was cycling at a leisurely pace, wearing jeans and checking her phone as jets taxied outside.

Without becoming sweaty, changing her clothes or paying fees to an airport gym, she was able to exercise while remaining near her departure gate, thanks to a set of newly installed workout machines.

In late June, the airport became the first in the United States to provide three types of low-impact stationary bikes for travelers to use in the terminal, free of charge, while waiting for their flights.

Original source: The New York Times
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Ride-share legislation introduced in Pennsylvania Senate

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, has introduced legislation aimed at allowing ride-sharing services like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. to operate in the state permanently.

“My legislation resolves outstanding issues and would enable the ride-sharing companies to continue operating,” Fontana said in a statement. “The bill includes provisions that promote safety and security for riders while compelling companies to maintain sufficient insurance coverage for contingencies.”
Provisions of Senate Bill 1457 include:
  • requiring ride-sharing companies to maintain detailed records;
  • establishing driver-training programs;
  • enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol use and the crafting of a complaint reporting system;
  • implementing a background check system and the developing specific driver guidelines that deal with past criminal, moving violations or driving under the influence history.
The legislation also requires drivers to have an updated photo in plain view. The driver would not be permitted to pick up passengers who "hail" the vehicle while in use. It also specifically identifies vehicles that may be used for ride-sharing and a detailed inspection protocol to alleviate safety concerns. The company must also maintain specific levels of insurance for liability, medical payments, comprehensive, collision and uninsured/underinsured coverage.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
Read the complete story here.
91 Transportation Articles | Page: | Show All
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