How My Transportation Predictions for 2017 Worked Out: Cameron on Transportation

Download PDF

This is the time of year when some commentators kick back and do end-of-the-year wrap up stories, as if you haven’t been paying attention for the past 12 months. Bah, humbug. I don’t review the past… I predict the future!

So let’s review my prognostications as published one year ago and see how good my crystal ball really was.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

Metro-North

I said the new M8 cars would perform well, which they did. But the tracks, switches and catenary wires would need repairs, often causing delays … check. Ridership would rise, leading to further crowding. Oh, yeah.

On this one I’ll give myself a Grade of an A.

Gas prices

As predicted, gasoline prices went up as OPEC tightened its controls. And they’ll probably rise further next year. Grade: A

Stamford rail garage

A year ago, the state Department of Transportation had finally pulled the plug on its ill-fated deal with a private developer to replace the Stamford rail garage with a high-rise, moving parking a quarter mile from the station.

That was a prediction I’d made two years ago, but when it came true in 2016 I predicted that CDOT would learn its lesson on any new development, engaging the public early on in the process… which they did.

No progress to report, yet. But this time I’m confident it will be an open decision-making process. Grade: A

State taking over parking

Another oldie but goodie, my annual prediction that CDOT would finally take over control and operation of all rail station parking, standardizing rates and waiting lists. This one I got wrong. Grade: F

Flying

I was 100 percent accurate in predicting the retirement of the 747 from U.S. skies… and a slowdown in orders for the mega-jumbo A-380… all because of fuel inefficiencies. But ironically, there is renewed interest in supersonic transports, with a U.S. company looking for orders in 2018. Grade: A

Interstate 95

This was a no-brainer. More traffic, increased congestion and no activity on Gov. Dannel Malloy’s plans to widen the highway. We are still waiting for results of the $2 million consultant’s study of that plan (previously studied and rejected in 2004).

But whatever they suggest this time, it’s moot because we have no money. This one was too easy to call, so I’ll only give myself a B+.

Let’s go, Connecticut

I accurately predicted that Malloy’s 30-year, $100 billion transportation wish-list (not a plan) would remain stuck, “just like his political career.”

Though it wasn’t until April 2017 that Malloy declared himself a lame duck, it seemed clear to many he wouldn’t run again, given his unpopularity and the state’s failing economy.

What we didn’t see was the Legislature would ignore warnings about the draining of the Special Transportation Fund, all but dooming Malloy’s transportation vision, not to mention snow plowing, road repairs, additional M8 rail cars, etc. Grade: A-

Trump money

Sure enough, this issue was what I feared: “a wild card, just like Trump himself.” All of us who take the roads and rails were hopeful that “Donald the Builder” would find the $1 trillion he promised to spend on infrastructure.

But given the recent battle on tax reform, generating about that same amount in a looming deficit, infrastructure spending dreams seem on life support. Again, that wasn’t the gutsiest of calls, so I’ll just give myself a B.

Final grade: B+

Next week, I’ll share my predictions for transportation in 2018.

_________

Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for 25 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group and also serves on the Darien RTM and as program director for Darien TV79. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

Republished with permission of Hearst CT Media.