Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

About UPS, Now More Important During the Pandemic: Cameron on Transportation

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You know those big brown trucks that are keeping us well-delivered during this time of COVID-19? Well, there’s some interesting history and tech to United Parcel Service, or UPS. Founded as the American Messenger Company in Seattle in 1907, the company made most of its deliveries back then to stores, not customers, and made them on foot or by bicycle. Adding a Model T to their fleet in 1913, the company started serving neighborhoods. By 1930 the company expanded to most cities in the East and Midwest, adding delivery by airline cargo partnerships to their modes of transportation.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

There ARE Transportation Silver Linings in the Dark COVID-19 Catastrophe: Cameron on Transportation

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In the post-COVID-19 world (whenever that may be) commuters will be asking themselves one question:  Is this trip really necessary? Sure, when the quarantining is lifted and the life threatening virus seems to have passed (at least until it returns next fall), we may look forward to getting back on the train and on the crowded highways. But the weeks of not commuting have changed our attitudes toward work and the necessity of travel.  Going forward, I think we will be making that daily trek a lot less often and that will have a profound effect on transportation. Sure, plumbers can’t telecommute, but knowledge workers can.  And they make up a large portion of southwest Connecticut’s population.  They’ve been working from home just fine in recent weeks.  So they’ll be asking themselves (and their employers) if a daily schlep into their New York City office is really necessary, or if they can continue to work from home two or three days a week. Being self-employed, I have worked from my home office for over 35 years.  I sure don’t miss the daily grind, nor the office politics, and love my work so I end up doing it six or seven days a week: it’s not a job but a passion.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

‘Years, If Ever’ For Metro-North to Get Back to Pre-COVID Levels, Says Metro-North Chief: Cameron on Transportation

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The road ahead for commuters may be less crowded, or maybe more. One theory has it that, as people gradually return to work, they will shun mass transit out of safety concerns and commute, instead, by car. That could create problems on our roads if people try to drive five days a week. The other speculation is that the “new normal” will mean less commuting overall as people have found they can be just as productive from home and will commute less than the normal five days a week. Work hours may also be staggered, asking employees to go to their jobs every other day to avoid crowding in the office.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

Did the Governor Cut Back Rail Improvements to Get Back at a Rival? — Cameron on Transportation

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Our “aw shucks, golly” Governor seems to have a mean streak. While he probably deserves all the credit he’s getting for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, what he did recently at the Bond Commission seems uncharacteristically mean and vindictive. Somehow a promised $72 million investment in badly needed replacement rail cars for the Danbury and Waterbury branch lines of Metro-North got derailed as the item was deleted from the agenda. Those lines won’t be getting new cars anytime soon. What happened?

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

I Can’t Imagine the Cruise Ship Industry Disappearing. At Least, I Hope Not: Cameron on Transportation

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Have you ever taken a cruise? According to that industry, something like 28 million people worldwide took to the high seas last year. But that still leave 80% of Americans who have never cruised, enjoying the midnight buffets, spas and casinos at sea. Obviously, cruising has lost its allure since the megaships became epicenters of COVID-19 outbreaks, trapping passengers in their cabins for days as some ships searched for a port that would let them dock with their contagious human cargo. Even before the current pandemic cruise ships were notorious hotspots for simpler bugs like the norovirus which caused “acute gastrointestinal illness.” It’s hard to share a confined space like a ship without touching surfaces that harbor the virus.

Lake Avenue Bridge Greenwich over Merritt Parkway black and gold metalwork restored

Merritt Parkway Partnership Wins National Award for Bridge Project

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The recent rebuilding of the Lake Avenue Bridge over the Merritt Parkway in Greenwich has earned Connecticut a new award. A state agency, nonprofit group and business which all cooperated on the project to rebuild the bridge, part of the Merritt Parkway National Scenic Byway, won the 2020 Byway Organization’s Leveraging Services Award bestowed by the National Scenic Byway Foundation project. — an announcement from the Merritt Parkway Conservancy on behalf of the organizations in the partnership

Cited for their collaboration were the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, and contractor Mohawk Northeast Inc.

Maintaining and repairing scenic byways, which are both transportation corridors and tourism and quality of life assets, often generate conflicts between competing missions of safety, efficiency and aesthetic stewardship among agencies responsible for their immediate upkeep and the communities who use them. “The next two generations of drivers on the Merritt will live with the way we treat it today,” Conservancy executive director Wes Haynes wrote to the foundation in appreciation for the award. “Returning this bridge to structural soundness and the way it looked when it was built in 1940 demonstrates that goals of safety, efficiency and aesthetics can be met through collaboration when everyone pulls in the same direction.”

The project required taking the bridge out of service to completely replace the structural steel.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

With Sparse Highway Traffic, Speed Pedals Get Closer to the Metal: Cameron on Transportation

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I’ll admit it: I love driving fast. I’ve even been known to drive faster than 55 mph on I-95, but who hasn’t? (And I’ve never been given a ticket). When the road’s not crawling along bumper-to-bumper at rush hour, driving the speed limit almost seems unsafe, you’re getting passed so often. A couple of years ago I had a reporter “ride along” on I-95 with a state trooper.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

How Train Conductors, Bus Drivers Cope with COVID-19 Threat: Cameron on Transportation

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“In my 30 years in the transit business I never thought I’d be asking people NOT to take the bus,” says Doug Holcomb, CEO of Greater Bridgeport Transit, the operator of 57 buses carrying 5 million passengers a year. But not this year. Like most transit agencies, GBT is asking people to stay home and to ride their buses only if it is essential. So ridership on those buses has dropped 65%. On Metro-North the ridership is down 90 to 95%.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

Telecommuting Won’t Replace Train Commuting, the ‘Economic Backbone of Our State’ — McGee: Cameron on Transportation

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When it comes to transportation, Joe McGee is often the smartest guy in the room. If I want a vision of our state’s mobility future, he’s the first man I turn to. McGee served as then Gov. Lowell Weicker’s commissioner of economic development. For years I worked with him on the Connecticut Metro-North Rail Commuter Council. And until recently he was the Fairfield Business Council’s vice president for public policy, specializing in the intertwined issues of transportation and economic development.

Metro-North Train

Metro-North to Cut Train Schedule to Hourly on New Haven Line, New Canaan Branch Starting Monday

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Starting Monday, April 13, Metro-North will operate on an hourly schedule on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines on both weekdays and weekends. — an announcement from Metro-North

The new, temporary schedule is in response to a reduction in ridership of more than 95 percent as customers in the region have honored stay-at-home orders as a precaution against COVID-19. We would like to remind customers that trains are running for healthcare workers, first responders and essential personnel only. If you don’t absolutely need to be traveling, please stay home. […]

Trains will operate hourly on the New Canaan Branch and every three hours on the Danbury and Waterbury Branches daily.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

What a Conductor’s Seen in Four Decades on Trains: Cameron on Transportation

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Did you ever wonder what it would be like to work for the railroad? That’s what Paul Holland did for 39 years, first with Amtrak, later with Conrail and finally as a conductor on Metro-North. His self-published “My Life As A Rear End” pays tribute to his time in cabooses, but it’s his commuter rail stories that kept me laughing. Like the colorful crowd from the psychiatric hospital on the Harlem line who would escape — often in their pajamas — and ride his trains, obviously unable to pay. Or the many times he was assaulted by knife-wielding thugs only to be rescued by his 6-foot-7-inch cross-dressing frequent rider “Rocky.”

Over the years, Holland collected his stories, often scribbling them on seat checks.

Metro-North Train

MTA: Metro-North Has Only 6% of Regular Volume Left, So Fewer Trains Will Run

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With the passenger volume on Metro-North trains now down 94%, and volumes down an overall 90 percent on all Metropolitan Transportation Authority trains, subways or buses, the MTA, which includes Metro-North, announced Wednesday that it’s cutting back service, including restricting the New Haven Line schedule. The new schedule starts this Friday, March 27. Except at “peak” times, trains will be arriving at stations only once an hour, the MTA said. Preserving some transportation on trains and keeping peak commuting service roughly the same on most (but not all) New York City buses and subways will allow “the healthcare workers, first responders and essential personnel on the frontlines” to get to their jobs, the announcement said. Fewer trains will also make them safer for employees, the announcement pointed out.

Darien Train Station Darien Railroad Station

First Selectman: Darien Playgrounds, Train Station Buildings, Winter Rec Programs Close

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First Selectman Jayme Stevenson early Monday afternoon issued a town “State of Emergency” order that closes all town playgrounds, the buildings at both town train stations, winter Park & Recreation Department programs and “all nonessential municipal meetings.” After issuing a news release at 1:27 p.m., an additional release with more information was sent out at 2:06 p.m. Here is the longer, later version:
Full Text
Sub headings and boldface have been added by Darienite.com:

First Selectman Declares State of Emergency for the Town of Darien Business and Public Facilities/Programs Closure Notice

At 2 p.m. today [Monday, March 16], in response to and in coordination with federal, state and local agencies, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson has issued a Town of Darien State of Emergency. This action has been taken to augment the Town’s response efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 and to underscore to the Darien community the seriousness of the virus crisis. State Level Actions
Beginning at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 16, Governor Lamont, in a coordinated action with the governors of New York and New Jersey, has ordered the temporary closure of all bars, restaurants, gyms, fitness centers and similar public exercise studios, and movie theaters. Restaurants and bars that serve food will be temporarily required to move to takeout and delivery service only.

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

Do You Commute to Norwalk? Check Out Transit District’s Ride-Share Program

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You can’t beat the convenience of on-demand ride services like Uber and Lyft, but wouldn’t it be great if a similar ride-sharing service was available locally and for free? We’re not talking about existing ParaTransit services for the disabled or even some Connecticut communities’ senior transport services. No, the newest “microtransit” services are much more for the masses. Such a service has met tremendous success in Norwalk, and will soon launch in Westport and several other eastern Connecticut towns. In Norwalk
The Norwalk program is called Wheels2U and is run by the Norwalk Transit District using the agency’s paratransit minibus fleet.