New Solar-Powered Car-Charging Stations Unveiled In Robinson

The Mall at Robinson

The Mall at Robinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  When we were on assignment in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, we stayed across the street from the Mall at Robinson and walked right by these very charging stations.  Should have taken a picture….drat!  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 but if you read the whole article the Post Gazette took a nice picture for your viewing pleasure.

In the parking lot outside the food court at the Mall at Robinson, a silver Chevy Volt sat in a space painted with a green and white electric vehicle decal, waiting for a jolt. Inside, representatives from Eaton and Wesco gathered by a gray kiosk that monitors the amount of energy being generated by the new 8 kilowatt solar panels on top of the mall.

By 11 a.m. the panels had generated 4.11 kw of energy, enough to power 46 laptops. They also generated enough power to give an electric car a full charge in two hours. That’s a perk for hybrid drivers because the mall’s newest car charging stations are connected to the panels.

The charging stations were officially unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, but they have been operational since June. Beth Edwards, the mall’s general manager, said she has been surprised by the response.

“I’ve seen several cars using it. We actually had a mall walker who went out and bought an electric car so they could charge it when they’re walking in the mall,” she said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/07/25/Mall-at-Robinson-unveils-new-solar-powered-car-charging-stations/stories/201407250036#ixzz38VRlqzoC

Speed Limit To Rise To 70 Mph On Stretch Of I-380

English: Interstate 380 northbound at the Inte...

English: Interstate 380 northbound at the Interstate 84 split south of Scranton. Picture taken by Chris Wilson on February 18th, 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG — A stretch of Interstate 380 becomes an experiment next month when state transportation officials boost the maximum speed limit to 70 mph.

Another pilot will raise the speed limit to 70 mph on a 100-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in southcentral Pennsylvania. If all goes well, the rest of the 550-mile toll road system, including the Northeast Extension, could follow suit next spring, said Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton at a press conference on Wednesday.

On I-380, a 21-mile section selected for the pilot program will extend from the Interstate 84 junction in Lackawanna County to Exit 3 (Pocono Pines/Mount Pocono) in Monroe County.

“It’s about time,” said Elwood “Butch” Perry, a 60-year-old independent trucker who lives in Dupont. “They built the interstate system so you can run, not so you can crawl. … We live in a fast-paced society now. Everything has to be there yesterday.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/speed-limit-to-rise-to-70-mph-on-stretch-of-i-380-1.1723951

Testimony: Luzerne County Transit Authority Employees Worked In Fear

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ROYALTON, PA — Employees at the Luzerne County Transportation Authority worked in constant fear of losing their jobs unless they fraudulently inflated ridership numbers, and the former chairman of the board knew about it years ago, according to testimony heard Monday.

Prosecutors began laying out their case against Executive Director Stanley J. Strelish, 60, and Operations Manager Robb Alan Henderson, 58, who were charged last month with conspiring to inflate senior citizen ridership numbers in the “ghost rider” scandal.

Both men, who are free on unsecured bond and remain suspended without pay, declined to comment following an all-day preliminary hearing held Monday before Magisterial District Judge David Judy. The hearing, which continues today, represents the first public testimony in the case.

Robert Turinski, former LCTA board chairman, testified that he suspected Strelish was inflating senior ridership numbers as far back as 2007.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/testimony-lcta-employees-worked-in-fear-1.1719124

Wolf vs. Corbett: 5 Issues They’ll Tussle Over Between Now And November

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The campaigns for Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf traded shots over education funding, natural gas drilling and other issues before Wolf won his party’s nomination.

Voters can expect a lot more of that before Nov. 4.

“I think it’s going to be a long, grueling contest, in which both candidates are going to have to defend an awful lot about their records,” said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

Corbett has had lower approval ratings than Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell had at the same points in their first terms. In a January poll from Franklin & Marshall College, 23 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters said Corbett was doing an “excellent” or “good” job as governor.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_25828929/wolf-v-corbett-5-issues-theyll-tussle-over

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Pennsylvania PUC Cracks Down On Lyft, Uber Drivers

The battle for Pittsburgh’s passengers has heated up, with the Public Utility Commission issuing its first citations since two ride-share companies moved into the area earlier this year.

Court records show PUC enforcement officer Charles Bowser cited 23 drivers of ride-share companies Lyft and Uber between March 31 and April 21. Each driver is cited for operating a passenger carrier without a certificate of public convenience. The citations, issued through the office of District Justice Gene Ricciardi, were all dated April 22, and are being mailed to drivers.

According to court records, the trips cited by Mr. Bowser included four to 777 Casino Drive, which is the Rivers Casino; three trips to 300 West Station Square Drive, which is the Sheraton Station Square hotel; and six trips to 600 Commonwealth Place, which is the Wyndham Grand hotel.

PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said the enforcement officer’s actions — taking rides, then citing the drivers — were not atypical for enforcement procedures.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/04/26/PUC-cracks-down-on-Lyft-Uber-drivers/stories/201404250181#ixzz300fdROVt

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More People Moving To Lehigh Valley, More Leaving Northwest New Jersey, Census Data Show

English: Pennsylvania county map

English: Pennsylvania county map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the latest U.S. Census Bureau data are any indication, the Delaware River is the great divider between growth and decline in this region’s population.

More people are moving out of Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey while more are moving into Northampton and Lehigh counties in Pennsylvania.

The Census Bureau this morning released county-by-county population estimates for last year. The data show both New Jersey counties lost population; both Pennsylvania counties gained population. This pattern has continued for three straight years, the data show.

Births outpaced deaths in all four counties; the population changes are instead tied to people migrating to or emigrating out of the counties, according to the census.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2014/03/more_people_moving_to_lehigh_v.html

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Many Fees For Pennsylvania Vehicles Set To rise On April 1

Several state vehicle-related fees will increase April 1 for the first time in 17 years, with a second group of fees slated to rise July 1.

The increases are mandated by Act 89, the transportation funding legislation that was approved by the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall.

“It’s important to note that Act 89 represents an investment in Pennsylvania’s future: increasing public safety, driving commerce, creating jobs and providing reliable funding for our transportation needs without leaving the bill to our future generations,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1277003/Many-fees-for-Pa.-vehicles-set-to-rise-on-April-1

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York Public Transportation To Improve With Bill

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The aging fleet of public transportation buses in York County will get a boost from the recently passed state transportation bill, as could Rabbit Transit‘s plans for a fleet conversion from diesel to natural gas.

Rabbit Transit CEO Richard Farr said the $2.3 billion package “couldn’t be passed a moment too soon,” as about 64 percent of the organization’s 87-vehicle fleet is beyond its useful life or will be in 2014.

That means they’ve surpassed 12 years of age or 600,000 miles, “and we have vehicles with mileage as high as 900,000 miles,” he said.

The old buses are more expensive to maintain, to the tune of an extra $600,000 per year, he said, and in recent months two of them had to be retired because the frames are cracked beyond repair, making them unsafe to haul passengers.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24801596/york-public-transportation-improve-bill

With House Passage, All Are Aboard State Transportation Bill

Pennsylvania state map county outlines

Pennsylvania state map county outlines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Billions in new taxes and spending for roads, bridges and mass transit in Pennsylvania comfortably cleared a final legislative hurdle Thursday with a bipartisan vote to send a long-stalled bill to the governor.

The state House voted 113-85 to tax gasoline and raise motorist fees over five years to generate at least $2.3 billion in annual additional funding.

Gov. Tom Corbett said in brief remarks at an appearance with a few dozen legislators that he perceived an urgent need to address transportation infrastructure after taking office three years ago.

He said passage of the vote showed leadership and mentioned concerns about public safety several times.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519891

Officials: Transportation Will Suffer With Bill’s Defeat

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Commuter rail service is likely to be cut next year, and Pennsylvania’s highways and bridges will continue to deteriorate, transportation officials said Tuesday, following the narrow legislative defeat of a major transportation funding increase.

Most lawmakers from southeastern Pennsylvania supported the funding measure, but eight area Democrats and five Republicans voted against it. And a key supporter, Rep. Louise Bishop (D., Phila.), was out sick, the only legislator not voting on the measure, which was defeated 103-98 Monday night.

Supporters of the bill, which would have increased gas taxes and motorists’ fees to provide about $2.4 billion in additional funding, said negotiations were continuing Tuesday to try to revive the bill, which was one of Gov. Corbett’s key legislative priorities.

Republican opponents cited the increased taxes and fees as a prime reason for their “no” votes, while Democratic opponents said they objected to a provision that would have increased the prevailing-wage exemption on government construction projects, which some labor unions opposed.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20131120_Officials__Transportation_will_suffer_with_bill_s_defeat.html#QyFtCBDquPww1RMr.99

Scranton, Wilkes-Barre Area Roads Among Bottom Third In Mid-Sized Cities Nationally

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A national research group ranked the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area’s roads among the bottom third of the nation’s mid-sized cities.

More specifically, TRIP ranked both cities and the surrounding suburban areas 17th worst among 62 urban regions with populations between 250,000 and 500,000.

Thirty-two percent of the region’s roads are “in poor condition and provide a rough ride,” according to the report that TRIP released Thursday.

The average motorist in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area pays $539 annually in vehicle maintenance costs related to the substandard roads, which TRIP ranked 18th nationally.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/scranton-wilkes-barre-area-roads-among-bottom-third-in-mid-sized-cities-nationally-1.1563220

Governor Would Sign Transportation Bills

HARRISBURG, PA – Amid Pennsylvania’s stalled debate over how to raise more money for highways and transit agencies, state Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said Friday that Gov. Tom Corbett would sign either of two plans that have led debate in the legislature.

Corbett has not to date publicly endorsed any specific transportation funding plan in the Legislature after a $1.8 billion plan he released in February failed to gain much traction with lawmakers.

But a new willingness by the governor to embrace either bill is a sign that he is no longer willing to let disagreement over some elements of each bill stop him from making it law.

“He wants a transportation bill on his desk,” Schoch said. “What passes both parts of the Legislature I believe he’ll sign.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=514833

Pa. Suburbs May Get Red-Light Cameras For 1st Time

Map of Abington Township, Montgomery County, P...

Map of Abington Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, PA (AP) – A community just north of Philadelphia could become the first suburb in the state to install red-light cameras under a new law allowing the devices to be used outside Pennsylvania’s largest city.

Township commissioners in Abington voted 14-1 last week to install the devices at three busy intersections, according to the Bucks County Courier Times (http://bit.ly/1aLzeDO). The plan still requires a final green light from the state Department of Transportation.

For the past eight years, Philadelphia has been the only place in Pennsylvania where surveillance cameras can snap pictures of cars that fail to stop at red lights.  Scofflaws are fined $100.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130915_ap_7992b265fe6a44cc988f7b3c1ed8aa49.html#EdSIqsZhe7E1At6q.99

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Deficient Bridges Won’t Be Quick Fix

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nearly one of every four bridges in Northeastern Pennsylvania is structurally deficient, a Times-Shamrock Newspapers analysis found.

And, because of decades of neglect, repairing those bridges “will take years to catch up,” a local transportation expert said – even if state lawmakers approve a transportation bill this fall.

“Once a bridge gets to be 50 to 60 years old, you can’t go in and just patch it,” Thomas Lawson, co-chairman of the Focus 81 Committee, said.

Interactive: Search for the most deficient bridges in NEPA

Instead, numerous bridges around the region, which has more deteriorating bridges than the state average, will require superstructure overhauls “at minimum,” he said.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/region-s-deficient-bridges-won-t-be-quick-fix-1.1520394

Mother Of Montoursville Flight 800 Victim Surprised At New Crash Cause Claim

This photograph is part of the National Transp...

This photograph is part of the National Transportation Safety Board accident report for TWA Flight 800. The date on the photograph shows as May 20, 1997. It is figure 29 of the report, which is described as: A photograph of the large three-dimensional reconstruction, with the support scaffolding visible. Uploaded at full size as pulled from the report. URL of this report: http://www.ntsb.gov/Publictn/2000/AAR0003.pdf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MONTOURSVILLE — Claims of proof that the cause of the TWA Flight 800 crash in 1996 was an external detonation comes as a surprised to a mother of one of the 21 people from Montoursville, Pa., who died aboard the plane.

Irenay Weaver, whose daughter Monica was one of the 16 Montoursville High School students killed, said she was feeling disbelief upon learning Wednesday that former investigators of the crash are making that claim in a documentary that’s slated to be released next month.

Weaver questioned why people will not let it go.

“We’ve let it go,” she said of the victims’ families. “I don’t think we will ever know (the cause.).”

Read more:  http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/mother_of_montoursville_flight.html#/0

PA Senate Passes $2.5 Billion Transportation Funding Package

Four months after hearing Gov. Tom Corbett’s call for a transportation funding plan in his budget address to the Legislature, the Senate delivered one mightily.

By a 45-5 vote, the Senate today approved a transportation funding plan that not only raises the $1.8 billion by 2018 that Corbett wanted.  It goes $700 million beyond that.

The measure now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.  Its fate is uncertain in the House because of the cost implications on consumers.

All midstate senators voted in favor of the legislation.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/06/senate_passes_25_billion_trans.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Tax On Airline Flights Could Increase

The cost of flying might be going up, but this time it’s not the airlines raising prices.

The Obama administration has proposed raising the taxes on air travel by about $14 per flight, a move airlines strongly oppose.

Higher taxes are needed to help reduce the deficit, pay for improvements at the nation’s airports and add thousands of new immigration and customs officers to reduce wait times to process foreign visitors, the administration says.

Airlines say higher taxes will backfire and hurt the economy.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/la-fi-travel-briefcase-20130527,0,2840007.story

Study Confirms Poverty Hits The Suburbs, Too

Say poverty in the Philadelphia area, and it conjures images of North Philadelphia or Kensington, not the suburbs.

But the suburbs on both sides of the Delaware River are becoming steadily poorer, part of a national trend that confounds long-held beliefs that life is always better in greener pastures beyond urban limits.

“People have this cliched notion of poverty being based in the inner city,” said Adele LaTourette, director of the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, which has offices in Trenton and North Jersey.  “But it’s been moving into suburbia for some time.

“No one wants to think that their neighbors are becoming poor.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20130520_Study_confirms_poverty_hits_the_suburbs__too.html#jtGAhiCISV3muuo1.99

Changing Skyline: Philly Steering Toward Bike Sharing

Philadelphia didn’t need Bicycling magazine to confirm that it is one of America’s best biking cities (No. 17 on its 2012 list).  You can see it every day on the streets:

Near northeast corner, May 2005.

Near northeast corner, May 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The steady stream of commuters sluicing down Center City‘s bike lanes.  The tangle of bikes hitched to U-shaped racks and bike corrals.  (More, please.)  The proliferation of neighborhood bike shops.

Philadelphia probably could have ranked higher in the magazine’s esteem if it had a bike-sharing program, like most of the list’s top 20 cities.  You can now find cheap, on-street bike rentals in more than 135 places around the world, many of them with worse weather and hillier streets than Philadelphia.  Yet the city has remained strangely ambivalent toward the concept, even as private bikes have become a popular transit option within the city.

But the sight of Mayor Nutter tooling around Rittenhouse Square last week on a canary-yellow cruiser suggests Philadelphia is finally ready to commit.  To show the city’s seriousness, his Transportation Department organized a daylong bike-sharing demonstration with three top vendors, supplying a docking-station’s worth of bikes in paint-box colors.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20130510_Changing_Skyline__City_steering_toward_bike_sharing.html#oeXi4rzPYwBAAXdv.99

NEPA Lagging In Bicyclist-Friendly Roadways

WILKES-BARRE — The desire for more bicycle-friendly paths in Luzerne County — from lanes on roads to other areas designated specifically for cyclists — is strong, according to enthusiasts.

The ability to implement them, many advocates have found, is not as robust.  Cycling enthusiasts say Northeastern Pennsylvania is behind the times in welcoming

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania

Counties constituting Northeastern Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

to share the road, even though they have a legal right in the commonwealth.

“We’re way behind the rest of the world as far as having the facilities to be able to ride, especially on the road,” said Louie Colarusso, a bike technician at Sickler’s Bike and Sport Shop in Exeter.  “The majority of cities in America have bike lanes, and in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton you’re taking your life in your hands every time.”

Phil Cable, store manager of Sickler’s, said he lives in the borough and bikes to work when possible.  Drivers are generally friendly, but sharing the road is a two-way street.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/444128/NEPA-lagging-in-bicyclist-friendly-roadways