October 13: NJ Transit in crisis | Bethlehem commits to Vision Zero | Pittsburgh rating projects for development incentives

In the wake of the recent New Jersey Transit crash at Hoboken, the New York Times takes a long look at the health of NJ Transit, once a model agency is now cash-strapped, being investigated for safety lapses, and dealing with the perpetual fallout from outdated infrastructure. “The story of how the nation’s third-busiest commuter railroad declined so rapidly is a tale of neglect and mismanagement that represents an ominous symbol of the challenges facing mass transit systems across the United States in an era when governments are loath to raise taxes.”

Bethlehem has committed to Vision Zero, with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030, reports The Morning Call. Their approach combines investment in street safety, signage, and design with traffic enforcement. Vision Zero was a campaign promise of Mayor Kenney’s. On September 1 OTIS’ director Clarena Tolson told PlanPhilly, “Within the next month we expect to announce the appointment of a Director of Complete Streets and an Executive Order to establish a Vision Zero Task Force.” Neither has yet been announced. Tolson is likely to be named director of the Philadelphia Parking  

The SEPTA Token’s farewell tour continued this week with a piece in Philly Voice looking back at the history of the SEPTA token, and when other systems retired theirs.

Here’s an idea to steal: Pittsburgh says it will start handing out development incentives based on how a project stacks up on a rating system, with 12 categories, including environmental design, weak-market investment, affordable housing, and public amenity. Mayor Bill Peduto said, “The strength of it is in its transparency. So the scores are not only shared with the developers, but the public at large. It is only through that type of transparency that it has the strength that it needs to be followed,” reports Public Source.

Geno’s Steaks has at long last removed the controversial “This is America. When ordering ‘speak English’” sign, which was placed in the window 10 years ago. Billy Penn reports that the sign was removed quietly. 

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