Friday, January 8, 2010

New directions for a new year

Happy New Year

So, it's twenty-ten, as it is being called instead of two thousand and ten. I'm surprised it took that long for the shorthand to kick in.

First of all, it's not the new decade. When the Christian calendar was started, there was no year zero. Zero as the start of a numbering process only started with computers, I think. Boy, is this subject is boring or what? Enough.

Training wheels on mass transit

There are some new things kicking in, and at least one of them is a really positive development.

The state Bond Commission, which is controlled by the governor and does what she wants, today (Jan. 8, 2010) approved $26 million for double tracking work and other improvements on the rail line that goes from New Haven to Springfield, Mass., by way of Hartford.

That means plans for real rail service north of New Haven are on the front burner. They are talking service as often as every half hour during certain weekday hours. This is huge. For decades, my wife worked in Hartford and had to commute each workday from New Haven.

She had two choices. (Don't say bus...nobody has that much time.)

She could drive or subscribe to a van pool. She tried to van pool for a while. It didn't work out because her job didn't allow her to be on the van the same time each day.

So, for most of the two-plus decades, she drove. Now, her successors might have a choice.

Everyone who has been to Europe, not on a bus tour, has experienced the transit system. You can get from anywhere to anywhere else by public transit. That's not the case in Connecticut.

But it might be better soon.

The release talking about the rail improvements said, in part:

"Current plans for NHHS (New Haven, Hartford, Springfield) line call for bidirectional service between New Haven and Springfield running Monday through Friday on a 30-minute peak period schedule.

"The proposal would add several new stations and enhance the Windsor Locks station with a bus connection to Bradley International Airport. Local bus service elsewhere would be reconfigured to connect with passenger stations."

In other words, you can get on a train in New Haven and ride to Bradley without having to worry about traffic, weather, tractor-trailer crashes closing I-91 for hours. Until the folks in New Haven wake up and allow Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport to be something more than a private-plane field with a few commercial flights to Philadelphia, this is great news.


CBS has announced that Morgan Freeman will introduce the CBS Evening News with Katie now that Uncle Walter has a desk in that great newsroom in the sky. That means all three major network news shows are being introduced by actors. Apropos, isn't it?

Talk about irony. The Atlantic Monthly, which features articles so long that one's eyes glaze over and you lose interest long before you reach the end, is running an article in the January/February issue saying that one of the reasons for a lack of interest in newspapers is that the stories are too long. Arggggh.

The Journal-Register Corp., publisher of newspapers including the New Haven Register, has a new boss. He's John Paton, who comes from ImpreMedia, which bills itself as the largest publisher of Hispanic papers in the nation. He also has a reputation for knowing how to use multi-media in newspapering. That's important for an industry where some papers think that if something appears on their Web sites before getting in the paper, then the paper has scooped itself. The JRC went through a prepackaged bankruptcy proceeding last year and sold itself to a number of banks who turned from lenders to owners. Robert Conway, the former CEO who guided JRC through its bankruptcy, told me during one of the final hearings that he didn't foresee any more layoffs in New Haven. Here's hoping the new guy has the same feeling.

So, have a great weekend and, for those in the Tribe, a great Shabbos.

Until next time...

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