Today’s Headlines

  • Region Faces Biggest Round of Fare and Toll Increases in Decades (NYT
  • Lew Fidler Proposes Zillion $$$ Congestion Pricing Alternative Tonight (Politicker)
  • Congress: Funding Amtrak is a Bargain (NYT)
  • Residential Parking Permits Would Help Cyclists (Brooklyn Paper)
  • Increasing Demand is Likely to Keep Oil Prices High (NYT)
  • Climate Change and the Politics of Fear (CityRoom)
  • NYPD Apprehends Second Sidewalk Chalk Artist (Brooklyn Paper)
  • Personal Happiness and the Public Sphere (NYT Letters
  • Chinese City Imposes Bike Lane Requirements for All New Roads (Planetizen)
  • MTA Official Running for Congress Supports Fare Hike (News)
  • Larry Littlefield

    The Wall Street Journal reports a merger between Zipcar and Flexcar. Neither firm is profitable as of yet.

    As part of the merger, the insurance level will be increased to $300,000 (which Flexcar had) and the free mileage will be increased to 180 (which Zipcar had).

    Recall a past discussion of whether a family that occasionally requires a car would be better off renting one when required. Insurance was one of the problems identified, so the higher limit would help.

    Of course, with one rate for insurance for everyone using a firm’s cars, a driver with one moving violation and no accidents in 30 years of driving (me) would pay the same as someone with past DWI convinctions.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I see that Fidler posted comments on the Observer piece. Maybe if we avoid making offensive and counterproductive fat jokes he would join our discussions too.

    It would be about time for them to build a Staten Island passenger rail tunnel, and it would definitely take cars off the Gowanus. Cheaper and possibly just as effective would be to reconnect the North Shore Railway to New Jersey and allow people to transfer to New Jersey Transit and PATH trains at Newark. I’m looking forward to Fidler’s other points, but I hope he has workable ideas for how to pay for them.

  • Niccolo Macchiavelli

    I have never done a fat joke, lots of other politically incorrect jokes yes, but never a fat joke. And, Lew was kind enough to respond to my minimalist posting on the Politicker.

    The issue of the Gowanus replacement is a good extension of the debate.

    Again, there are many good proposals as to physically what to do with that space. However, who pays for what is key. A little toll on that road would do wonders for both congestion and the bond rating. The people in Staten Island have comforted themselves since they left Brooklyn with the self-pity myth that supposedly the toll on the Verrezano was supposed to be removed when the bridge was paid off. They still live with that mythology and should not be challenged on it, they will flip.

    However, the reality is they knocked down about 13 miles of Brooklyn for the stupid approaches and on-going cost to Brooklyn in terms of polution, (noise and air), lost economic activity (housing and businesses), congestion and tax receipts. Those are on-going expenses, loses for everyone else and in effect a subsidy for SI.

    That is the way the transportation political economy. It transfers resources from one jurisdiction to another. What a toll does is grease up that transaction.

    The VZ Bridge transferred real estate value and productive economy from Brooklyn to Staten Island. The toll on the VZ brings some of that back in MTA service and capital. (A lot of it stays on SI too with the steadily expanding bus service and Staten Island rail road.)

    A really great thing can and should be built to replace the Gowanus and there are no shortage of good proposals. Paying for them is another matter. A simple toll will do the job and Brooklyn can reclaim a lot of lost real estate and economic value. Just tolling the trucks on the Gowanus can pay for the rail tunnel.

    Imagine hearing the Truck owners howl if that went down, transferring economic value from the diesel burning rubber to electric steel rail (the former freight line on the Bay Ridge Branch was electric for fifty years, since the steam days). It will be worth the toll just to hear the millionaire truck company owners based in Jersey scream.

    In this sense PlaNYC is the tip of the iceberg the point of the spear or the grease for the squeaky wheel of transportation funding. The Big Dig is Boston is full of road pricing contradictions, was the most costly piece of roadway ever built and did nothing to connect North and South Stations. It should not become the standard which good neighborhood clubhouse guys like Fidler view transportation funding and policy.

  • gecko

    Regarding, ” . . . Politics of Fear” (CityRoom) best quote

    Mr. Harbach: “The scariest thing about global warming is how much more scared the experts are than any of us.”

  • Ian Turner

    Larry,

    It should be noted, however, that you can’t get a zipcar or flexcar membership unless your driving record is adequate. This is, of course, intended to lock out people who can’t afford their own car because of superexpensive insurance.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (It should be noted, however, that you can’t get a zipcar or flexcar membership unless your driving record is adequate.)

    That’s interesting. Rental car companies, on the other hand, make up for the high level of accidents, lawsuits and insurance fraud in places like Brooklyn by jacking up the rates.

    Zipcar could work for a monthly trip to Costco, or to visit relatives in the burbs. The question is, how would it work for camping and visiting in-laws in the Catskills or elsewhere upstate? And how is availability on major holidays, when we’d be more likely to take the trip?

  • like any other car rental, the practicality of using zipcar for camping trips and family visits will depend on how much excess mileage is required and how much the car will be used other than for travel to the destination itself. availability on holidays is a non-issue if the car is reserved in advance, again like any other rental car; and zipcar has enough locations that there should be one available somewhere even on short notice.

    i don’t know how it could be implemented, but i wish there were a one-way model for zipcars, which would allow driving to a destination and dropping the car off, then picking one up for the return trip. certainly on a camping or cycling trip it seems crazy to pay for a car rental while the car sits in a lot, and is also unavailable to another user.

  • Emily

    My boyfriend and I have had a zipcar membership for a year, and up until now had really liked it for occasional in-city errands. The concept of picking up the car down the street, was convenient. Today though he received an email that he might be held liable for some kind of damage. He says there was no kind of accident or damage to the car that he saw.

    The car is parked in a garage, but no one seems to check the cars in or out to inspect them immediately after use. The parking attendant could put a nice dent in the car, blame it on a user, and you’re out 500$, which is the deductible. The ZipCar is hardly more economical than renting a car, and now we feel so uncomfortable and naive for not considering this liability. We are canceling out membership and can’t recomend it to anyone else.

  • Jonathan

    I agree with Anne that it seems wasteful not to have a one-way plan, especially when driving to cities that already have a flex/zip garage.

    I checked the zipcar prices yesterday, and for a New Yorker like me it cost $100 daily for weekend use. I read that as costing $300 for renting on Friday and returning on Sunday; I used to get cars from Avis for about $160 a weekend, with unlimited mileage. Zipcar doesn’t seem like a fantastic bargain to me, frankly.

  • dave

    friends of mine who do zipcar would agree – they say it is good for lots of frequent, short city trips, but not good for occasional, long out-of-town trips.