Today’s Headlines

  • Paterson, Silver, and Liz Krueger Reject Senate Dems’ MTA Plan (NYT, News, Post)
  • News, Post Hammer Malcolm Smith and Fare Hike Four
  • Nicole Gelinas Calls Their Proposal a ‘Phony Fix’ (Post)
  • Jim Dwyer and Bill Hammond Think Smith Has to Woo GOP Senators to Rescue MTA (NYT, News)
  • Sander Reportedly on the Way Out as MTA Chief; Marc Shaw Next in Line (Post)
  • NY1 Asks Straphangers What They Think of MTA Rescue Options
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 on Schedule to Open This Year (Curbed, Post)
  • DC Building a ‘Bicycle Transit Center’ at Union Station (DC Examiner via Streetsblog.net)
  • LA Adding Hundreds of Bike Racks and Lockers at Metro Stations (Streetsblog LA)
  • How Much Do Bicycles-Only Households Save Compared to Car Owners? (Wheels)
  • Steve

    Didn’t Marc Shaw get the MTA into this mess? Does that qualify him as the guy to work their way out?

  • Glenn

    What the MTA needs is someone with indisputable financial rectitude that is respected in the legislature. I’m not sure Marc Shaw is that person. For instance, Carl McCall would be an interesting selection.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Didn’t Marc Shaw get the MTA into this mess?”

    Shaw and Sanders are smart and thoughtful guys.

    But Sander, instead of coming in and immediately calling out what happened in the past and imposing the cutbacks, spent a year pretending things were OK and talking about 50-year plans.

    Shaw spent several years going along with the legislature’s desires to cash in now and take as much as they could from later.

    The entire MTA Board signed off on those plans and budgets. Had I been on it, I would have resigned in protest several times. (Heck, I left a job at the agency to run against my state assemblyman I was so ticked off).

    As for McCall, he’s the guy who released report after report in the 1990s pointing out (correctly) that the state budget was dangerously out of balance and only being supported by an unsustainable boom on Wall Street. While at the same time pushing through the massive pension enhancement of 2000 to get union support for his run for Governor while claiming (lying) that soaring profits from Wall Street investments would pay for it all. The bullshit assumption in state law that the stock market would go up more than 8% per year from the level of 2000 (it’s actually down half) is his.

    On top of that, he was on the board of the New York Stock Exchange that awarded that ridiculous $132 million (or something like it) in pay for it’s CEO. While there are some people I’m ticked at for the financial rape and pillage of the public sector, and some for the financial rape and pillage of the private sector, McCall had a hand in each!

  • An Open Letter to The Hon. Ruben Diaz, Sr.:

    Dear Senator Diaz:

    Mass transit is the life blood of the Bronx. The last time people forgot this and the state failed to adequately invest in the MTA’s capital needs, they tore down the Third Avenue Elevated subway line in 1973. It was one of the worst things to ever happen to your district. Do you remember the 1970s housing abandonment, arson, job loss and population loss in Melrose, Morrisania and Mott Haven? The loss of mass transit was one of the main reasons this happened.

    Senator Diaz, this is serious, and it needs your serious attention. The MTA capital program funds the maintenance and rehabilitation of the Bronx’s subway lines and stations.

    Why you would ignore Bronx mass transit riders so that wealthy Connecticut and Westchester commuters can drive through your district for free, causing asthma and degrading neighborhood streets with traffic, is baffling and infuriating.

    Who do you represent?

    Sincerely,
    Susan Donovan

    Cc:

    The Hon. Pedro Espada, Jr.
    The Hon. Carl Kruger
    The Hon. Hiram Monserrate
    The Hon. Malcolm Smith, Senate Majority Leader

    diaz@senate.state.ny.us
    Espada@senate.state.ny.us
    kruger@senate.state.ny.us
    masmith@senate.state.ny.us
    Sent to Hiram Monserrate via his web form.

  • The NY Times has an interesting quote from a police precinct commander regarding illegal and dangerous police parking parking. This guy is from the 88th — but the exchange is probably relevant to most other NYPD precincts:

    Q. “Why are police permitted to park their personal vehicles at an angle in front of the precinct on Classon Avenue, simultaneously blocking the sidewalk and obstructing an entire lane of traffic?…you would do well to consider the message being sent to the community through the rear ends of your cars. You seem to be telling us A) we don’t live here, B) the rules you have to follow don’t apply to us, and C) we don’t really care if that inconveniences you.”

    A. “No reply.”

    Full exchange is here: http://tinyurl.com/c2hr5r

  • Doug

    – DC Building a ‘Bicycle Transit Center’ at Union Station (DC Examiner via Streetsblog.net)

    – LA Adding Hundreds of Bike Racks and Lockers at Metro Stations (Streetsblog LA)

    While this city debates a potential massive fare hike and cuts in bus and subway service, how is it possible that two car-centric cities are leaving New York in the dust with new policies, bike parking, and more? As it is with so much else — fashion, finance, entertainment, technology — New York should be at the forefront of sustainable transit. Instead, even with its improvements in public space, the Big Apple seems to be getting left behind by Portland, Boston, DC, and now even LA!

  • rex

    Thumbs up for Patterson. He sounded like Larry Littlefield in that Times article. When Patterson couldn’t pull the trigger on Hillary’s replacement, I kinda wrote him off as place holder. Yesterday he sounded like all fire and brimstone, telling truths and smoting demons, err democrats.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “How is it possible that two car-centric cities are leaving New York in the dust with new policies, bike parking, and more?”

    Bicycles are cheap, not only for the rider but also for the community. That and the health benefits are why I think they are the wave of the future.

    All you have to do is reallocate some space from the automobile, and have a place that has just enough density to put lots of stuff in bicycle distance.

    NYC has lots of stuff in bicycle distance, but street space is scarce. Auto-centric cities have more over-built street space to reallocate, so bicycle infrastructure is easier for them. Not only that but other real estate is cheaper too, for off-street bike facilities.

    A place like Phoenix is hopeless, but for places like LA, SD, Balt., etc. the bike is a great deal.

  • how is it possible that two car-centric cities are leaving New York in the dust with new policies

    Maybe their politicians and unions are less corrupt than ours.

    I’m interested in hearing a defense of the “retire at 55” policy that Nicole Gelinas pointed out in her article today. We can’t possibly afford that.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I’m interested in hearing a defense of the “retire at 55″ policy that Nicole Gelinas pointed out in her article today. We can’t possibly afford that.”

    Ironically, transit does contain titles for which I don’t mind a “retire at 55” policy as much — infrastructure maintainer and bus and train operators, for example. To many other workers whose work is not as physically demanding, however, get the same deal.

    (As for health insurance, it ought to be universal).

    The problem is that in 2000, when the age was already 55, the state legislature enacted a “free” enrichment eliminating the 3% contribution by employees, which was already low, and adding an automatic inflation adjustment, sweeteners that were neither worked nor bargained for.

    And for several years, as well, the employer contributions were unreasonably low. The MTA and other agencies in effect deferred pension contributions that should have been made then until now.

    What the state could do now is pass a bill requiring an employer share of 8 percent for most workers, 12 percent for those who have to lift heavy loads, drive vehicles, or work out of doors in all weathers, and 15% for public safety jobs. The employees could be required to pay the rest, AFTER the employer contributions that sould have been made in the past are paid back.

    That could mean a hefty take-home pay cut in the short run. But lots of people are having their pay cut. And you wouldn’t find demand for 20/50 if the workers would end up paying for it themselves.

  • I’m not buying that operating a bus or train is all that “physically demanding”. Airplane pilots work until full retirement age. Why can’t MTA workers? The obvious answer is that pilots are unable to hold local governments hostage for sweetheart deals.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Airplane pilots work until full retirement age.”

    That’s a recent change I was not aware of.

    http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2007/dec/14/business/chi-fri_pilots_1214dec14

    In any event, under my proposal the workers would by paying extra to retire at 55, and if that’s what they want, fine if they pay it.

    And just remember when benefits are cut for new hires, the assumption that it is impossible to reduce benefits for existing workers is not true. You can’t “reduce or impair” the pensions, but you can change their contribution to them, and increasing contributions are the opposite of impairing the pensions.

  • Nicole Gelinas

    To Rhywun #9:

    Thank you!!! You made my day. I am so tired of writing about this and having it brushed off as unimportant, something about which nothing can be done, or my bizarre ideological fetish that is tolerated at best by more enlightened people.

    The stark reality is that three years from now the MTA’s labor liabilities will have risen to be $700 million higher, annually, than they are today, consuming one-third of the Ravitch money everyone is working so hard to get. Actually, it will probably be worse than that, as pension values in the market sink and the employer — the MTA — has to make up for those losses.

    And of course, there are some hard-labor jobs where it likely makes sense to have early retirement, as Larry notes. But in general, if the public sector wishes to hang on to its generous benefits, relative to what’s now available in the private sector, it should have to pay much more for them, in the form of much higher contributions during their working lives, a later retirement age for most jobs, and lower benefits in exchange for the immense value that derives from the fact that the benefit is guaranteed for life, unlike those in the private sector.

    I would love to hear one of the real transit advocates explain why it’s OK for people who care about mass transit to completely ignore this issue. It is a huge reason for capital neglect, especially in the future, as benefits grow unchecked. (And saying that “AIG and Citigroup got us into this trouble and they’re getting theirs so why shouldn’t the unions get theirs” doesn’t count as an argument. The average person riding the subway system is not a bonus-taker at AIG or Citi.)

  • Larry,

    Huh, it was only 60?? I’d swear I’ve seen lots of pilots that look older than that. Older than 65, even. But… OK. I stand corrected.

    Nicole,

    I’ve enjoyed your writing for a while, especially as one of the saner voices at the Post and at City Journal… I don’t agree with everything written at those outlets but you do seem to know your stuff about local economic issues. Keep it up.