Today’s Headlines

  • Republicans Won’t Back MTA Rescue Without Road and Bridge Funding (NYT, Newsday)
  • Study: Particulate Pollution Shortens Life in Urban Areas (BBC)
  • Most Straphangers in Ruben Diaz, Sr.’s District Are Just Fine With Bridge Tolls (WNYC)
  • How Transit Doomsday Brinkmanship Played Out in Chicago (Politicker)
  • Price of Oil Is on the Rise, and the Feds Still Aren’t Funding Transit Service (Yglesias)
  • High Anxiety at the New York Auto Show (NYT)
  • City to Monitor Congestion in Lower Manhattan With High-Tech Network (NY1)
  • Bus Line on the Chopping Block Gets Two New Shelters (NYT)
  • Merchants Gripe About Construction of Bleecker St. Subway Connection (News)
  • Architect Proposes Wrapping BQE in Solar Panels at Brooklyn Bridge Park (Bklyn Paper)
  • St. Louis Streets Way Too Wide to Walk Across (STL Urban Workshop via Streetsblog.net)
  • Larry Littlefield

    As I discussed on Room Eight

    http://www.r8ny.com/blog/larry_littlefield/pataki_bruno_and_silver_or_people_like_them_in_boston.html

    You’ve got the same deal going down in Boston as well as Chicago. Pension enrichment and underfunding and massive, massive debts (starting with former Governor Weld who, not surprisingly, then decided to run for Governor here).

    And you’ve got the same deal.

    http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/2009_04_10_MBTA_plans_for_drastic_cuts_unless_state_steps_in/srvc=home&position=recent

    “The MBTA would make drastic cuts to bus and rail service unless the state steps in to help the agency deal with its $160 million deficit.”

    “The cuts outlined in a state document obtained by The Boston Globe would save the agency $75 million, and combined with $85 million generated by fare hikes, would bridge the deficit.”

    “According to the backup plan, which has not been made public, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority would end evening and weekend commuter rail service, eliminate some trolley stops, discontinue some bus routes, and lay off more than 800 employees if the state does not step in.”

    “The MBTA has delayed making the plan public as it awaits action from the Legislature on a proposed gas tax increase to aid the state’s transportation system.”

    Last commuter train out of Boston: 7:00 pm according to another aritcle sent by a friend. I wonder if state polticians attended conferences back in the 1990s the exchange information on how to gain popularity and reward their friends by screwing the future. The information got exchanged — and the policies replicated — somehow.

  • J. Mork

    Good to hear that the senate repubs are asking for something. Maybe there is hope for tolls after all.

    As for the particulates article, don’t forget that NYC residents now have a longer life expectancy that the US as a whole. So the benefits of living in the city seem to counteract any detriment of increased particulates. (Not to say that we shouldn’t strive to reduce them anyway, of course.)

    (see http://nymag.com/news/features/35815/ for the life expectancy numbers)

  • Larry Littlefield

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/04/10/mbta_plans_for_drastic_cuts_in_bus_rail_service/

    Here’s a better article on the situation in Boston. Of course I’ve read about the transit cuts in Calfornia here on Streetsblog.

    There is lots of economic pain as a result of the recession, but remember transit ridership (unlike business sales) is going up, so the recession only gets part of the blame. So what does it mean?

    I’m glad to see the Bleeker Street connection is moving forward for now, but it should have been finished five years ago and the future is uncertain.

  • Glenn

    Fine, make a deal with Skelos. At this point, I just want the Fare hike Four to be cut out and learn their lesson.

    My only ask is that Governor Paterson build in an analysis of highway funding that is based on current use and need based rather than any future projections of growth in driving. Oil prices are on the cusp of increasing again (perhaps even more dramatically). Any highway funding should be on a “fix it first” basis instead of building highways to cornfields.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Any highway funding should be on a “fix it first” basis instead of building highways to cornfields.”

    In New York, fixing is all that is being talked about.

    They did to roads what they did to transit. They set up a dedicated “trust fund” for road and bridge maintenance, with related revenues. Then stole the money within two years to balance the budget, as in the early 1990s, borrowing the difference so maintenance could continue for a while.

    But not all those gas taxes and registration fees are going to interest payments, leaving no money to maintain the roads and bridges. They really have destroyed the future in every case, and everyone knew it.

  • It really does suck about the drop in business around the Bleecker/Broadway-Lafayette construction, but I’m not really sure what the alternative is – fixing that transfer is long overdue.

  • Glenn

    Based on everything I’ve now read, the Republicans want money for upstate roads to be included for their votes on the MTA, but they don’t want a payroll tax.

    Ok, fair enough – at least they are willing to offer their votes.

    But leaving out the payroll tax is big and it puts the burden on automobile drivers most as far as I can tell. That leaves the funding burden on vehicle ownership (registration), using bridges (tolls) and perhaps puts gas taxes back on the table.

    That sounds like a win for environmentalists and a loss for the Fare hike Four. More burden on drivers and less on transit users and workers.

    And for those keeping score on “intra-borough equity” , it takes a lot of the burden off higher earning Manhattan residents that don’t own cars. Thanks Dean Skelos.

  • > In New York, fixing is all that is being talked about.

    That’s not what it says in the NYT article: “It would pay for general roadway upkeep, like repaving and the installation of new signs and traffic signals, and also for larger projects, like the construction of bridges and roads.”

  • Larry Littlefield

    “And also for larger projects, like the construction of bridges and roads.”

    Like the Tappan Zee Bridge and Gowanus Expressway?

    There have been some improvements here and there, but by and large New York stopped building new roads at the same time it stopped expanding the transit system. The only post 1973 exceptions I can think of are the HOV lanes on the LIE and SIE, and road straightening projects on the Taconic. Am I missing something, perhaps upstate?

  • Glenn

    Maybe finishing Interstate 88 connecting I-81 at Binghamton to Albany. It shaves a lot of miles off the route through Syracuse and connects better to New England. It could take some pressure off traffic that right now goes through Downstate Hudson crossings (GW and Tappan Zee).

    Not all road projects are bad. Just many are pork projects and/or expand suburbia. But we will have long distance trucking for many generations even with really expensive diesel fuel.

    A good East-West highway that connects Pennsylvannia to New England by-passing downstate would be a good win for reducing traffic congestion and saving fuel.

  • “New York stopped building new roads at the same time it stopped expanding the transit system.”

    I think NY stopped expanding the transit system at the end of the 1930s, just as it was starting to move full speed ahead at building new freeways and bridges.

  • Glenn

    Actually, I just checked and it seems I-88 was completed in 2006. Who knew? There should be big signs on the Tappan Zee and GW bridges advertising it to any truckers going to New England…

  • Glenn

    NY State DOT chief resigned today

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/

  • Boris

    Glenn,

    I-84 is an excellent interstate highway connecting Scranton and Boston. It sees little traffic in Pennsylvania, other than trucks, but it passes through a number of major cities in Connecticut. Still, it’s the perfect bypass from upstate NY and north Pennsylvania to New England.

    Scranton is one of those industrial, rail-centric cities which was smothered in highways to make sure it never goes back to its glory days. So it’s very easy to get to by car; too bad there isn’t much left to see, except a rail museum and the mall downtown.

  • Glenn

    It’s also the home of Dunder Mifflin paper company. And now the Michael Scott paper company

  • Glenn, I believe you’re thinking of I-86, the upgrade of NYS highway 17 which will eventually run from the southwest corner of upstate NY over by Erie, PA, over to the Thruway in Harriman, but needs to additional work in a few areas to reach interstate standards. (Incidentally, before I moved to NYC, I lived no more than a couple hundred feet from one of the stretches of NY-17 that needed a significant amount of redevelopment in order to build I-86, and let me tell you, Grand Central Avenue in Horseheads, NY, is neither grand nor central.)

  • They were still building freeways encircling Rochester when I left in the 80s, and finished an extension way out to the exurbs in the 90s or 00s. Likewise in Buffalo, in the 90s. So, they are still building new roads, and there is always demand–if not need–for more. It doesn’t help that all the cities up there are really, really depressed, which makes sprawl even worse.

  • RE: Article about new shelters for bus that may be cut.

    I don’t think people understand where bus shelters come from. The MTA isnt paying for it. The city isnt paying for it. CEMUSA is. Theyre not in the business of providing shelter, theyre an ad company. Theyd install that in your backyard if they could, they just want to place their ad up.