Today’s Headlines

  • There’s Still a $10B Hole — At Least! — in MTA Capital Plan (News, MTR, Post, NY1, AMNY, SAS)
  • NY State Roads and Bridges Need Huge Cash Infusion Too, Says Comptroller (News)
  • Bloomberg: 4 Percent Annual Raise for TWU Is Too Much (News, AMNY)
  • Another Police Chase Turns Deadly for Bystander: Cyclist Killed By Fleeing Perp in LIC (Gothamist)
  • Can We Stop Pretending That "Cash for Clunkers" Is an Environmental Program? (WaPo)
  • Wal-Mart Prowling for an NYC Location Again (Crains)
  • SUV Clubs: "Uplifting Communities" While Seeking Attention in Convoys of Escalades (NYT)
  • The Latest GM Showroom: eBay (NYT)
  • New Web Site Makes It Easy to Share a Cab Ride With a Stranger (Post)
  • What They’re Saying About Car-Free Times Square in Toronto (Spacing via Streetsblog.net)

More headlines over at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Doug

    More Fliers Skipping the Cab, NY Times business section today:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/business/11transfer.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=airtrain&st=cse

  • Andy Trafford

    Interesting article about the SUV clubs. No mention of their convoys needing parade permits…

  • oscarfrye

    MTA budget hole?
    Let’s increase wages & benefits! They deserve it!
    No, they’re entitled to it!

  • Jen

    Right, Oscar. Greedy workers are the root of MTA fiscal problems. We get it.

  • Josh

    But if we stop pretending that Cash For Clunkers is an environmental program, then we’ll have to admit to ourselves that it’s just a massive government subsidy to the automakers.

    The article Doug linked above is good information, if hardly news (the AirTrains have been around for years, but I guess for a lot of that time many people have been too stubborn or snooty to use them). However, mentioning the JFK and Newark AirTrains in the same sentence as the Heathrow and Gatwick Express trains (and the unmentioned Stansted Express and Thameslink to Luton) give our local transit options too much credit. The London trains give you a one-seat ride (some with amenities like WiFi access, quiet zones, and even beverage service if I’m not mistaken) from the airport to a major transit hub in the heart of the city (the Heathrow Express to Paddington, the Gatwick Express to Victoria, the Stansted Express to Liverpool Street, the Thameslink to St. Pancras).

    On the other hand, the JFK AirTrain is a glorified inter-terminal transfer monorail that leaves you with an hour-long subway ride to get into the city (and that, for some reason, you have to pay to use to get to the subway but you get to use for free if you’re renting a car). The Newark AirTrain leaves you at an eyesore of a transfer station in the middle of the ugliest part of post-industrial Northern NJ (I’ve had to explain this process to tourists more than once). And let’s not even talk about LaGuardia.

    It’s not just London that’s like this either; you can get the same one-seat ride in Paris or Barcelona or Tokyo or many other major cities around the world. It’s really a shame our system isn’t up to that level.

  • Pave The East River

    Have Walmart contact me about that East River location. City Council will go for it if Walmart agrees to be a union shop.

  • While I wish to hell that SUV clubs centered around something other than SUVs, perhaps they are a group to reach out to in a friendly way to ask them to do their best to minimize idling–since, although I’m jumping to a conclusion, I’d bet they do a lot of engine idling–and, in addition to the good things they apparently do, maybe they could also help spread the word outside of their clubs about how idling sickens the whole city and should be avoided…

  • Larry Littlefield

    The 5-year whole is just the start. The MTA, to its credit, published an 20-year needs assessment, with the money required to maintain the system they have. No way.

    The implied solution — blame Washington. The non-plan is to ask for the Federal Goverment to come up with the money to avoid deferred maintenance, and then have someone to blame when the transit system and economy degrade. Or at least that’s what the state legislature will take out of it.

    The rest of the plan is platitudes, given that. The proposed expansions are massively expensive, but they are a fraction of the cost of maintaining the existing system in perpetuity, because they are fraction of the size of the existing system and an expansion is a one-time cost.

    The federal solution? I don’t how much attention people pay to the federal government, but many in finance have begun to speculate that the federal government will eventually have to default on its debts. The only reason we aren’t in a Great Depression is because all that unsustainable borrowing that had been going on in the private and consumer sector has been shifted to the federal budget.

  • Doug

    I agree, Josh. There are also many parts of NYC from which getting to the airport without a car or taxi ride is nearly impossible. The AirTrain to JFK is great for people who can easily get on the A or C train, but start throwing in transfers and the amount of time it takes makes paying $40 for a cab worth it.

    I just returned from Paris and Barcelona and was amazed at how easy and inexpensive it was to get into the center of the city from the airport. I’ve taken the train from Heathrow as well and it’s fast. It’s not cheap, but it’s cheap relative to a taxi in London. I’m in Boston for work and frequently take the T to and from Logan. Both the blue line (train) and silver line (BRT) make the trip easy and cost about $2. Chicago has an El train that goes to O’Hare. It’s not fast, depending on where you’re coming from, but it beats traffic routinely. Even Atlanta has relatively easy airport access via the Metro, but you do have to drive to one of the stations and go from there, typically.

    If New York is behind Atlanta and Boston when it comes to transit to the airport, we’re in big trouble.

  • Pete

    I don’t get it, what’s the opposition to taking the LIRR versus the A/C, especially when heading into the city center (either downtown Brooklyn or midtown)?

    It’s $11 total, and gets me home in the same time (if not less, depending on the time of day) than a taxi from JFK. 20 minutes from Jamaica to Flatbush Avenue. I could theoretically take the C, but why?

    Yes, Paris has a metro line that runs directly to CDG, but when in London, I take the tube (the Paddington express is 16 quid – close to $30 – even the tube is 4 quid), and the tube takes over an hour, before I get to where I need to transfer.

    Are the JFK/EWR solutions ideal? No, but they’re a hell of a lot better than most places in the US, if not the world (Buenos Aires was a shady $45 cab ride from the international airport). LGA is still a mess, but you forget how bad JFK & EWR used to be.

  • Pete

    Just to follow up on this – I’d argue that *all* of these cities gear their approaches to the airport based on their city centers. Sure, taking the train to JFK or EWR is a pain if you live in the Bronx, or Staten Island, but then I’m sure the same could be said if you lived in an outlying area of Boston, Chicago, Barcelona, London, or anywhere else in the world.

  • vnm

    Apropos of nothing, NY1 had a piece a few weeks ago about motorists complaining that the Parks Department was prohibiting the use of their private entrance to the Bronx River Parkway.

    The Parks Dept. put up a bunch of signs saying “Do Not Enter” and “Parks Vehicles only” after highway-bound motorists put employees in jeopardy.

    Today I visited the Parks Department to get a kayak permit, and I can tell you this. Motorists are still flying through there. The only difference is that now there is a more prominent sign telling them not to. Parks needs to close their wrought-iron fence and open it only for Parks Dept. vehicles. FYI, here’s the map of the entrance in question. I’m sure Robert Moses built it when he was Parks Commissioner and Parkways Coordinator.

  • RE: Wal-Mart

    I hope union members are proud of themselves for their role in helping to keep NYC’s unemployment rate high and force people to drive to NJ and LI to find affordable shopping. You’ve got the community boards, the city council, and a vocal chunk of the voters in your pocket–none of whom actually benefit from your rent-seeking ways. Good job!

  • Rhywun, there’s plenty of affordable shopping in the five boroughs. You may save a couple dimes on your register receipt in Jersey and LI, but you have to pay for your automobile, your auto insurance, your auto maintenance, your auto tolls, your automobile registration, and your automobile parking. Those costs are nothing to sneeze at, and that doesn’t even mention the time spent on those shopping expeditions.

  • Jonathan, these people already have cars, but that’s not the main point of my argument. Heaven knows I don’t want to see a suburban-style Wal-Mart in the middle of (say) Brooklyn. BUT I think that the city and the unions have WAY too much power over what gets built where. The end result is: poor neighborhoods with no supermarkets. Large lots that remain empty for years while the city and unions work together to stop anything from being built there. They really would rather see an empty lot than allow a company to bring the “wrong” jobs into town. I.e. jobs which are not under their strict control. Remember when Wal-Mart couldn’t get into Chicago? People were lined up around the block trying to get those jobs when they finally opened up. The same thing would happen here.

  • oscarfrye

    Jen, i said no such thing
    but i think its ridiculous in the current economic state to give out these raises and benefit enhancements

    sorry i’m not blindly pro-everything-unions-demand like most of you