Today’s Headlines

  • 12 Injured When Two Fire Trucks Collide in Brooklyn (NYT)
  • Minivan Passenger Killed in East Village Crash; No Charges Filed (Post)
  • Amtrak Lays Out What It Needs to Fully Upgrade Northeast Corridor (Transport Politic)
  • Todd Litman: Johannesburg’s New BRT Can Foster Green Transport Throughout Africa (Planetizen)
  • To "Green the Fleet," Quinn, Thompson, and Top Bloomberg Deputies Got New Hybrid Yukons (Post)
  • Latest Innovation From NYPD: "The Rumbler," a Siren You Can Feel in Your Bones (NY1)
  • Is it Unconstitutional for SI Residents To Get a Verrazano Bridge Discount? (MTR, SI Live)
  • Freakonomics: Reckless Cabbie Driving a Result of Poor Incentives
  • Fort Greene Residents Ask 88th Precinct About Dangerous Drivers, Bike Lane Blockers (The Local)
  • News Gets Behind a Tougher Drunk Driving Law to Protect Child Passengers

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • J. Mork

    RE: Verrazano Toll unconstitutional?

    Gridlock Sam’s congestion pricing scheme is looking better because of this.

    Slideshow: http://www.gridlocksam.com/congpri.pdf

    Toll the bridges into Manhattan, where good transit options exist and remove the tolls on outer borough highways.

    Of course, this will take an unprecedented amount of political maneuvering to pull off, but maybe, just maybe, the thought of charging Staten Islanders full price on the VNB would be enough to get it done.

    (I think that Sam envisions keeping the overall amount of toll monies collected constant, but I say you might as well get an extra $Billion a year for the MTA while you’re at it.)

  • Anon

    If it’s OK for SI residents to get a 40% toll discount on the MTA-owned VZ bridge, maybe then they should pay 40% more than other NYC residents to ride the subways and buses in the other 4 boroughs. To put it another way, all the other citizens should get a 40% discount on subways and buses, while SI residents (and residents of everywhere else) should not.

    It’s the only way to “make commuting financially tolerable,” for Brooklynites, to paraphrase the SI Advance.

  • I’m waiting for the NY Post to come out in favor of China’s salute all cars initiative.

  • Car Free Nation

    Executive gives up limo for bicycle and a reporter from the nytimes thinks it’s news.

  • Car Free Nation
  • Doug

    I wouldn’t scoff at that article, CFN. The more the media portrays cycling as a normative choice, the better off we all are. The picture accompanying the article showed a woman dressed in work clothes — not spandex or workout clothes — going to work. That’s a good thing!

  • CFN is caught in an understandable paradox born of the need to “promote” bicycling as “normal” activity, for middle class and working class New Yorkers alike. If it’s “normal,” why promote it? If it’s being promoted, how can it be normal?

  • Boris

    Anon,

    SI residents actually already pay 100% more- express bus fares are double that of subways and regular buses- for what is essentially the same service- traveling to Manhattan.

    If you are looking for an equitable way of paying for transportation, you’ll have to work very hard to find it. Tolls are priced into everything in SI- housing, cost of food, etc- because it is not a self-sufficient economy, so the taxes, including MTA and gas taxes, Staten Islanders pay are also different from what they would’ve been without the tolls.

    Then there are the questions of whether one should pay based on distance, usage, speed, etc. None of these methods are truly taken into account in the current transportation pricing system.

  • Josh

    Minor throwaway quote about Times Square from the beginning of the Freakonomics article:

    “But the closure scores an A+ for making the Square a better place to be, as New Yorkers would be happy to tell you if they could fight through the hordes of European tourists and actually visit it.”

  • Anon

    Re: “SI residents actually already pay 100% more- express bus fares are double that of subways and regular buses- for what is essentially the same service- traveling to Manhattan.”

    Actually express buses are far more subsidized than local buses or subways (except maybe local SI buses), since they actually collect far less fare revenue per driver pay hour. And they carry almost nobody in off-peak hours, with the drivers sitting around at the depot, getting paid.

    And the City operates the SI Ferry without asking for any fare.

    The City and State (the State via the MTA) have been bending over for years to give SI a better deal than anyone else on transportation, out of fear of SI swing voters.

  • Car Free Nation

    I was just hoping that it would be reported as part of an ongoing trend, and not something that only an executive working for a fitness magazine would do. Perhaps I’m just jealous that my company’s PR firm didn’t land the same story about me 😉

  • I hear ya, CFN. The reporter, Stephanie Clifford, couldn’t conceive of a style mogul trading free black car service for a bike. I made that trade years ago and I’ve never looked back. There nothing better than a ride home on the empty streets after a late night at work (in addition to eliminating the need to plan for a schedule a black car). I picture Clifford riding an “NYP”-plated SUV around NYC, double parking in all the bike lanes, thinking she’s some kind of VIP.

    Clifford quotes Danziger ambiguously, leaving open whether Danziger considers bicycling or sharing a cab as “very New York.” In truth, there’s nothing more “New York” than reliably getting from point A to point B faster than by cab, subway or black car (parking and planning time included) and offsetting any need to vist the gym, at the same time. And it’s easy to look good doing it.

    But I’ll freely admit my jealousy when it comes to that Conde Nast employee parking facility!

  • jsd

    It takes me an hour and a half from my door in the middle of Staten Island to lower Manhattan by mass transit. I walk to a train. Take a train to a ferry. Ferry to a train. And then walk to my building. The distance is about 20 miles. The express bus which leaves from my corner routinely takes up to two hours, and is too expensive. It takes a driver 45 minutes if they leave at the same time. My commute would be even longer if I didn’t live on the East Shore near the island’s only railway.

    Driving is simply faster. More expensive yes, but much faster. Improve access, speed, and availability of mass transit in Staten Island to Manhattan. That’s when people will stop resorting to the only practical means available. Their cars.

    A start? West Shore light rail. North shore rail reactivation. Ferries from the South Shore. Dedicated bus only lanes on Hylan Blvd, Victory Blvd, Richmond Ave and Father Capodanno.

    We can all complain about Staten Island drivers. But until there are alternatives, I can’t really blame them for choosing the faster option.

  • Re: “the Rumbler”

    Since the Rumbler’s low frequencies don’t travel up into our apartment, I have come to think it is an improvement over standard sirens.

    I don’t know how a ped or cyclist feels near a Rumbler, but I live at 14th and 1st Ave (just below a bunch of hospitals and near a firehouse) and hugely loud siren noise is pretty much our stay-at-home roommate. Some full-volume siren or other (or others) passes by our apartment and sits in our living room with us pretty much every hour.

    I was worried when I heard that some ambulances in NYC were Rumblers. But my experience when they pass by our place has turned out to be less harsh than when an older siren does.

    The low frequencies are audible up in our apartment, but are not ear-splitting, adrenalin-spiking terrors, like all the higher-frequency sirens are. If emergency vehicles would rely almost exclusively on the rumbler and not the high frequency sirens, perhaps (PERHAPS!) that would actually be a public health improvement…?

  • Boris

    Anon,

    Your first comment made no mention of subsidies. You were talking about fairness, or equity, so I pointed out that the MTA doesn’t use any logical form of it. For all we know, keeping the Brooklyn Bridge free is more of a subsidy to Brooklynites than the express bus subsidy to Staten Islanders. It’s nearly impossible to quantify, so you have no basis for saying Staten Islanders get a “better deal”.

  • Ian Turner

    jsd,

    Just trying to understand, are you saying that Staten Island residents should get discounted tolls because driving is faster than taking public transportation?

    Cheers,

    –Ian

  • jsd

    Ian,

    I am a bit conflicted.

    Many Staten Islanders drive into Manhattan only because they have to, not because they want to. Penalizing these people with extremely high tolls to go from Staten Island to Brooklyn, while a Brooklyn driver gets to cross into Manhattan for free doesn’t seem quite right.

    Everyone cites the free ferry, which is extremely beneficial to those living on the North Shore, or near a transit hub along the East Shore. But for many residents, it’s terribly inconvenient and out of the way.

    I would support higher tolls if more direct investments were made in borough transportation infrastructure. Not road widening, or new bridges, or any of the things cited as transportation infrastructure among the local political class. But mass transit of the sort that I listed above. I would support charging at all stops of the Staten Island Railway, which is free until the final stop in St George. The policy now is oddly discriminatory in that it charges for anyone who wants to get from Stapleton to St. George (in the north), but not from Annadale to Eltingville (in the south).

    But with no prospects on the horizon for these sorts of major initiatives (election day jargon aside), I can’t see the benefit of imposing greater tolls on Staten Island residents, without adequate transit infrastructure in place as an alternative. West Shore light rail has been the subject of dozens of studies, as have North Shore rail reactivation and South Shore ferry service. In the current climate, they simply cost too much.

    That being said, these people did make a conscious decision to move to the most car dependent and transit starved borough. They require an outsize portion of city funds, and should have to pay their fair share to drive every day. So…there’s the conflict.

  • Ian Turner

    jsd,

    It sounds like equity is a major part of your inner conflict. What if there were nominal tolls on all bridges for all residents?

    Cheers,

    –Ian

  • NattyB

    @ Bicycles Only,

    Oh Man,

    Shoot – I’d pay $5/month for bike parking like that at my Office.

  • jsd

    Ian,

    Yea, I’d have to say it’s about equity. All New York City bridges should be tolled. There is no legitimate reason some residents should be charged for driving between boroughs, and other residents not. Especially for major crossings.