Today’s Headlines

  • Isabel Rodriguez, 88, Killed By Hit-And-Run Driver on Brownsville’s Stone Avenue (Post)
  • Five Dead in Van Wyck Traffic Crash, Including Two Children (NYTNews)
  • Bike-Share Software Glitch Affects Locking, Delaying Chattanooga Roll-Out Until Fall (News)
  • Skelos and Silver Oppose Thruway Toll Hike, and Cuomo May Back Down (Post)
  • A Close Look at the Thruway Authority’s Shaky Finances (LoHud)
  • Journal News: State Still Needs to Provide Answers on Tappan Zee Tolls, Transit
  • Seven Perspectives on the New Tappan Zee Bridge, From Fisherman to Bus Rider (LoHud)
  • Tons of Public Support for Plan to Add Metro-North Station Along Bronx Amtrak Route (Crain’s)
  • Upper East Side Waste Transfer Station Gets Final Approval (NYT)
 More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill
  • HamTech87

    RE: Metro-North along Bronx Amtrak Route.  There is a reference to the old Amtrak station in Hunts Point in the Bronx.  Anyone have info on this?  Pics?  Its old location?  Can’t seem to find it anywhere.  thanks. 

  • Larry Littlefield

    As alternative transportation advocates, it is easy to assume that state actions to destroy the financial future of the MTA were part of a pro-auto conspiracy.  But as this article shows, New York State did everything to the road system that it did to the MTA.

    In both cases you had debts run up for operating costs and maintenance, and money sucked out to balance the state budget.  And why are Thruway Authority operating costs up?  More workers?  Better paid workers?  I’ll bet $100 the real reason is the retired, who got retroactively enhanced deals after their original deal wasn’t properly funded to begin with.

    Transit riders got a big decrease in inflation-adjusted real fares in the late 1990s, after the introduction of the Metrocard.  The Thruway went years without toll increases and removed some tolls, and no matter how high fares and tolls rise now, all the money that wasn’t paid in the past will not come back.  We’ll pay interest on the money borrowed instead.

    It’s not just transit.  It’s not just transportation.  It’s not just government.  The U.S. poverty rate is at the highest level since the 1960s, it was reported this weekend.

    “I grew up going to Hawaii every summer. Now I’m here, applying for assistance because it’s hard to make ends meet. It’s very hard to adjust,” said Laura Fritz, 27, of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, describing her slide from rich to poor as she filled out aid forms at a county center. Since 2000, large swaths of Jefferson County just outside Denver have seen poverty nearly double.”

    “Fritz says she grew up wealthy in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, but fortunes turned after her parents lost a significant amount of money in the housing bust. Stuck in a half-million dollar house, her parents began living off food stamps and Fritz’s college money evaporated. She tried joining the Army but was injured during basic training.”

    Sounds like they HELOCed the house to pay for those trips to Hawaii.  So what kind of politicians would Laura’s parents vote for?  How about those who promised tax cuts, toll cuts, fare cuts and goodies?

    “Now she’s living on disability, with an infant daughter and a boyfriend, Garrett Goudeseune, 25, who can’t find work as a landscaper. They are struggling to pay their $650 rent on his unemployment checks and don’t know how they would get by without the extra help as they hope for the job market to improve.”

    If the private economy doesn’t take off before the federal government goes broke, we’re toast.

  • kevd

    HamTech87
    Its the Amtrak line between Penn Station and New Rochelle.
    Its is big enough for 4 tracks, but there are only 2 there now.

    http://www.mta.info/mta/planning/psas/overview.htm

  • kevd

    http://www.mta.info/mta/planning/psas/index.html
    Sorry, wrong page.
    Here ya go.

  • vnm
  • Anonymous

    Larry Littlefield,

    Are you always so upbeat?
     

  • Larry Littlefield

    Seeing things happen over 20-plus years that led us to where we are going has made me quite ticked off. 

    For example, when I see an article about the Thruway Authority’s problems, I immediately think of a decision to load it with debt to deal with a short term budget crisis in the early 1990s. When the state “sold” the Thurway and some other roads to the Thruway Authority, which issued bonds to pay for it.  And the elimination of the Rockland tolls later under Pataki.

    No one brings it up now.

  • Kaja

    Larry’s doing an incredible service, by recounting for those of us too young to remember exactly how we’ve been screwed. It serves their interests all too well for us to never know.

    Ever since Occupy, I’ve been meeting people who are independently aware of Larry’s ‘Generation Greed’ jargon. They didn’t get it from him, and didn’t get it from me.

    Larry needs to keep posting. It’s a service to everyone under 35 who’s still paying attention.

  • Gothamite

    How many people in NYC have been killed and injured in motor vehicle crashes since the shooting in Aurora, Colorado a few nights ago? I’d venture to guess we’ve already surpassed 12 dead and 50+ injured.

    I’m glad Mayor Bloomberg is calling for increased gun control in the wake of Aurora but why don’t we hear him saying a word about the ongoing, non-stop, ever-increasing motor vehicle death toll on NYC streets?

  • Anonymous

    Larry, I’ve been reading your posts for a few years, and I do appreciate the value of foregrounding the historical context in which these fiscal problems are occurring.  There’s plenty of blame to go around to all the parties involved, something that often gets lost in the reductive finger pointing.

    So what do we do now?

    The transportation system in NYS, taken as a whole, is a valuable asset.  It’s been over-leveraged, especially if you include future pension obligations in the debt calculation.

    There are really only 3 avenues.

    1. We increase revenue relative to debt.  This could involve increasing tolls and fares, increasing ridership or toll road and bridge usage, or increasing claims on other tax revenue.

    2. We de-leverage by disinvesting in infrastructure or de-funding operations, selling off assets such as real estate, or selling/leasing pieces of the system to private investors.

    3. We repudiate some of the current claims by restructuring or defaulting on bonds, pension obligations, or other liabilities.

    We have made recourse to the first 2 options, and I’m sure there will be more to come.  The 3rd option doesn’t seem to have been used in any meaningful way.  Perhaps that is an indication of where the political power is held.  In the spirit of sharing the pain and getting the state’s transportation system back on its feet, it seems like it’s time for the bondholders and pension beneficiaries to bear some of the pain.

  • Anonymous

    “I’m glad Mayor Bloomberg is calling for increased gun control in the
    wake of Aurora but why don’t we hear him saying a word about the
    ongoing, non-stop, ever-increasing motor vehicle death toll on NYC
    streets?”

    Seriously.  I just read a report on Gothamist saying that the NYPD investigation revealed that speeding, not alcohol, was the cause of the Van Wyck crash.  (It included the obligatory “no criminality suspected,” which confused me because I could swear speeding is illegal.)  This seems like as close as we’re ever going to get to an admission from the NYPD that speeding is actually dangerous, and it would behoove livable streets advocates to strike while the iron is hot to hammer home this point.

  • KillMoto

    @6d526909222add16bd90a47eb126cddd:disqus On any given day in the USA, about 100 people are killed by motorists.  While I take some solace in the fact that in many of these wrecks, it’s the driver killing themselves and not some innocent – nevertheless, about 15 of the dead each day are innocent pedestrians or bikers.  
    I agree with you, I want CNN to block off a whole week some time and moan about our roadway dead, interview families of those who had their whole life ahead of them, etc., etc., etc., with the same zeal they show when someone goes on a shooting rampage. 

    For many reasons this will never happen.  But I think the one people will least admit:  None of us can imagine ourselves buying a bunch of ammo and killing innocent moviegoers.  Conversely, all of us can imagine ourselves behind the wheel, reaching for our cell phone, and running some poor innocent human being down. 

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Perhaps that is an indication of where the political power is held.  In the spirit of sharing the pain and getting the state’s transportation system back on its feet, it seems like it’s time for the bondholders and pension beneficiaries to bear some of the pain.”
    It’s no accident that both state and local bonds and public employee pensions are exempt from New York State and local income taxes.  Or that the debts and pensions were paid in the 1970s, even as the bag ladies (remember them?) were left to die in the street.

    Aside from fares and perhaps tolls on the East River Bridges, I think the MTA has maxed out on dedicated revenues.  That leaves disinvestment and decline, barring a revolution.

    The question is whether it can be managed in a way that allows life to more or less go on.  We have to squeeze more productivity out on the rail transit system, and prioritize operating efficiency and consistency over anything nice.  And ride bikes.

    The reason to keep finger pointing is that if it doesn’t occur, those who have taken will take even more.  They won’t give anything back in any event.  But unless they are made to pay a psychic price, and face rage and anger, they’ll keep taking.

  • Eric McClure

    Let’s also not forget that NYPD “doesn’t have the resources” to adequately investigate crashes or enforce speed limits, but they apparently had the resources to assign officers over the weekend to combat the previously unknown crime of shooting up movie theaters.

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