Today’s Headlines

  • Whom Does Andrew Cuomo Want in Charge of the State Senate? (Buff News, CapNY)
  • The MTA’s Storm Prep and Recovery: Competent, Heroic, Magical (NYT)
  • After Crews Pump Out Water That Was 15 Feet Deep, the L Is Back (WSJ, Bklyn PaperObserver)
  • Looks Like NYC’s Transit System Is More Resilient Than Its Auto Fuel Supply Lines (DNA)
  • Bloomberg Finally Rations Gas, Possibly for Weeks (NYT, NewsCapNY)
  • Northeast Lawmakers Will Push for Extra Recovery Funds From Congress (WSJ)
  • Damned Bike Lanes (News)
  • Cap’n Transit‘s Recipe for a Good Bus Bridge
  • Should the MTA Refund Monthly Metrocard Users for Lost Time? (2nd Ave Sagas)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • jrab

    I read the Denis Hamill story in the News about waiting to fuel up with interest, but I still have one question: where was his protagonist planning to go with a full tank of gas?

  • Bolwerk

    Cuomo is a status quo-coddling conservative. Maybe for good reason reason in this case, since the Dems infight so much.

    Cap’n Transit does good work, but his bus scheme is off the deep end. There is no way the city is going to have enough buses – most redundant most of the time – to support the loads the subway carries in, even if buses could physically support the loads the subway carries in. For the price, we could likely waterproof most of the the subway tunnels well enough. We still need LRT for intermediate-capacity transit. 

    I don’t mean to sound Randroid-ish (believe me, I’m not), but if we’re going to keep our ghettoized bus system more or less as it is, maybe the solution for the bridges when the subways are out is to apply the CP theory and charge people to cross – even if we don’t charge to use the system when they aren’t crossing. It’s cruel, but at least that way people  who absolutely must  cross  can do so.

  • Anonymous

    There are four main ways of allocating a scarce resource:

    1) free market

    2) giving it to the most devoted/those with most free time (such as those willing and able to wait 30 hours in line)

    3) lottery

    4) giving it to those who need it the most

    While 4) would seem ideal, it is very difficult in practice. Where do you draw the line between the “deserving” and “undeserving”?

    The approach that we seem to have chosen for gas is 2), which is the worst one in my opinion. And any approach but 1) creates a black market. So why not go with 1), with very few exceptions for emergency vehicles and such?

    Of course, taxi drivers need gas to work, so if we go with free market prices for gas, to be fair we should allow drivers to charge free market rates for their services as well.

    The fact that gas prices in NY under the current circumstances are actually cheaper than shortly before the storm boggles the mind.

  • Danny Zuko

    This bit from the Daily News gas line story is just so perfectly evocative….“I figure I got the inside scoop so I got on line at 2 p.m. Saturday,” Califano said. “Figured I could make some calls for my doo-wop oldies Christmas show fund-raiser starring Jay Black at St. Athanasius Church on Dec 1. It’s sold-out, but still a million details for catering, security, parking, VIP seating. I set up my office for a few hours in my car on the gas line.”God bless the Daily News and their aging baby boomer readership, waiting in gas lines in their declining suburban neighborhoods, working out the security and parking details for their doo-wop oldies Christmas shows.

  • Kenickie

    This bit from the Daily News gas line story is just so perfectly evocative…

    “I figure I got the inside scoop so I got on line at 2 p.m. Saturday,” Califano said. “Figured I could make some calls for my doo-wop oldies Christmas show fund-raiser starring Jay Black at St. Athanasius Church on Dec 1. It’s sold-out, but still a million details for catering, security, parking, VIP seating. I set up my office for a few hours in my car on the gas line.”

    God bless these aging baby boomers waiting in gas lines so they can move about their declining suburban neighborhoods and make plans for their doo-wop oldies Christmas shows. 

  • Anonymous

    Almost every article in the paper this morning is all about the gas shortage, on my bike ride in today I saw a Hummer Limo driving around with 3 passengers in it.  Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just pay this guy not to drive that thing than to pay most of the police force to guard gas stations so he can drive it?  

  • Jesse Greene

    Scofflaw,

    I love this idea.  We should all get paid for not driving hummers.  

  • Jesse Greene

    Scofflaw,

    I love this idea.  We should all get paid for not driving hummers.  

  • Anonymous

    qrt145, agreed.
    Every time I hear or read denunciations of “price gouging” I am equal parts disgusted and amused.

    The best way to deal with the gas shortage in NYC would be to allow stations with gas to increase the price.  This would allow those with both the resources and the need to get gasoline without waiting for hours and dealing with the uncertainty of whether they can find any gas at all.

    The current system allocates a lot of the available gas to those with the least pressing need for it.  Many who can afford to spend hours waiting in line have nothing important they need to do, or else they would find other solutions.

    As an anecdote, I own a car but I haven’t put gas in it since before the storm.  I have had a lot of problems getting deliveries and supplies for businesses I own, and I would like to pick up the supplies I need.  However, I can’t do that without a car (right now I wish I had a bike trailer!)  I get around using a bike or by subway as much as possible (even when gas is available), and I have been trying to use cabs or car services to transport the larger items.  I would definitely pay a 2x-3x markup over the current price of gas if it meant avoiding a line.

    Of course there will be cases where people have a pressing need for gas, but do not have the resources to pay market price.  The story of the woman whose father in on a respirator powered by a generator comes to mind.  However, I would argue that it is much easier (and cheaper) to subsidize the small subset of people in this category within a market system.

    Of course there is another scarce resource, road space, which is also allocated by giving it to those willing to spend the most time waiting for it.  Sitting in traffic, or circling the block looking for “free” parking, are inefficient in the same way as waiting hours for gasoline.

    If our resources were allocated based on market pricing, driving would be fast, convenient, and expensive.

  • Anonymous

    qrt145, agreed.
    Every time I hear or read denunciations of “price gouging” I am equal parts disgusted and amused.

    The best way to deal with the gas shortage in NYC would be to allow stations with gas to increase the price.  This would allow those with both the resources and the need to get gasoline without waiting for hours and dealing with the uncertainty of whether they can find any gas at all.

    The current system allocates a lot of the available gas to those with the least pressing need for it.  Many who can afford to spend hours waiting in line have nothing important they need to do, or else they would find other solutions.

    As an anecdote, I own a car but I haven’t put gas in it since before the storm.  I have had a lot of problems getting deliveries and supplies for businesses I own, and I would like to pick up the supplies I need.  However, I can’t do that without a car (right now I wish I had a bike trailer!)  I get around using a bike or by subway as much as possible (even when gas is available), and I have been trying to use cabs or car services to transport the larger items.  I would definitely pay a 2x-3x markup over the current price of gas if it meant avoiding a line.

    Of course there will be cases where people have a pressing need for gas, but do not have the resources to pay market price.  The story of the woman whose father in on a respirator powered by a generator comes to mind.  However, I would argue that it is much easier (and cheaper) to subsidize the small subset of people in this category within a market system.

    Of course there is another scarce resource, road space, which is also allocated by giving it to those willing to spend the most time waiting for it.  Sitting in traffic, or circling the block looking for “free” parking, are inefficient in the same way as waiting hours for gasoline.

    If our resources were allocated based on market pricing, driving would be fast, convenient, and expensive.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    So to Kenickie, Bensonhurst is a declining suburban neighborhood?  Join us for the St. Rosalia festa next August on 18th Avenue, maybe  you’ll change, or open, your mind.

  • The Hummer with 4 people in it is probably getting better mileage than a single-occupant Prius, isn’t it?

  • Taxpayer

    I’d really like the gas companies to pick up the tab for the security New York City taxpayers are providing with our police officers.

  • Hummers get around 9 mpg.  Most Prii get around 50 mpg.  So a Hummer would have to have more than 5 and 1/2 people in it to get better mileage per person than a single-occupancy Prius. (Though 5 Prii would certainly create more congestion than a single Hummer full of five people.)

  • Eric M Boucher

    @twitter-9403902:disqus hummers(the H2 model which is most popular) get anywhere from 9 to 11 mpg.  A Prius gets about 47 to 49.  To adjust to a per person MPG that would be 36 to 44 for the H2 and 47 to 49 for the Prius.  And if we are talking about the city a Prius can get even better mileage than that and a Hummer Limo probably gets far worse mileage than that.  So I think the Prius still wins in gas mileage.

  • Anonymous

    What I found most astonishing is how people thought it was perfectly fine for people to resell gasoline out of cans on the streets and on Craigslist, putting all of us at risk of fire, but not acceptable for gas stations to raise the price to the Craigslist price, putting those morons out of business and keeping us all safer. 

    Not to mention that if the stations were allowed to charge $10 a gallon or so, they could arrange long distance deliveries from PA and MA. 

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Not to mention that if the stations were allowed to charge $10 a gallon or so, they could arrange long distance deliveries from PA and MA.”

    I’m amazed those deliveries aren’t happening,  Perhaps because it isn’t profitable at the price gas stations feel safe charging.

    Perhaps what is going on is the wholesale price is going up in NYC, so the retailers have stopped buying, because gas has cost them more than they feel comfortable selling for.

  • fj
  • fj

    there’s 500 million cyclists in china and 9 million people in nyc and cycling is 3 times faster than walking and maybe cycling could be thought of as the logical extension of walking . . .  and, you do get the feeling that most people walk at least once in a while . . .

  • jrab

    One thing to remember about the service station business is that the station owners don’t make any money from selling fuel; they make money on the convenience store located next to the pumps.

    If the gas is such a hassle to sell, why stay open?

  • Anonymous

    “I’m amazed those deliveries aren’t happening,  Perhaps because it isn’t profitable at the price gas stations feel safe charging.”

    When the last mile has turned into 100 miles, driven by truckers who are NOT accustomed to long haul routes, with a load that is not allowed on the turnpike, the delivery part of the price of gas gets really sizeable. 

  • Anonymous

    I had to take a livery car on Wednesday. The driver told me that he’d been driving to Connecticut and filling five-gallon containers with gas. Then he’d drive back and sell them here in the city for $100. May very well be a lie, but . . .

  • vnm

    For some reason, if you raise the price of gasoline to a price that will clear the market, it’s considered “gouging.”  Yet another example of how this country IS outright socialist, but only when it comes to driving subsidies.

  • vnm

    For some reason, if you raise the price of gasoline to a price that will clear the market, it’s considered “gouging,” and will get you investigated by the State Attorney General. It’s yet another example of how this country IS outright socialist, but only when it comes to driving subsidies.

  • @3a9cb377ae68ba7b489d30e5eb859747:disqus  The capacity exists. Tens of thousands of school buses sit idle most of the time.

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