Today’s Headlines

  • NJ Transit Had to Divert $5 Billion Over 15 Years From Its Capital Budget to Cover Operations (WNYC)
  • Chris Christie May Finally Have to Raise the NJ Gas Tax (NYT)
  • How Andrew Lanza’s Support for Move NY Plays in the Staten Island Press (Advance)
  • Kabak: Yes to a Car-Free 14th Street So People Can Get Around During L Shutdown — and After
  • Chelsea Should Be Freaking Out About the L-Pocalypse Traffic Without a 14th Street Busway (DNA)
  • Hesitant on Systemwide Proof of Payment, Pendergast Cites Cost of Hiring More Fare Inspectors (NY1)
  • Contractors Rep Denise Richardson Blames Construction Delays on MTA Change Orders (Post)
  • Medallion Owners Team Up With Accessibility Advocates Against Uber (Crain’s)
  • Tough Crowd at the BQX Streetcar Meeting in Sunset Park (Gothamist)
  • Thought Experiment: Imagine the Bike Map If Community Boards Planned NYC’s Bicycle Lanes (DNA)
  • The York Street F Station Only Has One Entrance and It’s Getting Overwhelmed (Bklyn Paper)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • J

    Re: Proof-of-payment
    I thought the company line was that proof-of-payment would increase fare evasion. Now that that’s been debunked by the MTA’s own statistics, they now say it’s too expensive. Yet they found $4 Billion for a fancy new PATH station. Surely a fraction of that cost would fund systemwide fare inspectors for several decades.

  • kevd

    why would the port authority pay for the MTA’s fare inspectors?

  • BBnet3000

    On Prendergast: Wouldn’t they just hire fare inspectors out of the money saved by needing fewer bus drivers to move more passengers on a more efficient line? Or from the money saved by switching from the expensive Metrocards to the cheaper contactless cards?

    On bike lanes: It’s easy to make fun of the CB for proposing a detour no one would use, hard to examine whether we should still be replicating the 34th Avenue design in 2016. It’s one of the worst unprotected bike lanes in the city.

  • bolwerk

    MTA != PA

    Fare inspectors pay for themselves or you’re doing it wrong.

  • bolwerk

    To your first question, the answer might really be no and the reason is probably union rules. One of the really bad things about the TWU is its refusal to make it possible to move people where they might be more useful. Some of that is because there is a rigid hierarchy that comes with all their titles. A bus driver is probably a much harder job than train operator, yet train operators rank higher in the pecking order.

    So, they get rid of some need for bus drivers. They’ll still have those drivers. For various reasons they can’t make some of them inspectors, even at the same pay. (You’d think inspector would overall be a better job anyway, since being a bus driver will virtually guarantee a premature death.)

  • bolwerk
  • bolwerk

    “If you like getting a baton shoved up your ass, that’s part of Broken Windows too!”

  • Anonymous

    The all-door boarding concept has set up a conflict between two different factions of NYCT: the Eagle Team, which does fare enforcement, mostly on SBS, and wants to expand to more lines, and the bus driver union, which is obviously against faster and more reliable buses, because they think it means fewer jobs and/or less overtime.

    Eagle Team enforcement costs a lot because inspectors travel in teams “for safety”. Most of them are retired cops, which means (1) they have the outdated 80’s mentality of fearing crime everywhere, encouraging groups of 3-5 where 1 or 2 people will do; and (2) they get paid twice, once their police pension (despite being healthy middle-aged men and women), and again for their Eagle Team job, making this the sweetest gig anywhere.

    None of this is actually a problem if the MTA looked at the potential benefits, not just the potential costs: it’s likely that all-door boarding would lead to shorter running times, which, together with modest Eagle Team operations reforms, would be a net revenue booster. The savings can then go into bus service expansion.

  • Jonathan R

    So what if the fare inspectors are “healthy middle-aged men and women”? They earned their PD pensions. They are presumably not collecting disability pensions, and having them work for a state agency means that they are living in the local area and paying sales taxes on stuff they buy with their pensions. Would you prefer that they just got up and moved to Florida?

  • BBnet3000

    Larger teams can be good for checking many people fast and not giving anyone the opportunity to get off of the bus or tag a farecard when they see the inspectors. That said, you may be right that 4 is a lot for a bus. They had a team of 4-5 on the RER (trains) when I rode it and the lead two were already into the next car while two others were checking my ticket. The speed of them (and the way they rotated past each other) was astounding to see.

  • This is just branding confusion?

    If just the mere citation of the phrase “broken windows” is going to raise heckles, then maybe they should stay away from it. But it’s just a matter of emotional attachments to the phrase. Enforcing the full spectrum of crime – and not giving a pass to NYPD to ignore petty crime – is what VZ is about. The police are still the police. The technical aspects of enforcing traffic laws… and the difference between what is just and unjust… are still the same.

  • bolwerk

    I don’t think he gets Broken Windows even has a negative connotation. Which only compounds the demonstrable lack of efficacy behind the “theory.”

  • bolwerk

    They should certainly travel in pairs, and four may not be unreasonable if they get the job done quickly.

    Also, if we are going to be wasteful, at least be wasteful in favor of more service. If we suddenly end up with too many bus drivers it at least means we can explore new bus routes or bolster some existing ones that need more service.

    Meanwhile, nothing should please the bus driver wing of the TWU more than not having to do collections work. That’s the part of the job that gets knives stuck into them while they’re sitting ducks.

  • You don’t need to imagine what it’s like when geographically small (ish)-scale groups (e.g. community boards) plan bicycle infrastructure. Here in Chicago it’s generally up to each aldermanic ward to propose and fund bicycle lanes, and with the odd boundaries each ward has, it means totally fragmented bicycle infrastructure all over the city. They’re far from perfect, but I miss the days of riding long swaths of Manhattan in protected bicycle lanes without interruptions like we deal with here.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “That financial diversion fits a familiar pattern. A study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign found that NJ Transit moved more than $5 billion from its capital budget to cover operating expenses over the past 15 years.”

    And of course all that capital money was borrowed. Isn’t borrowing money to keep down fares (and tolls and taxes) “progressive?” Some of those who think they are progressive think so, and it certainly seems to have been a benefit to all those aging NJ residents now moving to Florida.

    Ask today’s transit riders, and tomorrows, if that was “progressive” and you might get a different answer. Even from those who are not “debt scolds.”

    Again, the idea is that if you suck enough out of the system, and put less in, “THEY” will have to do something to make up the difference. Who are they anyway? Flip side, if you care about the system, that just sets you up for further exploitation by others sucking out more and putting in less, as the system collapses anyway. No good answers in the Generation Greed era.

  • Jeff

    I miss the days of riding long swaths of Manhattan in protected bicycle lanes without interruptions

    What do you mean by this? The short-lived Koch-era bike lanes? Were they long and uninterrupted? Or what?

  • I never said they were perfect. But at least you can cross several neighborhoods on protected lanes in Manhattan. The protected bike lanes in downtown Chicago essentially exist only in the Loop, and slightly to the northwest side.

  • Jeff

    Oh, sorry, my bad! I thought you were comparing Manhattan today to the Manhattan of some bygone era, not Manhattan today to Chicago today.

  • My point is along the lines of: they are so uninterrupted that you could somewhat-comfortably replace a subway ride with a bike ride and be entirely protected. Not so here, because riding the L within the same neighborhood is probably not common.

  • Joe R.

    It’s also pretty much disproven:

    http://archive.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2006/02/19/the_cracks_in_broken_windows/

    https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/11/24/10-not-entirely-crazy-theories-explaining-the-great-crime-decline#.jgfFiyMao

    The second link gives a bunch of possible reasons for the decline in crime in the 1990s. Broken windows is pretty far down on the list.

  • bolwerk

    Yeah, the most generous studies I’ve read about on the subject put the impact of broken windows or more aggressive policing tactics in general on crime reduction in the medium-low double digits (as in, it explains something like 15-25% of the drop since the 1990s).

    Of course, I don’t really believe it was that high myself. Then a lot of journalists and public figures give Bratton an almost princely level of deference and act like he single-handedly caused crime to plummet with his cleverness.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And I can tell you from experience that people in NJ have no idea what is going on, what is coming, and why.

    They’ll blame whoever is in charge when SHTF. Which is why Christie, instead of being the tough talking outside reformer he presented himself as initially, has essentially punted while trying to get a different job out of the state.

  • vnm

    I don’t think the MTA found any money for a Port Authority PATH train station.

  • AMH

    They should definitely work in a large enough group to check the bus quickly, which will likely require working more efficiently (e.g. checking tickets while riding to the next stop instead of holding the bus). When 3-4 inspectors check an articulated bus that is half-full, it sits still for five minutes–more if it’s crowded. The other day I was on a bus that sat in the middle of an intersection for two whole minutes while the bus in front of us was being inspected at the stop. A single fare inspection easily nullifies the travel time benefits of SBS.

  • AMH

    Broken Windows is about focusing on petty crime; Vision Zero is about focusing on deadly driving. I don’t see an equivalency.

  • bolwerk

    That’s another thing they do wrong. There is no point in checking the whole bus. Grab a few people getting on or off. Check what people you can between stops.

    Some people will narrowly miss being inspected. It’s not the end of the world.

  • Flakker

    …yes. Yes I would. The last thing NY needs is another voting bloc of police who are paying sales tax on gum or whatever. These people are literally professional system-gamers. Illegal immigrants living 12 to a Staten Island house would contribute far more in revenue if that’s your best argument.

  • AMH

    Interesting story about change orders, but keep in mind it’s the contracting industry’s response to criticism from the MTA earlier in the week. A couple thousand changes is not that unusual for a project of this magnitude, and while some of them may sound petty, contractors constantly try to get away with taking shortcuts and saying “oops, it’s already done,” and if you don’t force them to redo it you lose control pretty quickly. The story should have gotten a client perspective to get the full picture. Basically, we need ways to make the client-contractor relationship less adversarial.

  • AMH

    They’re worried about a civil rights lawsuit if they check one person but not another.

  • bolwerk

    If that is really a concern, seems to me the way to work around that would be to egresses or just make it procedure to check everyone you can until you can’t anymore.

    Not that such lawsuits tend to gain much traction. It took years of gathering overwhelming evidence to convince the feds to rule against stop ‘n frisk. And there was actually merit to that.

  • Andrew

    When 3-4 inspectors check a half-full bus, it sits still for at least five minutes–more if it’s crowded.

    In my experience it’s typically no more than two minutes – they work through the bus pretty quickly. I’ve certainly never encountered “at least five minutes.”

    In any case, there need to be at least as many inspectors as there are doors, or else fare evaders will simply jump off the bus when the inspectors show up.

    The other day I was on a bus that sat in the middle of an intersection for two whole minutes while the bus in front of us was being inspected at the stop.

    Why didn’t your bus pull ahead of the other bus if there was no room behind it?

  • Andrew

    And even if we were discussing the same agency here, capital funds can’t be used to pay for operating expenses.

  • Andrew

    On Prendergast: Wouldn’t they just hire fare inspectors out of the money saved by needing fewer bus drivers to move more passengers on a more efficient line? Or from the money saved by switching from the expensive Metrocards to the cheaper contactless cards?

    Somebody needs to run the numbers first. I certainly haven’t. I don’t know if anyone has. And until those numbers are run (or a commitment is in place to pay for inspectors from some other source), there isn’t going to be a promise to institute POP on all bus lines.

    The technically innards of the fare system should be designed to accommodate POP, of course, regardless of whether a decision is made to implement it today (or even if an explicit decision is made, for whatever reason, not to implement it today). But I haven’t seen any indication that they won’t be designed to accommodate POP.

  • AMH

    It sounds like you’ve gotten more efficient inspectors. Out of the 8-10 inspections I have experienced since SBS rolled out, only one was what I would call quick.

    I can’t speak for the driver but there was probably not room to pull ahead of the other bus.

  • Andrew

    Oh, a 2 minute wait is incredibly irritating – but it still isn’t 5 minutes.

    Time spent waiting often feels worse than it is. When you say that you had to wait 5 minutes, are you basing that on time elapsed on a watch or are you basing on it on how it felt? I’ve made it a point of checking my watch whenever I’m on a bus held up for an inspection, and I’ve never seen it come close to 5.

    (Of course, I can’t say that it never happens – I can only speak to my experience.)