Today’s Headlines

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Fool

    Ref: Congress Nixes Federal Study on Stratospheric

    Very disappointing, but in the absence of well researched and analyzed data I’ll just keep my assumption that the reason is civil servant and union construction costs. Toss in this cancellation and I will put on my tin-foil hat declaring the voting blocks of civil servants and union construction suspected what the answer would be and used political strength to kill it.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The average Access A Ride rider in NYC is subsidized $67.50 per ride. They too want more, leaving others with less.

    Must be a lot of seniors using the service.

    What can’t be questioned? Paratransit cost per ride $69.52 in NYC, $60.61 for NJT, $47.58 in Suffolk, $46.81 in Nassau, $48.53 in Washington DC, $47.32 in metro Boston, $31.57 in metro Philly. Etc.

  • HamTech87

    It would be nice if those step-streets had bike channels.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Multi-employer pension funds. Mark my words.

    They are using transit money to cover a hole created by inadequate pension funding/retroactive increases in the construction industry. Including for private sector work.

    So add the private real estate industry to your lists predators. If Wall Street was added too, you’d have everyone who matters in New York.

    How about conservatives? The fact that you have universal retirement/health care in some of these countries with EVERYONE getting the same (which means hit has to be less extravagent than those on the inside get in the U.S.) is also part of the issue.

  • Geck

    On bicycle equity, yes of course communities of color deserve good bicycle infrastructure and complete streets, but those same communities are generally the ones vociferously opposing such projects when they are proposed (e.g., Empire Blvd., Clinton Ave., Lafayette Ave., bicycle links through Bed- Stuy)

  • Kevin Love

    Imagine that, the bureaucrats moving behind the scenes to remove their own accountability.

    Just as practiced by the noted political philosopher Sir Humphrey Appleby. See:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/yesminister/

  • JudenChino

    The costs imposed on others by the Access-A-Rides, in my opinion, makes it one of, if the worst form of transportation we have in NYC. They are, in my opinion, by far the worst in terms of blocking bike lanes, bus lanes and just standing in moving lanes. The underlying purpose — yes, all for it! But the drivers, in my opinion, are among the worst. it’s a mix of entitlement and righteousness (hello, we’ve got disabled people here, what’s your excuse) and the vehicles are frequently over-sized for this dense city. Like cops, but withperhaps less training.

    I once saw one, zoom to beat the light (though it was solid right), 3 lights in a row, with tons of peds around, on fulton st in ft. greene, including even doing the “zoom around the left turning car to beat the light” move, in a freaking mini-sized school bus. And to think that the same precinct does bike stings at T-intersections on Flushing Ave.

  • Jeff

    the “zoom around the left turning car to beat the light” move

    I call this one the “Honk-Swerve-Plow”. Seriously, if motorists stopped at red lights, looked to make sure it was clear, and then proceeded slowly through a solid red, I wouldn’t really care. But they seem to judge how “bad” running a red light is by the amount of time elapsed since it turned red, not by how much danger they are posing to others. Hence why speeding up to “beat the light” and plowing through with reckless abandon is a-okay, but pulling up to a red light on a twenty-pound bicycle and proceeding through when the intersection is clear is literally satan.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And you can’t say “well, they are bad drivers, but at least they’re cheap.”

    What the heck is going on?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Officials at the cash-strapped MTA said they would fund the extra projects by shuffling existing funds around — and by borrowing $1.6 billion. The lack of a strong financing plan prompted board member Veronica Vanterpool to vote against the amended plan. “It is a crushing amount of debt, and business has to change,” she told the board.”

    You mean all that debt isn’t OK because its for “capital expenditures!” How old is Veronica anyway, compared with the rest of the MTA Board? Perhaps she has figured out that she’s one of the ones who will be left holding the bag.

  • Kevin Love

    Yes, if we are going to spend that kind of money, why not spend it on making legacy subway stations ADA compliant.

    Which, BTW, benefits a lot more people than just the disabled. Everyone from mothers pushing a baby stroller to elderly people who are not disabled, but just need a break from stairs.

  • We’d be better off scrapping Access-a-Ride entirely, and providing disabled New Yorkers with fully subsidised vouchers for use with any livery company. This practice would cost far less than maintaining Access-a-Ride; and, more important, it would allow greater freedom of mobility for the people who currently rely on that farce of a service.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The only argument against it is everyone with access to a crooked doctor would end up with one of those vouchers, while some of those legitimately in need would be denied.

    It’s a problem across society right now. Perhaps you could think of a way around it. But the trend has been pretty ugly with regard to the public sector — and the private sector — for the past few decades.

  • That is a good point that abuse would be rampant if all it took to qualify was getting a note from any doctor. Perhaps we’d have an office of disability certification that is empowered to make individuals eligible for transportation vouchers.

    I really hate to be advocating a plan by which private entities provide a necessary public service. Ideally, the MTA should staff a unit that handles transportation for the disabled, and should see to all aspects of quality control within this unit. But the current application of this principle, Access-a-Ride, is clearly a failure; and New Yorkers are suffering from the lack of ability to get around (and from the danger of using the streets alongside the maniacal Access-a-Ride drivers). Due to the fact that we have so many private taxi firms already operating in New York City, the utilisation of them for the purpose of providing transportation options to disabled people seems to be a reasonable stop-gap solution.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Ideally, the MTA should staff a unit that handles transportation for the disabled.”

    Part of the problem is the TWU demands the same pay for those operating a paratransit van as for the much more difficult job of operating a large bus.

    The MTA wanted its drivers to start on the vans with lower pay for the first 4-5 years are so, get “promoted” to a bus if they handle that successfully, and get “promoted” to the toughest routes and artics. Seems fair to me. The TWU vetoed.

    So we have this mess instead. And empty buses running overnight, burning fuel, when vans could be used with more frequent service instead.

    Back to the handicapped, the bottom line, as the subway decays lots of people would want free taxi rides. The abuse was ramping up, which is why paratransit only goes to and from the nearest accessible subway station now. Seniors felt entitled to it, even as other less entitled seniors struggle up and down the stairs.

    My daughter had an operation, and we have a temporary handicapped badge to hang on the rear view mirror. I would never think of using it myself, when my daughter isn’t in the car. But what percent of the people in this city think the same way, especially if they are part of groups that tell them they are entitled to it?

  • AMH

    “runaway car” … “freak accident” … there’s a lot of exculpatory language in that NYDN story. It’s a human interest angle, not an investigative piece, but it should at least use neutral language. Such an awful tragedy.

  • Veronica is in her early 40s. She’s definitely on the younger side (if not the youngest member) of the board. She knows what she’s doing and talking about.

  • bolwerk

    That’s great. We’ll root out some crooked doctors in the process of fixing our para-transit system and improving mobility for the disabled.

  • Fool

    “That kind of money” is missing a decimal point if you are talking about ADA compliant MTA subway stations. Even then they will not work.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You aren’t going to root them out if the contribute to the state legislature, or are part of their tribe.

  • Larry Littlefield

    In that case, is she talking about bankruptcy and dumping those burdens from Generation Greed?

    And not just with regard to the MTA.

  • com63

    The worst is this quote from the Monsignor: “As difficult as it is that her death occurred on Mother’s Day, perhaps there is also a beauty to that”

    I don’t understand why the article cannot speculate a tiny bit to indicate the overwhelming likely cause: An elderly driver had gas/brake confusion and lost control of their car.

    Maybe the vehicle safety industry should commission a bunch of studies to show that this is the most likely cause of these types of crashes. Then the journalist could say: “Studies show that crashes like this are often caused by the driver confusing the gas and brake pedals and not being able to respond quickly enough to remedy the confusion”.

  • Joe R.

    To this day I still don’t get it why we don’t use driving with both feet as the default. That would stop a lot of this “pedal confusion”. The use of the right foot for both the throttle and brake dates back to the days when you needed the left foot for the clutch. Manual transmissions haven’t been in wide use for decades. It’s time driving habits adapted to reflect this.

  • Joe R.

    The really pathetic part is not only do you have all that dangerous driving but it stinks as a service for the people using it. Waits of several hours aren’t uncommon, often followed by a very circuitous route to the final destination. This is one case where private industry can do it better and cheaper.

    Also, do they intentionally pick the vehicles with the worst smelling exhaust? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other vehicle which can so thoroughly stink up an area as an Access-A-Ride van.

  • com63

    I’m pretty sure 95% of the world uses manual transmissions today. This is one of those “american exceptionalism” things.

  • Joe R.

    Honestly, I favor a solution which just bans motor vehicles to the maximum extent possible in heavily populated areas.

  • bolwerk

    Well, darn, I guess we shouldn’t ever do anything then.

  • Andrew

    At traffic signals that solely protect crosswalks (that is, there is no vehicular cross traffic), it’s clear that many motorists are even less careful than otherwise to avoid running red lights. A sizable minority simply ignore the red lights entirely.

  • Andrew
  • I see.

    Well, I agree with this regulation. As I mentioned, I am uncomfortable with my own suggestion of relying on private parties for this public function.

    Still, there probably would be a way to run a voucher programme without violating the federal law, pehaps by deeming that all private livery services are also contractors hired by the transit agency for the purpose of providing paratransit.

    But I suppose that, as with most worthwhile things that are mandated but go undone or half-assedly done, the real solution is enforcement. Courts presumably have the power to force transit agencies to run paratransit services that actually work. Or, once we’re past the current nightmarish presidential administration, the U.S. DOT could be given the appropriate enforcement powers.

  • Andrew

    Enforcement of what? The current paratransit system may be extremely inconvenient, but does it violate the law?

    The MTA isn’t swimming in large quantities of cash beyond what is necessary to run a reliable transit system to serve the vast majority of riders who don’t rely on ADA accommodations – on the contrary, the MTA’s financial condition is already quite fragile. Demanding that the MTA spend even more of its limited resources on accommodations for the disabled can only come at the expense of operating or capital spending for everyone else.

    If we want improved accessibility for the disabled – and I certainly do – I’d suggest that we identify new funding sources specifically to improve services for the disabled rather than asking the MTA to divert funding from the its core mission.

  • According to the regulation you cited, the paratransit system has to provide service that is “comparable to the level of service provided to individuals without disabilities who use the fixed route system”. So, yes, Access-a-Ride is breaking the law by that measure.

    Given that reality, perhaps the idea of naming livery companies as paratransit contractors might pass muster under the rule — especially considering that such a system would actually give its users the same mobility that users of the “fixed route system” enjoy.

    But, more fundamentally, you’re right to suggest that the MTA’s root problem is inadequate funding. A sane society would agree to pay enough in taxes to fund its public institutions. As long as Americans refuse to accept appropriate levels of taxation and instead demand to pay tax rates that are absurdly low (about half of what is paid by the people in the European countries with the best infrastructure), there will be no solution to this.

  • Andrew

    “To be deemed comparable to fixed route service, a complementary paratransit system shall meet the requirements of Sec. Sec. [sic] 37.123- 37.133 of this subpart. The requirement to comply with Sec. 37.131 may be modified in accordance with the provisions of this subpart relating to undue financial burden.”

    Which of Sec 37.123-37.133 does AAR violate?

    I’m not simply suggesting additional funding. I’m suggesting that accessibility improvements to transit systems be funded out of the same pot of money as accessibility improvements to other public facilities, rather than out of transit funds. If funds are limited (and they inevitably are!), should station accessibility improvements compete for funds against new signal systems or should they compete for funds against accessibility improvements to other public facilities? When compared to virtually any capital improvement for the benefit of the general ridership at large, a subway ADA project will inevitably lose out in a cost-benefit analysis – so, if a transit agency is going to make any headway on the ADA issue, it will inevitably have to go against the interest of the broader ridership to do so. That’s a pretty dubious position to be in, and transit agencies shouldn’t have to fund accessibility projects to the detriment of the vast majority of their riders.