Today’s Headlines

  • Low-Income Transit User Advocates Come Out for Pricing (City Room, NY1)
  • Opponents Turn Out for Town Hall Meeting (Queens Gazette)
  • Pricing Revenues May Be Directed to Transit ‘Lock Box’ (News)
  • Markowitz Parking Privilege Rescinded; BP Lashes at Media (News)
  • Teacher Placards Are in the Public Interest (R’dale Press)
  • Bike Parking Lot, With Attendant, Proposed for Midtown (NYT, City Room)
  • Taxi Reps Say Hybrids Not Ready for Prime Time (Sun)
  • State Supreme Court Throws Out Pedicab Provisions (Sun)
  • Amtrak Strike Likely to Be Averted (News
  • High School Cancels Talk by Climate Change Expert (NYT)
  • JK

    A good day for congestion pricing with two key pro-pricing themes directly addressed: pricing is good for low-income New Yorkers and pricing money will be dedicated to transit. This said, I hope City Hall gets some commitment to be able to spend the congestion pricing funds on non-MTA transportation projects like bridge maintenance and rebuilding (and even bike/ped projects.) It would be ironic if all the pricing money— including possibly bridge tolls — went to subways and buses, while city tax payers would have to continue contributing billions in general tax revenue to expensive East and Harlem River Bridge work. Of course, the MTA could be given the Harlem and East River Bridges as part of the deal.

  • Davis

    These taxi industry slobs will do ANYTHING to maintain the Crown Vic status quo.

  • Marty’s Privileges Rescinded: Lesson #1: Always carry a camera, S’bloggers! Lesson #2: If you are an elected public official don’t tell easily disproven lies to the press.

  • vnm

    Lesson #3: If you’re a high profile elected official, don’t try to get yourself a perk at the exact moment that public interest is focused on taking that exact perk away from the hands of hundreds of lower-level government employees.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (It would be ironic if all the pricing money— including possibly bridge tolls — went to subways and buses, while city tax payers would have to continue contributing billions in general tax revenue to expensive East and Harlem River Bridge work. Of course, the MTA could be given the Harlem and East River Bridges as part of the deal.)

    That’s the only deal that makes sense to me — transfer the bridges, and the money borrowed to fix them, to the TBTA. Then the city would at least be spared the cost of maintaining the bridges.

    If the MTA had owned the bridges, subway service over the Manhattan Bridge probably would not have been disrupted for 20 years. And tolls might have been used to build faster subway tunnels. If we’re not lucky, we may face the same situation again 20 years in the future.

  • Jonathan

    Davis, I think the last paragraph of the taxi article is the key to understanding it: yellow cab operators want to continue to use large vehicles in order to compete with the black car industry. The latter group has pretty much standardized on Town Cars, which are large enough to put an entire 27″ road bike in the back seat without taking off the wheels.

    I would have to agree with the yellows here; not a bright future for that industry if Americans’ waistlines keep expanding and congestion gets worse. No fun being stuck indefinitely on the Van Wyck with your knees tucked under your chin.

  • Eric

    Seems to me there’s nearly as much room in a Toyota Prius as there is in a Crown Vic, and I’m sure the same goes for an Escape. And a cab isn’t allowed to carry more than four passengers anyway. It might also be time to start shifting livery cars over to hybrids, too. Or putting hybrid engines in Crown Vics.

    If cab fleet owners are truly concerned about safety, maybe they could start with some driver training. And speed-limit enforcement.

  • Eric

    Thanks, wise Marty Markowitz, for straightening us out. The problem isn’t with elected officials desecrating our public parks by parking in them — it’s the damned press wasting time covering it.

    Maybe he’s right; they should be spending more time covering all the subsidies going into the unsustainable traffic nightmare better known as “Atlantic Yards.”

  • JF

    And the borough president would like to add that with all of the worthy news that needs to be covered in the borough of Brooklyn, is this the best the Brooklyn bureau of the Daily News can do?

    You mean a lame greenwashing attempt like Markowitz Supports Mulching?

  • Josh

    Regarding the Ford Escape hybrids, they make at least one legit point, small SUVs like that have poor rollover performance. Of course, A) there’s no reason why the hybrids have to be Escapes (they’re ugly and like any SUV they make it harder for other drivers to see the road), and B) the rollover performance wouldn’t be such a big deal if cabbies weren’t such bad drivers. It’s not like they’re going to be driving down the curvy mountain roads shown in so many car commercials, NYC streets are almost universally straight and turns should be taken at low speeds.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Did any of you follow the release of data showing that cradle to grave, hybrids aren’t that energy efficient? That’s because the cost of making and disposing of the vehicle has to be factored in. So it looks like my Saturn wagon beats the Prius after all.

    Preservationists are trying to make the same argument about buildings — when you replace an existing building with an energy efficient “green” building, you save on operating energy but throw way all the energy used to create the old building. It’s a argument for retrofits.

    And at 42nd and 6th, you’ve got a new tower and a rebuild going up side by side. Intersting case study.

  • ddartley

    Re Markowitz parking rescinded:

    Okay, but just east of the building is more sidewalk. If THAT’S the area where Phil Abramson of the Parks Department says “permit parking is allowed,” then I still doubt that the Parks Department has any authority to allow permit parking there, tradition notwithstanding. I believe that the highest law on the subject, never mind Parks Dept. history, is that you don’t park on sidewalks, end of story.

    If, however, Abramson of Parks Dept. is referring to the parking lot as the place where permit parking is allowed, then fine.

    I can almost hear some permit holder saying, “well then what’s the point of having a permit?!” And to that I say, “Yeah, exactly.”

  • mork

    Re: Riverdale Press / Teacher Parking

    If teacher parking in the public interest, then let’s give them reserved on-street spaces. But parking on the sidewalk or in playgrounds is unconscionable.

    Re: Markowitz

    Nice work, — you rock!

  • Amtrak strike article: “Contingency plans include NJTransit and NYC Transit running a special P subway line between Herald Square and Jamaica, Queens.”

    I think there’s a reason why that letter isn’t in use. An olfactory reason.

  • Jonathan

    Eric, a Prius is a midsize sedan; the Crown Vic and Town Car are full size. There’s a substantial difference. To elaborate on my bicycle example; I can’t fit my bike into the back seat of my midsize Nissan Maxima without removing the front wheel first, and even then I have to fuss with the front passenger seat so I can’t fit a person there.

    Larry is spot on with the point that motorcar assembly, even for hybrids, takes a lot of energy as well.

    And as for the taxi driver safety: I believe that private motorists are worse drivers than taxi drivers. It’s just that all the taxis look alike and there are so many of them, so observers tend to aggregate the individual instances of taxis running lights and menacing pedestrians more easily than one does with private motorists. Are there comparative statistics anywhere?

  • vnm

    How is NJ Transit going to run a New York City Subway service?

  • Eric


    I know the vehicles are different sizes (my ad agency launched the Prius in the U.S.), but the current-model Prius has a pretty roomy back seat, and I would guess it would accommodate three adults. Regardless, what percentage of cab trips do you think actually carry the maximum four passengers? I’ll bet it’s low single digits.

    And if you’re right about cabbies being better drivers, than the safety argument is even more extraneous. How often does one see a rolled vehicle in NYC?

    Lastly, if you have a bike, why do you even care about the size of a cab or livery car’s trunk? 😉

  • Jonathan

    Eric, I found out about the back-seat thing one time when I was returning a rented Town Car to its agency owner at LaGuardia Airport. I tossed the bike in the back seat, drove to the airport, dropped off the motorcar, and cycled home.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I think there’s a reason why that letter isn’t in use. An olfactory reason.

    Yup. I’ve ridden the P Train more times than I care to remember.

  • For the record, a naive retrofitting of hybrid engines to Crown Victorias would not significantly improve their efficiency. The Prius stands out because it’s designed from the ground up to be a cutting edge fuel efficient car. That’s why it gets better mileage than the Hybrid Civic, but with more passenger space and significantly more cargo volume. It’s not that Honda doesn’t know how to make a hybrid; they made the first one on the market (that two seater thing) but the tech wasn’t good enough then and the design had too many compromises to catch on. The Prius found the right balance for the American market. (Outside New York. I’m not endorsing hybrids or any auto for in-city personal transportation.) But back to the Vic: it’s a very heavy rear-wheel drive frame from the 1980s. There’s no way it could be effectively hybridized just for New York’s fleet–that would be even more of a bad joke than the Hybrid Escape.

    It’s possible that the design needed to get the Prius’s efficiency is just too delicate for NYC taxi service. If that’s the case, we have a different question: how can we allow our streets to be such a war zone that any vehicle made of steel is too fragile for them? There are people made of flesh out there too, taxi drivers!

  • Jonathan

    Doc, one thing I heard in the discussion about the Tata Nano last week was this: although its OEM emissions control technology would satisfy European emissions regulations, Indian DMV regulations only call for emissions testing for new cars. The story continued to say that the poor road conditions prevailing in India would likely decrease the effectiveness of the emissions controls very quickly.

    Suspension is pretty heavy (ask any mountain biker), and I believe that a car like the Prius that is engineered to be fuel efficient probably has a pretty lightweight suspension. The bounces and jounces that you get from driving our pitted and potholed streets probably mess up the lighter, more rigid Prius more than the heavier, better-suspension Town Car, just as the Indian roads are expected to degrade the Nano’s emissions controls.

  • Jon, I do understand that. But we need to work towards maintaining less asphalt and maintaing it well, instead of allowing the taxi commission to run a fleet of tanks to compensate for (and perpetuate) our bad roads. They prefer their tanks, regardless of road conditions, because they like to play rough.

    More than anything else it’s the way professional drivers slam on the gas and brakes that make a Prius impractical for them. The hybrid drive and regenerative braking absolutely would not survive that kind of treatment. So? Maybe they should try driving less aggressively. Maybe we should pay them more for that too.

    I would like to see: less road space for autos, far fewer personal cars, and a smaller fleet of fuel efficient taxis driven CALMLY on functional streets. Currently I hail a taxi only in the most desperate circumstances. If the fleet were reformed I would happily take them more often, even at a higher cost, and I’m sure I’m not the only New Yorker. The people taking them all the time already because they are lazy, don’t like subway diversity, or want to be on the cell phone, they would have to reevaluate the costs and benefits.

  • Jonathan

    Doc, I agree with you 100%,

    less road space for autos, far fewer personal cars, and a smaller fleet of fuel efficient taxis driven CALMLY on functional streets.

    I hadn’t even considered the effect of driving style on the drive and braking, either.