Today’s Headlines

  • DOT Bumps Up Ped Crossing Times in Five Nabes, Targeting Seniors (AP, NY1
  • Car Lover Admits: "Driving Is the Cultural Anomaly of Our Moment" (NYT)
  • Alternative Plan for Pier 40 Includes 800 More Parking Spots (Metro)
  • State Senator Proposes Higher Fines for DWI With Kids in the Car (News)
  • Amtrak Reaches Deal With Unions, Penn Station Stays Open (AM)
  • Lawsuit May Silence West Side Heliport for Good (NYT)
  • Fight Over New Jersey Toll Increases Begins (Newsday)
  • Bloomberg, Arnold Say Feds Should Spend More on Infrastructure (NYT)
  • Chicago Averts "Doomsday" Cuts in Transit Service (Trib)
  • Biofuels Doing More Harm Than Good, Warn British MPs (BBC)

Have a good Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Unless there’s some big, breaking news, we’ll be offline today.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (The final votes came after Blagojevich, seeking to beat back the political fallout from breaking his long-held vow to veto a sales-tax increase, added a provision offering seniors free rides. The change nearly derailed the legislation over concerns that other deserving groups, such as the disabled, should get the same perk, and that rich seniors shouldn’t qualify.)

    At least someone had the nerve to day that perhaps rich seniors shouldn’t pay less than young people and parents just struggling to get by. Another shot in the generational war.

    Just remember, if you weren’t “at or over 55” when President Bush said the words you will be facing old age in a bankrupt country. It isn’t how old people are, it is what generation they are in, with those in older generations sucking money out of the future.

  • On this MLK day, I thought I would take a moment to recognize that the civil rights movement began with a mass transit rider (Rosa Parks) refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Her arrest sparked a boycott of the Montgomery, AL bus system. To make the boycott effective, Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged walking, biking and carpooling among those who supported integration.

  • Mike

    Re Fulton Street Transit Center: It isn’t as though nothing has happened, as anyone who has gone past the site in the past year can attest. The site of the above-ground portion of the transit center has been cleared of existing structures. The renovation of the 2/3 station is complete and changes to the 4/5 station continue. Construction of the Dey Street passageway continues.

    From the point of view of achieving the main objectives of the transit center, the key segment of the plan – improvements to horizontal and vertical circulation in the Fulton Street passageway – have not begun. A fancy, domed headhouse (entrance building) would be a nice amenity and would help to distribute passengers better within the complex, but without the improvements in the Fulton passageway (go to and look at Contract IV) the whole thing would be meaningless. And that portion will be extremely difficult to do, with tight clearances, massive utility relocations, shoring up structures abutting the site, the interfering alignment of the Nassau Street subway, ramps within the existing passageway that are too steep to comply with ADA requirements, and so on.

    It would be better for the MTA to divide the remaining work into several contracts, but they will need an extraordinary project management team to pull it off and coordinate effectively with NYCT (who would need to arrange platform closures and other diversions of service).

  • david

    Is there any organization that is pushing for limits on the West 30th Street Heliport?

  • Michael Cairl

    Responding to David, I’m sure Manhattan Community Board 4 has had A LOT to say about it.

  • xue

    I wonder where the helicopters should go? And for that matter, how much say should the surrounding communities have over the Hudson River Park? The park is adjacent to the West Village/Chelsea/etc neighborhoods but it is also a regional amenity and destination. It seems like those neighborhoods (especially W. Village) are just cheerleaders for a Manhattan island playground for the elite.

  • Danny

    The parking situation at Pier 40 is complicated.
    The plan outlined by the Pier 40 Partnership does include 650 more spaces than are currently at the pier, but almost 90% of the parking in the plan would be designated for monthly parkers.
    The plan for the pier by the Related Group, includes more than 2200 spaces, with half devoted to short term parking that will house crowds to a permanent home for Cirque du Soleil and a 12-screen movie theatre in the Hudson River Park.
    In other words, because of the low impact program in the plan outlined by the Pier 40 Partnership, there will be many fewer trips across the bikeway and pedestrian pathway with their plan than with Related’s plan.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Was that a CTA fare of $3.25? What is the fare in NYC?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Hey Prince, I just don’t get those who want the MTA to cover as low as share of its own costs, and be as dependent on politicking, as possible.

    What you get is the CTA — deferred maintenance, capital money diverted to operating for a short term fix, pension enrichments with not enough money put into the pension funds — followed by collapse. That’s what the New York State Legislature does. And, I guess, the Illinois State Legislature.

    The best thing cyclist could do is get the sales tax revenues from bike shops and internet sites dedicated to bicycle infrastructure, along with a bit of the health insurance industry due to costs reduced by folks getting exercise.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The CTA has a set farebox recovery ratio of 50%, everything else evolves from that. Thats where they bump up against the legislature, they have to constantly beg for more. I think they do get some dedicated tax flows but nothing like the TBTA and the mortgage recording tax levels. Seems like the riders pay handsomely though to acheive that 50%.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (The CTA has a set farebox recovery ratio of 50%, everything else evolves from that.)

    Yes, but with strange accounting. Basically, the agency stopped contributing to the pension plan (after having enriched it — everyone wins!) and started diverting pension money to pay for retiree health care. So there eventually going to be nothing left.

  • Driver

    Just thought I’d share an observation from this 3 day weekend — the highways all the way to New England were almost eerily empty, even at the times expected to be most congested. Something is happening, folks. $100 oil may be the magic number.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Something is happening, folks. $100 oil may be the magic number.)

    The collapse of the housing bubble and debt-ridden global financial system may have something to do with it too.

    As I’ve said, anyone proposing $500 billion in transit improvements as an alternative to congestion pricing is an idiot. We have bankrupted our country — federal, state, local, personal — and it’s worse outside NYC, which means they will be trying to suck every dollar they can out of here.

    Bicycles. Carpools. Unsubsidized private ferries. Telecommuting. Very small public capital cost. Zero public operating cost.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    This weekend, I borrowed my mother’s car and drove for the first time since 2004. It was pretty impressive when she asked me to put more gas in the car and handed me $25, “that won’t fill it up, but it’s okay.”

    And this is a Subaru station wagon, not some gas-guzzling SUV. No wonder people are selling their McMansions in the exurbs with two-hour commutes.

  • Jonathan

    Larry makes a good point that improving a road transportation system that nobody can afford to use makes little sense.

    Angus and Driver: yes, gas is expensive, but remember it was a January weekend with no tradition of family get-togethers. Myself, I try not to make plans for long-distance driving in winter months because you don’t know what the weather is going to be like. But I will concur, having to put $40 in my gas tank to fill it up was kind of a nasty bite.

    xue, helicopters, although they fly through the air, are not like the swallows of Capistrano. If there’s nowhere to land, the operators will just close up shop, sell their aircraft, and (I’m hoping here) invest in pedicabs with the proceeds.

  • xue

    Jonathan, you don’t see any need for maintaining some helicopter access at all?

  • Jonathan

    xue, the New York City 911 emergency medical services system does not include medevac by helicopter. If a helicopter ride doesn’t make sense for someone who’s broken every bone in his or her body, who does it make sense for? I think the answer is: nobody.

    P.S. The Times article is wrong in one respect: the smell of fuel at the heliport is not diesel, but jet fuel.

  • flp

    yes, jonathan is correct. indeed, it is jet fuel/kerosene…. i bike by there almost everyday and will be soooooo glad not to inhale the fumes and run the risk of being blown to smithereens by an errant and useless chopper. good riddance!

    2 things:
    1) as many of you know, that “jogging path” also is the west side (bike) greenway!
    2) isn’t that randy mastro guy, who is representing the chopper company, rudy g’s former deputy mayor? ugh!