Today’s Headlines

  • Projected Cost of Moynihan Station Triples, Now at $3B (NY1)
  • Westchester May Be Getting BRT (MTR)
  • Supermarkets, Corner Delis Want to Keep ‘Green Carts’ Off Streets (NYT, Sun)
  • Council Member Eric Gioia of Queens Pledges Carbon Neutral Campaign (Sun)
  • Planners Look to Accommodate More Reverse Commuters (NYT)
  • A Profile in Extreme Commuting (AMNY)
  • PATH Train Turns 100 (NY1, AP)
  • More 16-Year-Olds Holding Off on Driver’s Licenses (NYT)
  • St. Louis Ponders a Plateau in Traffic Volume (Post-Dispatch via Planetizen)
  • Bangalore, India Has Become an Auto-Centric City (Planetizen)
  • Back to Petroleum: The ‘Recarbonization’ of BP (Guardian)
  • Larry Littlefield

    On the “Greencarts.”

    Back in 1996, City Planning proposed allowing larger stores in certain categories on wide streets in manufacturing districts, without a multi-year review process most stores could not afford. The goal was to allow more large supermarkets to open near poor neighborhoods. DCP found that many middle income people were shopping at large stores in the suburbs, denying the city jobs for the less well off and tax revenues, while the poor were stranded with monopolistic stores providing bad food at high prices.

    DCP was opposed be a coalition that hired Richard Lipsky. He went to white neighborhoods and said large stores would attract “outsiders” to their neighborhood and bring “crime.” He went to minority neighborhoods and claimed that the proposal was a white plot to wipe out minority businesses. And he went to snobby neighborhoods and claimed that allowing new large stores within the city as anti-urban, auto-centric, etc. Meanwhile, his backers sprinkled money on the City Council. The proposal was defeated.

    As I predicted in DCP documents, high markup, large corporate stores have been above to afford the process (and the political contributions) and open. So we have IKEA, Whole Foods and Trader Joes for the Yuppies, but poor communities are still stuck with bad food at high prices.

    So now Bloomberg has proposed auto-centric, anti-urban carts in poor neighborhoods, and the same coalition is set to shoot it down again.

    I mention this only in case some of you were taken in by the phony urban-snob/environmental argument 12 years ago. No doubt Lipsky, that defender of the envirnoment and the urban lifestyle who is also opposing congestion pricing, is in on this little piece of self interest as well.

  • Here’s the Times article referenced by the NY1 story on Moynihan Station:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/nyregion/23moynihan.html

    As I pointed out, the transportation (i.e. non-symbolic, non-developer-oriented) benefits of this plan are very minor. Symbols are nice, but in a declining economy, $3 billion is an awful lot to pay for a symbol. A less expensive symbol would be the Fulton Street Transit Center, which at last count was $1.2 billion over budget. Let’s take that $1.2 billion and build the big dome and the Calatrava birdie-whatsis, and spend the $1.8 billion on the Tenth Avenue station for the #7 (if we’re going to build that extension).

    Or more frugally still, how much could we save a year in interest payments if we cut the MTA debt by ten percent?

    http://capntransit.blogspot.com/2008/01/of-rats-and-gods.html

  • Call me dumb

    auto-centric anti-urban carts? This is sarcasm, right?

  • Larry Littlefield

    (auto-centric anti-urban carts? This is sarcasm, right?)

    Right. Where the City Council and the food supply is concerned, I can’t help it.

    Everyone forgets — no accountability.

  • Mark

    Cap’n, you’re assuming that the $3 billion in funding attracted by the potent symbolism of Moynihan Station would automatically become available for other projects if Moynihan were axed. That may not be so.

  • jmc

    Forget the BRT in westchester, if the full commuter rail option is built it will allow for connection of NJT and MNRR New Haven lines. This will have the most transit benefit and be the best for walkable, transit-oriented development in the region. BUilding the commuter rail link is really the best option for the sustainable growth of the metropolitan area.

  • Mark, that potent symbolism is not raising any new taxes. That money is either coming from the developers or from the general fund. Whatever’s not coming from the general fund is being diverted from other projects. If the symbolism is so potent it can draw money exclusively from road widening, parking lots and other anti-environment pork, great. I’m not convinced that it won’t poach from other, more effective projects.

  • When I first saw “Westchester May Be Getting BRT,” I thought, “Finally, they’re going to put separated bus lanes on Central Avenue!” No such luck.

  • Mr. Gioia, a likely candidate for public advocate, said yesterday that his campaign would purchase carbon offsets, use hybrid vehicles, send fewer mailers and more e-mail, and take other steps to make up for the greenhouse emissions produced by his run for office.

    Why use hybrid vehicles? Why would a campaign for a citywide office need any motor vehicles at all? Because he thinks nobody in Gerritsen Beach will take him seriously if he doesn’t show up in an SUV?

  • Mark

    Cap’n, I see your points, but car-addicted public officials never view one road project as a tradeoff against another. Transit users seem to assume that if we get one absolute necessity, another absolute necessity becomes impossible. Perhaps we are setting our expectations (and demands) too low.

  • Eric

    Larry, let’s also not forget that Richard Lipsky is on Bruce Ratner’s payroll (developer of the Atlantic Terminal mall — home of Target — and Gateway Plaza). Some mom ‘n’ pop advocate.

  • Ace

    Moynihan Station Triples, Now at $3B – Worth every penny to move commuter-rail farther away from the B,D,F,V,Q,R,N trains at 34th St.