Today’s Headlines

  • House Spending Bill Would End Offshore Drilling Ban (NYT)
  • Parts of Southeast U.S. Gripped by Gas Shortages in Wake of Hurricanes (NBC)
  • In NYC, Exorbitant Tunneling Costs Make BRT and Light Rail More Attractive (NYT)
  • Sadik-Khan: "Highly Likely" Summer Streets Will Return, Expand to Other Boros (News)
  • Major Car-Free Event Coming to Miami (Transit Miami)
  • System for Real-Time Subway Arrival Info Five Years Behind Schedule (News)
  • Will Google Transit Boost Ridership? (Sun, City Room, NY1, Newsday)
  • MTA to Investigate Troubling Bus Fuel Contract (NYT)
  • Astoria to Get One of DOT’s New Bike Shelters (Queens Gazette)
  • Should the S.I. Ferry Stay Free? (Gothamist)
  • Woman Self-Immolates in Extreme Road Rage Incident (London Times)
  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps some of you have concluded that I’m a gloom and doom sort of person. I’ve been gloomy because I’ve seen all the decisions that led us to this point being made, screamed bloody murder to try to stop them, and was ignored by, among others, people pitchng free transit and assuming money was unlimited.

    We’ve had a decade of something for nothing, and are dead meat.

    Worst case, what should the MTA do? Cutting the number of subway trains running, while continuing to absorb all the fixed costs of the system, makes no sense. What will be necessary is to cut those fixed costs but shutting down entire lines.

    I suggest telling people they are going to have to walk (or bike) farther and shutting half the subway stations, eliminating the Rockaway Branch (we’ll stop insulting Weiner’s middle class constituents by sending trains to his district), cutting the number of bus stops in half on some lines, and eliminating others that either parallel subway lines with intra-borough capacity, or are heavily underused. We’ll have to get tough or die.

    In the suburbs, perhaps some tough labor negotiations could provoke an LIRR strike, so we won’t have to pay them unemployment insurance when we shut the system down. Alternate side could be suspended as the suburbanites drive in to park and ride; the newly unemployed on welfare could be asked to sweep around the vehicles.

    What can’t we do? We can’t do anything I suggested in this post,

    http://www.r8ny.com/blog/larry_littlefield/the_2008_to_2013_mta_capital_plan_is_there_a_way_out.html

    because some people matter more than others. Time to surrender, ride a bike, and try to immunize your family from the inevitable institutional collapse.

  • Will Google Transit boost ridership? No. Everyone already takes the train anyway. I can’t imagine there are all that many people for whom the incremental advance from previously-existing route planning alternatives like Hopstop or, you know, looking at a map.

  • My Google Transit prediction is that it, or something like it, will provide accurate arrival information using second-hand (“crowd-sourced”) data over mobile phone networks before the MTA manages to produce a public feed for the wealth of live, official data they’re sitting on top of.

  • anonymouse

    In terms of operating costs, the bus system is by FAR the less cost effective part of NYCT. If there’s anything that’s going to get eliminated, it’s bus routes. Even though the fares are the same, and the bus system doesn’t have to pay anything for its use of the roads, the farebox recovery is 3 times lower than for the subway.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I believe that if stations were closed, forcing people to walk farther, and fares were raised, the subway system might be able to break even on operating costs.

    That would free up all the toll and MTA tax money to go to the highest priorities in our society — paying for debts, pensions, and retiree health care, and making retirement income tax free no matter how high it is.

    So one thing that should not be cut is subway service. If anything, bus service in the vicinity of the subway should be reduced, with riders directed to take the train.

    These are disaster-level choices. This is a man-made disaster. The people who made it are still in charge, and will be running for office, generally unopposed, this November.

  • vnm

    Doc, what do you mean? The MTA just dumped huge amounts of data on Google, which is posting it. Try clicking on a Metro-North station or a bus stop – you get all the upcoming departures.

  • Ian Turner

    vnm, those are based on timetables, not real-time data. And I’d wager that the MTA didn’t provide anything for Google; they just hand-entered all the printed timetable publications.