Today’s Headlines

  • South in Store for Two More Weeks of Gas Shortage (NYT)
  • Car Makers to Receive $25B in Subsidized Loans (AP)
  • Bronx Biz Owners, State Sen. Jeff Klein Rage Against Parking Tickets (News)
  • Sheldon Silver Takes Frequent Flights to Albany (Sun, News)
  • Tappan Zee Replacement to Include BRT, Commuter Rail (MTR)
  • Price of Clean Subways: $96M (News)
  • Atlantic Yards Will Face Another Court Challenge (City Room, Sun, Post, Bklyn Paper)
  • Obscure City Street May Be Turned Over to Private Management (NYT)
  • Time to Invest in Bike Manufacturers? (Economist)
  • Car-Free Sundays in Mexico City (LAT via Planetizen)
  • vnm

    I drive an hour to work every day, and looking for gasoline has become my entire life.

    –Marsha Lewis, Atlanta-area commuter.

  • JP

    Loans for automakers: Friedman wrote this the other week, saying he would like to hear this from Obama
    “The Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers union want a Washington bailout. The only way they will get a dime out of my administration is if the automakers and unions come up with a joint plan to retool their fleets to get an average of 40 miles per gallon by 2015 — instead of the 35 m.p.g. by 2020 that they’ve reluctantly accepted. I am not going to bail out Detroit with taxpayer money, but I will invest in Detroit’s transformation with taxpayer money, provided the management and unions agree to radical change.”

  • mike

    How about giving that $25 billion to Amtrak and other regional transit operators (like, I dunno, hmmmm…. maybe the MTA?). Why do we continue to want to enable dependence on the automobile?

  • Ian Turner

    Mike,

    Amtrak, MTA, etc., do not hire lobbyists.

  • JP

    I think it also has to do with the threat of lost jobs.

  • There’s something almost pathological about Silver’s constant plane travel to Albany–via D.C.–when taking the train is more convenient, less expensive, and less time-consuming. What a waste of our taxpayer money and environmental resources!

  • I’m glad CB3 at least is attempting to do the right thing and resisting the city’s attempt to privatize Extra Place. A city street should remain in the public domain–shame on the Department of Housing Preservation and Development!

  • JF

    The ground alternatives are considerably cheaper. Lawmakers who drive to the Statehouse are reimbursed by the state at a rate of 50 cents a mile, which comes to about $175, including tolls, for a round-trip with a starting point in Manhattan. Round-trip, governmental-rate Amtrak tickets come to a total of $110.

    […]

    Why Mr. Silver avoids ground travel is not clear. Those close to the speaker say he doesn’t like traveling by train because there are too many distractions from other passengers, many of whom are lobbyists.

    Mr. Silver has a state-issued car and sometimes uses a driver. Aides to the speaker said having a driver chauffeur the speaker would be an added expense.

    So that’s why. He doesn’t want to be a “regular” on the train and a target for lobbyists, and he doesn’t want to drive himself. Paying a chauffeur to drive him to Albany would cost more than the $175, and the extra would have to come out of his own pocket. But the state will pay the extra for him to be driven to the airport, fly to DC, fly to Albany and be driven to the LOB.

    Never mind that he could walk to the AABus stop at 133 East Broadway and get to Albany for $30 each way, probably without seeing a single lobbyist.

  • I wish the Times had delved into the pricing angle of gas shortages. If stations could raise prices to $6 a gallon there would be no shortage, and everybody would be able to buy enough gas to get to work without waiting in line for hours and even sleeping in their cars. (Needing gas to get to work in the first place, that’s another problem.) But price gouging laws, and the constant political grandstanding, make sure that everyone does exactly the wrong thing. I guess the allegorical capitalism VHS that explained this all to my fifth grade class (it was on a cartoon island, and some islanders wanted to set prices on coconuts) did not work on most people.

  • #8 JF, you’re absolutely right–but what an expensive and convoluted away to avoid running into lobbyists! I’m sure the almost-hourly buses from the Port Authority bus station to downtown Albany (the Albany station is in walking distance of the Capitol) are also lobbyist-free, and they’d save state taxpayers a great deal of money. Silver could be a trend-setter for mass transit!

  • Air

    Any mention of a bike/pedestrian path on the Tappen Zee? What a boon that would be between Nyack and Tarrytown.

  • Ace

    A sad thing about the Train station in Albany is that it is on the other side of the river in Rensselaer and it is (not distance) physically impossible to walk into Albany from there all highway and not a single pedestrian path.

  • There will be a bike/ped path on the new Tappan Zee Bridge no matter what design is chosen. Sorry it wasn’t in the story – MTR has previously reported that the new bridge will have such a facility, but news on the project comes out so rarely that it’s no surprise people don’t remember. We’ve updated the story to note this.

  • I agree with Ace. Here’s a page about the old Albany Union Station. Particularly interesting (and sad) is the American City and County link that talks about how the station was abandoned.

    The state’s Tappan Zee Bridge plans are still the biggest boondoggle in the region. As I’ve written, their winnowing of options is suspect because they decided ahead of time that they wanted to increase the number of lanes, so all the alternatives involve increasing the number of private car lanes to ten: eight general lanes and two HO/T (not BRT) lanes. The promise of commuter rail is just as vague and unreliable as it was for the George Washington Bridge.

    If they’d made a commitment to reduce the number of car lanes or put rail on the bridge from day one, that would be a reason to cheer.

  • anonymouse

    Ace: Bullshit. The route 9 bridge has a pedestrian/bike path on the north side. The bridge ramp starts about 4 blocks from the station, and it’s another dozen or so blocks at the other end to Albany. Besides, I bet he could take a cab. I have biked to the Albany train station myself, and I’m fairly sure the path was still there last time I visited.

  • Ace

    I stand corrected, I wish I had known this last Fall:

    from:

    http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=535050&sid=43f92e413eb96159dbae844fde3957a2

    by JFB on Tue May 13, 2008 10:06 pm

    The bridge does have a walkway, and it’s quite pleasant for those who enjoy walking along highways. That’s probably not you, and it’s definitely not me.

    To be specific, the route involves dodging traffic in Rensalear to get to the walkway entrance, cursing the hundreds of extra yards you have to schlep as the footpath parallels the westbound on-ramp, sharing your view of the Hudson with six lanes of asphalt, then being deposited in Albany directly beneath the the highway that was responsible for Albany Union Station’s demise–and consequently the reason you’ve just had such a miserable walk.

  • The bus from the train station to the Capitol is really not bad. It’s pretty quick – the schedule says less than ten minutes – and cheap. Of course, that’s if you’re near the bus route and don’t mind waiting half an hour to an hour for it.

  • Not to say that the approach – for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users – couldn’t be much improved.