Today’s Headlines

  • Detroit Bailout Deal Imminent; Bush Would Appoint Car Czar (NYT, AP)
  • Tom Friedman Wants Hybrid Electric Cars and a Carbon Tax (NYT)
  • Building Owners’ Rep Invokes Threat of Terrorism at ‘Bikes in Buildings’ Council Hearing (City Room)
  • Fordham Road Merchants Blame Select Bus Lane for Drop in Sales (News)
  • Paterson: It’s Up to Albany to Save MTA (News)
  • Robert Caro: Officials With Power Never Throw Their Weight Behind Transit (NYT)
  • Ravitch’s Payroll Tax Would Hit State and City Budgets (Post)
  • Dodging Hazards on the Kent Ave Bike Lane (Gothamist)
  • Brooklyn Judges Parking in Ped Plaza Until Official Lot Inside Columbus Park Is Finished (Bklyn Paper)
  • Stimulus Suggestion: Increase Transit Service (Yglesias)
  • Seatless Subway Cars Debut in Boston (News)
  • Car Free Nation

    All the plans to fix the big three have an assumption that this is a short term loan that will be paid back once the economy improves and Americans buy more cars. But perhaps the reduction in demand is permanent. Has anyone considered the possibility that we just don’t want new cars anymore?

    If a car becomes strictly utilitarian (and not romanticized), it doesn’t have to be replaced every few years. 20- and 30-year-old cars still fulfill their function of getting people from place to place more than adequately. Families, even in the suburbs, can make do with one car (and send their kids to school in a school bus). What if Americans decide to spend more money on more worthwhile services like education, entertainment, and god forbid, savings?

    If this is the case, then we (the taxpayers) are just throwing money in a hole.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Is my political math wrong here?
    Fear is a $19 increase in the monthly pass (23% fare increase threat).
    Ravitch gives us an 8% increase = $6.50, difference is 12.50 or $150/yr.
    .33 is the proposed payroll tax so, 150/.33% = $45,000/yr.
    Ergo why is this plan economically appealing to anyone making more than $45,000 if the big fear is fare increases?
    In fact it is worse than that because people making less than $45,000 will have to pay both the $6.50 fare increase and the .33% payroll tax, so the actual breakout point is much lower. I haven’t had enough cafe yet this morning to work that out yet and there is more value for the MTA than simply the payroll tax, especially more dedicated money going forward but…still, come on.

  • Great! We’ve deployed more police officers into the subways to thwart Al Qaeda, but they pulled a double-reverse on us with their bicycles.

    One question, though. Wouldn’t it be easier to smuggle your terror supplies into a building in your briefcase than inside your bicycle?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    And those are just the beneficiaries who are supposed to be seeing a clear benefit for themselves, self-interest. The next tier of socio/political buy in is more complex, those drivers who will benefit from the lowered congestion of others taking the train. Then there are the drivers who don’t go to Manhattan at all, probably a voting majority in the MTA region, I’m not thinking they are very happy with this at all.

  • Ian Turner

    Niccolo, as Larry has loudly pointed out elsewhere, the payroll tax is unjustifiable, but as a political wedge may be successful because it is less susceptible to populist rhetoric. It is probably moderately more progressive than a fare increase.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I know what Larry points out. But, I always point out that there is progressive and there is politically progressive. By that I mean as what is progressive in terms of votes. Unfortunately many of the beneficiaries of the MTA service, maybe even most, are non-voters. Look around next time you are on the train.

  • JK

    Hey Streetsblog what was the outcome of yesterday’s City Council hearing?

  • I’ll have a full report soon. Here are some quick hits:

    Only one panel testified against the bill (REBNY, BOMA, and a woman who wants to ban bicycles from the island of Manhattan).

    JSK and Rohit Aggarwala testified in favor, as did Paul White, Kyle Wiswall from TSTC, and Josh Nachowitz from NYLCV. One building owner also testified in favor, along with about 10 commuting cyclists.

    The general sense is that the bill needs some fine-tuning but enjoys majority support. There was no vote. There will be a second committee hearing, probably in January, at which a vote can be expected.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I still can’t believe that the vaunted Ravitch Commission, rather than tell the truth about the consequences of the failure to fund ongoing needs on an ongoing basis, proposed to continue to do the same thing.

    We are heading into what will certainly be the biggest economic disaster of our lifetimes, and what may end up in hyper inflation, the Great Depression II, or both if things don’t go well. All because of the very party now and pay later excesses all across the economy that the Ravitch Commission proposes to continue.

    The jig is up.

  • Jason A

    Larry you need to get with the times and recognize we live an era of unchecked greed and narcissism – “all for me and none for thee!”

    I know you bike to work, so, why should you care about the MTA? So the system is bankrupt, so what? Not your problem! Who cares if service slows and grows impossibly erratic? Not your problem! Who cares if trains are cut and buses are eliminated? Not your problem!


    Keep riding!

  • Larry Littlefield

    (I know you bike to work, so, why should you care about the MTA?)

    A useful defense mechanism, and one I am grateful for. The NY area economy will collapse with the MTA, but perhaps that too is now inevitable.

    I also hope my kids get three years of high school — I’ve aleady given up the fourth.

    For those of you here who aren’t following the macro environment, it’s really, really bad.

    And you know what, a large and growing part of me would rather have the NY catastrophe happen now rather than (even if this were possible) Silver, Skelos and the rest get five years closer to Florida or the grave before it happens. They won’t stop until there is nothing left.

  • Paul Krugman on the disappearance of the U.S. auto industry: “It will do so because of the geographical forces that me and my colleagues have discussed.” Note that Krugman won his Nobel “for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.”

    He continued: “It is no longer sustained by the current economy. [The bailout shows a] lack of willingness to accept the failure of a large industry in the midst of an economic crisis.”

  • Jason A

    “It will do so because of the geographical forces that me and my colleagues have discussed.”

    But what about demographic forces, and the fact 1 GM worker supports 2 retirees?

    No one is talking about the unsustainable absurdity of this… All anyone wants to believe is that Detroit would be fine if only it made Hybrids instead of Hummers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “But what about demographic forces, and the fact 1 GM worker supports 2 retirees?”

    Would a 1 to 1 ratio be more sustainable? That’s where NY state and local government is heading.

  • lee

    Larry, I appreciate your astute commentary here and on Room 8. It seems to me that your views should get a wider audience, do you ever write Op-Eds to any of the local papers, or have they blacklisted your type of reality based analysis?