Today’s Headlines

  • Weiner, Local Pols Unwilling to Fund NYC’s Transit System (NYT)
  • It’s Official: Carrión to Head White House Urban Affairs Office (WaPo, News, The Caucus)
  • What Next for High Speed Rail Stimulus Funds? (NYT)
  • Markowitz Lobbies for Stim Cash for Atlantic Yards (News)
  • Cyclist Assaulter Patrick Pogan No Longer a Cop (NYT, News, Post)
  • Bloomberg Touts 7 Line Extension, Takes Swipe at 2nd Ave Subway Construction (NY1, Post)
  • Dear David Brooks… (NYT)
  • Sidewalk Parking Gov’t Vehicles Menace Financial District (Curbed)
  • CA Budget Deal Guts Transit Funding, Preserves Cheap Gas Prices (Streetsblog LA)
  • St. Louis Streets Ready for Road Diets (Urban Review STL via
  • Glenn

    I’ve said this before, but I think the MTA needs to flex its muscle. They need to knock some heads together and show how important transit is to the economic health of this city.

    Here’s a few ideas of how to demonstrate this and create a teaching moment for the city and the whole region:

    1. Announce that there will be no service on Mondays from now until new funding is found
    2. Announce closure of “unprofitable” bus lines like many outerborough buses by a specific calendar date
    3. Announce the closure of the last several stops on each MetroNorth and LIRR stations by a specific calendar date
    4. Target service cuts to specific legislative districts that seem to be against any transit funding sources
    5. Sell parking lots adjacent to train stations for redevelopment

    If it’s up to the MTA to convince state legislators to get real, they have a lot of ammo that they can use to get that job done.

    Time to play hard ball NYC politics I guess.

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    Another dubious Weiner promise; “There’s going to be help coming from Washington.”

  • Glenn, your idea is tempting, but the threat of eliminating outer-borough buses is already getting people to just blame the MTA.

    “Some of my colleagues said the Ravitch plan is dead on arrival,” State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan, a Democrat of Brooklyn, said on Thursday. “They said to me there’s no way they can vote for it. It’s the M.T.A.’s responsibility to convince my colleagues.”

    Gee, Senator, I thought it was your responsibility to advocate on behalf of the more than two-thirds of your constituents who use transit (PDF). But no, our elected officials think that it’s the responsibility of an unelected government corporation to advocate for the people’s interest?

  • lee
  • Glenn

    Cap’n Transit – What I’m saying is that if the MTA truly is on the hook to convince legislators to “get with the program”. They have a lot of great weapons they can put into play.

    Just announcing marginal service cuts is not enough. In fact it’s the way that transit systems slowly erode into dysfunction. If the outboroughs are not willing to pay tolls to support their unprofitable lines, show them exactly what is at risk.

    Show the politicians what a profitable/breakeven system would look like – mostly Manhattan subways, much shorter bus and rail routes and constant traffic jams throughout the five boroughs.

    Now’s the time to make the case. The MTA has been on defense for too long. Time to lean forward and make their case with their own ultimatums, threats and clear consequences for underfunding.

  • Is there anyone more unqualified to be mayor of New York City than Anthony Weiner?

    This appears to be his big idea for bailing out Bruce Ratner the MTA: Mayoral Hopeful Wants Islanders in Brooklyn.

    As much as I loathe Bloomberg, I’d vote for him twice before pulling a lever for Weiner.

  • Re. “Bloomberg Touts 7 Line Extension, Takes Swipe at 2nd Ave Subway Construction”:

    I’m confused, where’s the swipe at the 2nd Avenue Subway construction?

  • Boris

    In the Post article.

  • Rhywun

    RE: Sidewalk Parking Gov’t Vehicles Menace Financial District

    Also visible in the picture is Nassau Street, which used to be for pedestrians only but for some unknown reason has turned into a parking lot for government and commercial vehicles. Why? I walk in the street anyway, because the sidewalks are too crowded.

  • Rhywun

    “It [the SAS] is literally destroying every business on Second Avenue”

    What an ass. First of all, he is literally not telling the truth. Second of all, the mayor’s job is to promote this project. WTF is he doing trying to undermine it?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Glenn’s proposition is sadly typical of the perception of both the MTA’s power to resolve mass transit funding issues and its role in the political economy of New York. The MTA does not have the legislative authority to simply cut service. A semi-tortorous hearing process is invoked and a series of votes must be taken over time. And the timing of these sort of cuts is problematic as well when it comes to forcing the politicians to act.

    Secondly, the role of the MTA is to take the blame from the politicians for everytime their bus (usually held up in traffic) is late, cost over-runs on complex construction problems (has anyone here ever built onto their house?) and, hard as this is to believe, inflation itself. The politicians, on the other hand, are here to take credit for successes, like borrowing more money to fund the Second Avenue Subway.

    So the MTA is a sort of bizarro political universe where blame is taken for failure and fare increases but success is someone else’s responsibility. The political universe is where credit is taken for success and blame is handed out for failure. That is the role for the MTA. The MTA cannot be an independent actor it is a pinata, the more you hit it the more goodies fall out. Have you ever seen a pinata pass a law?

  • Glenn

    I’m just saying that if I were Elliot Sander, I’d start thinking big. Start with a few random events that get politician’s attention. On a day to day basis, I do believe that the MTA can find a lot of ways to make its power known.

    “Oh, you have a lot of complaints about that bus line in your district? Well, what’s your position on the East River Tolls? What have you done for the MTA that make me want to spend time solving your problem”

    That seems to be the only power politics that our lame state and city politicians understand.

  • I hate pinatas. The big kids always get all the good candy and I wind up with six pepper-and-lime flavored lollipops.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Elliot Sander, like everyone else in this economy, is thinking about Elliot Sander, and why shouldn’t he? He is thinking big(himself, themselves). The Ravitch plan includes merging his gig with the Chairman of the Board, maybe a good thing operationally, the jury is out. But in the end it would have the effect of extending his term into the next governor’s regime. That would tend to give him more power to progress the kind of issues you suggest, should he so choose and he has not so chosen. To the extent that investing that particular position with more authority will empower the MTA to be the kind of independent actor you suggest it should be then I would think you (and he) would favor just that sort of change. That is thinking big in this environment.

    Most people are thinking small, like getting to their present job, keeping their present bus service, or train service, paying for healthcare and (like Mr. Sander) keeping their present job. I have always felt that this small change in the MTA organizational structure, though apparently committed to at some level by former Gov. Spitzer (oh how the mighty have fallen), somewhat polluted the Ravitch proposal with individual self-interest. It may make the MTA in some sense a more fluid, powerful, organization but I’m not sure those are goals shared by the public generally or the political class specifically.

    More to your point however. The threats of service cuts are different in effect from the payroll tax piece and similar to the bridge tolls in that they effect profoundly, I think, life in those particular service areas or political jurisdictions. The payroll tax and general fare increases (23% effectively) effect the entire MTA region. General effects are distinct from particular effects, still though it is a package meant to be swallowed whole, somewhat of a horse pill.

    Many politicians, both in the outer boroughs opposing the East and Harlem River Bridge tolls and in the other MTA service areas (mostly buses but some commuter train service as well) would gladly accept greater general, universal in the MTA area, changes to avoid their particular hurt.

    Those are the people and politicians that really have to choose. If you live in Marine Park or Bayside and you want to keep your express bus service and fare your particular needs are going be coldly calculated against how many votes you have against the toll proposal and the payroll tax proposal (and for the time being, before the other hungry budget players involve themselves, the Thompson registration proposal).

    Calling their bluff at this point in time by the sort of grandstanding (I don’t oppose grandstanding except when it is ineffective) you suggest, even if the MTA could do it, would only make them count the votes all the sooner and I do not personally believe that will help Ravitch pass.

    On plainly mathematical terms that pushes Ravitch off the table for enough Democrats (since I don’t see a single Republican State Senator voting for it) that it looks like the proposal sleeps with the fishes. They will cluck, cluck, cluck about MTA inefficiencies and a bunch of should bes and what ifs that are really just aren’ts. They will find, however, an Amen chorus in the tabloids, the Goo-goos (good government groups) and, sadly I think, many of the same advocates that hold forth on these blogs.

  • Kaja Geis

    > I hate pinatas. The big kids always get all the good candy and I wind up with six pepper-and-lime flavored lollipops.

    What we need are large guns, and more of them, and then to stop paying taxes to Albany.

  • Kaja Geis

    (Realistically, though, and until that happens, I’m going to stay glued to Nick and Larry on this subject.)

  • Kaja, you know that New York City could crush Albany like the skull of a cockroach if we were united on this issue. Albany continues to exercise power over the city because it is useful to certain minority factions within the city. No amount of guns can fix that.