Silver, Assembly Dems Reject Better NYC Bus Service

Sheldon Silver’s office just announced the outlines of the Assembly’s budget resolution. On a day when transit riders saw subway and bus cuts start to loom a whole lot closer, the speaker and his conference have piled on. Here’s the final line item under "Metropolitan Transportation Authority" in the summary of the Assembly’s budget [PDF]:

  • The Assembly rejects the Executive proposal to authorize: Bus Lane Photo Devices
silver_farrell.jpgAssembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman "Denny" Farrell have rejected enforcement cameras that would make bus service faster and more reliable for New Yorkers.

Unmentioned in this terse description is the fact that these "photo devices" can deliver better service for millions of bus riders. Bus cams were included in Governor Paterson’s executive budget proposal, and the State Senate has proposed a weaker but still substantial bus camera program. The Assembly has apparently decided to strip them out of the budget entirely.

The news from the Assembly does not represent the last word on bus cams, and there will be opportunities to restore bus lane enforcement in the final budget. But for now this budget proposal has sent a clear message: Bus riders and better transit service do not matter to the Assembly leadership. We’ll have more on this story tomorrow.

  • Westchesterite

    know where I can find the assembly voting tally on this?

  • vnm

    I doubt it exists. How individual members feel about these specific items is unknowable.

  • Anyone know the requirements for Danish citizenship?

  • Think twice

    Shout out to everyone in Silver’s district who keeps this oblique parasite in office, either by masochistically voting for him or not raising a finger to stop him.

    To those opposed to him however, keep up the fight.

  • molly

    any word on who the next paul newell is?

  • Shout out to everyone in Silver’s district who keeps this oblique parasite in office, either by masochistically voting for him or not raising a finger to stop him.

    Maybe they like having a legislator who twists arms to provide billions for subway constructions.

  • Ian Turner

    Westchesterite: Decisions in the Assembly are nearly always unanimous, done by voice vote.

    Alon, whose arms are Sheldon Silver twisting to favor subway service?

  • Geck

    It is time to redesign 1st and 2nd Ave with physically separated bus lanes, with delivery cut outs, mountable curbs and/or wide enough to allow for passing. And fill in the gaps in the bike lanes.

  • J

    I don’t understand. Is there any logic behind this decision? Who benefits besides drivers who want to block bus lanes? Surely there aren’t that many people lobbying against this.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Albany can’t stop the installation of bus cameras. It’s approval is only necessary to collect fines.

    If the MTA weren’t so broke, I would suggest installing the cameras anyway, photographing the plates, identifying those blocking the lane, and posting the information on the internet.

  • So, what can we do to change this decision?

  • David 1970

    Assembly member David Gantt. Blame him. He he is the Chairman of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee and for some weird, bizarro reason, against these bus lane cams, even though the program has been projected to be budget neutral. That’s right, budget neutral; canceling this program does nothing to balance the budget.

  • JK

    My take is that Silver views bus cams as yet another negotiating chit in the endless game he plays with the mayor and governor. A few years back the city got an increase in red light cameras after the mayor agreed not to close some firehouses in Brooklyn. What do firehouses and red light cams have to do with each other? Nothing, and everything. In the end, Shelly was able to keep firehouses open for some of his Brooklyn members — that’s why they keep him as speaker — and Bloomberg got his red light cameras. There is a long way to go in this budget crises and Silver wants the mayor and governor to pay for everything they get. I do not believe that Gantt has the power to defy Shelly on a issue that has nothing to do with Gantt’s district, while potentially having a direct impact on Shelly’s.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “There is a long way to go in this budget crises and Silver wants the mayor and governor to pay for everything they get.”

    The Mayor and Governor will not pay anything. Young people pay. New York City children pay. Anyone who might want to live here in 20 years pay.

    They want to take everything and leave nothing.

  • David 1970

    JK, this is not a chit for Silver. Again this is Assmblyman Gantt, who as chairman strong-armed the Transportation Committee. My guess is that, all things being equal, Silver would like to have the cameras but he’s simply not willing to go to bat for it.

    David Gantt

    David Gantt

    David Gantt

    David Gantt

  • JK

    If Gantt didn’t exist Shelly would have to invent him. Gantt is a foil. It is not believable that a guy from downtown Buffalo, on a second tier committee, is dictating policy on an NYC issue to the NYC delegation. The city and legislature have been battling over red light enforcement cameras for decades. Gantt is playing the same role he has been. The fire house quid pro quo happened, you can look it up. Gantt doesn’t care about fire houses.

  • Alon, whose arms are Sheldon Silver twisting to favor subway service?

    Silver threatened to pull the plug on Pataki’s pet East Side Access project unless the Governor inserted money for SAS in the budget.

  • JK

    Apologies to Sam Hoyt and the city of Buffalo, Gantt is of course from Rochester. Typical downstate confusion.

  • Eric McClure –
    I’m studying in Denmark now. Their immigration policy is rather tough… they’re protective of the little paradise they’ve got goin’ on here 🙂

  • they’re protective of the little white-only gated community they’ve got goin’ on here


  • Right… because it’s that simple? You mind substantiating a little..?

  • Sure. The immigration system in Denmark, like in most European countries, is designed based on the fiction that all nonwhite immigrants are guest workers, who will return to their home countries within a few years. They can rarely get naturalized without marrying a citizen, and their children do not automatically acquire citizenship. The government makes no effort at social integration.

    Meanwhile, Denmark’s levels of racism, while not quite as bad as Switzerland’s, are nonetheless egregious. In the US, you won’t find mainstream center-right newspapers draw cartoons of portraying minority communities as terrorists. Comedians who engage in such racism are either equal opportunity offenders, like Borat and Sarah Silverman, or far outside mainstream discourse. In Denmark, Jyllands-Posten published the Muhammad cartoons portraying him as a terrorist, a few years after rejecting cartoons making fun of Jesus.

  • Ok, I pretty much agree, but “whites-only gated community” was a bit overgeneralizing. They do take in many refugees (and many feel they should take in more), and though I can’t really speak for the experiences of the poorer diasporic communities, race at least within the educated middle class seems to go virtually unnoticed in my experience. My Ecuadorian-adopted Danish girlfriend grew up seemingly without problems.

  • But the point is – Denmark has an amazing model of transportation policy, and isn’t that what we’re really interested in here? haha

  • Copenhagen has good transportation policy. Rural Denmark, not so much. A friend from Aarhus tells me that the local politics has recurrent city/country friction, with the rural-dominated regional government spending city money on highways that urban residents have no use for.

    The volatile racial issues in Denmark are about Muslims, and, like in the US, are the most incendiary in lily white rural areas. Not for nothing, Jyllands-Posten stereotyped Muslims, not Catholics or Jews. I don’t know how Danish racists treat Latin Americans, but I know many are fairly pro-Semitic, associating Jews with Israel and Israel with killing Muslims. Racists often concentrate on just a few ethnic groups: it’s no different from how white suburbs in the US resist influxes of blacks or Hispanics but not of Asians.

  • I’m actually in Aarhus, and I wasn’t aware of that local political situation, but it makes sense as I do notice the unnecessarily large roads leading out of and circling the city (“ring streets”) with levels of traffic you don’t really see in Copenhagen. However it’s still a relative haven for me compared to what we’re used to in the States – they still have CPH-style, wide separated cycleways and great transit. But I’d suspect the higher levels of traffic as one suspect for limiting Aarhus’ bike trips at 20% (half of CPH’s 40%). Biking along the highway with the fumes still kinda sucks.

    And from what I’ve been told about (and shown on Google maps), my girlfriend’s hometown nearby is really walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented as well, giving me the impression to make a good bet than any urban development in this country is on a whole standard of its own.

    In regards to the race issue: no “but”s there. I actually asked my girlfriend her thoughts on this and she was saying the racism tends to be targeted mostly towards not simply Muslims but more so those who don’t seem to have an interest in integrating and don’t speak Danish. But as you touched on, that’s likely more due to lack of government efforts than anything else.

    Anyway, I must say you sound like a refreshingly knowledgeable and reasonable man. Can I ask what you studied (or study)? Cheers.

  • I’m a math grad student… I only got interested in urban issues after I moved to New York and started riding the subway. The racial angle in Europe I learned about after hanging out on European forums and seeing how the European elites viewed things.

  • Ah I see. I just checked out your blog as well, I see you’re Israeli – nice (I’ve spent a short time there, and you probably guessed my name is Jewish). I’m actually almost in awe of your apparent mastery of English and knowledge of U.S. politics & life for someone who’s only been in NY for such a short time.

  • Well, I lived in Singapore 5 years, and have been commenting on predominantly American forums/blogs since 2001. Let’s just say that when I started out, my English wasn’t so good.


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