Today’s Headlines

  • Walder: Next Fare Hike Coming in January 2011; Expect a Big One (News, SAS)
  • City Renews Push for 10th Ave Station on 7 Line Extension (Post, NY1)
  • Are We on the Path to Building "Bicycle Highways"? (Slate)
  • Department of Health: NYC Kids Are Safer Thanks to Transit (Transpo Nation)
  • Downtown Express: Waiting Longer for the Bus? Blame Albany
  • Ben Kabak: Bill to Prevent MTA Layoffs Isn’t About Safety
  • When Ground Zero Memorial Opens, Where Will All the Tour Buses Go? (AMNY)
  • Neil DeMause Breaks Down Dep. Mayor Stephen Goldsmith’s Record on Privatization (City Limits)
  • To Reduce Danger at Brooklyn Bridge Park Entrance, Signs Are Coming (Bklyn Paper, Post)
  • MTA Contractor Pleads Guilty to Underpaying Workers (NYT)
  • Larry Littlefield

    If you look at the big picture and not just transit, you realize that state legislation to make us pay more and more for less and less, as SAS wrote about yesterday, is the rule rather than the exception.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/01/nyregion/01handouts.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion

    Add on more and more benefits and tax exemptions for today’s senior citizens, more and more debt, and more and more of the nation’s private sector income captured by the most rapacious union of all, the de facto union of corporate executives and directors, and we are heading for an institutional collapse. Or something worse, impoverished serfdom for everyone else, indefinately.

    “In what is practically a rite of summer in labor-friendly Albany, there are dozens of bills to “sweeten” the pensions of public workers. According to an analysis by the Citizens Budget Commission, a business-backed group that favors the restraint of spending, at least 50 such bills are being considered in the Legislature. Some are claimed by sponsors to have no fiscal impact, despite conferring more costly benefits on dozens, hundreds or thousands of people.”

    This has been going on for decades. I guess the legislators, if pressed, could argue that public services and benefits for ordinary people are going to collapse anyway, based on what has already been done.

    “Critics note that even as lawmakers seek to expand pension benefits for public employees, they are close to approving a controversial bill that would allow financially troubled local governments to borrow from the state’s pension fund to cover payments they owe to the same fund.”

    The money is borrowed to hide the consequences for as long as possible, so more can be extracted from our severely and permanently diminished future.

    “A veritable flotilla of special-interest bills is quietly floating through the Legislature as lawmakers prepare to wrap up for the year, part of the end-of-session rush to pass bills sought by their political allies or campaign donors.”

    And signature collectors. While this is going on, the beneficiaries are out collecting signatures for the incumbents. Their donations will tie up any challengers in court and cost them $tens of thousands just to get on the ballot even if they complied with all the rules.

  • Now is the time to get Congestion Pricing back on the table. Make state candidates take a position on one or the other, they can’t have it both ways (or all three ways if they are against fare hikes, congestion pricing and service / workforce cuts). [insert LL rant on pensions to boot]

    A big fare hike on top of transit service cuts while free bridges are maintained at no expense to the motorists that use it is insane. Motorists have to share the burden. No such thing as a free lunch and no such thing as a free bridge.

    Congestion pricing or fare hikes or service cuts or labor cost reductions? What will it be, Albany?

  • Larry Littlefield

    By the way, the MTA contractor piece is instructive. There is no way Angeledes passed on the savings from violating union contracts to the MTA, as the cost of the work it does has soared to the moon.

    The MTA isn’t being killed off by mosquitos. It is being killed off by 500 pound vampires.

  • “Motorists have to share the burden.”

    +1

    I would choose to pay more to avoid drastic transit cuts. But subway and bus riders shouldn’t be the only ones making sacrifices.

  • BTW – I was out with Sandy and James from the East Side committee last night at the Queensboro bridge and we got over 70 hand written letters to Mayor Bloomberg supporting First and Second Ave bike lanes by the end of 2011. Thanks to the volunteers on the East Side Committee that have generated over 300 letters in just two weeks.

    Join the google group http://groups.google.com/group/TAEastSideCommittee and come to the meeting next Tuesday at the 47th Street YMCA.

  • Glenn: A grim but probably accurate prediction: Albany selects “none of the above,” and then strips out more of the MTA’s funding.

  • It would really be unfair to impose a congestion fee. Motorists are, after all, rugged individualists. Unlike those of us who use other modes of transportation, and admit that we require some level of government resources and need to pay taxes accordingly, the infrastructure needed to move automobiles runs not on government subsidies, but on magic.

    The public health costs associated with the tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries caused by automobiles? Magic. The additional costs of running non-transportation-related infrastructure (sewers, water, police protection, etc.) to all corners of the Earth so that everyone can have driveways and parking lots? Magic. The military force needed to secure certain parts of the area so that we can continue bathing in oil, all day every day? You guessed it: Magic. Even the wholesale destruction of the Gulf of Mexico will be rectified by magic, and magic alone. I won’t even bother reminding you all how the East River bridges are maintained in such a way that private vehicles can flood them day and night (I’ll give you a hint: It starts with an M, and ends with a C).

    I’m really not sure how all of this works. After all, I am not a magician. What I do know, however, is that we have a city, and a nation, full of people who are convinced that it’s somehow possible to drive cars everywhere and not pay any taxes or user fees to mitigate the effects thereof. 300 million Americans can’t be wrong, can they?

  • DoH Study:

    Definitely worth a read; contains the following nuggets of info:

    30% of unintentional child deaths in NYC from 2001-2008 (92 dead kids) were caused by a motorist hitting a child pedestrian or cyclist. Another 14 kids were killed as motor vehicle passengers. Motor vehicles were the leading cause of unintentional death of kids (age 12 or younger) in NYC, even though the rate of child death by motor vehicle in NYC is less than half the national rate.

    Kids in neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status (composite of income, employment, education, other factors) were four times as likely to be killed as a pedestrian by a motorist, compared to kids walking in high socioeconmic status neighborhoods (31 vs. 8 deaths). About half of all kids killed by motorists were black.

    Bklyn Community Districts 5, 6, 9 and 14, and Queens Community Districts 9 and 12, have the highest rate of kids killed by motor vehicles, with 5 or more deaths each over the 8-year study period.

  • I’m glad the city discovered that there’s a neighborhood between Times Square and the Javits Center. One neighborhood down, 100 more to discover. At this rate, by 2047 the Bloomberg Dynasty would start to actually give a crap about the ungentrified outer parts of the city.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The Bloomberg Dynasty.”

    If it really was a dynasty, Bloomberg would have had a preferred successor to support rather than overturning term limits.

    For those who appreciate the recent complete streets policies, let’s hope it isn’t the Bloomberg interregnum.

    “1: the time during which a throne is vacant between two successive reigns or regimes”

    “2: a period during which the normal functions of government or control are suspended”

    “3 : a lapse or pause in a continuous series”

  • J:Lai

    I’d rather have a large fare increase, but no cuts in service. Obviously I would rather have neither, but given those choices I think the majority of riders would agree with me.

    Since that option screws the working poor, it politically unpopular, even though it would be more optimal for the city as a whole.

    Of course the elephant in the room is the capital budget, or lack thereof, which has been in the hole for so long that I don’t think we can get out on the back of fares.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I had been in favor of fares that kept up with inflation and, for the subway, covered operating costs for decades, contra the Straphangers, because that was needed to preserve and improve the transit system. Obviously I was on the losing side of that argument.

    Now that the transit system is doomed anyway, however, I no longer see the point to raising fares, just as I didn’t see the value of the payroll tax on the working poor. “When the facts change I change my mind; what do you do sir?”

    You can pay more for disaster, or less for disaster. The more you pay, the more will be extracted for longer before the inevitable institutional collapse. That goes for other public services and benefits as well.

  • J:Lai, the silver lining of fare increases over service cuts (apart from maintaining service) is the possbility of modal shift toward cycling. At a nominal fare of $2.75, you’d have a post-discount “opportunity savings” of $5 per roundtrip biked instead of transited. That’s enough to convince some folks to go off the unlimited monthly card, and opt for a bike in nice weather and a pay-per-ride card instead.

  • Larry, so far there’s no dynasty – just tyranny. But who knows – maybe the Bloombergian reform-for-the-sake-of-reform people will find a successor in 2017. Or buy the 2013 election.

    The complete-streets overhaul are beside the point. Bloomberg is destroying the city: he’s making it unaffordable, he’s neglecting anyone who doesn’t live in the gentrified green zone, he makes dictators out of school principals and agency heads, and he tries to stamp out any sort of organized grassroots activism against his plans. Don’t be so parochial as to judge him just by how he sucks up to you to build a legacy.