Today’s Headlines

  • Bloomberg: Don’t Spend Money on Subway Storm-Proofing; Use It for Expansion Instead (CapNYSAS)
  • Toll Increase in Effect for Port Authority Crossings Despite AAA Lawsuit (TransNat)
  • Siena Poll: 59 Percent Say MTA Has Handled Sandy Recovery Well (News)
  • Post: “Taking On More Debt Is In No Way a Free Lunch” for MTA Sandy Recovery
  • Driver Crashes Onto Bowery Sidewalk, Injuring Pedestrians (Bowery Boogie)
  • For Some Bushwick Community Board Members, It’s Either a Bike Corral or More Street Lights (DNA)
  • Manhattan Gridlock Even Slows Down Traffic on the Tolled Queens Midtown Tunnel (Post)
  • R Train Returns to Lower Manhattan, But Will Not Cross River to Brooklyn Until End of Year (SAS)
  • Staten Island Railway Begins Restoring Some Express Service (Advance)
  • Push for Temporary South Shore Ferry Service to Be Made Permanent (Advance)
  • Contract Awarded for Verrazano Deck Replacement and New HOV Lane (NY1)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    What a difference a disaster makes.

    “I think all of us in office and most South Shore residents want a permanent ferry service,” said City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn). “From its inception we hoped this (temporary service) would be permanent.”

    So what changed?  Well, for one thing, there is not one quote from one of the usual NIMBY suspects in the whole article.  Why not?  Surely the NIMBY’s are still on speed dial for a balanced story.  Or does that only apply to bikes?

    Let’s hope this continues.  Staten Islanders had NIMBYed away a third bus depot, ferries, and even street improvements, let alone bike lanes.  And other Staten Islanders had let them.  I eventually reached the conclusion that it didn’t make sense to try to make any improvements there, so great was the political hassle relative to the benefits.

  • fj

    The Mayor is wrong and the the subway system should be storm-proofed as most likely Irene and Sandy will no longer be considered hundred year storms.

    Things are changing quickly and one educated guess is that they be considered something like 13-year storms; but it could be a lot worse as rate of change is likely speeding up.

  • fj

    Considering NYC’s $4 billion daily economic activity greatly dependent on its subways and that the estimated cost is something like $9-$15 billion for hardening the system, this is not only money well spent, there is probably no other choice unless the city wishes to seriously consider much more advanced and resilient systems based on agile zero carbon solutions where bikeshare is just a very primitive start.

  • fj
  • fj

    Transportation giants are missing in action.

    Energy giants step up calls for 2030 renewables target

  • Anon

    Will tedious tangentially-related posting persist?

  • Bolwerk

    It’s very possible the haphazard East River tolling we have now is worse than no tolling at all. Drivers irrationally setting sub-optimal courses to their destinations has got to monkey with traffic in a bad way, and everyone else on the surface – bus users, pedestrians, delivery trucks – suffers.

    @03e6765e9e59d824b239ed0fe11c682c:disqus : I said something to this effect on SAS, but if you want to storm-proof quickly and cheaply, building something new that is storm-resistant for redundancy first and then taking the older stuff out of service for a few months for storm-proofing might be optimal – well, at least if we can get costs and timeframes down to a reasonable level.  It doesn’t work too well if it takes us 4x longer to build a new piece of infrastructure than it should. I really don’t know if that’s what Bloomberg was getting at, but it’s not a bad idea (in theory).

    Speaking of that, we may even have crossings we could use. The four East River older bridges were all built for rail, and at least two of them had “heavy rail” and aren’t utilized for rail at all anymore.

  • Guest

    @3a9cb377ae68ba7b489d30e5eb859747:disqus you put your finger right on the problem of “shopping” on the East River crossings.  But I’m not quite sure if you can really go so far as to say that it’s worse than no tolling at all.  There are two factors that make me wonder:
    1) The tolls do still increase the marginal cost of driving, which should result in some mode shift, and2) The revenue from those tolls go to supporting the transit system.

  • Bolwerk

    @abb249055208c7af4d35568e422dfd63:disqus: I didn’t say it was definitely worse, I just said it was possibly worse. I really am not sure either. And I’m only talking about traffic/pollution, not revenue.

    Personally, I think CP was a much better idea than tolling the bridges though.

  • Anonymous

    If it weren’t for one thing, variable tolls (including zero) would useful.  People with more time than money could take the free bridges, and those in the opposite situation could take the tolled crossings.
    However, road space on the Manhattan side of the bridges is so scarce that there’s little advantage in paying for fast crossing since you will still end up sitting in traffic on the other side.
    With a resource this scarce, the price has to go up.  The only question is whether we want to pay in time (as we currently do) or in money.

  • Anonymous

    Regarding Bloomberg’s comments, there’s a very good chance that it would be more cost effective to invest in good disaster recovery (more pumping capacity, easy to replace signal components, etc) and good interim plans (better “bus bridges” and automatic HOV restrictions) than it would be to invest in retrofitting existing infrastructure to be storm proof.

  • jrab

    I don’t get J_12’s point about the Manhattan congestion mitigating the difference between the tolled crossings and the free crossings. If I am a plumbing company sending trucks to Manhattan from Jamaica, Queens, I would greatly prefer to use the tolled crossings like the QMT or the Triboro because I can head straight down the LIE or Grand Central and get there faster, so I don’t have to pay my workers wages for sitting in Queensboro Bridge traffic. I believe that $4.80 per crossing is a reasonable charge to pay in order to save 15 minutes of two employees’ time.

    To Bolwerk’s point, it’s worth keeping in mind that by and large the free bridges connect from local streets, not from highways. Any good NIMBY would prefer that traffic stick to the highways and tolled bridges so that they don’t go on local streets through Long Island City, Williamsburg, or Brooklyn Heights.

    Cap’n Transit makes the point today that having multilane highways funnel into two- or three-lane crossings is a congestion generator and that we would be better off reducing those inbound highways’ capacity to the number of lanes of the crossings they feed.

  • Anonymous

    jrab, let me clarify.
    My point is that saving 15 minutes of travel time in the context of a 90 minute trip is less valuable than saving 15 minutes in the context of a 30 minute trip.

    Only in the case, such as your example, where you are paying an hourly rate for employees to travel to a job will your marginal value of time be invariant.  In such a case, you would indeed prefer to pay the toll as long as the value of the wages saved is greater than the cost of the toll.

    However, for the typical self-employed independent contractor, the time savings only has significant value if it means he can get another whole job done.  The value of time in this case is more like a step function, where travel time saved has little value until is hits an increment large enough to allow for another discrete job.

    Given the slow travel times to move through much of Manhattan proper, saving 15 minutes on a bridge crossing can not be monetized in the discrete case.

    Unless you can directly monetize the value of your time, most people avoid paying out of pocket to realize marginal time savings.  That is one of the reasons why there is so much toll-shopping.

  • fj

    Anon, Agreed. Transportation planning not considering climate change exposure are likely delusional clearly demonstrated by hurricanes Irene and Sandy.

    Bloomberg knows this — “It’s Climate Change Stupid” headline — as well as Obama who issued an executive order three years ago to all branches of the federal government requiring pervasive analysis of climate change exposure.

    Yet discussions thi s Godzilla in the room.

  • fj
  • @03e6765e9e59d824b239ed0fe11c682c:disqus The editors, writers, and most of the readers of Streetsblog don’t need to be convinced that climate change is a massive global catastrophe. The way you pollute the comments section here isn’t helping. Please stop dumping several off-topic comments in each post, or your privileges will be revoked. 

  • Ex-driver

    I wonder if it is not the case that most people in this region would prefer or at least have strong incentives to pay in time, rather than money, for transportation (or parking, for that matter).  If that’s the case it suggests that any kind of pricing scheme is facing an uphill battle indeed.

  • zerocarbonMobility


    Agreed, but building a new subway at something like $2 billion per mile is hardly practical.

    Of course, advanced highly resilient zero carbon mobility solutions would rapidly reduce emissions from the transportation sector for a confluence of very benefitial reasons including extremely low cost and rapid deployment.

    In any case, forwarded by the Mayor’s office, NYC DoT is currently considering elevated veloways as an additional advance in zero carbon mobility solutions.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I wonder if it is not the case that most people in this region would prefer or at least have strong incentives to pay in time, rather than money, for transportation.”

    Well, the argument of the “middle class” is that time is more equally distributed than discretionary income. 

    But that argument fails to acknowledge the rights and contribution of the serfs on bicycles and mass transit.  Nor the rights of buses, nor the need for freight movement.

  • Joe R.

    With regards to driving, it’s pretty apparent to me that those who drive are more willing to pay in time rather than money. Driving in NYC, particularly Manhattan, is a time-consuming, illogical thing to do in and of itself. It’s no surprise then that those who drive will opt to pay yet more time for free parking or bridge crossings. The people who do this are the ones who prefer to travel by car, regardless of whether or not the alternatives are faster or cheaper. Nothing other than outright banning of cars or a very high congestion charge is going to dissuade this group, not when they’re operating on a premise which really makes no sense to begin with by taking a mode which is usually slower, and always more costly, than any of the alternatives.