Today’s Headlines

  • Top Dems Urge Thompson to Concede (NYT, News)
  • Christie Backs Billion Dollar PATH Extension to Newark Airport (Crain’s)
  • Bloomberg and JSK Talk Street Redesigns With Fast Company
  • What Tri-State Wants to Hear From Mayoral Candidates Before the General (MTR)
  • Planning Commission Approves Gigantic Ferris Wheel/Parking Complex for SI (ObserverCBS)
  • StreetsPAC-Backed Kirsten John Foy Trails By 94 Votes With Absentee, Paper Ballots Uncounted (DNA)
  • Driver Seriously Injures Four People Outside Maspeth School This Morning (DNA)
  • MTA Bus Driver Strikes Woman in West Harlem (DNA)
  • MTA Starts Running More Q103 Buses on the Western Queens Waterfront This Week (DNA)
  • Who Says Citi Bikes Are Clunky? (Animal)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Anonymous

    I don’t get Christie. He cancels or ignores projects that would help every day NJ residents (ARC tunnel, 7 line extension to Secaucus). And then he champions a plan basically for the benefit of people in downtown Manhattan.

  • Ari

    From the Fast Company article, regarding the pedestrianization of Times Square:

    “Bloomberg: Building owners tell me they make more from
    the ground floor than from the rest of the building. Forever 21 is open
    from 8 in the morning until 2 in the morning, 40,000 people come through
    their store. It’s unbelievable.”


  • Daphna

    The DNA headline is wrong about West Harlem. The BxM8 bus driver hit the woman in East Harlem on Second Avenue between East 123rd and 124th Streets.

  • krstrois

    Follow the money . . .

  • Larry Littlefield

    I wouldn’t want Thompson to be Mayor. But it would be a disservice to the voters if he dropped out before all the votes are counted.

    It is one thing for Democrats to hold that if DeBlasio barely exceeds 40.0%, Thompson shouldn’t sue to drag things out a la Florida in 2000. It is another to say that he should drop out before the votes are fully counted.

    Besides, I’m pretty sure Thompson dominated the voting among Florida residents.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I figured as much. But now that PA is involved, I see our bridge and tunnel tolls being further diverted to something that won’t help us. It’s nice to know that average NJ residents will be subsidizing the flights of New Yorkers flying out of Newark.

    For a long time PA has seen the crossings — especially the GWB with its 14 lanes — as its very own piggy bank. Whenever they want more money for a new project, they just raise the tolls. Even so, the GWB is a maintenance disaster: when they promise to fix it, that’s just one more excuse to raise tolls further.

    And for those with the “sock it to the drivers” attitude, have some mercy… the toll is now $13, the Hudson crossings are still jammed. Why? Because there are very few options to get across. What’s more, the toll increase in 2012 included a 150% increase for buses. Which led directly to a $.50 fare increase on the Jitney buses we rely on to get to New York. The total costs of ANY way into NY (other than biking) are crushing.

  • Anonymous

    There aren’t any North New Jersey developers who could’ve greased him over ARC?

    They’d show all these stats of appreciating home values and the like. Somebody would’ve banked off that besides the construction companies. I think it’s still ridiculous we have such weak transit to JFK and LGA. At least with EWR you can take NJ Transit. The PATH is already limited. What a waste of money.

  • Bolwerk

    I concur.

    I also wonder if it would be a terrible thing strategically to have a run-off. Thompson’s social policies aren’t really so different from Lhota’s and, except for the die-hard partisans who would vote Republikan if Ted Bundy were at the top of the ticket, someone who prefers Lhota to de Blasio is likely to prefer Thompson to de Blasio.

    What is different is a shitstorm of right-wing smearing is coming from the pro-police state types who like Bloomberg keeping swarthy people in their place, and the primary might ironically be a healthy distraction from that.

  • Bolwerk

    I’m not sure it is about money. ARC was probably mainly a power play that stuck it to North Jersey libruls. Really not much point in an encore.

  • Bolwerk

    The GWB piggy bank is mainly trucks. But, whether that’s right or not, att least as of a few years ago, the other Manhattan crossings were money losers, subsidized by the GWB.

    $13 isn’t socking it to the drivers. The heuristic phenomenon here is drivers aren’t used to paying $13. Any driver who values his hours as more than $13 is probably coming out ahead vs. not having the tolls. A higher toll would save people who value their time even more by driving away the people who don’t.

  • Kevin Love

    $13 is not all that much. Proof of that is the number of people willing to pay it.

    I see from AAA that the typical costs of car ownership are around $10,000 per year. $13 per toll is peanuts in comparison to car payments, insurance, etc. The difference, of course, is that car payments and insurance are going to private parties with no public benefits.

  • Anonymous

    So we have here a profitable 14-lane bridge that skirts the city, along with two money-losing tunnels of combined 10 lanes that go where people actually want to go. Both Marxist economics and the law of supply and demand would suggest that tolls should be higher on the tunnels and lower on the GB.

    So explain to me again why all three facilities have the same toll? Why are GWB users being asked to subsidize ultra-high-value trips through the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels? Somehow, somewhere, GWB users are getting the big screw.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure that I get the Florida 2000 comparison. The last I looked, DeBlasio had 40.3% with 99% counted. Even if, by some magic, he comes up shy of the run-off threshold, it will be by a whisker and Thompson will still be 14 points back. In an ideal world where we only debate policy a run off might not be a bad thing, but the realty is that this could well turn into a nasty mudfest between Democrats that would bode ill in the general election. If recent mayoral elections are any indication, we would be crazy to sell the Republican candidate short. I expect Lhota, with his establishment backing and impeccable resume, to be formidable, and I want the Democrat (DeBlasio, no doubt) to be in good form.

  • Anonymous

    If you cross the bridge once every working day (260 days/yr) and pay the $13 toll each time, you end up spending $3380. Far from being “peanuts,” that bridge becomes one of the more significant parts of your transportation expense. More than gas, more than insurance.

    Even if you get EZ-Pass and pay $9.50/day, it’s still a huge amount: $2470/yr.

    So why are so many people willing to pay the $9.50 bridge toll anyway? Not because it’s “peanuts,” but because the other options, if they exist, are also quite expensive.

    Suppose you work in NYC and decide to take transit. A Zone 3 Interstate Pass will run you $136/mo, and the MTA Monthly Metrocard will cost another $112/mo (unless you work at Port Authority). Total is $2976/yr. If you take the private Jitney buses instead ($3.50 fare, the only really convenient way from here), you’ll spend $3164/yr. Yes that’s right… in exchange for paying almost $12/day (EVEN MORE than the bridge toll), you get the privilege of waiting in the rain for the bus, etc.

    Yea yea, driving is still more expensive in some/many cases. Especially if you could have done away with one car by taking the bus. But the bridge tolls are still a killer, as is the price of transit. Actually, the two are linked: NJ Transit shells out a pretty penny for its use of the bridge and tunnels.

    But back to the original issue: I cross the bridge every time I go to work. But I use EWR maybe once or twice a year. I will get much more benefit from improved/cheaper bridge crossings than from a better EWR airport link.

  • Anonymous

    That’s what you get when you choose to commute from a different state that is across a big river. Nobody said was supposed to be easy. IMHO, it’s crazy, but that’s just me.

    Some people choose to do that because they find living in NJ less expensive in terms of taxes and home expenses. But yes, transportation costs more if you do that. Nothing to be surprised about.

  • Anonymous

    The GWB is not really comparable to the tunnels because while the main purposes of the tunnels is to get to the city, the main purpose of the GWB is to connect much of New England with the rest of the country. It is not a stretch to call it the most important bridge in the country. According to the PA, it is even “the busiest bridge in the world”.

  • Joe R.

    The problem here is that transit fares in NJ are too high, not that bridge tolls are too high. It should always cost a lot more to drive (that’s NOT including car expenses) into a congested area like NYC than it does to take transit. Ideally, NJ should have a similar fare structure to NYC, where most places within about 10 to 15 miles of Manhattan have a monthly pass similar in cost to the monthly Metrocard.

    All that said, even though transit doesn’t save as much over driving as it should, it has to be faster than driving. The few times I’ve been over the GWB to visit relatives in NJ it took about 3 hours just to climb the entrance ramps from the Cross Bronx and cross the bridge. This was on weekends. I can’t imagine it being any faster during working hours. If it’s going to take you 2 or 3 hours to drive from somewhere in NJ which is 15 miles from Manhattan, it makes much more sense to take transit.

    Off-peak hours are another story. Here perhaps we should throw NJ residents a bone and lower off-peak tolls, especially between midnight and 5 AM when transit options are few, and congestion is a non-issue.

  • Bolwerk

    Perhaps one reason is that trucks are banned in the tunnels, so they can’t even compete with the bridge.

    It might actually just be the top level of the GWB that’s profitable. :-p

  • Anonymous

    The GWB was always intended to serve both local and long-distance traffic. But you make my point: since the two are not comparable, why is the toll always exactly the same?

    As many have pointed out before, the GWB could be used to reduce some of the crushing demand on the tunnels. This can be done by moving bus routes to the GWB, especially long-distance routes or those serving Bergen/Rockland counties… and by creating differential tolls between the GWB and the tunnels!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, so smug. Other than divorce, I didn’t have much practical choice to live east of the Hudson. But that’s besides the point… your answer shows more ignorance than anything else.

    For example… anyone who thinks taxes are less in NJ clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Or… why is it “crazy” to live across the Hudson, but not “crazy” to live across the East River, or on Staten Island? And suppose we all stop being “crazy” and decide to live east of the Hudson… do you realize how much WORSE the affordable housing crises would become for the NY area when another 6 MILLION people try to move in?

    I live no further from my job than my colleagues from Brooklyn — closer than many, in fact. We both have to cross a significant river to get to work. And yet, commuting from here costs at least twice as much.

    Maybe what was “crazy” was to build a major city on a string of islands, requiring expensive bridges and tunnels for almost everyone.

  • Anonymous

    I do agree that it was crazy to build a city on a string of islands, but it’s a bit late for that. What is still crazy today is not investing more on public transportation, and you can thank your governor for a bit of that craziness.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Even if, by some magic, he comes up shy of the run-off threshold, it will be by a whisker and Thompson will still be 14 points back.”

    Nonetheless, at that point Thompson is obligated to continue. To get on the ballot, in addition to handing in your signatures you have to sign and have notarized a “certificate of acceptance.” It’s yet another step used to keep those not in the know from running for office.

    Thompson signed it. And based on that, people gave him money and voted for him. Does he even have the right to declare the runoff cancelled, say to negotiate a self-serving deal for a spot in a DeBlasio administration? I’d say no.

    Those calling for Thompson to drop out are among the typical political/union class types who believe the voters don’t matter and they do.

    I hope he doesn’t make the runoff. But if that’s what the votes say, that’s what they say.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s say we make the tolls different. But why not make the GWB more expensive, given its much larger demand?

    The risk of making the tolls different is that it encourages toll shopping. If the pricing is smart, it can be a good thing, but if not, it can be a disaster, as it is now with trucks winding through Chinatown just to avoid tolls.

  • Bolwerk

    I was wondering about this. If Thompson withdrew, could Quinn then claim runner-up status? That would be…unfortunate.

  • Anonymous

    Total supply or demand isn’t what matters in economics, it’s the RELATIVE supply vs. demand. In this case, the imbalance between supply and demand is worse for the tunnels vs. bridge (or put another way, the tunnels are more congested). We’ve built a huge (and relatively cheap) supply in the GWB, and people should be encouraged to use it.

    This is not so different from differential fares at a close/convenient/small airport (Washington National) vs. a far-away/inconvenient/large airport (Dulles).

    > The risk of making the tolls different is
    > that it encourages toll shopping.

    As long as the difference in tolls isn’t too great, I doubt many people will find it worth their while to drive from 178 St to 42St in Manhattan.

  • Bolwerk

    I don’t have a big problem with what you’re suggesting, but it probably is just simplest to keep the tolls consistent and price them as high as the most demanded crossing needs them to be. High traffic into each crossing suggests they’re all underpriced right now. If we do what you say, it probably makes sense to just bite the bullet and accept distance-based driving fares – which is by no means a bad idea.

    Toll differentials probably takes some study. Another tenet of economics is that people are rational actors making decisions in their own best interests; as every psychologist knows, this is a complete crock of shit. Price signals can probably be powerful motivators, especially given the heuristic that driving is “free.”

  • Larry Littlefield

    No. The question is, does Thompson have any legal authority to say “nevermind!” Or does the Board of Elections have to go through the motions of having a runoff anyway, even if Thompson concedes?

    In the latter case, I would urge every Streetsblogger to show up and write in JSK! That would show them.

  • Anonymous

    Toll shopping is most likely to occur when you have multiple routes connecting areas that are in close geographic proximity, and those routes have significantly different pricing.

    The free Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges vs. the tolled Brooklyn-Battery tunnel is a classic example, as is the free Queensboro bridge vs. the tolled Queens-Midtown tunnel.

    Toll shopping between the Hudson and Lincoln tunnels vs. the GWB is much less likely to occur because there is significant geographical separation between them, and the toll differential would be less extreme (all would have non-zero tolls.)

    If revenue maximization is the goal, tolls should be raised on all of these crossings. If efficient transportation across the Hudson is the goal, bus tolls and rail passes should be subsidized so that they represent a significant savings compared to the cost of tolls of private cars.

  • kevd

    It helps a few other people too. Those in JC and Newark.

  • kevd

    We’d gladly annex much of Northern NJ to fix those problems. But until that happens, I think you’re shit-outta-luck.
    It ain’t fair. But that invisible line down the Hudson, and the political fiefdoms it has creates is the source of the problems and neither side in both state government wants to fix it.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    I was trying to find out when and why 40% (one would think 50%?) and saw this

    § 6–162.
    2. if one of the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for the same office files with the local board of elections a certificate of withdrawal within three days following such primary election, the board shall accept and certify the withdrawal and declare the remaining candidate the winner and no such run-off primary election shall be held.

  • Larry Littlefield

    There you have it. He has to make up his mind by Friday — before all the vote are counted.

  • Anonymous

    Why would Thompson want to withdraw only for a “self-serving deal” and not because he’d simply rather see a Mayor DeBlasio instead of a Mayor Lhota when he knows that he himself doesn’t stand a prayer a this point? Why would his supporters, assuming that they don’t care to see Lhota win? The primary is over; the game has changed. I’d feel pretty much the same if the tables were turned and Thompson was on top, but I’m sure that this is all post-election gamesmanship. I expect that Thompson will concede when the price has been paid, not necessarily a position in a DeBlasio Administration, but possibly a policy concession or 2 or some kind words to his backers.

  • Bolwerk

    Thank you. That is relieving.