Today’s Headlines

  • Will Cuomo and State Legislators Be Held Accountable for Stiffing NYC Transit Riders? (NYT)
  • More Coverage of Port Authority Bus Terminal Hearing: NYT, WSJ, AP
  • RPA President Thomas Wright: MTA Upkeep Spending One-Fourth What It Should Be (Crain’s)
  • Citizens Budget Commission Proposes MTA Do Away With Unlimited MetroCards (Capital)
  • NYPD: Pedestrian Spaces Should Be Fortified With Bollards to Thwart Terror Attacks (News)
  • Queens CB 5 Says Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel Would Add Too Much Truck Traffic to Streets (Q Chron)
  • Driver Hits Parked Car, Injures 75-Year-Old Crossing Guard in Jackson Heights; No Charges (DNA)
  • Families for Safe Streets on Leonardo Degianni License Suspension: “Sadly, This Is Progress” (BK Paper)
  • New Republic: It’s Perfectly Reasonable to Arrest Reckless Drivers for Killing People
  • Transport Workers Union Fetes Right of Way Law Critic Pete Donohue
  • Bioswales! (Capital)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    Well Pataki, Spitzer, Dinkins, Giuliani, Bloomberg (who at least proposed congestion pricing), Silver, Bruno, and all the past state legislators (including Jim Brennan) got away with it. And just kept stealing from our future.

    Every year they get a little closer to having their retirement income exempted from city and state income taxes, and moving to Florida to avoid the institutional collapse. An no one talks about it. They want to pretend that all that matters is whether money comes from the sky right how.

    From where? The UFT demands $2.5 million more of we deserve even worse schools. After the massive school funding increases of the past 15 years. The NYPD, which already has nearly 3 times as many officers relative to population as the national average, demands even more or they won’t protect us. And they want more pension increases.

    Everybody on the inside grabs, grabs, grabs. It has been going on for 20 years. And all anyone in change wants is to try to keep it going for another 10, consequences be damned.

  • Mike

    Are the terror attacks that the NYPD wants to use bollards for the terror of sitting in a pedestrian space and getting rammed by an out-of-control driver? I find that prospect terrifying.

  • anon

    Jihadists with driver’s licenses are hard to stop, she said

    Add this to the growing reasons why we need a top-to-bottom overhaul of the DMV.

  • com63

    Traffic safety advocates should seize on this synergy of anti-terrorism with the ancillary benefit of pedestrian safety from accidents. With NYPD anti-terrorism on your side, one could probably get a lot accomplished.

    I always love European cities that seem to have (small) bollards on every corner. It would work well in NYC.

  • Reader

    New Yorkers without driver’s licenses are also hard to stop, yet they somehow get behind the wheel and kill people all the time.

  • Fool

    If a government is considering $10 Billion on a Bus Terminal, should it not be considering $9 Billion on rail expansion and $1 Billion on a transfer station?

  • Joe R.

    We could build up to 75 route miles of subway for what this fiasco will supposedly cost. Of course, that’s up to 75 miles if we assume “normal” costs of building subways in other places, not NYC’s mega-inflated costs. Anyway, when I heard this ridiculous cost estimate for a new PABT, my first reaction was the cost of constructing anything here just went from the ridiculous to the sublime. Before we build another thing, let’s look at why construction costs are so high here, then fix it. Granted, it costs more to build in an existing city than a green field, but this project will cost about 20 times what it should.The Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, cost $1.5 billion. Probably more materials were used and the engineering challenges were greater.

    On another note, since we apparently will never be able to afford serious infrastructure expansion unless we reign in costs, how about just trying to reduce demand for travel via incentives for employer to offer telecommuting? Perhaps if we do that we might even end up with surplus capacity on existing transit routes. Having employers stagger hours would help also. If the load were spread more evenly throughout the day, our existing transit systems would have a lot more capacity.

  • Joe R.

    I agree but I’ll take it one step further. I’ve long felt we should ban or severely restrict private cars in this city, particularly in Manhattan. Trying to do that for quality of life reasons or health reasons doesn’t seem like it will ever gain enough traction to make it possible in the near future. However, if we try the terrorism angle it might work. Just tell people to think of the threat of millions of private cars converging on the city daily, each of which could potentially have a car bomb. At the very least we could use this angle to justify throughly searching every car and truck entering populated areas. We could even use it to justify banning large numbers of nonessential vehicles on the grounds of not having enough manpower to search them all. I’m totally serious here. The minute you throw out the word terrorism people seem all too willing to give up things in the name of safety they otherwise would have never considered.

    Assuming you succeed in doing something radical like banning cars from Manhattan, you can then repurpose most of the bridge lanes for rail. The idea here is to make it very costly for a future adminstration to reverse the car ban. You might even convert one or more Manhattan avenues to bike boulevards, bollard off cross streets to motor traffic (again in the name of “security”) and so forth. While I’m not thrilled at using fear as the means to effect change, the end result would pretty much be what we liveable streets advocates want.

  • Alan

    I’m entirely down with the NYPD amping up traffic violence as a terrorism issue. Maybe they’ll finally take it seriously.

  • Greg

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I see no reason not to install bollards on every block in the city.

    I bet you could easily justify this economically: tally up the costs of a single death – medical expenditures, emergency services, investigative efforts, lawsuits, lost productivity, lost tax revenue, insurance payouts, towing, cleanup, etc. The bollards would likely pay for themselves. If terrorism fears get people better aligned on it, so much the better.

    I live down the block from an intersection where two years ago a car simply drove up onto the sidewalk, hit a woman standing outside a bagel shop, and killed her. It was an absurdly unnecessary death. Today that corner remains as unprotected as ever. People (including me) stand there all the time. *Nothing* prevents this from happening again. All it would take is one or two bollards and this will never be an issue again. So why don’t we have them?

  • Flakker

    No kidding. The police can’t even be bothered to stop people with obviously fake out of state plates.

  • Flakker

    Re: Cross-harbor tunnel: there used to be a rail bridge at Poughkeepsie, and the US merchant marine was way, way stronger than it is today for a variety of reasons in the 50s. But let’s keep being the city of “I can’t”, that’s working out so great.

  • Andrew

    Agreed. My only concern with bollards is that they will invariably be installed on the sidewalk (i.e., on the space supposedly allocated for pedestrian use), which in many cases is already too narrow. There are some absurd examples in Lower Manhattan, such as on Broad Street south of the Stock Exchange.

  • Confused

    The price is a lot higher than I would thought, but what gives? This seems like another case of mode snobbery. Nobody likes buses, I guess?

    If I’m following along, it looks like this provides more new capacity than the Gateway project ($16 billion estimate) for less money. It would also completely fix the terminal, while addressing the existing Penn Station isn’t even included in Gateway.

  • Confused

    You could not build 75 miles of new subway. Sorry, just not true. As soon as you start getting into real, substantive expansion, you will have to start upgrading the main stations that are at capacity, where the new passengers would transfer. You would very quickly consume billions trying to nibble away at incremental upgrades to the most congested stations while keeping them in passenger service. Digging new tunnels is the easy part. Retrofitting active, overcrowded facilities by setting up tiny work areas during off-peak times, and then tearing down the work area and move to the next tiny spot burns money like there’s no tomorrow. That’s the reality of waiting until you’re decades over capacity before you start doing necessary work. Complaining about it just defers it even longer and makes it that much more expensive and disruptive. New York needs to stop pretending it doesn’t need to make investments and just suck it up already!

  • Joe R.

    It all depends what you’re expanding. I’m thinking of subways on the parts of the outer boroughs which don’t have them. The present situation is many people take buses to the subway, often converging on the same few stations, mostly those near the end of the line. If you exapnd subways to serve areas currently only served by buses, you now have the same number of passengers spread out over the new stations. You’ll also most likely have sharply reduced numbers at the stations which were formerly the end of the line. Yes, you may even attract new riders, but for the reasons I said that wouldn’t necessarily present a problem as far as needing to expand stations.

    Granted, there are some major transfer stations, mostly in Manhattan, where some of these new riders might converge in. However, that might not be true either. Consider if you not only expand service in the outer boroughs, but have more connections so one can go from one outer borough to another without needing to go through Manhattan. If you do that, you may actually decrease the number of people in some of the Manhattan stations, not increase it.

    Finally, the best solution as I said is to just see if we can reduce the demand for travel, period, by encouraging telecommuting and staggering working hours. I find it ridiculous in 2015 that so many people travel to basically sit at a computer terminal all day. They can do that at home. I find it even more ridiculous that we cling to a 9 to 5, 5 day a week work schedule. Staggering hours helps. Shifting to 3 longer days instead of 5 shorter ones would help even more. As a bonus, employees would always have four days a week off instead of only two. The work force would be healthier and more production with all these changes. Management culture is still firmly rooted in the 1950s or 1960s or these changes may have come about long ago. Telecommuting especially seems like a win-win situation. The employee doesn’t need to commute. The employer saves on some or most office space. Eventually this could mean surplus office space which might be converted to housing which NYC sorely needs.

    We need to start thinking out of the box instead of accepting a status quo which will require us to spend many billions of dollars on transportation. Remember many here find fault with the notion that highways must continually be expanded based on growth forecasts which in turn are based on outdated thinking. It may be much the same with transit. We may not get the growth we expect. We may find creative ways to radically curtail that growth, perhaps even reverse it. From a cost standpoint, the best trip is one which never needs to happen.

  • Fool

    Would an extension of the 7, or an extension of PATH not provide far more cross hudson capacity at a higher return than a continued investment of Buses on this particular leg?

  • ahwr

    Do you mean to line every street with these? There are ~6000 miles of roads in the city. What’s a bollard cost? You want something anchored well enough that an out of control car will be stopped right? Is that $500? A thousand? You’d need to space them every four feet or so. So ~1300 per mile. On both sides of the street, right? That’s ~ 8 billion dollars at $500 each. If you limit yourself to the top ten percent most dangerous roads the economic argument would be a lot stronger. Figure they last forty years before they need to be replaced and maintenance is negligible. Does curb jumping on the top ten percent most dangerous roads cause $20-30 million in a typical year?

  • Bolwerk

    No matter how much more capacity rail has there is the issue of getting people to new rail services. NJ buses are diffused all over northern NJ, and fucktons of them are coming in at once. That’s bad planning, but it’s done so now it has to be coped with.

    You have to meet conditions like: don’t add too much time to too many people’s trips, don’t make things cost for end users more, and, for practical purposes, don’t piss of NIMBYs by steaming 25% of thousands of buses a morning to a rail station near them. All make fixing the clusterfuck much harder.

  • Confused

    Extending the 7 would add capacity, but is even more expensive, for less total capacity, I think. And then you’ve still not done anything about the dumpy terminal in Midtown. Extending PATH wouldn’t add any capacity under the river.

  • Bolwerk

    Huh? The 7 would probably easily more than double the capacity under the river. A new terminal adds little to none.

    But the 7 will be drawing riders at Hudson Yards, who will need some of that capacity for themselves, and there is the whole issue of actually getting NJT riders to the 7 in NJ. Could buses be diverted?

  • ahwr

    The 7 would easily move 72,000 people from NJ to Midtown 8-9am, double the Lincoln tunnel buses?

    A new terminal that accommodates more buses increases capacity, Lincoln Tunnel could run far more buses than it does today.

  • Bolwerk

    The 7 plus the buses would probably easily be able to move more than 72,000. The buses aren’t going to stop running because the 7 is extended to NJ.

    How much more is “far more”? They’re already crawling through the tunnel back-to-back. I can see squeezing some more in, but not double with buses alone. Are they going to double throughput into the terminal?

  • ahwr

    Add a second inbound bus lane if needed, extending as far out into NJ as necessary.

    If the PABT isn’t replaced then you won’t be able to move as many people into the city by buses as you do today. Based on the thread it seemed as if you were claiming the 7 extended to NJ should substitute for replacing the PABT, and would more than double capacity.

  • Bolwerk

    But would adding a second lane into the bus terminal be able to double how many buses the terminal could receive? And, even if it did, why would you favor doubling the army of buses and bus drivers to running ~30 TPH to get effectively the same cross-river capacity?

    Not that so much capacity would be needed in the near-term anyway. I actually do think scaling back the terminal should be considered, but most of the buses would probably come whether that is done or not. The practical effect of the 7 as a commute option for NJ would probably be to offload a significant number who want to get to the east side anyway, while making it possible to expand NJ-Manhattan bus service to new places that need it.

  • Greg

    I think something anchored well enough to meaningfully mitigate the speed of the car would be sufficient, especially if makes cost impacts realistic due to the concerns you express. Even if a car scrapes someone or breaks a bone that’s a far better outcome than serious injury or death.

    We can afford to install traffic lights and cross signals at most intersections in the city, so it’s very hard to believe that the addition of bollards imposes some impractical extra cost that these somehow escape.

    Even if we only install them around corners with traffic lights (which, again, cannot realistically be a major extra financial burden over the existing traffic infrastructure there) and, if necessary, weaken them so they don’t cost something absurd like $1,000 (I get installation has costs too, but I’d really be sad if $1,000 is the best anyone could come up with), I think we could be in much better shape than we are today.

    I’d also imagine much wider spacing – wide enough such that a vehicle could get through if they *really* wanted to, and aimed carefully, but an out-of-contorl vehicle would just slam into a bollard with an overwhelmingly high probability.

    None of this is perfect, but perfection shouldn’t be the aim. The question is whether there’s some balance that offers meaningful safety improvements for a a reasonable cost. It’s very hard for me to believe it would cost $8 billion dollars to have that impact.

    I’d also more than support an incremental approach that starts with only a small number of known problem spaces and measure the impact and scalability potential from there. We’ve already done this of course – bollards and blockades do exist at various intersections. It’d be interesting to see the financial analysis of their impact.

  • Greg

    And I’ll also note that other cities *do* this – mass installation of bollards at scale way beyond anything we’ve tried here. There’s obviously some realistic formula and I’d be interested in a serious study on how well that might translate here (and if it’s different here – why).