Today’s Headlines

  • PlaNYC Renamed OneNYC (NYT, Capital 1, 2); City Hall Asks for Utica Ave Subway (Capital)
  • Charlie Rangel Wants to Allow MTA Bus Drivers to Hit People Who Have the Right of Way (News)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Sidney Ramsarup, 35, Near Her Canarsie Home (Post, News, WCBS, WNBC)
  • NYC’s Parking Meter Policies Have Fallen Behind Other U.S. Cities (Crain’s)
  • Ydanis Rodriguez Joins Group Seeking Taxi Industry Bailout (Observer)
  • Brooklyn BP Eric Adams Puts Up $1 Million to Build Five Sidewalk Extensions (WCBS)
  • Tri-State Has a Design Suggestion for Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn (MTR)
  • Off-Duty DSNY Worker Charged With Wrong-Way DWI With Drugs, Child in Car (Post, DNA, WCBS)
  • Pedestrian Injured on Victory Boulevard Near Clove Road (Advance)
  • Subway Ridership Crunch Shows Obvious Need for Capital Investment (2nd Ave Sagas)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    “What the plan does not include, at least in its late-draft version, is any identification of new funds for the M.T.A.’s five-year capital plan, which has a $32 billion price tag and a roughly $15 billion hole.”

    Revolting to those of us who have been around and seen this movie before.

    As services deteriorate as a result of irrevocable past deals, expect to see more and more studies. They allow politicians to be seen as caring about services and people they aren’t doing anything for, because the people our political class has done things for has taken all the money off the top.

    Studies are cheap. And they provide a living for politically connected consultants. What’s next? Another study of the Second Avenue Subway? A bike lane study — to decide whether to keep the lanes that already exist as the paint wears away.

    If you are wondering if we are getting studies instead of services because we don’t pay enough in state and local taxes, you ought to read this post (and perhaps the one that follow).

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/taxes-2012-census-of-governments-finance-data/

  • com63

    I don’t understand why the city would want to bail out medallion owners. Why does the city care if the value of medallions falls? It seems like Uber and Lyft have reduced the amount of money that taxi leasing companies can charge drivers, because otherwise they will go to Uber. This seems to entirely be a private business manner between the medallion owners and the drivers and has nothing to do with the city or with riders.

  • BBnet3000

    De Blasio on OneNYC::

    “Environmental sustainability and economic sustainability have to walk hand in hand,” he said. “Some of my brothers and sisters in the environmental movement don’t get that yet.”

    De Blasio says this as he forces low income people to pay for Metrocards or buy cars rather than having a much cheaper transportation choice, and puts the many low income people who already cycle for transportation or employment in danger. He’s also giving up on the public health benefits of normalizing cycling that could benefit low income people the most.

  • Simon Phearson

    You’re forgetting: Ferries.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Like much of the increase in executive pay in the 1990s, the value of the medallion was unearned, the monopoly profits of a de facto union. Yet both groups believe they have a right to this in perpetuity, and the first group got its way in 2008.

    What is the ideology here? Is that “progressive.” “Conservative?”
    Neo-feudalism, as I identified it when I ran against the local legislature more than a decade ago.

    Under capitalism, you get what you earn, at least in theory. Those who believe that people need an incentive to work and innovate can agree with that. Under socialism, you get what you need, at least in theory. Those who believe that we are all part of one human family can agree with that.

    But over time, when you have the same group of people in power, both capitalism and socialism degenerate into feudalism, under which the privileged expect to continue to get what they have been getting, and perhaps a little more, whether they need it or not, deserve it or not. For those who have real needs, and who produce real earnings, it’s just tough luck.

    The feudalism of unearned privilege explains much about the state of the State of New York, where all past deals are set in stone.

    It is amazing the TA and Streetsblog managed to get bike lanes past the feudal lords. Almost a miracle. The fact that anything happened other than the expansion of existing privileges when money is rolling in and the sacrifice of the serfs in recession is perhaps why it is call the “all powerful bike lobby.”

  • AnoNYC

    •Personally I preferred the name PlaNYC.

    •No mention of congestion pricing? No plastic bag tax? Environmental justice for the South Bronx waterfront (Fresh Direct)? No mention of mandatory fleet electrification by a certain date (starting with municipals)?

    •Is Charlie Rangel always on the wrong side of any issue unrelated to race and ethnicity? It’s time for a lot of these old school Harlem pols to go the way of the Dodo.

    •Parking reform now.

  • Joe R.

    I for one am very disappointed that there has been no plans for mandatory fleet electrification, starting with sanitation trucks which would benefit enormously given that their slow speed, stop-go mode of operation is tailor-made for electric drive. After that, I would say do the buses (both school and regular), patrol cars, and other cars. For now you might keep fire vehicles as they are given that those typically aren’t a major source of emissions given how little they’re actually driven.

    Once the city fleet is largely electrified NYC can pass a mandate to prohibit operation of ALL non-zero emission vehicles within its borders by a certain date. This has three benefits. One, it will obviously make the city a much more pleasant place to live. Two, it will negate excuses by vehicle manufacturers to not make electrics because the market is too small. NYC would provide a huge, captive market. If other big cities follow our lead, it may turn out gas vehicles are the niche vehicles which will no longer make sense to manufacture. Three, once nearly all the vehicles in NYC are electric, the need for gas stations disappears. That’s one business which is largely an urban blight gone. You’ll also probably need dramatically fewer service stations given how little electrics break down. Again, that’s more land which can be used for something better.

    Not sure about the plastic bag tax given the way cashiers typically double bag everything and put three items per bag. You’ll be paying for 8 or 10 bags even for a small shopping trip. A mandate to make them out of biodegradable plastic would make much more sense I think.

  • Ian Turner

    I’ll admit that I voted for Rangel in the last election. Even with what we’re seeing today, I’m not convinced he’s a worse choice than Espaillat, Walrond, Garcia, or even Rivera (although it’s possible).

  • Ian Turner

    In California the bag tax has transformed things so that cashiers no longer waste so many bags.

  • Joe R.

    I agree. A thousand times “no” to any thoughts of bailing out medallion owners. A medallion is basically a license. If people decided to privately trade this license and bid up the price to ridiculous levels that’s their business. By the same token if the last one left standing loses their shirt as the prices fall it’s too bad. I’ve had enough of this “private profit, public risk” nonsense. Whatever the flaws of Uber and Lyft, at least their presence is finally bringing the price of taxi medallions down to Earth.

    Next thing we need to work on is bringing real estate prices which were artificially inflated by speculators back down to where they should be. Doubtless you’ll have those who stand to lose begging for bailouts also when that happens. Forget it. Like the medallion owners there’s no reason to feel sorry for these people. They hoarded a commodity, artificially drove up the price. Even if they lose big on what they’re holding, they’ll still be left with enough wealth to last ten lifetimes.

  • com63

    I just want to hear a politician articulate why the public should care about medallion prices.

    With housing prices, I would disagree with you about the cause. I think that there are artificial constraints on supply which drive up housing prices and also lead to gentrification of fringe areas. If the city allowed zoning to build where there is demand, prices would come down.

  • Joe R.

    Removing zoning and parking mandates would doubtless cause housing prices to fall somewhat. I’m probably thinking more of single family homes which are one thing that has increased in price far more than the rate of inflation. To some extent a general housing shortage is to blame for that but I also feel real estate speculators don’t help. They buy 5 or 10 homes in an area, rent out most of them, make one or two into McMansions. This drives up housing prices in the area. They flip the remaining houses, and repeat the process in another area. Perhaps a simple prohibition on renting single family homes, and also on corporations owning them, would fix the problem.

    I just want to hear a politician articulate why the public should care about medallion prices.

    So would I. I would love to hear exactly how the general public would benefit making good on any money someone who is a multimillionaire will lose due to the falling price of medallions.

  • BBnet3000

    You aren’t required to fill out every line on the ballot.

  • Andres Dee

    I’m not sure what the position of bike-walk-transit advocates is or should be on taxi medallions. I want an adequate supply of taxis or other car services (to reduce the need for private cars) and for taxi drivers to be fairly compensated for their work.

    The medallion situation is compounded by a bubble that formed a few years back, with the cost going over a million, then rapidly dropping to $700K. Some analysts, like Felix Salmon, questioned the $1 million price.

    Like other bailouts, the city needs to decide if maintaining a $1 million and rising medallion value is socially beneficial or “systemically important”, or if the recent buyers of medallions at these high rates need to bite the bullet and wait a few more years for their returns to stabilize.

    With politicians on board and high-powered PR agents, I’m sure the city will do the right thing. (/sarc)

    Of course, city could just offer to buy back the medallions at the price the city sold them for, adjusted for inflation. Then start over.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    And you can always write in

  • Kevin Love

    Don’t forget just who donated to the mayoral campaign. I call it “corrupt crony capitalism.”

  • Ian Turner

    The election was close enough that strategic voting seemed to me to be the way to go.

  • Joe R.

    You could probably ensure an adequate supply of taxis and car services by doing two things. One, have a very rigorous training program like London does to ensure only the dedicated few capable of delivering a high quality service become drivers. You can charge some or all of the cost of this program to would-be candidates, or perhaps subsidize some of it if the charge would be too high. Two, you set fares at a high enough level, and keep the number of taxis low enough, to ensure those who actually get through the program will be able to earn good money. Granted, the medallion system sought to do the same by limiting supply, but it ended up becoming an investment vehicle instead. Would be taxi drivers should mainly pay for the privilege of eventually driving a cab in sweat equity, meaning hours of study to become a competent driver knowledgeable of routes and destinations. If there are to be fees, they should either be to cover the cost of taxi school, or to pay the actual cost of administration associated with licensing. A license to drive a taxi should be tied to a specific individual only, and said individual should only hold a license to drive one taxi, not to own many and rent them out. That’s really the biggest flaw in the current scheme. We shouldn’t have “fleet owners”. The taxi industry should be 100% owner/operators. And nobody should make money on licenses. Is there a lucrative trade in liquor licenses, for example? I doubt it. Neither should such a thing exist for taxi licenses. Essentially people end up making lots of money doing absolutely nothing of any public benefit when medallions are commodities.

  • ahwr

    Perhaps a simple prohibition on renting single family homes, and also on corporations owning them, would fix the problem

    Not a chance.

  • Andres Dee

    In California, grocery bags go from supermarket to trunk and trunk to pantry. In NYC, people actually walk with bags and they need to survive the trip. Overpack and you end up with a ripped bag and your groceries on the sidewalk.