Today’s Headlines

  • Rory Lancman Explains Why He Wants to Hinder NYPD Crash Investigations
  • LICH Developers Try to Appease Apoplectic Cobble Hill Locals With Parking (Bklyn Paper, DNA)
  • Cyclists Say More People Would Bike the Bronx If Streets Were Safer (City Limits)
  • WNYC Explains Why It Will Be Years Before MTA Implements Positive Train Control
  • Lancman: Toll Reform a Bad Idea Because Drivers Have Different Incomes (QChron via SB)
  • NJ Transit Moves Seating Away From Penn Station Waiting Area, Baffling Commuters (Voice)
  • Evgeny Friedman, Who Wanted City Bailout, Avoids Foreclosure on Taxi Medallions (Post)
  • Cab Drivers Collide, Overturn Taxi Near LaGuardia; Three Injured (News)
  • Amazon Is Using the Subway and Bikes for Manhattan Deliveries (Gizmodo, Consumerist)
  • Daily News Editorial Board Says What All New Yorkers Are Thinking

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Jonathan R

    I live in NY and I don’t pump gas; my bicycle is fueled by oatmeal.

  • Bolwerk

    Real New Yawkers™ drive. They live in NYCHA or Mitchell Lama housing, HATE big government, and drive.

    Some even totally Go Galt, and pump their own gas! Why pay even more so some lazy bum can live off your hard work?

  • Bolwerk

    Re Lancman: “When I hear about rule of law, I reach for my gun” – #MyNYPD

  • Joe R.

    Lancman has some good ideas like giving tax breaks to businesses for offering telecommuting and encouraging nighttime deliveries. However, this line is ridiculous: “Workers in Queens can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars more per month to get to work, and they shouldn’t have to. ”

    Guess what? They don’t have to if they take the subway. Doesn’t Lancman know even in areas like mine where people drive locally most who work in Manhattan take the subway? More money from tolls will help these people. Sure, the minority of idiots who insist on driving into Manhattan, even though it takes longer and costs more than mass transit, will be hurting, but these are hardly the “common folk” he’s talking about. Common folk can’t afford to drive into Manhattan and pay hundreds of dollars a month for parking alone. When will politicians realize most NYers just don’t drive into Manhattan or other congested areas? We’ve hurt this city immeasurable by catering to a minority of mostly 1%ers who drive when they can often walk faster for reasons I can’t begin to fathom. I guess these people don’t value their time much.

  • Joe R.

    Regarding Friedman, it wouldn’t be a horrible outcome if ultimately Citibank is on the hook. They decided against all logic to loan him money using something with little inherent value as collateral. Much like the banks which made home equity loans against inflated housing prices, they deserve to lose every penny for being greedy and careless.

  • Bolwerk

    It’s amazing how hard it is for people to admit this, but there probably are literally no “common folk” who do the morning commute thing by car to Manhattan anymore. For that to be casually affordable requires probably a six figure salary. Either that, or you need to be a government worker with a placard.

    The only sort-of exception are people who drive for a living, at least indirectly (like a plumber taking his truck from place to place) but they unambiguously come out ahead when tolls go up and parking becomes more available.

  • red_greenlight1

    Rory Lanchman is a huge douche. That might be disrespectful to douches.

    Seriously though it’s not like the NYPD is being trigger happy charging drivers. In fact they are far far too reserved.

  • Simon Phearson

    I think the politicians realize this just fine. It’s just the rhetoric they use to make it sound like they’re concerned about someone other than themselves.

  • Bolwerk

    You’d think, but that might be giving some of them too much credit. The MO of the sort of powerful Working Families Party is stuff like keeping tolls low by cowing Democrats into thinking it’s good for the so-called middle class. I don’t see any reason to think they aren’t sincere in this.

    More likely they just think their friends are “normal,” and transit users are the odd exception. That even seems to be Cuomo’s line of thinking. Everyone drives, except for the 10 million people or so NYSers who regularly use transit. There are still 9 million NYSers who don’t!

  • joe shabadoo

    It’s not about people who drive into Manhattan every day; it’s people who want to keep that idea that they could drive into Manhattan for free any time they want to, even if they rarely do. The toll is much more of a psychic tax than an actual one. It makes people think that they have less mobility options.

  • Bolwerk

    Seems they just find it easier to catch people on the street and contrive some reason for harassing them. Cops seem to scare rather easily, actually, and research and even hiring practices show they tend to have only somewhat-better-than-middling intelligence. They want to exert power, be tough, but they’re also prudent enough to risk-averse. It’s too easy to conceal a gun in a car to use to shoot a cop with a chip on his shoulder.

    The fact that a lot of them are suburbanites probably suggests they come from insular backgrounds too. They’re likely primed to be scared of those they see as outsiders, which includes poor people in marginal neighboroods who don’t drive.

  • stairbob

    A coworker who lives in NJ often drives himself and his wife over the GWB. The toll and $20 to park are only $2-3 a day (per person) over what they’d pay for the bus, and he drops her off at her office door on the far west side. (So the affordable part is they pay suburban housing costs.)

  • Jonathan R

    Consider also that the HOV-3 car pool rate is $5.75. If the coworker brought along their child to a Manhattan day care, they would qualify.

  • stairbob

    True that. But then day care would be $50,000 / year 🙂

  • ahwr
  • Bolwerk

    Hmm. If their bus costs a few bucks less than $25.75 for the trip (not even counting gas), they must already be coming from pretty far afield.

    Either way, for one person, that probably is more than an hour at what is considered a middle class wage.

  • Bolwerk

    Heh, that case and another like it (in Nassau County?) are really popular in personnel psychology classes.

    But practically speaking, it’s probably an extreme example. Most police forces are more subtle, selecting for ways to find people comfortable with modestly difficult rote tasks. That automatically eliminates a lot of people who are more than a sigma away from the mean IQ. People will tend to be either too stupid to handle them, or too smart to enjoy the work. Like that article says, police will tend to be a bit smarter than the general population.

    One force I interviewed would make its potential candidates, I forget whether for initial selection or for promotion, stand outside guessing car speeds for days on end. And after a few days of doing that, many people become *amazingly* accurate, though the evidence doesn’t hold up in court unless they (say?) they used an objective measurement of some sort.

  • stairbob

    I think it’s about an hour on the bus. If i guess the right one, it’s $4.25 per person per direction, so $17. Perhaps he exaggerates the bus cost to justify driving to himself.

    “A City Council report from 2013, however, expanded the definition of middle class upward to a family earning roughly $200,000.” (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150218/tribeca/quiz-are-you-part-of-nycs-middle-class)

  • Simon Phearson

    I’m still having difficulty making sense of the math here. If it’s 9.75 for the toll and 20 for parking, then they’re paying $12/day more for the “privilege” of driving. The only way I can mesh that with your $2-3 per day, per person figure is to assume that it’s also $2-3 each way. So, the argument seems to be – driving is only about 60% more expensive than taking the bus. Well, when you also factor out the gas, maintenance, insurance, etc.

    Not attacking you at all – I realize you’re just speaking informally here about someone else’s experience. I’m just trying to understand.

    I commuted for about six months by car, once. I remember making a very similar kind of calculation – minimizing a clear driving premium by exaggerating the time loss and costs of transit, lowballing the time loss and costs of driving, and telling myself it was great to have the freedom of driving and to avoid the hassle of transit (my transit option, while cheaper, wasn’t horribly convenient). I eventually snapped out of it – and discovered bike commuting! And my life has been much better for it.

  • com63

    You would think this would be good for them since the city probably pays for their tolls and they probably drive. Higher tolls = less traffic for them to deal with.

  • stairbob

    Yes, I guess that was my point to my latest message. Either my recollection or his rationale is bad. (Or my guess at the bus route he uses.) I guess the only reason I brought him up at all was that he considers it a sound economic decision, regardless of whether that’s exactly true.

  • Bolwerk

    Not to say I begrudge people who live that far out and commute to the city a car trip. There are convenience reasons why a commuter bus could be a big PITA.

    But the car probably burns at least $5 in gas too. Well, I was just wondering.

  • stairbob

    It is curious that drivers often consider gas and maintenance and the cost of the car as fixed and don’t factor those into the cost of their commute.

  • Joe R.

    They may be in an area which doesn’t have convenient mass transit to NYC but to me driving all the way in just doesn’t make sense. Why not drive to a commuter rail station 10 or 20 miles out of NYC and take the train the rest of the way? Driving may by relatively quick in the boondocks but once you get near NYC it might take an hour or more to go those last 10 to 20 miles.

  • ahwr

    That there is a bus to the PABT that can get you to a job in Manhattan doesn’t mean you can comfortably live car free. If not having a car for non commute trips is limiting, then the question is whether you drive or take transit to work, not whether you drive or take transit and sell your car. The marginal cost of your commute wouldn’t include fixed costs of your car, because taking the bus to work doesn’t let you sell your car. The fixed costs of the car might be better considered with the cost of housing.

  • Joe R.

    Generally though the only truly fixed costs of car ownership besides the initial purchase price are registration, insurance, inspection, and the driver’s license. Maintenance, gas, and tolls are all incremental costs, and per mile they can easily exceed the cost of mass transit.

    I guess you might also factor in if having a car saves you on housing compared to living in an area where it’s possible to not have car. And then you have intangibles like the inconvenience of having to get into a car to do literally anything. For some people that inconvenience is worth paying more for housing to avoid. For others it isn’t.

  • ahwr

    Don’t know the situation with NJTransit stations, but commuter parking at a lot of LIRR and MNR stations is limited to those with a permit. The permits are under priced so the waiting list can be years long, especially for those who aren’t local residents. Frequency on the trains isn’t always great either.

  • ahwr

    Repairs, maintenance, gas and motor oil is ~40% of spending on cars according to BLS consumer expenditure surveys. Gas+motor oil is ~78% of that. Some of the rest is repairs, and maintenance can be time based as much as mile based. Thirty miles each way might be $5-10 worth of gas, less than the $12.50 toll ($7-10.50 off peak, or $6.50 peak with 3+) and $10-20 a day for parking (after tax dollars, a lot of the cost of parking is paid pre tax.) Figure $30. Maintenance is maybe $1-3 on top of that. It’s not a huge share of the cost.

  • Joe R.

    Yeah, I’m aware of that but a relatively quick fix would be multistory parking garages near stations, combined perhaps with increasing the price of permits. I’m generally not a big fan of car parking as you know, but building massive parking complexes near some rail stations where demand for parking exceeds supply is a net positive if it reduces traffic coming into the city.

    The LIRR frequency is limited by the infrastructure. They probably could have used a third, maybe even a fourth, track years ago. It would be expensive to build now, given that the only place to put it would be above the existing tracks, but it might be worthwhile in the long run.

    The Hudson River tunnel is the obvious bottleneck for NJT. Killing the ARC project will probably go down in history as one of the most shortsighted decisions ever.

  • ahwr

    building massive parking complexes near some rail stations where demand
    for parking exceeds supply is a net positive if it reduces traffic
    coming into the city.

    Net positive for whom? Locals have killed some parking garages because they’re ugly and don’t want more commuters driving in their town. I thought you wanted TOD around suburban stations? Can’t do that if you use the land for parking lots. Some of those driving in might be willing to live in outer Queens areas and take transit if they were cheaper, but for that to happen you need to build more, which you don’t want because you’re worried that some of them will drive some of the time.

    If there’s room for a few thousand more commuters during peak on LIRR or MNR, then lower fares in city and have more trains stop on the way to Penn/GC. Might help more non driving city residents than cutting down on traffic from suburban commuters which just encourages more city residents to drive more often, leaving you with minimal to non existent reduction in traffic. If you want to accommodate a more substantial amount of people then you need large scale improvements in organization, electronics, and physical infrastructure, so you don’t have anything approaching a quick fix.

  • Joe R.

    I’d much rather have TOD around rail stations in lieu of parking. In fact, if we could get rid of all these parking lots near commuter rail stations and build apartment buildings surrounded by retail that might be a great thing. That said, you still have all the people living in single family homes on LI who will drive all the way in if they can’t find parking near the LIRR. What to do about that? You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Build more parking and you can’t build TOD. Don’t build it and you get more people driving into NYC. You could try to create more good jobs on LI so these people can drive locally to work I suppose but that’s a longer term answer.

    Not sure how many of these people would live in outer Queens. Remember, a big reason they moved to LI in the first place was to own a home with a big yard. I’m not seeing these people moving to a Queens apartment unless it was really cheap (which it won’t be unless housing prices crash). You might get them to move to a smaller house with a smaller yard if the house was similar in cost to their LI home, but that’s not really the kind of development you would like to see in Queens anyway.

    In the end there aren’t any easy answers. We developed much of LI in the 1950s or later using the assumption gas would always be cheap and roads would never be clogged. I would very much like to see a lot more traditional suburban development like towns centered around railway stations. Ironically, that’s not even incompatible with the existing tracts of single family homes further out from the train stations. If we provide good bike infrastructure and bike parking near train stations then the single family home owners can have ample parking to commute using the LIRR, and we can still have TOD near train stations. That’s the nice thing about bike parking. You can fit 10 or more bikes in the space of one car. Maybe then that’s a good answer. Lose the car parking near train stations, replace it with a combination of bike parking and TOD. At the same time build safe bike routes to the single family housing tracts.

  • Bolwerk

    He said it was a couple commuting together, so it’s probably not too financially taxing to do what they do.

    Plus parking at suburban rail stations is often restrictive and/or expensive anyway.

    So, again, it’s a bit hard to blame them.

  • Bolwerk

    NJT on the whole seems like an example of an agency specializing in car-encouragement. It lets people get to peak hour jobs by transit, while they live lifestyles that otherwise encourage cars.

    There are exceptions – HBLR, Newark LRT, River Line, even many suburban buses near NYC and Philly, but on the whole NJT seems like a mixed bag. (MNRR and LIRR are to some extent like that too.)

  • ahwr

    Something less than 15% of Nassau+Suffolk workers commute to Manhattan. 60-70% by rail in Nassau, 50-60% in Suffolk. There are plenty of jobs in Nassau and Suffolk, many of them good paying middle class jobs. But you aren’t getting high paying finance, insurance, and real estate jobs out there. Face time matters. Can’t eliminate commutes.

    Remember, a big reason they moved to LI in the first place was to own a home with a big yard.

    Some just got priced out of a decent home in the city. Something like 180k units in multifamily dwellings, another 40k in single family attached. Not everyone has a big yard.

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