Today’s Headlines

  • Streetcar! (NYT 1, 2, 3, 4; 2ASTransitCenterBklyn Paper, GothamistPost)
  • More State of the City: Politico, NYTDNA, AP
  • 100 Bus Clocks Allocated for Staten Island (Advance); Oddo: Where’s Our Streetcar?
  • Horse Carriage Deal Tanks (Politico 1, 2, 3; NYT), But Mayor Says He Isn’t Done (Politico)
  • Snow Led MTA to Announce Delays on Every Subway Line This Morning (DNA)
  • Community Board 4: Don’t Build New PABT on Port Authority-Owned Property (DNA)
  • Driver Attempting to Elude Cops Hits Woman and Her Dog on East New York Sidewalk (WABC)
  • Post Op-Ed: Giving Away Curbside Space to NYC Motorists Is “Anti-Free Market”
  • Groups Ask for More Rezoning Hearings Before Council Vote (News)
  • Jersey Lawmakers: Let’s Hike Transit Fares and Reduce Tolls (Politicker, NJ, via MTR)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Where’s your streetcar, James Oddo? You don’t want a streetcar. You want potholes filled, you want to ignore traffic violence, you want streets free of bike lanes. Your public rhetoric and your record shows that.

    If you and the rest of the panderers in Staten Island made half the noise about public transit as they did about driver’s concerns, and if you acted as if you wanted to be part of this city instead of staying a suburban backwater stuck in the middle of the last century, you might get a streetcar.

    Here’s your version of a waterfront esplanade right near your office. The only wonder is that somebody actually shoveled the sidewalk. You want what Brooklyn’s getting, start paying attention to how they go about getting it.

  • Brian Howald

    Hey, it’s Bay Street Landing!

  • AMH

    “Don’t Build New PABT on Port Authority-Owned Property”

    I don’t understand this statement. Does the PA own the blocks between 9th and 10th Avs? There are a whole bunch of residential and commercial buildings, theatres, and a hotel currently under construction, which I doubt would be happening if there were any possibility of putting the bus terminal there.

  • Brad Aaron

    The Port Authority’s October board meeting minutes showed that its four-member working group mulled possibilities for the replacement project, with three out of four members agreeing that the “most promising approach” would be to build the new terminal on Port-Authority owned property between Ninth and 11th avenues.

    In its letter, the Community Board 4 called the proposal “unacceptable.”

  • HamTech87

    Funny how the Times writers run all its stories with this quote: “Not everybody rides bicycles,” observed Richard Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor. Of course they couldn’t find anyone to say, “Not everybody drives cars.”

    This streetcar plan is a result of the De Blasio-Cuomo conflict, not smart transportation planning. Why else would the first Times piece be written by Michael Grynbaum, Mr. Inside Politics, and not a transportation writer?

  • AMH

    I still don’t know where this property is, unless they’re talking about building only where the bus ramps are (which would actually be a good use of empty space). The community seems to think any construction would involve taking a lot of private property, and I haven’t heard anyone deny that.

  • Yup, that’s it.

  • Brad Aaron

    I don’t know the details either.

  • iSkyscraper

    In the 70s and 80s, New York city government would send teams to Toronto to marvel over the city as one of the few in North America that actually functioned and was not falling apart. Then, in the 90s and 00s, Toronto hit a rough patch and had to watch NYC figure out how to revitalize waterfronts and build bike lanes. Now, maybe both cities can learn from each other as Toronto shares its modern streetcar knowledge (seriously, talk to the TTC, not some baby system from Portland or Seattle) and NYC shows how to redesign big city streets for people.

  • bolwerk

    I’m not sure we’ve changed at all in that time. We’ve ridden a wave of economic growth that brought two decades of prosperity. None of that had to do with reform because not a single area of NYC government has seen meaningful reform in 40 years. Our leaders are biased toward the simple, heuristic solutions rather than long term game plans. That’s why we get consultant-peddled crap like broken windows, charter schools, BRT (and now a streetcar where it does the least good), draconian attacks on social services, and sell-outs to McJob-peddling private industries like convention centers and stadiums.

    And no shit, the people who come up with this stuff travel the world selling these ideas and how to implement them. They’re poverty pimps. Crony capitalists can’t innovate, but they can take a dump in a box and call it artisan chocolate.

  • Komanoff

    Heuristic? Huh?

    BRT = crap? Huh?

  • bolwerk

    They are attempting to apply solutions they saw/imagined worked elsewhere under (perceived?) similar circumstances, often ignoring/obfuscating severe differences between situations. Taking charter schools, they work at superficially well in terms of outcome for the students they serve, at least no worse than traditional public schools in many cases. But then charters do things like refuse to take students who need the most help, so their results can automatically look better. You can make a pro or con case for charter schools as you please, but you can’t compare outcomes between charter schools and conventional public schools without a lot of qualifications. An observer who looks at charter school outcomes, perceives they work well, and therefore concludes charter schools should be imposed in place of traditional public schools is thinking heuristically.

    Neither BRT or streetcars – or necessarily charter schools or even broken windows,* perhaps – are necessarily crap from the perspective of sometimes being useful tools under the right circumstances, but imposing any of them as a one-size-fits-all solution or without regard for the needs of riders or communities or the wider city is crappy. Not to artfully smear, but conveniently someone often seems to make money on consulting fees for that stuff too. :-O

    * my take on BW is it’s a valid predictor-criterion relationship, one that probably has little or no applicability to violent antisocial behavior

  • Joe R.

    It’s worth noting here those two decades of prosperity came at an enormous price. People borrowed the equity in their homes as prices rose to fund living beyond their means. Now the primary thing of value most people leave to their children is essentially worthless. End result is upward mobility will suffer. Usually it takes a few generations to climb out of poverty. Often the only way you can only do it when the previous generations leave something to the future ones.

    On all levels of government, we squandered this prosperity further by reducing taxes on the wealthy, along with giving away a good part of any revenue gains (and future revenue) to public employee unions in the form of wage or benefit increases. We should have kept tax rates flat, at least on the wealthy. We should have invested any surplus revenue in infrastructure or R&D.

    The coming generations will suffer. It was a 2-decade night on the town. For those coming after, it’ll be a multi-decade run living out of cardboard boxes.

    Crony capitalists can’t innovate, but they can take a dump in a box and call it artisan chocolate.

    Love this line. Sad but true. These people know how to polish turds but they can’t come up with original ideas if their lives depended on it.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Real people on Staten Island…

    are worried about heroin, not any of this.

  • AnoNYC

    Is the city going to continue to utilize bus mounted or fixed use cameras for SBS in the future. I thought the latter was prefered.

  • Boris

    I wonder why nobody so far mentioned the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway when talking about the streetcar. In terms of connectivity, the BQE is the streetcar’s biggest direct competitor – it connects Sunset Park with Astoria via almost all the same neighborhoods. Any plan to fund the streetcar should at least acknowledge how much money we waste patching up the BQE every year (although as a state highway there is probably little NYC can do to get rid of it).

  • bolwerk

    I actually just feel like it’s an endless act of squandering. People say we can’t spend money. But we do spend money. We’re spending a lot on stuff. And most of the outcomes blow. What “we can’t afford that” really means is “I like how things are, got mine, and fuck you for wanting stuff.”

    Subsidized daycare is probably exactly what pre-K is, but I’m not sure that’s in the same league (agree with it or not). Even 2-parent households are expected to have both parents working. And, in our socially dysfunctional communities, pre-K actually measurably improves later outcomes in schools. Not that the idea isn’t flawed though, because it is on many different levels.

  • Flakker

    After the entire Staten Island state delegation abetted the property tax cap pandering led by Lanza, and at best stood idly by while state government announces its intent to dump CUNY and extra Medicaid funding on the city, while failing to get the MTA capital plan funded, AFTER de Blasio increased the SI pacing budget to an unprecedented amount, DB would be justified in halving the ferry budget to make up some of the difference.

  • Flakker

    That’s not really true. Certain specific neighborhoods would be vastly helped by reactivating the North Shore branch. The problem is that MTA sandbagging of he project and a windshield perspective of the elected officials means that what success would look like is very unclear to most people. The fact is that most Staten Islanders are not addicted to heroin.

  • bolwerk

    SI seems to be in this vortex of unreasoning bumblefuckery where they simultaneously want transit and don’t want the implications of transit (walkability, etc.). The North Shore is probably getting BRT, wrecking the chance for subway integration or HBLR integration forever (urban mutilation). Some pols and business groups want LRT on the *west shore*, which seems empty-ish and may arguably be one of the rare cases in NYC suitable for BRT, assuming it should get anything at all yet. Red Hook has been clamoring for a streetcar for 20-30 years, maybe longer, and might supposedly get it as long as all these places that didn’t want a streetcar also get it.

    Just who is in charge around here?

  • Flakker

    I don’t have the whole answer. Part of the answer is clearly connected to the repeated efforts to resuscitate the failing Teleport suburban office park in the West Shore; it comes up in seemingly every community board meeting and has, I believe, contributed to the nonsensical routing of the foolish BRT project—extending ultimately to the West Shore Plaza strip mall— which is literally on the wrong side of the (freight) tracks, with walking access to nothing else, and gets most of its current traffic because the DMV branch is located there.

    The biggest obstacle is that the existing right-of-way isn’t very useful to many people in any case. It would be more useful if connected as an extension to the SIR but this idea never seems to come up. If somebody was on the ball they could have pushed for this kind of alignment when it came to a post-Sandy rebuild but clearly there were other concerns at the time.

    The bigger picture is that Staten Island is politically occupied by an aging clique who are obsessed with preserving their property values, with the unintended consequence of driving out any young people. There does not seem to be one pole in control either; more like a junta of the Democrats (including Savino who is IDC), Republicans aligned with Conservative Party faction (represented by BP Oddo) and Lanza (Republican but at least used to be on the outs with the Conservative Party).

    All of these share the same basic suburban windshield mentality. Except for Lanza they are not necessarily hostile to transit, they just see it as a lower priority. The Republicans in particular campaign on a North Korean-style oppositional us-vs-the city mentality to justify all bad things (Oddo is actually a vast improvement over what came before him in this regard) and the inherent legitimacy of the suburban environment itself, against urbanization.

    The Conservative Party faction is the most powerful and is aligned with the SI Advance editorial page, which has become noticeably more right-wing and hysterically anti-urban in the last ten years or so in tandem with the decline and elderly-pandering rightwingery in local newspapers in general. The aforementioned North Korean attitude has led to an inability or unwillingness to build coalitions in New York City for the most part, leading to weird behavior like Lanza aligning with upstate Republicans to screw the city. It’s dead-end behavior to please voters who want a physically impossible suburban lifestyle. “Everyone drives” so transit is a nice-to-have, not a necessity.

  • bolwerk

    That description of SI pols is hilarious. Fits my perceptions, but I confess to not paying much attention because I don’t live there.

  • bolwerk

    The North Shore ROW really doesn’t seem great, but it does seem prudent to tie it into one of the other rail systems in or around the city. That could be SIRT, the subway, PATH, or HBLR.

    Otherwise just leave it fallow until it’s ready to be used.