Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio to Issue Hunter’s Point South RFP (Crain’s)
  • Work on Cuomo’s LaGuardia Revamp Will Start Soon (Crain’sDNA)
  • Driver Who Injured Woman on Sidewalk Outside Lower Manhattan School Is Going to Jail (DNA)
  • More Michael Ameri Bike Lane Coverage From DNA; Post Confounded by Human Decency
  • MTA Suspends Metro-North Engineers for Cheating on Safety Exams (Post)
  • Steve Matteo Says Staten Island Commuters Don’t Have Enough MetroCard Machines (Advance)
  • With L Shutdown on the Horizon, DNA Checks the MTA’s Record on Meeting Project Deadlines
  • Kabak: It Will Take More Than Toll Reform to Fix the Subways (2AS)
  • Staten Island DA Michael McMahon Has a New $67,000 City-Funded SUV (Advance)
  • Staten Island Motorists Do Whatever They Want (Advance 1, 2)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • bolwerk

    Ignoring most of this subthread, but AIUI air travel is expected to increase globally, but it will also possibly be expected to disperse. At least much of the modal growth will be expected to come from modernizing cities, not because more people will think flying between NYC and DC is a good idea.

    Some of this is political choice. We could encourage more rail travel, or we could refuse to invest in good rail and go with air.

  • Joe R.

    You’re showing me a 4 year prediction, and oil prices in 2020 are still going to be 30% to 40% above what they are now. I don’t know where you heard that peak oil is no longer accepted, either.

    There’s one reason only oil prices might stay low, namely if demand drops precipitously. That could have with a national consensus to reduce carbon emission. Then you have plenty of cheap oil for the few applications without viable alternatives, like airplanes. Call me a skeptic but I’m not see the world’s countries agreeing any time soon to voluntarily limit carbon emissions. It’s business as usual, unfortunately.

  • Joe R.

    International flights comprise a small amount of total flights. Arguably if we invested enough in rail to mostly eliminate the short-haul domestic flights Kennedy and Newark could handle the load.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Here’s a nice article about long term oil prediction:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaellynch/2016/02/02/the-science-of-forecasting-long-term-oil-prices-what-not-to-do/#51aebcf46dc0

    As for peak oil, the wiki article gives a pretty good summary of the current state of the idea.

    More likely than not, air travel will increase, and oil will be fine for the lifetime of the new terminal. So it makes sense to build it.

  • Joe R.

    Part of me wonders if you built these lines if you wouldn’t eventually have population centers springing up along these corridors to generate more ridership. It’s true most of the western US other than the West coast just lacks enough population to make building HSR a viable proposition. On the other side of the ledger however you’re literally building the line through nothing. That would help costs. It would also let you choose an ideal alignment. LV to Denver with no stops and 250 mph running (possible because there are no noise concerns in the middle of nowhere) lets you do those 600 miles in probably well under 3 hours. That’s easily competitive with air. Whether or not you’ll get enough passengers to make the line worthwhile is an open question.

  • Joe R.

    It still doesn’t make sense to build it because of the location. That land is worth far more if housing were built on it than for whatever economic activity the airport generates. That’s in addition to the noise and pollution issues the airport is causing for the 2 million+ people under the glide path. Let’s call this what it really is—yet another vanity project for Cuomo, like the Tappen Zee Bridge. I could think of much better transportation projects to spend this kind of money on. $5.3 billion is a heck of a lot of money.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Step back for a moment. You can’t just up and close one of the only 3 airports for the NYC metro area.

    The housing comment I’ve seen before and it’s silly. NYC needs housing but that can’t be the only refrain used. You can’t replace everything by housing. Upzoning is a better way to add housing than to remove vital infrastructure.

    As for the Tappan Zee… call it a vanity project if you want, but what’s the alternative, closing that highway? That’s not a serious option, and I’m sure you know that.

    The fact that it costs 5-odd billion is a distraction. All our infrastructure projects cost way more than they should. It’s not specific to LGA or the Tappan-Zee.

  • kevd

    “Part of me wonders if you built these lines if you wouldn’t eventually have population centers springing up along these corridors to generate more ridership.”

    Like many of your of your contributions on this subject, this is a vague, long-term hypothetical with little to no basis in the real world. You should fly to a country with HSR so you can experience how it actually works. France or Spain are good places to start. Paris Barcelona would be a good trip. About 1100km (again) and just over 6 hours. This is about as good as it gets in the real world because of stops and turns. And that distance is only viable because of the size of the pair cities (there are 3 direct trains a day). There is only one Malaga-BCN and 3 Sevilla-BCN trains a day – many more terminate in Madrid, requiring a transfer there.

    Regional HSR for trips under 1000km works and works well. Beyond that, it isn’t often economically viable. San Diego – Sacramento makes sense. About bunch of lines out of Chicago make sense. Some SE US lines might make sense. Texas cities makes sense – and of course the NE makes a lot of sense. NY>LA will not make sense until we have much much faster trains.

    I’m out. Have a good day.

  • kevd

    exactly.

  • Joe R.

    The Tappen Zee Bridge wasn’t structurally deficient. That’s the main reason you replace bridges. The sad part is for all the money spent the new bridge won’t even have rail. At least that might have made it an improvement over what it was replacing.

    You can’t just up and close one of the only 3 airports for the NYC metro area.

    Unlike subways, commuter rail, even auto travel, it turns out air travel isn’t used by most people on a regular basis. Let’s say hypothetically you shut down LaGuardia. Some large fraction of those trips just wouldn’t be made at all. They’re not commutes or shopping trips where you have little choice but to do them. Most of the rest would be made on other modes, or perhaps done on flights from Kennedy or Newark. You may like flying on vacation but your life wouldn’t end if closing one airport made doing so a bit more difficult or more expensive. And that’s all that would happen. If NYC only had one airport then I might say we couldn’t shut it down. We have three within 20 miles of Manhattan. We’ll survive if we lost one, particularly if it were gradually phased out so we had time to adjust. Much of the domestic traffic out of LaGuardia is amenable to being replaced by HSR anyway.

  • Joe R.

    I mentioned NY-LA merely as a hypothetical to show that the worst-case time penalty for state-of-the-art HSR over flying isn’t completely horrible. Most domestic flights are much shorter than that, hence much more amenable to being done by HSR. Get all the domestic flights which make sense to be replaced with HSR, and you can easily close LaGuardia. That’s really my point, not that lots of people will be taking a hypothetical train from NYC to LA. Heck, lots of people (relatively speaking) don’t fly from NYC to LA compared to closer city pairs.

    You should fly to a country with HSR so you can experience how it actually works.

    It’s moot whether or not I would fly at this point. I’m unfortunately stuck taking care of my mom who is deteriorating mentally. I can’t get away for a weekend, never mind to go to Europe. I wouldn’t have the money for it anyway, nor anyone to go with. It’s a nice thought, but for me travel is an impossibility. It has been for my entire life (never had the money to travel even when I had the time).

  • bolwerk

    Maybe, but population centers we have already lack good intercity rail. I prefer to focus on them.

  • Joe R.

    I agree. If we’re going to build HSR the east coast is the best place to start. Boston perhaps even down to Miami would probably be viable. There are enough city pairs with large populations 300 to 500 miles apart over the entire route.

  • reasonableexplanation

    The Tappan Zee had a design lifetime of 50 years.
    For once, we’re replacing a piece of infrastructure when the time has come; before it’s critical, as we should. That’s a good thing.
    http://nymag.com/news/features/tappan-zee-bridge-2013-2/

    Much of the domestic traffic out of LaGuardia is amenable to being replaced by HSR anyway.

    Not really, as others have stated, this isn’t even true in Europe where HSR is already plentiful.

    Look, LGA has about 30 million people pass through it yearly. it’s not your place to decide that these people shouldn’t be travelling. And JFK/Newark don’t have the capacity to handle these people. As NYC grows, the demand goes up, not down. It’s come to the point where even McArthur Islip and other far off airports are starting to grow.

    You can’t even complain about subsidies too much, LGA makes a healthy profit for the port authority most years.

  • Joe R.

    Maybe we should start replacing the signal system on the subway instead of the TZB. That is failing on a daily basis but of course it’s not a sexy as a new bridge or airport terminal.

    Not really, as others have stated, this isn’t even true in Europe where HSR is already plentiful.

    Quite a few flights out of LaGuardia are to Boston, Washington, even Philadelphia. Those are well within the scope of HSR. When France built its first HSR line between Paris and Lyons ( 264 miles apart ) in the early 1980s it all but eliminated flights between those two cities. Same thing is true for virtually all other city pairs about 300 miles apart or less. Point of fact, LaGuardia isn’t even allowed to service flights to destinations further than 1,500 miles away. It’s 100% domestic flights, with easily half being amenable to HSR.

    Look, LGA has about 30 million people pass through it yearly. it’s not your place to decide that these people shouldn’t be travelling.

    And the subway has 1.76 billion people pass through it yearly, proving my point that relatively few people use air travel regularly. Note if there were no externalities like noise or pollution then you would be right. Unfortunately, both are serious problems caused by having airports near population centers. Those who are affected by them should in fact get some say in the matter. Instead, we had this nonsense imposed on use by the Port Authority’s Robert Moses like dictatorship. Perhaps we need a referendum on the ballot to close LaGuardia.

  • Joe R.

    Distance isn’t always a problem. Denver didn’t bother building any kind of high-speed link to the airport. Shanghai airport is located 19 miles from the city. The maglev does the trip in 8 minutes. It often takes over an hour to reach any of the NYC airports, despite the shorter distances.

  • reasonableexplanation

    It’s not an either/or proposal. We need to replace the tappan zee, and signaling, and many other things.

    That’s the same reasoning as ‘why spend money on space exploration, there are problems here at home.’

    For the record the signaling thing IS being changed, slowly.

    Our streets are not in third world condition. They’re not great, but they’re not terrible, and the DOT is pretty responsive when you report a pothole.

    Quite a few flights out of LaGuardia are to Boston, Washington, even Philadelphia.

    http://laguardiaairport.com/flights/
    For the remainder of this evening, I count 20 flights to/from Boston, out of about 400 remaining flights.

    There are plenty of other flights that go to places that aren’t and won’t be served by HSR.

    You can close laguardia, if you massively expand the other small airports to carry the volume. That’s what the articles you link advocate. If you do that though, what did you gain? Now instead of taking a quick bus or cab ride to LGA, you’ll be on the LIRR or Metro North for over an hour to go out east or north. That’s making NYC less connected, not more.

  • kevd

    I’m sorry to hear that, Joe.
    I’m sure you provide her with a great deal of comfort.

  • Joe R.

    NYC needs better connectivity to its airports anyway. Why not expand the airports out on LI, then build a maglev to them so they’re 15 minutes away from midtown? That would be better for air travelers, better for city residents who no longer have to hear planes all day long, even better for the pilots since they don’t have tricky landings at LaGuardia with virtually no room for error. It’s expensive, but in truth when all is said and done here the fact remains both LaGuardia and Kennedy have really shitty connections to the city. This project won’t fix that at all. I’m in eastern Queens and it’ll easily take me an hour to reach either airport by public transit. That’s third world.

    Our streets are not in third world condition. They’re not great, but they’re not terrible, and the DOT is pretty responsive when you report a pothole.

    I invite anyone who doubts the poor state of our streets to ride a bike on one. It seems virtually everywhere I’m seeing filled trenches, ruts, dips broken bus stop blocks, non-flush manhole covers, etc. This is third world shit. I could excuse a few streets in this kind of condition but by me at least virtually all of them are like this. I don’t want DOT to fill potholes so next year they have to fill the same pothole. I want them to rebuild streets. Put the utilities in a trench with removable cover plates so ConEd never needs to break that street up again, then build a concrete subroadbed, and finally top it off with either asphalt or smoother concrete. Pay contractors annually if a street is in good condition rather than paying them per repair. This will encourage them to rebuilt the street once to the highest standards so they can get paid for the next 100 years without needing to touch it.

    For the record the signaling thing IS being changed, slowly.

    The timeline now is what, 50 years? Not going to do either of us much good. I’ll be 103 then, if I’m even still alive.

    That’s the same reasoning as ‘why spend money on space exploration, there are problems here at home.’

    Space exploration actually has huge potential long-term economic benefits, not to mention the more immediate benefits from applying the new technologies developed to everyday life. The computer or phone you’re typing this on is a direct beneficiary of the space program. So are a lot of hi-tech materials used in many products.

    My problem here is I feel we’re throwing money at what isn’t necessarily the best tool for the job. Planes are good a moving people longer distances, like over 1,000 miles. We should be asking ourselves if maybe there’s a better way to do what the planes are doing now. We should also be asking how much of what planes enable us to do is even really necessary in the first place. Same thing with cars. Yes, they enable mobility but perhaps we wouldn’t need this mobility if we had more things available closer to us. We need to look at it holistically.

  • Joe R.

    Thanks for the concern. It’s appreciated.

    The sad part is she’s only 77, in good health otherwise. Given family history, she could go on another 20, 25 years. That’s going to put me well into my 70s before I might finally be able to have some semblance of a life. Right now my main forms of recreation are my hobbies (when I have rare free time), or my occasional late night bike rides. A few times a year I’ll take the train into Manhattan.

  • ahwr

    I15 and I70 between Vegas and Denver is a 750 mile drive. I’ve driven it before. There’s a reason it’s not straighter. The extra ridership from a shorter/faster run would never justify the massive cost of a straight route. No way you’d get an average 250mph on that run. And given how cheap flying is, and will remain, I doubt it’s a viable HSR corridor. Let oil get to $200 a barrel, either because the mideast blows up or a carbon tax is instituted and synthetic jet fuel will keep flying far cheaper than a 600 mile 250 mph HSR alignment between LA and denver would cost.

  • ahwr

    Get all the domestic flights which make sense to be replaced with HSR, and you can easily close LaGuardia. That’s really my point

    By the time those lines are built La Guardia will have outlived the planned rehab, and it will be back to 3rd world airport status. So maybe they’ll close the airport in a few decades.

  • Joe R.

    Or do what China did and build over 10,000 miles of HSR in a decade. We probably don’t even need that much to serve most of the areas where HSR makes sense.

  • kevd

    I actually think at Chicago spoke network is a better place to start in ernest. More cheap farm land in between city pairs out there. Though upgrades out here should be continuing so we don’t fall TOO far behind.

    Chicago-St. Louis
    Chicago-Detroit
    Chicago-Cleveland
    Chicago-Minneapolis
    Chicago-Milwaukee
    Chicago-Des Moines (perhaps Omaha later)
    Chicago-Cinncinati
    Chicago-Columbus

  • Joe R.

    Those are all great city pairs. It’ll also give the midwest a taste of high-speed electrified rail which currently doesn’t exist there at all. That said, it would be great to get at least Washington-NYC-Boston up to Shinkansen standards of speed. We’ve had near high-speed electrified rail here for decades. It’s good, but it could be so much better.

  • kevd

    The big problem is all the suburbs in between all our east coast cities. And we have something the Chinese lack: property rights. But yes, NE corridor is the big goal. I just think it’s sucklh a heavy lift that we want to make sure it’s done right. Prove the concept of 300kmph rail in the Midwest while making gradual improvements here. Unlike the Spanish, our regular rail is the same gauge as our HSR so gradual improvements can be implemented.

  • bolwerk

    I’m not too picky about how it’s done (just do something to start), but I like the idea of expanding from the Northeast Corridor. Boston-Buffalo and NYC-Buffalo are both smart routes. So is NYC-Pittsburgh or NYC-Philadelphia.

  • Joe R.

    We’re kind of, sort of doing that now. They’re upgrading the catenary between Trenton and New Brunswick to support 160 mph running. I’m imagining this is a proof of concept thing. Once done, there are other sections straight enough to be viable for such speeds. The catenary needs to be replaced anyway. The speed increase is just a bonus. Unfortunately, if we want to go true HSR for most of the route there’s the issue of having nowhere to build for the reason you mentioned. My guess is we’ll probably eventually just bite the bullet and go for the expense of tunnels. We need to do this, but we can’t afford to have the project tied up for years in courts trying to get one parcel after another. Given how much litigation costs in this country, the tunnel plan might be more cost effective anyway. For most of the route you’ll be tunneling through virgin rock. It won’t be cheap, but it’ll be far less expensive than trying to tunnel around existing underground infrastructure as in NYC.

  • ahwr
  • Joe R.

    You’re giving numbers for the entire railway system. High-speed rail on high-speed track has had zero passenger operational fatalities everywhere other than the one incident in China in 2011. There were incidents with high-speed trains in Germany and Spain but those were on conventional track, not high-speed track. No HSR passenger fatalities since 2013, either. Loads of commercial air fatalities:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_incidents_involving_commercial_aircraft

    http://www.statista.com/statistics/263443/worldwide-air-traffic-fatalities/

    Aircraft are inherently unsafe. They depend upon the wings and engines to function in order stay up. If anything fails, there’s a good chance they can crash. Due to the speeds involved, plus the lightweight construction of aircraft, odds of surviving such a crash are poor. A train without power will just coast to a stop. Catastrophic failure of even a few axles will not necessarily cause a train to crash. Moreover, because of the heavy construction and lower speeds train crashes are usually survivable. Note that most train accidents in the US aren’t even properly classified as such. They should be classified as road accidents because some bozo decides to drive across the tracks when a train is coming. Of course, eliminating grade crossings gets rid of that problem. Once you do this, trains are about as safe as any mode of travel can be.

  • Joe R.

    I thought you might find this interesting:

    http://xpatnation.com/high-speed-rail-is-a-campaign-lie-we-wont-make-our-railroads-great-again/

    It’s basically about why we haven’t been able to build HSR in this country despite the concept appearing to be pretty popular among the general populace. As I mentioned when you talked about the Gotthard Base Tunnel a few days ago I’m pretty bummed about it. Now we even have Donald Trump talking about HSR but it likely still won’t get built thanks to the lobbyists.

  • kevd

    Well, if by Buffalo you mean”Toronto” then yeah. 😛

  • kevd

    Well, it is in the state of Brandenburg, not the federal city of Berlin so it quite literally is outside the city. But no not very far. 😛

    That massive, 7 billion euro me makes me a bit happy that we aren’t the only major nation pissing away infrastructure funds to poor lanning and outright corruption.

  • AnoNYC

    New York City’s Kosciuszko Bridge Gets an $850 Million Makeover

    http://www.thedrive.com/travel/3785/new-york-citys-kosciuszko-bridge-gets-an-850-million-makeover

  • bolwerk

    That would be great, but, with Canada and America both having absurdly intrusive immigration/customs clearance, that’s a whole other can of worms.

  • bolwerk

    Hmm. I’m counting about 20 cases (‡ below), give or take, where rail could probably unambiguously compete with LGA but is being held back by low frequency or slow travel times or just lack of passenger trackage. There are three more cases where it’s unambiguously competitive already, even vastly preferable – four if you count Washington-National and Washington-Dulles as separate. Depending on your opinion, you might push Richmond into the competitive column.

    I think this is a comprehensive list of LGA destinations. I copied it from a fugly Wikipedia table and did some Linux text jujitsu on it, so maybe I fucked something up (uniq command is different on Linux than what I’m used to?). But my take is, only a sizable minority of these LGA destinations are going to ever be competitive for a rail trip.

    † = rail exists, is already very competitive (not many of these)
    ‡ = rail exists or should exist, but if it does exist competitiveness is dubious
    ¶ route to NYC could make/does sense for other reasons, but rail competitiveness with air is unlikely or impossible (not intended to be comprehensive)

    Akron/Canton ‡
    Asheville ¶
    Atlanta ¶
    Bangor ‡
    Birmingham (AL)
    Boston †
    Buffalo ‡
    Burlington (VT) ‡
    Charleston (SC)
    Charlotte ¶
    Charlottesville (VA) ‡
    Chicago–Midway ¶
    Chicago–O’Hare ¶
    Cincinnati ‡
    Cleveland ‡
    Columbia (SC)
    Columbus (OH) ‡
    Dallas/Fort Worth
    Dallas–Love
    Dayton ‡
    Denver
    Des Moines ¶
    Detroit ¶
    Fayetteville/Bentonville
    Fort Lauderdale
    Fort Myers
    Grand Rapids
    Greensboro
    Greenville/Spartanburg
    Houston–Hobby
    Houston–Intercontinental
    Indianapolis ¶
    Jacksonville (FL) ¶
    Kansas City ¶
    Key West
    Knoxville ¶
    Lexington ¶
    Louisville ¶
    Madison ¶
    Manchester (NH) ‡
    Martha’s Vineyard
    Memphis
    Miami ¶
    Milwaukee ¶
    Minneapolis/St. Paul ¶
    Montréal–Trudeau ‡
    Myrtle Beach
    Nantucket
    Nashville ¶
    New Orleans
    Norfolk ‡
    Omaha
    Orlando–MCO
    Ottawa ‡
    Philadelphia †
    Pittsburgh ‡
    Portland (ME) ‡
    Raleigh/Durham ‡ or ¶
    Richmond ‡
    Roanoke ‡ or ¶
    Rochester (NY) ‡
    Sarasota
    Savannah ¶
    St. Louis ¶
    Syracuse ‡
    Tampa ¶
    Toronto–Pearson ‡
    Traverse City
    Washington–Dulles †
    Washington–National †
    West Palm Beach
    Wilmington (NC)

    Seasonal LGA destinations (none are remotely practical): Augusta (GA), Bozeman, Denver, Montrose, West Palm Beach

    I think all the double-dagger destinations are at least technically feasible for relatively affordable upgrades to high-speed or at least higher-speed rail. Most of them should allow a few daily rail trips of 6 hours or so to NYC. The good news is many of them already have tracks, and probably just need relatively minor upgrades that don’t require much taking.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Why not expand the airports out on LI, then build a maglev to them so they’re 15 minutes away from midtown?

    Real answer? Look at how much trouble a simple 3rd track expansion has been for the LIRR so far, and you’ll understand that this is not an idea that will happen. Not to mention, if I want to take the LIRR to LI today, I still have to get to Penn or Atlantic first, which takes about 40mins. so… it will help midtownites, but not so much the rest of us. This isn’t a real proposal.

    I’m in eastern Queens and it’ll easily take me an hour to reach either airport by public transit.

    So you take a car service. 50 bucks round trip won’t kill ya. Long term parking costs $24+/day anyway. Airports are connected to city centers everywhere, if you don’t live in the center, well, that’s life. JFK and Newark are a breeze to get to from midtown or downtown brooklyn via transit, and I’ve taken the bus to LGA too; it’s not the worst thing in the world.

    I invite anyone who doubts the poor state of our streets to ride a bike on one.

    I have, a lot. I’ve also done it in other cities. We’re about average. If you’re seeking perfection you won’t find it, but our roads are on par with other large western cities.

    As for your wants with the utilities, well, we all have wants. At some point infrastructure just is what it is. There’s no real need to change all of that. Other cities tear up and repave parts of the road just fine, it’s not super difficult. We just have to have stricter standards for filling in asphalt when some utility work needs to be done, that would solve almost all of the rough road issues.

    The timeline now is what, 50 years?

    Some parts already have it, 2029 is the timeline for most of the rest. That’s not unreasonable without shutting down the subway.

    perhaps we wouldn’t need this mobility if we had more things available closer to us.

    It’s not your place to control other people’s travel habits. The fact that you don’t want or need to fly means nothing to others who do.

  • Joe R.

    $50 for a car service in lieu of a $5 subway round trip is a lot of f-ing money where I come from. For most of my adult life that’s a day’s wages. Not to mention I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect of riding in car services the way these people drive. To say they drive like gorillas would be an understatement. The hard fact is Penn Station is a lot more convenient for me than any of the airports. I can reliably get there in 45 minutes, give or take. And I can arrive 5 minutes before my train leaves without any concern of missing it due to being delayed in a security line. It boggles my mind why anyone even bothers flying after all the 9/11 security bullshit. The sad part is it’s not even making anything safer.

    Other cities tear up and repave parts of the road just fine, it’s not super difficult. We just have to have stricter standards for filling in asphalt when some utility work needs to be done, that would solve almost all of the rough road issues.

    We don’t even have strict standards for repaving. Road work mostly seems to be low quality. A freshly paved road will have ripples and won’t be flush with manhole covers. It wasn’t like this 25 years ago. When roads were repaved they were as smooth as glass, at least until ConEd broke up the street again 6 months later. That brings me to another thing we do awfully—coordination. They just repaved Jewel Avenue by me last fall. And now it’s all broken up from ongoing water main work. Doesn’t anyone have any common sense? They should have left it alone, did the work, then repaved it. What will happen most likely when the work is done is we’ll have crappy patches for the next 15 or 20 years until the next repaving. The problem isn’t utility work. It’s the fact we don’t coordinate things so roads aren’t repaved then broken up soon after. It’s almost like clockwork. A road will be in shitty condition for years. It’ll finally get repaved. Then 6 months later it gets broken up and it’s in shitty condition for the next 20 years. This time I’m going to push to get all the streets by me repaved once the utility work is complete. I know the city won’t do this on their own. There’s probably people in auto repair shops giving kickbacks to the city to keep streets in poor shape to give them more business. You also have the mob connected companies doing the repair work. Why do a good job when you can get paid 6 times for filling the same pothole? Fact is these people don’t care. The entire system is broke.

    If you’re seeking perfection you won’t find it, but our roads are on par with other large western cities.

    So this is like saying it’s OK to have roaches if all your neighbors have the same number of roaches. Compare our streets to western Europe. That’s the standards we should aim for. I think the Netherlands has the highest standards for street quality. I’ve seen pictures of them rebuilding streets which looked in better shape than a freshly repaved street in NYC.

    It’s not your place to control other people’s travel habits. The fact that you don’t want or need to fly means nothing to others who do.

    It is when I’m subject to the negative externalities of their travel habits. If people think having airports near cities is so wonderful, then start altering the flight paths so planes don’t fly over populated areas. You can approach both JFK and LaGuardia entirely over the sea. It might add a few minutes to flight time, but it avoids subjecting 2 million+ people to excessive noise constantly. I can’t even open my windows for most of the day on account of the noise. Before you say you shouldn’t have moved there, it wasn’t a problem when we moved here 38 years ago. Maybe the FAA should have thought of noise impacts before allowing the addition of so many flights. If we don’t do something, you’ll be seeing a growing movement to have the local airports shut down. They’re not good neighbors.

    By the way, I *can’t* fly. I’ve been on the do not fly list since 2002. I’m not getting into why on a public forum.

  • bolwerk

    I don’t think we need to kill ourselves with vanity transit. Conventional HSR (sub-HSR, really) should be able to reach a place like Stewart out of Grand Central faster than any mode mix can currently reach JFK or Newark under normal circumstances.

  • JamesR

    To my knowledge there are no MetroCard machines anywhere within the entire Bee-Line system. I think MetroCards can be purchased within certain bodegas or delis in urban areas within the county, though, and since Bee-Line is in essence a transportation system of last resort used by people who don’t vote, the powers that be probably deem this setup sufficient.

  • kevd

    yeah. wasn’t always that way. but if you can have HSR from London to France (UK isn’t Schengen) then you could have it from Toronto or Montreal to NYC. Kinda surprised Canada is working on something for their side of that triangle. Their land use is far from European, but their suburbs tend to be a bit less sprawl-y than our own.

  • kevd

    denver recently opened commuter rail to the airport.
    maglev from airports to city centers are great as vanity projects but nowhere near as useful or cost effective as normal, old fashioned heavy rail.
    Union Station Denver to DVI is 37 minutes over 23 miles with 6 intermediate stops.
    Way better than we’re doing here (granted, exurban Denver prairie ain’t eastern Queens suburbs…).

  • reasonableexplanation

    $50 for a car service in lieu of a $5 subway round trip is a lot of f-ing money where I come from.
    Okay? Don’t pay it. you can take a car from eastern queens (19min) or you can take transit (1+hours). Which makes sense to you is your choice, and depends on how you value your time.

    There are 3 main ways to get to JFK, a $50 cab ride, ~$12 for the LIRR/Airtrain combo, or $7.75 for subway+airtrain. All three have plenty of takers. People put different values on their time.

    To say they drive like gorillas would be an understatement.

    I’ve been in both good and bad car services. The ones I keep using are the good ones. You can do the same, there’s plenty of choice.

    It boggles my mind why anyone even bothers flying after all the 9/11 security bullshit.

    …seriously? It boggles your mind why people keep flying?

    So this is like saying it’s OK to have roaches if all your neighbors have the same number of roaches.

    It is though, isn’t it? That’s part of the deal with living in an apartment building; you can be as clean as you want, but if your neighborhs arent, you’re going to get some spillover roaches from them from time to time, and there’s not much you can do about it.

    You can look at pictures all you want, but other big, western cities have similar road problems. Amsterdam is tiny, so you should look at paris, london, Madrid, etc. I’ve biked and driven there. Roads are comparable.

    I can’t even open my windows for most of the day on account of the noise.

    http://www.southoxford.com/images/flight-path-FAA_wide1.jpg
    That’s the flight path for the airports. where would you reroute the planes?

    it wasn’t a problem when we moved here 38 years ago

    Well, you have rose colored glasses on then. Planes used to be far louder. That’s a fact. They’re far quieter now, you may just be more annoyed by them as you age. ‘Get off my lawn’ syndrome or similar.

  • Joe R.

    Totally agree with you and bolwerk that rail is just fine for getting to/from distant airports. I mentioned maglev to show that if distance is really a concern, we can cut travel times drastically if we’re willing to spend the money. Truth is if rail gives us a 30 minute trip and maglev a 15 minute trip, I seriously question if maglev is worth the bother. Maglev really only comes into its own in three scenarios:

    1) Lots of closely spaced stops over a fairly long run. Here the superior acceleration of maglev can give you twice the average speed of rail or better.

    2) Long distance travel where the 50 to 75 mph or so speed advantage of maglev over HSR saves you perhaps an hour or more. Probably still not worth it from a cost standpoint but this is one area where at least maglev starts to make at least a little sense.

    3) Very long distances running in evacuated tubes. Here is where maglev really could come into its own, besting even the speed of supersonic airliners. Unfortunately, most of the cost estimates for this type of system are off the charts. I’d love to see this spanning continents and oceans, but I think this is something for the 22nd century, not the 21st. We just don’t have the means to build it cost effectively now. Maybe with robotic labor in 50 or 75 years it’ll be feasible.

  • kevd

    Interesting – a couple of points though I do not think they take away from the over all argument.

    There are only a handful of places where HSR hits 200mph – possibly in Japan and China – i’m not familiar with their systems.
    France has begun building LGVs to 320kmph / 200mph speeds with its LGV Est to Strasbourg.

    Here is a map of European lines. I was on the one from Madrid – Barcelona and the train never passed 186mph. So I don’t necessarily trust it. Perhaps the the Renfe Ave trainsets have not yet been upgraded to 200mph operation.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dacb4c3396b6d034be361df7f15e2912200882dc09e100e62b9056894fe8a7da.png

    Also, ticket aren’t necessarily cheap. That Paris-Barcelona one way from yesterday? EUR 109 is the cheapest you can get it for. A bargain compared to Amtrak, but compared to low cost airlines, not a steal. Malaga-BCN was EUR 59. But about a month in advance, one of the last tickets available at a really inconvenient time, on a route that only gets 2 AVE trains / day.
    Also, if you miss your train, just like with a plane you are SOL. The next train is most likely sold out. They sell out day or weeks in advance and have reserved seats.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve read similar things regarding the pricing. I think it’s a supply-demand type of thing. The fact the trains regularly sell out means the supply isn’t adequate. Amtrak actually has pretty much the same problem on the NEC. It can’t add trains even though it could likely fill twice as many trains or more if prices were cut to match the low-cost airlines. Europe might have similar capacity constraints.

    I’m also a bit puzzled why airfares are so low. I know in the US air travel is actually heavily subsidized:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/mcgee/2015/09/02/how-much-do-taxpayers-support-airlines/71568226/

    https://skift.com/2015/04/09/wikileaks-disclosure-shows-u-s-airlines-received-billions-in-subsidies/

    Now I’m not against blanket subsidies for most forms of transportation, but as you mentioned air travel is either leisure or business. Businesses can and should pay the full cost of it. So should leisure travelers. I wonder if Europe subsidizes airlines just as much? They likely don’t subject jet fuel to the same heavy taxes motorists pay for gasoline. That could be an indirect subsidy of sorts.

    I personally feel if rail were put on an even economic playing field it would win hands down every time. The cheapest fares would always be by rail unless capacity were constrained. For freight nothing beats rail. The freight railroads in the US not only don’t get subsidies, but they pay real estate taxes. And yet they’re still profitable. It’s just inherent to the mode. Nothing beats steel wheels on steel rails for moving tons of cargo or lots of people.

  • bolwerk

    Re immigration, if this continent could get a grip, NYC to Detroit via Buffalo and Hamilton, Ontario, would be good use of current infrastructure. A spur to Toronto is out of the way, but certainly that’s a city large enough to be justified. It’s always English-speaking countries with those bonehead immigration policies. Imagine if Germans behaved like that; they’d be accused of letting nazism resurface.

    Canada is a bit of a mixed bag too maybe. Not sure about Montreal, but Toronto and Ottawa seem pretty prone to bad decisionmaking. Meanwhile, OTOH, right-wing Calgary arguably has the most successful light rail implementation on the continent.

  • ahwr

    Do you have a better source on airline subsidies?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/tedreed/2015/04/14/u-s-airlines-have-paid-the-government-250-billion-amazingly-some-claim-they-are-subsidized/#320f0a096530

    The freight railroads in the US not only don’t get subsidies, but they pay real estate taxes.

    Do you consider zoning to protect freight and industry land uses from being outbid by residential/commercial to be a subsidy? Trains being given right of way over other traffic? Federal preemption of local noise and other regulations? Was freight movement by trucks historically less subsidized than passenger movement by cars? Why did the railroads shed passenger lines and focus on freight?

    I wonder if Europe subsidizes airlines just as much?

    I don’t know, but they subsidize their railroads.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Europe#Subsidies

  • bolwerk

    Amtrak can probably run as many trains as it wants between DC and Penn. They’re running ~2 an hour now, which is a lot, and they seem quite happy with the high demand-high price equilibrium the NEC has developed, probably because they’re under constant pressure to be profitable. A European operation would probably squeeze much more seats into the “coach” class. That could be a fairly low cost proposition to increase utilization of their regional services. Hell, I use it enough where I’d be happy to pay less for less comfort at the same speed.

    (I don’t think airlines are that heavily subsidized, barring local subsidies to encourage routes in small cities. Throughout their history they have had some extravagant bailouts though.)