Today’s Headlines

  • Huge Swaths of Brooklyn Still Have No Bike Infrastructure (NYT)
  • Yellow Cabs Are Occupied Just 46 Percent of the Time They’re on the Streets (WSJ, NY1)
  • The Case Against Fare Evasion Arrests and For Discounted MetroCards (News)
  • Cyclist Doored Then Run Over on Graham Ave in Brooklyn, in Critical Condition (News)
  • Driver Hits and Kills Woman Standing By Disabled Car on BQE (ABC7)
  • Unlicensed Driver Backing Up to Park Minivan Critically Injures 67-Year-Old Man (Post)
  • Court Upholds GPS Tracking in Yellow Cabs (Post)
  • The Petition for a Bike Lane on Classon Avenue Now Has 5,000 Signatures (Bklyn Paper)
  • Assembly Member Ron Castorina Postures Against Red Light Enforcement (DNA)
  • Columnist Michael Goodwin Is a Real Moron’s Moron on Bike Infrastructure (Post — Scroll Down)
  • Amtrak Announces Purchase of Bigger, Faster Acela Trains (NYT)
  • Listen to the Click-Clack of the Amtrak Departure Board While You Still Can (NYT)
  • Larry Littlefield

    RE: fare evasion. It is amazing how similar the “right” and the “left” are. That article on allowing fare evasion sounds exactly like the Republican campaign against the IRS. Make taxes low and fare and people will stop cheating, except those who really have to.

    The voice of a generation there. Despite all the loud debates, the majority opinion appears to be both liberal and conservative. Liberal in what people want to take out. Conservative in what people want to put in.

    Who needs to become better off, relative to everyone else? Those who are poorer. Those who are richer and thus “contributors?” How about those who feel the greatest sense of entitlement? THAT is the interest our elected officials can relate to.

    Or, to put the argument better for this audience, why all this draconian motor vehicle traffic and parking violation enforcement? Why not just put those resources into allowing people to go as fast as they want to and park where they please? We’ve heard that one too, haven’t we?

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Cyclist Doored Then Run Over

    Looks like street design is working as intended.

    http://i.imgur.com/gKRr5at.jpg

  • I may have missed the discussion of this story in the Post:

    City to destroy safety barriers for West Indian Day Parade floats (NY Post). How is this not generating tons of outrage?

  • Joe R.

    On the new Acela trains, I wonder if Amtrak is going to get an FRA waiver so they don’t come in grossly overweight like the originals? While we’re at it, the new ACS-64 locomotives are capable of 135 mph. I hope Amtrak’s next order of passenger cars are rated for the same. It’ll probably be a while before we get dedicated HSR lines, so might out well squeeze every bit of speed we can out of existing infrastructure.

  • Joe R.

    I don’t get it, either. The city spent a lot of money installing those barriers. Now it’s going to remove them just to accommodate something which happens once a year????? And why didn’t someone think of any potential issues before the barriers were installed? This is how children think—don’t plan ahead, just do something, and deal with any problems on the fly (or don’t deal with them). We need to put some adults in charge of things in this city.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    WTF? Are these floats more than 2 lanes wide? How do they get them to and from the parade route in the first place?

  • Guest

    Here’s a great bit of Newspeak from DOT:
    “due to safety concerns involving parade participants.”

  • Kevin Love

    Read the article. Nobody is advocating fare evasion. The proposal is that the present over-the-top draconian enforcement be scaled back and that the resources saved should be put into low-cost Metrocards for the poor.

    I do not know anywhere else in the world where people go to jail for fare evasion. Does anyone else know of any other country that does this? Somehow, everywhere else manages to enforce fares without spending $460 per day to send people to jail for a $2.75 fare violation.

    Let’s not forget the permanent criminal record. Yes, the solution to people not being able to afford fares is to make it really, really hard for them to get a job. That’s just crazy.

  • Guest

    Note it was the NYPD that instigated this story.

    They suddenly care so much about pedestrian safety… when it becomes an argument against the West Indian parade!

  • bolwerk

    I don’t remember the details anymore, but I thought the buff strength regulations get sunsetted when PTC is implemented? The article says they’re capable of 186 mph, which isn’t too shabby.

    Re the headline: aging though? They’re not even 20 years old, and should live to 40 or 50.

    And I still think they’re fundamentally doing HSR the wrong way, turning it into a premium service. It should be largely “coach” class. It should be accessible to the general public. Really you don’t need anymore comfort than a commuter train or bus when you can do Washington to New York in under 3 hours. Do what Megabus and BoltBus do: pile as many bodies in as you can. Done properly, it could be arranged so you could live in New York and work in Philadelphia.

  • bolwerk

    Another country? Wild guess: Singapore.

  • bolwerk

    Concur with Kevin. I can’t see how what you are talking about relates to the article at all. It’s completely daft for fare evasion to be something you arrest over. Anything related to this topic belongs in the civil sphere. As a practical matter, it is preferable to tolerate some fare evasion than have an over-bearing security state. If right-wingers understand this (some do, most are too asshole or stupid), good for them.

    A sane judge or prosecutor, who finds a homeless person evading the fare to get to a social services appointment, or a job interview of all things, really could just let that go. It’s usually pretty easy to tell who is desperate and who is being a malicious mook. Any cop not emotionally intelligent enough to do it shouldn’t be a cop.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Importantly, 90% of these fines are the result of tickets for fare-evasion. The audit leaves unaddressed the larger question of whether public transit should be funded in this manner, on the backs of New Yorkers unable to afford the rising fares but still needing to move about the city for work or other appointments.”

    “Likewise, the audit neglects to question whether fines, which increased to $100 in 2008, went unpaid because people who skip out on $2.75 might not be able to afford them.”

    The person who wrote this is against the fines, not just the arrests. And the arrests are for people without IDs, who could use false names and never pay the fine.

    This person advocates “preventative measures” instead of tickets. Like what?

    If society believes people should have a free fare it should give it to them. Just making it easier to evade the fare just means it isn’t means tested and “costs nothing” because the transit system will cover it somehow. How?

    We’ve done this before. We know what the consequences are. What’s the point: we’ve already done the retroactive pension increases and the debts, so let’s bring back fare evasion too?

  • Kevin Love

    No, actually. Even Singapore’s new “Tougher measures” are merely higher fines to a not-so-whopping $S50. No jail time. See:

    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/tougher-measures-to-be/2547304.html

    While reading the article, please notice how public transit fares were REDUCED 1.9% last year.

  • Kevin Love

    Like what? Like a low cost Metrocard so poor people can afford to pay fares. And funding this by cutting down on the over-the-top expensive enforcement.

    That is what the article advocates. That “preventative measure” works for me.

  • Joe R.

    That’s exactly the case. Besides the $460 per day to incarcerate these people, a permanent criminal record makes them unemployable. That means many tens of thousands in welfare payments over their lifetimes. It’s probably less costly when you consider that to just not bother enforcing fare evasion, even if fare evaders increase ten-fold.

    Also, any sane society would have so-called public transit 100% subsidized so there would be no fare.

  • Kevin Love

    I wonder what the total cost is of fare collection and enforcement?

  • Joe R.

    Agreed. If we get rid of the slowest parts of the corridor, increase speeds where they can be increased, then you could probably get NYC to Washington running times down to 2:15 or even 2 hours. At that point, you probably don’t even need meal service unless you’re running from Washington to Boston. Yes, pack as many people in as possible, like the Japanese do on their Shinkansen. 3 + 2 seating works fine. Come to think of it, why didn’t we buy Shinkansen trainsets instead? They accelerate better than locomotive-hauled sets. On the NEC with its constantly changing speed limits that could shave more than a few minutes off schedules. Or maybe I’m missing something and the new Acela sets will have some axles on the intermediate cars powered.

  • Joe R.

    Good question. My guess is at least 25% of the fares collected, possibly more.

  • AMH

    Yes, 20 years is a ridiculously short lifespan. Amtrak is starved for equipment and can’t afford to ditch anything–perhaps they’ll overhaul the old Acela trainsets to replace/supplement the Amfleet cars? Those are rock-solid but significantly older and in need of another overhaul.

  • AMH

    One estimate puts it at 6% of the entire budget.

  • AMH

    Look at the language used in the story:

    “…he slammed into an open car door, flipped off his bike into the street and was run over by another car…”

    Sounds like some crazy stunt biker, slamming into things and doing flips. How about “a careless driver opened a car door directly into a bike lane, knocking a cyclist in front of a moving vehicle.”

  • ahwr

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/nyregion/after-mta-setbacks-no-swipe-fare-cards-are-still-stuck-in-the-future.html

    An authority pamphlet from 2010 estimated that “the M.T.A. spends 15 cents of each fare dollar just to sell or collect that fare.”

  • ahwr

    Also, any sane society would have so-called public transit 100% subsidized so there would be no fare.

    What society is sane?

  • AMH

    Am I reading this correctly? People use pedicabs as a substitute for taxis?

    From the WSJ on Yellow Cabs: “Sarah Morse, a 64-year-old who lives on the Upper East Side, approached the same street hoping one of the many yellow taxis driving by would notice her. In previous years she said she was forced to take a pedicab to her destination because there were no available taxis.”

  • qrt145

    I guess the pedicab is an option if you are incapable of walking and have lots of money to throw away. Given their rates, a short ride might cost $50 or more.

  • Joe R.

    Pretty much the same thing is true of taking a regular cab. Cabs and car services are something which exists mostly for the upper middle class and the wealthy. Regular middle class people can’t afford to take them on a regular basis. Last time I rode a cab was over a decade ago, and then only because the person I was working for paid for it.

  • qrt145

    While I agree that cabs are not an option for most people for daily trips, they are used by plenty of non-rich people for some trips, and are in a completely different league than pedicabs in terms of price. The cab equivalent of the $50 pedicab trip mentioned above might cost $10. It depends on conditions of course, but consider that the marginal rate for taxis in slow traffic is $0.50 / min, while pedicabs typically charge $3-$5 / min.

  • Driver

    Just because you are not willing to pay for a cab does not mean you cannot afford to take one. There are plenty of livery cab services based in and serving traditionally poorer areas of the the city.

  • Driver

    Come on, she probably did that once. Let’s not get carried away with the news quote from some random person on the street and think that this is something people generally do.

  • Joe R.

    It’s more a combination of unable to and not seeing much point. Cabs are actually slower than the subway most hours of the day. They’re not fast enough even off hours to make them worthwhile to me given how much they cost compared to subway fare.

    The poor certainly don’t use cabs or car services on any kind of regular basis. For a lot of the working poor, the subway fare takes a big bite out of their income.

  • Elizabeth F

    I’ve been wondering that too. The Amtrak copy claims these trains are “30% lighter” and “20% more efficient.” Which would mean they have made them lighter, but probably not with an FRA waiver.

    I’m also wondering if they’ll manage to NOT build these trainsets 4″ too wide, which had disastrous effects on the NYC-BOS travel time of the current Acelas (American Flyers).

    I agree… why do the American Flyers need replacing, when the old Amfleet is still doing just fine? I get the sense the American Flyers are a white elephant. But it looks like these will only be marginally better:

    https://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2015/09/22/amtrak-pays-more-than-double-for-high-speed-trains/

  • kevd

    plenty of middle class people take cabs.
    plenty of poor people take cabs.
    Not every day, but occasionally, or even regularly.
    an 5 mile cab ride will set one back, what? $20?
    Thats a few hundred yards in a pedicab.
    They are not even remotely the same thing.

  • walks bikes drives

    They were also quick to point out that the car was parked legally, but not quick to point out that the driver opening the door is legally at fault.

  • Andrew

    Come on, isn’t it good enough that the driver complied with one law? You can’t seriously expect a driver to comply with everything, can you?

  • bolwerk

    I dunno. The article made it sound like they were dumping them, but I long ago learned to take NYT articles on transportation with a grain of salt.

    It would make perfect sense to use them in on other routes. Guess there aren’t many options though. The electrification thing. Overall they’re even nice trains.

  • walks bikes drives

    Oh man, I totally missed that the driver followed a law. No criminality suspected! There are so many laws about driving out there, who could expect everyone to know them. Especially since so many of them aren’t real. Next you are going to hear drivers will have to start taking classes and actually be expected to pass a test before they can exercise their God given right to drive a car.

  • Some Asshole

    Places like East Flatbush, where public transportation is usually slow and/or lacking.

  • Some Asshole

    But it has to be perfectly down the center of the street!

  • Flakker

    Given the subsidized in-city rate of taxis, and the possibilities of getting multiple people in one it’s not an unreasonable expense in all circumstances for all but the poorest.

  • Flakker

    Amtrak has severe pricing problems in general. Why is a NYP-WAS Acela ride $88 at 3 AM when you try to get it the night before? These trains are running mostly empty, they should be dropping prices to the point where one can get last-minute deals like airlines.

  • Joe R.

    I’m surprised pedicabs get any business at all if they’re really that expensive. Those prices pretty much relegate them to a tourist thing, like the horse carriages in Central Park. If the goal is to substitute human power in such a way as to keep the fare affordable, we might be better off using ricksaws. Seems there would be less a barrier to entry for something like that than for pedicabs. It might be something welfare recipients could do to make a little cash money on the side.

    As for cabs, to me it’s a question of what are you getting in return for paying 5 to 10 times what the subway costs more than one of whether or not you can afford $20? From where I stand not much. I often pace cabs walking in Manhattan, so no advantage in terms of speed, especially compared to the subway. Ride quality sucks compared to rail transit, so again no advantage there. Comfort? Maybe a slight edge if the car doesn’t smell of urine, exhaust fumes, body odor, or what the driver had for lunch. Then again, being in almost any car in traffic makes me ill, no matter how comfortable the seats might be compared to the subway. Off-peak going to the outer boroughs there may be speed advantage compared to the subway, but to me saving 20 or 30 minutes isn’t worth $20 more. Other than my present consulting position, I’ve never had that kind of an hourly rate.

    I recall my brother mentioning being with his friends in Manhattan once when they wanted to go from Rockefeller Center to Times Square. They were telling him let’s split a cab. My brother looked at them like they were nuts. A cab to go maybe 10 blocks? These were all people in reasonable physical condition, not carrying anything heavy either. I guess few people actually logically analyze things the way my family does. I might see a cab being potentially useful to someone middle class the once or twice a year you take one. I can’t see it being worthwhile more than that unless someone is too disabled to walk far or use public transit. In fact, I really feel paratransit should be the main function of cabs in a place like NYC. MTA has failed miserably in that role with its expensive and unreliable Access-A-Ride. Private taxis would do much better.

  • Joe R.

    Note the address-UES. Dropping $50 on a pedicab is like you or I spending a quarter to many who live in that area. I never realized how much money a lot of these people have until I went into a Century 21. These are often touted for their “great” bargains. $300 for a shirt which is as thin as tissue paper somehow doesn’t seem like a bargain to me. In fact, I got sticker shock at virtually everything in the store. Not because of the actual prices, but because of the store’s supposed reputation as a discount place. If these are discounted prices, then I hate to see regular retail.

    The fact is I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she did indeed use pedicabs on a regular basis. These people live in a different world from the one you or I do. For much of my working life, $50 was a day’s take-home wages and then some. In fact, I even did the day laborer thing for a while after getting out of college because it was all I could get. Go to Jackson Heights, wait for the vans, get $20 or so for 8 to 10 hours work (and hope they actually pay you, which wasn’t always a given). I felt like a wealthy person when I finally got a regular job at $7 an hour. When I was eventually making almost $11, I was thrilled. The wealthy can’t understand the value of a dollar. $50 pedicab rides are pocket change to them.

  • Joe R.

    The Acelas were lemons from day one. I think they’re being replaced because they cost a lot to keep in service. Also, 20 years is usually about when railway equipment has a mid-life overhaul. It may be not much less expensive to overhaul the Acelas than to just buy new equipment.

    Hopefully Amtrak learned from their mistakes. Most of the issues with the Acelas had to do with their weight. This caused truck hunting at speed, more wear, higher power usage. 17 metric tons per axle is about the most you can have on a high-speed train. Both the coaches and power cars came in over that, especially the power cars.

  • AnoNYC

    That’s crazy. What a waste.

  • AnoNYC

    What’s up with the 1st Ave bike lane between E 124th and 125th Sts? We better be getting a jersey barrier as was proposed. New lane configuration was installed over 15 days ago now.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/1ave-124St-cb11-feb2016.pdf

    I’m also so disappointed that while they moved the bicycle lane to the curbside between E 124th and 125th Sts, they left it between the outer moving and turning lanes between E 123rd and 124th!

    On the plus side, the curb running bike lane between E 124th and 125th Sts works much better. Also, the new E 124th parking protected bike lane extends al the way between 1st and 2nd Aves.

  • kevd

    “‘m surprised pedicabs get any business at all if they’re really that expensive. Those prices pretty much relegate them to a tourist thing,”
    Thats what they are.

  • djx

    “For much of my working life, $50 was a day’s take-home wages and then some. In fact, I even did the day laborer thing for a while after getting out of college because it was all I could get. Go to Jackson Heights, wait for the vans, get $20 or so for 8 to 10 hours work (and hope they actually pay you, which wasn’t always a given). I felt like a wealthy person when I finally got a regular job at $7 an hour. When I was eventually making almost $11, I was thrilled. ”

    You sound really proud of your experience. Congratulations.

  • qrt145

    I agree that taking a cab from Rockefeller Center to Times Square is, let’s say, “suboptimal” if you are able to walk.

    But there are many other kinds of trips where cabs are actually a very rational choice. As an occasional cab user (at least once a month, I’d say), let me give you some personal examples:

    To go to my child’s school or doctor (both in uptown Manhattan) takes around 45 minutes in transit, but 10 minutes and $10 in a cab. This is generally true for many “diagonal” trips which would require transfers in public transit.

    Having a three-person family, a $10 cab ride often compare with 3 * $2.75, or $8.25 MTA fare. Not a big difference.

    I sometimes want to go to a mall in the Bronx. I walk there, but often have too much stuff to carry back, so I take the $10 cab home.

    Yes, it is slightly more expensive than transit, but not outrageously so. Being an optimist, I prefer to think of it as part of a very car-lite lifestyle, where it is a huge savings when compared with owning a car.

    I use the bike when I can for these kinds of trips, but I am reluctant to park it outside too much and sometimes it’s not practical due to load or passengers. It would be nice to get one of those big cargo bikes one day, but then I don’t know if I could get it indoors easily like I can with my current bike…

  • Joe R.

    Not proud. Just the reality of someone who graduated college during a bad economy (mid 1980s), didn’t have wealthy parents, had student loans due, and had to take whatever I could get. At least things eventually turned out better for me. I’m making over $100 an hour at my present consulting gig. If it lasts another 7 years (doubtful but possible) I’ll be more or less retired at age 60 if I want to be. In truth, I would probably still take any work which comes my way if I found it interesting.