Today’s Headlines

  • Carolyn Maloney Ready to Work With Trump on Second Avenue Subway (NY1AMNY, DNA)
  • Schumer Says Trump Can’t Punish NYC for Protecting Immigrants (Politico)
  • Discounted MetroCards Get Union Support (AMNY)
  • Cuomo Can Save Lives by Backing NYC Speed Cameras (Voice)
  • More Coverage of Margaret Chin’s Remarks on Placard Abuse (AMNY)
  • BQX Director: “Self-Financed” Streetcar Expected to Be Operational in 2024 (DNA)
  • DOT Stops Using Plaza Under Manhattan Bridge for Storage (Bklyn Paper)
  • Cuomo Said He Wants to Build a Greenway From Manhattan to Canada (R’dale Press)
  • Jamaica NYPD Parking Garage to Be Replaced by Affordable Housing and NYPD Parking (DNA)
  • NYC Neighborhoods That Backed Trump Most at Risk From Climate Change (Curbed)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Joe R.

    Well, good news on the Second Avenue subway. If the feds really come through with $14.2 billion, I see no reason why that couldn’t be enough to go from Hanover Square all the way to city limits in the Bronx if watch the spending carefully. These big infrastructure projects shouldn’t be a free-for-all gravy train for everyone politically connected.

    Let’s all try to get funding for outer borough subway expansion. That’s probably needed more than the SAS.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The are calling the streetcar “self-financed” by exempting future development from property taxes, but having them pay for the streetcar. Other NYC residents would then be forced to pay taxes and forego services to pay for the future public services that the residents of those untaxed buildings receive.

    But DeBlasio also wants to exempt new buildings from property taxes, but require them to provide affordable housing. And Cuomo also wants to exempt new businesses from taxes, and require builders to pay more to construction workers who commute in from the suburbs.

    This is the kind of stupidity you end up with in the state with the highest existing tax burden anywhere, the highest debt load anywhere, the richest public employee pensions anywhere, the most senior benefits anywhere, and all the existing tax revenues getting sucked up by all of the above.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The only part of the rest of the Second Avenue Subway that is “for Manhattan” is the two stops at 106th and 116th Streets, and the portion below Houston. And the portion below Houston should not be built — it should be hooked into the “F” line tracks north of Delancey with a connection from the Gold Street interlocking to the Rutgers Tunnel on the other end. And there is no need for stations at both 34th and 23rd.

    The rest of the SAS would allow residents of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens to get to the hospital and university complexes on the East River and to East Midtown without using the overcrowded Lex.

    With transfers at 125th Street (4,5,6 from the Bronx and Metro North), a train off the Queens Boulevard line going down 2nd Avenue from the 63rd Street tunnel, destination stations at 55th Street and 42nd Street in East Midtown (with perhaps underground pedestrian passages to the west to attract those going as far west as Lexington Ave), a destination station from 25th to 28th (you don’t need two), and a transfer station from the L at 14th Street. And then a transfer from the J/M and Delancey, and the F at East Broadway.

  • Joe R.

    All good points. Regardless of what’s actually built, I think for once we should control spending very carefully on this. The Feds might be more likely to come through with funding for other big projects in the future if they saw we were actually able to stretch a dollar instead of the other way around. That might play to Trump’s sensibilities as well. I just get tired of seeing the pigs lining up at the trough every time there’s another big project proposal.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I don’t blame you.

    They want $6 billion for phase 2. I’d bid it out for $2 billion with certain specifications, design build, promise $5 billion for 63rd Street south with stations at 55th, 42nd, 14th and perhaps $25th to 28th, and another $1billion to connect to the Culver on both ends.

    Also, 12 months maximum of all-out construction 6 am to 10 pm for surface disruption for stations, etc, not 10 years of “limited impact.”

    No one shows up with a reasonable proposal? Pull the bid back. And bid it again in 12 months, and add the rate of inflation. Keep doing it until someone finds a way to build it. And limit those progress payments so a contractor can’t grab a majority of the money for a minority of the work and skip town.

  • bolwerk

    Are they actually exempting new construction along the route from property taxes? [Emphasis mine..]

    The BQX will be funded with “value capture” bonds, which
    count on money from anticipated increased property taxes along a new
    transit system’s route to pay for the project, Giambrone told the CB8
    transportation committee meeting Tuesday.

    Doesn’t say they are, but also doesn’t say they aren’t. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t know ass from elbow about who is exempt from what and why.

    I agree equivocation is pointless, and damaging to transit advocates mainly because it sows distrust with the public. However, it’s also not a zero-sum game. Almost any transit improvement at that scale in NYC almost certainly exceeds its cost in economic benefits several times over, even if the value capture fails.

    Of course, that is exactly why Crown Heights deserve a streetcar or light rail system before the waterfront.

  • Larry Littlefield

    In other places, developers are required to make contributions to infrastructure funds up front. And then property taxes are used for public services.

    “Almost any transit improvement at that scale in NYC.”

    Not almost any. Many. But not this one.

    Compare this with a straight show light rail along, say, Union Turnpike. No twists and turns, in an area distant from subways to a subway transfer. And with lots of highways nearby, so the motor vehicles can’t complain. If we didn’t get ripped off on the cost, the operating cost savings vs. the bus from MU plus the longer lifespan of light rail vehicles might pay for the thing.

    That streetcar route is not there to be used. It is there for brochures to sell condos, kind of like the “yoga room” they put in expecting few will turn out to ever go there. And thus there will be little in operating revenues to go with the cost. The only destination I can think of to go with the origin is the Navy Yard. But the route doesn’t have enough subway transfer points to get people there.

  • AMH

    Major development: a number of states are criminalizing protest that that obstructs traffic in any way, some going so far as to permit homicide by vehicle.

  • Toddster

    Not sure if anyone caught it on WNYC this morning, but very disappointing to hear our mayor, who claims to be the voice of progressive issues, reaffirm that the NYPD should treat fare evasion as a criminal offense instead of a civil issue.

    Does anyone know if he has he spoke out at all about the push for affordable Metrocards for low-income New Yorkers? This sounds like a backalley way to bring back stop and frisk.

    Once again, Deblasio blindly default to HIS NYPD instead of leading the agency and actually pushing progressive issues forward.

  • bolwerk

    I think you have this backwards . Union Turnpike is remote, kind of car dependent, and every technical characteristic of it I can see suggests a bus would be fine until ridership climbs into the stratosphere. I have my disagreements with BQX, but the broad corridor between Williamsburg and Red Hook seems pretty condign for a streetcar. Buses are much worse with twists and turns than rail, and more dangerous for pedestrians too.

    I’m not current on the subway matter. I would say I’m more wary of the BQX route north of Broadway as a general matter.

    There is also time to consider. Locking in $3.50/ride in capital costs to get much cheaper OE might still pay off by midlife of BQX, where we can probably expect buses to cost closer to $6/trip to operate if current inflation holds.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The problem is the lack of destinations there, and the way it twists and turns.

  • bolwerk

    I’m not sure I would credit either of those as demand-side problems. No alternative mode handles twists and turns better, unless you can build a gently curving subway underneath several blocks without regard to streets?

    Lack of destinations? Downtown Brooklyn, Red Hook, several modestly popular commercial areas, the Navy Yard, some large housing projects, a big residential transit gap between downtown Brooklyn and the J Train.

    I probably complained about the bad subway transfer opportunities before almost anyone, not to mention the absurd construction costs, and therein lie most of the project risks. But I still don’t see why it wouldn’t be attractive to users along the corridor or, in some cases, even going to the corridor.

  • If there was a streetcar along Union Turnpike then Creedmoor could be more attractively redeveloped into housing or a community-college campus.

  • ahwr

    BQX study gave ~15 million rides a year in 2035, at $3.50/ride that’s ~ $53 million a year. That doesn’t cover interest on $2.5 billion in bonds. Capital costs per ride are higher than you think.

    Giambrone says his research shows the operating cost “comes in at a cost of a little less than a local bus,” per rider, he said at the meeting.

    Doesn’t exactly square with your much cheaper OE claim.

    Also for what it’s worth, Q46 weekday ridership is close to the 2020 ridership projection the 2015 BQX report gave.

  • bolwerk

    Oh, funny, I thought I was high-balling.

    I looked up the report and pulled the numbers out. I used a loan formula instead of bonds because bonds are annoying, and this should be close enough if I’m not mistaken. $10.68 borrowing costs/rider?

    This is rather fugly.

    I’ll try look at it more tomorrow, kind of rushed right now.

  • bolwerk

    How much remains of the Creedmoor LIRR branch? Maybe it could be LRTized.

    (I don’t know much about that area.)

  • ahwr

    LIRR Creedmoor branch went east of Creedmoor. Maybe you’re thinking of the central RR right of way.

    The Flushing-Creedmoor section was abandoned in the late 1800s. No intact right of way exists on the former alignment. If you don’t like union tpke for some reason then extend the hillside subway east and turn north around Winchester blvd to go to Creedmoor.

  • Joe R.

    Probably extending the subway from 179th east is indeed the most logical thing to do first if we start subway expansion in Queens. Greater density there than on Union Turnpike plus logistically you’re just extending an existing run, rather than adding new runs from a new line (with all the capacity issues that might entail).

    That said, probably Jewel Avenue is the most logical place to put a new line. It would be right smack in the middle of the subway desert which exists between the Flushing line and the Queens Boulevard line. It could neatly connect with the express stop at Forest Hills. You could keep the line on Jewel Avenue until it ends, then go further east probably along the LIE (although 73rd Avenue or Union Turnpike are other possibilities). And while we’re talking about expansion, of course extend the #7 to city limits along Northern Boulevard and the Astoria Line to LaGuardia Airport. You could probably also use a few N-S connections to take care of trips which don’t involve going into Manhattan. Extending the A north and then west to LaGuardia might not be a horrible idea.

  • bolwerk

    It’s not “like” to me, but I guess I just see LRT and streetcars as making more sense in the more economically diverse inner city.

    I think a subway that way makes a lot more sense, since it would serve a community that might demand longer trips.

  • Joe R.

    A better question here might be what can LRT and streetcars do better in the inner city than buses? Sure, they offer a more comfortable ride, and possibly higher capacity because we can transport a few hundred people with only one operator. They’re also amenable to being electrified. However, unless we grade separate significant portions of the route, and/or give the vehicles priority at busy intersections via crossing gates, they’re not any faster than buses. Economically, they may or may not make sense depending upon how much it costs to build them relative to the savings in operation.

    Another issue here is a lot of light rail projects in this country have ended up costing nearly as much to build as subways for reasons I can’t fathom. That being the case, you might as well build a full-fledged subway with all the huge benefits that entails.

  • bolwerk

    At least four factors I can think of could make streetcars/LRT faster than buses generally: more doors/longer vehicles, electrification, faster/less risky turns, and the ability to use railroad failsafe features. Buses can get two of the first three I guess, but longer buses don’t make turns as well.

    Some light rail projects are partially grade-separated, so it’s not unreasonable for them to at least approach subway costs in those sections.

  • ahwr

    Aren’t the tracks to the yard for the QB locals real close to union turnpike? Can’t extend the local trains down union?

    Also union came up in terms of surface rail, not a subway.