Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio Budget: Greenway Upgrade Is the Marquee Transpo Project (PoliticoNYT, AMNY, News)
  • Cuomo: I Would Do a Better Job Running Penn Station (Post); Amtrak Plan Expected Today (AMNY)
  • RPA: L Train Project Is an Opportunity for the MTA (Vice via @TransitCenter)
  • Start Planning for May 4 If You Rely on Hudson River Greenway Access (NYT)
  • NYPD Body Camera Program Debuts in the 34th Precinct (NYT)
  • Off-Duty DWI Cop Charged With Manslaughter for Van Wyck Crash (News); Post: “Accident”
  • Impaired Driver Gets 90-Day License Suspension and $500 Fine for LI Crash That Killed 4 (Post)
  • Mayoral Candidates Have Thoughts on Transit (Post)
  • Post Columnist: The Problem With Penn Station Is Penn Station
  • No, NYT, Cuomo’s New Highway Bridges Won’t Make Driving Easier

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Kevin Love

    Key quote from Larry’s link:

    “For all their possible management advantages, privately financed infrastructure will still require fat and repeated public funding subsidies to pay investors back.”

  • Yes, it’s exactly like that.

  • Kevin Love

    I spent 16 years of my life in the Army. This has given me the opinion that people who collectively allow themselves to look like a piece of s**t tend to have corresponding levels of self-discipline, self-confidence and performance.

    It is my opinion that discipline, organization and dedication to the job and the social enterprise of public transit are, in fact, key reasons for the superior performance of the Japanese subway system.

  • kevd

    “Leaders of public and private organizations take personal responsibility for the performance of the organization”
    Yup, that’s the important bit there. And that has nothing to do with how much marching around or saluting is done, or with how neatly pressed the overalls are.

  • ahwr

    But no car takes the abuse that buses take, with constant start-stop operation for hours on end every day.

    I wonder what a comparable figure for maintenance to operation hours of yellow cabs would be.

  • Joe R.

    The leaders will sometimes even go to the point of committing suicide as a means of atoning for their failure. I personally find this to be an honorable and appropriate way for a leader who has failed miserably to end their tenure. I wish it was common practice here in the US. In 2008 you would have had mass suicides of the heads of these financial corporations, plus the politicians who deregulated them. And Bush II probably would have offed himself as well.

    Here in the US failures just try to make excuses and/or pin the blame on everyone but themselves.

    Not sure how I feel about the whole dress code thing and saluting but it apparently works over there. That said, Americans dress like slobs, even by my (fairly low) standards. I get the idea of wearing something comfortable and functional, but seeing people looking and smelling like they haven’t bathed in a week is well beyond “casual Friday”.

  • Joe R.

    A better metric might be to compare how many maintenance hours per hour of operation other places have. I did find this:

    It looks like the MTA’s costs are pretty high compared to other places. Some of that may reflect the harsh operating conditions here. Some of it may just be bloat.

  • sbauman

    I wonder how much of the maintenance savings from electric buses the MTA will actually be able to realize once it switches?

    Here are the US totals for trolleybuses, according to the 2015 NTD:

    Number of Vehicle-Revenue Hours: 1.6M
    Number of Employee Hours: 3.2M

  • kevd

    “I wish it was common practice here in the US.”
    You’re a sick fuck fink.

  • Joe R.

    So if that holds for electric buses we could expect a drop from 29.5M employee hours to about 25M, all other things being equal.

  • Joe R.

    Care to explain why? If it was sort of socially expected (although by no means required) that a person who failed big time would off themselves maybe we wouldn’t have leaders who screw up big time as often as they seem to. We’re not talking here about committing suicide because the trains are late a little too often. It would only happen when you have really major screw ups, like the financial collapse in 2008, or major corruption scandals or gross incompetence ( see here: ). Those things seem to happen a lot less in Japan. Maybe they’re on to something. Or maybe we could just execute leaders who f-up royally like they do in China. For sure I would loved to have seen Nuremburg-style trials for all the major players in the 2008 collapse.

    Here in the US we have our courts and laws but the same people who are in charge control them. Moreover, there’s no real social stigma attached to gross failure. That’s another problem as well. Like I said, when leaders here fail they just make excuses or point fingers.

  • sbauman

    We recently had a story of a bus catching fire. That was an unusual story not only because of the fire, but because we rarely hear of buses breaking down at all. So the extraordinary level of maintenance is paying off in terms of reliability of the fleet.

    You are misinformed. For NYCT, according to the 2015 NTD:

    Motor bus breakdowns: 16,057
    Motor bus revenue miles: 87.7M
    Distance Between Breakdowns: 5462 miles

    Subway breakdowns: 12,689
    Subway car revenue miles: 345.4M
    Subway train revenue miles: 38.0M
    Distance between breakdowns (subway car): 27,220 miles
    Distance between breakdowns (subway train): 2995 miles

    The reason you hear so little about bus breakdowns is that each breakdown affects very few people.

  • sbauman

    What I did not show were the number of employee hours and vehicle revenue hour figures for other motor bus operators. It would be premature to re-assign 4.5M employee hours before evaluating these figures.

  • bolwerk

    Do only public sector employees need an income when they retire? A basic minimum standard pension should be applied to the public sector and everyone else alike.

    I hate being on the side of the RWAs, but I sort of have to agree: if I don’t get one, I don’t see why I should pay for one for them.

  • Joe R.

    I agree 100%. If you’re going to have pensions, they everyone gets them whether in the public or private sector, and they all have the same terms.

    Social Security was sort of meant to work like but it’s often not enough by itself to provide a minimal standard of living.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The rapid inflation of U.S. college and medical costs also shows what can go wrong when massive public financing is applied to privately run industries.”

  • Of course everyone should have a pension.  And many in the private sector used to have one, until private-sector workers began letting the owners get away with murder. 

    Meanwhile, public-sector workers stayed strong and stayed organised.  And, even though they are unfairly constrained by laws that take away their greatest weapon, the strike, they have nevertheless retained their hold on a good standard of living.

    You can seriously say “if I can’t have a pension, then no one should have one”, and not see the problem with that?  When someone first acknowledges that we all should have that kind of compensation, and then in the next breath denounces those workers who have retained their pensions, this would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.

    That’s the American worker in a nutshell.  We don’t need the oppressor to lift a finger, because we’re willing to do his work for him; we destroy ourselves by means of our lack of class consciousness..

  • Obtaining something through collective bargaining is indeed the right way.

  • kevd

    you sick fuck fink is a line from Barton Fink.
    Its a good movie.
    You should see it.

    I think managers committing suicide over failed organizations they run is the sign of a sick society.
    There’s a middle ground. Get a grip. Don’t root for suicide.

  • Joe R.

    Just to put things into perspective, the financial collapse doubtless caused at least many hundreds of people to eventually take their lives out of depression, hopelessness, inability to get out of a hole once their life savings were wiped out. That number may even be in the thousands. And then you have many thousands more, probably millions, who turned to drugs or drinking which will eventually kill them prematurely. That’s one reason average lifespans of non-college educated people in the US in some states have actually gone down.

    So to be sure, we’re talking about deaths here. Not ten million for sure, but certainly many thousands on the low end who either have died by their own hands, or will have years taken off their lives as a direct result of what a small number of people did for their own gain.

    In terms of money, at this point we typically place the value of a life at a few million dollars. The exact value depends upon who you talk to. The total cost of the 2008 collapse is about $22 trillion so far ( ). I had to look that up, and it surprised even me. I thought the real number was under $1 trillion. Anyway, let’s put the value of a human life on the high end of the range just to play Devil’s Advocate. Let’s put it at $10 million. That’s a financial loss equivalent in actuarial terms to 2.2 million lives. If we went the other way and only valued a life at $1 million then it’s 22 million lives. Now we’re getting into the same orders of magnitude as WWII. But let’s stick with the low number of 2.2 million. That’s how I arrive at my conclusions. That 2.2 million number may even turn out to mirror the number of real lives eventually lost through suicide, or cut short for other reasons (including inability to afford medical care) as a direct result of 2008.

    Or put another way, you’re a sick fuck, Joe R.

    You’re entitled to your opinion. I think it’s even sicker we’re so soft on white collar crime. To be sure, I would only advocate handing out death sentences to a handful of key players. The rest of the major players would get life imprisonment at hard labor with no possibility of parole. All would be stripped of any assets.

    The sad part is most of those who went to prison are already out, and an astonishingly small number of people were actually prosecuted:

    None of the politicians who deregulated the industry went to jail.

    Thanks to our being soft on those involved, we’re already setting ourselves up for this to happen again. Only the next time is going to precipitate a major collapse of our system, doubtless followed by shortages of vital goods. We’ll see if you’re singing the same tune five years from now or whenever it happens.

    I’ll make things even clearer for you. Let’s look at the US response to the 9/11 terror attacks which killed less than 3,000 people. We killed thousands of terrorists, over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, an undisclosed number of civilians. Over 6,000 US troops have died in combat. The 2008 collapse easily killed the same number of people by now from the causes I mentioned. Sure, it’s not the same as if the bankers came up to them with a gun, but these people are dead as an end result of a series of events started by these bankers. Forgive me if I want some justice for those who died and will die as a result of this. That may even include myself. If my assets get wiped out in the next crash I’ll be in the next wave of suicides.

    What bothers me more here isn’t our disagreement on the finer points of how we might have punished those who caused 2008 but the fact you fail to grasp the sheer magnitude of the damage caused. We’re now supposedly in an up cycle, we’re taxed like crazy, and there’s still no money to even keep the subway from breaking down. That’s mostly because we’re still paying for 2008, both directly and indirectly.


    No need to hypothesize. I just found this:

    OK, so 10,000 and counting suicide deaths as a result of 2008. Still think my response is disproportionate or that I’m a lunatic? For most of human history, we’ve considered killing just one person sufficient to merit a death sentence. Certainly we should take a similar view towards financial crimes which have the same end results.

  • kevd

    “Still think my response is disproportionate or that I’m a lunatic?”
    You clearly are.
    I’ll look up some free mental and emotional health services for you.
    You should probably look into them.

    Theft does not equal murder.

  • Joe R.

    OK, suit yourself. Hopefully I got through to people with less thick skulls. Total fucking waste of my time as far as you’re concerned.

    Given your quick response you obviously didn’t even bother to read any of the links.

  • kevd

    Cool. Not interested in engaging with sickos advocating suicide and prc style executions and comparing financial crimes with the murder of millions.
    Later Joe r.

  • bolwerk

    I didn’t say no one should have a pension if I don’t have a pension. I said I don’t see why I should pay for a pension for someone else and not get one myself.

    Needless to say, the plot to let private sector managers get away with murder had many more participants than just workers letting their guard down. Public sector employees were often fine with cutting deals with the politicians that degraded the social safety net, since they usually got exemptions for themselves in exchange for the support.

  • bolwerk

    The intent a generation or three ago was a mixed system of social security, a pension from work, and private savings to finance retirement.

    I guess neoliberal indulgence pretty much annihilated the second two.