Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo’s MTA Puts Some Band-Aids on the Subway’s Giant Suppurating Wounds (Politico, AMNYPost, News)
  • De Blasio: 50,000 New Parking Placards No Big Deal, Placard Corruption Not a Problem (Post)
  • Cuomo Turns NYC Traffic Enforcement Into Another Pissing Match With de Blasio (Post)
  • Ydanis Rodriguez and Steve Levin: It’s Up to the Mayor to Fund Fair Fares (C&S)
  • The MTA’s Failure to Make Stations Accessible Goes Back Decades (TransitCenter)
  • Unlicensed Van Driver Critically Injures 14-Year-Old Boy in Middle Village; Police Blame Victim (News)
  • More Monday Carnage: SUV Driver Flips Near Holland Tunnel (DNA); Cabbie Hits Horse (Gothamist)
  • TransAlt’s Organizing to Bring Bike-Share to the Bronx (News12)
  • Who Will Win the Bike to Work Challenge? (NY1)
  • Bike Snob vs. Myron Magnet (TransAlt)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    The second post on a compilation of National Transit Database transit finance data is here.

    We know what is happening to crowding and reliability and, more recently, ridership. And yet the MTA reported to the NTD that (adjusted for inflation) New York City’s Transit’s operating revenues doubled from 2005 to 2014, and operating assistance from the state (including dedicated MTA taxes) soared. Capital funding (including bonds, actually mostly federal money and bonds) fell.

    Meanwhile, this source reports operating expenditures for the NYC subway were $1 billion higher in 2013 than they had been in 2012, cause the gap in the share of operating costs covered by the fare between the subway and the commuter railroads to close.

    It would be nice if someone could ask some questions and provide an explanation as to what has really happened and why. Otherwise I’ll assume the worst. All the revenues are being sucked into the past for debt service. And for retirement benefits, which (for transit workers) were retroactively enriched in 2000, with no additional money put in for years on the grounds that the enrichment “cost nothing.”

  • Vooch

    Would it be reasonable to conclude if a driver flips his hulking death machine on a city street, he isn’t compentant ever operate a h.d.m. again ?

  • HamTech87

    “In the end, the system needs two things—independence and cash,” said Richard Brodsky, who, as the former chair of the Assembly’s authorities committee, presided over several reforms to the MTA. “Right now, it’s got neither.”
    Really hard to read this quote from the guy who killed the Bloomberg congestion pricing plan.

  • HamTech87

    “The driver had the right of way, and the teen was not in the crosswalk, according to police sources.” Argh. A person operating a vehicle illegally NEVER has the right of way.

  • Larry Littlefield

    While voting in favor of the 2000 retroactive pension increase, and all those debt-laden MTA Capital plans.

    All I want to hear out of any state legislator of the past 20 years is “we cashed in and won, screw you, goodbye suckers.”

    Same for the Governors, Mayors, etc.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Mayor de Blasio said on Monday that issuing up to 50,000 parking placards to city public school workers is no biggie because the number of reserved spots around schools won’t change.”

    Lawsuit, election year settlement, triple the spots reserved “due to circumstances beyond our control.” Perhaps while he’s running for Governor or President.

    That’s when the “non-pensionable” additional payments to teachers in the last contract will suddenly become “pensionable,” like per session payments for time spent on extra curricular activity.

    And when will they finally exempt public employee pension income from consideration in determining if one is a “poor senior” eligible for enhanced property tax breaks under the STAR program? So a retired couple with perhaps $200,000 in retirement income would not have to pay property taxes because they counted as “poor.” Introduced by Assemblymember Peter Abbate with many co-sponsors every year, and waiting for the right 3 am. Perhaps when Cuomo is running for President.

  • AMH

    Finally began my bike-to-work challenge today and discovered that NYCDOT has installed a right turn signal on West St at Chambers St which drivers completely ignore. Right turning vehicles fail to yield at the other intersections as well. Someone needs to fix this NOW before more people are killed.

  • Ken Dodd

    Then again, you could say that the whole “cops are victim blaming” angle taken on this blog (from the headline) normalizes crossing against the light. Regardless of whether or not the driver was unlicensed, crossing busy roads against the light is incredibly stupid.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    Send in the Staties!

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I haven’t had a problem with the split phase but the other intersections are terrible. The ridiculously narrow gap between the bollards doesn’t help either. No way to avoid a turning driver when so constrained.

  • Kevin Love

    “A democracy can only exist until the masses discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.”

    Combine that with the rich discovering they can use their money for political donations to secure tax loopholes, and we soon have a government deeply in debt.

  • Joe R.

    Putting aside whether or not the police version is true (I highly doubt it given their history of victim blaming) a person driving without a license is in the wrong even if they don’t break any traffic laws, much less hit someone. Of course, this person will probably get a proverbial slap on the wrist, and then start driving without a license again a few days later. This is why we should require seizure and forfeiture of the vehicle whenever anyone is driving without a license. In addition, there should be a mandatory lifetime prohibition on driving for that person. And if they’re here illegally, they should be deported.

  • Joe R.

    Also, a democracy can only exist if those who vote are educated enough to understand the issues and make their choice wisely. Judging by what I read in places like Yahoo comments, the vast majority of people are hopelessly uneducated and ignorant. In a way, Trump is the personification of the phrase “people get the government they deserve”.

  • Vooch

    Be Aware that very few of boobus Americanus actually cast votes. The vast majority of people who vote are gov’t employees & their kin.

  • bolwerk

    Half a billion of that 2012-13 change seems to be in general administration expenses, which went up 140% over ten years. Here’s 1991-2015 for overall OE, non-vehicle maintenance, and administration.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And much of the rest is in infrastructure maintenance. I explain in the first post what I think that is. It would be nice to find out for sure.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Generation Greed votes, and otherwise manipulates things.

    Generation Apathy and the Millennials generally do not.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve lived in this city for all of my 54 years, other than 5 semesters of college. Crossing against the light has pretty much always been normalized here. Ditto for crossing midblock. NYers regard these two things as virtual birthrights. Of course, I don’t condone either one if you don’t look first.

    As for crossing busy roads against the light, it’s a matter of picking your poison. Either play frogger crossing against the light, or dodge turning cars when the light is in your favor. At least it’s easier to see cross traffic, so I generally pick the former.

  • There is nothing wrong with the masses reaping benefits from the public treasury. That’s precisely how it is supposed to work; another name for this arrangement is “civilisation”. The public sector should rightfully be the provider of well-paying jobs for a huge portion of the population, people who devote their talents and skills to the operation of and the betterment of their City. We’d do well to have a vastly expanded public sector.

    Blame the rich for stealing tax revenue in the form of tax loopholes, and corporations for stealing from the public coffers in the form of tax breaks. The MTA would be fine if we could recover taxes from the thieving classes. (It would help also if ordinary people were willing to pay an appropriate level of tax, considering that the U.S. is one of the lowest-taxed countries in the Western world.)

  • Larry Littlefield

    “There is nothing wrong with the masses reaping benefits from the public treasury. That’s precisely how it is supposed to work.”

    The problem is when they steal it from the future, they are also stealing it from the masses. That is exactly what has happened. So have the rich stealing tax revenues. That’s the deal they all made.

    “Considering that the U.S. is one of the lowest-taxed countries in the Western world.”

    Taxes are going up, no doubt, and not just on the rich once Generation Greed has bankrupted us. But if that is a fair comparison, there is another attitude to take in the state with the highest state and local tax burden in the country. The problem is clearly different.

  • Brad Aaron

    Our ancestors began using their legs for mobility about four million years ago. Yet we must now cede the “right of way” to other humans in unnaturally fast, multi-ton climate-controlled machines, under penalty of serious injury or death. This we have normalized.

    Research shows that the brains of children can not process distance, speed and sound as quickly and accurately as adults can. Unfortunately for the species that makes our youngest members — stupidest, you might say — more prone to misjudging the relative position of their own bodies to that of said machines, which have existed for all of 100 years or so.

    But surely Streetsblog headlines are the issue.

  • HamTech87

    Many of those drivers are coming from the suburbs where Right Turn on Red is legal. I’ve seen it many times.

  • Kevin Love

    My high school history teacher had a saying: “The masses are asses.”

  • Kevin Love

    From the Post article:

    “I remind anyone who thinks that they can be cute and use one of these placards in an inappropriate way: You’re really running the risk of very big penalties and there will be consistent enforcement,” the mayor said

    I do not believe that he is dumb enough to actually believe this. Or that he is dumb enough to believe that people who actually live in NYC believe this. Which means he is deliberately lying to us. And relying upon his supporters having a sufficiently high skill level in Orwellian doublethink to believe him. Sigh…

  • sbauman

    Any program to improve subway service will take closer to 600 points, rather than the 6 points the MTA is proposing. One measure of the plan’s irrelevance is that the first point is whether the MTA chair and CEO should be one person or two. Talk about re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    The second point notes that “Key parts of cars, including doors, heating and air condition[er]s, and master controllers, will be replaced “on a regular schedule before they fail.”

    When did the MTA revert from preventive to deferred/breakdown maintenance? Deferred/breakdown maintenance was what brought the system to near collapse in the 1970’s. Preventive maintenance was what what brought it back.

    Point 2 also noted: The MTA will “revamp” its car maintenance procedures by adding more inspectors and ensuring that all cars get a “pre-service inspection” to reduce the chance of failures while in service.

    Thanks to Jay Walder, the public can follow how well the 1 to 6 and L Lines perform. The real time data that is used for the count down displays can be downloaded. I tracked the performance for March and April of this year. I was astonished to discover that on a good day about 5% of the scheduled morning rush hour trains never left their first station. I would expect the new pre-service inspection will substantially raise this percentage. Fewer trains means more crowded trains.

    My interpretation was that this statistic was the result of an insufficient number of working trainsets. The reversion to deferred/breakdown maintenance and the lack of spare equipment confirms my suspicion.

    Point 6 states, “The MTA will more actively manage merge points within the subway system to help trains move more quickly through them.”

    How the MTA mismanages merge points is the subject for around 500 points. Let’s consider the basic question of how well they need to be managed. It takes approximately 1 minute for a train to enter and clear a merge point, making kit ready for the next train to enter. Suppose trains are scheduled every 2 minutes (30 tph). If each train is within 30 seconds of its scheduled arrival, then there will never be any merging delays. For 90 second headways (40 tph), trains should be within 15 seconds of their scheduled arrival. Mathematically, this is a sufficient, if not a necessary condition.

    The MTA’s train schedules are measured to a 30 second precision, when precision and accuracy to the second are required. They are using an hourglass instead of a stopwatch. If one takes the trouble of looking up IRT Elevated schedules from the early 1900’s, one will find that station arrival times were rounded to the nearest 1/4 minute. Some Manhattan El’s also operated on 90 second or better headways.

    two key hubs in the South Bronx — 149th St.-Grand Concourse and Third Ave.-138th St.

    Adherence to schedule is important, only if the schedule does not have merging conflicts. There are plenty embedded in the subway schedule.

    One concerns the hubs that merit the MTA’s attention. However, the schedule conflict isn’t at these two merge points. It’s upstream at E. 180th St, where the 2 and 5 on the White Plains Road Branch merge with the 5 from the Dyre Ave Branch. The 2 runs local and the 5 runs express after this merge. However, the 5 from Dyre Ave must cross the local track. The 2 and 5 are frequently scheduled to arrive at this point within 30 seconds of one another. If the 2 is given preference over the 5 at this point, then the 5 will be late for its merge with the 4 south of 149th St.-Grand Concourse.

    An examination of the real time arrivals at Grand Central revealed that 4 trains were invariably late. Tracing the real time data back upstream, revealed that the Dyre Ave trains were invariably late at 138th St and the Woodlawn trains arrived early or on time at this merge and waited for the 5 to arrive. Tracing the 5 further back, even to its departure, revealed the delay by design problem at E 180th St. N.B. there is a routing for the 2 that avoids this merging conflict. However, a site visit revealed that it not regularly used.

    It’s unfortunate that the MTA is concentrating most of its efforts on the 8th Ave line because there’s no real time data archive. This data archive would allow an independent observer to compare the before and after. Instead one must rely on the MTA to provide its own metrics. Such metrics are occasionally biased to make the MTA look good.

    One case in point is on time performance. If a train arrives at its terminal more than 5 minutes after its scheduled arrival it’s considered late. However, the MTA schedule has an unusually high number of 5 minute holds at the station before the terminal. In fact, these holds constitute about 4% of total running time. Four years ago, this figure was 2%.

    As Disraeli said, “there are lies, damn lies and statistics.”

  • Vooch

    streets are for people

    streets should be safe enough (again) that children can play in them

  • Ken Dodd

    No, streets are for moving vehicles. Bicycles, cars, trucks and the like. Sidewalks are for walking and playing on. Playing in the middle of the road was never a good idea.

  • Ken Dodd

    Come on now, you’re soaring to new heights of ridiculousness with this angle. Multi-ton vehicles exist, and they benefit our society in countless ways. It is quite possible to teach a child to stay out of the road, and if you can’t, to supervise them so that they don’t run out into the road into moving traffic. I have no idea why you’re taking the “children can’t process distance” angle here because the victim was a 14 year old boy, not a toddler. At 14, you are absolutely 100% capable of understanding how stupid it is to cross in the middle of the block against the light, and unless you have some kind of brain defect you are also perfectly capable of judging distance and speed.

  • Vooch

    children played safely in the middle of streets until the 1970s

    until drivers started becoming homicidal killers.

    it’s perfectly normal for children to play in the street

  • Vooch

    the US is not one of the lowest taxed countries in the world

    approx. 42% of GDP is consumed by the state in the US.

    That’s more or less smack dab in the middle of taxes. Lower than totalitarian paradises like Sweden (48%) but much higher than relatively free places like modern Russia (35%)

    if stealing 100% of a person’s labor is slavery. What is stealing 42% ?

  • Vooch

    A good case can be made that not voting suggests withdrawing consent to be governed

  • Ken Dodd

    No they didn’t play safely in the middle of the street. Pedestrian deaths were far higher then than they are now. The peak of pedestrian deaths in the US was in 1937, when there were 15,500 fatalities. By 1996 that figure had fallen to 6100. Road fatalities in general are now at the lowest level since 1949.

    I grew up in the 1970’s, and kids were getting hit by cars through playing in the streets all the time. Roads were never meant to be kids’ playgrounds, and they never will.

  • Vooch

    you mean drivers were ALWAYS homicidal maniacs unable to control their hulking death machines ?

  • Ken Dodd

    Stop being so melodramatic. The vast majority of drivers are not homicidal maniacs.

  • Wrong. The U.S. figure is a paltry 26%, which is about half of that of Denmark (51%), and just a bit more than half of those of France (48%), Sweden (46%), Norway (44%), Finland (44%), and Italy (44%).

    The E.U. figure is 36%. Virtually no European country starves its public administration as badly as the U.S. does, the exceptions being Russia (20%) and Lithuania (21%), not the kind of company you want to be keeping.

    More wrong are the characterisations of Sweden as “totalitarian” and Russia as “relatively free”. These assertions read as parody; when presented seriously they insult the intelligence of the readership.

    Most wrong of all is the ugly insinuation that taxation amounts to stealing. That sort of backward ideology has no place in any serious discussion.

    In the world of reality, tax is the means by which a people, through the tool of the state, meets its needs and creates a worthwhile society; it is the means for providing all manner of public goods. Our infrastructure and our public health would benefit enormously if the U.S. were to join the civilised world by having a more appropriate rate of taxation, a rate that is far in excess of what it currently has.

  • Vooch

    killing 40,000 and maiming 2,500,000 innocent Americans every single year

    is carnage beyond comprehension. That drivers believe these atrocities are perfectly reasonable suggests a extreme level of pathology.

    Homicidal maniacs is a apt description

  • Ken Dodd

    1) Where is your evidence that “drivers believe these atrocities are perfectly reasonable”? I’m not saying that there aren’t homicidal maniacs on the road because clearly there are, but you cannot just disparage an entire demographic because of the actions of a tiny minority. Some people just have shitty reactions and poor decision making skills, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a homicidal maniac. And then of course there are the vast majority of drivers who never get into a serious accident their entire lives – are they homicidal maniacs too? Your stance is no better than someone who claims that black people are violent based on the actions of a tiny minority of gang members in the hood.

  • Vooch

    100% of drivers recklessly speed.

    99.9% of drivers have driven stoned/drunk/medicated

    98.8% of drivers text and drive

    88% of drivers have read books/magazines while driving

    0% of drivers believe operating a hulking death machine is a deadly serious activity requiring the utmost focus and concentration

    0% of drivers believe they are homicidal maniacs

  • Patrick

    You should realize that Vooch not only feels entitled to his own opinion and his own facts, but also his own math and his own logic. There’s no point arguing with him. I haven’t been able to decide whether he is a zealot or a troll, given such comically outlandish arguments…

  • Vooch

    wrong wrong wrong

    you need to look at size of the state. It’s the only way to compare apples to apples.

    USA the size of the entire state is 42% of GDP

    that’s fairly average

  • Vooch

    Both modern Russia and Lithuania are economies that we only wish to emulate

  • Ken Dodd

    Mmm hmm sweetiepie OK. You’re a very clever boy.

  • True. But the vast majority of drivers are sociopaths. We can see this from their near universal disregard for stop signs and for the stopping line at red lights.

    (Anticipating a possible rejoinder, I will state my awareness of the fact that bicyclists often ignore red lights. I have been absolutely clear in my disapproval of, and even condemnation of, this behaviour. But we must not overlook a crucial distinction: lawbreaking bicyclists endanger primarily themselves; lawbreaking drivers endanger others.)

    And we see drivers’ sociopathic tendencies most clearly when they oppose a policy that is proven to save lives —
    namely, lower speed limits — on the grounds that they don’t want to be inconvenienced.

  • Ken Dodd

    “But the vast majority of drivers are sociopaths. We can see this from their near universal disregard for stop signs and for the stopping line at red lights” — I have a problem with this statement. Can you perhaps back it up with facts? As far as I can see (and I’m out on the streets every day), the vast majority of drivers stop at stop signs and red lights. There is a certain minority of drivers who don’t, but you cannot tar all drivers with that same brush. We can rail against psychopathic drivers without dishonestly lumping everyone into the same group, surely.

  • I really don’t know what you are seeing if you can report that most drivers stop at stop signs. In my experience, they roll right through, without ever coming to a full stop if there are no crossing pedestrians present.

    (I will mention as an aside that this was one of the biggest surprises for me when I rode my bike in Philadelphia. I found that the drivers there do in fact stop at stop signs, even when no pedestrians are present. This behaviour stood out precisely because of how different it was to the normal behavioir of New York drivers.)

    And the stopping line? Forget about it. In almost no case does the first car at a red light stop behind the stopping line. And, in those rare cases when a driver does stop at a stop sign, it is almost always in advance of the stopping line.

    (Another aside. When I was riding my bike in Washington, I was pleased to see that the normal practice at red lights down there is for drivers to stop behind the stopping line. I played a little game with myself: every time I saw a driver ahead of the stopping line at a red light, I would take note of the licence plate. Every single time, it was either a New York or a New Jersey plate; not once did I see a Maryland, D.C., or Virginia driver do this in Washington. This experience, in conjunction with the one about Philadelphia which I previously expressed, makes me conclude sadly that we have a particularly bad problem with driver behaviour here.)

    I propose a challenge. Let’s ride around for several hours, and, every time a we see a driver rolling through a stop sign without stopping, or coming to a stop at either a stop sign or a red light with all or part of the car beyond the stopping line, you give me $100. And, every time we see a driver handling these situations legally — that is, stopping at a red light or stop sign with the entirety of the car behind the stopping line — I will give you $100.

    You can pick the day, the time, and any one of the four significant boroughs. (Staten Island would skew the thing towards me; but I’m just not willing to go there.)

    If you were to accept this challenge, you would lose your shirt. And I think you realise this if you consider the matter honestly.