Today’s Headlines

  • TSTC: Congestion Pricing Makes Sense for Each District in MTA Region (AMNYNYTWSJ, News 1, 2)
  • Andy Byford, a Transit Prez We Can Believe In (WSJ)
  • It’s Up to Aecom Exec Kevin Corbett to Clean Up Christie’s Mess at NJ Transit (NYT)
  • The Hypocrisy of de Blasio’s Windshield Bias (C&S)
  • One Month After NYT Transit Cost Exposé, Still No Action From Cuomo or MTA (TransitCenter)
  • Postal Workers Still Park Trucks All Over the Willy-B Bike Connection Under the BQE (Bklyn Paper)
  • Nicole Gelinas Worries Trump Will Cut NYC Off From Federal Infrastructure Funds (Post)
  • Retiring Rodney Frelinghuysen Is a Rare House Republican Telling Trump to Fund Gateway (Bloomberg)
  • DOT May Turn Several Two-Way Streets in Maspeth Into One-Ways (QChron)
  • Damned E-Bikes (Post)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    The 97 Taurus died in Schenectady this weekend and costs too much to fix, so it’s time for another buy vs. rent decision. Any advice would be appreciated. The parameters are this.

    One in-law in that city, and some in-laws in Monmouth County. No kids in college upstate anymore. It would be in Brooklyn, and have to be parked, all year.

    All in, including purchasing additional liability insurance, $190 per day for a rental car, or more based on a quick check. Enterprise, which was the best deal three years ago at $275 for a three-day, non-holiday weekend in the fall, now wants $514 for a three-day, non-holiday weekend in the spring. Base price per day for the same car: $26 in Schenectady, $150 in Brooklyn). GEICO says $700 per year for non-owners liability insurance, but at less than $20 per day at the counter the break-even is 35 days, so no way.

    Last time we didn’t have a car, when we got a Zipcar to go out to Jersey, my brother-in-law checked his I-thing and said Uber could have driven us both ways for the same money. And ZIpcar seems to have moved further away from where I live. There is New Jersey Transit, but New Jersey Transit off-peak/weekend these days? Figure $115 per person round trip to Schenectady, plus taxis, on Amtrak. If you make the train trying to get there by subway. Getting to the beach without a car would be difficult, but possible.

    I can’t see a car my wife would be comfortable driving out of town costing less than $5,000 per year fixed (purchase, insurance, maintenance and repair), at least for the first six years (used) to ten years (new) to amortize off the purchase.

    I assume the Streetsblog preference is “rent.” Can anyone provide a better rental suggestion? I called Brooklyn renting a ripoff three year ago after rental rates soared, following the merger of all the rental chains down to an oligopoly, but it has gotten worse.

  • Fool

    Ref: Transit Center

    And there won’t be, Democratic Machine Politics.

  • bolwerk

    If your needs are predictable enough, what about posting an ad for a car share? I’ve seen a lot of arrangements that go “X gets the car weekdays, Y gets it weekends.” X often owns the car and needs it commute and would just as soon dispense with it otherwise.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Not predictable, I’m afraid. Episodic.

  • Joe R.

    If you’re handy get a good 10+ year old used car. So long as the previous owner didn’t beat on it, you should be able to keep it running another decade for a reasonable cost if you can do most of the work yourself. And just get basic liability insurance. No need for collision on anything that old.

  • Larry Littlefield

    That’s sort of what I had, but I’m not handy and I don’t think my family members will want to use something that unreliable anymore. I guess what I’d really want is a better renting option.

  • bolwerk

    The only other thing I can come up with to get to Schenectady is Greyhound. $30-$50 per passenger for a one-way trip. ~4 hours

    Departures seem fairly frequent at least.

  • Guest

    To go up north, take Metro-North to Scarsdale or Stamford and rent a car from there. Rates are more reasonable and you don’t have to deal with city traffic.

  • reasonableexplanation

    How much is your time worth? How comfortable are you driving?

    You can make it work without a car, but adding all of the time to take transit, or all of the time required to rent and return a car each time… it adds up, and reduces the very thing you’re looking for: flexibility.

    If you do decide to go the car route, buy a gently used toyota or honda, something small so it’s easy to park: the honda fit is a popular option. And can easily fit within your stated budget.

    Or, if you don’t want to or can’t street park it, all but the trendiest parts of brooklyn have dedicated spots that go for ~$120/month (put up some fliers in your neighborhood saying you’re looking for a spot).

    The car renting situation really is crazy here. If you go out of the city even a handful of times per year, it starts to make sense to own (as long as you can get a decent insurance rate).

    True car sharing models (like Turo) are banned in NY. So thank your legislators for that.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m going up to get the car scrapped this weekend, and taking Trailways home, with changes in Albany and then Kingston. And then whatever NYCT deals out.
    Amtrak’s 5pm train sold out.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I considered something like this. But let’s say four of us are going, (and perhaps taking the dog). That means going there, getting the car, driving back to Brooklyn, picking people up, coming back, dropping people in Brooklyn, and driving back.

    Or, without the dog, eight MetroNorth tickets and a kennel, with car service to and from the kennel.

    LGA Airport might be a little cheaper. The AIRPORT might be cheaper than Brooklyn!?

    A rental center was my idea for the bankrupt Yankee Stadium garage.

  • kevd

    If you’re going upstate use the Hertz in North White Plains.
    Walking distance from the station. Bring your stuff on the train. Walk across the street. Get your car.
    Do the opposite on the way back. Rates start at $28/day.*

    Going NE? Do the same in New Rochelle, Stamford or New Haven.

    South or West? Not sure, I’d love if someone filled me in.
    Never rent a car for $100/day in Brooklyn.

    *$22/day if you pay in advance

  • Larry Littlefield

    Less than $30 per day there, $150 or more plus tax and insurance here. What a ripoff.

    The thing is, if it’s just me I’m taking bus/ the whole way anyway if I can.

  • kevd

    rent is less there, too.
    as is a beer in a bar.

    it is a very consistent pattern.

  • kevd

    Why would you round trip from Westchester? It doesn’t seem like you’re thinking this through.

    No, you all take the train (dog included) and continue north from where ever you get the car. Drive back to brooklyn? Are you, nuts?

  • reasonableexplanation

    This would make sense if you live near a metro north station, if you don’t, we’re talking getting to the metro north in manhattan first… so another hour or so door to door when accounting for arriving early enough to not miss the train, getting tickets, etc.

  • Larry Littlefield

    When I checked for the weekend it was more than $150 per day plus incidentals for Hertz a the nearest place, up by Grand Army Plaza.

    Meanwhile, you might have heard that people are fleeing San Francisco because of the exploding cost of everything there. For the same car and company that is $150 per day (base) in Brooklyn it’s $36.50 at Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf!

  • kevd

    ah, I guess I was looking at weekdays.

  • kevd

    it makes sense for many many people who don’t want to pay through the nose for car rentals.

  • AnoNYC

    Took the SBS Bx6 today in both directions. Buses were bunched for some odd reason coming from the Hunts Point peninsula ,which has pretty low traffic and a lower number of pickups compared to the majority of the route west of Bruckner Blvd.

    The bus lanes were blocked on occasion but the biggest issue was that the bus lanes were too limited. They should have really been extended, especially around Third Ave and near the courthouses beyond the bus lanes. The bus gets stuck in traffic before it reaches the lanes.

    Every so often someone would come on board and not know how SBS worked and would slow down the bus (would run outside to grab ticket and come back in). Was always a non-English speaker (maybe more signage needed along that route in Spanish).

    And get this. The bus is supposed to get camera enforcement but BOTH bus drivers said that the buses did not have camera enforcement. They said they used to have and it was taken out? Lots of cabs dipping into the bus lanes when they should be pulling into free curbside space or load/unload around the corner. Some delivery trucks as usual just sitting there.

    The center running bus lanes near the courthouse are very effective. No blockages whatsoever within. However while waiting I saw a semi-truck, several police vehicles, and a private bus use the center running lanes.

    The lane also lacks TSP (transit signal priority), and man that would make a huge difference. I could see the bus in the distance getting stuck at the light for entire cycles.

    And finally, these bus routes need level platforms because the number of people getting on with limited mobility or strollers is significant.

    The city and the MTA must fix these issues, which are not limited to the SBS Bx6.

  • reasonableexplanation

    A Fri-Sun rental costs as follows:

    Brooklyn: $168
    Stamford: $62

    A MNR ticket costs $14 to Stamford off peak. A metrocard trip to the city is $2.75. Larry mentions that 4 people are going, that’s an extra $67 roundtrip.

    So that’s a savings of $39, at a cost of about an extra hour+ of much less comfortable travel. Is it worth it? I guess everyone would have to decide for themselves, but I would say no.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Or we could go to Manhattan, and get a car for a base of around $100 according to Expedia (after asking for Brooklyn). Cars in Brooklyn, $150 and up. Manhattan?!

    Except I have a friend who rents there, and when they find out he’s from Brooklyn, they try to charge him more!

  • Hilda

    Are there Time Share Corp. established for Cars, with a set group of people as the owners/operators? This could also become a pass thru entity…

    We used to rent via Relay Rides, and also rented our own. We would rent out our minivan (dog/bike/ski friendly) in a second.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Honestly it makes sense that cars in Manhattan are cheaper: after all; once you’re already near Penn or GCT, you have options to get out of the city to begin with. Not so in Brooklyn.

  • kevd

    39 bucks less AND you don’t have to deal with friday afternoon traffic getting out of the city? Sounds like a win win to me. but I’m sure there are plenty of masochists who would prefer screaming at other cars on the Bruckner to sitting quietly on a train and reading. To each his own.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Not much traffic going that way Friday evenings, especially since you’re bypassing the CBD completely on Brooklyn-Stamford route!

    Folks that don’t drive often tend to really overestimate the amount of traffic the tri-state area has outside of commuting hours.

    As long as you’re not going during commuting hours, driving is really a pleasure in our area most of the time.

    As for driving vs sitting on a train? If you drive enough, it’s as second nature as walking, especially on a highway. Except here you have all your stuff with you, and access to the climate control. But for me at least, the negative of train travel isn’t i nthe train itself, it’s the getting to it via crowded subway, walking to the station with all your stuff, waiting, walking to the train terminal in manhattan, waiting some more, etc.

    I’d feel differently if I lived a few blocks from Penn or GCT, but I don’t.

  • kevd

    friday afternoon out of the city to NE?
    yeah, I’ve done that.
    it sucked.

  • Larry Littlefield

    OK, I think I’ve got the hack. Use Expedia and rent in Jersey City, which is a subway ride and PATH ride away. The Brooklyn of New Jersey costs one-third the Brooklyn of New York, and you don’t have to pay the toll.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Maybe you got unlucky. I’ve driven that route plenty of times, as long as I leave after 6:30 and use waze, I’ve had no issues.

  • carma

    I have a 14 year old Toyota Sienna which Ive owned for 12 years. Costs me near nothing to operate and doing all maintenance myself including insurance costs maybe $2000. Driving a mere 3000 miles per year to do tough errands and shuttling kids around. And yes, No collision ins. only liability. With that said. If parking is a pain. Oh gosh. dont own. Rent every now and then.

  • kevd

    Oh. Interesting. Good idea for heading west. Never tried that one.
    Which company?

  • Andrew

    Perhaps you’re planning to rent cars more frequently than most New Yorkers do.

    I only rent cars a few times a year. Even if I’m stuck paying $150 per day a few times, that’s still a lot less than owning and maintaining a car.

  • Andrew

    The camera enforcement is pole-mounted, not bus-mounted.

  • Andrew

    And the savings is a lot more than $39 with TransitChek or similar.

  • AnoNYC

    I have noticed the pole mounted cameras, but as an observer, it seems to me that there are vast sections without enforcement (though I don’t know the range on the cameras). Usually where vehicles are authorized to enter the bus lane and turn. This why I was surprised they are not used in collaboration.

    I feel that vehicles should not be allowed to enter the bus lanes to turn. Buses should be physically separated and vehicles should make right turns after the buses have passed or when it is clear. Alternatively, center running lanes are so much better.. We have the same problem with our bikes lanes because cars do not yield in mix zones.

    Mixed turning zones + NYC = fail.

    And do you or anyone else know what’s up with TSP? I listened to an interview on WNYC with Andy Byford and he mentioned that only a few intersections were TSP compatible if I remember correctly? On Streetsblog I read some time ago the TSP system has been rolled out citywide but the buses lack it? Which is it?

  • Larry Littlefield

    We have an ill family member to visit, so yes, we’ve been driving more. Eventually we’ll be driving less.

  • Larry Littlefield

    All of them. All around $56 in Jersey City, $151-plus in Brooklyn.

    The think is on Metro North, you have to meet the train, and with traffic coming back and the NYC subway coming in that’s no sure thing. The PATH is every 20 minutes on a Sunday, which isn’t great, with another wait or two for the subway, but it pays.

    To get to the same spot driving is 20 minutes if you are lucky — and leaving before 7 am on a weekend day. But you aren’t always lucky. It looks like this will take 50 to 90 minutes, if neither PATH nor the subway screws you. But you are already across the two rivers. Say $12 in fares per person, but you save the tolls.