Today’s Headlines

  • Fox 5 Pressures de Blasio to Answer for Street Cheats; Related: Blah Blah Blah (AMNY)
  • Subway Ridership Drops for Second Consecutive Year (NY1)
  • Cuomo Is Starving His Own “Subway Action Plan” (AMNY)
  • There’s Only One Andy in Charge of the MTA and His Last Name Ain’t Byford (NYTNews)
  • Having the MTA Chair on the Payroll Working Out Well for MSG (Politico)
  • MTA Pledges to Investigate Fantastical Vertical Conveyance Technology (NY1)
  • Voice Examines Cuomo Plot to Loot City Coffers for Transit System He Steals From
  • De Blasio Puts Unreasonable Conditions on Road Pricing Support (Crain’s)
  • Cuomo Wants New Metro-North Stop for Orange County Mall Where a Bus Would Do (Post)
  • Justice Advocate Rips “Progressive” de Blasio’s Hard Line on Fare-Beating (News)
  • NYT Prints Subway Commute Complaints, Seeks a Shred of Hope
  • City Says Safer Prospect Park West Sidewalk Not Worth the Price Tag (BK Paper)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Flavanation

    Re: Metro North stop – I’m not generally opposed to adding infill stops. This stop will be convenient for both shoppers and the hundreds of mall workers. The Port Jervis line will be getting a lot of upgrades in the next few years, including a new storage yard in Middletown, as well as additional passing sidings, so a new station isn’t exactly uncalled for here.

  • Larry Littlefield

    DeBlasio’s demand that 100 percent of the congestion pricing revenues go to New York City sounds unreasonable until you remember:

    1) The free bridges belong to the city, which would pay to maintain them, but the revenues would go to the state.

    2) The TBTA belonged to the city too, but the share of those revenues going to NYCT has gone down and down.

    3) NYC has been ripped off a lot, in part because our state “representatives” only represent special interests who are mostly in the suburbs and Florida. They can say “we don’t need it” because our economy is booming, but they hit us even harder when we were down
    .
    If he wasn’t running for President, and half-assing running the city as Mayor, DeBlasio might bring up some of the stuff in this post.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/medicaid-the-rest-of-new-york-state-re-declares-war-on-new-york-city/

  • sbauman

    Malls are in trouble because of e-commerce. The national landscape is littered with failed shopping malls.

    A rail stop will not attract customers, who need not leave their home to go shopping. The hundreds of mall workers will dwindle, as the brick and mortar stores leave.

  • JarekFA

    Remember when Chris Christie killed ARC but had no problem with issuing tax exempt bonds for The American Dream mall. I don’t think I’ll ever go there, even if it does eventually get built.

  • Larry Littlefield

    On the other hand, perhaps a rail stop would make it easier to re-develop all that property into some kind of mixed-use village, as is starting to happen throughout the country.

    And it were really at the mall, the mall parking lot could be used for park and ride, with the mall picking up some business from people on the way home.

    As for how many other people would use a stop to shop or get to work, that line has a station in Middletown, where almost all the Orange County retail is, so that’s something that could be evaluated.

  • Ken Dodd

    GOTHAMIST IS COMING BACK

  • mfs

    agree- why oppose an infill stop? it’s access to a major job center.

  • De Blasio is no doubt just trying to erect obstacles to congestion pricing; but his comments, taken on their face, make some sense.

    A city ought to be able to dictate policy to its suburbs. Ideally we ought to establish, as a basic principle underlying all policy, that the interests of cities are primary. Suburbs exist to serve the interests of cities; they have no legitimate interests of their own.

    The U.K. can give special powers to London; France can give special powers to Paris. But the U.S. cannot give special powers to New York City and its other great cities. Unfortunately, the barriers to this sort of sensible societal arrangement is barred by our backward and ossified brand of federalism, and by the weird fetishisation around current borders which is found in American culture.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “WNYC, the public radio station in New York, is acquiring Gothamist nearly four months after the local news website was shut down by billionaire Joe Ricketts.”

    Good move for them.

    Gothamist is the only site that dealt with the disadvantaged situation younger generations are facing. WNYC was by and for older generations and glossed it over — and I say that as a donor. Their idea of covering an election was inviting all the incumbents to talk about their districts. They didn’t ask hard questions that criticized the existing priorities and privileges.

    Recently, they and NPR have lost a lot of their old stalwarts to #MeToo ism. I don’t follow this or know the details but it seems like it might be an over-reaction on their part, and they haven’t had any new content to take their place, according to a family member who listens to it all the time.

    Whatever one thinks about the reason, a re-boot was needed. This could be it.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “A city ought to be able to dictate policy to its suburbs.”

    I’d settle for avoiding the other way around. Remember, they are going to get older, poorer and more needy. NYC wouldn’t want to treat them the way they treated NYC, would it?

  • bolwerk

    I agree, but practically the demand is probably a non-starter. Though maybe a reasonable compromise would be to limit any capital expenditure in the suburbs to 1/2 of the proportion of CP tolls the suburbs end up paying.

    It could help city and suburbs alike if railroad service within the city were improved.

  • Maggie

    The Staten Island mall under construction is built around the exact same strategy as Woodbury Common, right? I read Cuomo’s intention as propping up business that’s at risk at Woodbury when SI opens.

    Woodbury Common does already have bus service from PABT which I think is pretty popular especially for tourists. Since I’m personally allergic to tunnel traffic, I’d much rather go by train than by bus.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps a more reasonable demand is that New York City Transit, which initially received 67 percent of the TBTA toll surplus, get 67 percent of the combined TBTA toll surplus and congestion pricing, with all the tolls rationalized.

    With no more “money is fungible” games.

    And, one way or another, an end to the City of New York being the only locality in the state that doesn’t get municipal aid, even though city residents account for 50 percent of all state income tax revenues and commuters to the city from other states account for another chunk.

    And an end to the city of New York paying a higher share of the Medicaid expenses within its borders than the counties elsewhere in the state.

    Etc. Etc.

  • ohnonononono

    Cuomo literally just wants it ’cause he doesn’t want to sit in traffic when he takes his daughters there.

    “Whenever my daughters ask me to take them there, I come up with any excuse not to have to sit through that traffic,” Cuomo said. “We are putting a Metro-North station at Woodbury Common. That way, you don’t have to drive, you can take the train.” https://www.lohud.com/story/news/transit/2018/02/23/cuomo-metro-north-woodbury-outlets/367871002/

  • ohnonononono

    Cuomo should ask the mall to pay for it. Simon Malls owns Woodbury Commons. If they want to pay to have the stop added, go for it.

  • redbike

    Agreed.

    Harriman, the nearest existing station, is about 2 miles south.

    Were this new in-fill station to be built, yes, it might result in fewer mall customers relying on cars and busses, but with Harriman so near, I doubt there’d be any net change in commuter use of this rail line.

    If the owners of Woodbury Commons were to pay the capital cost of the station, that would be an interesting insight into their view its long-term value. IMHO, it’s hard to justify MTA spending anything on this project.

  • Driver

    “Suburbs exist to serve the interests of cities; they have no legitimate interests of their own.”
    The elitism expressed in this statement is absurd.

  • It’s actually a corrective to the longstanding elitism of the suburbs.

    The places that Ron Kuby so aptly named “Whitelandia” are bastions of runaway privilege. A sensible and just social policy would be one that counters this phenomenon.

  • I don’t really like the snark over the subway elevator issue. “Fantastical Vertical Conveyance Technology”, mocking the MTA for not having thought of elevators.

    It is terrible that most of the subway is not accessible. The problem is that the system was built before society grappled with the question of accessibility, and before laws were in place that mandated this. Here’s the really bad news: to this problem there is no solution.

    The only way that this issue could be meaningfully addressed would be if everyone just agreed to stay out of Manhattan for a few years while elevator shafts were added alongside all the stations. Though, even in this fanciful scenario, the maze of pipes and whatnot found underground might still make this impossible.

    New stations and renovation projects should of course include access; complaints about failure to do this make a lot of sense. But the idea that the system in general will ever become largely accessible is just an unrealistic dream that would require nothing short of a time machine to realise.

  • Urbanely

    Re: Fare-beating. These stories are horrible and seem to be more about the fact that police don’t know how to interact with the public— especially people of color— than anything else.

  • Driver

    It’s not a corrective of anything,

    The construction and maintenance or our infrastructure and distribution logistics of our city are dependent on businesses in our suburbs and surrounding regions. The economies of these cities/towns/villages, are supported by and in some ways dependent on our city, but that does not make their residents subservient to us.

    There are suburban areas that are the opposite of “whitelandia”, unless you only categorize the suburbs as places where white people live and commute into the CBD.

    And what is this “sensible and just social policy” that you speak of? That the interests of us living in the city are important and the interests of those living in the surrounding regions are insignificant?

    The irony is that you come off as the equivalent of the car driver who thinks that they have every right to the road and that any cyclists rights are secondary.

  • Maggie

    I think this gives the MTA too much of a pass. It’s outrageous that $150 million will be spent on the above-ground station at Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard in 2018, closing it for 8 months, and the public still won’t have ADA access there.

  • I certainly agree with that.

    I was alluding mainly to the stations in Mahattan’s core.

  • Simon Phearson

    I’m not sure that describing suburbs as subservient is exactly right, but I think Ferdinand is essentially correct in noting that “suburbs” are typically poorly planned, heavily subsidized communities that are more reliant on the cities they abut than the other way around. It’s hard to see this because the economic cycle that makes suburbs attractive for residents and businesses spans generations; but to be sure any policy that prioritizes their interests to the cities they abut ensures the long-term decline of both the cities and the suburbs themselves.

    Bottom line, if you want healthy suburbs, you need healthy cities. You need infrastructure that is centered on the city and that encourages dense, transit-oriented development outside the city. Suburbs can become employment centers in their own right, but if they are drawing jobs out of urban centers, they are undermining the health of the cities on which they rely.

  • Joe R.

    I think the only way subways and everywhere else will be handicapped accessible will be once wheelchairs capable of negotiating stairs are commonplace:

    http://www.topchair.fr/en/stair-climbing-wheelchair/

    http://www.topchair.fr/en/stair-climbing-wheelchair/

    https://www.designboom.com/technology/scewo-electric-wheelchair-climb-stairs-independently-03-28-2017/

    Now this issue is hitting close to home since my mother has been unable to walk since early November. They found and drained a hematoma which may have contributed to it but there are also severe joint/pain issues in her left knee which might be causing it. We need to see an orthopedist for that. She can still bear her own weight standing for a few minutes, needs help (i.e. a lift seat) getting up, but can’t walk at all. Making it even worse is the fact we’re in a 1950s house with narrow doors which isn’t exactly wheelchair accessible. I need to use one of those transport wheelchairs to get her around the house as a standard 24″ wheelchair won’t fit through some of the doors. My brother and I will build a ramp by spring so I can take her out without needing another person to carry the wheelchair down the stairs. However, it bothers me I really won’t be able to take any trips into Manhattan with her, unless we can get her walking again.

    Bring in a rehab place for over 2 months didn’t help. They did whatever made their life easier, not what was best for the patient. As a result, there was probably more muscle atrophy than there should have been, and they didn’t even bother putting her on the toilet a few times a day to go like I’ve been doing.

  • I am very to read about sorry about your mother’s condition.

    I think that it will be a very long time before that type of wheelchair will be affordable for the average person.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, the cost is the problem. The transport chair cost me a little over $100 on Amazon. All those chairs which go up stairs cost upwards of $10K.

  • sbauman

    Somebody brought this article about big donors to Cuomo to my attention:
    https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2017/01/cuomos-newest-big-donors-108932

    Note the following in this article:

    DAVID SIMON ($25,000)

    Simon is the CEO of Indianapolis real estate investment trust Simon Property Group, whose holdings include the Woodbury Commons outlet mall.

  • redbike

    Thanks! (And thanks, Politico.)

    Frankly, I have no expertise about how much it might cost to build an in-fill rail station serving Woodbury Commons. In the depths of my ignorance, I suspect it’s somewhat more than twenty-five thousand smackers.

  • Andrew

    Where are you seeing a $150 million price tag? The articles I’ve read all give a cost of $22 million.

    If that work is predominantly for cosmetic improvements, then I certainly agree that it can be scaled down, and perhaps some of that money could instead be used for ADA improvements. But my impression is that most of the work is state-of-good-repair work on the 101-year-old station. If you’re proposing to divert funding from SOGR work toward elevators, I’m afraid I strongly disagree.

    Furthermore, the next stop down the line, Astoria Boulevard, will already be getting full ADA accessibility. Given the limited funds available to install elevators at subway stations, does it really make sense to make two adjacent stations ADA-accessible? Wouldn’t it make more sense to install elevators in an area that doesn’t have any nearby ADA-accessible stations, or perhaps at a busy transfer point like Queensboro Plaza or Lex/59th St.?

    This notion that a station shouldn’t get any repairs unless it also gets elevators is counterproductive. It only ensures that many stations needing repairs don’t get them and that ADA accessibility goes to the stations that are in greatest need of repairs rather than to the stations that would most benefit from ADA accessibility.

  • Andrew

    It certainly wouldn’t have a major impact on overall ridership consisting of motorists who drive to and park at the station – two miles doesn’t make a big difference there.

    But it could attract a lot of riders for whom the mall is a destination, not an origin – both shoppers and employees.

    Whether it would be a worthwhile investment I don’t know. The simple fact that Cuomo is promoting it suggests not. But you know what they say about stopped clocks.

  • Maggie

    You’re right, I read this DNAinfo article with a $150 million price tag for four stations too quickly.

    I still want to emphasize how much the MTA throws around the idea that installing elevators is impossible without spending gobs of money, then spends gobs of money on areas with less of a tangible improvement than elevators. But you’re right that sogr projects can’t be overlooked either.

    My own main reason for wanting to have ADA compliance at Astoria-Ditmars is to make it a better transfer to get to LGA with luggage from the N/W. Obviously it matters a lot more to those who can’t use the stairs. I just think it’s ridiculous that the greatest city in the world can’t be bothered to install elevators for airport connectivity.

  • Maggie

    Also I’d just add that given the ADA became law in 1990, I dont think it’s unreasonable to expect elevator installments to be the norm wherever they’re physically possible. I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t agree that it’s “unfair” for a station to get an elevator just because it needed other repairs. All the stations need elevators, yesterday. To me it’s indefensible that in 2018 we would even talk about limited funds for elevators at the same time Cuomo is busy installing USB ports.

  • Andrew

    The problem with ADA is that it’s an unfunded mandate. By any rational assessment, it will almost always make more sense for a large, old, underfunded transit agency to favor projects that serve all of their riders (station conditions, signals, power, cars, etc.) over projects that serve a fraction of one percent. I think accessibility for the disabled is important, which is exactly why I don’t think it should have to compete with those other categories for capital funds. Accessibility for the disabled should be funded from an entirely separate pot of money, not linked to transit at all.

    The funding strategy as it exists will inevitably fail someone, either the disabled community (by not installing elevators at an adequate pace) or the ridership as a whole (by not adequately maintaining the subway system as a whole). I’m not happy with either of those options, but I’m certainly not going to ask any transit agency to ignore its basic needs for the 99%+ who can climb stairs in order to focus instead on a fraction of one percent.

    Or as Andy Byford put it:

    “To wait for perfection at every station?’’ he said.“Some will fall into a dangerous state of disrepair, and you will fall into my scenario of, ‘yes it’s ADA-compliant but oops’” — the station would be inaccessible because it had fallen apart.

  • Andrew

    I’m certainly not advocating for projects that are primarily or exclusively cosmetic. There are far better ways to spend that money, whether on ADA improvements or on legitimate station repairs or on projects entirely unrelated to stations, such as new signals. You’ll note that the ESI program is Cuomo’s baby; it isn’t something the MTA dreamt up on its own.

    It’s Astoria Boulevard that has the connection to the M60, and that station is already getting elevators. (Presumably the M60 connection is why it rather than Ditmars Boulevard was slated for elevators in the first place – although Ditmars is the busier of the two stations, it would probably have much lower elevator usage.)

  • Maggie

    Do you have a source with the timing for Astoria Boulevard elevators? All I can find is an article from 2013 saying the MTA would have an elevator in place there by 2016.

    Here’s who elevators matter to. http://qns.com/story/2017/11/07/astoria-moms-say-mta-didnt-think-families-neglected-add-elevator-subway-renovations/