Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo Failed to Close on Congestion Pricing With NYC’s Car-Centric Assembly Reps (NYT)
  • Taxi/Uber Fees Will Pay for Permanent Expansion of Subway Repair Workforce (News)
  • Unreliable Subways Are Robbing New Yorkers of Their Time (NYT)
  • Remembering Gelacio Reyes and Calling for Action to Prevent Loss of Life on 43rd and Skillman (WNYC)
  • The Mayor’s Very Touchy About the Suggestion That the BQX Won’t Happen (News)
  • Running NYC Transit Is Tough, But at Least You Don’t Have to Field 3 AM Calls From Rob Ford (Post)
  • Freight Rail Poised to Grow in NYC Region Without Building a Harbor Tunnel (Crain’s)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Critically Injures Woman, 65, on Remsen Ave in East Flatbush (News)
  • Ben Kabak Breaks Down the Flimsy Lawsuit Against the L Train Shutdown Plan (2nd Ave Sagas)
  • How Nicole Gelinas Would Phase in Better Congestion Fees (CJ)
  • Prepare for the L Train Outage With a TransAlt Bike Train (WPIX)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • crazytrainmatt

    I’m for congestion pricing as much is anyone else here, but it seems like blaming Albany is letting the city off the hook too easily.

    The city can stripe as many red bus lanes as it wants tomorrow. NYPD is a city problem. The city could reign in placards immediately. The city could change parking in business districts to short-term market rate at any time. AFAICT the city could institute tolls on the free bridges or put a bike lane on the Brooklyn bridge tomorrow. I’m not sure how far the state or MTA jurisdiction extends beyond the bridge and tunnel approaches, but the city could certainly redesign the surrounding traffic sewers to reduce push the impact of excess traffic volumes out of pedestrian areas — for example, 2nd Ave and the midblock access roads around the Queensboro and QMT, Canal St, or streets leading to the FDR onramps. A cordon would still needed to moderate traffic from the north, and a unified pricing scheme would reduce gaming the system but the point is that city politics are just as dysfunctional for the majority of residents and workers.

    Another example where city departments could work outside the box is in automated traffic enforcement. Others here have suggested traffic cameras reporting to insurance or public shaming, even if they aren’t authorized to levy a fine. This would be a clear way to build support for enabling legislation. I wonder if the city could also discipline public employees or revoke driving privileges for such unofficial violations. The city certainly has leverage over fleet owners in contract with the city or needing city permits.

    The TLC is already tasked to prosecute these violations for taxis independent of NYPD, I wonder if anything prohibits them from setting up automated enforcement of their own. Certainly nothing keeps an enterprising streetsblog reader from downloading the Reported app (a more convenient frontend to 311 TLC complaints) — this is one of the few instances in the city where personal action leads frequently to clear, direct consequences for the offender.

  • AnoNYC

    The city government is so slow to come to any solutions it’s maddening.

    We could solve the bus lane problems without Albany. Just separate them with tuff curbs and flex posts. Direct the NYPD to patrol entry points and heavily fine any violators.

    We could keep protected bicycle lanes clear with a single bollard at entry points.

    We could close more and more streets to automotive traffic, and expand sidewalks along busy corridors with paint in a matter of weeks (e.g. 5th Ave).

    Our government is incompetent and will readily halt a mobility or safety improvement immediately for unjustified complaints.

    I say us transportation/street safety advocates come together and invest in a forklift. Let’s just drop huge rocks in areas where drivers don’t belong.

  • Fool

    So the Unions are getting what they want. More people. No talk of productivity increases anywhere.

  • Larry Littlefield

    How is the capital plan being funded?

    The truth is it isn’t, and they are getting away with not talking about it — other than Cuomo’s plan to have city taxpayers fund the entire MTA capital plan — past and present — including the portion for the LIRR and Metro North.

  • Larry Littlefield

    It could be worse. The schools got a 3.9 percent increase in state funding as other things were cut. The Regents and unions are meeting to discuss what service cuts to impose since the schools are being “cheated out of $billions.”

  • bolwerk

    Productivity isn’t a great dimension to focus on with the MTA right now. First we need to worry about job design and technological deployment. A given conductor might be very “productive” but the job doesn’t really make a lot of sense, or at least doesn’t if you have a modern transit system. Ditto for other roles, like token booth clerks. And hell if I can keep track of what goes on behind the scenes.

  • Fool

    I agree with you. I am writing about productivity in the traditional economic sense.

  • JarekFA

    This is what I can’t stand about de Blasio. He has tremendous power to redesign the roads and how they’re used, regardless of the ability to raise revenue. You don’t want 12th/13th streets to be jammed up parking lots? Remove the car parking, narrow the lanes further, thus reducing car capacity further — and voila, people wont drive on them. OR this —

    700 parking spots in the heart of DUMBO, right next to the Manhattan Bridge/BQE and the F (and not far from the A/C). What’s that going to do. It’s going to cause people to drive. A ground floor Trader Joes and day care facilities — nah, parking instead.

  • Guest

    The NY Times story is instructive: congestion pricing advocates failed to counter the false narrative that they were elitists imposing a tax on the unwashed masses who just wanted to take Sunday drives over the bridges for free as they had been doing for years.

    A congestion fee targeting only the Midtown business district would make more sense politically and practically. There are comparatively few constituents and legislators to piss off, and with a more focused fee, the benefits could be targeted to public transportation improvements in the same area: more express buses to Midtown, railway and subway station improvements to relieve crowding, and even street changes like widening sidewalks, pedestrianization, and bollards. It would be a demonstration that pricing could deliver tangible benefits. Leave the politically charged issue of the bridge crossings for another day.

  • AnoNYC

    Bus lanes have been a great way to encourage mass transportation ridership and reduce personal automobile priority.

    The big issue right now is that they are continually violated. The recent budget calls for an increase on the allowed number of bus lane cameras. I think it’s insane if the state limits the numbers of cameras per route (there’s huge gaps in the bus lane network that are missing cameras).

    The city could solve this issue with physical separation where applicable. Tuff curbs with close set plastic posts on top should be enough.

  • JarekFA

    The NYPD simply doesn’t care about enforcing the law against bus lane violations and are indeed some of the wort violators. It’s absolutely disgusting how supper progressive mayor of the fairest city in the United States is so oblivious on this. Today, the Livingston St bus lane was completely full of cars again including an NYPD van. It’s so f—ing shameful. Makes me sick.

  • AnoNYC

    I don’t see how Midtown is any different than areas to the south of it in regards to mobility. Almost everyone takes mass transportation into the greater Manhattan CBD during the day. The data is clear as day as well. And the improvements would be used to improve mass transportation citywide.

    The problem is that the politicians cater to those that are like them. Those that drive everywhere. The ruling class+city workers drive.

  • AnoNYC

    I don’t see any overhead cameras in that photo either. Or anywhere close by.

    Where are the bus lane enforcement cameras? There are huge gaps on our routes.

  • Isaac B

    44 bus passengers were injured when a bus driver mistakenly took the Southern State Parkway. Note that the Parkway was deliberately designed by Robert Moses’ people with low overpasses to be “unforgiving” to people not driving cars. Why are roads like this allowed to continue existing?

  • Guest

    That’s the problem with congestion pricing proposals to date: one zone is being targeted for a charge to fund diffuse improvements city- and region-wide. Policies that concentrate costs and spread benefits seem rational from a data perspective but often don’t work politically. If congestion pricing is to be accepted politically, especially in this populist age, the benefits need to be targeted to the people and places that will bear the costs. Midtown has the worst congestion, the most commuters, and fewer residents than elsewhere, so it is a logical place to try it out.

  • Vooch

    the obvious solution is have the ‘interstates’ exclusive for commercial vehicles

    and the ‘parkways’ private plus commercial under 7,000lbs ( ie vans and pickups )

  • qrt145

    “Policies that concentrate costs and spread benefits…”.

    Isn’t the criticism of congestion pricing the exact opposite? People argue that the benefit will be concentrated in the CBD, while the cost will be spread among everyone within driving distance of the CBD.

  • JarekFA

    I’m pretty sure Albany just authorized a bunch of additional bus enforcement cams — and they’re all going to Manhattan.

  • (“rein in placards”)

    You’re right that the City could be doing much more; for instance, it could step up enforcement against commonplace congestion-inducing driver behaviorss as double parking.

    Unfortunately, the police department considers our civilian government irrelevant, and recognises no obligation to take direction from the mayor. So the idea of empowering other agencies to do enforcement is a good one.

  • AnoNYC

    It’s bad enough there are limits on camera enforced routes, but to limit the number of cameras per route just about blew me away.

  • Andrew

    The recent budget calls for an increase on the allowed number of bus lane cameras.

    Only on previously approved SBS routes in Manhattan south of 96th Street.

    The SBS routes in Manhattan south of 96th Street are the M86, M79, M34/34A, and M23, plus part of the M15. Riders on the rest of the M15, on the M60, on the portions of the Bx6 and Bx12 in Manhattan, on the SBS lines outside Manhattan, and of course on non-SBS lines citywide don’t count, I guess.

    The city could solve this issue with physical separation where applicable.

    And then the SBS or limited bus gets stuck behind the local, or behind an express bus, or behind a bus that’s boarding a wheelchair passenger. Physical separation is great if there are two bus lanes. If there’s only one, it can be disastrous to service.

  • AnoNYC

    Insanity. All the routes need more cameras. Every inch of bus lane should be covered.

    And I recommend tuff curbs so the buses could bump over them. Then again so could violators, but it might scare off some.

  • Guest

    The Fix NY program is clearly designed to spread benefits by allocating the congestion revenues to a range of projects throughout the metropolitan area. In fact, there is no single big idea that has caught the public imagination in this plan other than taking money from drivers and giving it to the MTA. While that might benefit a lot of people if the money is spent well, it’s too abstract.

    The problem with the strategy of spreading benefits widely is not that it fails to placate the critics (who will latch onto whatever criticisms they can come up with, whether based in reality or not), but rather that it fails to build a strong base of support because the improvements for most affected people would be so marginal–or even, in their perception anyway, a net negative. Polls showed net opposition to congestion pricing in much of the city. I have known people who do not even own a car and take transit every day to become upset at the thought of one day having to pay a toll to drive across the Queensboro Bridge.

    That said, you are right, the charging plan does also suffer from its costs being spread too widely. The charging zone as designed is too large for a feasible, focused program of improvements, and as a result the charges disturb too many people with diverse interests without providing corresponding benefits. A smaller and more targeted plan with a more targeted and tangible program of benefits would be more likely to work.

  • Andrew

    Insanity. All the routes need more cameras. Every inch of bus lane should be covered.

    Absolutely – all bus lanes and all bus stops.

    To fend off the complaints from motorists that they weren’t actually delaying anyone, install the cameras on the buses themselves, and set the fine to be a multiple of the people delayed (everybody on board the bus, plus the fraction of passengers boarding at all stops downstream who can be expected to have been at the stop in time to catch the bus had it not been delayed by the bus lane blocker). Any motorist who blocked a bus lane but didn’t actually delay anyone won’t be fined.

    And I recommend tuff curbs so the buses could bump over them. Then again so could violators, but it might scare off some.

    If we were discussing a situation that happens a few times per month, that might work. But buses on busy lines have to pass other buses multiple times per run. They’re not going to do that if the standees will get bounced around excessively crossing a curb. Violators are far more likely to bump over the curbs than buses carrying passengers.