Today’s Headlines

  • Forget About More Citi Bike Growth Under Bill de Blasio (Gothamist)
  • Cuomo Isn’t Interested in Transit Fixes He Won’t Be Around to Take Credit For (NYT)
  • Voice Scopes Byford Plan Obstacles, in Addition to Cuomo; Related: AMNY
  • Yesterday’s Queens Subway Meltdown Was So Bad Straphangers Were Diverted to LIRR (Gothamist)
  • Team de Blasio Doesn’t Know How to Deal With Cuomo’s MTA Bullying (NYTPost)
  • What to Expect on E/F/M/R Trains When the L Shuts Down (Voice)
  • PANYNJ Chair O’Toole Denounces Murphy Bid to Bring Back Deputy Director (Politico)
  • More on City Hall’s Dockless Bike-Share Pilot: GothamistAMNYPostNY1
  • TLC Is Replacing Taxi Meters With Screens (NY1)
  • Motorist Critically Injures 59-Year-Old Man in Graniteville Crosswalk (Advance)
  • Jamaica: Driver Runs Red, Kills Passenger in Second Vehicle, Flees Scene (NY1News)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Fool


    Only going to get worse indeed the tunnels switch to their “summer temperature.”

  • Vooch

    my bike arrived on time today

  • Larry Littlefield

    The DeBlasio Administration is heading into year five. If Citibike didn’t wasn’t operational when he was first elected, and the review of the locations was just beginning his first winter on the job, would it exist today?

    In any event, the latest in a series of posts I’ve put up on on Census Bureau state and local government employment data for 2016 (latest) vs. 2006 is on transportation.

    The big surprise (to me) is that from 2006 to 2016, NYC local government full time equivalent mass transit employment didn’t go down, though it did trail the growth of population. I have yet to find a data source that reports a significant decrease in employment to correspond with the decrease in service and maintenance. I have no idea what is going on.

  • Jim Holt

    May I say how invariably informative/illuminating I find Larry Littlefield’s comments on this site? (I just did.)

  • Simon Phearson

    I find your constant repeating of this line obnoxious, but I definitely can say that subway delays have pushed me to be more consistent in choosing the bike for commuting. I don’t mind, exactly – I’m getting into better shape! – but it is wrong, damned wrong, for people to be pushed off mass transit onto bikes. We can’t handle all of those subway riders taking Uber, and we probably couldn’t handle them on bikes, either. (But it would be fun to see the drivers try to deal with that kind of mass usage.)

  • sbauman

    Two Village Voice articles by Aaron Gordon were linked in the Headlines recently.

    Mr. Gordon has revealed why the MTA and NYCDOT have been so late in coming up with mitigation plans. The reason is that the MTA intends to operate very few additional trains into Manhattan to replace the 20 trains per hour that will be removed from the L. It does not matter whether the exclusive bus lanes are 12/7 or 24/7. They will be as much help as nothing.

    People should be demanding why the MTA cannot operate more trains into Manhattan. They should not mimic Mr. Gordon’s shortcoming as accepting any explanation as gospel.

    A case in point is the second referenced article which noted that the MTA will expand J/M/Z service from 21 tph to 24 tph for a gain of only 3 tph. The excuse that Mr. Gordon accepted is given in the lead photo’s caption: “By forcing trains to slow down, the curve limits the bridge’s capacity to 24 trains per hour.” This curve has been in place since the Bway-Bklyn Line started Manhattan service in 1908. The BOT ran 27 tph over that curve in 1949 and the NYCTA reported 26 in 1954.

    There may be a reason why the MTA cannot perform as well as its predecessors but that reason isn’t slowing down for that curve.

    Let’s examine what constraints the Marcy Ave station places on service level capacity. This involves estimating the time for each operation for going into and out of the station. That total time is the minimum headway which can also be expressed the maximum service level by the obvious equation:

    service level = 3600/headway

    (there are 3600 seconds in an hour).

    These calculations can be made in any spreadsheet and involve only high school physics (as taught in NYC 60 years ago).

    0. description, equation, value
    1. travel speed between Hewes and Marcy (mph),,30
    2. service brake rate (mph/sec),,3.0
    3. emergency brake rate (mph/sec),,3.0
    4. curve speed (mph),,15.0
    5. acceleration rate (mph/sec),,2.5
    6. distance to clear station edge (ft),,50.0
    7. distance to next signal (ft),,400
    8. train length (ft),,480.0
    9. station dwell time (sec),,45.0

    These are the constants that can be adjusted for various what-if scenarios. Line 4 is taken from a GT (grade timer) sign for the operator before the curve. Line 6 is the distance from the platform edge and the insulated joint that defines the station entrance and exit blocks. There’s a signal just after and one before each station. This is the distance from the platform edge to the insulated joint associated with this signal. It’s usually within a couple of feet of the signal. Line 7 is the distance from this signal to the next one towards Manhattan. The distance is taken from the signal ID’s, which note the position in 100’s of feet. The train must pass this signal it to be safe for a following train to enter the station. Line 9 is the time the train is motionless within the station. It includes the time for the conductor to open and fully close the doors.

    Here come the calculations for going to Manhattan. We’ll calculate the time it takes the train to fully clear the station while leaving.

    12. time to reach curve speed (sec),=B4/B5,6.0
    13. distance traveled (ft),=B4*1.47/2*B12,66.15
    14. total distance to clear station (ft),=B6+B7+B8,930
    15. additional distance to travel at curve speed (ft),=B14-B13,863.85
    16. time to travel additional distance (sec),=B15/(B4*1.47), 39.18
    17. total time to leave station (sec),=B16+B12,45.18

    Now let’s look at how long it takes a train to enter the Marcy Ave Station from Hewes St.

    20. Service braking time from speed (sec),=B1/B2,10
    21. Distance traveled whil braking (ft),=B1*1.47*B20/2,220.5
    22. Additional Distance from Signal at Station entrance (ft),=B8+B6-B21,309.5
    23. Time to travel at speed in station (sec),=B22/(B1*1.47)
    24. Total Braking Time From Signal At Station entrance (sec),=B20+B23

    We are now in a position to calculate the minimum headway and the maximum service level

    26. Minimum headway (braking + dwell + leave),=B17+B9+B24
    27 Maximum Service Level (tph),=3600/B26,33.6

    We should also look at the emergency braking distance, to satisfy those who still believe the Williamsburg Bridge collision was caused by speeding trains.

    29. Emergency Braking time from speed (sec),=B1/B3,10
    30. Distance Traveled with emergency brakes (ft),=(B1*1.47/2)*B29,220.5

    The station is 480 feet long, so a train hitting the tripper at the station entrance would stop within the station. The distance between signals at the station exit is 400 feet, so a departing train would not overrun the block and hit a stalled train.

    The 33 tph theoretical figure almost exactly matches the BOT and NYCTA figure of 32 tph. This is true even with a extremely large dwell time of 45 seconds. However, Marcy Ave is likely to be crowded, when the L shuts down. That’s vastly different than the 24 tph max figure from NYCT’s chief of operations, that Mr. Gordon reported.

    Even adding only 3 additional M’s gives NYCT fits according to today’s link to Mr. Gordon’s article. Two R trains would have to be eliminated from Queens Blv to compensate for the extra M’s. The obvious solution is to short turn any extra M’s at Queens Plaza in the relay track between Queens Plaza and 36th St that’s designed for this purpose. This would require NYCT to examine its fumigation policy that limits service levels to well below what’s operationally possible.

    Short turning extra M’s at Queens Plaza and getting closer to the WB’s 32 tph capacity would actually provide equivalent capacity into Manhattan. The L currently operates 20 tph. Approximately 25% of the riders are expected to opt for the buses, bikes and ferries. This still leaves 16 train loads left stranded. Adding 7 tph of additional M’s would bring the number of M’s to 15 tph. This is the service level for both the E’s and F’s, with which the M must merge. This would mean a return to balanced merges. It would also mean 8 more M’s each over the Williamsburg Bridge and through the 53rd St Tunnel. That’s a total of an additional 16 tph more for the L riders. It at least matches what would be required, assuming that 25% of the current riders are lured into using buses, ferries and bikes.

  • JarekFA

    Can they run the W to Bay Ridge to offset the decrease in Rs? Or are they limited by the number of extra train sets?

  • We could easily handle a multi-fold increase in the number of bicyclists on our streets.

    But the refrain “my bicycle arrived on time” is obnoxious because it throws mockery at the people suffering due to chronic subway delays, and because it suggests that the solution to the subway’s problems is to abandon the subway.

    Treating subway riders who are frustrated by the deteriorating state of the subway with dismissal is the wrong thing to do. And to couch this dismissal as promotion of bicycling is a big mistake, because it leaves a bad impression of bicyclists with people who should be bicyclists’ allies.

    Transit and bicycling are appropriate ways to get around a city, while driving is not. So both bicycling and transit are solutions to the problem caused by the automobile in the urban setting. They should never be pitted against one another.

    One can suggest to riders of the subway the benefits of commuting by bicycle without being nasty to them. We should save our snark and our derision for automobile drivers, who are the cause of everyone’s problems (including their own).

  • kevd

    The Manhattan bridge bike path may reach a capacity limit surprisingly soon.
    A couple days this week it was the busiest I’ve seen in in 16 years.

  • Right. The bridge paths are the concentration points where a large increase in bike traffic could overwhelm the existing infrastructure. I have seen pleasing crowds of bikes on the Williamsburg Bridge as well (which somehow doesn’t dissuade the most idiotic pedestrians from walking on the bike side, despite the fact that they have an entire side of the bridge to themselves).

    But in the street-based infrastructure, even a (let’s get nuts!) quadrupling of bicycle trips would be seamlessly absorbed in most places, though maybe Eighth Avenue’s bike infrastructure would have to be expanded to two lanes each way.

    Ah, what a pleasant fantasy.

  • Simon Phearson

    The pedestrians walking on the bike-only side of the WB bridge – particularly BK-bound – know exactly what they’re doing. They just view themselves as entitled to do whatever they want, no matter how much risk they’re introducing into the traffic on the bike-side.

    Annoyingly, we’re starting to get regular traffic flow over the QB bridge, as well. And I don’t mean Citibikes. I mean people posing for pictures in and across the bike lane. Just not the place for it.

  • kevd

    as much as i’d love to see a 4 fold increase on city streets, I’d hate to see it on the MB during my commute.
    The DOT would probably start forcing everyone to walk across the bridge, like the MTA tries to on its bridges.

  • Yow. Imagine the DOT punishing us for increasing our numbers. Scary enough to be realistic.

  • kevd

    They punish us for everything else, so why not?

  • Knut Torkelson

    To answer your question, De Blasio would never have started an initiative that would take away parking spots. He has absolutely zero backbone when it comes to taking on drivers and and the parking entitled.

  • Knut Torkelson

    I disagree. Certainly true for some of the pedestrians, but many are clearly tourists who don’t know any better. The signage on the BK entrance to the bike path is atrocious.

  • AMH

    Yes–we need these historical numbers (both TPH and passengers/hr) to hold MTA’s feet to the fire on abysmal performance. They absolutely should be expected to explain why they cannot provide service that is better than 80-100 years ago.

  • It’s both. Speaking as a daily rider over the Williamsburg Bridge who is not shy about telling pedestrians about the existence of the pedestrian side, I can say that I sometimes encounter tourists or newbies who don’t know that the pedestrian path exists. But, more often, I encounter locals who just don’t give a damn.

    The sign at the Brooklyn entry is not bad; it instructs pedestrians to go to Bedford Avenue. In the past few weeks it has become defaced with stickers of various sorts, which is a problem. The previous sign was totally covered, and eventually removed, which exacerbated the problem of pedestrians on the bike side. When the present sign was erected, this was no small victory.

    With this as with every single other problem of this sort, the only answer is enforcement. I often imagine how nice it would be for a single police officer to be standing at either side of the bridge’s bike path. That cop could not only inform the pedestrians to get the hell off (and could ticket the ones who refuse), but he or she could do something about an even worse problem: scooters on the bike path. And I don’t mean only e-bikes, which are bad enough; I mean gas-powered scooters, and even the occasional motorcycle.

  • Vooch


    I‘s argue if cycling were a fully mainstream mode in NYC, much of the subway overcrowding could be eliminated.

    For example, if ‘ a significant percentage’ of UES & UWS subway riders going to midtown and lower manhattan could cycle, suffering subway riders from Bronx would gain tremendously in comfort and perhaps even speed.

    plus cycling is essentially free so improving cycling helps the poor most of all.