Today’s Headlines

  • Lyft in Talks to Acquire Citi Bike Operator Motivate (Bloomberg)
  • Investigation of Sanitation Salvage Reveals a Lawless Company Where Life Is Cheap (ProPublica)
  • Strong Words From the Daily News Endorsing Congestion Pricing to Pay for Byford’s Transit Plan
  • NYT: Most Important Part of Byford Plan Is Reforming MTA Project Management
  • TwoParter on Subway Delays Making New Yorkers Late for Work (Post)
  • De Blasio Won’t Talk About Fair Fares, So Riders Alliance Invented a Mayor Who Will (AMNY)
  • Ah, the Mind-Bending Inscrutability of MTA Service Change Posters (News)
  • DOT Showed Its 9th Street Design Concept to the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership (Bklyner)
  • Drunk Mercedes Driver Injures Four People in Two Collisions (News)
  • How Should You Deal With the Stress of Biking on NYC’s Car-Centric Streets? (Gothamist)
  • Cuozzo: Signals? The J Train Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Modern Signals (Post)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    I suggest that the tone of the headline on the Cuozzo piece be changed. He is being stupid, or disingenuous, trying to get the cost of signal modernization up so high it doesn’t happen.

    The signals on the J/M/Z were replaced in 1989. They are approaching 40 years old — not young but not old by NYCT standards. Aside from times when debts and pension increases have required capital reinvestment to stop, signals have been installed and replaced at a 60-year rate since the dawn of the system.

    The plan isn’t to modernize all the signals. The plan is merely an acceleration of the prior pace of signal modernization. They aren’t going to go back and replace the new signals on the Concourse Line, which were replaced less than two decades ago.

    In fact, all this plan may be is an attempt to catch up from prior periods of neglect and get back on the 60 year schedule. Instead of having entire lines served by signals more than 75 years old, described by engineers as the drop dead date.

    If they do catch up, the signals on the JMZ will come due for replacement in 20 years from now. In a very different world than the one I expect to see, one of the last crossover junctions in the system would be replaced by a flying junction at the same time.

    But this can only happen if all the older signals have been replaced by 2029. And the city, state, MTA and federal government are not bankrupt or having all their money go to seniors and debts at the point where the youngest Baby Boomers have turned 65.

  • fdtutf

    The signals on the J/M/Z were replaced in 1989. They are approaching 40 years old — not young but not old by NYCT standards.

    2018-1989 = 29. They’re not even 30 years old yet.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You are right. So they will be up for replacement in 2039. But the point still stands. Without catch up, it will not be possible to replace them even then.

    Many IND signals date to the early 1930s. The BMT Broadway line in Manhattan goes back even further. The core of the IRT system was replaced in the 1950s. I ought to be under replacement now, but it’s in line behind even older systems.

  • sbauman

    Age should not be the sole factor determining deciding the repair/replace question. One big problem for repair will be finding new replacement components. This problem is compounded because the railroad industry does not use off the shelf components. Very few manufacturers are willing to produce obsolete components for a vanishing small niche market.

    The same problem will worse for the “new SOA” signal systems to be installed during the first 10 years. Until Moore’s Law is repealed, the replacement parts for the new equipment won’t be available in 15 years. This harsh reality means that their initial cost must reflect replacement every 15 to 20 years.

    There are system design strategies that can extend life expectancy. They have not been followed by the CBTC manufacturers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    When I was at NYCT, there was talk of increasing the replacement rate. At those prices, there is no way this could be afforded. Instead, the replacement rate was cut.

    What you seem to be saying is we’ll have self-driving cars and vans and buses moving passengers and self-driving trucks moving freight, but the rail system — which should be able to do both better easier — will continue to deteriorate.

  • HamTech87

    LimeBike in Yonkers has had 11,000 trips in just 2 weeks, according to Mayor Spano. Stunning considering how steep the hills are in Yonkers, aka “The City of Seven Hills”.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The City of Hills, where nothing is on the level!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Interesting piece on Marty Golden’s disability pension. He was skydiving while disabled.

    “Golden has been paid over $1 million in tax-free pension money since 1983 — the year a car struck the ex-cop while making a narcotics arrest, severely injuring his knee. He’s paid a monthly allowance of $2,777, according to the New York City Police Pension Fund. That money comes on top of his base salary of $79,500 as a state senator.”

    On the other hand, it is hard to argue with his disability pension if he was actually injured in the line of duty in a way that limited his mobility, and bad wheels don’t limit one’s ability to sky dive. As I noted, the scammers are those who get in their full 20 years, working massive overtime at the end to pad the pension, then suddenly turn up disabled. Golden went out very early, or his pension would be much higher.

    But this also shows that gunshots are way down the list of threats to live and health for our police officers. Behind motor vehicle crashes, donuts and depression in that order. I’ve got a relative who ended up having to retire — at far beyond the 20 years in his case — in large part due to a traffic crash while serving as a motorcycle cop. I’ll bet crashes account for the largest share of actual police officer disability.

  • Joe R.

    Isn’t the point of the plan to accelerate the installation of CBTC, not replace conventional signals with newer conventional signals?

  • HamTech87

    And Ofo just rolled out on the streets of White Plains. Now we need to start seeing better infrastructure in both cities.

  • Larry Littlefield

    That was always the plan. Three pilot projects — Canarsie, Flushing, Culver — followed by faster rollout of a now “cheaper” alternative.

    Except Siemens has a lousy track record of making massive profits on sky high prices in New York, and has no competition.

  • vnm

    Good piece by Gothamist on reducing stress.

  • Knut Torkelson

    Impressive editorial piece from the NYDN on congestion pricing- short, to the point, and accurate.

  • ohnonononono

    How was the “core of the IRT system” replaced in the 1950s? I ask because the MTA presents these projects today as herculean tasks. Was the IRT in Manhattan shut down 24/7 for years in the 50s to do signal work?

  • Ian Turner

    Crashes also account for the largest share of officer deaths.

  • Joe R.

    It’s interesting to contrast this with my mother’s experience getting disability. She worked for the TBTA and eventually her carpal tunnel syndrome got to the point she could no longer do the job. Unfortunately, TBTA insisted there had to be a specific incident causing disability, not general wear-and-tear from doing the job. After fighting them she ultimately prevailed but they cut off her disability multiple times and ordered her back to work. Again, she eventually prevailed but not after fighting each time.

    She went out on disability in roughly the same time frame as Golden but her disability was nowhere near the $2,777 he got. I think it was around $1,500. On top of that, the disability stopped at age 65 on the theory Social Security and her (very small) pension would provide income after that. I don’t know why Golden should continue to get a disability pension after age 65. He should just get Social Security and whatever pension he’s entitled to based on his years of service with the NYPD and final salary.

    Also, overtime should never be used in the calculation of pensions, whether regular or disability pensions. Far too many people request (and get due to seniority) lots of overtime in their last year or two solely to pad their pensions. Padded pensions by definition can’t be planned for in advance by the city (hence shouldn’t be allowed).

  • AMH

    If the F is running on the Q and the D, what makes it an F?

    Perhaps it’s time to take a page from early IRT-style route designations, and call it the Hillside Av-Queens Blvd Express-63 St-Broadway Express-4 Av Express-West End Local. No posters necessary.

  • AstoriaBlowin

    Ooof, White Plains if you are not in a car is pretty grim, 6 lane speedways all over downtown. It’s a great size for biking if there is a good protected network but that city destroyed itself for the car.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Not only did they replace the signals with second generation equipment, starting with the original IRT, but they also lengthened the platforms for many local stations, originally just half length for shorter trains on the 1904 line.
    Paid a little price. The number of interlockings was cut. Some stations were closed rather than expanded. The 1954 bond issue “for the Second Avenue Subway” was diverted to repairs. And they cheaped out on improving the interlockings at Franklin Avenue and 96th Street, limiting capacity and routing flexibility.
    Hmmm — I wonder what the plan is for those two interlockings this time? I know people at NYCT have always wanted to redo Franklin Avenue at least. That would require tunnel work as well as signal replacement, however, to eliminate an at-grade junctions.

  • ohnonononono

    Right, I’m just curious as to how service was run during all the work they did in the 50s. It seems to have been no big deal, while today very minor work requires extended shut downs for long periods of time…

  • I thought he was using the information as a jumping off point to write a paean to the J train and the neighborhoods it serves, in a slightly tongue in cheek manner. I enjoyed it.

  • sbauman

    What you seem to be saying is we’ll have self-driving cars and vans and buses moving passengers and self-driving trucks moving freight, but the rail system — which should be able to do both better easier — will continue to deteriorate.

    That’s what happens when an industry first ignores technology and then tries to invent its own technology to catch up.

  • Komanoff

    Agree 100%. They’ve been putting out editorials like this for awhile. They’re all excellent, and somehow each new one outdoes the prior.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Someone else maybe. Not this guy.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I have no idea. The histories I’ve read just describe the work being done. There wasn’t as much BS back then. And for what it’s worth, the Third Avenue Elevated was running until 1955.

    I can’t find it, but I do recall seeing a photo of a poster that claimed that with new signals and bigger stations the IRT could pick up the load.

  • Ian Turner

    It’s not really “the industry”. There are plenty of self-driving trains in the world. Just not on the MTA’s watch.