Friday’s Headlines: The Many Car-Centric Faces of Governor Cuomo Edition

I’m heading back from the National Association of City Transportation Officials convention in L.A., so here are today’s headlines while I’m in transit (which is near Barstow, right?):

  • The big news yesterday was Gov. Andrew #StatusCuomo. The Times did a broad overview of the governor’s $13-billion plan for JFK Airport, but the story quickly shifted to how little vision Cuomo actually has. Politico’s Dana Rubinstein (she shows up here a lot, doesn’t she?) picked apart the plan, which is linked to a major Cuomo donor. The NY Post said it’s too expensive and doesn’t even include more airplane capacity. The Daily News quoted Cuomo complaining of the “spaghetti bowl” of roads inside the airport (as if that matters). Vin Barone at amNY also indulged the governor’s car-centric view of life in the city. And @2AvSagas suggested Cuomo has an edifice complex.

  • In other Cuomo news, the governor once again touted congestion pricing as the way forward for easing city traffic and fixing the subway — though he still thinks the city needs to pay for half of Andy Byford’s $40-billion plan. (Crain’s). Dan Rivoli in the Daily News pointed out that Mayor de Blasio has been lukewarm on congestion pricing, citing “fairness” issues (which the governor mocked).
  • NJ Transit was a hot mess yesterday due to a derailment. (NYDN, NY1)
  • I was very disappointed to see NY1 fall for the lie that bike lanes impede emergency vehicles when blocked roadways are always the fault of illegally parked cars.
  • Several outlets pointed out that the NYPD is still violating city law by releasing some — but not all — of the demographic information on fare beaters. (amNY, WNYC, Aaron Gordon)
  • NextCity followed coverage of the killing of Dan Hanegby with a broader look at the slow pace of positive change in the Vision Zero era.
  • Failed State Senate candidate Ross Barkan went back to his journalistic roots with an op-ed in City and State about how de Blasio should fix the buses. I, for one, would like to see Barkan get back to his true gift — insightful reporting — rather than just giving his opinion.
  • The Forest Hills Post followed our story about delays in implementing vital street-safety improvements on Queens Boulevard.
  • I was happy to see that so many outlets were interested in the story of Paul Steely White’s departure from TransAlt. Here’s how Crain’s, Curbed and Metro covered it.
  • And, finally, here’s a chance to really nerd out about why grid plans are better than other street configurations. (Public Square)
  • Larry Littlefield

    JFK was rebuilt. I’ve never had a problem with the roads — once I get there. Maybe some of the airlines need new buildings. Others just got them within two decades. But there is no reason to tear the whole thing up.

    The problem is they eliminated the free shuttle bus when the installed the extremely expensive Airtrain. And then cut service on the Airtrain, even thought it is driverless. Plus subway service to Howard Beach is infrequent, since half the A trains go to Lefferts.

  • sbauman

    Ridership on buses in the city dropped 21 percent between 2002 and 2017, a period when the city’s population grew by 7 percent.

    There’s less in this statistic from Ross Barkan’s article in City and State than meets the eye. As many have noted, there’s also a subway system in NYC. The problem with the statistic is that subway access is not distributed uniformly throughout the city. If most of the population growth occurred within walking distance of a subway station, then a there’s an alternate explanation for this statistic. Residents prefer subways over buses.

    Where was the population growth? I used the LEHD census data to track the number of workers by home census block from 2002 and 2015 (the latest year for the LEHD data). The census block can be used to determine the distance from a subway station. The results are: 78% of the growth occurred within walking distance of a subway station (0.5 miles). Thus, the 7% population growth represented only a 1.5% growth for potential bus ridership.

    An additional 19% of the growth occurred within census blocks there were between 0.5 and 2.5 miles from a subway stop, which is within bike share or e-scooter distance.

    This leaves only 1% of the 7% growth to census blocks (0.07%) that are further than 2.5 miles from a subway stop.

  • JarekFA

    Anyone who claims that congestion pricing is regressive is just telling you they haven’t ridden a bus more than 5 times in the last year.

  • crazytrainmatt

    Operationally, the disconnected terminals dramatically reduce operational flexibility and their continued consolidation has been in the cards for a long time. This fragmentation was a major contributor to the meltdown at Terminal 1 last winter. When your plane is stuck waiting for a gate, there are often gates free at other terminals that can’t be used because the airline doesn’t operate from that terminal, they aren’t widebody or international capable, etc. T2 and T7 (the ones being replaced by extensions of adjacent terminals in this plan) make poor use of the space they occupy and don’t have much life left in them.

    The focus on a one-seat ride is misdirected as NYC is too polycentric for a single express to midtown. Airtrain frequency definitely needs to be increased and ideally the cost would be lowered. If they eliminate the T2 and T7 stops when construction of the new terminals is done, that will save a few minutes. Free transfers from the subway to the LIRR would shift more airport passengers onto the direct trains which save 15″ over the E and are far more reliable. ESA will eventually open a second midtown terminus, and bringing the Atlantic branch downtown would be far more useful than extending the rockaway branch to JFK.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Progressivism” is a posture, and hasn’t been a philosophy since at least the mid-1960s.

    The political/union class drives. A charge might be seen as favoring the executive/financial class, which has more money to spend BEFORE it gets to early retire Florida, over the political/union class. The needs of the serfs, on mass transit or bicycles, aren’t even in the discussion.

    While is 100 percent of public employee retirement income exempt from state and local income taxes? Given that most people don’t have anything other than Social Security coming to them, how is that “progressive?” Why isn’t the value of placard parking counted as income, and taxed?

  • JarekFA

    and bringing the Atlantic branch downtown Lol — in what – 40 years from now?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Really. We can’t get the SAS to the MetroNorth and Lex stops at 125th Street when there are existing tunnels up to 110th.

  • The headways at Howard Beach are downright insane and it’s inexcusable that they’ve done nothing about it. Who at the MTA looks at the SCHEDULED timetable and thinks a 21-minute gap at 9:02am is acceptable? Or 22 minutes at 10:02am? Or 23 minutes at 5:31pm? Or 24 minutes at 10:31pm? These are wider gaps in service than OVERNIGHT service and it’s insane that the MTA thinks this is an acceptable way to greet visitors to our city who want to use transit.

    The grandaddy of them all is on Sunday night. Hope you’re not coming home from a weekend trip around 9 or 9:30pm, because if you miss the A train at Howard Beach at 9:55pm, you’re going to have to wait 26 minutes for the next train.

    In fact, this is the only reason I end up using a FHV to get home to Bushwick from JFK. It’s a 33 minute ride to my stop from Howard Beach, but if I just miss an A train off-peak, I could be waiting upwards of 24 minutes (or more if a train is delayed). Tack that on and it’s faster to use Lyft, even with the traffic on the Van Wyck at its worst.

    Of course, fixing this and adding frequency to the A train would be a heck of a lot cheaper than widening the Van Wyck. But I doubt anyone involved in this project has even considered the A train headways a problem.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Hope you’re not coming home from a weekend trip around 9 or 9:30pm, because if you miss the A train at Howard Beach at 9:55pm, you’re going to have to wait 26 minutes for the next train. I’ve been burned by this one too many times to count.”

    I got hit by massive delays on the air side the last time I went to JFK. Yes it was a Sunday night, but we didn’t land until far after midnight following an emergency landing at Newark — where they wouldn’t let us get off the plane until we took off again after refueling and landed at JFK.

    We arrived, and JFK was mostly shut down, as virtually no planes were arriving or departing. So there were no taxis. So what to do? As a former New York City Transit employee, how about mass transit?

    Forget it. The wait was really, really, really long for both the Airtrain and the A train — and then I had to switch to the F train. People with those types of experiences swear off transit forever.

    NYCT should extend the C to Lefferts, and run all the As at least as far as Howard Beach. Or run additional shuttles between Howard Beach and Euclid, where all the As and Cs could be transferred to.

  • Joe R.

    While we’re at it, why hasn’t the threshold for taxing Social Security benefits been raised? It’s been at $25,000 for singles and $35,000 for couples since the federal government decided to start taxing Social Security benefits. Everything else in the tax system is indexed for inflation except this. The original point of the law was to tax some of the Social Security of higher earners. Now the law is hitting people who are solidly middle class, like my mother. Part of Trump’s tax cut should have been to immediately adjust both numbers upwards to account for inflation since the mid-1980s, and then to index them for inflation every year. Instead, he gave a tax cut to the rich, and to corporations, neither of whom really need it.

    As for NYS not taxing pensions, consider it also doesn’t tax Social Security. In a sense it’s fair to not tax retirement benefits because taxing them means the government needs to raise them to provide the same amount of after tax income. In all fairness though private pensions shouldn’t be taxed, either. However, there should be reasonable thresholds. Not taxing a $20K or $25K pension is one thing. The $80K pensions a lot of teachers get should be taxed. That would be a back door way for NYC and NYS to get back some of the money from the (probably illegal) retroactive pension increases.

  • Joe R.

    $13 billion for something that will benefit the tiny minority who use air travel regularly is insane. This poor and middle class use subways far more than they use airplanes. That $13 billion would be better spent of subway repair and expansion. If Cuomo really has a hard on to do something big with airports, here’s a suggestion. Expand Kennedy into Jamaica Bay with landfill, build a few more runways and terminals, and once that’s done shut down LaGuardia. The f-ing noise from the planes taking off from LaGuardia affects a few million people. It’s also a horrible location for an airport in terms of landing. Once you get rid of LaGuardia, you’ll have acres of prime waterfront real estate ripe for housing. The amount that land would sell for would probably pay for the entire project.

    The last piece of the puzzle would be to provide real world-class rail transportation from Kennedy. Extend the Airtrain all the way into Manhattan so it’s a one-seat ride.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Why does the payroll tax only apply to work earnings, which is all the serfs get. As opposed to rich benefits, which the political/union class gets, or investment income, which the executive/financial class gets.

  • Joe R.

    The payroll tax should apply to all types of income, with the caveat that the first $25K or so of all income is exempted to prevent this regressive tax from impacting the poor.

  • Larry Littlefield

    How about a VAT in its place, in theory assessed on everything spent, but with a per person rebate to exempt the first $3,000 of spending per person?

  • Joe R.

    That works also. In fact, long term we should get rid of payroll and income taxes in favor of VAT taxes. Besides saving the country billions annually on accountants, people won’t have to file tax returns.

  • kevd

    $12 billion would be from airlines, though.
    Somehow I don’t think Jet Blue will be putting billions into the subway…

  • Joe R.

    OK, I didn’t catch that part but it’s still a waste of money. That’s $12 billion which could towards lower airfares instead.

    And I think we should change the name back to Idlewild. It has a nicer ring to it.

  • kevd

    yeah, cause that’s what they’d do with it…

  • AnoNYC