Thursday’s Headlines: Cleaning Up the Private Carting Mess Edition

It was  a big day in transportation news, capped by State Sen. Marty Golden slayer Andrew Gounardes thanking livable streets advocates from StreetsPAC and Families for Safe Streets for putting him over the top against the eight-term incumbent and street safety pariah.

Here’s the rest of the day’s news:

  • Politico broke the story that the city would unveil its long-awaited plan to fix the corrupt and reckless private carting industry by creating set turf for each company to bid on rather than dozens of 50,000 trucks racing through the same areas every night. More details emerged from the Daily News, Crain’s and Waste Dive (you did know we subscribe, right?).
  • Meanwhile, the NYPD updated Streetsblog’s earlier story about the rogue industry, revealing that officers wrote 515 moving summonses and 555 criminal court summonses — and seized 17 private sanitation trucks — in the NYPD’s one-week “crackdown.”
  • The Post, which broke the story yesterday about Ninth Street killer driver Dorothy Bruns’s suicide, had details from her last words. (NY Post)
  • Democratic control of the State Senate should mean better subways. (amNY)
  • The Times offered some second-day coverage of candidates we were following, including stories on Staten Island Rep.-elect Max Rose and Queens Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio. NY1 also chatted with Rose.
  • PATH train riders will get to use their cellphones underground … to likely phone in complaints about the PATH train. (NYDN) The story reminded our editor of his prior coverage of this crucial infrastructure issue.
  • More details emerge about the 90-year-old pedestrian killed Wednesday in Queens. (NYDN)
  • More tweaks are coming to express buses on Staten Island. (NY1)
  • And, as we well know, winter is coming. So it’s never too early to think about shoveling snow, as the DOT reminds us in a tweet:

  • Larry Littlefield

    Yup, its the Democratic Party’s MTA now, and we shouldn’t forget that it’s the Democratic Party’s contractors and unions that have charged us more and more in exchange for less and less. The Republican Party isn’t around anymore to be in on the deal and share the blame.

    DeBlasio only wants $millionaire’s to pay more, but we already have a $millionaire’s tax. Cuomo only wants drivers to pay more. Perhaps there needs to be a discussion of where all the existing money is going before ANYONE pays more, and NOT just at the MTA.

    After all, if the Democrats tell the unions/contractors they have to start offering the serfs a better deal or else, what are they going to, threaten to endorse Republicans?

    (Actually, if the legislators don’t vote for the retroactive pension increases to benefit those retired or soon to retire that they are ordered to, we might actually get some contested primaries).

  • Dr. Bones

    Speaking of shoveling snow, I notice every day as I ride citi bike down the Columbus bike protected bike lane that it still hasn’t been re-painted. Most drivers actually honor the invisible bike lane! But it’s getting covered with leaves, and I wonder if they will get around to painting it before the first snow storm. What exactly is it that takes so long for this to happen? It’s been at least a month since they finally put down the asphalt.

  • Fool

    I don’t think cost reform of the MTA was ever a nonstarter in the GOP controlled Senate.

  • Mike

    Every time I read about people being able to use their cell phones on trains while underground I think about buying a cell signal jammer so that I won’t need to listen to a bored commuter kill time by loudly talking about nothing for twenty minutes.

  • Larry Littlefield

    It’s a non-starter period.

    So the plan is to raise taxes, raise fees, and use that to fund maintenance and capital expenditures, while all the other existing revenues are used for debt.

    But there is a precedent in labor law set by arbitration what says that any revenues the MTA receives can be used for larger wage and benefit increases for its unionized employees, since debt can be used for maintenance and capital expenditures.

    So if we do get congestion pricing and another tax increases for $millionares — say those households with more than $100,000 in non-retirement income per year — the result might be another huge round of wage and pension increases. Or just more money shifted to the schools.

  • AstoriaBlowin

    I am pleasantly surprised that the private waste zoning plan might turn out to be pretty good. I figured it would be watered down to be superficial changes that don’t push out the worst abuses of the industry. But I guess there’s still plenty of time for a death by a thousand cuts approach from the haulers and their cronies in city government.

  • fdtutf

    (1) That’s what headphones are for.
    (2) Most people don’t talk on their phones all that much anyway nowadays. They use them for other things.

  • Mike

    1) Not even fancy noise cancelling headphones shut out loudmouth phone talkers who are nearby — I have tested this on elevated sections of track.
    2) It doesn’t matter if it’s most people. You only need one nearby to significantly decrease the quality of the ride.

  • sbauman

    Why Were These Bus Stops Removed in the First Place?

    They had originally been removed from the new network in order to make trips faster. Instead, they are now being restored due to, in part, customer feedback and complaints about the distance between some stops.

    Time to rethink the mantra regarding increasing running speed?

  • AnoNYC

    People don’t really talk on the phone on the subway. Just take any elevated line in the city. It’s just not a big issue at all.

  • AMH

    Everyone always says this, but it never happens. I hear plenty of loudmouths talking about nothing, but they’re never on the phone.

  • Joe R.

    Texting and otherwise being distracted by their phone means it takes longer to load and unload trains. This is probably a significant cause of many delays. Unless you’re a doctor or a high-powered executive I don’t see why it matters if you’re not connected for a 20 or 30 minute subway ride. I never had a cell phone. Don’t need it, don’t want it. I bought a friend’s S5 when he upgraded to an S8 mostly to use as a gadget. The GPS and camera parts are very cool. If I’m so inclined I can surf the Internet wherever there’s wifi but I really don’t enjoy it on a tiny screen. But I have no inclination to ever use it as a phone. When I’m out, I’m out. I don’t want to be bothered. If anyone needs to reach me, leave a message on my landline.

  • Joe R.

    I have. It seems every time I take the bus to Main Street I’m sitting next to an old woman loudly talking in Chinese for the entire ride. Obviously I have no idea what she’s talking about as I don’t speak Chinese but most likely it’s nothing that can’t wait 20 minutes.

    And then there have been people I have overheard whom I do understand. I don’t need to hear about how evil your former girlfriend/boyfriend was, how many times a day you masturbate (yes, someone was talking about this), your vaginal itch, or anything else personal.

    That said, I don’t know which is worse, the ones who talk loudly about nothing on phones, or the ones who stink up an entire subway car with some disgusting smelling food (and leave their trash on the seat).

  • eastphilliamsburg

    From what I’ve pieced together, DOT’s striping plans are an uncoordinated mess based primarily on whatever contracted crews are available that day.

    Considering all of the lanes citywide that are without stripes, I would love some clarity on what’s actually going on.

  • Joe R.

    DOT’s repaving schedule is an uncoordinated mess so why expect their striping schedule to be any different? They’re repair 10 blocks of street one year, another 15 blocks two years later, and so forth, instead of just doing the entire thing at once every 10 or 15 years. End result is major arteries especially are never smooth all the way. Meanwhile, I remember when they repaved NY25 outside city limits. The 6 mile stretch I ride on was done in a relatively short time. They also have the traffic signals on sensors so I almost never see a red light at 2AM. NYC could learn a few things from Nassau County.

  • fdtutf

    Unless you’re a doctor or a high-powered executive I don’t see why it matters if you’re not connected for a 20 or 30 minute subway ride.

    If your train is stuck, having a cell signal means you can find out what’s going on and re-plan your trip. That’s why.

  • fdtutf

    (1) Turn the music up. (Noise cancellation isn’t designed to cancel out conversation anyway.)
    (2) The fact that so few people talk on their phones means you are unlikely to encounter them.

  • Joe R.

    On many subway trips there aren’t that many, or any, viable alternatives so it doesn’t matter. For example, if I take the E or F and encounter severe delays before Roosevelt Avenue I already know I can change for the #7. Or if the delays occur after Roosevelt I can switch to the M or R. Don’t need a phone for this. I was doing it in the 1980s. Or more recently, when I was coming home from Penn Station, the E train was out of service. No biggie. I walked a few blocks over and got the F. Didn’t need a phone for that, either.

    Conductors are supposed to make announcements if there’s a problem. That’s part of their job. If they can’t do that regularly maybe we don’t need them any more. If the system needs to depend on people carrying around expensive gadgets so they’re informed of problems something is seriously wrong.

  • Mike

    1) Why go deaf?
    2) Clearly you’ve never been on a train that hits the Manhattan bridge and suddenly people are yapping everywhere.

  • Jeff

    I used to ride Jamaica Ave/Jericho Turnpike out to Hicksville all the time, and crossing the county line was such a breath of fresh air! Sure, the speed limit is a little higher, and Nassau County doesn’t even pretend to acknowledge the existence of non-motorized users, but the dramatic difference in pavement quality more than makes up for it!

  • neroden

    It is necessary to increase running speed, and sometimes removing some stops is adviseable, but it’s always possible to remove stops which you shouldn’t have removed.

  • neroden

    Cost reform of ANYTHING was ALWAYS a nonstarter in the GOP-controlled Senate. These are the guys who had an unaccountable “Senate Slush Fund” which was running a secret TV studio to make campaign ads for Republicans on the taxpayer dime, remember.

    The Democrats… well, they are not THAT bad. Which isn’t saying much. But they might at least try to do something useful.

  • neroden

    The construction mafia is definitely the cause of at least half of the excess cost in the MTA. I’m not quite sure how to break their hold on the business. Hire Musk to drill tunnels?

    As for the operational unions, I really wish it was possible to make a “Transport for London” style deal: say, we are eliminating these jobs whether you like it or not, but we will keep everyone employed doing something, because there are other things which need to be done. So, go to One Person Train Operation but create a lot of station attendants. Close station booths but have station attendants “out with the people” — like London did. If the employees are concerned about security, have them out in pairs.

  • Daphna

    When I heard about the private waste zoning plan years ago it was actually a camouflaged push for greater unionization. A major part of the plan was to allow only carting companies with unionized workforces to bid. This is probably still part of the plan and should not be. This plan also takes away the choice that businesses have of who to use for their hauling. Businesses will be forced to hire whoever wins the bid for their area. While this limits small business’s choice of vendors, this will help to reduce the number of trucks on the road and make the routes more efficient. But this change should not be used as a way to force carting companies to compel their employees to join unions. Companies should be allowed to bid whether their workforce wants to be in a union or not.

  • sbauman

    It is necessary to increase running speed

    It’s necessary to decrease total trip time. That does not necessarily include increasing vehicle travel time, when walking to/from bus stops is included.

    it’s always possible to remove stops which you shouldn’t have removed.

    Those that are removed are always the one’s closest to my origin or destination. 🙂

  • Larry Littlefield

    Public sector cost reform. Will happen about the time as executive pay reform. Which is when nothing is left for anyone else.

    “The Democrats… well, they are not THAT bad.”

    Depends on where you are. The dominant party attracts self serving careerists, no matter which party that is, or where it is. It destroys corporations and religions too.

  • fdtutf

    (1) You don’t have to turn it up for that long or that often.
    (2) Clearly I have. Many times. But the trip over the bridge isn’t long enough to engender really long cell conversations (many of which aren’t really loud anyway), and if the train stops on the bridge, many of the people will be complaining loudly whether they have a cell phone or not.

  • fdtutf

    On many subway trips there aren’t that many, or any, viable alternatives so it doesn’t matter. For example, if I take the E or F and encounter severe delays before Roosevelt Avenue I already know I can change for the #7. Or if the delays occur after Roosevelt I can switch to the M or R. Don’t need a phone for this. I was doing it in the 1980s.

    How do you know whether switching to another line is a better strategy than sticking with the one you have? That depends on the details of what’s happening on the line you’re on. And conductors don’t always provide that level of detail. (In my experience, they generally do not.)

  • Joe R.

    You don’t, and I’m not sure you’ll get that info on a phone, either. My point isn’t that cell phones aren’t occasionally useful. Rather, it’s that most of the time they’re not. Also, we shouldn’t rely on people having an expensive piece of equipment which costs a lot of money each month just to get basic info. That creates two tiers of riders—those who can afford cell phones and those who can’t. The problem isn’t the purchase price of the phone. You can get second hand smart phones for probably well under $100 if you don’t mind a really old model. The problem is the cost of service, which typically is at least a few hundred a year. Someone living paycheck to paycheck just can’t afford it. That’s why the MTA should as a matter of principal give riders as detailed information as possible. Or better yet, just stop having so many delays, so they don’t need to tell people about the best alternate routes.

  • fdtutf

    Relying on conductors to provide very detailed information is a bad idea for a few reasons:
    – The human factor — some conductors just won’t be very good at doing it.
    – The fact that delivering complex information orally gives rise to a number of problems, including passengers’ ability to recall all the details and conductors’ ability to be completely clear when conveying that complexity.
    – The fact that a lot of people listen to music or other content while traveling.
    – The fact that information is often available centrally (and can be distributed via an app or the Web) much earlier than it can reach conductors.

    Before you try, none of these factors can be hand-waved away.

  • MatthewEH

    As they said on Sesame Street back in the day:

    “If you’re in a hurry, take the express
    It will go right by your local address.”

    (On the subway, that was, but it applies. 😉 )

  • Joe R.

    Not hand-waving or anything but I suspect a large factor causing train delays is increased time entering/leaving trains due to people being preoccupied with their phones. So ironically the thing that keeps people better informed of delays and alternative routing may well be contributing to those delays. The MTA should go back to having “people pushers” (for lack of a better word) in major stations to help enforce some sort of order when trains load/unload. There also needs to be a series of PSAs telling people that inconsiderate use of phones needlessly delays trains.

  • fdtutf

    Yeah, free clue: “I suspect” is hand-waving, especially when one goes on to assert the actual truth of what one only suspects.

  • Joe R.

    I think the MTA should at least do a study. Turn off cell phone service for a week or two during rush hours and see if the number of train delays significantly decreases. If yes, make the experiment permanent. Considering people on phones delay, or otherwise get in the way of people walking on sidewalks, I think it’s plausible they may also help delay trains.

  • fdtutf

    I think you’re full of crap and the MTA shouldn’t waste a single second on this. But we can agree to disagree.

  • Joe R.

    Still worth a study in my opinion. I can see with my own eyes how people on phones block sidewalks. It’s entirely plausible the same thing happens on transit. Without a scientific study, we won’t know either way.