Wednesday’s Headlines: The Disco Era Returns Edition


The 1070s: Wide sideburns. Wider ties. Disco. But it wasn’t all bad — because way back then, some workers dug part of a tunnel for the Second Avenue subway. Well, the MTA is finally going to use that tunnel, which stretches between 110th and 120th streets, saving $500 million, the Daily News reported. Fortunately, disco is not returning with the revival of the tunnel.

And here’s the rest of the news:

  • MB

    1070s, hehe

  • AMH

    “Wide sideburns. Wider ties.” You forgot wide lapels and wide hems. And wide subway tunnels! The SAS was going to be 6 tracks at one point, and I think the 1970s version was still going to be at least 4.

  • com63

    Do they even consider doing cut and cover construction for new subways anymore? Seems like the tunneling/excavation costs are so through the roof and must dwarf the business/utility relocation and traffic congestion costs. Just dig up the street and put it back. Compensate the local businesses for lost business.

  • sbauman

    The approach suggested by Mr. Levy, using the signal system to implement ATO, is unnecessarily costly and time consuming.

    Automobile manufacturers have used an autonomous vehicle approach. They are not waiting for vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) nor vehicle to vehicle (V2V) to be implemented. Individual vehicles are equipped with vision sensors and ever more powerful computers to provide this feature. A Tesla that retails for less then $100K comes with the necessary equipment to solve a far more difficult problem. It also comes with the vehicle.

    Such an implementation makes more sense because there are only about 650 trainsets in operation in NYC. That would come to only $65M to implement system wide ATO, assuming Tesla’s $100K cost per trainset. It’s a bargain at even $1M per trainset, allowing for implementation inefficiencies within the MTA.

    Moreover, such an implementation is possible with the existing infrastructure. There’s no wait for CBTC’s implementation. The ATO’s vision system would detect obstacles on the tracks, making platform edge doors unnecessary, saving an estimated $1B.

  • Elizabeth F

    > The Times offered a west-of-theHudson-eye view of congestion pricing. Should we have sympathy for the Jersey devils? Nah. Meanwhile, NY1, for some reason, focused its anti-congestion pricing coverage on a single Staten Island businessman.

    Let’s rehash the history of congestion pricing here. Gridlock Sam suggested a combination of congestion pricing and normalizing tolls across bridges and tunnels to make things fair for everyone. This would have been especially attractive to many outer borough residents, who have to contend with ridiculous tolls in transit deserts. What we got was a half-baked congestion scheme that did nothing about the tolls. So it’s now no surprise that everyone who lives near a toll bridge is clamoring for special treatment on congestion pricing.

  • AstoriaBlowin

    You’re saying they should use a technology that doesn’t exist? There’s no autonomous vehicles made by any company. There are some vehicles that have some features that allow the car to partially see and interpret its surroundings. Stage 5 fully autonomous vehicles are still years maybe even decades away. And how could the lead train car see far enough ahead of itself in a tunnel to be able to detect the train set in front of it, operate at speed, and have enough stopping distance to safely slow down and brake if the train ahead of it has to stop? Signals are this is done in functioning, well run metros all over the world.

  • AMH

    Possibly my greatest concern is that the proposal doesn’t address truck drivers toll shopping by driving over the Manhattan Bridge to go from Brooklyn to NJ. Faced with the choice of a $25 congestion fee or a $100+ toll on the Verrazano, they’ll continue to drive across Manhattan.

  • Joe R.

    And how could the lead train car see far enough ahead of itself in a tunnel to be able to detect the train set in front of it, operate at speed, and have enough stopping distance to safely slow down and brake if the train ahead of it has to stop?

    That’s the problem in a nutshell. Motor vehicles can almost always stop within lines of sight. Trains can’t. Radar or cameras or other means of detecting vehicles ahead can’t work around curves. There has to be something incorporated into the wayside to tell the train behind that there’s a train ahead of it. Signals were the default way of doing this since the beginning of railroading. The only other thing I can think of which might work is a system of wayside transceivers. You space the transceivers so they’re always within line of sight of a train (this means more on sharp curves, a lot fewer on straights, more as you approach stations). When a train passes a transceiver, it informs the adjacent transceivers, which in turn inform their adjacent transceivers, and so forth. Each transceiver will know if a train just passed, and how many transceivers ahead it is. The spacing of the transceivers in each location is known, so the transceiver can also calculate how far ahead of it the train is. When the next train reaches that particular transceiver, it can query it and learn how far ahead the next train is. It can then adjust its speed as needed.

    I’m not sure, but I think some implementations of CBTC work similar to this. The beauty of this system is the transceivers don’t need to be hard-wired to each other. They just need to be connected to a source of power. Hence they can easily be installed anywhere and/or respaced if necessary.

    The bottom line is I’m not seeing how anything which depends solely on equipment in the train, without anything at the wayside, can work. Sure, maybe if lines of sight are enough on long straights you can do away with the transceivers there, and just use visual or radar detection. I’m not seeing how it can be done on curves.

  • sbauman

    I should have been clearer.

    The autonomous system’s vision system would recognize the existing signals system’s aspects, speed limit signs, and markers of where to stop within each station. Autonomous ATO would not require a change to the existing signal system. The eyes to see far enough ahead to avoid collisions has been in place for over 100 years.


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Mayor de Blasio tries to hear — then ultimately didn't really answer — a question from Streetsblog's Julianne Cuba at his presser at Trump Tower on Monday: Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography

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