Tuesday’s Headlines: Horse Long Gone, De Blasio Locks the Barn Edition

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Perhaps it’s fitting that Mayor de Blasio spent the weekend in Iowa — because upon his return on Monday, he promptly locked the barn door after the horse had escaped. Yes, one day after the Times’s future Pulitzer winner Brian Rosenthal blew the lidtwice! — on the decade-long taxi medallion Ponzi scheme, Hizzoner returned from the presidential campaign trail to pronounce himself shocked — shocked! — that such things were happening in the New York he’s overseen for more than five years (reminder: the Daily News opined about this more than a year ago).

“Today I ordered a joint investigation by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Department of Finance and Department of Consumer Affairs into predatory practices by brokers in the taxi industry,” the mayor said in statement (the Post did a story). “The 45-day review will identify and penalize brokers who have taken advantage of buyers and misled city authorities. … It’s unacceptable to prey on hardworking New Yorkers trying to support their families and we’ll do all that we can to put an end to it.”

The mayor isn’t the only one deciding to act. State Attorney General Letitia James — wasn’t she once Public Advocate? — has opened an investigation. On the plus side, according to Rosenthal’s latest follow-up, Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Member Mark Levine want the city to buy out the bad medallion loans to re-level the playing field. They’re onto something, but a city bailout seems unlikely from a mayor who won’t even find a few hundred dollars to convert illegal e-bikes into legal ones for exploited delivery workers.

In any event, stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s what else happened yesterday:

  • NY1 blew up the expense budget sending Bobby Cuza to London to review city’s 16-year experience with congestion pricing. Cuza’s solid report lays out a few cons (for some drivers) and a lot of pros (for everyone else). Tally ho!
  • Vin Barone at amNY and David Meyer at Streetsblog took a similar angle on the MTA bus cuts. (Hint: They’re bad.)
  • Gov. Cuomo’s L train fix is looking better and better. (NYDN)
  • Jose Martinez at The City had a nice scoop that revealed that many of the subway system’s worst elevators and escalators are maintained by private landlords, not the MTA.
  • Gothamist — again! — maintained its leadership over the “weird ads floating in the East River” beat.
  • Hoboken started its e-scooter pilot days after the devices became legal in New Jersey (everything is legal in New Jersey). (PIX11)
  • Here’s a long read about the history of women and cycling. (Curbed)
  • The MTA was again urged to put a bike and pedestrian path on the Verrazzano Bridge. The agency says the $300-million plan is infeasible, but advocates say that dollar figure is inflated. Guse at the Newsuh had the story.
  • And, finally, everyone’s pal, Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal, posted an epic Twitter thread about how unsafe de Blasio’s New York remains for cyclists. (We loved it, of course, but our self-promoting editor was also quick to point out that if Gay is making a run for Bike Mayor, he better get in line behind Doug Gordon and Gersh Kuntzman.) “New York City officials likes to slap itself on the back for becoming a better cycling town, and it’s loads better than it was decades ago, but it still has a TON of work to do to be safer for cyclists,” he started, before continuing…

  • Larry Littlefield

    So now they want the people of NYC to accept additional service cuts or tax increases to pay the inflated price of taxi medallions so those who sought to monopolize them can get out whole? Sounds like what happened in 2008, so perhaps it’s practice for bailing out the rich again as President.

    But DeBlasio is hoping to ride the teacher’s union — and retired, not working teachers, and certainly not parents and children — to the nomination. So there is no money for anything else.


    We’re certainly going way over $200,000 per 12 students spent on instructional (ie. teachers) spent for FY 2017 when the Census Bureau data comes out later this month, with an average class size of 27. Unless the UFT ordered Stringer to falsify the figures submitted to the Bureau.

  • Sassojr

    “Disabled residents are also exempt, along with emergency vehicles and motorcycles.”

    What’s that? Motorcycles are exempt in the benchmark that everyone sets for congestion pricing? Perhaps it’s because they reduce congestion and pollution? You don’t say.

    The trains are already running at track capacity and on some lines over passenger capacity. We should be focusing on rebalancing how people commute. Motorcycles are part of the solution by taking up FAR less space on our roadways while being far more flexible on the roads. Motorcycles deserve a full exemption, just like every other major city who implemented congestion pricing.

    “It’s a slippery slope, then everyone will be asking for an exemption”

    None of those groups getting an exemption does anything to solve the problem. They are entirely self-serving exemptions. “I do this job in the city, so I deserve an exemption (for my giant SUV/work truck, NJ plated vehicle, etc.).” Those people still contribute to congestion regardless of their profession. Again, motorcycles reduce congestion. A full exemption would convince some drivers to give up their gas guzzling SUVs and move to more practical and size appropriate motorcycles. If 10% of drivers did this, congestion drops 40%.

    “Motorcycles should only get a partial discount”

    Nothing less than a full exemption will garner drivers attention, producing an actual mode shift that diversifies how people commute. A full exemption will get drivers to consider switching to more efficient and practical motorcycles.

    “The MTA needs every single penny and no one should get an exemption”

    The MTA (well, NYCT) doesn’t fully serve all of its residents, and this plan does NOTHING to help residents in transit deserts via expansion. Thanks, a 110 minute commute taking two buses to a crowded subway is now only 98 minutes thanks to marginal improvements in both buses and trains. Outer-borough residents should have low-cost options into the city that don’t involve two buses to a train. If even 10% of drivers switched to motorcycles, that’s a drop in the bucket of revenue that the MTA could easily adjust to (especially if those asshats didn’t bond the revenue…).

    New York desperately needs to rebalance how people commute into the city; not to simply crowbar everyone who lives more than 10 miles out into an already full subway car. Motorcycles have proven to be a part of the solution in London, Stockholm, and Singapore. Let’s not reinvent the proverbial wheel.

  • Jacob
  • ddartley

    Not exactly apropos of any of today’s headlines but an important question for a precinct community council meeting I plan on attending tonight:
    I know it’s the pattern for bikeshare globally, but where can I find the very latest actual stats that show whether citibike is involved in fewer crashes than personal bikes? Data on pedestrian-involved collisions especially useful. Thanks.

  • qrt145

    Are those quotes you are responding to from one of the stories mentioned above? I couldn’t figure out which one.

  • Larry Littlefield

    How much does a motorcycle weigh, how fast does it go, and how much room does it take up to move and park? Less than an SUV, but a lot more than a bicycle or transit rider.

  • Sassojr

    My bike weighs 300 lbs, a tenth of a small sedan. We have a lot more in common with bicycles than cars. Both in weight and size. You can fit 10 motorcycles in the space of one SUV. If we parked bicycles as efficiently as we can park motorcycles, you can for two bicycles in the space of one motorcycle. But a motorcycle can take you 60 miles to work everyday without polluting as much as a car, or congesting the road.

  • Sassojr

    Not sure of your point. The more riders we have, the more noticeable we are and the lower the rate. One per week is still less than bicyclists now, so are you arguing that we shouldn’t allow bicycling in NYC?

  • Sassojr

    Initial quote from the article. The remainder are arguments we’ve heard as to why we shouldn’t get an exemption.

  • ddartley

    If we’re talking about congestion, it must be added that you can’t *drive* 10 motorcycles in the space of a one SUV. And, I hate SUVs as much as the next guy but they can transport more people and goods than a motorcycle. (Yes, so have the superior station wagon and minivan for decades.)
    I will give you this though: street design itself (maybe more importantly than the congestion charge structure) should be rethought to be more accommodating to smaller vehicles like motorcycles and ebikes.

  • Sassojr

    You can’t drive 10 in one SUV’s space, but the efficiency ratio is about 1:4 (hence the 10% shift being equivalent to reducing congestion by about 40%).

    As for people and goods transport, I wasn’t arguing everyone needs to switch everything away from cars. Peak congestion is rush hour. Nearly every car I ride by on the FDR in the morning is a single occupant or cab driver with one passenger.

  • Joe R.

    Absolutely no bailout for the big medallion holders. I think we should consider a bailout for the individual owner/operators, but most of it should be funded by fines from banks which made the loans and/or liquidation of the medallions of those who hoarded medallions. They both created this mess, let them both pay to fix it.

  • Cherylnyc

    I agree. Motorcycles and motor scooters are ideal urban vehicles. I live in Red Hook, Bklyn, with limited public transportation options. I’m a professional sculptor/scenic artist and I need to transport my tools to and from work. I simply can’t do that on public transportation, even if a subway stop were to magically produce itself on my corner. I have no trouble loading my tools up on my fuel efficient motorcycle. My co-workers load up their giant pick-up trucks instead. Incentivizing motorcycles and scooters would demonstrably reduce traffic congestion in NYC.


NYC’s Taxi Regulations Are Obsolete. How Should They Change?

The de Blasio administration’s proposed slowdown in new for-hire vehicle licenses for a one-year study period could be the opening move in a major rewrite of the rules governing the city’s taxi and livery industry. The current system is an anachronism, and a big overhaul could harmonize the city’s growing array of medallion taxis, green cabs, and Uber-type services in a way that lessens the […]