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    Mark Walker

    Thanks for mentioning luggage because it’s the one thing that keeps me using taxis to airports. The ideal airport rail link to Manhattan would not only involve a single train but escalators or elevators to prevent less than perfectly robust people like me from having to carry luggage up and down stairs. If anything, the escalators and elevators are even more important to me than the one-train ride. There’s already a new elevator at my home IRT station at Bway/96. Give me a stair-free ride to the airport and I’ll gladly use it regardless of train changes, cost, or travel time.


    Peter Engel

    Prendergast to Lehrer (softly, off-mike) – “I have to say this crap or the boss will fire me.”


    Brad Aaron

    About two weeks ago.



    I don’t think any kind of rebranding of bus travel as in any way equivalent to heavy rail can pass muster. Even SBS can’t get past the fact that riding the bus is just a low quality experience overall.

    Maybe they could suck less if we had a better repaving schedule at DOT, or if the NYPD would do their jobs and enforce bus lane restrictions. But they don’t and likely won’t, and so buses of any stripe are doomed to be second rate. Most of the time I would rather walk than ride the bus.

    Don’t you wish we had a political economy that was less sclerotic and actually able to build the heavy rail infrastructure we desperately need? I say heavy rail rather than subway because it does not necessarily need to run underground. Take Tribobo Rx, for example.



    Dick Brown is an embarrassment. When is that clown up for re-election?



    I’m not sure I would characterize it as subway-bashing. It was probably the usual fallacy where comparing upfront capital costs between two projects is treated as indicating the total cost of implementing a decades-long project.

    Lazy journalism? Sure. Wrong? Definitely. Malicious? Probably not.

    Want BRT boosterism that actually crosses the line into, ahem, foaming? Check out this nugget from Enrique Penalosa, someone who is supposed to be a respectable voice for good transportation planning.

    Or, in a similar vein, take take the NYT’s pro-future-wrecking park advocacy.



    When I read stuff like this, all that comes to mind is that we have some of the most self-centered, stubborn politicians around. There isn’t a single problem in this city that cities around the world haven’t had and haven’t solved. The same goes for the country as a whole. MoveNY isn’t perfect, but it is light years ahead of any other plan or truth is, lack of any other plan, ever suggested.


    Joe R.

    I would love to see some sort of objective comparison between NYC and other places. Anecdotally though, it seems NYC is pretty bad. Other cyclists I’ve conversed with online talk of replacing their wheel bearings. Now it typically takes at least 5K to 10K miles before a bike wheel needs to have its bearing replaced. I just about never even get to that point. Typically for me, rear wheels get trashed in 2K to 5K miles. Fronts last longer, but I’ve yet to wear out the bearings on one before it needed to be replaced for some other reason. It’s always the same type of issues. Dents, dings, broken spokes, sometimes broken hubs. Eventually the wheel gets to the point where you can’t really get it true by playing with spoke tension. At that point its time for a new wheel. Alloy wheels seem to hold up better than the steel wheels I used to use, but it seems NYC streets are hard on bikes. I’ve also cracked 4 frames and busted a front fork.

    It’s not just the sheer quantity of street defects but also their nature. It almost seems to be universal thing for example that you’ll have chunks of asphalt missing right where concrete bus stops meet the asphalt. When these missing chunks are a few inches or more, they give you a nice jolt. Many of the types of pvement defects common in NYC are exactly the kind where a bike wheel falls in, then strikes the opposing edge really hard. If you don’t fall, you often end up with wheel damage.

    As I said, I would love to see objective studies, but by my nearly 72K miles of subjective experience riding here the streets have always been terrible for the most part.



    Don’t get me here wrong: the Willets Point route sucks.

    But the reason is it does fill a need, and better alternatives don’t always rule out the worse ones. Even accounting for Yonah Freemark’s points, the AirTrain route is still faster for a lot of trips, however flawed the route is.

    Maybe more importantly, the audience here is airport users who might very well have luggage that could take up a lot of space on a bus but would fit comfortably on any train except maybe at peak hours. The really time-sensitive airport users probably aren’t using transit anyway, so taking a bit more time isn’t a huge deal for them.

    The bottom line is just that the need would be better filled by com63’s suggestion, even a watered down version of it.



    Yesterday the Queens Chronicle ALSO posted an article about Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (who represents the communities from Ozone Park down to the Rockaways) asking the MTA to look into the feasibility of reactivating the Rockaway Beach Branch. Would have been nice to see it included in the headlines to balance out the pro-SBS, subway-bashing article…!



    Something funny: Yesterday the Queens Chronicle ALSO posted an article about Assembly Phil Goldfeder (who represents the communities from Ozone Park down to the Rockaways) asking the MTA to look into the feasibility of reactivating the Rockaway Beach Branch. But for one reason or another, that article didn’t make it into today’s headlines. Guess the RBB isn’t that important after all!



    I’d be curious to know about these payouts and rates of injuries in comparative perspective with other places.

    For sure, we don’t want holes that cause people to fall or trip or cyclists to crash. But how bad is NYC? I’m not sure.



    Actually, the Faithful think: BRT is the solution to everything, and SBS isn’t Real BRT™. And they always bitch about legions of foaming railfans. OTOH, in this case, many (not all) RBB reactivation advocates are engaging in some dickery of their own. They are often just car advocates cloaking themselves as transit advocates because they want to keep as many lanes open to private cars as possible.

    The sad thing is both Woodhaven SBS and RBB reactivation are both great projects that fill different and in some ways complementary needs. I guess an intellectually honest person could be against one or another, but not on the grounds of preferring one to the other.

    TFB, QChron probably just doesn’t think this stuff through though.



    The Thruway sells short term debt called Bond Anticipation Notes (BANS) which are backed by future bond sales. Once MoveNY was approved by the state legislature, it would be easy for MTA/NYC to immediately sell BANS based on MoveNY revenue. The issue here is purely political, not financial or policy. Prendergast would have been smart to say simply that the politics are too controversial for the MTA to base capital planning on MoveNY as a revenue source.



    Additionally, NYC area crossings have had EZ Pass for decades, London had no electronic tolling prior to congestion pricing. NYC even has EZ Pass readers in place in Midtown and elsewhere to monitor traffic movement. We’re already wired, they were not.


    Nathan Rosenquist

    Because MoveNY would provide a steady, dependable revenue stream (Protected from raids and theft by bond covenants) that would make Albany’s strong-arm control of capital funds obsolete. Thus less undeserved political power for Albany.



    From the Queens Chronicle article about Woodhaven SBS:

    “Building new subway lines is impractical, extraordinarily expensive, and for all intents and purposes not feasible. Bus Rapid Transit, however, is a solution that can ensure that more New Yorkers have world-class transportation and the opportunity for a better quality of life.”

    They’re doing that thing again where subway lines are bad! and SBS is the one and only solution to our problems. The Rockaway Beach Line isn’t so impractical when it becomes the cheapest way to establish Second Avenue Subway service to Queens, once Phase 3 is complete. It’s far from infeasible. It’s all about who has the political willpower to stand up to NIMBYs and those who think a greenway would somehow become a 2nd High Line.



    And to continue my thought, this could be a great area for transit accessible affordable/mixed income housing. All of the industrial area north of 20th ave could be rezoned and upzoned and you could have a transit accessible neighborhood of new dense affordable/mixed income housing. the city wouldn’t even have to build the housing. They could just build the subway and change the zoning and developers would take care of the rest.


    Joe R.

    I totally don’t understand how some of these proposals even pass the initial vetting process. Nearly everywhere else when you build a rail link from an airport it goes all the way to the city center. Granted, it may not always be a one seat ride but at least you’re not required to switch to slower local transit midway between the airport and the CBD. They made the same mistake with the JFK AirTrain by not having it go all the way to Manhattan. You would think they would have learned from that but apparently not.

    I tend to think you’re right. In NYC we use these projects mainly as jobs programs, not to solve actual transportation problems.


    Joe R.

    Highways are kind of pointless with a 30 mph speed limit (which incidentally wouldn’t be obeyed any more than the present 50 mph is obeyed). If anything, to attract traffic from surface streets NYC should increase highway speed limits. Besides that, the bulk of the payout here was personal injury claims, which I’ll take a good guess are mostly cyclists and pedestrians. A pothole may damage a motor vehicle, but it’s highly unlikely to cause injury.

    The real solution here is to just keep streets in good repair. Start by having a long term program to rebuild all major streets with concrete instead of asphalt. It’s really amazing to me how much better this material is. Sections of streets which are concrete, like some overpasses, literally haven’t been touched since I’ve moved to this area 37 years ago, and yet they’re still in decent shape. The adjoining asphalt streets are often terrible, despite having been resurfaced 5 to 10 times during the same period.

    One of the most basic functions of local government is to keep streets in good repair. NYC has been failing miserably at this for decades.



    The Willets point airtrain is such a bad idea. They are also proposing a ferry that would stop at the marine air terminal where you presumably would need to take a bus to get to the actual terminals after getting off the ferry. Here is a much better idea:
    Extend the N train to Laguardia, but this time add stops in the Northern part of Astoria (one along along 19th ave?) and at the Rikers entrance. Stop at the marine air terminal (to pick up ferry passengers) and then go to the new terminals. This gives a one seat ride to much of Manhattan and allows for better transit access in a large part of queens. Even if this costs way more than the Airtain, it is so much of a better system. It would just take some political spine to accomplish.

    The current airtrain proposal is just a jobs program that few people will actually use when current bus options are much faster.



    Don’t want to further burden all those working class people from queens driving to central manhattan for work. Oh wait, those people don’t exist or to the extent they do (plumbers, deliveries etc . . . ) they should pass the costs on to their customers.



    Speed humps are essentially a billboard that says “we acknowledge that we have failed in designing this street properly.”


    Jonathan R

    After reading the Times article about the pothole claims, I wonder how much in claims the city could save by lowering the speed limit on the highways. Stands to reason that hitting a deep pothole at 60 mph is much different than hitting the same pothole at 30 mph.



    But that is why they should be fighting for less congestion. I bet the get to expense any vehicle expenses and tolls so it wouldn’t hit their wallet. They probably are stuck in traffic more than the average NYer.



    Uber and Yellow cabs should be fighting for MoveNYC. Yes, they would have to pay the fee everyday, but it would only be once. They would more than make up for it in extra fares due to reduced congestion. We’ve seen how much political clout the medallion owners and uber have when they are fighting each other, just imagine if they lobbied together for something.



    Has NYCDOT published throughput or travel time numbers before/after for most bike lane installations? If they have, for those time periods are there any CBD-wide numbers you could compare them to?

    There’s a short ‘mobility’ section that might be worth a look, but isn’t as comprehensive as I was hoping for.

    I had thought the bike lanes were placed mostly where the impact on traffic would be minimal. Since the bike lane would be taking up what had been wasted or lightly used space, or there were already a large number of bikes and segregating them would improve flow for motor vehicles. So the amount of travel time delay you attribute to bike lanes seems high.

    Shouldn’t there by a line item for bike traffic though?

    Maybe bike lanes have had such a large impact, but most of the impact has been indirect, by increasing bike traffic on roads without bike lanes. If the city has taxi GPS data would they be willing to break down where speeds have decreased fastest? A correlation with increased bike counts could support a congestion reduction plan that included a targeted expansion of bike facilities.

    (if you dealt with this in your excel file, I wasn’t able to load it in google’s spreadsheet program or open office)



    And how do those politicians get around? There’s your basic answer.



    So maybe it won’t take 2.5 years to implement it – one year still seems quite optimistic to be.

    Not that that should stop us from starting.



    Maybe. On the other hand, this is Cuomo we’re dealing with.


    Alexander Vucelic

    one should also recognize that there are bike lanes and then there are bikes lanes.

    sharrows – are effectively not a bike lane. Try riding 2nd Avenue from 60th to 32nd. motors use these often ‘sharing’ the lane with riders

    painted bike lane – a kinda sorta bike lane. motors will use these

    protected bike lane – indeed these are semi-exclusive bike lanes which BTW do not remove one single motor lane in the CBD


    Alexander Vucelic

    a profound insight.

    sadly true


    Joe R.

    I think MR hit upon the reason in the comment right above yours. It’s sacrosanct to inconvenience drivers or charge them any more money, most likely because the most influential people either drive or are driven.



    Car drivers in this city have far more political pull than any other voting block. For some reason it’s okay to underfund the MTA and negatively impact the quality of life for millions of people, but inconvience far fewer drivers and politicians jump into action to defend them. Unfortunately the MoveNYC plan lacks any significant backing from a senior political leader who could champion the cause…we need adds on TV like the ones UBer And the Charter schools.



    The London charging system had to be conceived, designed and installed from scratch. I’m sure thousands of individual decisions had to be made (Robert Wright’s point). Whereas the Move NY plan has been ready to go for some time. And only 32 toll locations.



    (oh, I see you redacted below!)

    Not at all true.

    NYS? Yes.
    But Not NYC.
    Pataki ended it as a bribe to suburban commuters.
    NJ and CT filed a lawsuit and won (as everyone knew they would!).



    Yeah, but he didn’t say “NYC property tax”



    Once again it seems like the problems seem to originate from his boss.



    Makes sense.


    Prolly Nottenberg

    So, aside from being an unreconstructed asshole, what’s the real reason Cuomo and his minions won’t support the plan? Anyone?



    Andrew is right. He has been around a long time, and historically he has shown himself to be quite capable.

    If anything, he seems like a great person for the role. What isn’t fair is that Cuomo is probably taking advantage of that. But MAYBE you could criticize Prendergast on not being too great at the politicking thing.



    May 2000 to February 2003 is a lot longer than a year.

    Perhaps congestion pricing wouldn’t get us out of today’s mess. But would it forestall tomorrow’s mess? Then we should start working on implementation today.



    From what I’ve heard from those who have worked with/for him, he’s actually a fantastic MTA CEO, but he unfortunately feels the need (perhaps correctly, perhaps not) to kowtow to the Governor.

    When intelligent people sound incoherent, it’s often because they are saying something they don’t actually believe to be correct.

    This wouldn’t be the first time. Remember when Prendergast announced that the subway would run through the blizzard, and then he later announced that the subway would shut down for the blizzard, but the subway actually continued running through the blizzard even though the stations had been closed and nobody could get to them?



    That’s what happens when you enter an extreme state of cognitive dissonance to keep your job because your boss is a complete moron with whom you have to try to march in lockstep.


    Larry Littlefield

    Somebody needs to ask the question — why were NYC residents forced to endure service cuts and fare increases in excess of inflation to subsidize waste, fraud, and featherbedding on the LIRR? And why did Cuomo force the MTA to allow all the abuses to continue.

    Whose tribe are they?



    Wow. He not only seems like a horrible MTA CEO, but reading those quotes, I’m worried that he might be incapable of expressing a thought coherently.


    Tal F.

    Maddening that Amsterdam is being resurfaced now and may have to just be torn up again to inevitably install the bike lane once DOT gets their act together.


    Robert Wright

    In London, Ken Livingstone won the mayoral election in May 2000 and introduced the congestion charge in February 2003. That was in a considerably more complex environment, since there are far more places to cross the boundary of the London cordon than in New York, where bridges, tunnels and the south end of Central Park present a far simpler cordon. That time included all the necessary consultations, design of the program and at least one legal challenge. So it’s very hard to see why it would take long to introduce a system in New York.



    given that NYC sends way more in taxes to Washington than it gets back, I could make a great case for the Feds giving us the $10 billion per year.

    You could make the case, and indeed it would be a good case, but it wouldn’t get anywhere. New York gets two votes out of 100 in the Senate, and 27 votes out of 435 in the House. How many southern and midwestern Republicans are going to jump up and down and say “me first!” when you ask: “Who wants to give New York City $10 billion a year?”



    my mistake.