Skip to content

Recent Comments


    Howard Hecht

    How can we get PRT into the discussion? I feel that the transportation people have discarded it in favor of what they are familiar with. One MTA guy I spoke to never even heard of it and was shock it its concept and low capital cost.

    By the way, one Swedish company has, at least on the drawing board, a design that deals with the last few blocks or miles issue you raise. The PRT cab doubles as an electric auto and disconnects from the guideway to be driven to its owner’s car port. I don’t know if this would be practical in Queens or the NY suburban region, but at least smart people are thinking through the issues.



    If you are aware of dangerous conditions in an underrepresented area, please add.



    Hell at that price screw the SAS just put that on the east side in Manhattan.

    Of course in NYC it would probably cost more per rider than subway or El expansions, so not worth doing.


    Joe R.

    I’m familiar with PRT systems in general. Incidentally, the design of this system actually doesn’t preclude 150 mph even in NYC. The actual travel speed would probably be inversely proportional to how many vehicles were on the guideway. In the final analysis, this system could well offer better travel speeds than cars and nearly door to door convenience (i.e. you might need to walk a block or two at each end of the trip but not much more).


    Howard Hecht

    Are you familiar with the Sky Tran system. If not, Google it. It is of light weight, prefab construction. It has a two person maglev cab capable of speeds up to 150 mph (not that that is feasible in the NYC environment) and a demo project could be built for a rounding error in the MTA’s budget. While I am not a transit expert, I sense that in the Queens and suburban area of NYS, PRT is the right approach to get people out of cars and to create a modern efficient supplement to our rail system.


    Joe R.

    In Queens especially where many local trips aren’t amenable at all to public transit PRT would be just what we need. The idea of being able to go directly from point to point anywhere the system serves ultimately means PRT can be just as convenient as a car, but without the downsides. Moreover, since such systems are by their nature grade-separated, they aren’t subject to traffic delays, nor do they cause delays to anyone at street level.


    Joe R.

    Agreed. If NYC were really pedestrian/bike friendly then both would legally get priority over motor vehicles at intersections, regardless of the color of the light.


    Howard Hecht

    While BRT would be a great improvement, why not consider Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). Recent improvements in automation can result in a modern, efficient PRT system with sufficient capacity to move over 1,000 rides an hour on a demand call basis. Such a system might cost $10.0 million a mile. Google Sky Tran to see what is being planned by a NASA act company for Tel Aviv.



    What story is this from? The city is the opposite of pedestrian-friendly. How else would you describe a place where you can only walk a block before having to stop to let some cars go by?



    I should have made my post about the lack of infrastructure on the ferries here. Ooops.



    I’m wondering when the bike infrastructure on the ferries to Staten Island will catch up with the infrastructure in the city?

    The Alice Austen and the John Noble have no bike racks whatsoever. Some of the other ferries have slots for 4 bikes which woefully underserves the demand.


    Joe R.

    I’ll give it a try. Knowing me, I would probably choose direct 99% of the time.

    While I don’t know of any roads with cobblestones near me, I sometimes alter my routes to avoid roads in bad shape. That’s especially true if the road was cut in preparation for repaving. Those are worse than cobblestones in my opinion.



    Have you tried You can choose “safe”, “safer”, or “direct”.

    I just tested it for my commute home and it sent me over the cobblestones on Union Square West, so sometimes nothing beats experience, I guess.


    walks bikes drives

    Um, if her driving ability was so important to her job, maybe she shouldn’t have driven drunk?

    And if she can’t do her job because she chose to drive drunk, maybe he needs a new chief of staff who can drive, and will stay sober when behind the wheel?



    To me it’s just a psychological thing. When I approach a bus stop that has a lot of signage and real-time information, I take it seriously as a legitimate transit option. A pole in the ground with a little picture of a bus on it just inspires less confidence. Accuse me of being irrational all you want. I’m just a member of the riding public.


    Jonathan R

    Have you considered signing up for a FREE CELL PHONE with UNLIMITED FREE TEXTS from the Lifeline Assistance program, funded by the federal Universal Service Fund? If you receive SNAP benefits you can get one.


    Kevin Love

    “Her availability to represent me at various meetings and attend functions throughout New York City and Albany, New York, are critical to the successful operation of my office,” Wright wrote in the letter printed on official state Assembly letterhead.

    Kevin’s comment:

    I wonder if Mr. Wright believes that this letter may have just a tad more influence than a letter another employer whose much lower income secretary is just as critical to the functioning of his office. Perhaps a secretary who is not “…law co-chair of the New York County Democratic Party, helping oversee the screening panel that recommends judicial candidates to be selected by the party.”

    One law for them. Another law for us. Sigh…



    ““Her availability to represent me at various meetings and attend
    functions throughout New York City and Albany, New York, are critical to
    the successful operation of my office,”

    New York City = Subway, bus, ferry, bike, walking. We just took Greyhound to Albany two weekends ago, comfortable, cheap, and fast! Of course Amtrak goes there too and the views of the Hudson on the way are spectacular, much more expensive of course and usually subject to delays especially coming back.

    This is her opportunity to see how the other half lives!



    Have the editors and reporters at Crain’s ever been outside of the United States? Most First World cities have countdown clocks and digital displays at bus stops even though their smartphone technology is far more advanced than ours. It’s shocking to see wealthy people so openly advocate for a two-tiered transportation system: one with lots of info for people with smartphones and the other with a good amount of guessing for people without. It’s as if they are actually invested in our city resembling a banana republic.



    The city council should make it a priority to create legal avenues for rideshare companies such as Lyft to operate in NYC. A spectrum of options from dollar vans to exclusive luxury cars would help make better use of the vast number of private cars driving in the city, and take some stress off the MTA transit infrastructure.
    The TLC’s stranglehold on the supply of taxis has led to poor outcomes for individuals, who have to pay more for less, and for the city, which misses out on potential revenue from all these operators who are forced into the gray-market.



    Yeah, it’s really great PR to spend a lot of time publicly discussing your chief of staff’s DWI — make sure *everyone* knows she was driving drunk before she continues to represent you in the community. Really underscore it. I mean, that has to be better than to just let her take car services and public transit (and maybe not be able to do *quite* as much) while her license suspension runs its course. It’s best to make sure as many people are tarnished by this — the staffer, the assemblyman, the assesmblyman’s judge brother, anyone else?

    These dumbasses are our representatives?! Uggh.


    Jonathan R

    Boy, it’s good to have a job! It would be great if Rep. Crowley could consider measures that would help New Yorkers who are not in the workforce get around as well.



    “Blame everyone equally” is the official message of Vision Zero. Actually, Vision Zero embraces a “blame pedestrians first” model in its posters . . .



    Also, East Side Greenway connects the waterfront from 34th to 60th… Damn UN, move already!



    Related to the random way these seem to pop up across the city we know today… just for fun, sometimes I mull over a little NYC infrastructure pool, and guess the order these projects will (if ever) deliver. Mostly with biking/pedestrian infrastructure, but adding in transit projects as well. Not in my predicted order, a sample list:

    Rockaways boardwalk fully rebuilt from its 2012 destruction
    Verrazano-Narrows Bridge adds room for pedestrians
    Car – bike – ped space on the Brooklyn Bridge reallocated
    Randall’s Island Connector opens
    Second Ave Subway opens
    Summer Streets – more than 18 hours and one street a year
    East Side Access
    Madison Square Garden relocates
    Madison Square Garden pays some property tax
    7 line extension opens
    Queensway – park or rail
    Subway runs to LaGuardia
    NJ Transit runs to the Poconos
    East Side Greenway connects the waterfront from 120th to 157th
    Car-free Central Park
    Citibike expands its station footprint



    Traffic on Woodhaven is heavy and fast. I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that bus riders will generally be crossing against the light. And if the bus lane design actively encourages pedestrians to cross against the light, I’m not sure I’d want to be the guy who signed off on the design.
    Segregation is feasible at the curb as well as in the center. The relative advantages and disadvantages of each should be quantified before a decision is made.



    I moved away from Colorado to California, so I haven’t tracked the issues there.



    A 15 mph speed limit on side streets to create a network of bicycle boulevards would take a lot of the stress out of riding a bicycle in NYC.



    When I ask Google Maps for bike directions, it seems to think that I’m asking for a circuitous tour of bike infrastructure in the vicinity of my route.

    Thanks, Google, but while Queens Blvd may suck, detouring three blocks out of the way so that I can enjoy ten blocks of bike lane on some random side street only to rejoin Queens Blvd anyway isn’t really on my list of things to do today.


    Joe R.

    That’s as good a system as any to classify bike infrastructure. From my own perspective, when I’m mapping out a potential bike route, I tend to avoid a lot of the routes suggested by Google Maps. Those routes often include pieces of the NYC bike network but they also include problems:

    1) The routes are often highly disjointed, with many turns, to the point I would literally need a map in front of me if I wanted to follow them. They also tend to be longer than routes I might pick myself.

    2) Much of NYC’s bike network is really slow, particularly segments which include routes through parks, pedestrian bridges, etc. My own preference is to stick to arterials for most of the journey, even if those arterials have no bike infrastructure, as I know they will be reasonably fast. Some arterials even have 18-20 mph traffic signal timing which suits my riding speed perfectly.

    Anyway, some kind of classification system might be nice so when Google Maps returns a route I would know which parts to keep and which to discard. Some riders may opt for a slower but less stressful journey. I tend to prefer routes which minimize journey times, even if they’re over heavily trafficked arterials. This is generally because most of my bike trips tend to be 10 miles or more in each direction. Averaging 15 mph versus 10 mph for a 30 mile round trip shaves an entire hour off the total trip time, for example.



    Maybe break it down in term of speed and stress. Feel free to add to this list and improve, etc.:

    1) low-stress, higher speed -
    greenways with few intersections and separate space for biking & walking or shared use with very low pedestrian volumes

    2) low-stress, moderate speed -
    protected bike lanes with protected intersections & bicycle-centric signal progression (12-15mph).
    Neighborhood greenways (bike boulevards) with very low auto volumes and designs to reduce bike delays

    3) low-stress, low speed -
    protected bike lanes with protected intersections & auto centric signal progression (> 20mph).
    Neighborhood greenways (bike boulevards) with very low auto volumes but without designs to reduce bike delays

    4) low-med stress, higher speeds -
    greenways with few intersections and shared space for biking & walking (or highly congested greenways)

    5) low-med stress, moderate speeds -
    protected bike lanes with “mixing zones” & bicycle-centric signal progression (12-15mph).

    6) low-med stress, low speeds -
    protected bike lanes with “mixing zones” & auto-centric signal progression (>20mph).



    Good point. Certainly, the NYC bike network would benefit greatly from better intersection design on protected bike lanes and better enforcement in general.

    The trick, however, is to quickly convey the network of low-stress facilities that are most effective at getting people to ride bicycles from one place to another, without requiring a block-by-block analysis of every section of bikeway. There’s probably a better way of doing this, and I’d love to hear some ideas.


    Joe R.

    Besides the left-turning car issue, I frankly can’t consider any bike route, protected or otherwise, with traffic signals galore a “low-stress” route. Part of what constitutes low-stress for many riders is not only absence of motor traffic, but little or no need to slow down or stop. By those standards, it’s mainly only NYC greenways which are low-stress routes.


    Ben Fried

    I mentioned that to Betsy and she said it should be pretty easy to differentiate “Class 1″ routes — the meta-data does distinguish them from other bike lanes/sharrows.


    Ian Turner



    I really love the phrase “low-stress bicycle network” and will be using it in the future.

    Unfortunately I don’t know that I would include most of the protected bike lanes in New York in this. Every cross street with an unsignalled left turn is a chance to get blocked or worse by a left-turning car.



    Is that thing in the harbor the Staten Island Ferry? For decades, it and Ocean Parkway appear to be the only things of any real length, and it’s not like people were actually cycling over the harbor.



    Based on this map, you’d think biking in midtown Manhattan would be paradise, but anyone familiar with that experience knows that it’s anything but. The map includes all sort of symbolic bike facilities, including sharrows and bike lanes often full of double parked cars, which are able to attract meaningful use. A more useful map would document the growth of the low-stress bike network, including greenways, protected bike lanes, and bicycle boulevards (none in NYC, yet).



    Maybe I was a bit too dismissive, but I did consider the light. It’s still at most one light across a few, maybe two, unidirectional lanes. Assuming the NYPD doesn’t beat you up for crossing against the light when there is no traffic, I have a hard time seeing it as being that big a deal even if I buy your averages.

    BTW, in case it’s not clear, the only way I think it could reduce times enough to make a difference is if the center-running completely segregates SBS traffic from local traffic.



    “Vision Zero will alter traffic design, and motorists will need to
    change their habits as officials target the estimated 2 to 5 percent who
    break the rules.”

    That’s it?


    Mark Walker

    Commuter buses don’t belong on city streets. New York needs an additional bus terminal. All eyes on Cuomo and his Port Authority appointees.



    I know this isn’t entirely the proper venue, but I’m not sure where else to ask. I’m relatively new to NYC: WTH is happening at the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge (on the Manhattan side at Bowery) on weekends ? Why are there people directing traffic against the lights/pedestrian signals? Why is it acceptable that the only thing keeping pedestrians from walking with their signals and getting hit by high-speed vehicles a traffic-directing person shouting “stop!”? Even as an able-bodied person with intact hearing and vision, this was hard to navigate. Was this a one-weekend thing or every weekend, and is it being addressed?



    “Traffic could move more efficiently — the average speed during peak hours in Manhattan is just 10 mph — if city streets weren’t pedestrian-friendly by intent.

    ‘We don’t necessarily want it to flow. We want it to move, but we don’t want it to move at excessive speeds,’ Tipaldo said.”

    I don’t quite buy this. The reason traffic doesn’t flow well is because we insist on cramming as many automobiles as possible into every nook and cranny of the city. This comes off as almost a polite “rephrasing” of the paranoid motorist’s belief that if it weren’t for that goddam curb extension, they wouldn’t be stuck in traffic.



    What worries you about everything is the impact on traffic – or, rather, your perception of the impact on traffic.

    Rather than panicking, we could let actual traffic engineers project the impact of various bus lane configurations, so that the decision-makers can make an informed decision based on the projected impact on traffic as well as the projected benefit to bus riders.



    No, Allan, it’s not my assumption – it’s simple mathematics. Except at the ends of the line where limiteds made local stops, all but the weakest limited stops were picked as SBS stops. If, say, 10% of boardings and 10% of alightings were at the limited stops that were not kept as SBS stops, then about 19% of riders both board and alight at SBS stops, with no additional walking. The only “comprehensive study” that’s needed is a tabulation of ons and offs at each limited stop prior to the rollout of SBS.

    Moving the bus stop to the middle of the street, on the other hand, forces half of the people heading to and from the bus to wait for a light that they never had to wait for in the past.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip.



    Maybe I wasn’t clear. I’m not referring to the time it takes to walk halfway across the street – as you point out, anybody coming from the other side has an offsetting reduction in access time.

    I’m referring to the time it takes to wait for the light, which, to cross Woodhaven, is most often red. Figure an average of about a minute to wait for the light to reach the median and another minute to cross back after getting off the bus. If your origin and destination are both on the side of the street where your bus used to stop, placing the bus stop in the middle of the street increases your trip time by 2 minutes. In the world of transportation, 2 minutes isn’t trivial at all.

    Would placing the bus lanes in the center reduce running times enough to offset the increased access time? I certainly haven’t seen any evidence that it would.



    Re schedules/wheelchairs: can’t schedules be designed so buses can go a little faster or slower depending on circumstances? Wheelchair procedure sucks on local buses, but boarding wheelchairs need not be so bad with level boarding.

    Wheelchairs need to be strapped down on buses, which takes a good minute or two – and then the process has to be reversed when the wheelchair passenger gets off. I’ve ridden buses that have picked up and dropped off three wheelchairs, on a line where a typical bus doesn’t pick up any. It’s impossible to schedule precisely for both.

    The boarding process for a wheelchair here will be no different from on any other SBS line. If by “level boarding” you’re referring to anything other than the wheelchair ramp that most buses already have, you may be in for a surprise. Remember, whatever happens along Woodhaven, the two ends of the line will be on regular city streets, so the buses will need to stops on regular city streets.

    I’d still say it’s fine to have the ability to pass available, but the optimal setup rarely if ever needs it. Passing is necessary because of problems, and problems are better prevented than circumvented. With enough capacity on buses, combined with frequent enough service, every problem you mention relating to crowding/bunching seems avoidable. Here is where center-running lanes probably have something of an advantage, provided we are willing to keep local service in mixed traffic.

    I admire your optimism, but even the “optimal setup” is still subject to quite a bit of random variability. Passing is more, not less, likely to be useful when service is frequent.

    Keeping local service in mixed traffic is a lost opportunity. If it’s necessary in order to best meet the goals of SBS, then so be it, but it’s not in and of itself a good thing.

    Center-running need not entirely preclude that. If you’re expecting loads beyond the reliability threshold of BRT, maybe BRT is not sufficient and there should be a larger-scale LRT or subway along this route. However, I don’t see that. Woodhaven is busy by the standards of Queens, but it’s not particularly busy as transit goes.

    Sorry, you’ve lost me. Have you never been on a bus (or train) that’s been delayed enough that it picks up much of the load that should (per the schedule) be ending up on its follower? It happens (often) even on lines that aren’t terribly busy. If the following bus (which is mostly empty) can jump ahead and serve the people waiting at subsequent stops, riders of both buses benefit.

    If there’s a good reason to give up this (exceedingly common) recovery strategy, then by all means we can live without it – after all, we’ve given it up on trains – but if there isn’t a particularly good reason to give it up, why wouldn’t we keep it?

    It’s hard to comment on this without knowing the service pattern that will be. What becomes of those two services? Do they become SBS? They are both limited now.

    They’re essentially the same route, with two branches at the south end and with one extending a bit farther at the north end. Most riders are indifferent.

    If so, frequency could probably be boosted a bit at no extra operating cost with a dedicated lane. Most people are going to be indifferent between them. The few who are not will be will be going to branch segments of their respective line. They’ll either wait anyway or take one comes first and go as far as they can and transfer. If both are SBS, there is little reason to suspect one will ever pass the other in a dedicated lane, so waiting for the bus you need to take yo u to your final destination is not even a particularly unreasonable course of action. And there is no reason for those people to bother with locals unless their origin is a local-only station.

    Of course.

    But not many people will be completely indifferent between those services and locals. Everyone completely indifferent between all four services on Woodhaven will have an origin and destination between Conduit and Queens Blvd, and most of those will probably not care much about their time or will be taking trips that don’t much exceed the distance of a few SBS stops.

    And that’s exactly the market I’m referring to – people waiting for the bus to take them no more than a mile or two, or a bit longer off-peak, when buses aren’t as frequent. For such distances, it’s generally not worth waiting for the faster bus – taking whichever bus comes first will generally get them to their destination sooner.

    I’m not sure why you say that they probably don’t care about their time. Why would someone traveling a moderately short distance not care about their time?

    Those w ho are less concerned about their time are probably looking for a convenience elsewhere. People carrying something heavy might prefer to wait for a local that serves their stop rather than transfer.

    The waiting-averse will probably be going longer distances, and will almost always at least initially select an express, transferring to a local only when convenient.

    OK, now I’m stumped. If there’s any relationship at all, I’d expect that people traveling shorter distances are more waiting-averse than people traveling longer distances, because waiting will generally consume a larger share of their travel time. Why do you assume the opposite?

    At some stations, they do, in a manner more inconvenient than a walk across the street.

    At the overwhelming majority of express stations, the local and express are across the platform. I can think of only six counterexamples, including two where one simple flight of stairs separates the two (Nostrand/Fulton and 86th/Lex). At all other stations, people traveling between express stops are free to take the local if it happens to arrive first.

    But local and express subways usually don’t share tracks either, which seems to be the arrangment you’re expecting with local/express bus service all running in the curb. Local traffic mostly looks for a local and express traffic looks for express.

    On the contrary, I’ve advocated for the ability for buses to pass one another – either by allowing buses to cross out of the bus lane as needed or, better yet, by providing a pair of bus lanes. (But I’m not sure what this has to do with the point at hand.)

    I completely agree. But, if this arrangment would mean generally better trips with some incidental delays for a few people, would it be a good reason?

    As I’ve said plenty of times, if the benefit to cutting off the ability to pick either bus outweighs the disbenefit, then we should go for it. My objection is to jumping straight into a center-running setup without first determining whether the benefits outweigh the disbenefits.

    Unlike some of the disbenefits, this one can be easily quantified.

    I’m skeptical about how many people will be indifferent between local and express b uses. Lo cal and express subway services are usually pretty time-competitive with each other for origin/destination pairs they have in common, which tend to be along trunk lines. That does not seem to be the case with buses, especially in the case of fast-boarding SBS vs. slow-board local buses.

    I think you’re overstating the benefits of SBS. Yes, it’s faster, but for shorter trips it’s still often worthwhile to take whichever bus comes first.

    No, obviously nobody likes that, but I think I’d be happier with a faster, more reliable express cordoned SBS system that doesn’t have locals and cars interfering with it. I actually don’t care if it’s cordoned in the center or curb, but the center may actually be easier if we can only take 2-3 lanes.

    Center-running takes more space than curbside, because of the need for boarding islands.

    I want speed and reliability also, but I’ve seen no reason to believe that center lanes would be any better than offset lanes.

    That’s a lot of ifs to suppose. Your 7m scenario isn’t a given, it’s more like a worst-case scenario for service that is working properly.

    10 minutes, actually.

    If it takes 7 minutes, or something less, it makes me no worse off than I would be waiting on a branch of the serv ice that doesn’t have SBS such as the Q11 south of Conduit, which I think is a reasonable service standard.

    What’s “a reasonable service standard” supposed to mean? It’s effectively a service reduction, and it needs to be quantified as such.

    If I’m even indifferent, going to a place both the locals and expresses go, what comes first is still a gamble unless I read the schedule.

    Obviously, and that’s why having the local and the SBS nearby is beneficial.

    Then, if I can’t make it across the street, and most people who are able-bodied probably can, what would be the expected time penalty? Two minutes or twenty?

    Can’t cross the street to reach the local without waiting for the light, and Woodhaven carries more traffic than most of its cross streets, so the light to cross Woodhaven is red most of the time. By the time the light has changed, you’ve probably already missed the bus. (Of course, some will be tempted to dash across the street against the light; some of them might catch the local.)

    The expected time penalty, assuming perfect reliability, is half the headway minus the running time differential – so probably around 3-4 minutes for most such trips. But SBS was supposed to save time. If it costs too many people 3-4 minutes, it’s not doing its job very well.

    I realize it’s a point to study before reaching af final conclusion, but I don’t believe everyone’s trip should be made slower for the few people who might be indifferent.

    I’d like to first see evidence that center-running leads to faster trips. I’d also like to hold off using the word “few” until the number’s been quantified.

    Center stations can be as long as the block, if need be. Longer if we tell turning vehicles to GTFO.

    But they obviously won’t be. And the sidewalk will almost certainly be wider, especially if there are offset bus lanes with bus bulbs at SBS stops.

    Hmm, sure, but this is getting a little extreme. I suspect those who do this kind of stuff are either not very worried about their time, or use BusTime and know what they’re doing.

    Seriously? Have you never ridden a bus on a hot or cold or rainy day? If there’s an indoor space to wait for the bus, people take advantage of it. When they see the bus pull up, they step outside and board. Why do you say they’re not very worried about their time?



    This just doesn’t make any sense. It says he “moved to Brooklyn last June,” meaning he’s lived there a year. Seems safe to assume this was not the first time he rode a bike to/from to the Manhattan Bridge entrance at Sands. So what on Earth was he doing on the on-ramp side of the concrete wall? I hope they manage to get the footage from the DOT cams and update us on what might have happened.


    Sani Fornus

    Intro 238 is stupid law criminalizing ordinary negligence.


    A. Scott Falk

    There is one of these billboards on the building I live in, facing the cars exiting the Queensboro Bridge at Second Avenue. This billboard usually features movie ads. I’m thrilled to see this so close to home.