Dec
10

London’s new orbital line and the Triboro RX plan

By

The London Overground’s orbital route is seen here as a closed circle

Nearly five years ago, then-MTA Executive Director and CEO Lee Sander celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of the MTA by trumpeting the agency’s next four decades. He spoke as a visionary would, highlighting train routes the city needs to expand and compete over the next four years. Most optimistic — for New York — was his vision for a circumferential subway route through Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

Known as the Triboro RX route in planning circles, this train line would use preexisting rights-of-way to connect Outer Borough neighborhoods with radial subway lines, and if the city could enjoy it by 2048, we’d be golden. Or at least that’s what the New York City-centric thinking went. Most other cities have more ambitious plans than that, luckily for them. Let’s look across the pond at a recently completed orbital line.

This past weekend, London celebrated the completion of the London Overground orbital loop. Using preexisting rights of way, the new surface rail skirts the congested core of the city and connects key underground routes. As The Atlantic Cities site notes, it’s a part of London’s so-called “make do and mend” transit efforts. Feargus O’Sullivan has this report:

This new line will ease pressure elsewhere and allow travelers to circumnavigate the city without passing through its congested core. Colored rust on the city’s transit map, the new line looks like a huge clockwork orange, closely connecting neighborhoods that were once strangers to each other and further helping the ongoing march eastwards of London’s city center. It’s all part of an ongoing radical overhaul of London’s public transport system, the scale and ambition of which the city (or any western European capital, for that matter) hasn’t seen since at least the 1980s. And it’s all arrived so quietly.

It’s not surprising that this revolution has gone largely unnoticed internationally. When a sparkling new metro line is unveiled, transit geeks across the world drool, myself included. By contrast, London’s new links (part of a growing network under the umbrella name London Overground) have arrived through creating new, tunnelled connections that bolt together old, underexploited tracks, a sort of make-do-and-mend network. This doesn’t make it any less effective, and the Overground is already helping to redraw the London map and, as one of the UK’s most reliable railways, it’s making the city that bit more liveable…

This new network is already re-chanelling the flow of London transit. Nowadays, many London office jobs are in the redeveloped former docks in the East, while much of London’s nightlife has also moved to the area just north. The Overground makes getting to these areas while bypassing the historic center much easier. It’s also helping to create a new commuter drainage basin for Docklands jobs. South East London has pretty much the last pockets of affordable Victorian property in the city and they’re now within 30 minutes of financial centers like Canary Wharf. Now that Londoners are giving up on the city’s West as an exorbitant playpen for super-rich property speculators, the Overground’s improvements both reflect and facilitate the city’s shift in gravity eastwards.

For more background on the Overground, check out London Reconnections and, in particular, this 2011 post. The site has tirelessly chronicled London’s efforts to improve its transit network, and as New York builds the small Second Ave. Subway, London has constructed the Overground orbital with Crossrail set for a 2018 revenue service date. If only we could do the same in New York.

We could though, and it wouldn’t take much creativity. The Triboro RX line is New York’s answer to the London Overground. Similar to London’s new route (as one TFL planner noted), New York’s proposed circumferential route uses existing rights of way and existing tracks to build out a better transit connection. As the last part of the Overground required 1.3 kilometers of new rail, Triboro RX would require some construction and upgrades, but the path is there, waiting for rail service.

What London has that New York does not is leadership devoted to transit. We don’t need ambitious plans or money to dig out new tunnels. We have the plans, and we have the path. We just need politicians willing to commit as Boris Johnson has. For London, the Overground is just the beginning while for New York, Triboro RX remains a dream. As the self-proclaimed center of the universe, though, New York City can ill afford to fall behind its international competitors, but without real transit leadership, that’s exactly what’s happening.



128 Responses to “London’s new orbital line and the Triboro RX plan”

  1. Alex C says:

    “But doing stuff is like, hard, and costs money.” – Politicians and the people who vote for them

    • Nathanael says:

      I want to make a clear point: Boris Johnson is just carrying out the plans of his predecessors (rather than cancelling them, as Chris Christie did).

      Most of these projects were Ken Livingstone projects. Love Livingstone or hate him, you have to admit that he “made no small plans”.

  2. Chris says:

    Wouldn’t FRA rules prohibit passenger service on the Bay Ridge freight line section of the Triboro?

    I’d love to see it happen but it seems there would be major obstacles. Has anyone explored what they may be?

    • Alon Levy says:

      Cap’n Transit posted about it a few years ago. Most of the route has enough ROW width for four tracks, with only short two-track narrows that would have to be widened to separate freight service and subway service.

      But if it’s that big a problem, they can abandon the Bay Ridge freight line. It’s not a major freight corridor, and turning it into one requires billions of investment into a cross-Harbor tunnel from Jersey City to Brooklyn. If they have that money, there are better uses, such as building a cross-Harbor tunnel from Staten Island to Manhattan and extending the SIR.

      • If you wanna get really depressed, compare East Side Access and the canceled ARC project with Crossrail.

        • Matthias says:

          Exactly. ESA and ARC could have been combined into our own version of Crossrail.

          • Rick says:

            Sadder still is our failure to use the Amtrak ROW west of Tenth Avenue to open up subway service for the far west side above 31st St. This priceless resource is currently used to send a handful of trains each day to Albany.

            • Roy says:

              The Empire Service is 1tph in each direction to Albany + twice daily to Niagara Falls and daily trains to Chicago, Toronto, Montreal and Vermont. Not exactly “a handful”.

              • mg says:

                west side rail could be converted to subway service if trains from the north used HellGate and the East River Tubes. The issues are:

                *Metro North is expected to send trains down the west side as as slots in Penn Station open after the LIRR goes into Grand Central

                *The train line is obviously beyond the edge of the community, how many riders would benefit from it, over the #1

                Perhaps better would be to add 1 or 2 commuter rail stops to the line.

                • Rick says:

                  Yes, the Hell Gate Bridge, a wholly underutilized resource, could handle all the Albany-and-beyond traffic, freeing the west side rail for subway service. Tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, people work on the far west side. Since the development of Lincoln Towers sixty years ago, the area has been gaining residents. Now the far west fifties are becoming a residential area. This area cries out for subway service.

                  • Roy says:

                    But if trains to Albany were to head out across the East River and the Hell Gate, how would they get on to the Hudson line? Is there a chord that connects Hell Gate to the west-bound New Haven line? And then the wye from the New Haven to the Hudson lines is single-track only, although in that respect I guess it’s no worse than the existing Spuyten Duyvil swing bridge.

                  • KA says:

                    The Hell Gate Bridge is going to be used by Metro North to connect the east Bronx with Penn Station and points north – up to Connecticut on the New Have line. On the west side they also planned to add 2 stations connecting the Hudson line to Penn Station (a station on W 59th and one on W125th).

                • Henry says:

                  Another issue is that the rail line on the West Side only goes as far as Penn. SAS has the same problem, but mitigates it by running through trains to the Financial District and Brighton Beach.

                  If people are going to have to change back to the A/C/E or 1/2/3 at Penn to go to Downtown and Brooklyn anyways, they may as well take the subway all the way.

                  • Someone says:

                    “All the way” as in toward the current 1 train terminus at Van Cortlandt-242 St or as in toward the end of the West Side tube in Penn Station? The West Side railway ends miles north of 242 St, so people living in Westchester might use the West Side Line to get to Manhattan from there.

      • Jim says:

        The problem with the Triboro RX is it was proposed as a subway, so there’s an issue with having FRA trains and subway trains on the same ROW. The Overground is an S-Bahn. Which is what NY needs. Riders don’t care who regulates the trains: they want reasonably frequent trains fare-integrated with the rest of the system. An S-Bahn for New York would include elements of the Triboro RX, the west side line, the lower Montauk and the Rockaway Cutoff. Probably the Jamaica-Brooklyn shuttle as well.

        This is not an overnight thing. I was last in London in, I think, ’04, staying with a friend in Acton. That stretch of the Overground to Gunnersbury and Kew was already in service, though with fairly long headways, and already fare-integrated in the sense that you could use your Oyster Card on it and it counted towards you daily maximum.

        The Overground has been incrementally built. An S-Bahn for New York would have to be, too.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Pretty sure S-Bahn operating procedures are damn well illegal in the USA. Put in American terms, you’re talking rapid transit vehicles on FRA tracks.

          New York couldn’t build an S-Bahn if it wanted one, and you can guarantee the fiefs of different MTA agencies result in it not getting one.

          • Someone says:

            The LIRR is the equivalent of an S-Bahn.

            • Bolwerk says:

              I think you come up with pretty faulty equivalencies when you start comparing German and American systems. LIRR’s closest equivalent in Germany is regional rail, and even that has its problems. S-Bahns behave like U-Bahns (or our subway), with the typical mix being something like: frequent stops, level boarding, electrified, urban,* often underground, short headways, etc.. They just happen to share space with mainline railroads (sometimes), which would be illegal in the USA.

              * S-Bahn is short for “Stadtschnellbahn,” which basically means “fast urban train.” Luckily they didn’t call it SSBahn! :-O

              • Henry says:

                If 90% of LIRR trains didn’t speed past Woodside, Forest Hills, and Kew Gardens, it could probably qualify as an S-Bahn. The LIRR Main Line from Penn to Jamaica has a train every 4 minutes at peak hours.

                If the MTA actually made it possible to use the LIRR as an S-Bahn by extending its local stops, building infill stations, making in-city fares reasonable, etc., it would be an operational nightmare because pretty much everyone who could would switch from the Queens Blvd Line to the LIRR, and LIRR is already standing-room only at an in-city fare of $6+.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  A major problem with FRA equipment isn’t so much speed, but acceleration. Making those Queens stops wastes a lot more time than making a few stops on the subway.

                  I guess, sure, you theoretically could spend a lot of money bringing LIRR to something approaching an S-Bahn in practice. Or, if regulations were changed, you could spend less money and actually have one. I think, no matter what you do, FRA equipment is basically a non-starter.

          • Henry says:

            The railcars that LIRR uses now have pretty decent acceleration and deceleration speeds, and I think (and would hope) that there are no FRA regulations concerning seating layouts.

            If they really wanted to, the LIRR and Metro-North could operate EMU sets with less seating and more standing room, which is basically what a rapid transit vehicle is.

      • KA says:

        don’t be so dismissive of a Cross Harbor Freight tunnel. Considering this area is the #1 consumer market in the country… there is a reason the Cross Bronx is the most heavily used roadway. Taking trucks off the roads and bridges benefits all in the end. That could/would even help mass transit.

        • Nyland8 says:

          Isn’t a cross-harbor freight tunnel something the Port Authority should be building? Wasn’t this one of the issues that mandated their creation in the first place?

          They should get out of the subway business, have the PATH subsumed into the MTA, and start tunneling from Staten Island to Brooklyn. If they aren’t willing to do that, then take the grossly underutilized freight ROW and build a Bronx/Queens/Brooklyn beltway for the subway system.

          • BenW says:

            As I understand it, PATH is a money sink for the Port Authority—they got saddled with it as the price for the development rights to the World Trade Center. Shifting that cost to the MTA without any accompanying source of revenue… would be unfortunate. And honestly, trying to shift it over with some revenue would also probably blow up, since NJ and NY would then inevitably start fighting over who should pay more for it.

          • Henry says:

            PATH should remain distinct, if only because the FRA gets involved once a transit agency crosses state lines, and having the MTA under FRA regulation would be absolutely terrible.

            • Alon Levy says:

              Is PATH actually FRA-regulated? It’s not FRA-compliant for sure; Wikipedia says, or used to say, that it’s FRA-regulated, but I’ve also heard it’s not true by someone I respect (Stephen Smith, maybe?).

              • Nyland8 says:

                As I recall, the expression “modified FRA regulations” was EXACTLY the same term used for both the PATH and the SIR. Which then begs the question:

                If the MTA subsumed the PATH, –
                - and the Staten Island Northern Corridor was refitted for rail – (not improbable)
                - and the PATH is already being extended down to Newark Airport – (which it is)
                - then wouldn’t the shortest distance to SI connectivity, in both time and money, be crossing the Kill and connecting up in Elizabeth?

                That would mean a single seat ride from Tottenville to Harold Square with the swipe of a MetroCard. And it could be done at a tiny fraction of what it would cost to tunnel the Narrows – let alone tunnel from the Battery to St. George, which is something our grandchildren’s great grandchildren will never see.

                98% of the ROW already exists. Some bridgework – but no tunnel work. As major commuter rail projects go, this one would also have a lot of bang for the buck.

                Northwestern Richmond would get its long-overdue rail back, more high-population density from Elizabeth that won’t clog the car tunnels … all that, and the bastard stepchild of the boroughs will finally be connected to the rest of NYC.

                And as for who pays and gets paid ?? … well … if 23 different European countries can figure out who gets what portion of an unlimited Eurail Pass, then I’ve got to imagine the interstate revenue sharing should be less complicated than that. They have completely different governments and don’t even speak the same language. Somehow I think Trenton and Albany should be able to figure it out.

                Besides, MetroNorth already runs trains through Jersey to Port Jervis. The two States are inextricably interdependent.

                Since the SIR/PATH hybrid won’t connect to the rest of the MTA subway system, it could be run as another division – an interstate “modified FRA division”.

                Just another idea worth thinking about.

                • BenW says:

                  Just to throw another wrinkle in the scheme, the loading gauge of SIR is B division NYCTA, while PATH is (roughly) A division. Can’t use the same platforms unless you change rolling stock.

                  As far as the money goes, naturally it is possible, but we’d need to invest in some better state legislators, first.

                  • marvin says:

                    regarding extending PATH to Staten Island, the load guage diffrence should not be a major issue as

                    *platfrom widening is fairly inexpensive

                    Regarding trio rx:

                    *after yankee stadium the line should head up to the GW Bridge bus terminal.
                    * a branch should link to LaGuadia Airport
                    *On the port washington branch of the LIRR a new Elmhurst atation should be built at queens blvd (fron qns blvd s/w) with a trio rex stop also built at queens blvd and linked at the southern end.

                    • Someone says:

                      There are some problems with your proposal. The GWB bus terminal is in Manhattan, the Yankee Stadium is in the Bronx, and there is no existing physical rail connection between the two (at least directly.) Same thing with the LGA extension, plus the line would have to be underground because an elevated line would block the runway. Also, the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch (the future TRX line) is so high crossing the Port Washington branch that there can be no rail connection.

                  • Nyland8 says:

                    Indeed … the A division – or, more accurately, the existing PATH rolling stock – would dictate, because they’d still have to go through the Hudson Tubes, and they’re not getting widened.

                    But widening an existing platform along the SIR is relatively easy.

                    And agreed – more of an effort on the electorate’s part must focus on giving us representation that advances mass transit. It should be a question on every voter’s mind, and a question on every journalist list of things to ask.

                    Mega-projects like ESA and SAS are nice – but the time and money is staggering. There are so many other ways to improve the overall system by using existing ROW and infrastructure, and compared to mega-projects they’d cost 10 cents on the dollar. But the vision has to be tabled and the political will generated to get those relative bargains.

                    Tri-Boro Rx is just such a project. Our subway system has no major bypass. Just think of the options it would afford riders when lines had emergency shutdowns, or weekend or late-night shutdowns. And crippling events like Sandy would be far less crippling, and recovery far quicker. We could really use a beltway – and most of it is already there for the taking.

                • Alon Levy says:

                  It’s incredibly circuitous. The ferry is faster. There’s also a nontrivial cost of getting from Newark to Elizabeth, but it’s of course smaller than getting from St. George to the Battery.

                  • Nylan8 says:

                    Agreed … the ferry IS faster to the Battery – but then from the Battery, MOST people still have to jump on a train to get where they’re going.

                    And agreed again, Alon – It IS circuitous. But it is no less circuitous than tunneling the Narrows and going through Brooklyn. The fact is, geographically speaking, Staten Island should really be part of New Jersey. It is MUCH closer. And any reasonable person would admit that if Richmond were a county in New Jersey, it would have had a connection to Manhattan decades ago – either via PATH, or NJ Transit. Warren County New Jersey has less than 1/4 the population of Richmond – but you can take a train right into NY Penn from out there.

                    If you’re headed for midtown – Herald Square, Times Square, Bryant Park, anywhere in the Garment District/NY Penn Station area – then an SIR/PATH . . . OR an SIR/MetroNorth/NJTransit hybrid . . . is still a very viable option – even over the ferry.

                    It is still a much shorter ride than for people who commute from Duchess County, New Haven or Port Jervis via MetroNorth, and it is still a shorter commute than from Eastern Long Island.

                    It only seems “incredibly” circuitous because you can draw a straight line on a map – but that straight line from St. George to the Battery will never have a rail tunnel.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Richmond were a county in New Jersey, it would have had a connection to Manhattan decades ago – either via PATH, or NJ Transit.

                      Uh, NJ hasn’t exactly been on a commuter rail building spree.

                    • Alon Levy says:

                      To Midtown, ferry + 4/5 is faster and also gets you closer to the heart of Midtown, which is a bit north of Herald Square. It’s 12 minutes from Bowling Green to Grand Central. On the 1, it’s 19 from South Ferry to Times Square.

                      Unless you declare the North Shore Branch an express route for SIR riders, it’s 15 minutes at least just to get from St. George to Jersey. To Newark it’s about 30 minutes. From Newark to Journal Square plus JSQ to 33rd it’s 33 minutes. For Midtown trips, you’re only beating ferry + 4 if you live around Arlington. For Lower Manhattan trips, you’re not beating the ferry even then.

                  • Henry says:

                    The ferry is faster, but the ferry also only leaves every half hour.

                    A rail connection to New Jersey being faster would either require an express-local stop pattern, frequencies better than every half-hour, or a combination of the two.

                    In any case, I was under the impression that PATH was at capacity, so linking it to SIR would burden the system even more. You’d also either have to install turnstiles at all SIR stations or move PATH to POP. And even if something like this were to occur, SIR should be absorbed into the PA, if only because all the legal issues that come with interstate transit operation wouldn’t be given to the MTA to handle.

                    • Nylan8 says:

                      If the PATH is actually running at full capacity, that would be one issue – but not an insurmountable impediment. Because “capacity” would have to do with turning around at Herald Square.

                      But there are no “legal issues that come with interstate transit operations” – at least none that couldn’t disappear with the swipe of a pen. The PA has no control over interstate commuter rail travel.

                      NJ Transit already travels interstate without any PA auspices – when it comes into NY Penn.
                      MetroNorth – in other words, the MTA – already travels interstate through New Jersey on two of it’s routes – Port Jervis and Spring Valley – and again throughout Connecticut – and all without any sanction from the Port Authority.
                      Amtrak travels interstate between NY and NJ and it also has nothing whatsoever to do with the PA.

                      The purpose of the Port Authority was to regulate shipping – in other words, commerce – not commuting. It operates the interstate bridges and tunnels to regulate truck traffic – not people traffic. Same thing with the shipping ports and the air-PORTS.

                      The only reason it owns the PATH system is because it happened to be in a position to buy it when the owner, H&M, went belly-up – and because the deal was sweetened with the World TRADE Center. But if H&M ran a profitable commuter rail, it would still own and operate the Hudson tubes – OR, just like the fate of the BRT come BMT, IRT and IND, it might have been subsumed into the NY subway system long ago – which would have been better for all of us.

                      But the Port Authority has no legal dominion over interstate commuter rail traffic per se.

                    • Henry says:

                      NJT, Metro North, and Amtrak are FRA compliant, so there are no legal issues.

                      The PATH already has an FRA waiver, and I believe SIR has one as well, so at the very least combining PATH with SIR would require a renegotiation and consolidation of the different waivers. Given the fact that there’s been recent clamor to have FRA-regulated transit, I would prefer to keep the FRA away from the MTA’s subway operations with a ten-foot pole (which they attempted to merge SIR into).

              • Bolwerk says:

                Not sure I count as respected, but you may be thinking of something I posted that listed the passenger rail services the FRA regulates.* The page is now gone, but I cut and pasted the important part in that thread.

                The story as of a few years ago: PATH is FRA regulated, but gets exemptions from nearly every regulation that meaningfully differentiate rapid transit from heavy rail. There was a long discussion about this on M.T.R.A.. Apparently a lot of the Wiki information was out of date or plain wrong, including the claim that there was a track connection still in existence to the NEC.

                I couldn’t find any evidence besides Wikipedia that SIRT is FRA.

                * They arguably indirectly regulate at least River Line, though it operates under a temporal separation waiver.

          • KA says:

            yeah it would eventually be the port authority that would handle the cross harbor freight tunnel… but it wouldn’t be from Staten Island… it would be from the existing freight rail lines in Jersey… the plan for it predates the PA.

          • Nathanael says:

            “Isn’t a cross-harbor freight tunnel something the Port Authority should be building? Wasn’t this one of the issues that mandated their creation in the first place?”

            Actually, yes, the Port Authority *was* founded partly to build a rail link across the harbor for freight. For some reason they’ve never gotten around to it. :-P With sea levels rising, I’d redesign the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel from the last scheme to floodproof it better, but it should still be done.

          • Someone says:

            We are not going to make the Path part of the MTA. What division are you going to make for it, the C Division? It 1) uses different equipment and 2) is part of the PANY/NJ. You might as well make the JFK and Newark AirTrain systems a part of the NYCS too, while you’re at it.

            • Nylan8 says:

              Yes … the C division – and the equipment it uses is whatever equipment we put on it, as long as it fits in the Hudson Tubes.

              No, it doesn’t have to be part of the PA. It can be severed from the PA with the wave of a pen. It’s attachment to the PA is not an act of God – it was purchased, and if enough political will were generated, it could be sold for $1.

              And the rest of your comment is a non sequitur.

              • Someone says:

                It’s pretty much related. The JFK and Newark Airtrain systems are both operated by the PANY/NJ which also operates the PATH.

                • Nyland8 says:

                  The reasons for cleaving them from the PA don’t exist – But they do exist for the PATH subway if one contemplates the shortest distance, time and money to connect Staten Island by rail to the rest of the boroughs.

                  The fact that they may also happen to be operated by the PA bears no connection to the subject of Staten Island connectivity. One doesn’t follow the other.

                  Non sequitur.

    • Henry says:

      The comparison isn’t completely apples to apples – all of the Overground is old passenger railway lines with stations, so at least at some point in time the station placement made sense.

      North of Jackson Heights, the Triboro RX ROW sucks, because the BQE basically cuts it off from the surrounding areas. I’d have less of a problem if the ROW was in the median, but it’s not – it’s at ground level, and cut off by a giant six-lane highway. As an initial phase, I’d say Triboro RX should start in Jackson Heights and make its way to Bay Ridge – as of right now, I don’t think the alignment through Hell Gate is useful (existing ROWs don’t make a crosstown route across the Bronx), and Astoria Line riders would probably be better off transferring in Manhattan anyways.

      (Coincidentally, the ROW narrows around Jackson Heights, so you would definitely need to eminent domain some properties to build a connecting station to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Av/74th St-Broadway.)

      • Alon Levy says:

        My understanding of the Triboro proposal is that it involves appropriating the St. Mary’s tunnel and then an abandoned New York Central or New Haven (not sure which) branch to Melrose, and then tunneling the last kilometer to Yankee Stadium. That ROW really sucks at connecting to the White Plains Line – it’s right between two stations – but is okay at connecting to the Pelham Line, and of course the tunnel would go straight to the stadium.

  3. Pending Planner says:

    If only NYC was the capital of the US.

    • Henry says:

      That would be a mixed blessing – the street closures from presidential motorcades and UN Assemblies are already giant headaches, and I don’t think the city would be able to function if it had to deal with that crap every day.

      • TP says:

        But DC doesn’t close down 10 square blocks around the president whenever he goes outside the way New York does whenever he comes to town. The District would cease to function as a city if they had the attitude NYPD does.

        • Henry says:

          The other issue though, is that the Founding Fathers wanted the capital to be in a Federal District where federal employees couldn’t vote for their employers due to a conflict of interest.

          DC only got home rule fairly recently – imagine what New York would’ve been like if the federal government didn’t allow it to govern itself until 30 or 40 years ago.

          • Alon Levy says:

            I think the main issue was squabbling among the states about who would get the capital. DC was built between two states as a compromise, and between two then-Southern states as a sop to the South over the fact that the biggest preexisting cities were Northern.

          • Bolwerk says:

            What Alon said, at least more or less. I don’t think they gave the slightest fcuk-all about conflicts of interest. The federal government was never intended to be such a big entity then anyway, and most of its employees would not be in the capital. They’d be in ports dealing with trade matters or in the navy. (And not the army, since there was no intention to keep a standing army. That’s why we have the Second Amendment.)

    • KA says:

      NYC was actually the first capital of the US. It wouldn’t be what it is now if it stayed the capital I think.

      • Alon Levy says:

        It was a temporary capital; for the most part the capital was Philadelphia, and already in the Constitution they agreed to build DC.

        • KA says:

          what does that have to do with it? madison square garden had 4 sites before… doesn’t change that they were all former sites of madison square garden. it’s a fact it was the first official capital. southern states didn’t want it in the northeast because they felt that with the banking industry centered here – the north (in particular NY) would be too dominant. then of course there was the issue of slavery.

    • Someone says:

      It was the capital from 1775 to 1790.

      Here’s a historical reason why the NYC is not capital of the US. In 1790, George Washington wanted to have a capital that was closer to his house near the Potomac River in Virginia. So he designed Washington, D.C.

      Now here’as a political reason. If NYC were capital of the US then there would be 200 presidents because there is so much crime in this city. The UN might be very easy to reach. However, every time the president comes to NYC, the three blocks west and east of his travel route would close.

      Now imagine that this happens not every month, but every day. The city is a total mess as it is…

      • KA says:

        point is that if stayed the capital it probably wouldn’t have developed the way it has… and to say it’s “a mess” betrays the fact that nowhere else in the country to so many ppl move amount per day in such density.

      • Bolwerk says:

        What goatees-for-all evil parallel universe are you from? NYC is safer than just about any major city in the USA.

        There are probably quite good political reasons why the UN and American government should not be in the same city. There are definitely good political reasons to keep it out to avoid pissing off red staters.

  4. Larry Littlefield says:

    Just look at our electricity grid. This is not a private sector problem.

    This is the on the ground result of having a high consumption, low investment economy for 30 years. Do London, Paris and Shanghi have our McMansions? Our SUVs? Does stuff in those cities move as rapidly from the import dock to the landfill? I think the answer is no.

    Where we have had investment is telecommunications and information technology. And when it comes to services that use telecommunications and information technology, life has gotten better in a transformative sense. Not in other ways.

    • Larry Littlefield says:

      I meant this is not just a public sector problem. It is a society-wide cultural problem.

      • Nathanael says:

        It’s really a _Theory of the Leisure Class_ problem as described by Veblen. Our economy has been dominated by thieves since the 1980s, and thieves notoriously underinvest in infrastructure. We’re way behind on telecom investments and it’s all due to elite thievery. (Where’s that rural broadband? why is urban broadband so expensive? why do people pay to receive telephone calls?)

        • Bolwerk says:

          We shouldn’t be investing in rural broadband for the same reason we shouldn’t be investing in more urban roadways. It takes most of our resources to service a fraction of our population.

          Of course, the American government is at all but open war with the American public. The RIAA/MPAA Leviathan doesn’t want you to have good broadband, because then you control content instead of them. And media companies now dominate the ISP landscape. (The trend toward boxing people in with shitty mobile products in recent years is no accident either. iPad users get stuck with iTunes. PC users, the smarter ones anyway, have access to higher-quality and more diversified content with BitTorrent.)

          • Nathanael says:

            Connectivity is at this point a basic resource, so we should be investing in rural broadband, just like FDR put in rural electrification. Sure it’s a fraction of the population, but it’s the fraction who produce the food, and they ought to have Internet access.

            • Bolwerk says:

              Meh, they have electricity, dial-up, and satellite.

              And how much rural people produce our food might be questionable at this point. It’s more big agri-business, which I doubt has trouble getting whatever broadband it needs. :|

            • Henry says:

              Considering that all of South Korea gets 200x better internet service than America’s urban areas, I think that upgrading urban internet would provide more bang for the buck, especially in cities with big or emerging tech centers.

              I remember reading that Lower Manhattan’s Verizon network was running on copper wiring before Hurricane Sandy, and that they’re upgrading it to fiber-optic FIOS as part of recovery work. If we’re going to run a network based on 19th century technology in the nation’s financial center, we have bigger problems than internet access for every American.

    • Kai B says:

      Other countries have invested in telecommunication and IT as well though. In fact, I would argue the investment for that also lacked behind the rest of the world.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....55054.html

  5. Nyland8 says:

    The idea of a beltway for the subway system is long overdue. How many people a day crowd through the Manhattan trunk lines that don’t even have a Manhattan destination? How many New Yorkers live in the Bronx and work in Brooklyn, or live in Brooklyn and work in Queens, etc?? Several hundred thousand?

    And if it’s one thing that Sandy should have taught us, we desperately need to be able to bypass.
    A beltway – especially one with no tunnels to flood – would have given us enormous transportation options just a few weeks ago when everything else seemed crippled. And in a world that didn’t have its head up its ass, the Triboro Rx would eventually continue on to Staten Island, completing an arc for the outer boroughs and connecting to every other rail spur in the system.

    Leverage the still-present sentiment of Sandy to generate the political will to see this project through. It has the biggest bang for the buck of any potential subway project on the drawing boards. It might be as close to a no-brainer as we’ll see in our lifetimes.

    • Andrew says:

      Open cuts can be worse than underground lines in terms of flooding – the Sea Beach line was one of the last to come back – and much of the ROW propoed for the Triboro RX is in open cut.

      • Alex C says:

        To be fair, most of that open cut is far enough inland to be safe from storm surges.

      • Nyland8 says:

        Indeed. They can be. But in this case it’s a non-issue. For one thing, you have to design in proper drainage – and that capacity is only required for heavy rain. Sea Beach was storm surge – something the Tri-Boro Rx will NEVER see, because of it’s inland location.

        If the proposed TBRx gets filled with rain water … well … somebody better be building an Ark.

  6. Roy says:

    It’s not all sweetness and light in London. Whilst most of the creation of the Overground was uncontroversial, merely taking over and joining existing heavy-rail and Tube lines without changing their routes, this most recent phase that completes the orbital has not been welcomed by people in south-east London (one of the poorest parts of the city) wko’ve just had their direct service to London Victoria (a city centre terminal) replaced with one to Clapham Junction – an out of centre interchange.

    And London Mayor Boris Johnson does not deserve any credit. The Overground and East London Line Extension were conceived and started by his predecessor Ken Livingstone. So far Boris’ transport legacy is scrapping the SBS-a-like Bendibuses for no good reason, cancelling the cross-centre streetcar project and Docklands Light Railway extensions plus ridiculously expensive vanity projects like the “Borismaster” New Bus for London and the “dangleway” aerial tram.

    Yes, Crossrail has finally started – huzzah! But Crossrail has been in planning for nearly as long as the SAS – since WW2 in fact. And if Crossrail is building faster than NYC’s projects, that’s because it’s a lot easier to tunnel through London Clay than New York granite!

    • Nathanael says:

      I’ll give Boris credit for the Borismaster bus — apparently the bendy buses were unpopular — but you’re right, everything else remotely good in London transport came from Livingstone.

      I’ll give Boris credit for not cancelling *everything*, though. Contrast Chris Christie, Rick Scott, Scott Walker… politics are different in the UK, and the way they’re different is that Tories aren’t nihilistic slash-and-burn psychotic killers, but Republicans are.

      • Roy says:

        The bendis were only unpopular with Tories and other people that never used them. They were by far the most efficient solution for the high-frequency core routes in the centre of town. Boris famously labelled them “cyclist-killing”. In fact no cyclist was ever killed by one whereas cyclists did and do get killed by regular London buses all the time (perhaps because cyclists were put off by the bendis’ length from doing stupid things like trying to pass them on the nearside). Every bendi was replaced by approximately 1.5 regular buses, so more dead cyclists, more pollution and more staffing costs. So much for conservative business efficiency.

        The Borismaster is a lovely design, but makes no sense economically: Because it has to pretend to be a traditional open-platform bus in the centre, but a regular driver-only-operated bus outside it wastes space and fuel carrying two staircases. When it’s operating in “crew” mode, it works on the same open-boarding system the bendis did, and which Boris used (citing the ease of fare evasion) as a reason to get rid of them. Oh and the “second crew member” (note the giveaway that they can’t even think of a proper job title for the post) has no function, not even fare collection like the conductors on the old Routemasters, other than to stand on the platform to tell people no to use it between stops – which is the only reason to have the open platform.

        Worst of all. because the bus operators won’t be able to cascade these things to anywhere else in the UK, as they do with their regular buses when their route franchises end, Transport for London is going to have to buy the things outright and lease them to the franchise winners. This means that as the Borismasters age London’s bus fleet is going to move from being the youngest in the country to the oldest.

        British Tories may not be quite as slash-and-burn crazy as the GOP (although increasingly more of them lean that way), bu they sure haven’t done anything lately to un-earn their traditional label as “the stupid party”.

      • The Tories aren’t the only ones who are different from their American counterparts. Ken Livingston’s projects were actually good (okay, Crossrail is a bit expensive, but it’s still a good project), unlike ARC. If Christie had canceled Alt G, your comparison would have been apt. But given that ARC was a horrible, horrible, horrible project, Christie and Boris’s actions are not comparable.

      • Annie says:

        You need to lay off the MSNBC.

        • Nathanael says:

          I haven’t watched MSNBC in 10 years. The fact is that the national-level Republicans have, objectively speaking, gone completely out of their minds, and their main agenda right now appears to be to prevent anything useful from getting done whatsoever.

  7. Someone says:

    Isn;t London tightly packed for that?

  8. mg says:

    Rather than going to the Bronx, having the triboro rx go to LaGuardia airport and then on to nearby citifield and flushing would add much system connectivity and avoid the issues of having computer rail/Amtrak, freight rail, and now subway service on the only 4 trackk HG crossing

    • Nyland8 says:

      Well … then it wouldn’t be the TRI-boro … would it? You’re talking about a different project altogether.

      • Someone says:

        Isn’t Randalls Island part of Manhattan?

        • Nylan8 says:

          Politically, or geographically?

          • Someone says:

            Technically, Randalls Island isn’t a neighborhood… so I’ll go with the latter.

            • Nyland8 says:

              Then no – you guessed wrong. It is politically part of Manhattan because it is administrated as part of New York County – not because of any population density.

              Geographically, Randall’s Island/Ward’s Island is a separate island all its own. Originally two islands, the space between them – Randall’s to the north and Ward’s to the south – was landfilled to create one island. A parking lot north of a huge waste-water treatment plant straddles what was once the gap between them. But strictly speaking, the gap between Randall’s Island and the Bronx was smaller, and it might more easily have become part of the Bronx.

              I suspect the selection of not attaching it to the mainland was based on harbor navigation considerations alone. It’s a shortcut from Long Island Sound to the lower Hudson estuary.

              As big as it is, it’s basically a sports center, a psych center, a turd works and an overgrown bridge abutment for the Hell’s Gate and Triboro bridges. The only “residents” are in a homeless shelter or the psych center – and I’d be surprised if very many of them vote.

              • KA says:

                funny enough there was just a story in the Times the other day about the political boundaries for Randall’s Island. for some reason there is speculation it may end up falling under Queens. Some made the statement that as usual the Bronx is looked down on because naturally speaking it should be part of the Bronx. Interestingly – the mayor’s office and EDC are currently readying a bike bath under the train tracks from 132nd Street to Randall’s Island… which is to be a part of the South Bronx Greenway.

    • Alon Levy says:

      LGA service is overrated; for the rest, there’s the 7.

    • corey best says:

      The Hell Gate Bridge will be restored to 4 tracks later this decade so that means a subway or rapid rail of any kind couldn’t use it….it would have to be regional rail…

      • Judge says:

        Amtrak and MNRR can share two tracks. Their present services combined wouldn’t stress a two-track allotment.

        • corey best says:

          The Amtrak Master Plan calls for 3-4 tracks , down the road with increased MNRR and amtrak service you’ll need 4 tracks…

          • Alon Levy says:

            No, you won’t. Because there’s tons of space except on the bridge itself, a zero-station two-track narrows could support 24+ tph between Amtrak and Metro-North, which is higher than a) any reasonable future demand, and b) capacity in other parts of the network. With an Astoria station and a Port Morris station it’d still be 12-16 tph if everything else were four-tracked, which should be done first anyway since adding tracks to a very wide at-grade ROW is easier than adding a bridge.

            Any connection between Amtrak’s plans and good use of infrastructure is completely incidental.

    • Henry says:

      Not withstanding the fact that it wouldn’t help commuting to the Bronx, no one would take that service pattern because it’d snake in an “S” from Roosevelt up to LGA and Flushing.

  9. LLQBTT says:

    The Triboro RX is a rinky dink alternative to the Overground. It could be slopped together in a few years with the right political will. We’ve proven time and again how quickly things can get done here when the atmosphere is right: post Sandy, post Irene (MNR), post 9-11. How quickly were we back? Now how long is that 3 stop shuttle line on 2 Ave taking?

  10. John-2 says:

    While the Triboro RX path does a pretty decent job of bisecting Brooklyn, the fact that it crosses into the Bronx at Astoria means it doesn’t do all that great a job as an outer connector from Queens — better than the G’s original route, since it would (presumably) touch base with stations at transfer points along the N, M(northern)/R, 7 and M (southern) routes. But only the M at Fresh Pond would not be considered to be in the western portion of Queens — there’s still a lot of borough to the east of the line.

    As a connector, Queens might get as much or more bang for its buck via a revival of the LIRR’s Rockaway line from Queens Blvd. to Liberty Avenue. It would still be of little use to the northeastern part of the borough, but would connect up the A, J and R/M lines, to where going from the central to the southern part of the borough via subway wouldn’t require such roundabout trips as today. It’s not a help to Brooklyn, but it would be worth look at as an alternative option, based on cost and usage estimates (and yes, you’ll have NIMBY opposition to a Rockaway Line revival. But you’re also going to have the same opposition on sections of Triboro through southwest Brooklyn or in the Maspeth area of Queens unless the MTA decks over the line or buries it underground).

  11. corey best says:

    I threw up an Interesting proposal a few days ago about merging all the RR’s and through running , some of it was taken from Alon Levy’s idea a few years ago although I added a few more routes like the Central Branch , Rockaway Beach line , Regional Connector , MNRRLIRR connectors , a few Urban Jersey lines. It serves both the Urban and Dense Suburban areas while relieving pressure on the Subway Network…this would have a greater chance of happening then the Tri-boro X plan which faces a few issues how do you get from Queens to the Bronx and costs….which are higher for subways then regional rail. You really don’t need a subway ring in this region , just a Regional Rail link around half the city….which you can run up to 40 trains an hr on…

    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=215312482559953359515.000496c9cdea77cff2ae1&msa=0&ll=40.723844,-73.931122&spn=0.351257,0.837021

  12. Someone says:

    I thought it was illegal for the LIRR and the NYCS to operate on the same trackage.

    • Alon Levy says:

      It is. The plan is to steal the ROW, or add tracks to it and widen it in the few places where it’s not already wide enough.

      • Someone says:

        Yes. The ROW of the LIRR Bay Ridge branch is only one track wide in some places, so if they’re going to have a double-tracked line for the NYCS, they’re going to have to discontinue freight service, add new stations, third rails, signals, and new tracks, and buy new trains. It’s expensive (over $500 million probably), but it’s worth the investment.

  13. Phil says:

    The other missing component is that, with the exception of the East London Line from Shoreditch High Street to its merger with the North London Line and some minor connections, the Overground was a group of already-running services combined to create a patchwork of lines run by a group of operators, not integrated and unreliable to say the last. Triboro RX would have to be essentially the East London Line extension on a much bigger scale.

  14. corey best says:

    Regional Connector Station list

    Croton-Harmon
    Ossing
    Scarborough
    Philipse Manor
    Tarrytown
    Irvington
    Ardsley on Hudson
    Dobbs Ferry
    Hasting on Hudson
    Greystone
    Glenwood
    Yonkers
    Ludlow
    Riverdale
    Spuyten Duyvil
    Marbel Hill
    University Heights
    Morris Heights
    *Mott Haven
    *Astoria – Ditmars
    *Northern Boulvard – Woodside
    *Queens Boulevard – Elmhurst
    *Ridgewood
    *East New York
    *Canarsie
    *Flatbush Ave
    *Ocean Parkway
    *Bay Ridge
    *St. George
    *Bayonne
    *Port Elizabeth
    *Midtown Elizabeth
    *Elmora
    Cranford
    Garwood
    Westfield
    Fanwood
    Netherwood
    Plainfield
    Dunellen
    Bound Brook
    Raritan

    Cross Regional Service
    *Philpsburg – Main Street
    *Philpsburg – US 22 / NJ 57 Park / Ride
    *Washington
    Hackettstown
    Mount Olive
    Netcong
    Lake Hopatcong
    Mount Arlington
    Dover
    Denville
    Mount Tabor
    Morris Plains
    Morristown
    Convent Station
    Madison
    Chatham
    Summit
    Short Hills
    Millburn
    Maplewood
    South Orange
    Orange
    Brick Church
    Newark Board Street
    *Harrison
    *Journal SQ
    *West 4th Street
    *Fulton Street
    *Borough Hall
    Atlantic Avenue
    Nostrand Avenue
    East New York
    Jamaica
    Hollis
    Queens Village
    Floral Park
    Stewart Manor
    Nassau Boulevard
    Garden City
    *East Garden City
    *East Meadow
    *Levittown
    Farmingdale
    Pinelawn
    Wyandanch
    Deer Park
    Brentwood
    Central Islip
    Ronkonkoma

    • Corey Best says:

      North – South Regional Service
      Southeast
      Brewster
      Croton Falls
      Purdy’s
      Golden’s Bridge
      Katonah
      Bedford Hill
      Mt. Kisco
      Chappaqua
      Pleasentville
      Hawthrone
      Valhalla
      North White Plains
      White Plains
      Hartsdale
      Scarsdale
      Crestwood
      Tuckahoe
      Bronxville
      Fleetwood
      Mount Vernon West
      Wakefield
      Woodlawn
      Fordham
      Harlem-125th Street
      Grand Central
      *Union Square
      *Fulton Street
      *St. George
      Tompkinsville
      Stapleton
      Clinton
      Grasmere
      Old Town
      Dongan Hills
      Jefferson Ave
      Grant City
      New Dorp
      Oakwood Heights
      Bay Terrace
      Great Kills
      Eltingville
      Annadale
      Huguenot
      Prince’s Bay
      Pleasant Plains
      Richmond Valley
      Nassau
      Atlantic
      Perth Amboy
      South Amboy
      *Laurence Harbor
      Matawan
      Hazlet
      Middletown
      Red Bank
      Little Silver
      Long Branch

      Northeast Corridor Local
      New Haven – State Street
      New Haven – Union Station
      *West Haven
      *Orange
      Milford
      Stratford
      *East Bridgeport
      Bridgeport
      Fairfield Metro
      Fairfield
      Southport
      Green Farms
      Westport
      East Norwalk
      South Norwalk
      Rowayton
      Darien
      Norton Heights
      *East Stamford
      Stamford
      Old Greenwich
      Riverside
      Cos-Cob
      Greenwich
      Port Chester
      Rye
      Harrison
      Mamaroneck
      Larchmont
      New Rochelle
      *Old Rochelle
      *Orchard Beach
      *Co-Op City
      *Morris Park
      *Parkchester
      *Hunts Point
      *Astoria-Ditmars
      *Sunnyside
      New York Penn Station
      Secaucus JCT
      Newark Penn Station
      Newark Liberty Airport
      North Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      Linden
      Rahway
      Metropark
      Metuchen
      Edison
      New Brunswick
      Princeton JCT
      Hamilton
      Trenton

  15. Someone says:

    See my plan for the Triboro RX line here. http://goo.gl/maps/krgC9

    • Nyland8 says:

      Quite an ambitious plan. I’d settle for just making sure it connected with every subway spur it crossed – at least initially – and then money/demand permitting, add some of the local stations later. In an ideal world, the express would only stop where it connected to another train, and the local would stop at most of those places you list.

      But I see you didn’t utilize the St. Mary’s tunnel and head west toward the Stadium. Your last three Bronx stops – 149, Longwood and Hunt’s Point are already well serviced by the 6 Line, and your last link-up to rail is all the way back in Astoria. Whereas extending to Yankee Stadium is a more natural terminus connecting to a host of other rails – hitting the 6 at 143rd, the 2,5 between St. Anns and Brooks Avenues, the MetroNorth at Melrose and finally terminating at the D,B,4 by the Stadium. More bang for the buck and a lot more connectivity for a beltway.

      Just a thought.

      • Someone says:

        Thanks for the feedback.

        This is an unfinished map, I was planning for the line’s spurs to head up toward the Northern Bronx. There are going to be more spurs when I finish the map up later.

    • Alon Levy says:

      You should cut stops in Brooklyn while adding stops in Queens. There should be a stop at QB and one at Northern; in contrast, between 14th Avenue and Utica, it’s fine to just have stops at McDonald, East 15th Street/Q, Flatbush, and Albany Avenue. Maybe one at 17th Avenue, between 14th and McDonald, if you want.

    • BBnet3000 says:

      Goodness, seeing a proper map of the Triborough RX for the first time is amazing.

      Would definitely help undo the idea that you have to choose between Queens and Brooklyn. The increased accessibility would be amazing, and sorely needed with Brooklyn’s growing importance.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>