Mar
28

With newfound transit money, a debate over spending it

By

As the New York economy has continued to improve, a bit of good news concerning transit funding emerged from Albany yesterday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced “major investments in public transit” as part of his 2013-2014 budget. For the MTA, this means an additional increase of approximately $40 million more than it requested for operations support and a reauthorization of capital financing for both the 2005-2009 and 2010-2014 campaigns.

So how to spend it then? Opinions were diverse. “They should increase bus and subway service where they can,” \Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said. “That should be their top priority.” MTA Board members agreed. “We ought to be looking for ways to give back,” Allen Cappelli said. “We did the fare and toll increases, and people have the right to expect we’d look to expand service.”

TWU officials had other ideas. John Samuelsen, president of the union, said the money should go toward a new contract for the MTA’s workers — an idea long at odds with the MTA’s triple-zero approach. And therein lies the rub. It’s clear to me that the MTA should restore services lost to the 2010 cuts or expand its current offerings, but someone else always wants the money. For now, though, we’ll have to wait as the MTA won’t unveil an updated budget until the summer.



Categories : Asides, MTA Economics

60 Responses to “With newfound transit money, a debate over spending it”

  1. Alex C says:

    Restore service cuts. End of story.

    • Handsome Johnny says:

      Are you looking for a return to the status quo ante? Re-route the M through the Nassau Loop and eliminate service up 6th Avenue??

      • Alex C says:

        The new M route is better and more efficient, so no, I would never bring back the V and M split. Making the M run as it does now was an improvement. Some bus lines in Brooklyn (with proper studies on efficiency) should be looked at for restoration or higher frequencies.

  2. Oh course the union wants more money. I doubt many people have much sympathy for them. I sure don’t. Restore the cuts, add service.

  3. Scott E says:

    The wise answer would be to either (1) pay down the enormous debt, or (2) re-build aging infrastructure. Maybe there won’t be anything tangible to show for it, but anything other would perpetuate the ongoing problem of throwing good money after bad.

  4. Andy says:

    While I’d love to see them opening closed entrances and adding real time information to the IND and BRT lines. It’s probably best that they reduce their debt and keep everything running smoothly.

  5. Larry Littlefield says:

    Since the MTA has a “surplus” I guess its debt level is falling, right?

    This is the same kind of blow the short term windfall that led to the triple zeros, underfunded pensions, fare increases in excess of inflation and service cuts to begin with. Nothing is learned.

    How about increasing the debt by less than planned?

  6. David Brown says:

    I saw an AD for increased “L” Train Service coming this summer, and we know something is going to be done with the “G”, so I think those are two areas the $$$$$ would be used in. Bergen St lower level and “F” Express would be nice.

    • Alex C says:

      Not happening. I can give you a full summary of why if you want (respond and let me know), but there are serious issues that keep the idea from being viable right now. Would be doable in a few years once certain projects are done.

      • David Brown says:

        Alex, thank you for the invite. I would be interested in finding out more about this, and would welcome your input

        • Alex C says:

          Simple enough: Currently F runs 15 trains per hour. Carroll, Bergen, Smith-9 Sts (soon reopening) and 4 Av-9 St are all busy stations, so you can’t send any less than maybe 12 trains local during rush hour. That leaves at best 3 for express, which makes it not worth it. To have more than 3, you need more capacity on the IND Queens Boulevard express tracks, which isn’t happening until CBTC is installed there and on the Jamaica Yard R160s. You cannot reduce E service due to the crowding at 53 St./Lexington. So wait for CBTC on the IND Queens Boulevard line, and then you can talk F Brooklyn express.

          • Someone says:

            You know that the Queens Boulevard line express tracks could run 40 tph even without CBTC, right?

            Besides, you can send 9 tph on the F local, and add 3 tph on the G.

    • John says:

      That ad is from two years ago, before CBTC was implemented. The added service they were talking about has already been implemented on the line, supposedly.

  7. Caelestor says:

    Pre-2010 bus and Broadway service should definitely be restored. I would keep the new M though.

    Meanwhile, I feel as if there needs to be some investments in weekend service, which has demonstrated the most growth in recent years. In particular, trains such as the 1 and 2 seem to be chronically overcrowded with their current headways, so a few additional tph wouldn’t hurt.

  8. Andrew says:

    The N and Q should return to their old service patterns. Also, the W should be revived, but instead of having it terminate in Manhattan, send it down 4th ave. in Brooklyn too.

    • Alex C says:

      Where would you terminate it in Brooklyn? Just wondering. The W would be for bonus Astoria coverage, so running it south of Whitehall might not make financial sense.

      • Duke says:

        Personally, I like that both trains I can catch in Astoria will take me into Brooklyn if I so desire. The Broadway situation is not optimal (the Q should be local and the N express, skipping 49th street), but I’m otherwise OK with it as is.

        If I had to pick a service to restore it’d be night/weekend G to Forest Hills.

        • Alex C says:

          The W’s purpose would be a supplement service for Astoria residents to workplaces in Manhattan. Extending it to Brooklyn (except for the 3 end-of-day runs that it had to Kings Highway or 86 St) makes no sense in terms of finances.

      • Andrew says:

        I would have the W in Brooklyn follow the same service pattern that the M did along 4th ave.

        • BrooklynBus says:

          It would make more sense to extend the J, rather than the W. Why not use the connections we already have since we are not building new ones? For years the K connection was unused. When they finally started to use it with the new M service, they cut the Nassau connection to Fourth Avenue. Made no sense.

      • Someone says:

        Bay Parkway. Although, the fumigation process would have to be pretty fast, as the switches are south of the station, which precludes turning of trains on the middle track.

  9. Sa says:

    I’d love to see service restored. Put the G back to Forest Hills late nights/weekends. Maybe have the J return into Brooklyn to Bay Parkway during weekdays (since the M’s new route is too successful) and anything else that makes sense.

    • JMB says:

      Having the G go to FH is not likely due to crowding on the QB line, but I totally agree about the J using the Montague street tunnel connection to travel on to Brooklyn. Keep the M as the midtown service and extend the J as a downtown/BK service. This may have an added benefit of reducing crowding on the 4,5 during rush hours since (from my perspective) many get off the R in BK to transfer to an east side service. At least now they can stay on the J at least until Fulton thus lessening the overcrowding on the Lex south of City Hall.

      ….Or pay down some debt, that’s always good too. But definitely don’t give those petulant ‘tards in the union anymore.

      • Alex C says:

        Can’t extend the J. The J and Z are the same line. A “J” in one direction may be a “Z” in the other and vice versa. You can’t extend one without the other, and there’s not enough rolling stock to extend them to Brooklyn anyways.

        • Duke says:

          But there was enough rolling stock to run the M to Bay Pkwy before it ran up 6th Ave. Which is more cars than running it to Chambers but the former V train cars should have made up for that difference.

          If I’m doing this “math” correctly, the cars that used to be used to send the M to Bay Parkway are no longer in use and thus should in theory be available to send the J/Z there, no? Or is it a question of yard space at East New York?

          • Alex C says:

            This is why Google is your friend. There are no “former V trains” that made up any difference. There are R46s from Jamaica Yard and R160s from East New York Yard (and some R42A sets left). The M uses ENY rolling stock, of which there is enough for M and J/Z service as is. J/Z to Brooklyn is not happening; a waste of money and not enough rolling stock.

        • Someone says:

          Um, okay. Then eliminate the Z and have the J be divided into 2 services: J1 and J2. This way, both Js can go onto 4th Avenue.

  10. Jerrold says:

    A bit off-topic, but there seems to be complete silence going on about the South Ferry opening.
    Has Ben or anybody else here heard anything about whether they still expect to open it in “the first week of April”, as they had said?

  11. Charley says:

    I sure hope bringing countdown clocks to the rest of the system (and, consequently, to our smartphones) is somewhere on the agenda.

  12. Bolwerk says:

    $40M is a drop in the bucket. If we’re going to spend it, spend it somewhere that reduces costs down the road, or just pay down debt. The latter is the most viable option, I would think.

    • Larry Littlefield says:

      Actually, you mean reduce the increase in debt. There is no “surplus” to be grabbed by people today if they are dumping more debt on people tomorrow.

      • Bolwerk says:

        There is no “surplus” to be grabbed by people today if they are dumping more debt on people tomorrow.

        Doesn’t that actually describe how most “surpluses” have happened?

  13. lawhawk says:

    $40 million isn’t a huge sum, but it’s something that could restore or add service in underserved areas. However, $40 million directed towards debt relief would have a greater impact on the MTA’s bottom line. It would result in a reduction in carrying costs over the life of that debt far in excess of the $40 million.

    By using the $40 million to debt relief (retiring high interest debt), it would free up more money to either pay down debt in future years or build up a rainy day fund.

    But as Ben has stated in the past, unless the state is willing to devote more for capital projects, the MTA will continue to have a significant debt load for the foreseeable future.

  14. Larry Littlefield says:

    Streetsblog is reporting that $20 million will be taken from the MTA and spent elsewhere in the state under the new state budget.

  15. jack says:

    1)”$40 million more than requested” and 2)”We did fare and toll increases”
    How about if we lower the subway fares and eliminate the excess funds by about $40mln. The city’s planners did not request more money. Maybe the fare increase was a mistake. Most people would not object to a cut.

    Compared to the annual budget of $7.2billion, this is only .5% and the MTA can chew through it in about 2 days.

  16. Michael says:

    I know it would never happen but I’d love to see Select Bus style pre-board payments applied to all the buses in Flushing. It takes so long to board a bus there and the crowding on Main Street is unbearable.

    • BrooklynBus says:

      They should build an underground bus terminal as part of the conversion of the municipal parking lot to commercial development, so the transfer woud be seamless. That would greatly relieve street congestion.

  17. Someone says:

    I know it would never happen, but they should use the money to build the damn Queens Blvd. bypass already!

  18. Scott says:

    The two no brainer projects should be restore the old Rockaway line and connect it to the Queens Blvd line… Or a study on opening a train over the Bay Ridge freight line all the way from the Bronx with a tunnel to connect Staten Island… Maybe even in conjunction with the state DOT and revive the cross Brooklyn expressway… We need big vision for the future..

    • BrooklynBus says:

      Correct. We need investments like that where we get the biggest bang for the buck. NIMBYs cannot be allowed to control the City such as those on the Upper West Side who want the speed limits on Comumbus and Amsterdam Avenues reduced to 20 mph. Then the same people will complain again when air pollution levels increase.

      • VLM says:

        That’s not NIMBYism and your auto-centric planning ideas remain terrible and abysmal. Stick with your pseudo-suburban Sheepshead Bay BS, and stay out of UWS planning. We actually care about pedestrian safety and neighborhoods.

        • BrooklynBus says:

          It definitely is NYMBYism when people without cars who only take the trains don’t give a damn about everyone else. They don’t realize if cars are slowed to 20 mph, buses and trucks are also slowed. That means longer bus trips for everyone and higher prices for trucked goods. The streets are public and everyone has a right to them. That includes everyone passing through, not only those who live there. If you don’t want people from outside the neighborhood to be able to freely use those streets, then chip in and make them private and pay for your own maintenance. If my taxes pay for it, I have a say in what happens there, like it or not.

          If there is a safety problem at a specific intersection, then you address it or if the police are not enforcing existing speeding laws, you address that also. You don’t make everyone suffer because of your own selfishness.

          • VLM says:

            You really truly think that more people drive than use the streets. You really truly think that convenience of drivers trumps safety of people. Your ideas are old fashioned and pathetic. Get out. Time after time, 20 mph speed limits have been shown to improve literally everyone’s safety. And if the extra minute it takes you to travel a mile isn’t worth lives, then you have a warped sense of urban life.

            • BrooklynBus says:

              So you think the City speed limit should be lowered to 20 mph? Well, why stop at 20. Let’s save even more lives by lowering it to 10 mph. Arent’t lives worth saving? You and people with your attitude are becoming a real joke. You are unbelievably selfish with no regard to others or the economy.

              Vehicles don’t travel only one mile. A truck traveling the length of Manhattan travels 13 miles. That’s 13 extra minutes assuming you never stopped for a red light. That is not significant to you, but some feel it is. The MTA and DOT are spending a fortune for SBS in Brooklyn to save the average rider only six minutes.

              Lowering the speed limit to 20 mph would have a huge negative effect on the economy. It would only help City Hall resulting in every driver being given at least one summons every day for speeding if it is enforced with cameras. How long do you think people would put up with that before they just move out and say the hell with New York?

              • VLM says:

                You are just the worst at creating non-existent strawmen for your arguments. Do you know anything at all about DOT’s slow zones? Are you aware that they are community-driven and for small areas that are primarily residential only? The city isn’t going to drop the speed limit on all major thoroughfares, and this idea that people aren’t going to come to New York because their precious cars may have to slow down while driving through — not to, through — neighborhoods just isn’t what happens.

                But you know what happens? This is what happens. What do you think will drive more people away from New York? One car having to slow down or 10 people serious injured?

                • BrooklynBus says:

                  You are calling my arguments strawmen? You show a link to a very unfortunate accident where speed is not even mentioned as a possible cause and you say that is what happens if the speed limit stays at 30 mph? Then you contradict yourself by saying that DOT’s slow zones are only for residential areas and not for major thoroughfares. I didn’t realize that Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues weren’t major thoroughfares but are minor residential streets. Thanks for educating me.

                  But I forgot, you work for the MTA, where conclusions are first drawn, then irrelevant and conflicting information and distorted statistics are used to support those conclusions. Maybe that works in your world, but it doesn’t fly everywhere.

                  And for your information, DOT stated last year that they were looking into having the entire City speed limit lowered from 30 mph to 20 mph, in effect making the entire City a slow zone except for highways. So I wasn’t stating something utterly ridiculous, but something that actually could happen.

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    I just read several accountings of that accident. Only in the Daily News Article is there possible mention of speeding. From all the accountings, it sounds like the driver was inattentive. All of a sudden she realized that a car was stopped ahead of her at the traffic light and she wouldn’t be able to stop in time, so she swerved to avoid it with disastrous results. She also may have accidentally hit the accelerator in her panic to stop.

                    It appears to me that she never should have been given a license, not realizing the damage a motor vehicle could do when you don’t pay attention. No changing of speed limits could have prevented this tragedy. What needs to be investigated is how the police do their investigations, concluding there was no criminality. This sounds like vehicular manslaughter to me, even if it was involuntary. Not saying she should definitely receive jail time, but she should not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle again. Can’t understand why no charges were filed.

          • Bolwerk says:

            You make it sound like there is some mass underclass of “everyone else” to consider. There is a tiny subset of the population that needs to or wants to drive in that area of Manhattan. The vast majority are in transit or on foot. That’s the “everyone else,” not drivers.

            Also, buses in that area already lucky to average 10mph. Precisely because car-centric planners don’t consider “everyone else.”

            • BrooklynBus says:

              I’m talking mainly about those needing to drive through the area or take a bus within the area. I agree that a large percentage of trips within the area are foot traffic or those who insist on using their car and could also use mass transit if they wanted to. But I wonder if many who use their cars have little choice since there is little incentive to give up a good parking space which may not be there when you will need it later.

              As far as buses averaging 10 mph, lowering the speed limit to 20 will lower the average speed to 6 or 8 mph, making them even slower, and increasing someone’s likelihood of giving up that precious parking space in order to drive. It would also greatly increase the MTA’s operating costs or result in poorer service as a result of fewer riders. Remember when the Times Square plazas were opened, the MTA complained that bus reroutes added ten minutes to their trips. That would happen again. Perhaps even 20 minutes added to longer routes if buses travel slower.

  19. Lottie says:

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    técnicas, llegando hasta a quitarte del buscador, como le ocurrió últimamente a la web de , que efectuaba
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