It’s cold out so [insert Andrew Cuomo joke here]. The MTA scaled back some weekend work due to the weather but not much. The rest is what they’ve sent to me. Stay warm.
From 11:45 p.m., Friday, February 13 to 5 a.m., Tuesday, February 17, South Ferry-bound trains run express from 14 St to Chambers St.
From 11:45 p.m. to 6 a.m., Friday, February 13 to Monday, February 16, and from 11:45 p.m. Monday, February 16 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, February 17, Flatbush Av-bound trains run express from 14 St to Chambers St.
From 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., Saturday, February 14 and Sunday, February 15, and from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Monday, February 16, Brooklyn-bound trains run local from 125 St to Grand Central-42 St.
From 6:45 a.m. Saturday, February 14 to 7 p.m. Sunday, February 15, Brooklyn Bridge-bound trains run express from Parkchester to Hunts Point Av.
From 11:45 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., Friday, February 13 to Monday, February 16, and from 11:45 p.m., Monday, February 16, to 5 a.m. Tuesday, February 17, 207 St-bound trains run express from Canal St to 59 St-Columbus Circle.
From 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, February 14 to Monday, February 16, 168 St-bound trains run express from Canal St to 59 St-Columbus Circle.
From 11:30 p.m. Friday, February 13 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, February 17, service is suspended between Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and 34 St-Herald Sq. D trains run in two segments:
- Stillwell Av to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr (express service between 36 St and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr)
- 34 St-Herald Sq and 205 St.
As an alternate, take the F, N, Q, or R or free shuttle buses between Grand St and W 4 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 13 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, February 17, Jamaica Center-bound trains run express from Canal St to 34 St-Penn Station.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 13 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, February 17, service is suspended between 8 Av and 14 St-Union Sq. As an alternate, take the M14 bus.
From 5:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 14, service is suspended between Astoria-Ditmars Blvd and Queensboro Plaza. Free shuttle buses make all stops between Astoria-Ditmars Blvd and Queensboro Plaza.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, February 14 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, February 17, trains run local in both directions between DeKalb Av and 59 St in Brooklyn.
From 11:45 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., Friday, February 13 to Monday, February 16, and from 11:45 p.m. Monday, February 16 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, February 17, service is suspended from 59 St and 36 St in Brooklyn. As an alternate, take the N.
Thanks to the foresight of our New Yorker ancestors, we have an extensive subway system that allows someone, if they so choose, to travel from the Rockaways to the norther edge of the city limits in the Bronx for one fare. Whether leaders in City Hall and Albany realize it, the subway system powers New York City’s economy, and the city wouldn’t be home to 8 million people without it.
Thanks to that same history, though, the subway system remains unchangeably Manhattan-centric. It was built at a time when the southern tip of Manhattan was overrun with people and was designed to spread out the masses teeming through the tenements to other areas of the city. In that regard, it has been an enduring success that more than attained the goals of its creators. But it remains a relic of the early 20th Century, and with job centers — and people — leaving Manhattan, the subway isn’t quite as useful for borough-to-borough trips that would otherwise connect New Yorkers to jobs. Sure, we have the G train, but try traveling from Brooklyn to the Bronx, Staten Island to Queens or even Queens to Brooklyn.
Earlier this week, in an extensive report, the Regional Plan Association tackled just this issue. Transit planning for the 21st Century, the organization says in a new publication [pdf], must be focused on connecting the so-called Outer Boroughs. For anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the RPA, the report is the culmination of a theme, and it’s one worth exploring. In it, the RPA calls upon the city — and by virtue of its role, the MTA — to do better. Their ideas involve (1) creating a first-rate bus system; (2) improving and extending rail service; (3) and, importantly, making commuter rail work for borough residents. The last part is easy; rationalize the fare and run more trains. The other two require some work.
The foundation for the report is the growing evidence that job opportunities in the Outer Boroughs are increasing at a greater rate than in Manhattan and that people have a tough time getting from home to these jobs. Sure, the subways are focused around Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City and Jamaica, but trips can be circuitous and time-consuming. It’s great for those who work in Manhattan and less great for everyone else.
“Too many residents of Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island are forced to make long and circuitous commutes every day, often going out of their way to travel relatively short distances,” Jeffrey Zupan, the RPA’s senior fellow for transportation and one of the report’s authors, said. “In the many neighborhoods that are located beyond a comfortable walking distance from a subway or railroad station, residents have to rely on slow and infrequent buses, adding to the time and inconvenience of their commutes.”
With the exception of their plans for the Second Ave. Subway, the solutions aren’t expensive. The RPA wants a better bus network (though I think their BRT proposal is ill-designed), and they want the Triboro RX subway (though omitting a station at Broadway Junction is a mistake and so is the northern extension through the Bronx). They want a commitment to send the Second Ave. Subway into the Bronx and through Lower Manhattan, and they call upon more off-board fare payment options for buses. They propose more frequent Metro-North and LIRR service within the city with lower fares as well.
Nothing in this report is a reach, and any quibbles should be around the edges as mine are. Of course, what these ideas don’t have are funding or a champion, and that’s a real problem. Without either, they won’t see the light of day no matter how easy they are to implement and how important they could be to the city’s mobility.
So the RPA, which has been trumpeting Triboro RX for nearly 20 years, will keep trying. As Tom Wright, the organization’s president, said, “Good transit access plays an enormous role in expanding opportunity to education and jobs. As New York works to foster a new supply of housing to meet surging demand, we need to think more broadly about how our transit network will accommodate the city’s needs well into the 21st century.”
As we approach the six-week mark of 2015, the MTA’s next five-year capital plan — all $32 billion of it — was supposed to kick off on January 1. Now, it’s not a surprise or out of the ordinary that nearly half of the plan’s funding isn’t in place or that the plan hasn’t been approved by the state’s Capital Program Review Board. Last fall’s rejection was a pro forma measure designed to attract political attention to the need to identify funding sources. What’s surprising is how utterly silent Albany and Governor Cuomo have been on the issue.
At this point in the debate, there has been no debate. The only action from Cuomo involved tossing a wrench in the form of the ill-designed LaGuardia AirTrain into the MTA’s plans and requiring the agency to re-write a portion of the five-year proposal. He hasn’t talked about funding mechanism; he hasn’t discussed new dedicated revenue streams; and he certainly hasn’t leaped to embrace anything as progressive as MoveNY’s traffic pricing plan. The silence is deafening.
It’s not though for lack of action and noise downstate. Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio — who thanks to politics has nearly no say over perhaps the most important element driving New York City development — essentially punted the MTA funding question to Albany where it belongs. The mayor recently proposed some new Select Bus Service routes and $300 million over funding over the next decade (though the proposal could be better), and that’s the extent of his control over major MTA moves. DOT can reallocate street space, and the MTA will provide the buses. Meanwhile, the mayor has asked Albany to do something about the capital funding gap.
De Blasio’s statements earlier this week echo comments he made last week. As Capital New York reported, hizzoner made it clear that Albany must find a solution. “I think clearly this an Albany question first and foremost,” the mayor said while on NY1. “Not only do we need to preserve the payroll tax that’s playing such a crucial role now, but I think we have to have a real debate about what Albany should do with its resources and what’s fair for the whole state.”
Of course, the city’s contribution to the MTA’s capital plan has stagnated at $100 million per year for decades. At a rate of inflation, the city should be contributing $363 million, but even that huge increase would leave a gap of nearly $14 billion. The city could do more, but by and large, de Blasio is looking in the right direction.
The mayor isn’t the only one squawking at Albany that isn’t really listening. On Wednesday, the Urban Land Institute of New York and the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA released a report and a fancy website highlighting why the region needs a fully funded MTA capital plan. The report highlight a bunch of facts anyone reading this far already knows — 90% of NY workers live in areas served by the MTA; the Lexington Ave. line carries more riders than subways in San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston combined; the MTA needs to keep investing in system renewal to avoid constant breakdowns, etc. But it’s important because it’s a salvo in a political fight.
“We need to focus on continuing to deliver to New York commuters an affordable, accessible transit network that is equipped for the challenges of tomorrow. As the city and state’s leaders determine the final shape of the Capital Program, it is vital that they keep everyday New Yorkers at the top of their agenda,” William Henderson, Executive Director of PCAC, said. We can’t risk not investing in the system as we’ve been down that road before.
So what happens next? Eventually, Albany will pick up the cause, and the debate may play itself out in familiar fashion. No one will propose traffic pricing, but debt will be on the table. And the MTA’s debt, as a new report by the Straphangers highlights, is a problem. The MTA itself is carrying more debt than 30 nations including war-torn Syria and the entirety of Chile. And yet underinvesting is on the table because, as Joan Byron of the Pratt Center said yesterday, “we have a governor who has demonstrated that he does not get how important the MTA is to the metro and regional economy.” That’s a scary thought indeed.
Subway service and the city’s sense of 24-hour invulnerability weren’t the only casualties of the late January snow storm that wasn’t. My “Problem Solvers” session at the Transit Museum had to be postponed as well. Now, the Museum, my guest and I have determined that we’ll put on the event on Tuesday, March 3rd at 6:30 p.m. in Downtown Brooklyn.
For this session, I’ll be interviewing John O’Grady, an engineer with over 25 years’ experience at the MTA and in capital construction who currently serves as a vice president for infrastructure and facilities. The talk will focus on Sandy recovery efforts. We’ll discuss the work that went into the Montague Tube repairs and the way the MTA is managing the project. We’ll touch on some flood-remediation efforts and the MTA’s attempts at ensuring the next big storm isn’t nearly as disruptive or destructive to the subway system.
The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. As the Museum would like to better support its programming, the event carries with it a modest $10 charge (though museum members still get in for free). As a bonus, though, at 7:30 p.m., the Museum will put Sandy artifacts on display and discuss the process of retrieving and cataloging these items. Most of the public saw only the photos, but the destruction wrought by the storm was substantial. Pick up your tickets right here. Those of you who already purchased a ticket don’t need to pay again. Hopefully, I’ll see you at the Museum in a few weeks.
Over the past few years, I’ve been harsh on politicians who have opted to trumpet proposals for ferry service as a cure-all for the city’s congested transit networks, and Mayor de Blasio’s so-called five-borough ferry service was no exception. He unveiled the idea during his State of the City speech last week, and I tore it apart on Thursday.
Simply put, the mayor’s proposal is an expensive way to subsidize travel for the few people who both live and work along the city’s waterfronts, and most of those people have chosen to live in luxury housing on the water front knowing commutes may take a little longer. With the exception of the Soundview and Red Hook ferries, the New Yorkers who need the most help — the middle and lower classes in transit-poor areas — are left out of the mayor’s idea, and it falls short as a solution.
But if we step back for a few minutes and ignore the way ferries cater to NIMBYs by leaving car lanes, parking spots and lengthy and disruptive heavy construction projects to the side, we may be able to save parts of the ferry proposal. It takes creativity and work, and it would take some rethinking of road space and transit prioritization. It also doesn’t overcome the fact that a ferry service that costs the same as a MetroCard swipe is subsidized to the tune of $15-$30 per rider, but it’s a start.
1. Integrated Fare. No matter how much money the city is willing to sink into the ferry system, they won’t get significant buy-in from residents who have to pay two fares. Those who are willing to use the ferry system to save time won’t be so keen on paying a $2.75 fare for the ferry and another for connecting modes of transit on the other side. This of course involves cooperation between the city and the MTA, and although the MTA has not embraced the ferry proposal or any integrated fare system, a free transfer between boat and bus or boat and subway would do wonders for ridership and mobility.
2. Integrated Surface Transit System. Ferries on their own aren’t that exciting if the way to get them involves walking and hoping that some other transit system serves the ferry terminal. Along with a ferry system, the mayor should have announced an extensive feeder bus system that delivers riders to ferries and then brings them to their destinations on the other end as well as expanded CitiBike access at ferry stations. The 34th St. Transitway and Vision42 remain the pinnacle of hopes dashed for river-to-river access, and both would do wonders for the mayor’s ferry system. Select Bus Service or BRT routes to and from ferry stops would be acceptable. CitiBikes, which admittedly implicate other issues of integrated costs and fare payment systems, should be readily available at ferry terminals as well. Instead, the mayor’s proposal didn’t even acknowledge that getting to a ferry terminal is just as important, if not more so, than the ferry system itself.
3. The Subsidies Are Too Damn High. As I mentioned, despite the attempts at saving the ferry system, someone needs to justify the subsidies. Considering who the likely riders are and where the routes run, the subsidies are even less palatable. Why must they be so high? What can the city do to bring them in line with at least express bus service, already the highest subsidized mode of transit within the five boroughs? Should we even accept high subsidies without further question?
Even trying to save the ferry proposal rings hollow simply because it’s not going to do much to solve the MTA’s capital budget woes, its constant signal problems or overcrowding on numerous lines. It’s not going to get high-speed service to neighborhoods that rely on local buses at best. It’s a nice thing to have for some people, but for most, it’s an afterthought and another proposal from another politician uninterested in tackling the harder questions relating to transit access and funding.
I crashed early last night and slept for 10 hours. So these are a bit late. Travel safely. Stay warm.
From 11:30 p.m. Friday, February 6, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, 2 service is suspended in both directions between 3 Av-149 St and 96 St. Free shuttle buses operate in two segments:
- Nonstop between 3 Av-149 St and 96 St.
- Local between 3 Av-149 St and 96 St, making station stops at 149 St-Grand Concourse, 145 St, 135 St, 125 St, 116 St, and 110 St.
From 11:30 p.m. Friday, February 6, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, 3 service is suspended in both directions between Harlem-148 St and New Lots Av. Free shuttle buses run between Harlem-148 St and 96 St. 2 trains make all 3 line station stops between 96 St and Franklin Av. 4 trains make all station stops between Franklin Av and New Lots Av.
From 11:30 p.m. Friday, February 6, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, 4 service is extended to/from New Lots Av. 4 trains will run local in Brooklyn.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, February 8, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, February 8 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Crown Hts-Utica Av bound 4 trains run express from 14 St-Union Sq to Grand Central-42 St.
From 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, February 7, and Sunday, February 8, 5 service is suspended in both directions between E 180 St and Bowling Green. Take the 2 or 4 instead. 5 shuttle trains run all weekend between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E 180 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall bound 6 trains run express from 14 St-Union Sq to Grand Central-42 St.
From 6:45 a.m. Saturday, February 7, to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, February 8, Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall bound 6 trains run express from Parkchester to Hunts Point Av.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 4:30 a.m. Monday, February 9, 7 trains are suspended between Times Sq-42 St and Queensboro. Use EFNQ trains between Manhattan and Queens. Free shuttle buses make all stops between Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av and Queensboro Plaza. The 42 Street S shuttle operates overnight. Q service is extended to Ditmars Blvd from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 7, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 8.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, A trains are suspended in both directions between Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd and Rockaway Blvd. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service. Howard Beach/Far Rockaway-bound A trains skip 88 St and Rockaway Blvd.
- For service to 88 St and Rockaway Blvd take the A to Aqueduct-North Conduit Av and transfer to a Brooklyn-bound A.
- For Service from these stations toward the Rockaways, take a Brooklyn-bound A to 80 St and transfer to a Howard Beach/Far Rockaway-bound A.
- A service operates between Inwood-207 St and Howard Beach/Far Rockaway.
- Free shuttle buses operate between 80 St and Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd, stopping at 88 St, Rockaway Blvd, 104 St, and 111 St. Transfer between free shuttle buses and A trains at 80 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, February 8, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, February 8 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Brooklyn-bound A trains run express from 59 St-Columbus Circle to Canal St.
From 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, February 7, and Sunday, February 8, Euclid Av-bound C trains run express from 59 St-Columbus Circle to Canal St. C trains run every 15 minutes. Allow additional travel time.
From 3:45 a.m. Saturday, February 7 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday, February 8, Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound D trains are rerouted via the N line from 36 St to Coney Island-Stillwell Av.
- For Service To 9 Av, Fort Hamilton Pkwy, 50 St, 55 St, 71 St, 79 St, 18 Av, 20 Av, Bay Pkwy, 25 Av, and Bay 50 St, take the Coney Island-bound D to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or Coney Island-Stillwell Av and transfer to a Manhattan-bound D train.
- For Service From these stations, take a Manhattan-bound D train to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or 36 St and transfer to a Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound D train.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, World Trade Center-bound E trains run express from 34 St-Penn Station to Canal St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Jamaica Center Parsons/Archer bound E trains skip 75 Av and Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, February 7 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, World Trade Center-bound E trains run local from Forest Hills-71 Av to Roosevelt Av.
From 12:01 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, February 7 and 8, and from 12:01 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Jamaica Center-Parsons Archer bound E trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Forest Hills-71 Av.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Jamaica-179 St bound F trains skip 75 Av, Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd, and Sutphin Blvd.
From 9:45 p.m. Friday, February 6, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Jamaica-179 St bound F trains are rerouted via the M line from 47-50 Sts/Rock Ctr to Roosevelt Av.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, February 7 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound F trains run local from Forest Hills-71 Av to Roosevelt Av.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound F trains run express from Smith-9Sts to Neptune Av.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 6 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, L trains are suspended in both directions between 8 Av and 14 St-Union Sq. L service operates normal between 14 St-Union Sq and Canarsie-Rockaway Pkwy. M14 buses provide alternate service.
From 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, February 7, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, February 8, Q service is extended to Astoria-Ditmars Blvd.
From 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. and 10:45 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. Saturday, February 7; and from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 8, Forrest Hills-71 Av bound R trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Forrest Hills-71 Av.
42 St Shuttle
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, February 7, to 6:00 a.m. Monday, February 9, the 42 St S Shuttle operates overnight.
Another year, another New York City politician jonesin’ for some panacea of citywide ferry service that won’t solve any problems. This time, the honors belong to our Mayor who, in his State of the City speech earlier this week, promised 13 bus rapid transit routes by the end of 2017 and six new ferry routes over the next few years. He later said on NY1, apparently without joking, that he feels the ferry service can alleviate subway crowds.
As far as ferries go, I’ve written about this topic more times than I care to revisit, but here we are. Politicians latch onto it because it’s easy. Adding ferry service doesn’t involve taking away an oh-so-precious lane of parking or — gasp! — driving and it doesn’t involve a multi-billion-dollar layout of cash that leads to disruptive and lengthy construction. It sounds good — because who doesn’t like boats? — and gets people talking because it’s different. Despite de Blasio’s claim, it won’t do one iota of good for subway service and doesn’t solve the intertwined issues of funding, congestion and reliability currently plaguing our aging transit network.
But let’s look at what de Blasio said. During his speech, he announced the idea: “Today, we announce that we’re launching a new citywide ferry service to be open for business in 2017. New ferry rides will be priced the same as a MetroCard fare, so ferries will be as affordable to everyday New Yorkers as our subways and buses. Residents of the Rockaways and Red Hook and Soundview will now be closer to the opportunities they need, and beyond connecting residents to jobs in Manhattan, our new citywide ferry system will spur the development of new commercial corridors throughout the outer boroughs.”
Later, his office released details on the funding plans. The map you can see above, and while the heavy lines demarcating preexisting service make the plan look more all-encompassing than it is, it’s stretching the boundaries of viable ferry service. de Blasio said the city will provide operating support, though the amount of subsidies aren’t yet clear, and will spend $55 million on capital commitments. The Coney Island-Stapleton-Wall St. route that will, on the leg between Brooklyn and Staten Island, attract approximately no riders wasn’t included in this cost projection.
As long-term readers know, I’m not a fan of this infatuation with ferries, and I’ll get into that in a minute. First, though, let’s stop to acknowledge that ferry service can be useful. It’s a complementary element of a robust transit network that can bridge awkward gaps. The service from Astoria Cove — a new development nearly a mile away from the subway — can bring residents who work at Manhattan’s East Side hospitals to their jobs. The service from Bay Ridge to Wall St. would be more useful with a stop at Industry City, but it too can solve a problem.
That said, no matter how many times politicians leap to embrace ferries, the same problems remain. It is, flat out, not a substitute for subway service and, because of the scale of ridership figures and planned routing, won’t help alleviate subway congestion. If it takes a few cars off the road, so much the better, but the mayor should be looking at high capacity solutions to the city’s mobility problems. Simply put, ferries aren’t the answer, and now, I’ll explain why.
A good transit network connects homes and offices. On a good night, I can leave work and be home in 30 minutes, and my ride is a zero- or one-transfer, one-fare journey. The utility of any transit network should be based on that concept, and the ferry system falls flat. It may be a nice way to travel, as many defenders have pointed out, but it doesn’t really connect people’s homes and jobs. At best, it serves those folks who live on the Brooklyn waterfront with their jobs at Wall St. which brings me to….
2. Poorly Placed Subsidies
It’s never cheap to operate a ferry network. In fact, the Rockaway ferry was running the city as much as $30 a passenger in subsidies. With the exception of the Soundview and Rockaway ferry proposals, the mayor’s routes by and large connect to areas of people who can afford waterfront housing and bring them to their high-paying jobs in Wall St. and Midtown. This reeks of a subsidy for people who don’t need subsidies. Is that how to solve concerns about middle class viability in New York City, as the mayor stressed, and mobility?
3. The Fare Structure
In effect, the fare issues are a subset of points 1 and 2. The mayor wants an affordable fare, which is a commendable goal, but he won’t be able to ensure one-fare rides or a transfer between ferries and subways and buses. The MTA hasn’t expressed any willingness to forego revenue for the sake of a city-run ferry network, and I don’t blame them. Thus, anyone trying to get from a ferry stop inland is looking at a two-fare ride, and few New Yorkers want to subject their wallets to a double dip like that.
4. The Rockaways, Again
A crazy part of this specific proposal is the Rockaway ferry route. For some reason, this has become a hot-button political issue in a neighborhood that de Blasio would love to see vote for him in 2017. Amusingly, though, the mayor canceled this very same Rockaway ferry route four months ago because it was too expensive and nobody rode it. What will change between now and 2017? Probably nothing except that the mayor will be up for reelection. Color me skeptical.
5. Ferries Aren’t A Solution
For $55 million in capital funds and, optimistically, $20-$30 million in annual operating costs, the city could do wonders for the bus network. Instead, de Blasio is spending his political capital on a system that likely won’t see daily ridership exceed that of 1 or 2 peak-hour subway trains. These routes — most of which don’t parallel subway lines and aren’t faster that the trains — won’t alleviate congestion as subway ridership continues to climb at steep rates. In fact, the ferry plans take away from a real debate on sustainable funding, political support for transit and high-capacity growth.
So there you have it: one thousand words on ferries at a time when literally no politician wants to tackle issues of cost control, congestion pricing or capital plans. That’s de Blasio’s New York for you.
(Updated at 9:30 a.m.): Six people are dead and 15 injured after the deadliest accident in Metro-North history. Shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening, Metro-North train number 659 traveling north from Valhalla struck a black Jeep Cherokee that was, by some accounts, stuck or at least stopped in the at-grade crossing at Commerce St. near Kensico Cemetery. The driver of the car who was not in her vehicle at the time of the collision is among the dead as the force of the commuter rail pushed the Jeep nearly 10 train car-lenghts forward, and a fireball engulfed the train.
“This is a truly ugly and brutal sight,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference a few hours after the collision. The National Transportation Safety Board has already announced that it will investigate the accident, and the federal agency plans to review the MTA’s signaling and gate system at at-grade crossings.
I’m familiar with that intersection as I have family members buried in Kensico. It’s a very tight and blind curve heading north on Commerce St. into the intersection with both the Metro-North tracks and Taconic. For now, Metro-North and its investigators are not clear on the sequence of events, but Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino indicated that preliminary examinations indicate that the Jeep driver was likely at fault. One report notes that the crossing gate came down on top of the Jeep before the collision and that the driver exited her car to investigate what struck her car, apparently unbeknownst to her, a train barreled down.
The Times, meanwhile, has first-hand reports from the horrific scene:
Passengers were evacuated through the back of the train. About 400 of them were taken to a local rock-climbing gym for shelter, where buses were to take them to the next working station, said Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the authority. One passenger, Scott Miller, 45, said he was riding in the second car of the train when he heard a bang. “The train screeched to a halt, and you immediately started smelling smoke,” he said. “People started screaming, ‘Run to the back of the train,’ ” he said.
He grabbed his coat and bag and started walking down the aisle toward the back of the train with other worried passengers, he said. “It was kind of crazy,” he said. “You had firemen trying to bang open the doors. People were jumping out of the windows.”
A worker at a nearby gym, Michael McGuinn, 22, said he saw sparks flying from the front of the train and heard a huge crash. He said he saw the train braking and the car catching fire. “I knew immediately that it was a car and that it was going to be really bad,” Mr. McGuinn said. A short time later, he heard passengers moaning and trying to leave the train. “I just saw a lot of dazed and confused people,” he said. “They all looked shellshocked.”
For Metro-North, this is another in a series of recent fatal accidents. It’s their first since the December 2013, but that’s small consolation as the commuter rail’s safety practices have come under fire over the last few years. This one, at least, seems to have been outside the control of those driving the train, but serious questions about how the third rail was able to pierce so much of the rolling stock and whether evacuation options are sufficient remain.
As to service patterns for Wednesday’s rush hour commute, trains will operate from Wassaic to Southeast, where customers will be able to board a bus to Beacon for Hudson Line trains. Electric train service will operate from Brewster to Goldens Bridge. There, riders can board a bus shuttle to North White Plains where they will get back on a train. From Goldens Bridge to Pleasantville, Harlem Line riders can board buses for the trip to North White Plains. Trains will operate normally from North White Plains south while there will be no service to Valhalla or Hawthorne. Metro-North will cross-honor tickets across the system. I’ll have more as the story unfolds. Check out some photos after the jump. Read More→
So apparently the 7 train is all messed up because of an ice condition brought about by an umbrella on the tracks that somehow caused a power outage. Although many have used this is a prime example of why subways shouldn’t run in bad weather, if anything, this proves the opposite as the tracks would have been cleared of ice all day except for the umbrella-inspired power outage. The other elevated lines didn’t have problems today, eh?
Anyway, I’m swamped at work this week and don’t have much time to write anything long-form. Today, I’ll urge you to read Steve Cuozzo’s takedown of the Fulton St. Transit Center. In New York Post style, he eviscerates the complex, and while some of his criticism is off base — the MTA couldn’t re-route 100-year-old subway lines to create truly clear passageways, other remarks hit the nail on the head. Cuozzo thinks claims of untangling hallways was overblown while some wayfinding signs leave much to be desired. The expensive headhouse, he complains, with its fancy oculus is still devoid of retail, but in a year or two, when it’s full, no one will care.
The issue though was the price tag. It cost $1.4 billion, and we got no new stations or new track mileage out of it. I ultimately think the Fulton St. Transit Center is a huge improvement on what was there before it, but Cuozzo’s kicker contains a kernel of transit politics I’ve written about before. “The ugly truth is that the Fulton Center was never about unraveling a maze. It was about building a monument to politicians’ and planners’ egos, crowned by a useless glass dome.”
I’m too busy trying to figure out what the Seahawks’ coaches were doing on 2nd and goal with time running out and the Super Bowl trophy within their grasps to think of much else tonight. I also need to continue to clean up from the part the Future Mrs. Second Ave. Sagas and I hosted tonight so you’re stuck without much in the way of original content. If you’d like to read up on more about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s overreaction to last week’s snow forecast, check out Kate Hinds’ piece on how at least some subway service should run no matter the winter weather. According to the WNYC reporter’s interviews with MTA sources and other transit experts in the know, even with an historic blizzard bearing down on New York City, the MTA could run service through most of its system. For its part, the MTA is looking at “amending [winter] plans moving forward.” Clearly, this won’t be the last we hear of this story.