Archive for Podcast

Buses are certainly having their moment these days. With the launch of the 14th St. Busway, we’ve seen a vision of a better New York City, one that prioritizes transit over private automobiles and makes it easier for people of every stripe to move around.

But the success of 14th Street isn’t the only bus story in America. Across the country, transit advocates are winning the fight for better bus service, either through network redesigns that bolster ridership or investment in new routes dedicated to buses. To that enter, Steven Higashide, the Direct of Research at TransitCenter, recently published a new book entitled Better Buses Better Cities: How to Plan, Run and Win the Fight for Effective Transit. At 142 pages, it’s a quick read, but an insightful and meaningful one for anyone who cares about improving buses. Higashide profiles efforts around the country at fixing buses to make service frequent, useful and popular.

This week, Higashide joined me on the podcast to talk about the lessons from his book gleaned from his travels around the country and the ways they can be applied to New York City. We talked, of course, about the new busway, but we also spoke about the bus network redesign Andy Byford is currently leading and the shortcomings in this project. We discussed fighting against the Arthur Schwartzs of the world and planning a bus network that can lead to faster service and higher ridership. Is this the dawning of the age of buses? Listen on to find out.

You can find my conversation with Higashide at all the popular podcast spots — iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or Pocket Casts, to name a few. Or you can listen by clicking the “play” button below. If you like what you hear and have been enjoying the podcasts, please consider leaving a review on your iTunes.

As always, thank you for listening and thanks as well to Joe Jakubowski for sound engineering. I’ve been enjoying producing these podcasts but they take a lot of time and effort. I can keep doing them only through the generous contributions of my listeners so please consider joining the Second Ave. Sagas Patreon. Since this site runs entirely on Patreon contributions, your help keeps the proverbial engine going. And be sure to check out Better Buses, Better Cities. It’s worth any transit advocate’s read.

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Former FRA Administrator and current MTA Board Sarah Feinberg spoke with me at length about all things transit.

Sarah Feinberg, a recent Cuomo appointee to the MTA Board, isn’t quite like the Board members we’re used to around here. While most MTA Board members are long-time or even life-time New Yorkers who operate within the enclosed world of the MTA and its environs, Feinberg came to New York City only recently. She grew up in West Virginia, worked in San Francisco Washington D.C. before arriving in NYC after her stint as the Administrator of the Federal Railway Administration under President Barack Obama. To that end, she brings opinionated views and a more national perspective than the insular MTA often sees.

Eight months into her stint on the MTA Board, Feinberg sat down with me for the latest episode of the Second Ave. Sagas podcast. We talked about her time in Washington and how dealing with a large bureaucracy in D.C. helps her understand the even-larger bureaucracy in New York City. We talked, of course, about Gov. Cuomo and his heavy hand on transit lately and the success of the 14th St. Busway. We dove into whether or not fare evasion is the same problem the MTA claims it to be. And we discussed how the agency needs to understand that the Americans with Disabilities Act — and accessible transit facilities — is the law and not a suggestion. I hope you’ll find this conversation a refreshing and honest glimpse into the way the MTA Board interacts with both the MTA and the governor, and I’ll highlight some bits and pieces from the podcast in the coming weeks.

You can find my conversation with Feinberg at all the popular podcast spots — iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or Pocket Casts, to name a few. Or you can listen by clicking the “play” button below. If you like what you hear and have been enjoying the podcasts, please consider leaving a review on your iTunes.

As always, thank you for listening and thanks as well to Joe Jakubowski for sound engineering. I’ve been enjoying producing these podcasts but they take a lot of time and effort. I can keep doing them only through the generous contributions of my listeners so please consider joining the Second Ave. Sagas Patreon. Since this site runs entirely on Patreon contributions, I can keep it going only with your help.

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I’m currently amidst a two-week trip through Japan, salivating over its rail systems, the expansive and vast Tokyo subway in all its permutations and Shinkansen rides through Honshu. It’s a fascinating and beautiful country with a rail system that far outpaces America’s, and the subway in Tokyo was fast and reliable (and complex). I’ll be back to my usual posting schedule in a week or so, but in the meantime, I have a new podcast for you.

Before I left, I sat down with Doug Gordon for a long chat on transportation advocacy. You may know Doug as the voice behind the @BrooklynSpoke Twitter account, the occasional blogger at the site of the same name or as one of the co-hosts of the War on Cars podcast. We spoke about the overlap between transit advocacy and safe streets advocacy, once two largely disparate movements that have grown closer in the age of the internet. We talked a bit about the right over the 14th Street busway (a topic I recently covered for Curbed New York), and the lost opportunities of the de Blasio administration on reforming NYC streets.

You can catch my conversation with Gordon via the player below and at all the popular podcast spots — iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts or your favorite podcast app. If you like what you hear and have been enjoying the podcasts, please consider leaving a review on your iTunes.

As always, thank you for listening and thanks as well to Joe Jakubowski for sound engineering. I’ve been enjoying producing these podcasts but they take a lot of time and effort. I can keep doing them only through the generous contributions of my listeners so please consider joining the Second Ave. Sagas Patreon. Since this site runs entirely on Patreon contributions, I can keep it going only with your help.

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This is the dawning of the age of OMNY and the end of the line for the MetroCard. As the MTA brings its new open-loop contactless tap-and-go fare payment system online, New Yorkers have seen readers pop up throughout the city, but most riders still have more questions than answers about this mysterious new system replacing the MetroCard.

I wrote up an overview of OMNY when I covered the launch at the end of May, and for this episode of the Second Ave. Sagas podcast, we’re talking all things OMNY. Joining me for the conversation is the MTA’s own Al Putre. He is the executive director of the New Fare Payment Program and has been in charge of revenue collection at New York City Transit for decades. In this week’s podcast, Putre and I talk all about OMNY — what it is, what it can do, when we’ll get unlimited ride cards and what the privacy concerns may be — as I ask your questions. Give it a listen.

You can learn even more about OMNY on the system’s official site, and you can catch my conversation with Putre via the player below at all the popular podcast spots — iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts and your favorite app. If you like what you hear and have been enjoying the podcasts, please consider leaving a review on your iTunes.

As always, thank you for listening and thanks as well to Joe Jakubowski for sound engineering. I’ve been enjoying producing these podcasts but they take a lot of time and effort. I can keep doing them only through the generous contributions of my listeners so please consider joining the Second Ave. Sagas Patreon. Since this site runs entirely on Patreon contributions, I can keep it going only with your help.

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Reinvent Albany’s call to reform MTA governance is the topic of this week’s podcast.

Can the MTA be reformed from within without, as many New Yorkers wish to see, blowing everything up? That’s the question a new sweeping report from the good governance group Reinvent Albany seeks to answer.

A month after budget season wrapped, the watchdog agency published “Open MTA: 50 Actions New York Can Take to Renew Public Trust in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.” It’s a report that squarely lays the responsibility — and the blame — for the current state of the MTA on the shoulders of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and walks through the myriad ways the MTA has failed. From a Board with no real authority to opaque budgeting to a failure of legislative oversight to ethics concerns and conflicts of interest, the 150-page document lays out the case for MTA reforms through the lens of Cuomo’s control. Andrew Cuomo controls the MTA, and Andrew Cuomo will determine whether or not the MTA succeeds. Here, Reinvent Albany says, is the way to fix things.

In a way, the report is a contrast to Corey Johnson’s municipal takeover plan, and the document is blunt in noting that blowing everything up — wresting control of an important state power — from Andrew Cuomo is unlikely to succeed. So let’s fix things from within.

Since the report came out, I’ve pondered how best to cover it. After all, it’s not easy to distill a massive call for reform into a few hundred words. So for the fourth episode of the Second Ave. Sagas podcast, I sat down with Rachael Fauss, Reinvent Albany’s senior research analyst and lead author on the report, for a conversation on overhauling and fixing the MTA. We spent a lot of time discussing whether or not the MTA, under Andrew Cuomo is something that can be fixed. We delved into the way the MTA Board is more symbolic and used as a whipping post rather than a true policy instrument. We explored the need for the agency to implement better open data policies. And we examined how Joe Lhota’s multiple jobs and apparent conflicts of interest undercut public trust in the agency. It’s an in-depth talk about structural challenges and the ways to fix the MTA while recognizing that Cuomo will not willingly cede control.

You can check out the Reinvent Albany’s full report right here, and you can catch my conversation with Fauss via the player below and at all the popular podcast spots — iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts and your favorite app. If you like what you hear and have been enjoying the podcasts, please consider leaving a review on your iTunes.

As always, thank you for listening and thanks as well to Joe Jakubowski for sound engineering. I’ve been enjoying producing these podcasts but they take a lot of time and effort. I can keep doing them only through the generous contributions of my listeners so please consider joining the Second Ave. Sagas Patreon. Since this site runs entirely on Patreon contributions, I can keep it going only with your help.

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It’s time for another new episode of the Second Ave. Sagas podcast, and I’m very excited about my guest this week. Joining me during his farewell tour for his Signal Problems newsletter for a long discussion on all things covering transit is Aaron Gordon, a familiar name in these parts.

Gordon picked up the transit beat a few years ago with The Village Voice and launched “Signal Problems” as part of his ongoing coverage. He’s spent countless hours digging into faulty signal timers, the ongoing L train repair mess, and ferry ridership, among others. Now a writer with Jalopnik, Gordon is retiring his newsletter shortly, and the transit beat will be poorer for it.

Gordon and I sat down for a long discussion over the weekend, kicking things off with a conversation on Andy Byford’s future, and we covered the slow-motion improvements as Byford works to improve the system while navigating a thorny governor. We also talked about covering transit, frustrations with the FOIL process and the experiences a transit beat writer can enjoy riding along with the speed limit test train. You can listen to this week’s episode via the player below and the popular spots — iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts and your favorite podcast app. If you like what you hear and have been enjoying the podcasts, leave a review on your favorite podcast site.

As always, thanks for listening and thanks as well to Joe Jakubowski for sound engineering. I can bring the podcasts to the public thanks to contributions from my readers so please consider joining the Second Ave. Sagas Patreon. As always, this site runs entirely on Patreon contributions, and I can keep it going with your help.

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Welcome back to another installment of the Second Ave. Sagas podcast. Joining me for Episode 2 is John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, a grassroots advocacy group pushing for better transit. The Riders Alliance was a key member of the #FixTheSubway coalition pushing Albany to approve congestion pricing, and the group celebrated a big victory last week when congestion pricing finally earned legislative approval.

In this week’s episode, Raskin talks about his group’s role in lobbying for transit funding and what comes next as the fight over a traffic fee shifts from passage to proposal. Attention will shift to the six-member Traffic Mobility Review Board, tasked with formulating the fee structure and assessing whether any exemptions should be granted. As Raskin discusses, the advocates’ work is far from over, and ensuring a robust pricing plan that delivers on its promises to limit congestion in New York City while funding the work needed to improve the transit network is a job far from over. You can listen to this week’s episode via the player below and the popular spots — iTunes, Google Play, Pocket Casts and your favorite podcast app — should update by Wednesday morning.

If you’re enjoying the podcasts, leave a review on your favorite podcast site, and please consider joining the Second Ave. Sagas Patreon. This site runs entirely on reader contributions, and I can keep the podcast going only with your help. A big thank you as well to Joe Jakubowski for his production work on the podcast.

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As part of my Patreon and the push to make this site reader-funded, I promised to bring back the Second Ave. Sagas podcast. Though we haven’t quite hit the funding goal yet (and we can get there with your help), the podcast is returning. Last week, in the wake of his ambitious proposal to return the subways and buses to city control, I sat down with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to discuss his plan. He’s my guest for the first episode of the new podcast.

We talked for about 45 minutes about the ins and outs of the plan, the political reception from the governor, and how Johnson feels it could be the centerpiece to a potential mayoral campaign. I’ll have more commentary on this interview shortly, including more thoughts on Gov. Cuomo’s tepid and sarcastic response, and for people who join the Patreon, I will post a transcript as well. In the meantime, give it a listen.

As a note, I’m still waiting for the iTunes approval to come through but you can find it here on Pocket Casts or grab the feed directly. You can also download it via the link above or listen via the player embedded on the site. I’ve been investing in new audio equipment so future episodes will sound even better. A big thank you to Joe Jakubowski for sound engineering this episode. I’m excited to have the podcast return and hope you enjoy it.

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NextStopis We’re back with an all-new episode of “The Next Stop Is…,” the only Second Ave. Sagas’ podcast around. Eric and I talked today about delays, strikes, and ferries. Oh my?

We start with a discussion on the 7 train extension’s recent troubles and what it may mean for other MTA capital projects. We talked about the LIRR union’s offer to postpone a strike from July to September and delved once more into the love affair with ferries. We ended with some words on the sad passing of Massimo Vignelli.

This week’s episode runs about 20 minutes, and if you haven’t left work for the day, give it a listen on your ride home. (But don’t worry; it will still be timely in the morning.) You can grab the podcast right here on iTunes or pull the raw MP3 file. If you enjoy what you hear, subscribe to updates on iTunes as well and consider leaving us a review. If you have any issues you’d like us to tackle when we return in two weeks, leave ’em in the comments below.

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NextStopis Everyone’s favorite podcast devoted to New York City’s transit scene drops its 17th episode today. Rejoice as Eric Brasure and I tackle a few key topics. We discussed Mayor Bill De Blasio’s dealings with the popular green borough taxi program and his relationship with the yellow cab medallion and fleet owners. We explore the big push to improve transit access to LaGuardia Airport and the MTA’s plans to increase service over the coming months.

This week’s episode runs about 22 minutes, and if you haven’t left work for the day, give it a listen on your ride home. (But don’t worry; it will still be timely in the morning.) You can grab the podcast right here on iTunes or pull the raw MP3 file. If you enjoy what you hear, subscribe to updates on iTunes as well and consider leaving us a review. If you have any issues you’d like us to tackle when we return in two weeks, leave ’em in the comments below.

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