Home Buses What it means to blame ‘the process’ for 125th St.

What it means to blame ‘the process’ for 125th St.

by Benjamin Kabak
Death by Process

Improving traffic flow along the M60 corridor would have benefited bus riders, pedestrians and businesses, but loud objections have quashed some plans.

For a few days now, I’ve been mulling over the debacle that has become 125th Street. Once planned to be Manhattan’s next crosstown Select Bus Service corridor with the M60 tabbed for off-board fare payment, express service and a dedicated travel lane, 125th St. fell the way of the 34th St. Transitway. Community opposition from an entrenched and vocal minority killed a project that would have benefited 32,000 travelers per day. I’d like to know how, why and what we can learn from the latest transit setback.

When DOT and the MTA announced on Tuesday their decision to shelve the Select Bus Service upgrades for the M60, they laid the blame on the area’s political bodies. “There are still a number of concerns about the project from the local Community Boards and elected officials that we have not been able to resolve to date,” the agencies said in a statement. “We do hope to have a continued dialogue with community stakeholders about ways that we can continue to improve bus speed and service, traffic flow, parking, and pedestrian safety along 125th Street. In the short term, we plan to work with the Community Boards to explore whether any parking or traffic improvements discussed during the SBS outreach process can improve 125th Street for all users.”

Theirs is a pretty damning position to take for two agencies that needs the support of Community Boards and elected officials, but it’s not an incorrect one. Senator Bill Perkins threw up nothing but obstacles, and Community Boards were more concerned with losing a few parking spaces and left-turn lanes than they were with the thousands who would benefit from smoother, faster bus rides. Minority obstructionism had trumped the needs of the majority yet again.

In the intervening days, various news outlets have tried to pinpoint the way this deal went sour. Responding to Perkins’ claim that the process was moving too fast, Streetsblog established a project timeline. WE ACT for Environmental Justice started calling for bus improvements in late 2011, and DOT and the MTA launched the project last September. For six months, the Community Advisory Committee held meetings and worked to develop plans for the bus corridor, but in March, Perkins threw his first fit. He claimed DOT had ignored public input but couldn’t cite specifics. In May, he held an emergency public meeting where the MTA and DOT produced plans designed to assuage his concerns, and in July, the bus lane dies.

Over the past 36 hours, Perkins has tried to spint the DOT/MTA decision every which way he can. In an interview with amNew York, he grew belligerent. “Not only is it premature,” he said of the move, “it’s a smack in the face of the community. We didn’t get the kind of process for input that was genuine and folks were feeling a little anxious about the project moving quickly without taking into consideration some of the concerns they had.”

The process. It’s all about the process. It was the process that the Community Boards objected to as well.

If Perkins carries some of the blame, so too do the Community Boards. They refused to vote for the project and seemed more concerned with parking — empty space for idle vehicles — than for bus improvements. Opponents have claimed that the M60 is a treasure for Laguardia riders that doesn’t take into account community needs, but 90 percent of bus riders aren’t going to the airport. (Many others are Harlem residents who use the bus to commute to work at Laguardia.)

Yesterday, Ted Mann delved into the Community Board opposition with a piece that focused on tangential complaints. CB 11 refused to support the M60 SBS route because the MTA refused to heed their complaints about another bus line. Mann gets to the meat of the issue:

One issue with the M35 stop is that it led to crowding at the already-busy intersection, the board said. But there’s another problem: the people who ride that bus, according to records of community meetings compiled by the DOT.

Neighbors have complained about psychiatric patients and homeless people traveling to the neighborhood via the M35 from facilities on Ward’s Island, records from a September 2012 public workshop led by DOT to plan bus improvements show.

“Patrons of the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, and the Charles Gay and Clarke Thomas homeless facilities on Wards Island disembark the M35 bus at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue,” a summary of the workshop says. “They hang around the immediate vicinity all day, creating excessive congestion. They panhandle and disturb the public at this busy intersection.”

CB 11 members tried to claim their concerns were about crowding at the intersection, but Mann’s reporting betrays their cover-up. The MTA too dismissed the complaints about the M35 as unrelated to the 125th St. SBS corridor. “In deference to concerns from Community Board 11, NYC Transit has weighed the pros and cons of both moving the bus stop and rerouting the bus route,” an agency spokesperson said to The Journal. “All the options studied present operational issues and are inferior to the current M35 route and stop configuration.”

So CB 11, it seems, also did not like the process. All of this talk about process leads me to think that the process isn’t actually the problem. Rather, stakeholders can blame “the process” when things don’t go their way. In fact, “the process” is actually just a code word for “we didn’t get what we want so we’re going through an obstructionist fit instead.” We’ve seen it on 34th St.; we’ve seen it with Citi Bikes; we’ve seen it with a subway to Laguardia; and we’re seeing it with a bus route on 125th St.

Eventually, the needs of the many have to trump over the needs of a select powerful few. It’s democratic to give community members outlets through public meetings, elected officials and Community Boards, but it’s also democratic to realize on both sides of the table what a collective sacrifice may be and what measures will improve a neighborhood. Now, 32,000 riders will continue to take a bus that’s slower than walking because Community Board members held the bus route hostage over an unrelated issue and politicians cannot come to grips with the idea of losing a few parking spaces along a busy two-way travel corridor. It’s not actually the process that’s the problem.

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Walt Gekko July 18, 2013 - 1:18 am

Obviously, this is something short-term that needs to be addressed. 125th Street is a BIG intersection where something needs to be done.

Long-term, what needs to be done is an extension of SAS Phase 2 that would have the line go all the way across 125th Street, possibly as elevated after the existing portion of the SAS built in the ’70s is run through if it is better go to elevated than try to continue as a tunnel due to the fault line that runs across 125th Street. If they can do such as underground, such can include a connection to the 8th Avenue Subway that would give the MTA greater flexibility (mainly for re-routes, Yankee Stadium specials on the SAS and train moves, but if warranted allow for an SAS line to continue further uptown and to the Bronx via the Concourse line).

Epson45 July 18, 2013 - 10:24 am

That will not be in Phase 2. You have to rewrite the whole Phase 2 plan to incorporate the crosstown extension, plus you will have to plan major disruption along the other lines. Not worth it.

AG July 18, 2013 - 11:30 am

In the original plan the SAS was to run to the Bronx… and I personally think it still should. SBS now runs on Webster Ave. – but there should be an underground subway line to (on the same route) to make up for the loss of the El decades ago. That would also transform the corridor.

Nyland8 July 18, 2013 - 2:00 am

Most of the locals, and the cabs, know that traversing 125th Street is a nightmare – so they don’t even do it. Eastbound they take 124th and westbound they take 126th.

While on a specific project last year, it was convenient at times to take the M101 Limited which, relatively speaking, flies up 3rd Ave. But then, like every other vehicle, busses included, it crawls along 125th Street while local shoppers get on and off in the span of just a few blocks. Just the loading and unloading times were oppressive, and often for people going no more than a short walk – because it was the first bus to come along. And when the bus is packed – and it always was along 125th Street – then the short trippers would always exit through the front rather than fight their way to the back door. This naturally slowed things down even more.

I remember thinking at that time that long distance or express busses shouldn’t be on that road at all. They should have limited stops – no more than 3 or 4 – along 124th and 126th Streets. This would prevent them from becoming no more than slow-moving trolleys along an always congested thoroughfare.

They should consider running the M60 eastbound on 124th St. and westbound on 126th St. That change alone might speed things along.

Epson45 July 18, 2013 - 10:28 am

No, it would never work if you have M60 on 124 and 126, that will lose ridership and whole set of NIMBYs criticisms.

Nyland8 July 27, 2013 - 11:25 am

No … the only ridership it will lose would be the locals who aren’t going anywhere – for which there are plenty of other local busses along that route.

The ones who are taking it the distance will be perfectly happy to walk one block away to catch it – especially if it runs faster and on-time.

Alex C July 18, 2013 - 8:08 am

We need a Robert Moses but for public transit (not happening, sadly). As is, nothing can get done because of NIMBYs and politicians who serve those NIMBYs, and it’s an embarrassment. Even Los Angeles is rapidly trying to improve transit, and here we are in the city that relies on it and we can’t do absolutely anything.

Bolwerk July 18, 2013 - 8:53 am

No, we don’t. We just need our elected officials to do their jobs and support public transit. An SBS corridor is exactly the type of proposal the city’s legislature should entertain, and vote yea or nay on the merits. That isn’t even a lot to ask. The route impacts people from Brooklyn Heights to The Bronx, yet these people don’t get a say because they ain’t on the community board.

Instead, we select influence peddlers every four years; term limits has created a system where the influence peddlers occasionally have to play musical chairs, replacing one stale, useless asshole with a fresh one.

ajedrez February 24, 2014 - 9:13 am

Well, technically, anybody who works or attends school in a certain community board can attend their meetings and speak up. But even the bus riders living in the neighborhood would be enough, if they were vocal.

I read that there were a couple of groups within the neighborhood that were in favor of the full plan, though.

Nyland8 July 18, 2013 - 10:26 am

Actually, we sort of had a public transit “Robert Moses” in the form of Bloomberg.

He has expanded the 7 Line over to the Javits. He has also championed public space, building bike lanes, expanding park space, etc.

Also, haven’t things like SBS; dedicated bus lanes; express busses and the like; all happened under his administration?

Not much, perhaps, but much better than his predecessor.

Bolwerk July 18, 2013 - 10:39 am

In a vacuum and against most of his postwar predecessors it seems impressive, but, compared to generations ago when NYC had one of the largest streetcar networks in the world, saying Bloomberg’s improvements are modest is pretty generous.

Alon Levy July 18, 2013 - 4:01 pm

Yes, and the choice to fund the 7 extension rather than useful transit projects to poor areas (i.e. SAS Phase 2) was painfully bad for actual city residents.

Moses was an awful person. Bloomberg isn’t quite as awful, not because he’s personally better, but because his power is more limited than Moses’s was.

AG July 18, 2013 - 4:13 pm

The ability of the city to fund the #7 extension was solely because of the desire for billions of dollars worth of development at Hudson Yards that will offset the costs… if that would happen on Phase 2 of SAS – the screams of gentrification would be deafening. You can’t compare the 2.

Alon Levy July 18, 2013 - 4:45 pm

So far the billions are not actually coming. It was either wishful thinking, or a fraud that would enable Bloomberg to get his subway extension while claiming he wasn’t borrowing money or raising taxes.

Justin Samuels July 18, 2013 - 6:30 pm

I agree with you there, the bonds sold to fund the Flushing line extension could have the money to do Second Avenue Subway Phase 2. With the city putting up that much money, it would have been easy to get the rest of it from the state and the feds. Of course, those bonds would have to be backed by something.

The city is using West Side properties taxes to pay off the bonds for the Flushing line extension. There has already been a lot of real estate development in that area.

AG July 18, 2013 - 7:47 pm

There was a thing called the greatest recession in 70 years that took place. Development has started to pick up. Billions worth… Coach, L’Oreal, SAP all signed up to move there and the platform over the yards is now beginning as a result.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 1:36 pm

The money was appropriated in 2007, by which time everyone knew there was a housing bubble that was bursting.

AG July 19, 2013 - 7:29 pm

right so the plans were already detailed before the money was appropriated… this was public works… that’s diff than a private development. The private developers who it relies on to build buildings wisely waited until demand built back up… and now it’s happening so it’s moot.

and in 2007 no one knew how low it would go.

Alon Levy July 20, 2013 - 4:17 pm

In 2007, given the uncertainty, the correct thing to do was to delay the project, or otherwise say openly, “Yes, it might require borrowing money, but it’s good transit.”

AG July 20, 2013 - 5:16 pm

actually a downturn is the best time for public works…. because things are cheaper… and also when it comes to public works – delay means disaster…. just like the SAS which is decades late and miles short.

Bolwerk July 18, 2013 - 4:46 pm

You know how cynical I am, but even I have trouble not seeing Bloomberg as well-meaning in his own bumblefuck way. Maybe that’s even some of the problem. He actually is willing to do awful, repressive things for YOUR OWN GOOD. Whatever reformist qualities Moses began his career with, the Moses of the postwar era did awful things out of empty hubris or even pure spite.

My bigger complaint about Bloomberg is his utter lack of imagination. Has he even tried employing some of that vaunted business acumen to bringing construction costs down to Earth? The guy obviously has some talents and even good ideas, but he simply isn’t a very effective politician.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Stop and frisk. Guantanamo by the Hudson. Violence against Occupy protesters. The naked attempt at vote-buying with that “reform the MTA” plan in 2009.

Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 4:51 pm

I’m not sure “well-meaning” contradicts “authoritarian.” He’s probably librul enough to sincerely think those are good things that actually help people.

Pity that the hundreds of thousands of stop ‘n frisk victims in this city probably don’t vote very much.

David Brown July 18, 2013 - 8:11 am

I agree 100% with the comment “Eventually, the needs of the many have to trump over the needs of a select powerful few.” What will force the change as far as 125th St is concerned, will be the Columbia University Expansion. Columbia will be spending $6.8b on it, and Students will need to get to and from class (particularly if they are coming from the East Side), and without a change on the M-60, it will be difficult. Bill Perkins, who was against the M-60 changes, was also one of the few elected officials who opposed the Columbia University Expansion, because he (like Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society For Historical Preservation who wants to stop NYU), has one basic goal: To slow down things like population and property value increases, because it hurts their influence. Guess what? Maybe Perkins and CB 11 succeeded in delaying things this time, but the expansion that is coming, will eventually force the M-60 SBS down their throat.

AG July 18, 2013 - 11:38 am

I doubt the Columbia expansion will factor in. Ignorance is just ignorance… likewise selfishness. Columbia is fine with their options. A Metro North station on the Hudson Line is in the plans for 2019 (contingent on East Side Access). East/west routes are difficult now to get to Columbia…

I’m trying to remember – but I remember similar complaints about Fordham Rd’s and it still was implemented. So I’m not sure what happened with this one.

Alon Levy July 18, 2013 - 4:05 pm

Or maybe he was against the Columbia expansion because Columbia’s plan for a multi-block underground parking garage was a transparent ploy to let it seize more blocks with eminent domain.

AG July 18, 2013 - 4:15 pm

no – it was to squeeze more money out of Columbia in the form of local development grants… which he got (not saying whether it was right or wrong).

Walt Gekko July 20, 2013 - 1:09 am

What that expansion of Columbia should really do is force an SAS extension of Phase 2 all the way across 125th Street to 12th Avenue-Broadway. That expansion, coupled with Metro-North’s new station (assuming ESA happens) likely would be necessary by the time that were to happen.

AG July 20, 2013 - 10:52 am

WHiole it would be “nice” – I don’t think it woud be worth the money because of the cris-crosssing of lines. 125th – and 57th and 42nd are prime for dedicated SBS (or even a light rail)…. because they are dense and fairly short. Talk of such a biz/civic group is bringing back up the idea of closing 42nd to cars and putting a light rail there and opening it up to pedestrians and bikes. 125th and 57th should get the same treatment in my mind…. though SBS at the least should be available on those major crosstown streets.

I said elsewhere – the SAS should go as it was originally meant to – up to the Bronx… following the original 3rd Ave. El route and then either Boston Road or the original Webster Ave. route… but I doubt it will reach that far in our lifetimes. Webster got SBS – but that corridor would certainly support upzoning if an underground subway was added.

Bolwerk July 18, 2013 - 8:44 am

I really wish transportation advocates would start attacking the community board system itself. They aren’t even remotely democratic, as the only people who participate are the ones with the time to abandon all useful endeavors, possibly including having to survive, so they can obstruct things the other 99% of us could use or enjoy. The system should either be changed so the boards at least have some constructive power, or (my preference) abolished.

An SBS corridor shouldn’t even necessarily be the business of the boards. It impacts the whole city, not just one neighborhood.

David Brown July 18, 2013 - 10:30 am

Community Boards are to a large extent people who have an over inflated value of self worth, and (or) people with personal agendas that are not necessarily in line with the local community (let alone the City as a whole). I remember the Community Board in The Bronx who congratulated itself for “stopping” the New Yankee Stadium from being built. Thank God, they have “advisory” and not “real” power, otherwise they would find a way to shake everyone who is looking to do business, down in a way that would make Pedro Espada or even Don Vito Corleone green with envy.

Bolwerk July 18, 2013 - 10:45 am

Yeah, but the obstructionist power is pretty real in outcome. I don’t know that the city technically could have ignored the anti-SBS sentiment,* which may not even have been a majority of the board, but they sure capitulated quickly enough to it.

The state seems more open to just ignoring them. At least, the liquor authority often ignores their “advice.” Of course, a liquor establishment has the potential to be much more disruptive than a bus lane.

* It seems to me that accepting the community board and elected officials as the community’s “will” is just internal policy, but maybe I’m wrong about that.

SEAN July 18, 2013 - 2:55 pm

Ask these community boards the following question – would you prefer having ALL PUBLIC TRANSIT services discontinued in your neighborhood?

Now of course that couldn’t happen since nothing is in a vacume, but it is a particular mindset I’m trying to expose here & show how small minded these people are.

Jonathan July 18, 2013 - 9:37 am

I support Cap’n Transit’s approach of mobilizing support from bus riders who live in many different neighborhoods. I live in Upper Manhattan, and the M60 is a reasonable way to get to the airport, yet the issue of M60 improvements never came up before our local community board as something that would benefit Washington Heights. Same could be said for Astoria residents.

Epson45 July 18, 2013 - 10:37 am

M60 is really a terrible way to get to the airport, especially if the bridge and GCP backs up badly. There are better choices in Queens soon.

ajedrez February 24, 2014 - 9:22 am

With Astoria, the M60 actually passes through the neighborhood, and benefits them by bringing them to both the subway and airport quicker. I’f there weren’t any meetings over there, there should’ve been.

llqbtt July 18, 2013 - 9:55 am

It’s kinda amazing to see the great resistance to change for the better there actually is out there. It seems that the status quo is the way to go, and not improving anything is the goal of so many locally elected officials and ‘representatives’. You have to wonder who they are actually representing though. I’d bet if you’d ask bus riders on 125, at least 90% of them would say, “I want better bus service.”

Now, a solution comes along that solves this, improves crosstown transit time AND improves transit to LGA and what is the response,
“Oh no, there are too many psychotic people loitering and it’s the M35’s fault.” “We may lose our valuable double-parking lane that further slows bus, car and truck travel time”

Again, who is actually being represented here?

Stu Sutcliffe July 18, 2013 - 10:17 am

Maybe Perkins is being slammed around in his district for his actions if he’s doing this much spinning, instead of taking credit for blowing up this proposal.

Larry Littlefield July 18, 2013 - 11:17 am

Which is why dropping it is the right move.

Doug G. July 18, 2013 - 10:44 am

You’re 100% right.

When the Fourth Avenue proposal went south at Brooklyn CB6 last month, people also griped about “the process.” Never mind that the process included multiple public meetings dating back to 2010 and 2011 and the formation of the borough president’s Fourth Avenue Task Force.

And it was the exact same thing with PPW. Norman Steisel said that NBBL wasn’t against bike lanes. “We’re opposed to this one and the way it was done.” Again, never mind a community process that dated back to 2006. He was against “the way it was done.”

I suspect it’s because no one can say out loud what they’re really against: losing parking, a couple of turns, and their own personal convenience. Even the most selfish, self-absorbed NIMBY knows that’s a losing argument.

Larry Littlefield July 18, 2013 - 11:16 am

Again, the Staten Island rule. Given scarce resources, don’t force improvements down the throat of those who are fighting them instead of being grateful. Spend the money and attention elsewhere.

“The process” should start with Perkins and CB11 arguing over what they want for a few years, and collecting a huge number of petitions, before anyone else pays attention. And then everyone else should push back against any diversions of resources from their area.

Meanwhile, forge ahead elsewhere.

Bolwerk July 18, 2013 - 11:24 am

That doesn’t work, Larry. I seriously doubt the majority of residents in that part of the city would be ungrateful to have a faster trip. The only ungrateful people are the people who get the microphone, and they just happen to be the loudest, dumbest, and most selfish – and, to make matters even worse, these cretins have the most free time to complain.

The beneficiaries have to work or take care of their children or something, and I betcha some are stuck on the bus while the community board is in session.

Larry Littlefield July 18, 2013 - 11:47 am

The only way to eventually get past “the loudest, dumbest, and most selfish” is for those who “have to work or take care of their children or something” to realize what is going on.

Which is exactly what this does.

Bolwerk July 18, 2013 - 12:21 pm

Even if inflicts pain on some of the most vulnerable members of society? That’s basically what happened with this debacle in Harlem.

K, I could buy it for Staten Island, but there is no reason to hurt people who don’t have a voice anyway.

SEAN July 18, 2013 - 3:16 pm

Even if inflicts pain on some of the most vulnerable members of society? That’s basically what happened with this debacle in Harlem.

This is the downside of power. We have removed our selves from doing projects for the greater good & instead instituted minority rule at all levels in almost everything i, e one person can destroy what benefits everyone & some how it has become exceptible conduct.

Justin Samuels July 18, 2013 - 6:25 pm

If the people in Harlem want more public transportation, they need to take it to the streets. Have big rallies, vote for people who support public transportion, and do other campaigns. If they won’t fight for it, then they don’t deserve it and the current outcome is fair. I agree with Larry, given funding for mass transit is scarce, no point in forcing it on communities that don’t want it.

Larry Littlefield July 19, 2013 - 7:44 am

As long as you keep forcing, being a fly in the ointment and demanding “concessions” and deals is a no lose for someone like Perkins.

Hopefully that has changed.

Bolwerk July 19, 2013 - 11:33 am

I don’t see any evidence that Harlem didn’t want it. Whatever merit there is to what Alon is saying about bundling, and maybe it’s a fair point even if it’s certainly more than that, the only evidence is that an entitled community board and some electeds didn’t want it.

Anyway, most of the tactics you suggest are frivolous coming from poor people. Between the Democratic machine picking and choosing its constituents, the police beating the snot out of those who decide to “take it to the streets,” and transit mostly being a rather Byzantine topic, none of that is going to work by itself. You can’t expect anti-George Zimmerman style rallies for every offense, either.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 1:40 pm

Would you ever say that about Park Slope? Would you ever say that if residents of that kind of neighborhood don’t take it to the streets, they don’t deserve bike lanes?

Alon Levy July 18, 2013 - 4:25 pm

The process already starts with that. How long did CB 11 have to beg for bike lanes on 1st and 2nd before the city agreed to extend them to 125th Street?

BruceNY July 18, 2013 - 12:34 pm

I’ve always thought the M60 to be a schizophrenic route to begin with, trying to serve two completely different purposes.
Why not just keep it within Manahattan as a pokey local, and instead create a new route that runs from the Astoria Blvd. N train stop directly to LaGuardia airport, with limited stops in between instead?
I for one would rather take the N-train from Manhattan and then have a short and quick bus ride the rest of the way rather than dealing with 125th Street at all.

Tsuyoshi July 18, 2013 - 1:45 pm

Personally, I could hardly care less if the M60 went to the airport or not. Airport trips are so infrequent for most people that it really is not that important.

Faster transit across 125th is important. It’s one of the densest places in New York, with about the lowest car ownership rates, and no parallel subway service. If the political system was functioning properly, trading ease of driving for improved transit along 125th would not even be controversial.

AG July 18, 2013 - 3:06 pm

Except their is no ease of driving on 125th St. – so it just makes no sense all around.

As an aside – all major cities need transit access to airports. Airports are always major points… just ask the cab industry how lucrative it is. Even now that the outer boroughs can have legal hails – one place they can’t go is to the airports (because of the power of the yellow cab industry).

Justin Samuels July 18, 2013 - 6:27 pm

I think its not a priority for most people in the city. Generally speaking, most people take cabs to the airport. If you have a lot of luggage, public transportation would be a NIGHTMARE. And I doubt most people from Harlem go to LaGuardia on a regular basis, and those who travel often can just use cab services.

AG July 18, 2013 - 7:22 pm

That’s the same argument that stopped this SBS – since the majority of the neighborhood won’t use it then don’t do it. That’s poor planning.

Most ppl take cabs because it was always the most convenient option. Undoubtedly vacationers with a lot of bags wouldn’t use public transportation… but workers and ppl taking short trips do.

26 million passengers used La Guardia last year (which doesn’t include the thousands of workers who go there everyday – some undoubtedly from Harlem). If many had options they wouldn’t take cars (whether cabs or otherwise) if they didn’t HAVE to. If NYC didn’t have the subway it wouldn’t be what we see today. Ppl use the subway because it’s there.

Yankee Stadium has garages going backrupt because ppl rather to use mass transit than drive to the stadium. More ppl go to La Guardia everyday than go to Yankee Games.

AirTrain to JFK and Newark have double digit percentage growth every year for a reason. Once ppl have an option that’s viable they will use it – even when not perfect.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 1:46 pm

As of 2011, annual ridership on the AirTrain JFK was 5.5 million (link). This is 15,000 per day, which means that in 2010 dollars the cost of the project was $150,000 per daily rider. The 7 extension will need just 15,000 daily riders at Hudson Yards to beat that, and the traffic projections for SAS Phase 1 have the project at $23,000 per daily rider.

Independently of all equity concerns, dedicated airport connectors are a shitty investment.

AG July 19, 2013 - 7:41 pm

just because Hudson Yards and projections for the SBS will be higher doesn’t mean they (airport connectors) are a waste of money. If existing rail went their directly and ppl didn’t have to pay an extra $5 for AirTrain JFK/Newark – the ridership would be even higher. The fact that both keep growing every year – in spite of the extra $5 – shows that demand is continuing to increase. If they do extend PATH directly to to Newark as they are studying – I’m sure that will do even better “pound for pound” since it would be a one seat ride and one fare.

in any event – my original comment was to the person who said he doesn’t care if the bus goes to LaGuardia.

AG July 18, 2013 - 2:49 pm

well for one thing that route is not meant to serve ppl who can access the N… it’s meant to serve ppl points north – including the Bronx and even southern Westchester

SEAN July 18, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Huh, southern Westchester?

AG July 18, 2013 - 3:03 pm

yeah – like Yonkers and Mt. Vernon who have transit options to 125th St. – they don’t own a car and don’t have the $50 to pay a cab to go to LaGuardia.

Alon Levy July 18, 2013 - 4:10 pm

For Yonkers and Mount Vernon, ESA is going to be a great help in accessing JFK. If Penn Station had through-running then Yonkers might even have had a one-seat ride through Penn Station by now.

AG July 18, 2013 - 4:21 pm

very true (they are planning to run the Hudson Line to Penn once ESA opens up)…. and it will also allow better access to Newark Airport from Penn… which still leaves LaGuardia as the left out one. She’s older and smaller – but she needs some love too.

Alon Levy July 18, 2013 - 4:23 pm

She should never have opened; LaGuardia should have extended the subway down to Floyd Bennett via Flatbush or Utica instead of building a new airport around car infrastructure.

SEAN July 18, 2013 - 6:31 pm

I see what you ment, but the Harlem Line has no Access to Penn station. The Hudson & New Haven lines do, however on the New Haven Line the connection to the Hellgate Bridge is just west of New Rochelle. This meens that a passenger would either need to track back or travel to YonkerStation. If they don’t drive, then there are only two options. 1. A 30-minute ride on the #7 Yonkers Avenue bus along with a walk from Getty Square to the train it self or 2. a cab fare of $16.

AG July 18, 2013 - 6:48 pm

yes true of the harlem line…

Well yes – in regards to going to Newark I would assume they wouldn’t want to drive. A person at Getty Square though might be better off taking the bus down to the #1 line. Actually a lot of the users of the 242nd St. stop live in South Yonkers… (same with the Woodlawn stop on the #4… and Mt. Vernon residents using the Dyre Ave. and 241st stops on the #5 and #2 subways). Travelling to New Rochelle would bee too far.

For Mt. Vernon and Pelham residents – using the Metro North to go to New Rochelle and connect to the Hell Gate would be fairly easy… similar to the way persons riding the different lines go to 125th street to backtrack to get to Yankee Stadium (after the games some through-run though so there are no need for transfers).

Of course nothing will cover anyone.. but for many it will be an improvement to both JFK and Newark.

SEAN July 18, 2013 - 8:43 pm

Getty Square is a 2-block walk from the Yonkers station. So there’s really no need to take the #1 or #2 busses along Broadway to 242nd Street & swich to the 1 train. Besides Broadway is traffic clogged & the 1 train is not the fastest line out there.

Comparing a back track from Mount Vernon East to New Rochelle to access the Hellgate Line is NOT the same as Transfering at 125th Street to reach Yankee stadium. To make them comparable, increased train frequencies at New Rochelle would need to be instituted along with a new center island platform. This platform would occomadate the new Hellgate Line service patterns without the need for inbound trains to cross from track 3 to track 4 once departed from New Rochelle. Amtrak changed it service pattern at New Rochelle some time ago to avoid such service conflicts. As a result, all Amtrak service is on track 4.

AG July 18, 2013 - 10:50 pm

you confused me… we were talking about Penn… and going to the #1 subway is faster from Getty Square than it would be to take the #7 Bee Line to New Rochelle..

as to the “back tracking”… wow you really wanted to get technical huh? well to get more technical – I said “similar”… I didn’t say “same thing”.

SEAN July 19, 2013 - 10:48 am

Let me try to fix things…

1. In terms of Penn Station, Mount Vernon residents would need to take a New Haven Line train to New Rochelle OR the #7 bus to Getty Square & walk to Yonkers Station on the Hudson Line.

2. Taking the train from Yonkers is faster & easier than taking the bus from Getty Square to the 1 train & sitting on that local for 45-minutes to reach Penn Station.

3. I never said to take the #7 bus to New Rochelle in my prior posts, but you can do that, but Lincoln Avenue is a horable street at times do to the traffic volume & traffic lights. The train takes one quarter the time of the bus.

AG July 19, 2013 - 7:13 pm

Ok – now I understand.

AG July 18, 2013 - 6:36 pm

a lot of things shouldn’t have happened – but it’s too late for that… and JFK and Newark didn’t have any rail access either – they were built for cars… and the military controls Floyd Bennett.

For the record – Floyd Bennett was actually Mayor La Guardia’s first choice… it failed for numerous reasons.

AG July 18, 2013 - 6:50 pm

meant the feds control floyd bennet now – not “military” since obviously it’s been de-commissioned.

In any event – JFK might not exist since that would probably cause problems with landing and take-offs.

Alon Levy July 19, 2013 - 1:48 pm

Bennett failed because it had no easy highway access to Manhattan. LaGuardia wasn’t going to make air travelers take the subway like the plebs, so he built a new airport at a more highway-accessible location. Never mind that, for all of my criticism of airport transit, there already were plans at the time for a Utica subway line (and later for an extension of the Nostrand line under Flatbush), so it’d be a short extension to Bennett.

AG July 19, 2013 - 7:14 pm

it’s my understanding the airlines didn’t like Bennett

Alon Levy July 20, 2013 - 4:20 pm

Because it was far from Manhattan, yes.

Alon Levy July 18, 2013 - 4:22 pm

Here’s what it means to blame the process. DOT offered two bundled improvements: one for all routes going on 125th Street, and one only for the M60 making the other routes marginally worse because of the overtakes. The inequality between the white M60 and the nonwhite Bx15, M100, and M101 was obvious to the Harlem community leaders, if not to the people who swear that the city government is totally not racist. Because DOT presented the package as a bundle, instead of making it clear these are separate things, the Harlem pols got pissed and canceled the bus lanes as well.

By analogy, suppose the state government proposes two school funding bills. One is called Encouraging Excellence and goes to schools with good test scores, and the other is called Improving State Education and goes to every school in the state. EE would go primarily to places like Manhasset and Scarsdale; it would also go to Yonkers High School and the New York magnet schools, which proponents would use as evidence that this grant does not deepen inequality, but most of it would go to rich white suburban schools. ISE would go to everyone. Urban school equity people would naturally oppose EE. But if EE and ISE were bundled, they’d probably also attack the combined bill, since it would still fund the rich suburbs more than the inner-city districts.

Pete February 7, 2014 - 11:55 am

As somebody who actually rides the M60, the notion of calling it “white” is completely absurd…

Pepe July 19, 2013 - 7:42 am

Seems the media strategy employed by DOT/NYCT has been very effective at shifting responsibility for their joint failure to get this projected done before the end of Bloomberg’s administration.

The M60 bus route was identified for SBS by DOT’s LaGuardia Airport Alternatives Access Analysis in 2011.

The M35 issue is related in the context of the “Bus Improvements for 125th Street” which is how what became the M60 SBS project was initially presented to the Harlem community in the Fall of 2012. At that time, both DOT & NYCT insisted that all bus service and traffic improvements ideas submitted by the community would be considered. Only after the initial charade did theses agencies return to the community to present SBS plan.


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