Home Public Transit Policy On the structural problems that lead to long commutes

On the structural problems that lead to long commutes

by Benjamin Kabak

For reasons of history, the New York City subway system is very good at bringing riders and commuters into and out of Midtown and Lower Manhattan. Before the subways were built out, that’s where people lived and worked and played, and after the subways were built, New Yorkers still wanted to get back to those roots. The jobs, entertainment and culture never left.

For other reasons of historical inertia, the New York City subway system doesn’t do a particularly good job at connecting neighboring borders. The quicker and most direct routes between Brooklyn and Queens involve lengthy detours through Manhattan, and forget trying to get from the Bronx to a non-Manhattan destination. A combination of costs, a lack of most of the Second System and poor foresight are to blame. These interconnections, not priorities throughout much of the city, are slowly emerging as some of the more obvious structural problems with our transportation network, and no one wants to acknowledge them, let alone address them.

Earlier this week, the Partnership for New York issued a report on the city’s commuting woes. The business-based organization noted that New Yorkers face an average commute of 48 minutes, tops in the nation. It takes a long time to span this vast city of ours. But that’s the least of it. As the report details, a lot of emerging job centers, such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, “are poorly served by the public transit system that was designed and built as much as a century ago.”

A posting on the NYC Jobs Blueprint tumblr has more:

Over a million of the workers commuting into Manhattan come from the other boroughs, but job growth in those boroughs has outpaced Manhattan central business districts over the past decade.Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx have added more than 250,000 jobs since 2000.

Many of the two million resident workers who live in Brooklyn and Queens commute daily between the two boroughs. Due to limited public transit options, over half of these commutes are made by car, contributing to road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. In order to address this problem in the short term, the city should increase its bus service between the two boroughs, potentially expanding bus rapid transit in the area…

New York City’s population is expected to grow by one million people by 2040, presenting an opportunity for the city to create new, geographically diverse jobs centers. To accommodate these opportunities, the city needs to appropriately expand and maintain its transportation options in response to shifts in commuting patterns. It is critical that all of the city’s residents, especially those in neighborhoods underserved by public transit, have public transit access to jobs centers. Linking residents with emerging business hubs will allow for greater economic opportunity and job growth across all boroughs.

Now, there is a matter of scale to consider here. Daily commuters alone account for 1.5 million additional people in Manhattan during the day, and tourists and day-trippers add more. That’s nearly ten times as 150,000 New Yorkers who commute in between Brooklyn and Queens for their jobs, and it’s unlikely that non-Manhattan, interborough commuting will ever approach the numbers of Manhattan-bound commuters. Still, the potential and need for improvements is obvious.

So what is the city doing about it? What are mayoral candidates proposing to enhance transit options? Besides ferries and park-and-ride, not too much. The current Select Bus Service routes don’t bridge job centers in different boroughs, and the initial round of routes all stop at or near borough borders. While a variety of candidates have called vaguely for more Select Bus Service or some form of bus rapid transit, only Christine Quinn has put pen to paper, and her Triboro RX SBS routing is more a disaster than a promise. New Yorkers need faster, more direct ways to get to their jobs, but no one has a bold plan for action.

Right now, I don’t have an answer. Maybe the Triboro RX could help, but it’s not clear if the proposed routing connects key job centers. Maybe better Select Bus Service routes could do it. Maybe building a time machine and asking city officials in the 1910s to think of the future would help. No matter what though if New Yorkers sit around waiting for better transit, it’s not going to arrive by itself. We need a visionary to push through solutions to these current and obvious structural problems.

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Stephen Smith August 15, 2013 - 1:00 am

Well, the silver lining of the depressing East Side Access project is that there’s a chance that the MTA will see the wisdom in just turning Atlantic-Jamaica LIRR tracks over to NYCTA for use as an integral part of the Subway, not just a disjointed FRA-regulated, overstaffed, craft union-maintained, expensive, uncoordinated LIRR shuttle. I imagine it would be extremely popular for interborough travel if integrated into the Subway, since not only does it connect two major outer borough rail hubs, but there are two huge West Indian enclaves on either end. Alon’s Hoboken Terminal-Lower Manhattan-Atlantic Terminal RER/S-Bahn proposal would be better, but…baby steps.

Alon Levy August 15, 2013 - 4:03 am

Can people please stop referring to it as Hoboken-Lower Manhattan-Atlantic? I’ve been skeptical about Hoboken as the Jersey station for 3.5 years and fairly certain Exchange Place or Erie is better for 2. (Credit for the Erie idea goes to Adirondacker.)

I’m nitpicking you specifically because you a) have been following this for a while, and b) have a large audience at the Observer.

Avi August 15, 2013 - 8:48 am

Where is Erie? I see the appeal of Exchange Place in terms of tunneling and NJ work(although you lose the NJT connection), but I don’t see where Erie is on a map.

tacony palmyra August 15, 2013 - 9:39 am

I think he means Newport? It was originally called Erie because it was the transfer point to get on the Erie Railroad: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N.....n)#History

John-2 August 15, 2013 - 9:46 am

Erie is Newport.

lawhawk August 15, 2013 - 11:33 am

Exchange Place benefits from proximity to the coast, but that proximity is a huge negative if the Port Authority can’t figure a way to fortify it against future flooding. Erie/Newport benefits from being a key station that operates year round and is a key transfer point on off-peak periods when trains don’t run directly between Hoboken and WTC.

Moving further west, towards Journal Square, might make more sense since that’s a terminus during nights and weekends, and has a pretty established infrastructure around it. It might also make sense to utilize the links with the storage yards. However, with the bulk of the development along the coast, Erie is a good compromise.

Stephen Smith August 15, 2013 - 1:29 pm

Write a post about why you changed your mind! I spend a lot of time reading comments and I didn’t see that you’d changed your mind since the Transport Politic series.

Michael K August 16, 2013 - 8:52 am

I’ve explored using the bergen arches and then a deep tunnel with a station halfway between Journal Sq and Exchange Place. Then a straight shot to a deep station below fulton with escalators leading to all parts of lower Manhattan.

Clarke August 15, 2013 - 9:34 am

Not sure if Barclays Center positioning helps or hurts subway-ification of Atlantic Ave line. Thoughts?

John-2 August 15, 2013 - 9:52 am

Were the Islanders not arriving there soon, it might not be a major factor. But since both they and the Barclay’s Center will be trying to maintain the team’s Long Island base to some extent, they’re not likely to be in favor of the move (The center also likely hopes to maintain a viable LIRR option for concert events, since they’ll want at least some similar rail access to Nassau and Suffolk County customers as MSG has at Penn Station, though I think for the most part, they’d be more concerned about getting customers to cross the river from Manhattan for concert events).

Rob August 15, 2013 - 3:22 pm

In fact, LIRR Atl-Jam originally had a rapid transit operation [the track connection to IRT at ATL being not unrelated]. But evolution has been away from local service on all the inner LIRR lines. With more city stations abandoned in even recent yrs.

Bolwerk August 15, 2013 - 1:32 am

Service problems in your metropolitan area? Dr. Quinn, mechanical woman, suggests you take two of these buses and pull the lever for her again in four years if your congestion doesn’t clear up.

And if that doesn’t work, Dr. Musk has some special pods you can try.

BBnet3000 August 15, 2013 - 8:28 am

Id bet that Queens/Brooklyn commuter number is also kept low by the number of people who just move to the other borough in such a situation (especially if they dont want to buy a car).

Henry August 15, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Moving is generally a lot easier said than done with house prices in this city (unless you rent, in which case it’s slightly easier).

Moving to and from Queens is even more difficult when you consider that all elementary and middle schools in Queens are automatically zoned and there is no “school choice” that allows out of zone students to attend.

crazytrainmatt August 15, 2013 - 9:10 am

I think the biggest opportunity lies in the commuter rail. In the Bronx, Metro-North adds both substantial new geographic coverage to the subway lines and saves a substantial amount of time. Penn Station access and fare unification with the subway would relieve the Lex far more than the Second Avenue subway ever will in the foreseeable future. Through running at Penn and schedule coordination at Grand Central would make the commuter rail a serious option for intra-borough travel. The infrastructure year is already being built (east side access), or is extremely cheap compared to a second subway system (Penn station access, re-electrification). Even rail tunnels to lower Manhattan, which offer an enormous time savings both for city and suburbanites, are still a lot cheaper than any serious subway buildout.

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 9:33 am

“Right now, I don’t have an answer.”

Dynamic carpooling.

Would be drivers and riders are grouped into a non-profit “club.”

They would dial in or connect to an IT service provider with their origin and destination, and the service provider would creates matches. The driver would be given GIS directions to the pick ups and drop offs.

The would riders pay somewhat more than a transit fare, say $3.50 vs. the current $2.50 transit fare, for a door to door ride. The riders not only save on gas, but also on all the fixed cost of auto ownership by having one in the family instead of two or none instead of one, just like subway riders. Possible savings $3,000 to $4,000 per year. NYC median household income about $40,000 per year.

Of that amount, $3.00 would transfered to driver to help defray the cost of automobile ownership. As long as the cost of ownership is equal to or greater than the money received, my view is that is not taxable income, just sharing costs. And just ridesharing, not a business use of the vehicle. Potential cost sharing revenue, with 25 trips (this is NOT just for work) per week averaging two passengers: $3,900 per year. For taking trips that would have been taken anyway, and going a little out of the way for pick ups and drop offs.

The same family could score twice — one spouse rides, saving the second car, and the other drives, offsetting the cost of the first. A great was for younger seniors to earn a little by driving around older seniors too, and a hell of a lot cheaper than the current suburban alternatives.

One quarter would go to the IT service provider, a for-profit company. And one quarter to a member of the club who serves as a salesperson/service provider, picking up when no other rider are available (in NYC a car service could also be called).

The problems: for one thing a chicken and egg problem. If tens of thousands of people were doing it, there would always be a ride, even if certain folks who had issues with each other were blocked from a match or there were subgroup options (women and children only). So it is a community organizing challenge. That is why past attempts have failed.

There are security concerns that have to be overcome by screening the criminal and driving history of club members.

The programming would also be challenging, but it could be done.

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 9:40 am

Here is one attempt.


A techie who does not understand the community organizing, chicken and egg aspect of the problem and tries to get around the possiblity of government prosecution by making the fare a “suggested donation.” It is also a relatively high distance based fare. I suggest a fixed fare — the only extra driving is the dropoffs and pick-ups, which would be in close proximity to the driver’s own destination.


Here is another attempt. Again, for it to worth it to riders they would have to be able to give up a car and saves the fixed cost, which would mean it would have to be reliable, which means tens of thousands of people have to be in it.

Another failed attempt, by Zipcar’s founder.


They are going to try again, I understand. So the IT part will be out there. The non-profit club with tens of thousands of members and specific rules remains to be organized.

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 9:50 am

Two more points.

This isn’t a solution for Brooklyn and Queens. It is a solution for the suburban U.S., where most Americans will be forced to live because it has already been built, and where younger Americans cannot afford to live because doing so requires one care per adult.

I initially came up with this plan in 1994, after Giuliani was elected and City Planning (and eventually me) were asked to come up with a transporation proposal for Staten Island, a borough where the best off people don’t work in Manhattan, but rather are government workers and small business owners there or the other boroughs. Older generations didn’t get it.

Second, I say non-profit org because this is a “natural monopoly.” You wouldn’t want competing outfits in metro because that would dilute the match possiblities. But the IT providers could compete to provide the best service to the clubs in different metros.

alen August 15, 2013 - 10:01 am

instead of someone paying for a ride, set it up as a carpool match up where everyone drives on different days

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 10:17 am

The everyone has to own the car. You save gas, but not the fixed cost of the car. That’s the whole point — not having to own a car. Because 80 percent of the costs are fixed.

That’s the reason no one carpools. If you already paid the purchase price, financing, insurance, maintenance, etc. it just doesn’t make sense to take the trouble is all you are saving is gas and parking.

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 10:21 am

The everyone has to own “A” car.

“Leave your car at home” makes no economic sense from a self-interest point of view. Which is why carpooling has declined as a mode share decade after decade as auto ownership has risen to nearly one per adult.

The idea is for the riders to be able to avoid owning a car to begin with (or one instead of two, like back in 1960s suburbia but with women in the workforce), which is what poorer younger generations and those too old to drive need.

alen August 15, 2013 - 10:28 am

i have known people who carpool for years. the biggest problem is finding someone who lives close to you and also works close to where you work.

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 10:30 am

The reason it has to be dynamic is that very few people come and go with the factory whistle anymore. Schedules differ, not only between people but also from day to day.

And non-work trips have to be considered, particularly for seniors who are less and less able to drive themselves.

J_12 August 15, 2013 - 12:32 pm

sounds like dollar vans.

If you add a half hour plus having to deal with other people in your space to the typical car trip, it becomes a lot more like mass transit.

I think this only appeals to people who are going to do it enough to actually make money, and thus become semi-professional, semi-regulated taxi fleet, much like the vans.

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 1:31 pm

It’s mass transit for origin-destinations where mass transit doesn’t work because there isn’t enough mass. Which is what this is about. And it can be done without huge public investment, unlike “people movers” and other crazy ideas.

You add less than a half our, because there are at most a handful of stops — up to three pickups and dropoffs. And the service is door to door.

While there are some mass transit-like disadvantages, like strangers in your space, there are mass-transit like savings, and the ability of the non-drivers to use their electronic devices, listen in their headphones, or read without killing themselves or someone else.

alen August 15, 2013 - 9:55 am

i know someone that does this. drives to his friend’s house to leave his car there and they car pool from brooklyn to queens

Alon Levy August 15, 2013 - 11:49 pm

Are you familiar with slugging? It’s based on a similar concept, but is much less fancy (what IT service provider?), and exists specifically to take advantage of HOV lanes on freeways. Washington has a lot of that.

Eric Brasure August 15, 2013 - 9:51 am

The obvious answer, of course, is a newly designed Second System for the 21st Century.

Since that will NEVER happen, we are left with no good answers.

Karm August 15, 2013 - 4:03 pm

good point… Triboro RX is the closest and most feasible.

John-2 August 15, 2013 - 10:03 am

As the report details, a lot of emerging job centers, such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, “are poorly served by the public transit system that was designed and built as much as a century ago.”

They designed and built the Myrtle Avenue el over a century ago, then tore the thing down in the Navy Yard area in 1969, because one of the first to-do tasks the MTA gave themselves was to abandon outer brought el lines that were considered to serve dying neighborhoods. It’s also why you have a huge mass transit gap in the central Bronx because the MTA wanted to ‘clean up’ all lines other than the G that didn’t go into Manhattan.

Triboro RX would do a good job of diagonally bisecting Brooklyn to connect subways in the southern part of the borough with those in the northeastern area. But for a cross-Queens line, the route is still a little too far to the west to be fully effective. A revived Rockaway Branch, or even running the Air Train through from Jamaica to LaGuardia, would offer a better mid-borough north-south option.

Ari August 15, 2013 - 10:11 am

No one has mentioned a tremendous reason for the massive cross-borough commuting: rent controls.

Approximately one third (yes, ONE THIRD) of all dwellings in NYC are under some form of rent control (rent stabilization, NYCHA, etc.). Those people have a financial disincentive to move closer to their jobs because they will likely not be able to find a comparable unit.

This comment is strictly transportation-related. I don’t mean to start a conversation about housing policy.

Stephen Smith August 15, 2013 - 1:32 pm

A lot of units in less-than-desirable neighborhoods like, say, everywhere in the Bronx (hard to put a number on it…I’ve asked and can’t get a response) that are nominally rent-stabilized are actually stabilized at rents above market. Renters get what are known as “preferential rents,” which are lower than the legal maximum. These people are, for all intents and purposes, not actually regulated, and skew the stats.

Karm August 15, 2013 - 4:00 pm

did you seriously say everywhere in the Bronx is undesirable? have you ever been?

Bolwerk August 15, 2013 - 3:05 pm

Well, so what really? Besides what Stephen said – a point I’ve tried to make to Randian/Libertardian “free market” masturbaters many times, usually to no avail – you have to study these households a lot more before bothering to make any generalizations. Other problems:

• how many of these people are older, disabled, younger, or out of the job market for some reason?

• many don’t have retrievable equity in their homes, even if it’s some NYCHA-regulated co-op, which might preclude leaving to go anywhere

• multi-earner households, which might be disproportionately regulated (in some direction or another, I don’t know which) may have people working in entirely different places, perhaps even more than two earners per family

I would also drop the assumption housing is very fungible. It’s not. No two units are exactly alike, no two lots are the same, and people have countless reasons for being where they are.

alen August 15, 2013 - 3:29 pm

not only that, but in queens and brooklyn almost everything is co-op or single family home with some condos sprinkled in. most of the red brick buildings have multi year garage waiting lists as well. once you get a spot, you don’t want to give it up.

almost everyone who bought in the 90’s has their apartment paid off. anyone who bought 10-15 years ago has a good amount of equity and a good chance that they have done a lot of remodeling with new appliances, granite, etc. very few people are going to give it up to go rent in manhattan.

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 10:15 am

There is another point. Expectations have to be reasonable. There is no transportation system that could move an infinate number of people to one point(ie. Manhattan) in less than an hour, or any given person between any two points in less than an hour no matter how few people are making the trip. Driving alone was supposed to solve the latter problem, but it requires so much road and parking space it is self defeating.

My brother lives in Tulsa, OK, and does not know why I still live in New York area where our family was from. “I can anywhere in the Tulsa area in my car in 15 minutes!” he says, whereas people in New York have to commute for hours.

How many people live in metropolitan Tulsa? I ask. About 750,000. Well I can get to neighborhoods where 750,000 people live in 15 to 20 minutes on my bicycle. And there is probably about as much available to me in that time as is available to him in Tulsa OK.

But I wouldn’t expect that if I were to take a job on the other side of the metro area, say in Orange County NY, the government would have an obligation to get me there in less than an hour.

Benjamin Kabak August 15, 2013 - 10:17 am

This is an excellent point, and another lost on the mayoral candidates. Christine Quinn was going on and on a few months ago about getting people to their jobs quicker. At a certain point, unless you move physically closer to your job, you just can’t get there quicker.

Still, it shouldn’t take an absurd amount of time to travel 8 miles just because subway routing goes from Brooklyn to Manhattan to Queens and bus service is terrible.

Larry Littlefield August 15, 2013 - 10:28 am

Well, at some point if you are going to have to leave your community, and have your kids leave their school and friends, you might as well live in mid-sized metros and move every time you change jobs. Which is what college-educated people there often have to do. Which is why I work in Manhattan, and have been able to stay in Windsor Terrace.

However, instead of changing residence, you can also change jobs. Or you can accept a longer commute in exchange for a better job, just like people commuting a long time to Manhattan by transit instead of driving five minutes to a minimum wage job in a nearby store. In fact, those who travel farther in the metro area earn more to offset it.

Or engange in dynamic carpooling, as mentioned above.

D in Bushwick August 15, 2013 - 6:30 pm

It’s true that in a very dense and congested city you cannot travel very fast. It’s 15 miles from Bushwick to WA Heights and it takes almost an hour by train (15 mph average) and almost as long by car in the middle of the afternoon.
My commute is 20 minutes door to door and that was largely by design. But I work with people who are willingly to commute 1.5 hours each way to Staten Island or NJ because that’s where they want to live.
Ultimately it’s all a choice.

Bolwerk August 15, 2013 - 10:53 am

Manhattan isn’t one point. Every station or bus stop in Manhattan needs to be treated as a point. Being able to move between any point outside of Manhattan and most points in it in under an hour isn’t that unrealistic an expectation if you presently live near a subway, especially for the western 2/3 of the city, less Staten Island. Expand the modal mix with strategic subway expansions, light rail, and SBS and it’s pretty doable.

J_12 August 15, 2013 - 12:40 pm

With a few exceptions, Manhattan is very well covered by subways. If trains are running without service disruptions, I think you can get between almost any 2 points in Manhattan within an hour or less via subway.

In the outer boroughs, you can also usually get to Manhattan (although maybe not the part you want to get to) within an hour IF your starting point is near a subway.

But the problem is that there are LOTS of trips that start and end in other boroughs which take significantly longer than an hour via transit. The lack of direct connections between boroughs becomes more of an issue as more people live and work in those boroughs.

Bolwerk August 15, 2013 - 2:07 pm

Generally speaking, the goal should be the kind of coverage so you can make any such trip in a two-seat ride and under a few blocks of walking pretty much no matter where you are in the city. Things like Triborough RX and Rockaway help do that.

Normative August 15, 2013 - 11:36 am

“New York City’s population is expected to grow by one million people by 2040, presenting an opportunity for the city to create new, geographically diverse jobs centers. To accommodate these opportunities, the city needs to appropriately expand and maintain its transportation options in response to shifts in commuting patterns. It is critical that all of the city’s residents, especially those in neighborhoods underserved by public transit, have public transit access to jobs centers.”

I hope we keep hearing this again and again. As a grad student in london, I watched as they were investing in the “overground” to add to areas with poor underground or bus service in east london. Many of these areas were historically poor and working communities but have either gentrified or were gentrifying. Here we are in a election season, and are any of the issues really coming up? Sure, its easy to clamor about more SBS or attack the TA for issue A,B, or C, but there is no candidate (besides Sal Abanese) who are putting forward ambitious plans.

Henry August 15, 2013 - 12:57 pm

Again, this is all historically the IND’s fault. The original plans for the Crosstown Line meant to connect to the Astoria Line, and instead of turning west, would’ve continued on to what is today the Franklin Shuttle. The Myrtle Av Line would’ve provided a transfer downtown. Instead, Hylan basically destroyed the remaining Dual Contracts that were left by the time that he was around, and took them for the IND – in a measure of spite, he had the Crosstown Line jog west to Downtown Brooklyn to put the Myrtle Av Line out of business.

So instead of one subway line connecting most subway lines heading into eastern Brooklyn and Queensboro Plaza (saving a lot of time for crosstown commuters) and a second line from Downtown Brooklyn to Ridgewood that would be easily extendable to the Queens Blvd line, we have a Crosstown Line which isn’t much faster than going into Manhattan, and a stunted Myrtle Av Line that doesn’t connect to much of anything.

RX provides a path between Broadway Junction and 74th-Roosevelt (or if you want to tunnel a bit, to the giant bus/train/mall complex at Woodhaven, which was meant to be an express stop.), and can later be extended to connect the Southern Brooklyn lines. Woodhaven connects on Woodhaven but is quite far east for a lot of people, especially in regards to where it connects to the J and A. Both of these solutions should be looked into (and since the M is next to the RX ROW, you might as well extend that too.)

marv August 15, 2013 - 8:28 pm

“or if you want to tunnel a bit, to the giant bus/train/mall complex at Woodhaven, which was meant to be an express stop.”

Forget tunneling to get to Woodhaven, have the RX rise out of the trench at the LIE and takeover the east bound LIE Service Road. Those lanes would then take over the current east bound express lanes, with the express lanes being put on to a new elevated structure. (This “juggling” allows an easier transfer from the RX to the Queens Blvd subway station.)

Ideally the RX should then continue east to the Grand Central or Van Wyck (with a need stop at 108 Street) and then on to a Citifield major transfer station (#7 and LIRR) and then on to Flushing and/or LGA.

All elevated construction would be over highways and would provide real connectivity between lines and major destinations.

Henry August 16, 2013 - 12:51 am

And how/where would you put a new three lane elevated highway? And who in their right mind is going to head out east to head out to LGA in the west? And where is an elevated structure going to go in Flushing? (The 7 in Flushing descends into a tunnel.)

It is a lot less disruptive to tunnel under Eliot Av than it is to reconfigure one of the busiest highways in the city.

marv August 16, 2013 - 11:08 am

“And how/where would you put a new three lane elevated highway?”

Obviously over the existing highway. Add one lane for jogging and biking and the negativity of the elevated structure would be offset.

“And who in their right mind is going to head out east to head out to LGA in the west?”

There are numerous “reverse C’s” in our subway system – the D heads west to 8th Avenue before coming back to 6th Avenue, Trains head west from the bronx before heading east in brooklyn etc.

The reality is that by taking this route transfers are available to:

*LIRR Port Washington line
*all Queens Blvd trains including any extension on Queensway including JFK.

“It is a lot less disruptive to tunnel under Eliot Av than it is to reconfigure one of the busiest highways in the city.”

The cost factor is to be considered as well as a better transfer at Queens Blvd. This has to be balanced with difficulty of going under such a critical subway line. The elevated construction on the Van Wyck Air train still allowed lanes to be kept open (though narrowed) so how bad would the LIE disruption really be?

Rob August 15, 2013 - 3:27 pm

A good answer, if not too radical, is to encourage people to live near their jobs – which is especially feasible for the outer boro jobs we are talking abt here.

How you ask? For example, what abt by cutting the real estate transfer taxes that add so much to the expense of buying & selling/moving. And/or by cutting open the golden handcuffs of rent control/stabilization.

TOM August 15, 2013 - 8:18 pm

“Historical inertia”?

Kevin Walsh August 16, 2013 - 12:03 am

It’s not so much a structural problem as it is a money problem — the LIRR is a block away from me and it’s 20 minutes to Manhattan, but it’s a $19.50 round trip; add $5 for the subway. That’s $122.50 a week — about $551.25 a month, or a second mortgage payment! Even the meager discounts for a monthly ticket don’t out too much of a dent in that.

So, I’ll take a 90-minute commute with a bus and two trains for $5 a day. That’s $25 a week.

alen August 16, 2013 - 10:00 pm

LIRR has monthly tickets. $177 from forest hills to penn station. $193 from jamaica

its by calendar month

Alon Levy August 17, 2013 - 5:13 am

Plus $112 for the subway, since there are no free transfers with commuter rail on this side of the Pond.

flatbush depot August 17, 2013 - 10:21 am

although with your situation at least you do not have to leave earlier than 90 minutes before you have to report to work, right? because if there is a problem with the subways you can switch to the LIRR somewhere along the way, which should make the full trip take less than 90 minutes or just about 90 depending on how severe the subway delay was and where you switch to the LIRR.

then there is no need to provide a cushion in addition to the 90 minutes b/c the cushion is built into the longer commute that does not involve LIRR. people who can only get somewhere by bus or subway and have no railroad alternative along the way have to add the cushion to their commutes.

and as long as you do not have to switch to the LIRR often, the costs of a single ride would not be terribly high..I hope.

Kevin Walsh August 16, 2013 - 7:32 am

Even a weekly would be $67.25 and $25 beats that any day.

liz August 16, 2013 - 9:57 pm

There a also a lot of people who live in Manhattan and don’t work there. My reverse commute to the NorthEast Bronx takes 90 minutes each way by subway and bus. If I buy a car, it will cut commuting time by 50% on an average day; 2/3 on the miraculous day with no traffic. Much as I want to help save the planet, it’s an awfully tempting idea to be able to add back 90 minutes a day to my life.

flatbush depot August 16, 2013 - 10:31 pm

whatever temptation I would have to use a car to shorten that commute would be mitigated by my desire to do whatever is necessary to be a player in the mass transit movement.

if more people did what you did, there would be more pressure on the government to upgrade the mass transit network to eliminate that 90-minute commute. I can explain if necessary.

flatbush depot August 16, 2013 - 10:44 pm

the thing is I see private auto use as a foil to mass transit improvements, mainly b/c I feel that using cars to avoid problems with the mass transit system is like telling the government that we are going to take the burden of fixing the transit system off their shoulders by using cars to (depending on how badly the car needs to be used) do things that we absolutely cannot do on mass transit/circumvent the problems or inadequacies mass transit has/run away from the problems or inadequacies mass transit has.

under no circumstances will I ever own a private auto unless doing has a direct net positive impact (and minimal negative impact) on mass transit (like helping build mass transit infrastructure or something, if I ever do participate in such a thing).

flatbush depot August 16, 2013 - 10:28 pm

congestion price Nostrand Ave, Flatbush Ave, Utica Ave, Kingsbridge Rd, Fordham Rd and Pelham Pkwy perhaps, Rogers Ave, the part of Bedford Ave where the B44 SBS will run, Metropolitan Ave perhaps, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Lex Aves, and probably a bunch of other bus roads.

this should be an integral part of most SBS lines. I strongly believe it should be done for the B44 SBS, especially since Brooklyn has such a dense street grid for motorists to go elsewhere.


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