The Tax Reform and Fairness Commission report attempts to provide revenue neutral policy options for legislators to consider, while a separate proposal from state Republicans calls for further erosion of the payroll mobility tax. | Image: governor.ny.gov
With the State election season already on the horizon, transit riders should be wary of the upcoming budget session. Very wary.
Governor Cuomo has put tax reform on the 2014 budget agenda, and now, the proposals are coming in fast and furiously. With downstate transit systems funded by a panoply of taxes, both large and small, the threat to these funding sources, from both Republicans and Democrats, is very real.
Last week, Governor Cuomo’s Tax Reform and Fairness Commission released a report that attempts to provide revenue neutral policy options for legislators to consider. However, soon on its heels came a proposal from state Republicans that didn’t share in the revenue-neutrality ethos, and one that was quick to call for a further erosion of the payroll mobility tax, which provides $1.2 billion in crucial funding revenues for the MTA. Now, this week, a second tax commission report, headed by former Governor George Pataki, is expected to release its findings. Governor Pataki’s charge from Governor Cuomo is to find between $2 and $3 billion to cut from taxpayer’s bills.
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NIMBYs are of concern for pro-park and pro-rail advocates. | Photo: Kathi Ko
Rail advocates make a splash at the Queensway public input meeting in Ozone Park. | Photo: Gregory Homatas
Shortly after this piece was published, we learned that New York Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, along with faculty, students, and staff from the Queens College Urban Studies Department, will launch a community impact study to help assess the best use for the Rockaway Beach Line’s abandoned tracks.
Since MTR last visited the proposal to transform the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Beach Line (RBL) into a 3.5 mile elevated park (known as the Queensway), a feasibility study for the project has been launched with the support of state funding and private donations. The official project team includes the Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Queensway, and design consultants WXY Architecture and DLand Studio, and community outreach specialists the Hester Street Collaborative.
Over the course of the past two weeks, three public meetings have been held in the neighborhoods where the right-of-way runs (Woodhaven, Forest Hills and Ozone Park). These meetings provided no shortage of evidence that the project continues to live up to its title as the city’s “most controversial potential park,” with tensions rising between Queensway park advocates and “no-way Queensway” opponents who would prefer to leave the right-of-way as-is.
Meanwhile, a third group has been organizing rallies, forums and petition drives to garner support behind not converting the railway, but reactivating it. These railway reactivation advocates have been working to educate the public about how reintroducing rail service to the Rockaway Beach Line would benefit transit-starved communities in southern Queens and the Rockaways.
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Today is the one year anniversary of the day after Sandy. Relief was at the forefront of people’s minds, but it was also a new beginning: it was the day the region began to think about how to rebuild better and stronger.
Although the region’s transportation infrastructure was dealt a series of incredible blows, we can look back one year later with a better understanding of our transportation system’s vulnerabilities, as well as more insight into how state and local governments can improve our transportation infrastructure to become more sustainable and more resilient against future storms. It’s obvious that Sandy presented the region a whole host of challenges, but damage from the storm also presented opportunities:
A chance to plan and rebuild smarter. The last 12 months have seen a variety of new ideas about how to weather-proof buildings and infrastructure. Now that we’ve seen what kind of havoc storms can cause, we must use this rebuilding opportunity to be better prepared for the next storm. Sandy wiped out roads in low-lying coastal areas, which has presented communities with an opportunity to rebuild them in a way that is able to withstand storm surges and provide real transportation choices like walking and biking that keep people moving not only in the time of crisis but also every day.
Another reason to learn how to ride a bike. Riding a bike is a great way to get around, especially when subways are shut down due to flooding. Bicycle ridership skyrocketed in New York City in the days following Sandy.
A wake-up call to refocus on fix-it-first. Sandy took a heavy toll on roads, rails and bridges, which should serve as a wake-up call to state governments: before wasting money on highway widening projects, existing infrastructure must be in a state of good repair and able to withstand wind, rain and flooding.
A reminder that planning is only as good as execution. N.J. Transit failed to follow its own storm plan, and they paid the price with 273 railcars and 70 engines that were destroyed by flooding. The Brooklyn Navy Yard, where yet-to-be-launched Citi Bike equipment was being stored, saw six feet of flooding, which damaged “the bikes—and their circuitry-filled docking stations,” delaying the full first phase of the Citi Bike rollout.
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Source: NYTimes.com Connecticut officials must think outside the box to address the current crisis facing New Haven Line commuters.
The transit crisis facing the New Haven Line is now in its sixth day, and ConnDOT and the MTA have been doing what they [...]
Safe access for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as transit-oriented development, must be priorities for Metro-North access — not just parking for cars. | Photo: Chet Gordon/Times Herald-Record
A recent feature in the Journal News highlighted the parking constraints near Metro-North stations. According to the report, nearly half of the 43 Metro-North stations in Westchester County “have wait lists for one or more of their lots,” as well as three of Putnam’s seven stations, and one of Rockland’s five stations, despite the fact that commuter parking has increased five-fold since the 1990s.
To meet demand, Metro-North has added 5,124 parking spaces to its stations in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam over the past two decades, bringing the total to 6,382 spaces. But Metro-North says it has just about maxed out the parking it can build, other than a 500-space garage planned to replace a 109-space facility at the North White Plains station.
What if instead of trying to maximize the number of parking spaces, there was an emphasis on making it easier to get commuters to and from stations without cars at all? One means to that end is to follow the lead of New Jersey and Connecticut, which both appear to be embracing transit-oriented development (TOD), as well as some communities in the Hudson Valley. This may seem strange for people who are used to seeing commuter rail stations surrounded by asphalt, but before the onslaught of the automobile it was once the norm to build residential and commercial buildings around train stations.
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(L to R) TSTC Associate Director Ryan Lynch, TSTC Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool, TSTC Research Fellow Ben Rosenblatt, Ellyn Shannon and Bill Henderson of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, and Vision Long Island Executive Director Eric Alexander
Today, Tri-State Transportation Campaign presented its inaugural Laggy Awards given to those branches of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) with the greatest lost economic productivity, delay per rider, and lost time.
The awards are intended as a signal to state legislators whose districts are home to the LIRR’s least-reliable branches that additional capital investment is needed to ensure that the system continues to serve as an asset — and not an impediment — to Long Island’s economic success. The next capital program of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, of which LIRR is a subsidiary agency, will cover 2015-2019 and planning for the program will begin this fall.
TSTC estimates the total lost productivity due to late, cancelled and terminated trains between July 2012 to June 2013 at $60,760,661. The Babylon, Ronkonkoma and Huntington branches led the way, winning the gold, silver and bronze Lost Productivity Laggies, respectively.
|Lost Productivity Laggy
Total Economic Cost ($)
“LIRR’s frequent delays truly add up to lost economic productivity and commuter time over the course of a year,” said Ben Rosenblatt, the research fellow for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign who conducted the analysis. “In fact, estimates of total lost productivity are greater than last year’s profits of some of Long Island’s largest companies, such as VOXX International, Nathan’s, and 1-800 FLOWERS.”
Tri-State also awarded Laggy Awards for total hours of delay and average delay per rider; a fact sheet with all Laggy recipients in the three categories is available here.
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It’s generally accepted that taking public transportation saves money. But just how much?
The American Public Transportation Association’s monthly Transit Savings Report quantifies how much money per month a typical individual saves by choosing public transportation over driving. APTA’s analysis relies on a number of assumptions, such as:
- drivers have to pay for monthly parking;
- drivers drive an average of 15,000 miles per year;
- public transportation users only have to buy one monthly transit pass (not, for example, a monthly MetroCard and a monthly Metro-North ticket); and
- public transportation users have no driving costs.
Nonetheless, the Transit Savings Report finds that using transit and “living with one less car” can save a striking amount of money.
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NYC Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito joined NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat and NYC Council candidate Mark Levine in calling on NYC DOT to restart the Select Bus Service project on 125th Street in Harlem. | Photo: NYC Council
In response to the New York City Department of Transportation’s (NYC DOT) cancellation of the 125th [...]
While he was quick to take credit for funds to restore service, Governor Cuomo has been silent on the MTA’s financial plan, which calls for two more fare hikes by 2017. | Photo: lohud.com
On Monday, MTA riders received good news when the agency announced roughly $18 million in service restoration and expansions, and another $10.5 million in increased service frequencies and Select Bus Service improvements. The service expansion was made possible largely through higher than anticipated returns on existing revenue sources, not from any additional new support from Albany or New York City. Nevertheless, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office made sure to issue a press release taking credit for the good news:
In the last two and a half years, our administration has made real improvements to the nation’s largest public transit system, implementing reforms that have improved services and made the MTA more efficient by reducing costs, cutting waste and putting the needs of straphangers and commuters first.
Yesterday the MTA provided more detail about its future outlook when it released a fragile financial plan that relies on two additional fare hikes in 2015 and 2017, a “net-zero” labor negotiation outcome and continued cost-cutting measures that go above and beyond the roughly $800 million in annual recurring savings the Agency has already made. But even with all these actions, the MTA still anticipates a $100 million deficit in 2017.
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Bad news for transit riders: Thanks to opposition from State Senator Bill Perkins, among others, 32,000 crosstown bus riders in Harlem will continue to enjoy “slower than walking” bus speeds along the 125th Street corridor. The New York City Department of Transportation and MTA/NYC Transit announced this morning that they will not proceed with the [...]