MTA Capital Program Highlights Dire Need for Sustainable Funding Sources

MTACPThe New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently unveiled its proposed $32 billion 2015-2019 Capital Program, subsequently adopted by the MTA Board at today’s meeting. The proposal is made up of “vital investments” derived from the 2015-2034 Twenty Year Capital Needs Assessment that will “renew, enhance, and expand the MTA network” by “addressing evolving customer needs and expectations, while at the same time reinforcing the importance of investing to keep MTA safe and reliable.”

A significant portion of the proposed plan is dedicated to the completion of large-scale transportation infrastructure projects, including the LIRR Ronkonkoma branch Double Track project, the Metro-North Harmon Shop replacement project, East Side Access and the expansion of the Metro-North New Haven Line to Penn Station. Each of these projects has its own major implications for regional transportation service. For the proposed 2015-2019 Capital Plan to include so many major capital investments sets the stakes a lot higher for this program being approved, and being fully funded.

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Four Ways to Improve Trans-East River Travel That Aren’t Gondolas

ERSWWhat does it take to get people talking about increasing travel options for people whose commutes take them across the East River?

A futuristic proposal spawned in the mind of a Manhattan real estate mogul, evidently.

The East River Skyway proposal aims to address congestion on the L train between Williamsburg and Manhattan by carrying passengers on aerial trams (like the Roosevelt Island tram). With rapid (and continuing) growth in North Brooklyn, the L train has become increasingly crowded in the last few years. But is a gondola the best way to accommodate demand for trans-East travel?

Benjamin Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas summarizes the issue nicely:

In a certain sense, this plan gets to problems with the current transit set-up including overcrowded L trains, a need to serve the southern part of Roosevelt Island, especially with the Cornell development on tap and more capacity across the East River. On the other hand, the alignment is terrible in that it tracks subway lines such as the J/M/Z that are under capacity and mirrors preexisting ferry service.

Although the East River Skyway would provide some fantastic views, perhaps we should consider improvements to the rights-of-way that already exist.

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Fair Tolling, and the Media’s Take This Time Around

With the MTA’s upcoming five-year capital plan facing an estimated $10-15 billion hole, the silence from New York State’s elected officials has been deafening. Given that it is an election year for state senators, assembly members and Governor Andrew Cuomo, perhaps this is to be expected. For the most part, all debate is expected to be left until after the next election. But it was refreshing to hear the beginning of the conversation kick off last week.

After three years of quietly listening, shopping the proposal around, tweaking and gaining supporters, Move NY formally launched a draft plan at a forum last Friday that would better balance the tolling system around Manhattan. During the past three years, Move NY’s Alex Matthiessen has actively tried to avoid the spotlight in an attempt to make sure to avoid death-by-media (mis)conceptions. He also made it clear on Friday that he is not looking for people to choose a side yet, telling Streetsblog, “We are not looking for Mayor de Blasio or Governor Cuomo to take a position on this issue.” Of course, a negative word from either of these players could be the kiss of death to the nascent effort.

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5 Reasons Why New York City Needs a Residential Parking Permit Program

Many U.S. cities, including Albany, NY (pictured), have established residential parking permit programs. |  Photo: Cindy Schultz/Times Union

Many U.S. cities, including Albany, NY (pictured), have established residential parking permit programs. | Photo: Cindy Schultz/Times Union

On-street parking on residential streets is free throughout New York City, which makes finding a place to park incredibly difficult in some neighborhoods, and provides an incentive for owning a vehicle. In a dense, congested city like New York, it seems counter-productive to allocate so much public space to cars without asking vehicle owners to pay at least something for it.

So far, efforts to implement a residential parking permit (RPP) program in New York have been thwarted despite advocates repeatedly calling for such a measure. But that doesn’t mean the conversation is over. Here are five reasons why the next Mayor should revisit the idea of an RPP program:

1. Everybody else is doing it. Certainly not the best reason to do something, but it’s worth noting that just about every other major American city has a residential parking permit program. Some of them even charge money for them. In Washington D.C. permits are just $35 a year for most vehicles registered in the District, while San Francisco, whose residential permits are the most expensive in the United States, charges $109 per year (30 cents per day). That’s still a bargain compared to what you’d pay for garage parking in New York City.

2. People are willing to pay for it. According to a recent study, about half of New Yorkers said they would be willing to pay $408 a year on average if it meant that finding parking near their homes would be easier.

3. It will reduce congestion. As Seinfeld‘s George Costanza famously said about parking, “Why should I pay, when if I apply myself, maybe I could get it for free?” Turns out, a lot of us are just like George. Drivers who are looking for somewhere to park account for 28 to 45 percent of traffic in places where on-street parking is under-priced (or in this case, free).

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Blast from the Past: Four Decades of Studying Tolls on East and Harlem River Bridges

Development of Toll Collection System for the City-Owned Bridges Leading into Manhattan (City of New York Transportation Administration, 1972)

Engineering, Environmental, and Socioeconomic Reevaluation of State Implementation Plan Strategy B-7: Tolls on East & Harlem River Bridges (NYSDOT, 1977)

TSTC staff spent Monday afternoon tidying up our offices, and we […]

NY Transit Coalition's Ad Gets Recognition

Last year, the above ad was displayed on the sides of NYC Transit buses and caught the attention of motorists, pedestrians, and bus riders alike. Last month, the ad, produced by Robbett Advocacy Media with input from the Campaign for New York’s Future and Empire State Transportation Alliance, was recognized as one of […]

Older Pedestrians at Risk in the Region; Gov. Paterson Responds

Older tri-state residents bear a significantly higher risk of being killed as a pedestrian than do their younger neighbors, or their cohorts in the rest of the country, according to a new analysis released today by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. (See TSTC fact sheets and downstate NY, NJ, and Conn. press releases.)

Between 2005 […]

The NYS Assembly and Congestion Pricing: A Primary Election Day Guide

Tomorrow, September 9, is primary election day in New York. Tri-State does not endorse candidates, but we do report on their views and actions when it comes to mass transit, funding public transit, and other transportation issues. One of the most important transportation issues in New York over the past few years was congestion […]

Tracking Bloomberg's Accomplishments, and Looking Beyond His Term

Three recently released publications will be powerful tools in shaping transportation policy in New York City beyond the Bloomberg Administration. Two are progress reports on Mayor Bloomberg’s 127-point sustainability agenda, PlaNYC; the other is the NYC Department of Transportation’s strategic plan.

Building a Greener Future The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) PlaNYC […]

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Early Reflections on Congestion Pricing Defeat

After the defeat of congestion pricing, many in the transportation advocacy community are facing two questions. Why did New York fail to pass congestion pricing? What can advocates do now? Two TSTC board members recently sought to answer those questions.

Writing in Gristmill, environmental economist Charles Komanoff gives his answers to the question of […]