Cuomo offers no plan to pay for grand projects

When it came to transportation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State speech made for some great sound bites but provided little substance.

Cuomo failed to give any specifics of how he will come up with $8.3 billion promised to meet the shortfall his proposed 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan.

Cuomo is kicking the can down the road.

The original proposed previous 2010-2014 MTA $29 billion Five Year Capital Plan was cut to $24.2 billion before being approved.

This doesn’t include $8.3 billion more pledged by Cuomo and $2.5 billion by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to help cover shortfalls in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposed $28 billion 2015-2019 Five Year Capital Plan (cut from the original $32 billion).

When will these billions become a reality?

The original proposed 2015-2019 MTA $32 billion Five Year Capital Plan in September 2014 was rejected by the New York State MTA Capital Program Review Board.

In October 2015, a revised $28 billion 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan was approved by the MTA Board. It still needs approval by the New York State MTA Capital Program Review Board.

How can the MTA justify cutting $9 billion in badly needed capital improvements over a 10-year period and still provide the day to day services millions of New Yorkers count on?

How many critical capital improvement projects will be postponed  into the next 2020-2024 Capital Program?

The next 2020-2024 MTA Five Year Capital Program will first have to deal with $9 billion in unfunded carryover capital projects and programs going back 10 years.

By waiting all these years, the costs will have gone up by another billion or two.

This includes $1 billion or more to construct Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway.

Next, is $1 billion or more to finish LIRR Eastside Access to Grand Central Terminal.

What about finding $500 million to build the new No. 7 subway station at 10th Avenue and 41st Street?

This was dropped from the original scope of work for the  No. 7 subway Hudson Yards extension as a means to keep the project within a baseline $2.1 billon budget. In the end, the cost was $2.4 billion without this station.

Also needed is $1.5 billion for the LIRR Main Line Third Track project.

Don’t forget $5 billion for New York’s share of the $20 billion Amtrak Gateway Tunnel project from New Jersey to Penn Station. (Amtrak just announced this week that the project cost estimate has already grown to $23 billion).

The LaGuardia Airport Train to the Plane base line budget of $450 million in the years to come will require up to an additional $550 million.

The final cost may be closer to $1 billion.

The $3 billion new Penn Station will end up needing far more than $300 million in combined assistance from the MTA, Amtrak along with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Does anyone really believe that potential developers will spend $2.7 billion of their own funding to pay for this?

Staten Island residents will continue looking for up to $600 million for the North Shore Bus Rapid Transit.

Queens residents will be looking for $100 million toward the $200 million Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service.

These dollars may be necessary if New York City DOT is unable to secure $100 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding.

Suffolk County residents will be looking for $100 million for the Route 110 Bus Rapid Transit.

Westchester County residents desire $50 million for the Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit.

Others will continue to lobby for restoration of LIRR service on old Rockaway LIRR branch at $1 billion, Triboro X Subway Express (new subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens & Brooklyn for $1 billiion to $2  billion) and most recently the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector at a cost of $1.7 billion.

Combined, all of the above would make Cuomo’s tab for unfunded transportation improvements exceed $26 billion!

This doesn’t include how he will pay back a $3 billion federal loan for construction of the Tappen Zee Bridge.

Cuomo reminds me of the character Wimpy who famously said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

When the bills become due, taxpayers will be stuck with Cuomo’s tab.

Why would the next Governor want to pay for any of Cuomo’s bills?

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked in the transportation field for 31 years)

My take on this. NY State has always managed to “step up to the bar” in the past. Sold bonds for the New York Thruway. Worked a deal with Albany County for the South Mall, etc, etc.



Everything Is In The Cloud – Except For B2B Transactions

The cloud and its advantages are everywhere, right? Every mobile device and every consumer web service is based on cloud technologies. Every day startups take to the cloud, building new applications, hosting data and services in publicly available storage sites and moving data between local storage in the office and inexpensive hosting. But even with all this activity and concentration on the benefits of cloud based environments a frighteningly small percentage of B2B transactions move electronically.

In fact, when we talk about B2B transactions being processed electronically we don’t even mean ‘through cloud-based systems.’ We mean electronically as in EDI or any kind of digital process. How is that even possible after the tremendous efforts dedicated to EDI implementations, staffing for electronic transfers, and all the work done to get orders processed quickly and efficiently?

Saratoga & North Creek Railway to offer new dining cars, more train trips

Saratoga & North Creek Railway plans to dramatically boost its dining car offerings this year after finding plenty of interest in meals on rails in recent years.

The railroad plans to bring new dining and lounge cars to its line to try to increase ridership on the tourist train.

The company will offer dinner, brunch and lunch train trips, with much of the food and beverages offered on the trips to be provided by local suppliers.

SNCRR will offer 94 dining trips between Saratoga Springs and Thurman Station starting June 4 and running through Oct. 28, an increase over the 15 offered last year.

The trips will be run on new equipment that includes a bigger, 48-passenger dining car with a full kitchen, and a “luxurious” lounge car with couches and a bar, said Justin Gonyo, SNCRR’s general manager. The trips have been dubbed The Pullman Table.

Gonyo said the company had seen that dining car trips were selling out in previous years, with all but one of 28 over the last three years being booked solid.

“This is a very exciting business franchise,” Gonyo said.

The kitchen can turn out up to 300 meals per trip, he said. Wine will be provided by Greenfield winemaker The Fossil Stone Vineyards, and local farmers and food suppliers will provide ingredients for meals.

Menus posted online listed standard breakfast offerings, with entrees like prime rib, grilled salmon and “Adirondack casserole” and the “D & H Deluxe Burger” for later meals.

SNCRR’s parent company, Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC, offers the same service on its other affiliated railroads in Oregon, Texas, Illinois and Louisiana.

The company has been dogged by lower-than-anticipated ridership numbers, though the Polar Express holiday trips have done well. SNCRR canceled snow train trips for skiers this winter between Saratoga Springs and North Creek.

The railroad’s five-year contract with the county expires in June, but county Administrator Paul Dusek told county supervisors Monday that negotiations for a new deal are progressing.

“It looks like it’s going to be a go for another five years,” Dusek said.

Top 5 Productivity Tips From 2015

As an entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter how successful and profitable your company is–there are still days when you can feel like a failure for not getting enough work done.

There’s no way to ensure that you’ll never waste time, but that doesn’t mean readers aren’t eager to find some way to get a better handle on their workload. To help you start 2016 off on the right foot, we’ve rounded up some of our most popular tips from the year on how to be more efficient, effective, and creative.

1. Use this seven-minute morning routine to clear your head before the day begins. contributing editor John Brandon tested out this short morning routine, which proved popular with readers. The idea is to take seven minutes in the morning to readjust your mindset to prepare for the day ahead. Here’s a quick breakdown of the routine:

Minute 1: Clear your head, and get rid of any thoughts about what you have to do that day. Think about the moment.

Minute 2: Take deep breaths.

Minutes 3-6: Take the first thoughts that popped into your head that morning, and take notes about them or draw them out.

Minute 7: Take a look at everything you wrote down, and write out a brief plan on how you are going to act on one of those items.

2. Don’t focus all of your attention on the almighty to-do list.

In the March issue of Inc., editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan took a deep dive into the psychology of productivity. According to Leigh, one of the most problematic misconceptions about productivity is that adhering to a strict to-do list will help you be more productive.

Rather, some of the leading researchers on productivity say that it’s better to spend the end of the day reflecting on all of the things you did accomplish, and not on the things that you never got around to. “Giving yourself credit helps you feel productive–that actually makes you more productive,” Walter Chen, the CEO and co-founder of productivity startup iDoneThis, told Inc. iDoneThis provides customers with tools to report the tasks they accomplish each day.

3. And while you’re at it, stop multitasking.

According to Devora Zack, author of the book Singletasking: Get More Done–One Thing at a Time, multitasking can cut your productivity by as much as 40 percent. You may think you’re getting a lot done, but all you’re really doing is switching between activities.

“Singletasking obliges you to do one thing at a time, excluding any other demands at that moment,” Zack told columnist Minda Zetlin. “This means you must stand firm and genuinely commit to your choices.” In addition, Zack suggests picking a place to “park distracting inspirations,” that is, to create a folder or a note dedicated solely to good ideas that pop in your head when you’re working on something else.

4. Cutback your dependence on email.

The quest to send fewer emails didn’t stop in 2015. From Inc.‘s feature on our 2015 Company of the Year, “email-killer” Slack, to Bert Jacobs’s revelation during a Live Chat that he doesn’t use email at all, articles on how to cut back on the message flow proved to be a hot topic for discussion. Startup founders who can’t entirely cut out email may want to take a hint from inDinero founder Jessica Mah: She checks her email only once a week. The rest of the week she has an administrative assistant go through her inbox, and tells close friends and colleagues to contact her via text.

5. The eight-hour workday is so last year.

Startups are out to bust long-standing traditions, and the 40-hour work week is no exception. Take company No. 239 on this year’s list of the fastest-growing private companies in the countryTower Paddle Boards. CEO Stephen Aarstol instituted a five-hour workday, and though Tower’s offices are officially open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (a number of studies show that people are more productive during the first few hours of the day), Aarstol lets employees pick when they want to work their five hours. He estimates that people stick to that “70 percent of the time.” He also believes that employees are still getting the same amount of work done as when they were at the office for eight hours a day.

“At the same time that people have the ability to be massively more productive, they also now have the ability to massively waste time,” says Aarstol.

By Anna Hensel

Editorial assistant, Inc.