A MetroCard and a Dream

Whenever I speak to investors, they cite a property’s proximity to public transportation as part of their rationale for buying a building or developing a site in a particular neighborhood.

They note that since the crime rate in the outer boroughs has plummeted by nearly 80 percent since 1990, individuals priced out of one community are willing to travel farther out on their subway line to find affordable housing.

In fact, subway ridership is at its highest level since New York City’s post-World War II boom with the greatest percentage jump in ridership in neighborhoods like Bushwick and Long Island City that are seeing a spike in residential development and population growth, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Along the L line, for example, the Bedford Avenue station in Williamsburg saw 27,224 average weekday customers last year, more than any other station on the L line. But the largest weekday percentage increases actually occurred farther east on the L line at the Bushwick Avenue-Aberdeen Street Station (11.5 percent), Wilson Avenue Station (9.9 percent), and Jefferson Street Station (9.3 percent).

New York City grew by nearly 316,000 people between 2010 and 2014, Census figures show, bringing the population to 8.5 million and putting pressure on a subway system that serves over 2.4 billion riders annually on 24 subway lines traveling on a network of 659 miles of track.

To accommodate this growth, city and state officials are making a number of capital improvements to our transportation network and rolling out new projects.

The MTA recently announced that the long-awaited 7 train line extension from Times Square to a new station at 11th Avenue and West 34th Street is now scheduled to open next month. Not only will the new line open up access to offices, residences, hotels and retail in Hudson Yards, but it will enable riders in Flushing and other neighborhoods in Queens to reach the Far West Side of Manhattan without even changing trains.

Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway, which is slated for completion in December 2016, will improve commuting on the Upper East Side by relieving congestion on the packed 4 and 5 trains and make properties east of Third Avenue more desirable for renters, buyers and investors. The first phase is expected to serve 200,000 riders daily and will include tunnels from East 105th Street and Second Avenue to East 63rd Street and Third Avenue with new stations along Second Avenue at East 96th, East 86th and East 72nd Streets and new entrances to the existing Lexington Avenue/East 63rd Street Station on Third Avenue.

In exchange for a rezoning that will allow a 65-story office tower at 1 Vanderbilt, SL Green has agreed to invest $210 million to upgrade Grand Central Terminal’s overcrowded subway hub. The proposal includes three new staircases to subway platforms, two new street-level entrances and a renovated mezzanine, and a 4,000-square-foot waiting area.

The new Fulton Center at the corner of Fulton Street and Broadway opened last year bringing a modern, light-filled structure to Lower Manhattan and replacing what had been a dark and dingy station. Up to 300,000 daily commuters now have improved subway access to the 11 trains that converge at the station—the 4/5, A/C, J/Z, 2/3, R, 1 and E.

When it’s completed, the 800,000-square-foot, World Trade Center Transportation Hub will improve the daily commute for over 200,000 workers who have been negotiating the construction site for more than a decade. The concourse will be the most integrated network of underground pedestrian connections in New York City and connect to the 11 subway lines in the Fulton Center, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail system, Battery Park City Ferry Terminal, the World Trade Center Memorial Site, WTC Towers 1, 2, 3 and 4, the World Financial Center and the Winter Garden.

One of the most interesting new initiatives is in the Bronx. A proposal to add four new Metro-North stations at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester and Hunts Point gained momentum when Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out firmly in support of the project by including $250 million for it in the 2015-16 state budget. The four new stations will reduce commuting times by extending rail access to over 93,000 residents from the eastern section of the Bronx, provide easy access to jobs up and down the New Haven line and to Penn Station, and serve one of the largest concentrations of medical facilities in the United States at the Morris Park station.

Finally, the F train station on Roosevelt Island has made possible the transformation of this once secluded and curious enclave into a future beacon for technology with the groundbreaking of Cornell-Tech’s new world-renowned campus.

Together all of these projects illustrate how public transportation in New York City is and will always be a value enhancer when it comes to commercial real estate, job creation, and development.

Adelaide Polsinelli is Principal and Senior Managing Director for Eastern Consolidated.


Why Brother Bernie Is Better for Black People Than Sister Hillary

The future of American democracy depends on our response to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. And that legacy is not just about defending civil rights; it’s also about fighting to fix our rigged economy, which yields grotesque wealth inequality; our narcissistic culture, which unleashes obscene greed; our market-driven media, which thrives on xenophobic entertainment; and our militaristic prowess, which promotes hawkish policies around the world. The fundamental aim of black voters—and any voters with a deep moral concern for our public interest and common good—should be to put a smile on Martin’s face from the grave.

The conventional wisdom holds that, in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton is the candidate who will win over African-American voters—that her rival, Bernie Sanders, performed well in Iowa and won New Hampshire on account of those states’ disproportionate whiteness, and that Clinton’s odds are better in the upcoming contests in South Carolina and Nevada, two highly diverse states.

But in fact, when it comes to advancing Dr. King’s legacy, a vote for Clinton not only falls far short of the mark; it prevents us from giving new life to King’s legacy. Instead, it is Sanders who has championed that legacy in word and in deed for 50 years. This election is not a mere campaign; it is a crusade to resurrect democracy—King-style—in our time. In 2016, Sanders is the one leading that crusade.

Clinton has touted the fact that, in 1962, she met King after seeing him speak, an experience she says allowed her to appreciate King’s “moral clarity.” Yet two years later, as a high schooler, Clinton campaigned vigorously for Barry Goldwater—a figure King called “morally indefensible” owing to his staunch opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And she attended the Republican convention in 1968! Meanwhile, at this same moment in history, Sanders was getting arrested for protesting segregation in Chicago and marching in Washington with none other than King itself. That’s real moral clarity.

Needless to say, some moral clarity set in as Clinton’s politics moved to the left in her college years. After graduating from law school, she joined the Children’s Defense Fund as a staff attorney, working under the great King disciple, Marian Wright Edelman, with whom she struck up a friendship. Yet that relationship soured. This came after Hillary Clinton—in defending her husband’s punitive crime bill and its drastic escalation of the mass incarceration of poor people, especially black and brown people—referred callously to gang-related youth as “superpredators.” And it was Bill Clinton who signed a welfare reform bill that all but eliminated the safety net for poor women and children—a Machiavellian attempt to promote right-wing policies in order to “neutralize” the Republican Party. In protest, Peter Edelman, Marian’s courageous husband, resigned from his assistant secretary post at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Clintons’ neoliberal economic policies—principally, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall banking legislation, apparently under the influence of Wall Street’s money—have also hurt King’s cause. The Clinton Machine—celebrated by the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, white and black—did produce economic growth. But it came at the expense of poor people (more hopeless and prison-bound) and working people (also decimated by the Clinton-sponsored North American Free Trade Agreement).

Bill apologized for the effects of his crime bill, after devastating thousands of black and poor lives. Will Hillary apologize for supporting the same measures?

It’s no accident that Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton $675,000 for a mere three speeches in 2013, or that the firm has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to her campaigns or that, in total, it has paid her and her husband more than $150 million in speaking fees since 2001. This is the same Goldman Sachs that engaged in predatory lending of sub-prime mortgages that collapsed in 2008, disproportionately hurting black Americans.

These ties are far from being “old news” or an “artful smear,” as Hillary Clinton recently put it. Rather, they perfectly underscore how it is Sanders, not Clinton, who is building on King’s legacy. Sanders’ specific policies—in support of a $15 minimum wage, a massive federal jobs program with a living wage, free tuition for public college and universities, and Medicare for all—would undeniably lessen black social misery. In addition, he has specifically made the promise, at a Black Lives Matter meeting in Chicago, to significantly shrink mass incarceration and to prioritize fixing the broken criminal justice system, including eliminating all for-profit prisons.

Clinton has made similar promises. But how can we take them seriously when the Ready for Hillary PAC received more than $133,000 from lobbying firms that do work for the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America—two major private prison groups whose aim is to expand mass incarceration for profit? It was only after this fact was reported that Clinton pledged to stop accepting campaign donations from such groups. Similarly, without Sanders in the race to challenge her, there’s no question Clinton would otherwise be relatively silent about Wall Street.

The battle now raging in Black America over the Clinton-Sanders election is principally a battle between a declining neoliberal black political and chattering class still on the decaying Clinton bandwagon (and gravy train!) and an emerging populism among black poor, working and middle class people fed up with the Clinton establishment in the Democratic Party. It is easy to use one’s gender identity, as Clinton has, or racial identity, as the Congressional Black Caucus recently did in endorsing her, to hide one’s allegiance to the multi-cultural and multi-gendered Establishment. But a vote for Clinton forecloses the new day for all of us and keeps us captive to the trap of wealth inequality, greed (“everybody else is doing it”), corporate media propaganda and militarism abroad—all of which are detrimental to black America.

In the age of Barack Obama, this battle remained latent, with dissenting voices vilified. As a black president, Obama has tended to talk progressive but walk neoliberal in the face of outrageous right-wing opposition. Black child poverty has increased since 2008, with more than 45 percent of black children under age 6 living in poverty today. Sanders talks and walks populist, and he is committed to targeting child poverty. As president, he would be a more progressive than not just Clinton but also Obama—and that means better for black America.

Now, with Obama’s departure from the White House, we shall see clearly where black America stands in relation to King’s legacy. Will voters put a smile on Martin’s face? It’s clear how we can do it. King smiles at Sanders’ deep integrity and genuine conviction, while he weeps at the Clinton machine’s crass opportunism and the inequality and injustice it breeds.


By Cornel West,

Nevada Was a Huge Step for Sanders

Remember that Clinton firewall that included Nevada because of non-white voters? Well Bernie Sanders won the Latino vote in Nevada.

“What we learned today is Hillary Clinton’s firewall with Latino voters is a myth,” Arturo Carmona, deputy political director for Bernie 2016, said. “The Latino community responded strongly to Bernie Sanders’ message of immigration reform and creating an economy that works for all families. This is critically important as we move ahead to states like Colorado, Arizona, Texas and California.”

Just a month ago, Hillary Clinton had a huge lead in Nevada, which the Sanders campaign cut to what looks like about 5 points, according to unofficial results.

A key factor in Sanders’ making up so much ground in Nevada was his strong showing with Latino voters. According to entrance polls, Sanders won among Latino voters by 8 points.

While it is a victory for Clinton, it was not as large a victory as the corporate media is reporting. CNN described it this way: “Hillary Clinton notched a decisive win in the Nevada Democratic caucuses Saturday that could go a long way to helping her regain her footing on the path to the nomination.”

I think “decisive” is a strong word, but it’s consistent with what the talking heads are saying. Once again, they are not giving Sanders a chance to win. In a statement to the press, Sanders congratulated Clinton on a hard fought victory.

“I just spoke to Secretary Clinton and congratulated her on her victory here in Nevada. I am very proud of the campaign we ran. Five weeks ago we were 25 points behind and we ended up in a very close election. And we probably will leave Nevada with a solid share of the delegates,” Sanders said.

“I am also proud of the fact that we have brought many working people and young people into the political process and believe that we have the wind at our back as we head toward Super Tuesday. I want to thank the people of Nevada for their support that they have given us and the boost that their support will give us as we go forward,” Sanders added.

The Sanders campaign saw silver linings in the Nevada results. I spoke to Tad Devine, the senior advisor for the Sanders campaign. He described the result as a huge step forward.

Transportation Management Systems

A transportation management system (TMS) is software that facilitate interactions between an organization’s order management system (OMS) and warehouse or distribution center (DC).

TMS products serve as the logistics hub in a collaborative network of shippers, carriers and customers. Common TMS software modules include route planning and optimization, load optimization, execution, freight audit and payment, yard management, advanced shipping, order visibility and carrier management.

The business value of a fully deployed TMS should achieve the following goals:

  • Reduce costs through better route planning, load optimization, carrier mix and mode selection.
  • Improve accountability with visibility into the transportation chain.
  • Provide greater flexibility to make changes in delivery plans.
  • Complete key supply chain execution requirements.



Williamsburg Could Really Use That South 4th Subway Line Now

In most of this country, 230,000 people is enough for a big city. In New York, it’s the number of people who ride the L Train under the East River every day, through two passages called the Canarsie Tubes. When those parallel, one-track tunnels are shut down to repair flooding damage from Superstorm Sandy—and it seems likely they will be shut down entirely, for at least a year—fleets of ferries, buses and bicycles will be no substitute.

The good news is that the city has a plan for another subway link to Williamsburg that features two separate tunnels and four tracks beneath the East River, with direct service to Midtown. Existing stations have been designed to accommodate it.

The bad news is that the plan is from 1929, and only a small part of it is still under consideration by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

It’s called the South Fourth Street line, and it was once, alongside the Second Avenue Subway, thought to be a fixture of the future subway system.

At that point, New York City had already planned and broken ground on its Independent Rapid Transit Railroad, or IND, which includes most of today’s A, B, C, D, E, F, and G trains. This publicly built network would compete with the existing BMT and IRT companies. In September 1929, before any part of the IND had opened, the Board of Transportation announced a follow-up plan called the Second System. (This plan, along with many others, is documented in Joseph Raskin’s book The Routes Not Taken, a history of the city’s unbuilt subways.)

One of the major components of this hundred-mile expansion was the South Fourth Street Line, a six-track artery running through South Williamsburg.

While Brooklyn was already crossed by both subways and elevated lines (on Fulton Street, Myrtle Avenue, Third Avenue, and Lexington Avenue, for example), there was reason for the city to feel bullish: Annual subway ridership passed two billion in 1930, a mark the system would only reach again in 1946-47 (in 2014, it was 1.71 billion). Brooklyn had grown by 550,000 residents between 1920 and 1930. And southern and eastern Queens were (then as now) underdeveloped because of poor access to transit.

The new Williamsburg line was to reach Manhattan via two separate tunnels. The first would run beneath Grand Street (in Brooklyn) and Houston Street in Manhattan, linking into the Second Avenue F station; the second would swoop down Worth Street in Manhattan to join today’s E train tracks south of Canal Street.

A massive junction was planned for South Fourth and Union, at the G train’s Broadway stop. To the east, the subway was to split in Bushwick. Four tracks were to go north under Myrtle Avenue before branching into dozens of miles of new track in Queens, while four tracks proceeded down Stuyvesant Ave. through Bed-Stuy, continuing down Utica Ave. to Sheepshead Bay.

Once you know about the South Fourth Street line, a few other peculiarities of the subway start to make sense.

This is why the Utica Avenue A/C station is so deep — two platforms and four tracks are built into the ceiling. It’s also why the Second Avenue F station has four tracks — two were designed to head towards Williamsburg. The major Greenwich Village junction is called West Fourth Street to eliminate any confusion with South Fourth Street, which would have been just a few stops away.

The city went so far as to build part of the South Fourth Street station, carving out a six-track, three-platform station under Union Avenue in South Williamsburg.

It’s possible that if the new subway had been built, the city would have bought and demolished parts of today’s Broadway elevated line (as it did with the Sixth Avenue El, whose steel scraps were sold to Imperial Japan in the late 1930s).

Even so, the plan would have enhanced North Brooklyn’s subway capacity, and forever transformed the settlement patterns of eastern Queens and lower Utica Avenue. Real estate speculators had been pushing for a train on Utica for decades, and were willing to pay special assessment taxes for an elevated. “Any delay in authorizing the work is a serious menace to the proper development of Brooklyn,” one realtor told a newspaper in 1910.


But the Second System plan, with a projected cost of $800 million (in 1929 dollars), was soon postponed when the city ran out of borrowing power during the Great Depression. A 1939 plan reprised and simplified the South Fourth Street line, sending all trains down Utica Avenue and none to Queens. But the high-water mark of subway planning had passed. Most mid-century transportation projects in New York City involved the automobile.

Today, Utica Avenue is served by the B46 bus, New York’s second-busiest route. Mayor de Blasio has expressed interest in extending the subway to serve the avenue, and the MTA’s current capital plan allots $5 million to study the idea. But any Utica Avenue subway would be a continuation of the 3 or 4 train from Eastern Parkway — a modification proposed in the 1950s — with no new tracks running north.

The change is in part because the South Fourth Street plan would, at that point, have seriously congested Manhattan’s 6th and 8th Avenue lines, where the inbound trains were to merge.

“The full utilization of the lines in the outlying areas of the City,” wrote Board of Transportation chairman William Reid in 1948, “is now not possible because of the bottlenecks due to insufficient trunk lines in Manhattan.”

Still, it’s fun to imagine.

The biggest obstacle to building any new subway, of course, is money. For reasons that aren’t quite clear, the MTA spends more on per-kilometer subway construction than any transportation authority in the world —between $1.5 and $1.9 billion on each kilometer of new subway track. (By contrast, Paris is building 6 kilometers of subway and four new stations for $1.5 billion!)

“The full utilization of the lines in the outlying areas of the City,” wrote Board of Transportation chairman William Reid in 1948, “is now not possible because of the bottlenecks due to insufficient trunk lines in Manhattan.”

Still, it’s fun to imagine.

The biggest obstacle to building any new subway, of course, is money. For reasons that aren’t quite clear, the MTA spends more on per-kilometer subway construction than any transportation authority in the world —between $1.5 and $1.9 billion on each kilometer of new subway track. (By contrast, Paris is building 6 kilometers of subway and four new stations for $1.5 billion!)

At the hometown rate, the ten-mile Brooklyn portion of the 1939 South Fourth Street line—not including those precious tunnels—would cost $32 billion.

Put another way: If you live in Williamsburg, you should buy a bicycle.