All posts by penneyvanderbilt

Journalist who writes about Supply Chain Management, travel, railroad history and ice hockey

New York’s Oldest Subway Cars, Beautiful Symbols of a Sad Decline

In 1964, the New York City Transit Authority introduced the shiny, stainless-steel R32 subway car. “There was a very special inaugural trip that took place on today’s Metro-North line into Grand Central Terminal, welcoming the trains into New York,” James Giovan, an educator at the New York Transit Museum, told me recently. The R32s were dubbed Brightliners. By 1965, six hundred had been built. With their brilliant corrugated bodies, they bore little resemblance to other cars. They were praised for having the clearest intercom system. Their plastic benches marked the end of gritty rattan-wicker seats. The R32 was the train of the future, offering a vision of what mass transit would look like in fifty years—literally, as it happens, because, against all odds, roughly two hundred of the original R32s still operate on New York City’s C, J, and Z lines. They are the oldest subway cars still in service in the city, and among the oldest still operating in the world.

Amid a year of perpetual delays, terrifying derailments, power blackouts that have left riders stranded underground and between stations for hours at a time, service changes so counterintuitive and so alien that they could have been devised by Kafka or M. C. Escher—not to mention the century-old tile peeling from the station walls, the mystery stalagmites and stalactites, the rusted support beams, the countdown clocks that seem to operate beyond the boundaries of time and space—the R32, once a forward-looking beacon for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (which absorbed the New York City Transit Authority, in 1968), is now a symbol of its failure to update its technology and infrastructure. Many of the R32 cars have trouble maintaining their air-conditioning for the duration of their trips; they are usually switched out for newer cars during the summer months. Today, the mean distance between R32 failures is thirty-three thousand miles, meaning that they happen for those cars about thirteen times as often as they do for the newer R188 cars, which can go four hundred and thirty-six thousand miles without a mechanical failure. The C line has been ranked the worst in the system by the Straphangers Campaign more often than any other subway line, a feat owed, in no small part, to the ancient cars that service it. Those frequent failures can create delays that ripple throughout the subway system.

In July of 2011, the M.T.A. published a preliminary budget for the next three years, noting that the R32 cars were “already well past the standard expected useful life of 40 years.” However, “structural defects” had led to the “accelerated retirement of R44 cars,” and so the R32 would have to stay in service, the report explained, until at least 2017. Barring any further delays, the cars are now expected to stay in service until 2019. In the meantime, extended construction on the L train’s Canarsie tube will entail increased service on the nearby lines, a task that will partially fall to the R32s. That they are still in use at all is emblematic of the way the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has long operated: underfunded and saddled with the lofty task of carrying the entire city without pause, the M.T.A., by necessity, stretches everything long past its expiration date. According to a 2012 survey of the system, ninety per cent of the city’s stations have architectural or structural flaws. Knowledgeable observers have offered repair and upgrade timelines that stretch over half-century increments. Costly patch jobs required to keep the old cars running further deplete funds that should be allocated to the primary culprit in subway delays: the signal system—the central nervous system of the M.T.A., responsible for controlling the movement of trains. That system is still made up, for the most part, of prewar technology. The difficulty of securing funding and of scheduling repairs has helped keep it in place, along with the fact that the only way to update it would be through long service interruptions, which people hate. And so delays have become routine, and the necessary repairs have become lengthier to complete and more expensive than they might have been twenty-five years ago—when, according to the Times, the city first brought up the need to update the signal system.

That the R32s have endured through all this tells another story: they are genuinely a marvel of mid-twentieth-century engineering. They were based on a 1949 prototype by the Budd Company, in Pennsylvania, for a car called the R11, which was intended for a proposed Second Avenue subway line, the M.T.A.’s greatest and most famous delay. The Budd Company’s decision to build the new cars from stainless steel meant that each would be four thousand pounds lighter than its predecessor. And, even today, the R32s are more pleasant to ride, when they’re working, than the newer R160 cars that replace them during the summer. Their lights are a duller, softer white than those in the newer cars. Poles are located in the middle of the car, rather than jutting out from the seats, as they do in some later models. The R32 cars are the same width as those replacing them, yet they feel wider, more open. And there is no high-pitched dubstep squeal as an R32 leaves the station.

The Budd Company filed for bankruptcy in 2014, meaning that the R32s have not only outlasted their intended period of service but have outlasted their manufacturer. They have lived through eight mayoral appointments and ten Presidents. They are essentially your grandmother’s Volvo from the sixties, if that Volvo had millions of miles on its odometer and was responsible for getting your entire family to and from work, and if Volvo had gone out of business several years ago.

The R32 is, not surprisingly, a favorite of train nerds, as well as of subway professionals. All of the subsequent New York City subway cars—including the glitzy R179s slated to replace the R32s—owe much to their design. “When that car was brand-new, nothing before looked like that,” Giovan said. “But almost every car after it resembles it in some way.” And so, when the new trains of the future finally—finally—arrive, we’ll see glimmering steel machines with bright headlights, the direct descendants of a machine that lasted much longer than it ever should have been asked to.

New YorkerNew Yorker

“It’s the dawn of the commercialization of the Hyperloop.” – Shervin Pishevar, Hyperloop One Co-Founder

“It’s the dawn of the commercialization of the Hyperloop.” – Shervin Pishevar, Hyperloop One Co-Founder

This will be the cheapest, cleanest, fastest form of transportation in the world, says Shervin Pishevar, Hyperloop One co-founder, talking about the successful testing for its full-scale hyperloop technology in the race to build the transportation system of the future.

Watch a video on CNBC

Joint US-Mexican rail facility to speed trains at Laredo

(Laredo, Texas) Kansas City Southern (KCS) (NYSE: KSU) president and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer joined officials representing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexican Customs (SAT) Thursday in the dedication of a new, joint Unified Cargo Processing facility at the Laredo, Texas railroad
border-crossing.

The objective of this new facility is to share Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) security scanning images; conduct Mexico export processing at the U.S. railhead; streamline the documentation review of northbound trains; and conduct joint inspections, when needed, on inbound shipments.

During the week that U.S., Mexican and Canadian trade representatives begin opening negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. and Mexican customs officials are dedicating this new facility to improving the fluidity and security of this vital, cross-border rail corridor.

“As our governments begin the important work of updating the North American Free Trade Agreement this week, we must all remember the importance of the NAFTA trade relationship to both countries and both economies,” said Mr. Ottensmeyer. “This project, and others to follow, are essential to facilitate the goal of expanding trade and particularly increasing exports of goods such as refined petroleum products and petro-chemicals from the U.S. to Mexico.”

The Laredo/Nuevo Laredo rail crossing is the busiest on the U.S.-Mexico border, processing on average 23 trains in both directions per 24-hour period, and carrying a wide variety of products such automobiles and parts, steel, grain and petroleum products. It is vital to the economic security of both countries. CBP, Mexico Customs, KCS and Union Pacific are committed to continually improving this border-crossing for security, safety and efficiency through government and private sector collaboration. Eliminating stopping trains on the bridge would increase velocity and fluidity of train movements over the border, which is important for all
stakeholders. Keeping trains moving increases security and throughput, while reducing traffic congestion within the city limits of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.

“This project is a model for how communities, governmental authorities and private enterprises can work together to create outcomes that benefit everyone and strengthen our relationships with our key trading partners and neighbors,” said Mr. Ottensmeyer.

Demand for rail shipments across this busiest international rail gateway in both directions will continue to increase in the future, particularly with growth in U.S. agricultural and future energy exports to Mexico. New and innovative ways to keep this trade moving securely and efficiently over the border will be needed in the future to expand trade between the U.S. and Mexico and make North America even more competitive.

TRA NewsWire

Best Buy Shows There Is Life After Amazon Disrupts You

Investors may be overestimating the threat Amazon poses to the likes of Costco, Home Depot, and Macy’s.

In the past few months, numerous major retailers have seen their share prices undermined by concerns about competition from e-commerce juggernaut Amazon.com.

Costco Wholesale stock plunged after Amazon announced its intent to expand in the grocery business by buying Whole Foods. Home Depot stock fell earlier this month on the news that Sears Holdings would begin selling Kenmore appliances through Amazon. And while Macy’s has been posting poor results lately, its stock price has plummeted in a manner out of proportion to its sales declines.

The example of Best Buy shows that these fears may be overblown. Five years ago, it seemed to many people that Amazon would drive the big-box consumer-electronics giant out of business. Yet Best Buy has found ways to survive and even thrive in the face of competition from Amazon.

Best Buy got knocked down — but survived

In 2012, Best Buy seemed as if it would become one of the first victims of Amazon’s torrid growth. During Best Buy’s 2013 fiscal year — which roughly corresponds to the 2012 calendar year — comp sales fell 1.7% in the domestic market and plunged 7.5% in the international market.

Because of the tough competitive environment, Best Buy’s adjusted operating margin declined to 3% in fiscal 2013 from 4.6% a year earlier. As a result, adjusted EPS plunged from $3.61 to $2.62. These discouraging results caused Best Buy stock to crater, bottoming out around $11 — down by about 75% from late 2010.

Comp sales fell again in both the domestic and international markets during fiscal 2014, leading to another operating margin decline. This seemed to confirm investors’ dour outlook for Best Buy.

Indeed, the company’s revenue has never recovered from these setbacks. Still, in the past few years, Best Buy has managed to stabilize its revenue and rebuild its operating margin. As a result, the stock has soared, briefly hitting a new all-time high above $60 earlier this year.

How Best Buy came out alive
Compared with the likes of Costco Wholesale, Home Depot, and even Macy’s, Best Buy didn’t have much going for it in competing with Amazon. Costco has unbeatable prices, because of its focus on selling huge quantities of a relatively small selection of items. Home Depot and Costco both sell a lot of bulky items that are tough to sell online profitably. Meanwhile, Macy’s and Home Depot both carry lots of items that customers want to see or try before they buy.

By contrast, with the exception of its appliance business, Best Buy mainly sells products that are ideal for e-commerce disruption. Consumer-electronics products typically have a fairly high value relative to their size and weight, so shipping costs aren’t prohibitive. Meanwhile, Amazon can often sell the same products Best Buy carries in its stores.

Best Buy fought back by offering to match competitors’ prices, including those of Amazon. As a result, customers who wandered into a Best Buy store to look at merchandise no longer had any reason to order from Amazon rather than making a purchase then and there.

Some analysts thought price-matching would destroy Best Buy’s profit margin. The company headed off that concern by implementing a broad-based cost-cutting program. It also pulled out of international markets where it was struggling.

As a result, Best Buy’s revenue has fallen below $40 billion, compared with more than $50 billion at its peak. Nevertheless, its operating margin rebounded to 4.7% last year — the company’s best result since fiscal 2011 — driving strong earnings growth. Analysts expect further EPS growth this year and next year.

A buying opportunity?
Between 2011 and 2016, Amazon.com nearly tripled its sales, from $48 billion to $136 billion. Revenue is still growing more than 20% annually despite Amazon’s massive size. Amazon is thus capturing a huge proportion of the growth in retail sales, at least in the United States. This development will clearly affect a wide swath of the retail universe.

Nevertheless, Best Buy’s resurgence over the past five years shows there is hope for companies that lead their respective industries — such as Costco Wholesale, Home Depot, and Macy’s.

Home Depot and Costco are still generating strong comp sales growth, which suggests that they may be more immune to competition from Amazon than some investors believe. But even if they do eventually face greater pressure on sales, Best Buy’s example shows that they could continue to produce strong earnings by committing to keep costs down.

As for Macy’s, many investors seem to think the department-store giant is doomed, because it’s set to report a third straight year of declining sales in 2017. However, if Best Buy could come back from several years of falling sales and plunging margins, there’s no reason Macy’s can’t do so as well.

fool.com

2nd Ave. Subway Lures Foreign Investors — Especially Chinese — to Yorkville

The power of good transit is not merely one of the most important factors for New Yorkers when buying real estate — it also drives up interest of foreign buyers, as Yorkville is quickly seeing.

This quiet neighborhood on the Upper East Side, which had to endure years of construction clangs and clouds of dust during construction of the Second Avenue Subway, is undergoing rapid transformation since the new Q train stations opened this year, experts say.

Swanky residential towers rising in the area are attracting more families, as well as an influx in foreign buyers — especially from China — as brokers increasingly lure them to the neighborhood to take advantage of the lower price points relative to Downtown or even other parts of the Upper East Side.

“Yorkville really never has been on the map for them,” said broker Seth Levin, of Keller Williams TriBeCa. “It’s through educating our clients and the media reporting on the results of the Q train coming in that has brought it to their attention. If they’ve seen it in the media, it makes them comfortable. Yorkville has been reported on a bunch, so they have a comfort level that wasn’t there in the past.”

Foreign investors tend to look for something “safe” or “blue chip” when buying, he noted. They prefer brands they’ve heard of, like the Four Seasons or the Ritz, and continue buying on Billionaire’s Row because they keep hearing about pricey new developments on that strip.

dnainfo.com

Elon Musk Is Building His Own Hyperloop

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO famously told the world about his super-fast, inter-city, train-in-a-tube concept, Hyperloop—then said that other people should build it. Fair enough: he is a busy guy. But he’s now decided to build the thing himself. The news was hinted at when Musk announced a “verbal government approval” for an underground Hyperloop from New York City to Washington D.C.—and a Bloomberg report last week added to the buzz—but it was only confirmed for the first time today by Wired.

Construction of the Hyperloop will be part of Musk’s side project, the Boring Company. Its premise is that a “large network of tunnels many levels deep would fix congestion in any city, no matter how large it grew.” There are some problems with the idea, but no matter: the company has already been digging its own tunnels in Los Angeles.

Speaking to Wired, a spokesperson from the Boring Company has explained that the firm plans to build different types of transportation systems in those tunnels. Some will be “standard pressurized tunnels with electric skates going 125+ mph,” while others will “use pressurized pods in a depressurized tunnel to allow speeds up to approximately 600+ mph (aka Hyperloop).”

The news comes at a time when Hyperloop is starting to look a little less like a crushing disappointment and more like a technology that could, one day at least, work. Last week, Hyperloop One managed to fire its first pod through a low-pressure tube on mag-lev, reaching 192 mph in five seconds. Still, Musk’s vision of a Hyperloop running in underground tunnels is perhaps an even more ambitious goal than firing them through overground tubes, certainly from a city planning perspective.

Still, this is the man that was faced with incredulity when he vowed to recycle rocket boosters, then went ahead and made the whole thing look like child’s play. So his decision to build an underground Hyperloop will certainly buoy the nascent industry surrounding the peculiar form of transport, as many people will assume he can make a go of it. Whether he can or not? Keep your eyes on those tunnels.

From TechnologyReview

Governor Cuomo Announces Major Construction To Begin On New Grand Moynihan Train Hall

Albany, NY – August 17, 2017 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of major construction of the Moynihan Train Hall, a world-class transportation hub for the 21st century. The Farley Building redevelopment into the Moynihan Train Hall will create a new 255,000-square-foot Train Hall for Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passengers and increase total concourse floor space in the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex by more than 50 percent. The Farley Building will also house 700,000 square feet of new commercial, retail and dining space within the mixed-use facility and create an iconic civic space for Manhattan’s West Side.

“For decades, passengers were promised a world-class train hall worthy of New York – today, we are delivering on that promise and turning that dream into a reality,” said Governor Cuomo. “We are transforming the Farley Post Office into a state-of-the-art transit hub to get travelers where they need to go faster and more comfortably. With better access to trains and subways, vibrant retail and business opportunities and stunning architectural design, we are bringing Penn Station into the 21st century.”

The Governor also announced the completion of the first significant milestone in the construction of the transformative Penn-Farley Complex announced by the Governor in September 2016, as workers finished demolishing the former sorting room floor slab. This accomplishment – five months ahead of schedule – will enable Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA, the developer-builder team, to begin full construction of the train hall, including the one-acre skylight.

Since September 2016, significant progress has been made to prepare the James A. Farley Post Office building for this dramatic transformation. To date, Skanska has removed more than one acre of concrete and steel flooring to increase the vertical space underneath Moynihan Train Hall’s future skylight. This process entailed the demolition of 6,000 tons of concrete and the removal of approximately 800 tons of steel, as well as an additional 400 tons of hazardous materials. Skanska has also made significant progress in the interior demolition of all five floors of the Farley Building.

The Farley Building was designed by McKim, Mead and White as a sister to their masterpiece – the original Pennsylvania Station. Five decades after the loss of the original structure, the Moynihan Train Hall will once again provide New Yorkers a grand entrance in a McKim, Mead and White architectural marvel. The Farley Building’s train hall will bear the name of one of its great champions – the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The Farley Building’s Moynihan Train Hall will feature a new, spectacular 92-foot high skylight that will rest upon the building’s historic and architecturally-dramatic steel trusses. All LIRR and Amtrak trains will be served by the nine platforms and 17 tracks that will be accessible from the Train Hall, serviced by eleven escalators and seven elevators. The Train Hall will provide a direct connection to the Eighth Avenue Subway and create direct access to the train station from 9th Avenue for the first time, bringing unparalleled regional transportation options within convenient reach of the booming Hudson Yards and Far West Side areas.

In addition to the demolition and removal of existing materials, work has begun on many new features of the Penn-Farley Complex, including:

Restoration of the exterior façade on 31st Street and the interior courtyards;
Creation of new openings to accommodate escalators carrying passengers to platform level;
Shielding three of six underground train platforms for demolition and construction operations; and
Installation of 100 tons of new steel.
The $1.6 billion project is being funded with $550 million from the State, $420 million from Amtrak, the MTA, the Port Authority and a federal grant, and $630 million from the joint venture developers. The new Train Hall is targeted for completion by the end of 2020.

The Moynihan Train Hall is part of the $2.5 billion transformation of the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex announced by Governor Cuomo in January 2016 to dramatically modernize, upgrade and redesign America’s busiest transit hub into a world-class facility for the 21st century. The complex also includes a comprehensive redesign of the LIRR’s existing 33rd Street concourse at Penn Station and an extensive renovation to the adjacent Seventh and Eighth Avenue subway stations. The plan will include nearly tripling the width of the 33rd Street Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station’s lower level from Seventh to Eighth Avenue. Other improvements include upgraded lighting and wayfinding and digital screens to convey information and create a modern passenger experience.

ESD President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “A 21st century transit hub is integral to a strong 21st century economy. Today’s milestone brings us one step closer to a world-class, fully-modernized Penn Station and I commend the Governor for prioritizing and investing in critical infrastructure and moving this project forward.”

Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership in advancing construction on the Moynihan Train Hall. The new Train Hall will provide a modern new concourse for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers, funded in part by a $105 million contribution from Amtrak. Along with Amtrak’s infrastructure renewal and concourse improvements at Penn Station, this is another significant milestone is the effort to create a better customer experience for passengers in New York.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “Today’s announcement is a major step in realizing Senator Moynihan’s bold vision of a grand rail gateway into New York City. I applaud Governor Cuomo, who has worked tirelessly to transform the Farley Federal Post Office Building in Manhattan, and am proud to have helped push for federal funding for this project. I am convinced that Moynihan Station is just the sort of infrastructure improvement and economic development that New York and our nation needs. In addition to generating thousands of good jobs, Moynihan Station will bring our aging infrastructure into the 21st Century and expand our capacity for passengers and make New York-in particular, the West Side of Manhattan-more accessible to commuters and visitors.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “Governor Cuomo has unveiled a bold vision for transforming the Farley Post Office Building into a hub that will do justice to the extraordinary Beaux Arts structure and the urgent transportation needs of New Yorkers. When finished, the Moynihan Train Hall will be a grand destination with shops and restaurants that will attract all New Yorkers and make commuting and travel more pleasant. I am thrilled that New York will once again be served by an iconic terminal whose grandeur and beauty reflects all that is best about our city.”

Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, “I commend Governor Cuomo for this mega project as part of his commitment to invest $100 billion in infrastructure projects across New York and for today’s announcement to unveil the modernized renovations of the Moynihan Train Hall. The new Moynihan Train Hall, in its beauty and redesign, will be a critical part of Penn Station’s overhaul, improving New York’s transit infrastructure and helping to connect travelers beyond Manhattan and throughout cities around the world.”

Senator Brad Hoylman said, “After decades of false starts, it is a testament to splendid architecture of McKim, Mead & White, the enduring legacy of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo that the Farley Post Office will now be transformed into the Moynihan Train Hall. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for jumpstarting this monumental project in my Senate district which will be an enormous benefit for commuters and a significant boost to the city’s economy.”

Senator Marisol Alcantara said, “After decades of stagnation and delay, New Yorkers are finally bearing witness to the revival of the Farley building into a train hall truly worthy of this great city. This state-of-the-art transformation will turn the new Moynihan Train Hall into a world-class gateway to Manhattan – offering locals and tourists alike a truly spectacular look into New York City, whether it is their first time visiting or they are simply commuting to work. I thank Governor Cuomo and my partners in the legislature for getting this long-anticipated project on the fast track for completion because New York City deserves the best and with this project, we will deliver just that.”

Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried said, “We’ve waited a long time while all the players have tried to sort out the Farley/Penn Station project. Governor Cuomo has done a great job putting it together and moving it forward. Transforming the Farley building into a 21st century transit center will help people who live, work and visit in our area move more easily and quickly. I commend our state and city partners for bring this project to fruition, providing jobs to New York men and women, and proving to the world that government can get things done.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, “I’m glad to see Gov. Cuomo’s administration is continuing to make progress on this long-overdue project. Manhattan has long deserved an intercity rail terminal worthy of the greatest city in the world. As this project moves forward, I look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo and Penn Station’s elected officials to make sure the neighborhood and transit network reap the full benefit of this upgraded station complex.”

New York City Council Member Corey Johnson said, “After decades of hand-wringing, New York will finally have at the heart of its transportation network, a state-of-the-art, 21st century transit hub. Spectacular in its architectural design and fit for commercial and retail development, the Moynihan Train Hall demonstrates that government can deliver remarkable results for the people it serves. For years, many talked about the grand idea of transforming the iconic Farley Post Office, but to no avail. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s vision and unwavering leadership, we are celebrating another major milestone in the transformation of Penn Station and giving New Yorkers the world-class transit hub they deserve.”

In January 2016, Empire State Development, the MTA, LIRR and Amtrak issued an RFP soliciting proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of the century-old, landmarked Farley Building, including a Train Hall and the surrounding office and retail space. RFP responses were received in April 2016 and reviewed by a panel of private and public experts from the real estate, construction, design and finance fields.

In September 2016, the Governor announced the selection of a developer-builder team, including Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA, to redevelop the Farley Building. Empire State Development and the joint-venture reached financial close on the transaction in June 2017.

Governor Cuomo is investing $100 billion in infrastructure projects across New York to promote economic development, create jobs, and expand opportunity. These investments enable New York to rebuild and modernize its roads, bridges, broadband networks, public buildings, and other critical infrastructure across the state while putting thousands of New Yorkers to work. Governor Cuomo has jumpstarted long-stalled or long-overdue projects, such as the Tappan Zee Bridge, the transformation of LaGuardia and JFK Airports, the Jacob K. Javits Center expansion, and building a new Penn Station.

LongIsland.com

East River tunnel plan: feasible or fantasy?

Think tank’s rail tunnel plan: feasible or fantasy?

It took a century to complete even a small piece of the Second Avenue subway. The ARC rail tunnel project was canceled after work began. The quest to build the Gateway tunnel has been dragging on. East Side Access, which was once expected to have connected the LIRR to Grand Central by now, is still about six years away. And the cross-harbor rail freight tunnel, after 30 years of advocacy from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, remains just a hope.

Yep. Building train tunnels around here is hard.

So what did the Regional Plan Association propose yesterday? Two new rail tunnels under the East River.

But anyone who mocks the idea as fantasy should consider the list of big RPA ideas that have been ridiculed over the last few decades only to eventually come to fruition, including the George Washington and Verrazano bridges; open space preservation (the Palisades, Governors Island Gateway National Recreation Area); the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; the Second Avenue subway, East Side Access (just about) and (probably) Amtrak’s Gateway project.

Crains New York

Tesla Technology Put To Use In L.A. Tunnel Project

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is known for its electric cars, batteries, and solar panel innovations, but its drivetrain technology is also being put to use in an unexpected place: underground.

CEO Elon Musk’s pet project, The Boring Company, is using Tesla technology to help dig test tunnels in Los Angeles:

After several announcements of upcoming large scale projects, like a network of tunnels under Los Angeles and an underground hyperloop between New York and Washington DC, the company is now presenting its R&D tunnel project underneath Hawthorne.

They plan to test boring techniques in the tunnel as well as Tesla’s autonomous driving and powertrain technologies on electric platforms to move vehicles.

In April, Musk’s new startup took delivery of their first boring machine and started digging in the parking lot of SpaceX’s headquarters.

Musk has described The Boring Company’s purpose as solving “the problem of soul-destroying traffic.” What began as a small project with a handful of engineers and interns has clearly evolved into something bigger. Large-scale tunnels will be necessary for Musk’s Hyperloop project to even get off the ground (or under the ground, to be more precise), and it looks like they’re making some solid progress.

And using Tesla’s electric drivetrains to power the tunnel boring machines is a near development.

Things we wish would come to NYC in our wildest dreams

TimeOutNY

Every night, as we stare out at the evening sky from behind the barred windows of our tiny basement apartment, we wish upon a star that one of these beautiful things—from mythical subway line extensions to secret Times Square detours—might one day come to New York. Sure, that star is probably a delayed flight heading to our local third world airport and, sure, there’s not the slightest chance that any of these things will ever actually materialize. But still. A New Yorker can dream.

1. Build a tunnel under Times Square that only NYC residents can use.

2. Extend the 2 train to Jacob Riis Park. We love riding the waves all summer long at the People’s Beach at Riis Park, but we hate getting there. Those buses get way too crowded, and who wants to ride their bike after getting sunburned? Extend the 2 several miles down Flatbush Avenue, and make it the true People’s Beach.

3. Have an artisanal-coffee stand at every subway platform.

4. Install a zip line between North Williamsburg and the East Village.

5. Release a simple, vetted list of reliable brokers in the city.

6. Extend the G train to Astoria. The G treks through Brooklyn, but after Greenpoint, it makes only two stops in Queens. Rude! Keep that line going up Long Island City from Court Square all the way to ever-the-next-big-thing, Astoria.

7. Have all-night happy hours for neighborhood residents.

8. Create heated sidewalks.

9. Extend the Q train to East Harlem. Are we really complaining about the Second Avenue subway line months after it finally opened? You bet. Why the MTA stopped the tracks short of East Harlem is beyond us.

10. You know what? Just give everyone a free doughnut with their subway ride.

11. Establish actual crosstown bike lanes in Manhattan.

12. Require all bars to have coat hooks.

13. Unveil Uber-like boat taxis along the East River.

14. Extend the N train to LaGuardia Airport. Just imagine a world where you don’t have to lug your duffel bag from the subway to a bus or take an overpriced cab to make your flight. That piece of heaven could be yours if the N just took a bend eastward from its last stop in Astoria.

15. Add enforced express walking lanes in midtown.

16. Refund subway fares if someone’s train is delayed.

17. Require mandatory laundry rooms in every apartment building.

18. Clean up the Hudson River and install a man-made beach along the West Side.

19. Install free hand sanitizer dispensers at every intersection.

20. Finally provide subway stations that are truly, blissfully, air-conditioned.