Category Archives: New York City

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

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

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.

So Why Is The Upper East Side So Popular?

A leafy haven known for its venerable museums, high-end boutiques, and close proximity to Central Park, the Upper East Side has a reputation for being one of Manhattan’s most charming—and, admittedly, staid—neighborhoods. Recently, however, the entire city seems to be heading uptown. With the opening of the first phase of the long-awaited Second Avenue subway line earlier this year, an influx of new establishments with a downtown sensibility is turning this sleepy enclave into the city’s hottest place to be.

Port in a storm for new Port Authority chief Rick Cotton

At 8 a.m. Monday, the watch changes and Rick Cotton is piped aboard as the new executive director of the Port Authority. Let’s hope he’s wearing a life jacket.

Serving as Gov. Cuomo’s special counsel for interagency initiatives for the last two-and-a-half years after a long private career, Cotton is a guy who’s gotten some big things done.

He helped Cuomo get the Second Ave. subway and new Tappan Zee Bridge done.

He helped Cuomo get the transformation of the Farley General Post Office into the Moynihan Station and a new Penn Station started after 25 years of dithering.

He helped Cuomo get the overhauls of LaGuardia and JFK airports, and the expansion of the Javits Center, underway.

But all those jobs look easy compared next to the task of piloting the $5-billion-a-year agency founded in 1921 as the Port of New York Authority. The problem is that the decidedly junior partner in terms of population and economic strength, New Jersey, has half the board votes and each governor has a veto over all board actions.

 

 

 

That made it tough for the outgoing executive director, Pat Foye, who had to deal with three actual criminals, including Chairman David Samson, installed by Chris Christie. Even after Samson and Bridgegate felons Bill Baroni and David Wildstein were hauled away thanks to Foye’s whistleblowing, the replacement as chairman was the imperious John Degnan, who tried to blackmail New York to accept an overly expensive and elaborate bus terminal on the West Side.

Didn’t they learn anything from the overly expensive and elaborate $4.4 billion boondoggle that was the white marble PATH station at the World Trade Center, another Jersey special foisted on New York?

Besides watching the Port’s end of the Queens airport rehabs, Cotton must engage with our cross-Hudson friends on NJ Transit and Amtrak’s overly expensive and elaborate Gateway project to dig new passenger rail tubes into Penn.

New tunnels are imperative to help trains move through what are now choked arteries between Jersey and Manhattan. But as currently planned, Gateway is a mess.

Once priced at $20 billion, with $10 billion pledged from the feds and $5 billion per state, estimates have ballooned to $30 billion even as D.C. has seemingly reneged on its $10 billion share.

The answer is to push ahead on digging the tubes but otherwise cut Gateway way back. Scrap a plan to tear down a huge swath of Midtown for a new Penn South terminal costing $6 billion. And raise one instead of two new bridges over the Hackensack River, which will save another $2 billion. Maybe a smaller, smarter, cheaper and quicker Gateway can attract the feds.

Perhaps an even harder lift for Cotton will be to advance a rail freight tunnel from Jersey to Brooklyn. That was the raison d’être for the Port’s birth in 1921. To his great credit, Cuomo wants the tunnel to relieve the roads from punishing truck traffic and bring freight to New York with the same efficiency it gets most everywhere else in America.

New York should be as pushy when it comes to trimming back Gateway and boring the freight tunnel as Jersey has been over the years.

It’s long past time for the senior Port partner to start getting its way.

Alan Chartock’s The Capitol Connection: How Cuomo can turn it around

I was recently considering what Andrew Cuomo could do to turn his low polling numbers around. As I have explained in the past, he doesn’t get great numbers upstate. He’s a Democrat, albeit a middle of the roader, and that doesn’t play that well above the burbs. Now he needs to worry about how he’s doing in the Big Apple and its environs.

The Cuomo name has always been gold in the city. His papa Mario has been worshiped as a semi-deity there for years. Since most people know little or nothing about New York State politics, the Cuomo mantel was all that was necessary for Andrew to get approval. But that was before the “Summer of Hell” on the New York subways and the commuter trains in and out of the city. As the appointing authority of the MTA, Andrew took credit for building the Second Avenue Subway so he couldn’t then deny his role in the collapse of the subway system even though he tried to do exactly that. Clearly, he and his cohorts had the mistaken impression that Donald Trump might help out by financing some of the work necessary to repair the mess in the sweltering, accident prone underground system.

So Andrew made sure that Joe Lhota, a real expert on things subway, now heads the beleaguered MTA. That was a good idea and Cuomo and his colleagues deserve credit for the appointment. The problem for Andrew is that Lhota, who already has experience heading the MTA and ran for mayor against — guess who — Bill De Blasio, is a Republican and a Giuliani protégé. It’s no secret that Cuomo has personal problems with De Blasio so he grabbed an opportunity to take a shot at his mayoral nemesis by elevating Lhota to the chairmanship of the MTA. Cuomo never seems to learn that people are fed up with his war on De Blasio. But he gets points for the Lhota appointment because the guy is good. If people perceive that Cuomo is moving aggressively in a bi-partisan manner they may return to the pro-Cuomo fold.

If I were giving Andrew some other advice, I think I would suggest that he do more of what Papa Mario did. Cuomo, like Donald Trump, seems to have his own private war with the press. Papa Cuomo had regular press conferences which he seemed to relish. His son does not. Papa Cuomo was eloquent. Junior is anything but. If you are to win popularity in New York, you need the press on your side. My unsolicited advice to Andrew would be to work on his communication skills. He should make friends by just being honest, accessible, transparent, and open with the people who write and talk about him. That way he would be the beneficiary of a certain kind of respect and camaraderie that often exists on both sides of that relationship. Maybe Cuomo feels that because the press as an institution polls so low, he can afford to ignore them. What’s more, Cuomo should avoid trying to buy loyalty from some members of the press by giving them unfettered access. He tried that in the beginning of his governorship with disastrous results.

As long as I am giving him advice, let me add that he has to be very careful about the amount of power he gives his subordinates. One of the reasons why his numbers are so low is that several of his former close associates face trials that could land them in jail for a good part of their lives. Not only that, his treatment of his fellow political actors like Tom DiNapoli, the state Comptroller, and Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General, has been disgraceful. People don’t like that. He needs to learn how to play nice. Maybe then his numbers will rise from the low point where they now reside.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at alan@wamc.org.

He publishes in the Troy Record

Friday Is “Subway Day”! Start Of A Trend?

Just like some bloggers have established Thursday as “Door” Day, we are starting Friday as “Subway” day.

We’ve been over the ways modern infrastructure would help ease the crush of record ridership. But there’s no doubt, the subway system needs to expand. “Sure, it’s necessary! We have more people.”

So why does it cost 4 times per mile than in London?

Then it is not like Dubai, NY City has cables that Thomas Edison put in.

We also have high labor costs here because it’s an expensive city but also we have unions that aren’t necessarily the most efficient way to build a new subway.

And we’ve been building stations that are nice and big but more cavernous than they really need to be. On Second Avenue, the stations account for more than half the total budget.
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McDonald’s doesn’t have its own TV show. Neither does Burger King. Shake Shack doesn’t have one either. That leaves Wahlburgers as the only hamburger restaurant chain with its own TV show that you could describe as a program-length commercial for the brand. Then they own the new Wahlburgers at 85th and Second. This new location seems reasonably successful so far. Plus, it’s near the new Second Avenue subway on a portion of the avenue that has been fixed up considerably. Well played, Wahlbergs.

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Empty stores plague the streets of the Upper East Side like an epidemic. Known affectionately as the ‘Gold Coast’, this area was home to trendy store front like American Apparel, Reebok, BCBG MAXAZRIA and oldies like Filenes Basement, all of whom have since shut. in July there were 82 vacant storefronts along Madison, Lexington, Third and Second avenues between 57th and 96th streets. “That is a lot, and there’s probably 20 percent more that’s on the market,” with space that is occupied but available for lease. It was a LOOOONG Wait for the 2nd Avenue Subway!

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Council Membersare scratching their heads on funding. The hearing comes amid an increasingly testy fight between the city and state over the MTA’s recently announced $836 million rescue plan for the crisis affecting the city’s subways. MTA Chair Joe Lhota, recently appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, has insisted that the city provide $456 million for the emergency upgrade plan to stabilize the system over the next year. Mayor Bill de Blasio has refused to bear those costs, pointing to an equal amount of city-issued funds that have been diverted since 2011 by the state from their intended use in MTA operations. De Blasio on Monday proposed increasing taxes on the wealthy to fund the MTA, but the proposal was quickly dismissed by state Senate Republicans who would have to approve it. “You guys do not know how to spend a dime, how could you spend a billion dollars?”

Talk of a 2020 run for president? First Cuomo must deal with 2018

All those newspapers in New York City and it takes the Watertown Daily Times (a day-long trip from New York City) to put the current subway troubles in perspective.

Read this article…..(and Mr. Cuomo too)

They summed everything up better than I could!

Even If It Gets The Subway Fixed, The MTA Is Still Broken

The state-run MTA has four new people in charge: one for “innovation and modernization,” one for day-to-day operations, one for big projects like the Second Avenue Subway and one — Chairman Joe Lhota — to keep an eye on the other three.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t charged any of them with fixing the authority’s deteriorating $15.7 billion annual budget. Instead, he simply wants the city to pay more.​ The mayor is taking the bait now, reportedly proposing a new income tax hike on the rich — a terrible idea.

Last week, the MTA tasked Pat Foye, the former Port Authority executive director, with figuring out how to upgrade signals and the like. The MTA has also put two other people — Ronnie Hakim, a longtime transit vet, and Janno Lieber, who rebuilt the World Trade Center towers under developer Larry Silverstein — into a new “Office of the Chairman.”

All seem competent — though two of them, Foye and Lieber, are better at reducing the harm done by political malfeasance rather than reducing the political malfeasance itself. Which appears to be the governor’s preferred strategy.

Foye and Lieber managed to do good things at the Port Authority and for Silverstein, respectively. Yet the PA is still a mess, trying to build way too many things at once.

Lieber, too, did a good job of managing the private-sector construction at Ground Zero. But higher-level decisions about what to build saddled New Yorkers with billions of dollars in debt, plus the $4 billion Oculus train station.

Managing the effects of bad political behavior is no substitute for fixing the behavior. Evidence of that is in the MTA’s latest budget, released just as Cuomo was making changes at the top.

The good news: The MTA has precariously balanced its budget for the next two years, plus the rest of this year. The bad news: After that, things get worse. In February, the MTA projected a $372 million annual budget gap for 2020. Now, the gap is double that.

The biggest problem is the slowing commercial property market. The MTA expects to take in nearly $800 million less in its property-related taxes. That’s not because we’re having a recession; it’s because this market was overheated.

Meanwhile, the MTA’s attempts to turn itself around are costly. It will spend $484 million in extra money over four years to increase inspections and maintenance, including $281 million at the subways and bus division.

The MTA benefits from ever-lower interest rates, which make debt cost less. But it’s not enough.

The agency will take some steps to address the deficit — but many are unwise. For example, it won’t make $59 million in contributions to its retiree health care fund, even though it already owes $18.5 billion there. And it will divert $158 million from a construction account.

One of the MTA’s assumptions demands something of the governor: $260 million in extra state money by 2020, to make up for the governor’s decision, in his first term, to reduce the MTA’s payroll tax on small businesses.

And the request is half-justified, in government world. The MTA’s payroll taxes are coming in $138 million higher than expected. But were it not for the governor’s tax cut, in the MTA’s reasoning, they’d be even higher.

A governor who regularly spends a little something on pet projects all around the state doesn’t want to give up some of those precious dollars to the MTA.

And this extra payment just delays $493 million of the deficit to 2021, when, as the authority’s budget officials mildly note, “it will need to be addressed.”

The governor’s slapdash answer: Make the bigger payment under cover of funding a huge new maintenance push at the MTA, and make the city pay, too.

Just before the bad budget news, Cuomo and the MTA asserted that the city should pay at least $236 million in extra operating costs — almost all of the extra subway and bus spending planned. But this would set a terrible precedent. City taxpayers and riders already provide the most MTA money.

Strip away all the theater, and the MTA’s biggest financial problem doesn’t come from its operational failures. Its announcements to improve service aren’t some radically improved strategy, but what it should have been doing all along. “We need short-term emergency financing now,” Lhota said on Sunday — but the fact is that the MTA’s internal incompetence created this emergency.

The MTA’s financial problem is old and predictable: Volatile tax revenues, like those related to commercial property, are indeed volatile.

If the city gives more, as Mayor Bill de Blasio seems set to propose, it’ll be saying that when the MTA can’t manage its budget in the good times, the city will bail it out.

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. NY Post