Category Archives: Public Transit

Andrew Cuomo Is Hiding from NYC’s Subway Nightmare

From Vice.com

The real reason the country’s largest subway became such a total disaster.

What do you do when your political brand is based on old-school competence, but you literally can’t keep the trains running on time? For New York governor Andrew Cuomo, presiding over a subway system that’s become a total nightmare, the answer seems to be: Hope your constituents think it’s someone else’s fault.

Cuomo’s public image has never been about an inspiring message or firing up a passionate base. He lost more than a third of the vote as an incumbent in a Democratic primary in 2014 after pushing deep cuts to school aid, declaring war on unions, and tacitly supporting a Republican takeover of his state senate. Nor is he one of those happy retail politicians who derives popularity from attending local events, shaking hands, and flashing a friendly smile.

Instead, a key selling point for Cuomo has been a promise of barebones effectiveness. Or, as the man himself explained in a 2015 New Yorker profile: “Show me, it’s show-me time. Show me results. Build a bridge, build a train to LaGuardia, clear the snow, save lives. Huh? A little competence.”

It’s precisely this “a little competence, huh?” shtick that makes the disastrous state of New York City’s subways so dangerous to Cuomo—and why it’s vital for him that city residents continue to not realize that it is he, Cuomo (and not his nemesis, Mayor Bill de Blasio), who controls this mess.

How bad is the subway situation, exactly? A woman recently got her head stuck in a train, and people just kept walking past her. These people resorted to taking their shirts and pants off after being stuck in an underground tunnel for 45 minutes. This guy missed his graduation and had to settle for some passengers giving him a makeshift subterranean ceremony because his train was delayed for almost three hours. Signal malfunctions, crowding, and track repair delays have become commonplace, and there are now 70,000 delays a month—nearly triple the number five years ago. The results, beyond people losing their minds, include lost wages from tardiness and missed medical appointments.

And all of that’s before the pending shutdown of the L train upends thousands of people’s lives.

Seizing on those who understandably assume this stuff is the province of the local mayor, Cuomo recently proposed an adorable bill giving himself control of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) that he already oversees. “Who’s in charge [of the trains]?” he asked last week. “Who knows! Maybe the county executive, maybe the president, maybe the governor, maybe the mayor.”

It’s super weird that Cuomo isn’t sure who controls the transit system, since this winter he orchestrated a multimedia self-promotional tour to take credit for opening the “Second Avenue subway.” This included a fawning profile in the Times in which he invoked Robert Moses, and a celebration in which the MTA’s Tom Prendergast gushed about how proud he was to serve the governor. Never mind that the project was over budget, overdue, and basically amounted to the addition of three subway stops. For this particular development, Cuomo was not confused as to who controlled the subways. (He was right then: The governor not only appoints the head of the MTA, but also a plurality of its board. The MTA is chartered by the state, and even the agency’s own website says the governor appoints the members.)

Cuomo’s real coup has been dodging a full-fledged media scandal over this stuff, due partially to a quirk of geography.

Some excellent journalists are out there covering Cuomo’s administration, holding his feet to the fire on everything from his double talk on political corruption to a water poisoning crisis in upstate Hoosick Falls. The vast majority reside and work in Albany—which is great when a major event or story occurs in the State Capitol or nearby. In those cases, reporters are able to experience it directly and viscerally (and then go a short distance and report on it). Many times, the big stories requiring context and reporting involve the legislative process, and the Albany press corps are experts at condensing this super boring but important minutia.

The problem is when a Cuomo story happens hours away from the people keeping tabs on him. In the case of the ongoing subway nightmare, the reporters experiencing (and covering) these hellish commutes, the ones who know precisely how the MTA works on a day-to-day basis, are not necessarily in position to put pressure on Cuomo in Albany.

While the governor has received his share of unpleasant criticism over this fiasco, he still seems to be evading a total bulldozing in the press. Which means many people still don’t know where to point their fingers.

Speaking of Albany reporters covering the legislative process, some dogged ones noticed earlier this month that Cuomo tried to slip in a provision in the dark of night that would replace the honorary name of the Tappan Zee bridge from that of one former governor, Malcolm Wilson, to that of another: Cuomo’s father, Mario.

Ultimately the provision was stalled (though perhaps just temporarily), when members of the state assembly declined to vote on it.

While the effort by Cuomo was roundly criticized, with one sharp observer calling it an “incredibly classic Cuomo/Albany story” and a “ridiculous farce,” perhaps it could still spawn an idea that actually serves the public. If the governor is so keen on blessing major infrastructure with his family name, Albany leaders might just oblige—by naming the current transportation mess after its rightful owner.

The Andrew Cuomo Subway System has a nice ring to it.

All aboard for the new Rochester train station

Democrat & Chronical via California Rail News

It was only supposed to be a temporary solution. Thirty-seven years after the Rochester train station was built, construction is now near completion for a new hub for Amtrak and CSX and an enhanced traveling experience for passengers.

Together with area business owners, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, led a tour of the new train station that’s slated to be completed in a few weeks. She helped secure a $15 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to help fund the expansion.

The remodel was much needed to help grow businesses and to serve the entire community, Slaughter said.

“Our community is blessed to be close to so many major cities and this new state-of-the-art, ADA-compliant station will help move goods and people where they need to go and encourage new companies to open their doors right here in Monroe County,” Slaughter said.

The project will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Once completed, it will feature 12,000 square feet of space, including a passenger concourse, platform and passenger display systems. The station will offer full access to the platform by elevators, escalators, stairs and ramps. Currently, passengers must climb up steps to board the train and passengers with disabilities need to use a lift.

Infrastructure is critical to the success of area businesses and trains are as important as other modes of transportation, Slaughter said. Many passengers prefer to take the train versus flying so they can relax and stretch out on the ride, she said.

Irondequoit resident Marlene Canavan agrees. She was waiting for her daughter, Darla, to arrive from New York City at the train station. Her daughter switches between flying and taking the train and sometimes prefers the train because it is time consuming to go through airport security. Canavan is eager to see the upgrades to the Rochester train station.

Accessibility to Rochester is important for visitors coming to the area, said Naomi Silver, president and CEO of Rochester Red Wings minor league baseball team.

Having a good infrastructure for different transportation is important for businesses in the area, said John Hart, CEO of Lumetrics in Henrietta. The infrastructure helps bring customers in, he said.

The state of the New York subway: transit experts weigh in

From CURBED NY

Every day, it seems as though there’s another instance in which the New York City subway fails massively—and, impossibly, the aftermath of those problems also seems to be getting worse. Perhaps you heard about the ride in which a train was stalled for so long that a guy hopped out of the train and walked the tracks to the next station? (Don’t do that, by the way.) Or the one in which commuters were stuck on a train, sans electricity or air conditioning, for over an hour?

Granted, subway breakdowns also seem to be getting more attention thanks to the rise of social media. There are more ways than ever to document when problems happen, and more voices that are ready and willing to broadcast them, which leads to the question: Is subway service actually getting worse, or are more people paying attention now?

Bad news: It’s the former. “I do think [the subway is] measurably worse than [it was] a couple of years ago,” says Ben Kabak, the blogger behind Second Ave. Sagas, though he acknowledges the role that social media is playing in hyping the problems.

“[Social media] is helping make our elected officials pay attention,” says John Raskin, the head of transit advocacy group the Riders Alliance. “[But] it’s not just people’s day-to-day commutes. Subway service has deteriorated noticeably over the last five years.”

The numbers back that up: the MTA periodically releases data tracking its performance, and the numbers are not good. In February, it was revealed that monthly delays had increased to about 70,000—a figure that’s increased dramatically since 2012, when the agency reported about 28,000 delays per month. The Straphangers Campaign, which releases an annual report card for the subway system, has also tracked worsening service vis-à-vis previous years; according to its latest report, car breakdowns have increased, while subway regularity has decreased overall.

According to Raskin, there are three factors that have contributed to the decline in subway service: equipment failures, like recent power outages and signal problems; overcrowding; and a one-two punch of massive delays and unreliable service, which can largely be attributed to the first two issues.

The MTA has, at least, acknowledged the severity of these problems: the agency recently ordered a review of the increase in subway delays, in addition to its six-point plan to tackle that issue. But one of the biggest issues—the MTA’s aging signals, some of which date back to when the transit system was created more than a century ago—is also proving to be one of the hardest to fix.

The MTA has committed $2.1 billion from its current capital plan to repair its signals, but as a recent report from the city’s Independent Budget Office notes, many of the scheduled fixes are happening behind schedule, if they’ve been started at all. Per the report, the current capital plan has 14 signal-related projects scheduled to begin by the end of 2017—more than half of which are now delayed. “They don’t have a plan yet to speed up the replacement of signals sooner than the next few decades,” notes Kabak, “and there’s a groundswell of voices calling on them to improve service sooner than they can.”

And according to Raskin, “the problem is not that the MTA doesn’t know how to run trains. The problem is that every governor in a generation has underinvested in public transit.” That includes Governor Andrew Cuomo, who Raskin says has “ignored deteriorating transit service” in favor of funding big-ticket projects like the first segment of the Second Avenue Subway.

Raskin and the Riders Alliance—along with a growing chorus of voices, both on and off Twitter—have been particularly pointed in their criticism of Cuomo, who was initially less than vocal about this year’s uptick in service disruptions, and has occasionally claimed that he’s not in charge of the subway. (He is, for the record.) In recent weeks, Cuomo has put forth more of an effort into addressing the subway’s meltdown, and recently asked former MTA chairman Joe Lhota to step back into that role, noting his “proven track record needed to address the enormous challenges facing the nation’s largest mass transportation system.”

Kabak is optimistic about the choice. “The MTA needs a crisis manager,” he explains. “Lhota knows what the agency is capable of. He knows the challenges it’s facing.” And as Kabak notes with a laugh, “he actually rides the subway”—something both Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have been criticized for not doing regularly.

Raskin is also cautiously optimistic, but notes that “no chairman or CEO can substitute for leadership from the governor.” He continues, “the change we need is not going to come unless riders demand it until we get what we need from the governor and state lawmakers.”

He proposes that riders keep doing what they’re doing: make their voices heard when issues arise. “Take advantage of newfound Wi-Fi service,” Raskin says. “Tweet and email Governor Cuomo to make sure he understands that riders won’t go away.” That shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

The difference between the NEC and other regional corridor services.

M.E. Singer opinion from California Rail News

The premise of regionalization of passenger rail should be incorporated to ensure the viability of any national infrastructure program in the US. Although the California JPAs have created from scratch a spectacular inter-connecting regional program; the Northeast Corridor merely picked-up from where the Pennsylvania, New Haven, and New York Central left off, their remains a void of far too many unserved potential regional corridors.

However, unlike California and the NEC, their is little linkage between other regional states, despite their past history of being well served by a network of passenger rail operated by the private railroads. The issue today is how to incentivize the Class 1s, Amtrak, commuter, and the individual states to work together, as the markets are there, unserved by rail; forced to accept clogged interstates and expensive, infrequent air service–all inhibiting economic growth and tourism, due to a lack of mobility. The answer is not by operating but a daily long distance train, but frequently scheduled, convenient regional trains, capable of quick turnarounds, rather than languishing in yards all day.

Such markets just in the Midwest include: Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison; Chicago-Milwaukee-Green Bay; Summer seasonal services Chicago Wisconsin and Michigan; Chicago-Milwaukee via UP North Line thru Evanston-Waukegan-Racine; Chicago-Champaign-Springfield-Peoria; Chicago-Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh; Cincinatti-Columbus-Cleveland; Chicago-Quad Cities-Iowa City-Des Moines. Even The Milwaukee Road utilized its new bi-level commuter cars in the 1960s to operate weekends Chicago-Wisconsin Dells. Also, in conjunction with commuter lines, what about Special Trains for the vast number of football events throughout the Midwest? With two run-thru tracks at Chicago Union Station, the stub-end terminal concept should not prevent enhancing schedule convenience and true regional inter-connectivity by run thru services. (In 1972, even Amtrak operated two run thru schedules between Milwaukee-Chicago-St. Louis.)

The successful California JPA model appears to be the best formula to follow, given how the JPAs control marketing (routes, services, frequencies, fares, advertising), with Amtrak providing T&E crews, staffed depots, and maintenance. LOSSAN JPA has wisely extended schedules from San Diego to run thru LAUPT to serve San Luis Obispo; it is a matter of time before reaching San Jose. San Joaquin JPA acknowledges market potential to schedule day trips between Fresno-Sacramento. Capitol Corridor JPA provides true regional connecting service running from Sacramento thru Emeryville (Oakland) to San Jose, with plans for further route expansion.
What stops the continued growth of these JPAs is the acute shortage of equipment and the Amtrak cost methodology for state services. Given the near breakeven of LOSSAN, even under the current higher cost formulas, perhaps it is appropriate to consider full takeover of all passenger services; to serve as a Beta site for the other JPAs; eventually other regional/state consortiums?

Brightline rail will start with deeply discounted fares

The new Brightline rail service linking Miami to West Palm Beach with a stop in Fort Lauderdale will start with deeply discounted fares when it takes its first runs in late summer and offers full service in the early fall, CEO Dave Howard says.

While he wouldn’t reveal the fare structure, Mr. Howard told a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce transportation meeting last week that the discounted cost is “going to be less than the cost of driving your car.”
Fares, he said, won’t be revealed until just before operations begin. He did not provide specific dates.

The full service in the fall, he said, will amount to 32 round trips daily between Miami and West Palm Beach.

The West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale stations, built expressly for the Brightline service, are getting their final touches, Mr. Howard said, while the massive station complex in downtown Miami handled by parent All Aboard Florida continues to rise.

Asked to predict the status of the railroad next June, he said that Brightline will then be on the way to carrying 3 million passengers a year.
“The railroad is the answer of the future,” traveling on a line that was built by railroad magnate Henry Flagler just before 1900. “What an awesome opportunity to reinvent that system.”

The railroad as conceived by its owner, Coral Gables-based Florida East Coast Industries, was to be a link between Miami and Orlando, linking to Orlando’s cluster of globally known theme attractions. But communities along the route have tried to sidetrack the planned operations, delaying that longer part of the run.

Mr. Howard said only that the Brightline will be “ultimately connecting to Orlando in phase 2 of our project.” He did not provide an estimate of how long that might take.

He did note, as he has in the past, that no privately funded passenger rail service has been completed in the US in the past 100 years. “This is a privately funded project that has enormous public benefits,” he said.
He said the level of service planned on the line now exists nowhere in the nation.
That might help to cut into the car-centric culture in the region.
“Yes, we need to change behavior, Mr. Howard conceded, “but the behavior that we have to change is painful. So it should be relatively easy” to motivate South Floridians to ride the rails rather than suffer in heavy traffic.
As for the impact on the community, Mr. Howard, who arrived here in March from New York, where he ran sports-oriented organizations, said that he hears a lot from employers about dependency on cars impeding business growth. “They can’t afford to lose people for hours in the day in their cars just to attend meetings,” he said.

As for getting Millennials to ride the Brightline, he said that the generation is much more favorably inclined to alternative travel modes than their elders and they already feel connected to city centers. Brightline, he said, is one of the solutions to connect the cities together.

Mr. Howard said that the owners of the Brightline feel good about their investment. The cost was low, because they already owned the right-of-way. At a cost of a little more than $1 billion for the five train sets and stations combined, he said, “this is actually an extraordinarily efficient investment.”

Amtrak statewide ridership dips in NY State

ALBANY Times-Union

On the eve of massive track repair work at Penn Station in New York City, Amtrak’s upstate ridership is struggling to grow.

For passenger rail advocates such as Bruce Becker, vice president of operations for the National Association of Railroad Passengers, that’s troubling.

“It is a cause for concern,” Becker said. “While ridership in the Hudson Valley has grown modestly, ridership across upstate New York and on the Adirondack has dropped.”

Becker cites a number of possible reasons for the decline.

“One is lower gas prices,” he said. They’re down about $1.25 per gallon in the Capital Region compared to the summer of 2014, according to figures from GasBuddy.com.

But Amtrak’s own difficulties may also have contributed.

It had to cancel one daily train for a number of days last summer west of the Capital Region while CSX worked on the tracks.

“Last summer was not a stellar period for on-time performance,” Becker added.

It has been nine years since Congress approved the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which shifted more of the cost of passenger rail operations to the states.

New York has continued to use the existing passenger cars, many of which are now 40 years old. Its specially built dual-mode locomotives that can operate on diesel or electric power have seen several breakdowns this spring, stranding hundreds of passengers.

For passenger rail advocates such as Bruce Becker, vice president of operations for the National Association of Railroad Passengers, that’s troubling.

“It is a cause for concern,” Becker said. “While ridership in the Hudson Valley has grown modestly, ridership across upstate New York and on the Adirondack has dropped.”

It had to cancel one daily train for a number of days last summer west of the Capital Region while CSX worked on the tracks.

A recommendation by some state Department of Transportation officials to replace the locomotives wasn’t included in the most recent state budget.
The state,meanwhile, has a vested interest in seeing higher passenger revenues, because they reduce the amount it must pay Amtrak to operate the trains.

Nationwide, Amtrak saw record ridership last year, carrying 31.3 million passengers. But statewide, ridership fell nearly 4.7 percent to 1.7 million, according to a recent presentation to the Empire State Passengers Association.

About half of those — 855,000 — began or ended their trips at the Albany-Rensselaer train station, one of Amtrak’s busiest.

Many factors can contribute to a decrease in ridership levels including gas prices, construction and service reliability and we continue to evaluate ways to mitigate these impacts and highlight Amtrak’s many passenger amenities and value proposition,” Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert said. “Amtrak ridership overall remains strong, with a record 31.3 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2016, marking the sixth consecutive year Amtrak has carried more than 30 million customers.”

EDITORS NOTE: Is the upstate operation “pure” AMTRAK or dependant on the State too? How about borrowing rolling stock and dual diesel- electric locomotives from other NY State agencies (like Metro-North)?

Hell Is New York City’s Transit Situation

From Slate Magazine
The subways are a mess. Penn Station is a disgrace. Who is to blame?
By Isaac Chotine

As a Californian who is forced to drive more than I would like, I always look forward to my trips to New York City. I can jump on the subway to Brooklyn—which I have been told is actually part of the city—and visit my Slate colleagues whose faces I view too infrequently. Last month, however, I got a brief taste of what New Yorkers’ have spent their spring complaining about—and with good reason. The state of the New York City subways is a disgrace: Trains are old, delays are frequent, power outages are common. And even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo oversees the Metropolitan Transit Authority and needs the votes of NYC’s large population of Democrats, he has seemed reluctant to tackle the problem. Plus there is the mess that is Penn Station, which has left suburban commuters bracing for a “summer of agony” as repairs get underway to restore service to its old status quo, which wasn’t good to begin with.

To discuss all this, I spoke by phone with Benjamin Kabak, who edits the Second Ave. Sagas Twitter feed (@2AvSagas) and is an expert on NYC transportation. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed whether Cuomo is really to blame, the hell of Penn Station, and what Trump could (but won’t) do to fix some of New York City’s problems.

Isaac Chotiner: How precisely would you describe what the hell is going on?

Benjamin Kabak: That’s sort of the multibillion-dollar question. From a day-to-day perspective, what’s going on is that the once-reliable New York City subway system is showing its age and a lack of investment in such a way that service isn’t dependable anymore. You have constant delays, constant service reroutes. So the millions of people who rely on the subway to get around are suddenly faced with much longer commutes and much more uncertainty and an element of surprise that people do not want to schedule into their daily trips to work or home or school.

But at a certain level it’s a little unfair to target him specifically because it has really been a history of disinvestment. You can trace it back to Robert Moses and this lack of investment in transit that goes back to the ’50s and was exacerbated in the ’60s and ’70s when the MTA should have been thinking about replacing and modernizing the signal systems and didn’t have the money to do so. Cuomo’s lack of empathy and support for what New Yorkers are going through is an accumulation of 50 or 60 years of governors not investing in transit or paying the right attention to it.

You mentioned investment, but I read on your Twitter feed that you don’t think investment is the problem per se or rather that more funding would not necessarily solve the problems.

One of the challenges that I think advocates of the system have is that there is an idea that if you throw more money at the MTA then things will magically be fixed. But the MTA has access to a lot of money. They have a five-year, $30 billion capital plan, and while some people say the proper amount would be closer to $50 billion, the underlying concern is that the MTA can’t spend money very well. Everything it does is far more expensive than its peer cities. Everything they try to do in terms of construction takes far too long.

So why can’t they spend it well?

That’s a tough question and one nobody has been able to pinpoint. You have a lot of different factors. Projects in New York take a lot of planning. You have environmental regulations. You have old city streets and nobody knows what’s under them. You have old buildings that are nearby. You have this [not-in-my-backyard] reaction to everything when it’s a heavy construction project. You have lawsuits. You have what I call institutionalized corruption. There are only so many companies that are qualified to take on things, which leads to a bidding process where the bidding process is very inflated.

What about the projects Cuomo cared about? Have they been pulled off with less trouble, or did they have the same problems?

It’s the same problems. The Second Avenue subway, which sort of opened on time, was actually four years late. It opened on a new schedule that they had put forward when it became apparent they were going to blow past the original schedule. It was well over budget and the most expensive subway line built in the world. You have the same problems with the bigger projects, but they are out of sight. You don’t miss something you don’t have.

In terms of who pays: Are suburban riders paying enough, and should fares be subsidized for poorer riders?

The riders themselves have borne a fair share of costs. And it’s all part of the same regional economy. You need to make sure people can get into their jobs in New York City, or we will all suffer. I am in favor of subsidizing fares for lower-income riders, but that is something that hasn’t gained much political traction from either the mayor or the governor.

Has the terrible relationship between those two guys exacerbated the crisis?

Oh, absolutely. Cuomo is trying to get more money out of the city; the city is pointing fingers at Cuomo. The MTA is sort of set up where no single politician has to take responsibility for it, so everybody is finger-pointing.

How would you describe the state of Penn Station, and is it uniquely awful or is it a good stand-in for many of the infrastructure shortcomings in America?

I think it is somewhat emblematic of the general state of transportation infrastructure, but at the same time it has really become a huge chokepoint. It’s a station that is run by three different agencies. The tracks are owned by Amtrak, but the MTA and New Jersey Transit both operate out of Penn Station. And you have had so many problems with aging infrastructure that it has become unsustainable. Amtrak has to perform two months of repairs this summer and shut down a bunch of the train service that comes through it, but it is also the busiest train station in the country. It is a huge chokepoint of the American economy and New York economy and needs to be resolved.

If Trump were a rational actor, is there anything he could do help New York City with its transportation problems?

What you would need—and unfortunately the reality right now is that Republicans are not particularly focused on urban issues, because that’s not where their base is—is an infrastructure bill with robust federal investment in transit, with a focus on the Northeast corridor, where they would say they would fund Penn Station and fund this new gateway tunnel, which is Amtrak’s plan to build new tunnels. You are looking at around 110-year-old tunnels that are at risk of failing. I don’t mean the ceilings will collapse and trap people, but I mean the infrastructure inside will not be able to support the number of trains that pass through it. That’s what you see at Penn Station. The problem is that you don’t have a party or an administration that is particularly sympathetic to urban investment issues right now.

Nicely put, “urban investment issues.”

Better than saying, “and is completely crazy.”

If you were governor, what could you do right now to make the situation better?

Say to people, “We know your subway system is bad, we know your train system is bad. To really fix it we have to take lines out of service for extended periods of time.” We don’t know what those periods of time are because no one at the MTA has really explored the issue yet. But if you can accomplish a signal replacement in a year without a train service, it might be better to do that than to knock out service over seven or eight years and have this uncertainty.

Stewart Air Base A Fourth NY City Airport?

Stewart International Airport is in the southern Hudson Valley, west of Newburgh, New York, approximately 60 miles (97 km) north of Manhattan, New York City. The airport is in the Town of Newburgh and the Town of New Windsor.

Developed in the 1930s as a military base to allow cadets at the nearby United States Military Academy at West Point to learn aviation (at the direction of General Douglas MacArthur), it has grown into the major passenger airport for the mid-Hudson region and continues as a military airfield.

Over the years it has had a checkered history of “ownership”: NY State, Port Authority, private, etc. Also all kinds of “do-gooders” who opposed it’s use.

Biggest problem is a convenient New York City connection.

Metro-North’s Port Jervis line offers a direct connection to Hoboken, New Jersey,from the Salisbury Mills Station. (pictured here) Salisbury Mills is about three miles from Stewart. Taxi service is available. NO BUS! Check out more on Salisbury Mills from “I Ride The Harlem Line”: http://www.iridetheharlemline.com/tag/salisbury-mills/

Metro-North’s Hudson line provides a direct link to Grand Central Station in New York City from the Beacon Station. (pictured here)

Leprechaun Bus Lines provides frequent and inexpensive connections from the Beacon Station to Stewart. Taxi service is also available.

Find out more about Beacon Station: https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/the-final-phase-of-the-nyc-rebuilding-at-fishkill-landing/

Transportation Takes Big Hit In Trump Plan

From Queens Chronical

Maloney says budget is full of baloney, as do Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand

Initiatives such as the next phase of the Second Avenue subway or the implementation of Select Bus Service on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards are at risk of losing millions of dollars under President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget, sparking outrage from lawmakers and transportation advocates.

“The President’s budget cuts would only further delay long overdue repairs to make our transit systems more safe and reliable,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said in a May 25 statement. “I will do everything I can to fight these harmful cuts and protect the funding that helps support our transit systems.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation faces a 13 percent cut overall, according to the plan, a $2.4 billion reduction from the $16.4 billion approved for the agency in the continuing resolution authorized by Congress in early May — which funds federal agencies through the end of September.

In New York State, no transit proposal is at the full-funding grant agreement stage, according to the Federal Transit Administration’s website.

That means the Gateway tunnel project, which would allow Amtrak to run trains under the Hudson River, SBS in South Queens — which, among other changes, would put dedicated bus lanes along much of Woodhaven Boulevard and have commuters wait on median bus stops — and the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway may have to be funded by other means, should Trump’s budget plan be passed by Congress the way it’s proposed.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) said in a statement to the Chronicle she’ll fight to restore the transportation cuts.
“New Yorkers can’t afford cuts to federal transit investments,” said Maloney, who represents the area of Manhattan where the Second Avenue subway line is. “Rather than cut programs like TIGER and New Starts grants, we need to continue to increase investment in infrastructure so we can extend the Second Avenue Subway line north to 125th Street and south to Houston Street, and so we can also deal with the major problems plaguing Penn Station. Given these needs in New York City and similar ones around the country, I am hopeful that Congress will reject these cuts.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Trump’s cuts to transportation “a job-killing, 180-degree turn away from his repeated promise of a trillion dollar infrastructure plan.

“President Trump’s campaign promises on infrastructure are crumbling faster than our roads, railways and bridges,” the Senate minority leader added.

Raskin and Richards also called out the president for cutting transit funding while saying he’ll improve infrastructure across the country.
“It’s both hypocritical and counter-productive if we’re trying to restore infrastructure,” Raskin said.

“So far we have not seen any signs that he’s really serious about infrastructure, outside of saying localities should take care of things,” the councilman said.

Thoughts on Commuter Parking

I was just reviewing and updating our WebSite and ran into a great article on commuting. It is included in this WebSite Connecticut To Philadelphia

Nobody can park or drive in New York City so we invented commuter railroads. Now it is getting harder and harder to park at commuter railroad stations!

Before we can get cars off the roads by persuading drivers to become passengers on the trains, we first have to give them a place to park their cars at the train stations. As all commuters know, station parking is a nightmare.

Many stations have a four- or five-year wait for annual permits, which can cost up to $600, and day-parking is expensive, if you can find it. In Connecticut, parking at most rail stations is owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation but administered by the local towns. That is why we have ended up with different rules and pricing.

Take Rowayton for example. Every year annual permits are handed out on a first-come, first served basis one hectic Saturday morning in May. Nobody is “grandfathered-in”. Everyone literally waits in line, often all night, every year.

This may seem fair, especially to newcomers, but it’s hardly an efficient way to manage a scarce resource.

Another idea “an auction”. Spaces would start selling online on a certain date and time with the first permit going to the highest bidder in a 24-hour period. The second permit would go to the next highest bidder, etc. There’d be no preference to those who already have permits nor by town of residency. The scarce supply of spaces would moderate the demand by price.

As it is, most towns oversell their available spaces. In Westport they sell twice as many permits as there are spaces. Why? Because the permits are too cheap and there’s never a time when everybody who has one tries to park on the same day.

People hoard their annual permits, renewing them even if they don’t use them regularly. Many have waited years to get it, and are not likely to give it up, even though they use it only one or two days a week.

Is that fair to the daily commuter who needs that space but hasn’t risen to the top of the waiting list because others won’t let go? Probably not. But unless each town raises parking permit prices and squeezes greed out of the equation, they will keep hanging onto their permit. An auction would change that.

We should let the marketplace define the price of affordability, and that’s what an auction would do most efficiently.

Of course, the other solution is to add more parking spaces. When CDOT tried adding a few spaces in Rowayton a few years back, they were pilloried. When they came to Darien and proposed more parking at Noroton Heights, they were booed out of town.

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