Post-Thanksgiving New York News

The Thanksgiving Holiday doesn’t exactly lend itself to transportation news; it’s a sedentary period, with people far more interested in eating and shopping than getting around. We haven’t updated this blog for the past week because there’s been almost nothing happening in our particular realm. But the next three weeks leading to Christmas and New Year’s will be an interesting period. Will the Obama Administration-elect be more specific in its policy proposals? Will Congress consider John Kerry’s High-Speed Rail Bill? Will transit systems nationwide be able to handle the oncoming fiscal crisis?

We’ll be considering all of these issues over the next few weeks here on the transport politic, but in the meantime, today’s news updates, from New York City.

The New York Times has an interesting article on Richard Ravitch’s role in finding new funding sources for the region’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Ravitch is set to release

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The Airport-Transit Connection

Direct connections to airports have almost always played a major role in the development of transit systems. For the business and political leaders who typically take the most important roles in deciding how money for new mass transit investments will be used, a one-seat ride between downtown and the airport often takes highest priority.

There is little doubt that the primacy given to rail connections to airports is unjust from the socio-economic perspective. After all, because of the cost of flying, most people needing to get to and from airports are wealthy. Choosing to invest in a mass transit extension to an airport basically means further subsidizing the already rich, since transit systems almost universally charge their riders less than the service costs.

But airport transit extensions remain a priority for municipal leaders exactly because airports tend to attract any city’s most wealthy

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Morning Updates – More Administration News

The not-yet-in-power Obama Administration is showing that it has a strong interest in averting the increasing problems for the nation’s transportation funding. Today on the blog (the official website of the Administration-in-waiting), there was a further emphasis on the President-elect’s committment to taking advantage of the economic crisis to sponsor vast increases in infrastructure funding. The blog specifically quotes three individuals who have ideas for how to use the economic stimulus money, and all three point to infrastructure spending as being a necessary and major component. Most importantly, the blog post includes the comments of a man from Staten Island who mentions the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to increase fares by 23% even as it decreases services on New York City’s buses and trains.

Though this is simply a blog post, the fact that the administration was willing to include this specific mention of one city’s economic problems points to

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Obama Stimulus; HSR in UK Advances; BART Expansion Passes; LA Orange Line to Become LRT?

Biggest news of the weekend is Barack Obama’s new economic stimulus plan, which proposes creating 2.5 million jobs in infrastructure and alternative energy solutions. Though the specifics have not yet been worked out, the plan would, in the current plan, be passed almost as soon as he entered office – he would hand it over to Congress before he moved into the White House. Look for the bill to be in the $300 billion range, and look for it to provide specific funds for mass transit – and perhaps high-speed rail.

Meanwhile, the plans for high-speed rail links in the United Kingdom continue to advance. A new line would run from London, through Glasgow, to Edinburgh, decreasing total travel time from 4h30 today to 2h15. The total cost of the project would run up to 31 billion pounds, a not-insignificant sum, especially considering that Conservative leaders are plotting

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To Save New York City Transit

It’s official: to stave off the giant declines in tax revenues for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency will be doing the following:

Raising fares and tolls systemwide by 23% (probably means increasing base fare from $2.00 to $2.50 and a monthly pass to $100.00)
Firing 2700 people who work for New York City Transit, 173 for Long Island Rail Road, and 88 for Metro-North
Eliminating the W and Z Subway Lines (which would not involve closing any stops)
Shortening the route of the M and G Subway Lines
Lowering the frequency of letter-line trains from 8 minutes to 10 minutes on weekends
Lowering the frequency of all trains from 20 minutes to 30 minutes from 2 to 5 am

The overall consequence of these draconian cuts will be dramatically less productive service from the nation’s largest transit provider in a city that relies completely on transit.

These are incredibly scary cuts, especially in light of the fact

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The Site / The Fight

  • by Yonah Freemark
  • Twitter: @yfreemark
  • yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com
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