» Damage to the North River tunnels could cut off most rail service into the nation’s center unless a new link is built soon.
There are many cities where rail lines serve an important purpose: They help connect important destinations; they reduce congestion on particularly intensely used corridors; they concentrate development and produce agglomeration benefits. These benefits are useful in making those cities more livable, economically vibrant places.
But only in certain cities — the largest, most densely developed places, particularly those with geographical constraints on growth — are those rail lines essential to making the metropolitan economy work. In New York City, there is no question that this is true; the region’s subway and commuter rail lines carry the bulk of peak flow into the Manhattan business districts thanks to the ability of trains to handle upwards of 40,000 people per hour on each line. Without those lines, people simply wouldn’t be able to get to work.*
Given the city’s reliance on those rail lines,
Continue reading With no new rail tunnel on the horizon under the Hudson, New York faces a looming transport crisis »
» New York and Chicago debate putting BRT lines in street medians.
Last week, the New York City Department of Transportation announced that in the Bronx’s planned Webster Avenue bus rapid transit corridor, buses will run in lanes along the side of the street — not in the median lanes previously being evaluated. For this 5.3-mile route through the center of the borough, the decision will reduce bus travel speeds, increasing rider commute times and ultimately limiting the benefit of the BRT investment. The move evoked concern that the city was settling for less-than-best when it comes to bus transport in New York.
Yet the issue is more complicated than that, since many BRT lines share their routes with local buses. This has implications for cities across the country that are investing in BRT.
Here’s the problem: In addition to BRT along Webster Avenue, New York plans to
Continue reading Combining Local and Express Bus Services in One Lane »
» The fact that street space is about more than just automobile movement has yet to be recognized by a big swath of the population.
The recent furor over the installation of bike lanes along Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West is indicative of the myopic perspective too many people continue to hold on to in regards to the use of the most basic transportation resource, the street.
Even in a city as progressive and transit-friendly as New York, the work of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to reapportion a very limited portion of total street space to pedestrians, bicyclists, and buses — usually in areas where people in automobiles are outnumbered — have been greeted by lawsuits and calls for the commissioner to resign.
The absurdity of these efforts is difficult to comprehend. Already, the majority of public space in this country is devoted to the circulation of automobiles. Is the integration
Continue reading Taking Back the Street »
» New rail tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan, left for dead a few months ago, comes roaring back as the Gateway Tunnel. Yet it now faces competition for limited funds.
Amtrak will not allow itself to miss the train for President Obama’s effort to “win the future.” Two weeks after the State of the Union address, in which Mr. Obama announced his intention to promote a high-speed rail system that connects 80% of the country’s population, the national railroad has made its first move.
This morning, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman and New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez headlined a press conference in which the railroad articulated a basic framework for a new rail tunnel into Manhattan. The connection — named the Gateway Project — would generally follow the alignment of the Access to the Region’s Core project, a $10 billion link that would have
Continue reading ARC Revived as the Amtrak Gateway Project »