Archive for the ‘Subways and Buses’ Category

How Much Would You Have to Be Paid to Lick a Subway Pole?

My answer: you couldn’t pay me enough! But then again, I won’t touch a thing after I get off the subway until I wash my hands with anti-bacterial soap!

But check out this crazy kid who licked a subway pole for a mere $20!

Crying on the train

What can a person do when they’re feeling helpless and sad? Cry! But what if these emotions are so strong that you can’t help but do it on the train? Well you just go for it, I say.

Yesterday on the F train as I was listening to my iPod, I just turned to my left and saw this woman balling. She wasn’t hiding it, she was letting the tears flow freely and was also listening to something. I wondered if it was something touching that she had heard or if she’d just be handed some bad news.

I didn’t know what to do, she didn’t really look directly at me when she saw me crying, so I just continued listening to my music. But I always feel like talking to people on the subway who are crying. Just have them talk about it. You know?

If you’re reading this and were the woman who was in tears, I feel for you and it’s going to be OK.

If you were in the same situation, what would you do? Would you try to console them or would you just go about your daily business? Because on the one-hand you’re in a space that’s very public and open. Yet crying is a very personal and intimate release of emotions. When the two combine, it’s quite a complex matter, no?

E train and Q 39 Buses

The E train conductors aren’t always paying attention. The other day when a crowded evening train going towards Queens emptied out on 5th avenue/53rd street. An old lady with a cane stood there patiently until everyone was off. As she slowly moved towards the train, the conductor closed the doors and the train moved away.

Very sad.

And the Q39 is horrible. It’s a bus that’s around in Long Island City. Too many buses come at once and when they do, if you’re 2 feet away from the stop even at a red light, they don’t open the doors.

An old lady saved me from falling on the subway

Don’t underestimate the elderly! They possess powers beyond the naked eye. They are helpful and sweet – and deserve the seat every time!

This happened yesterday on the Manhattan-bound E train at around 9 am.

I got a seat at 23rd Ely Avenue only to notice an elderly woman’s patch of golden curly hair. I asked if she wanted to sit down and she said yes. I stood up and at that very moment the train started moving, she was at least 6-8″ shorter than me; but she grabbed me by my arm and I held on to her arm for dear life. Once the shakiness was over, I helped seat her and stood there smiling for the rest of the ride.

When you go to help someone out, you’re ALWAYS helping yourself. Remember that jerks that don’t get up for the pregnant ladies and elderly.

After this was all over, she got off at 7th Avenue and encouraged me to “Have a seat!”

Why Is The Government So Stupid?

Imagine for a moment a giant multiarmed god; with half of its arms hitting itself with a hammer and the other half trying to stop the bleeding and bandage its wounds and you have a perfect metaphor for New York City government.

While mayor Bloomberg and many city agencies are actively trying to reduce the problems caused by private vehicles in the heart of Manhattan, fund improvements in mass transit and provide affordable housing; city mandated policies in the outer boroughs promote driving and car ownership by requiring building owners to build parking garages even in areas reasonably well served by mass transit.

The Times ran this OP -Ed in January

“But off-street parking requirements have themselves become an expensive problem: developers must devote money and space to parking lots and garages, or not build at all. This limits the supply of housing, retail and office space, creating higher rents for residents and businesses, and higher prices for consumer goods.

Like any market distortion, parking requirements have created their own set of absurd choices. For example, affordable housing developers looking to build in most parts of New York outside of Manhattan must either provide parking that their target market can’t use, forgo construction altogether or change their mission and construct fewer apartments for higher income tenants.” (Which is what usually happens)

Streetsblog has pointed out the harmful effects of these policies, on recent construction along 4th Ave in Brooklyn in which a line of new condos are being built with ground floor parking instead of stores. The city is even dumb enough to be trying force parking minimums in a vital area like Hells Kitchen in the heart of its congestion pricing zone!! The result is often that the city government is force feeding cars into areas against the will of many local residents.

One such area is Atlantic Yards, in which at least 4000 parking spaces will be put in with over 2000 required for residents in spite of the fact that the site is a major transit hub served my multiple subway lines and the Long Island Railroad. Many of these will come in the form of hugely expensive and potentially dangerous underground parking. Doesn’t anyone remember the first World Trade Center attack which thankfully did not involve plastic explosives?

“Last year, several commentators on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) questioned the provision of parking–not just interim surface lots, but also the 2570 underground spaces intended for the project’s residential component and an additional 1100 underground spaces for the arena.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The Politics Of Road Tolling And Congestion Pricing

A few of the major advocates of congestion pricing have authored a little report with suggestions on how to make the concept more politically popular. Previously, road tolling and congestion pricing has been implemented in areas, like London, Singapore and Stockholm, in which drivers are a minority or on entirely new toll funded highways. Tolling existing “free” roads in the car dependent, United States is another story.

I liked the fact that they started things off with a quote from Niccolo Macciavelli which grasps the heart of the issue which is that any system, no matter how bad creates a constituency of people who have adapted to it and have learned to benefit from it while the proponent of change stands alone offering hypothetical benefits in an imagined future.. The authors advocate the idea of splitting any cash gained from congestion pricing and road tolling directly with the communities through which the roads go through to use as they please. These pots of money may well attract support. They also make a powerful social justice argument that the areas which bear the high negative social and health affects of major highways cutting through them should receive something back. They also point out the negative potential results of just plowing all the money from road tolling back into a “highway slush fund” which might very well result in the construction of even more roads in low density areas and compound the traffic/sprawl problem.

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old order of things, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.


Lessons In Hypocrisy

Hey Kids the UFT has another lesson in Hypocrisy for you.

“Hypocrisy (or being a hypocrite) is the act of pretending to oppose a belief or behaviour while holding the same beliefs or behaviours at the same time.”

If you want to get expelled use this example which I found on Streetsblog.

Resolution on Protecting the Environment — Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Whereas, it is a well established scientific fact that greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming, resulting in great dangers to our environment; and…

MTA Almost Wakes UP

It seems like the MTA has finally woken up to the potential value of the land it is selling at the Hudson Yards site, the last substantial piece of undeveloped land in Midtown Manhattan. It’s now interested in holding some kind of equity stake in the property and a cut of future profits from its development. This is highly logical, since a large chunk of the land’s value will come from the transit improvements the agency will be building such as the westward extension of the 7 line. The developers point out the potentially weakening property market and the billions they will have to be putting out as reasons for opposing such an idea.

Chanel Thirteen recently showed the American Experience documentary on the construction of Grand Central, a huge project largely funded through land development by the New York Central Railroad. A core problem at work here is that a government agency neither has the skills or more importantly the financial incentive (it’s not their money) to run the numbers properly and think about these projects in a business like way. Hong Kong’s awesome transit infrastructure is funded by a private company that also acts as a land developer.

Congestion Pricing Opponent Profile #1 : Richard Brodsky

The congestion pricing issue brings up a lot of complex issues and might very well cause unexpected problems. However, taking a look at the people who rapidly have lined up to violently oppose it is pretty revealing. I will try to post a few of these profiles, many of whom are non city residents who showing a new concern for our welfare.

The first one is Richard Brodsky, a NY state assemblyman representing Westchester county. He claims concern for the lower income residents who will be hurt by the plan,in spite of the fact that this is a group most likely to be dependent on public transportation. A look at the constituency he represents gives a clue to who he is really defending.

“Richard Brodsky (b. 1946) represents District 92 in the New York State Assembly, which includes the towns of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant, the villages of Ardsley, Elmsford, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, Tarrytown, as well as parts of Briarcliff and Yonkers, among other communities located in Westchester County, New York.”

Are Republicans For A Free Market?

John Corzine is facing the same ugly truth as mayor Bloomberg and leaders across the country. The government’s promise of “free roads” for all has proven an unsustainable illusion with destructive results, leading the governor to propose major increases state highway tolls.

“Mr. Corzine’s plan to raise tolls by 50 percent every four years starting from 2010 through 2022, including increases for inflation. The money would be used to pay off half of the state’s $32 billion debt and refinance the Transportation Trust Fund.”

Two things stand out for me–one is the existence of another, “trust fund” that the government no doubt raided to fund general expenditures. The other is the strange revelation that the die hard defenders of the morally, environmentally and ethically bankrupt state road system, more and more prove to be Republicans whose pro “free market”, anti urban lifestyle is totally dependent on the socialist road system.

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