May 15, 2008
It's No Hallucination: Polka-Dot Buses Aim to Cut Travel Time
By JENNIFER MASCIA
No, there are no illegal drugs being handed out as passengers begin their morning commutes: For the past few weeks, those seats on the M23 crosstown bus really have been decorated with light and dark blue bubbles.
The new upholstery is probably the most conspicuous feature of Select Bus Service, an experimental project by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with the support of the city and state Departments of Transportation, to improve service on congested routes.
The project, the result of several years of study, draws on several elements of Bus Rapid Transit, a system of bus operating practices used in cities around the world. The system's main elements will eventually include bus shelters where passengers pay the fare before boarding; fewer stops and greater distances between stops; dedicated bus lanes with a distinctive color and lettering; direct routes with frequent service that supplements, but does not replace, regular local bus service; and electronic signals that give the buses priority (a few extra seconds) if a traffic signal is about to switch, say, to yellow from green.
If the project is successful and put into place citywide, it could prove to be a great relief for customers who have long complained about the snail-like pace of city buses, especially the crosstown buses in Manhattan. It could also mark one of the starkest changes for bus riders, who for more than a century have been accustomed to dropping their change - or now, dipping a MetroCard - into the fare box upon boarding.
Under the new system, customers will pay before boarding, collecting a proof of purchase from a fare dispenser, similar to a MetroCard vending machine or Muni-Meter parking ticket machine, in the bus shelter.
Chinatown bus chaos
Chinatown's private bus business is booming. That this industry has grown to its current level in a little under 10 years is amazing. The rates are cheap and if one is not too fussy these rides are just the ticket.
Yet, while the busy bus business is good news for Chinatown's economy over all, it also has brought a host of problems that are affecting Chinatown as well as the Lower East Side.
The buses increase traffic, pollution, noise, garbage and even violence, due to the fights that sometimes flare between rival operators in their competition for passengers. Police say it's hard to oversee these problems because the buses are so spread out. And the buses' picking up at the curb at scattered locations means traffic is being impacted in a haphazard, irrational way. Residents, in particular, are feeling the bus invasion's effects.
As The Villager reported last week, the city recently proposed a 30-day pilot program under which all the Chinatown interstate buses would be shunted toward the end of Pike St., with no more than seven dropping off or picking up at any one time. However, neighbors at Knickerbocker Village and the Rutgers Houses opposed the idea and so did Community Board 3.
Posted on: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 15:00 CDT
By DAVID A. MICHAELS, STAFF WRITER
A minibus company that began as an informal service catering to immigrants in Passaic County now carries more commuters between Paterson and New York than NJ Transit.
While critics have scoffed at the worn-out appearance of some minibuses, riders praise the Spanish Transportation company for its inexpensive and frequent service.
Even state transportation officials acknowledged that Spanish Transportation has evolved into an essential commuter service for a growing region that demands more mass transit than the state can supply.
"Our elected officials have realized the services we provide to the cities are a necessity," said Norberto Curitomai, the founder and president of Spanish Transportation. "We provide a quality public transportation, at lower rates that is maybe not provided by New Jersey Transit."
Curitomai's drivers make express trips in about 45 minutes compared with an hour or more on NJ Transit's long, winding circuits. His buses carry an estimated 30,000 daily passenger trips, Curitomai said.
Yet his success hasn't hurt NJ Transit's Paterson business. The state agency's revenue grew 18 percent between 2002 and 2006.
Source: The Bergen Record
January 28, 2008
Two-hour coin operated parking meters could disappear from parts of the Upper West Side as early as this summer, with drivers instead paying varied parking prices that would change based on supply and demand.
The city Department of Transportation is evaluating a plan submitted by the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District that proponents say would increase the turnover of parked cars, improve access to businesses, and decrease congestion created by drivers circling the neighborhood for a coveted spot
Weinshall Points to the Future
In a speech that seemed a significant departure for New York City’s transportation department under the Bloomberg administration, city transportation commissioner Iris Weinshall laid out an array of measures to improve New York’s pedestrian and bicycling environments, soften the quality of life impacts of heavy traffic and begin to reclaim the sheer urban acreage given over to automobiles. Commissioner Weinshall made her remarks at the opening of a large-scale transportation conference convened today at Columbia University by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
Both in terms of language used, which seemed to indicate that city government had moved closer to a goal of reducing car use, and the packaging together of a broad set of policy reform steps, the commissioner’s speech may signal that the problem of planning for a future city of 9 million
people is starting to concretely impact city policy.
The commissioner said NYC DOT would:
-Soon announce 5 bus rapid transit corridors, with accelerated construction (starting in fall 2007) on two of them. She also said NYC’s BRT system could become the world’s “most extensive.”
-Implement its recently announced initiative to build 240 new miles of bicycle ways (MTR #540).
For Parking Space, the Price Is Right at $225,000
By VIVIAN S. TOY
In Houston, $225,000 will buy a three-bedroom house with a game room, den, in-ground pool and hot tub.
In Manhattan, it will buy a parking space. No windows, no view. No walls.
While real estate in much of the country languishes, property in Manhattan continues to escalate in price, and that includes parking spaces. Some buyers do not even own cars, but grab the spaces as investments, renting them out to cover their costs.
Spaces are in such demand that there are waiting lists of buyers. Eight people are hoping for the chance to buy one of five private parking spaces for $225,000 in the basement of 246 West 17th Street, a 34-unit condo development scheduled for completion next January. The developer, meanwhile, is seeking city approval to add four more spots.
Parking in new developments is selling for twice what it was five years ago, said Jonathan Miller, an appraiser and president of Miller Samuel.
Although spaces in prime sections of Manhattan are the most expensive, even those in open lots and in garages in Brooklyn, Queens, Riverdale and Harlem are close to $50,000, although at least one new Brooklyn development is asking $125,000.
Manhattanites Face Driving Fee on the Way Out
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
In promoting his sweeping traffic reduction plan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his aides have stressed one provision: drivers who enter Manhattan below 86th Street would be charged an $8 fee.
But what has not been widely mentioned is a measure that could startle some Manhattanites: those who live within the zone would have to pay $8 to drive out.
The congestion pricing program was devised to cut traffic, chiefly by persuading people from the other boroughs and beyond to leave their cars behind and take public transit into Manhattan. But planners say that those who live inside the congestion pricing zone also contribute to traffic when they drive out, and should pay their share, too.
That means a man from Greenwich Village who drives to visit his grandmother in Queens would pay the fee. So would a C.E.O. who has a reverse commute, driving from the East Side to Stamford, Conn., each morning, and an Upper Eastsider who likes to drive to the Fairway supermarket in Harlem.
It might seem that anyone taking a car out of the congestion zone ought to be rewarded instead of penalized, but officials disagreed.
"We're not trying to get people to leave the zone in their cars," said Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff, who played a leading role in fashioning the plan. "Overall what we're trying to do is get people to use their cars less."
Wiki for Triboro RX - proposed rail line for bronx, queens and brooklyn
In its 1996 Third Regional Plan, Regional Plan Association describes a rapid transit line in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx that could be built almost entirely on pre-existing rail rights of way. The so-called Triboro RX (TRX for short) presents a unique opportunity to provide mobility and accessibility to New Yorkers living or working within these three boroughs, at a fraction of the cost of most transit projects of similar size. This web site documents a possible alignment for the Triboro RX, and a crude estimate of what levels of initial ridership one could expect to see if it were built. The results, as you will see, are encouraging to say the least.
Mailman School of Public Health Study
February 16, 2007 -- New York City dwellers who reside in densely populated, pedestrian-friendly areas have significantly lower body mass index levels compared to other New Yorkers, according to a new study by the Mailman School of Public Health. Placing shops, restaurants and public transit near residences may promote walking and independence from private automobiles.
"There are relatively strong associations between built environment and BMI, even in population-dense New York City," said Andrew Rundle, DrPH assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and lead author.
The researchers looked at data from 13,102 adults from New York City's five boroughs. Matching information on education, income, height, weight and home address with census data and geographic records, they determined respondents' access to public transit, proximity to commercial goods and services and BMI, a measure of weight in relation to height.
The study appears in the March/April issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.