Photo via Colin Mutchler/Flickr
For the second straight year, subway ridership has fallen, reports Time Out New York. Data presented in an MTA Transit Committee meeting this week shows a drop of nearly 30 million trips between 2016 and 2017, or a decrease to 1.727 billion trips last year from 1.756 billion the previous year (though it should be noted this is less than two percent of the total trips taken). Newly appointed transit president Andy Byford attributes the dip to low gas prices and the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. He also told NY1 that poor service may be turning riders away, certainly possible considering that weekdays delays more than tripled between 2012 and 2017.
Two stations at 34th Street will be renovated; photo via dog97209 on Flickr
The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved on Thursday a $213 million plan to rehabilitate eight subway stations, despite objections from the authority’s city representatives. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1 billion Enhanced Station Initiative, the stations–six in Manhattan and two in the Bronx– will get outfitted with USB ports, LED lighting, digital countdown clocks and artwork (h/t New York Times). The board first delayed the vote on the construction contracts in January after board members, appointed by Mayor de Blasio, questioned the necessity of these cosmetic improvements when the system’s infrastructure remains in desperate need of repair.
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The tunnel-digging machine; photo via The Boring Company
The Boring Company, led by Elon Musk, received a building permit this week from the Washington, D.C. government, potentially jumpstarting the tech entrepreneur’s plan to bring a high-speed tube system between New York City and D.C. Although Musk said last summer he received “verbal” approval from officials, the new, written permit allows preparatory and excavation work to begin on a parking lot on New York Avenue in D.C., the Washington Post reported. The Hyperloop One would be able to take passengers from NYC to D.C., with stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore, in just 29 minutes via a tube moved by electric propulsion.
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N train at 30th Ave Station via Wikimedia
Thousands of straphangers on the Upper West Side and Astoria will have to rethink their daily commutes come spring, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans on closing some stations for up to six months for repairs and upgrades. The station makeovers fall under the MTA’s Enhanced Station Initiative, a plan to improve the reliability and customer experience inside the subway system. Planned enhancements include installing digital countdown clocks at subway entrances, glass barriers, LED lighting and adorning station walls with artwork.
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Real estate investor, sailing champion and former Calvin Klein underwear model Parker Shinn has entered the impending void of the dreaded L train shutdown scheduled for April of 2019 with a new alternative. The concept, which joins a growing list that includes a gondola, an inflatable tunnel, car-free bus lanes, bike lanes and a lot of MTA re-routing, is called L-ternative Bridge, and consists of a temporary pontoon bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan that would be capable of supporting two lanes of bus traffic and two walking/bike paths.
So what’s a pontoon bridge?
Photo via Jeffrey Zeldman’s Flickr
While amenities like on-site laundry and air conditioning are big selling points in New York City rentals, the building’s proximity to the subway remains one of the most important factors when looking for new digs. And like other amenities, there is an added cost to live near the subway. New data from RentHop breaks down how much renters can save by living further from the subway in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. According to their report, as Curbed NY reported, apartments closest to the subway cost 6 to 8 percent more than the borough median, with the furthest costing 8 to 10 percent less.
Workers pumping seawater out of the L-train tunnel after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, photo courtesy of the MTA on Flickr
The subway’s crippling, century-old infrastructure is not the only reason behind the system’s constant delays and disruptions. The other problem involves about 13 million gallons of water, or more depending on the rainfall, that gets pumped out from underground on a nearly daily basis. A perpetual hazard, water can drip onto electrified equipment, cause a short and create chaos, as the New York Times reported. After ineffectively using only sandbags and plywood to fight flooding in the past, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has turned to more high-tech solutions, like flood-proof doors and inflatable gaskets, which will be a part of its $800 million emergency action plan to fix the subway.
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Map via AllTransit
Nearly 29 percent of New York City households are underserved by transit, according to data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology and TransitCenter. In a joint project, called AllTransit, the team put together a collection of transit data that includes 15,000 routes and 800 agencies in the United States. A tool called Gap Finder identifies gaps in U.S. cities where underserved communities would benefit from improved service.
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Photo via The Gateway Program Development Corporation
President Donald Trump on Monday released his $200 billion infrastructure plan and it does not look good for New York and New Jersey. Because the plan shifts the financial burden from the federal government onto states and localities, relying on incentives to spur private investment, major projects will struggle to find funding. This includes the Gateway Tunnel project, a proposal to construct a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and repair the existing one. As the only intercity passenger rail crossing into NYC from NJ, the tunnel is a critical link for nearly 200,000 daily passengers. While the Obama administration considered Gateway a priority and committed half of the project’s cost in 2015, the Trump administration has scoffed at the idea.
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Construction workers giving a tour of the Second Avenue subway; photo via the MTA on Flickr
The exorbitant construction costs of building transit projects, coupled with project delays, could make the New York region lose jobs and businesses to other global cities that are completing transit projects in a more timely, and economical, fashion. A report released on Tuesday from the Regional Plan Association (RPA) says high-costs and delays are ingrained in every part of the public-project delivery, including too-long environmental reviews, inaccurate project budgets and timelines and a lack of communication with labor unions. In their report, the RPA analyzed three projects and their costs and delivery issues: the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access and the extension of the 7-train.
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