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Bike Share Delayed, Software Blamed
August 17th, 2012

NEW YORK The much-touted bike share program that some speculated would transform public transit in New York City has been delayed until March 2013.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says bugs with the software that runs the planned system of thousands of two-wheelers is to blame for the hold-up. The program was supposed to launch this summer.

“The software doesnt work. Duh, Bloomberg said on his morning radio show earlier today. Were not going to put it out until it does work.

Shortly after Bloomberg made his announcement, the Department of Transportation sent out a news release saying the system, known as Citi Bike, would go live with 7,000 bikes next spring.

“New York City demands a world-class bike share system, and we need to ensure that Citi Bike launches as flawlessly as New Yorkers expect on Day One,” DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement explaining the delay.

In the news release, the DOT said the bike share operator “continues work to conclude manufacture and testing of the high-performance software necessary to operate the new system, which is being tailored for New York City. The system uses new solar power arrays and circuit boards, and engineers will continue to thoroughly test data communications, power management and payment systems to ensure overall system performance.”

While the $41 million system is privately funded, Sadik-Khan acknowledged a growing public interest in the program.

A bike share program in Chattanooga, Tenn., operated by the same company charged with getting the city’s rolled out, Alta Bicycle Share, also was delayed because of software bugs. The program launched month.

By on August 17, 2012, 4:04 pm
In category: Transportation | 8 Comments »

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East River Ferry Ridership Reaches 1 Million
July 16th, 2012

Since its launch early last summer, the East River Ferry has carried one million passengers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced today.

That’s more than double the predicted 409,000 riders a year, which the BillyBey Ferry Company cites as evidence of the program’s success.

Surpassing the one-million milestone is a testament to how popular our service has been with commuters, tourists and leisure travelers in the first year, BilleyBey CEO Paul Goodman said in a press release today.

After unexpected levels of ridership beginning last summer, the $9.3 million project now has larger ferries on weekends and concession stands on every ride.

To continue expanding and improving service for the remainder of the ferry’s three-year pilot program and beyond, Bloomberg announced a survey that will be available for riders to take online, on the ferry and by phone.

“Ferry service is only going to get better for the next million passengers,” he said in the release.

By on July 16, 2012, 11:22 am
In category: Community Development,Gotham City,Transportation,Waterfront | No Comments »

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Appeals court strikes down NY taxi decision
June 28th, 2012

A federal appeals court says New York City doesn’t have to require its fleet of licensed yellow taxis be wheelchair accessible, reversing an earlier ruling and upsetting disability advocates.

The court determined earlier today that the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission was not in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The court said in its unanimous decision that:

Plaintiffs contend that the TLC violates the ADA because it could require more taxis to be accessible, but does not. The TLCs licensing requirements do not discriminate and do not cause anyone else to discriminate, by licensing or otherwise. The TLCs licenses do not bar taxi owners from operating accessible vehicles. The only medallions that specify whether the taxi must be accessible specify that the taxi operated pursuant to that license be accessible. No doubt, more such taxis would be on the streets if the TLC required more of them to be accessible. But the TLCs failure to use its regulatory authority does not amount to discrimination within the meaning of the ADA or its regulations.

Instead, the court blamed the taxi industry for the problem.

The class-action lawsuit was brought against the TLC by two people who use wheelchairs and advocacy organizations.

Chris Noel, one of the two plaintiffs, said in a statement that he was “very disappointed” but would continue advocating for accessible taxis.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the ruling “consistent with common sense and the practical needs of both the taxi industry and the disabled.”

Of the 13,237 medallions allowed by law, only 231 are designated for wheelchair accessible vehicles, the court said. “The record shows that the chances of hailing any taxi in Manhattan within 10 minutes is 87.33 percent, whereas the chances of hailing an accessible taxi within 10 minutes is 3.31 percent,” the court wrote.

By on June 28, 2012, 5:17 pm
In category: Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Cuomo and Bloomberg Make a Taxi Deal
December 20th, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have reached a deal to provide taxi service to the outer boroughs. Cuomo will sign the bill that is sitting at his desk and the legislature has agreed to introduce a chapter amendment next year. The sticking point according to Cuomo’s office, “failed to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and did not provide any incentive for the livery industry to ensure disabled New Yorkers had full access to the taxicab system.”

Here is the full statement from Cuomo’s office:

Read the rest of this entry »

By on December 20, 2011, 9:36 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 4 Comments »

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Assembly Sending Livery Bill to Cuomo, Lasher Weighs in
December 7th, 2011

Last session the Senate and Assembly passed a bill that would allow livery drivers to pick up fares in the outer boroughs. Gov. Cuomo said the bill needed changes and would not sign it. An amendment was apparently in the works today but it was not sent to the legislature and now the Assembly plans to send the bill to Cuomo as is–forcing him to sign it, or veto it. You can find more detail on the story here.

Micah Lasher, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s director of legislative affairs issued this statement on the matter:

In June, the State Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill to provide safe and legal taxi service to residents of all five boroughs and generate $1 billion in badly needed revenue for New York City. We understand that bill, which stands on its own, is being sent to Governor Cuomo on Friday.

Over the last six months, the Governor has repeatedly expressed support for the goals of the legislation and also said he wanted to make certain changes in the form of a chapter amendment. He and his staff were finalizing an amendment this morning, but it was never sent to the Legislature. While the Mayor, along with legislative leaders, was prepared to support that amendment, it is not necessary to achieve the goals of the legislation.

Over the next ten days, we are available to discuss any questions or concerns the Governor has, and strongly urge him to sign this historic legislation.

By on December 7, 2011, 7:09 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Transportation Alternatives Slams Changes to Payroll Tax
December 7th, 2011

Transportation Alternatives is not happy with the plan to exempt businesses from the MTA payroll tax that is part of the mega tax code deal legislators are going to consider tonight. They say the move will harm the MTA and riders who will end up paying more. Sen. Kevin Parker told me today that he thinks the move will, “put us right back where we were before,” in terms of funding for the MTA. Concern over the payroll tax and MTA funding is not at all likely to be even a minor speed bump in the passage of the bill as Democratic legislators want to tout their vote for a tax cut and a “fairer tax code” but a number of them told me today they expect to be dealing with, “How to save the MTA,” again next session.

Here is Transportation Alterntative’s full statement: Read the rest of this entry »

By on December 7, 2011, 6:47 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Three-Way Deal on Taxes, Jobs, Infrastructure
December 6th, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office just announced that he has reached a deal with the legislature to implement tax code changes, create a new jobs program, fund infrastructure investments and interestingly enough–lower the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax. Here is the release:

GOVERNOR CUOMO, MAJORITY LEADER SKELOS & SPEAKER SILVER ANNOUNCE COMPREHENSIVE PLANS TO CREATE JOBS AND GROW THE ECONOMY

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced that they have reached a proposed three-way agreement on legislative and executive proposals to create jobs and cut taxes for middle class New Yorkers. The agreement includes support for a comprehensive New York Works Agenda that will create thousands of jobs with new investments in New York’s infrastructure, passing a fair tax reform plan that achieves the first major restructuring of the tax code in decades resulting in a tax cut for 4.4 million middle class New Yorkers taxpayers, approving $50 million in additional relief for areas devastated by recent floods, and reducing the MTA payroll tax to provide relief for small businesses. The leaders will now present the agreement to their members for approval.

“Our state government has come together in a bipartisan manner to create jobs, grow our economy and, at the same time enact a fair tax plan that cuts taxes for the middle class,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are investing in projects that will restore our state’s infrastructure and put thousands of people to work. We are cutting taxes on middle class New Yorkers and small businesses, which will inject nearly $1 billion into our economy. We are targeting new tax credits to hire inner city youth and reduce unemployment in some of the poorest areas of our state, as well as providing direct aid to communities struggling to recover in the wake of this year’s severe storms. This would be lowest tax rate for middle class families in 58 years. This job-creating economic plan defies the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and shows that we can make government work for the people of this State once again. I commend Majority Leader Skelos and Assembly Speaker Silver for their partnership in our effort together to create jobs for New Yorkers and put our state’s economy on a path for growth.”

“This year, working in a bipartisan manner, we’ve accomplished some very important things for the people of this State – - including eliminating a $10 billion deficit, bringing spending under control and capping property taxes,” Majority Leader Skelos said. “This comprehensive plan will reduce the tax rate for middle class families to their lowest levels in more than fifty years, create thousands of new private sector jobs, and begin to turn our economy around. I am pleased that this proposed agreement realizes long-held Senate Republican priorities like cutting the corporate franchise tax for manufacturers, reducing the job-killing MTA payroll tax for small businesses, eliminating New York’s stealth tax by indexing tax brackets and deductions, and building our reserves, along with providing additional flood relief to support job growth in devastated communities. I am looking forward to presenting this framework agreement to the members of our conference tomorrow and hearing their feedback.”

“Assembly Democrats share the Governor’s belief that we need to restore fairness and equity to our tax system – someone who makes $50,000 should not be paying the same tax rate as someone making $5 million,” Speaker Sheldon Silver said. “With Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we have forged a bipartisan plan that is fair to all New Yorkers and will help build a brighter economic future for this State. I am submitting to my conference a proposal that will provide $2 billion in revenue for the people of New York in each of the next three years by creating a more progressive tax structure, coupled with a significant middle class tax cut. I will recommend that they give it favorable consideration. I congratulate the Governor for helping to forge this comprehensive plan to revitalize New York State’s economy.”

The Governor’s New York Works Agenda will create tens of thousands of jobs through a $1 billion targeted and accelerated investment in key infrastructure projects around the state including roads, bridges, parks, energy and water projects. The NY Works Agenda also includes pursuing a comprehensive gaming plan and enacting a new tax credit to incentive the hiring of inner city youth.

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to tax code reforms including a temporary restructuring of current tax brackets to reduce taxes for 4.4 million middle-class New Yorkers. The Governor is also establishing a commission to examine a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s entire tax code that will make it simpler and fairer for all taxpayers and to create economic growth in the state.

In addition to these agreements, the Governor and legislative leaders announced a new round of flood relief, including a $50 million grant program for at businesses and counties impacted by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The plan also includes a job retention tax credit for businesses impacted by a natural disaster during the last year. Finally, the Governor and legislative leaders announced that the MTA payroll tax will be reduced for small businesses.

The details of the proposed agreement are as follows:

The New York Works Agenda

New York Works Infrastructure Fund: Creating Jobs by Rebuilding New York

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to a plan creating New York’s first infrastructure fund to inject over $1 billion in job creating investment. The accelerated state funding will leverage $10 billion in direct capital investment to create thousands of direct jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges; parks, dams and flood control projects; upgrading water systems and educational facilities; and investing in energy efficient improvements to commercial and residential buildings. The plan will focus on projects that support regional Economic Development Plans in the transportation, energy, environment and public facilities sectors. The accelerated infrastructure fund investment is within the state’s debt ceiling.

Specific investments undertaken by the New York Works Infrastructure Fund include replacing deficient state and local bridges in every region of the state, rehabilitating dams and flood control infrastructure, renovating parks, rebuilding water systems, conducting energy retrofits on homes, farms, businesses, and schools, as well as accelerating major SUNY and CUNY projects.

The Governor and the legislative leaders agreed on proposing legislation that will permit the New York Works Infrastructure Fund to bid the design and construction of infrastructure projects as a single contract, reducing costs and improving construction time. Passage of “Design-Build” legislation would shave 9 – 12 months from the construction time of major infrastructure projects. The Fund would also streamline permitting and regulatory approvals for infrastructure projects and procurements and consolidate activities across agencies and authorities.

Financing for the infrastructure fund would be provided through advancing capital investment and the creation of a public/private infrastructure fund. $700 million in state capital investments would be front loaded to increase job and economic impact by moving up capital projects planned for 2013 to 2012 wherever possible. An additional $300 million from the Port Authority would be directed towards funding for infrastructure projects in New York City. A new public/private infrastructure fund would raise up to $1 billion from pension funds and private investment.

Gaming Agreement

The Leaders expressed support to work with the Governor and request support from their respective majorities to put a constitutional amendment up for a vote.

Inner City Youth Employment Program and Tax Credit

The Governor and the legislative leaders agreed to create an inner-city youth employment program and a $25 million tax credit for employers who hire unemployed youth between 16 and 24 years of age over the first six months of 2012. The program and credit would be available to employers in businesses such as clean energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and conservation. Eligible employers would receive up to $3,000 for a six month training period and an additional $1,000 if they retained their workers for an additional six months.

Nearly $37 million in funding will be provided to critical jobs programs for inner city youth. This includes $12 million in support grants to youth providers for work readiness training, occupational training, placement or job matching, workplace mentoring and follow up services to increase retention. Participating youths will be provided with up to three monthly stipends of $300 each to cover costs associated with transitioning into the workplace. An additional $25 million will be appropriated for workforce skills training and support programs including digital literacy, basic education and occupational training, summer youth employment, job search and placement, and facilitated child care enrollment.

Fair Tax Code Reform

The Governor and the legislative leaders announced tax code reforms to create jobs and restore fairness to the tax system. Under the new rate structure, a total of 4.4 million New Yorkers would receive a tax cut, including a $690 million reduction for middle class taxpayers, and all taxpayers would see a tax reduction or no change compared to their previous tax bill. Brackets would increase with the rate of inflation. The newly implemented top bracket expires in December 31, 2014.

The new tax structure would generate $1.9 billion in additional revenue for the State. Any additional unspent funds from this revenue would be held in a new priority reserve fund to be dedicated towards future needs regarding job creation, local mandate relief, education, health care and mortgage foreclosure protection.

The new tax bracket structure would be reorganized as follows:

Income Level

Previous Tax Rate

New Tax Rate

$40,000 to $150,000

6.85%

6.45%

$150,000 to $300,000

6.85%

6.65%

$300,000 to $2 million

7.85% – 8.97%

6.85%

Over $2 million

8.97%

8.82%

Through an executive order, the Governor has created the New York State Tax Reform and Fairness Commission to address long term changes to the tax system and create economic growth. The commission will have thirteen members, including four recommended by the Senate and Assembly majority leaders and two recommended by the Senate and Assembly minority leaders. The chair of the Commission will be appointed by the Governor. All members are required to have expertise in the tax field and will receive no compensation.

The Commission will conduct a comprehensive and objective review of the State’s taxation policy, including corporate, sales and personal income taxation and make revenue-neutral policy recommendations to improve the current tax system. In its review, the Commission will consider ways to eliminate tax loopholes, promote administration efficiency and enhance tax collection and enforcement.

Flood Recovery Grant Program

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to establish a $50 million grant program to continue recovery efforts in regions of the State impacted by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The program includes the following support for communities recovering from the storms:

$21 million for small businesses, farms, multiple-dwellings and non-profit organizations that sustained direct physical flood-related damage costs not covered by other federal, State or local recovery programs. Grants would be limited to $20,000 and eligible only to companies that are on the Small Business Administration’s list of companies that have sustained damage.
$9 million for county flood mitigation or flood control projects. The grants for each county would range from $300,000 to $500,000; however, counties could jointly apply. Eligible counties must be included in Federal disaster declarations
An additional $20 million included in federal disaster declarations distributed on an as needed basis
Permitting local government to let taxpayers impacted by the storms to pay their property taxes in installments

Jobs Retention Credit for Businesses Impacted by a Natural Disaster

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to the enactment of a job retention credit for businesses harmed by a natural disaster. The credit would be available to firms with at least 100 employees that have retained or expanded their workers’ roles during this time. The credit would equal 6.85 percent of the wages of retained jobs and is targeted towards employers in financial services, manufacturing, software development, new media, scientific development, agriculture and other sectors.

Reduced Manufacturing Tax Rate

The Governor and the leaders agreed to provide a new reduction in the tax provided to corporate manufacturers by lowering their tax rate that would save them $25 million.

Reducing the MTA Payroll Tax

The Governor and the legislative leaders have agreed to reduce the MTA payroll tax on small businesses while maintaining the necessary funding for the MTA from other sources. The payroll tax would be eliminated or reduced for 294,900 taxpayers overall. The tax would also be eliminated from an additional 415,000 taxpayers by raising the self-employment income exemption. In addition, private elementary and secondary schools, as well as parochial schools, would be exempt from the tax. The State would compensate the MTA for the $250 million in lost revenue.

By on December 6, 2011, 2:00 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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City Council Takes to the Streets
November 4th, 2011

On the same day, it tackled the issue of undocumented immigrants (for that story, go here), the City Council took on something really controversial: the battle for spaces on the city’s crowded streets.

At its stated meeting Thursday, members enacted two measures.

One reflected concerns that the Bloomberg administration, in its zeal for bike lanes, has sometimes ignored wishes of local residents. Intro 412, which passed unanimously, would require that the city Department of Transportation provide community boards with at least 90 days notification of any planned bike lanes in their area, allowing the board to hold hearings. If the board wanted, transportation officials would have to make presentations to the affected boards.

This does not mean the board could veto bike lanes, but simply that it be informed and consulted.

More on the bike law bill and residential parking permits after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on November 4, 2011, 1:20 pm
In category: City Hall,Gotham City,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Cuomo Taps Lhota to Chair MTA
October 20th, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tapped Joe Lhota to head the Metropolitan Transportation Authority following Jay Walder’s departure. Lhota, a former top Giuliani aide was rumored to be Cuomo’s top pick for months. Lhota is currently the executive vice president for Madison Square Garden Inc..

I am pleased to accept the recommendation of the extraordinary search committee and nominate Joe Lhota to be the next chairman and CEO of the MTA, Cuomo said in a statement. Joe Lhota brings one-of-a-kind managerial, government, and private sector experience to the job and a lifelong commitment to public service that will benefit all straphangers. I look forward to working together as we continue to reform the MTA, reduce costs, and improve service for New Yorkers. I thank the members of the MTA Search Advisory Committee for their diligent work and thorough review.

Transportation advocates warn that Lhota will face a serious budget gap and must keep riders in mind while facing financial challenges.

To succeed, Joseph Lhota must continue Jay Walders commitment to transit riders, said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives in a statement. With the MTA facing a $9.9 billion gap in its capital budget, New Yorkers want an MTA Chair will ensure that elected officials increase the funding needed to maintain the public transit system and prevent further fare hikes and service cuts.

By on October 20, 2011, 2:09 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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Fitch Downgrades MTA Revenue Bonds
September 8th, 2011

Fitch Ratings has downgraded $14.3 billion on outstanding Metropolitan Transportation Authority transportation revenue bonds from an ‘A’ to an ‘A-plus.’ The agency also downgraded the long-term rating of Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority general subordinate bonds.

Fitch said the move came because of escalating operating costs and foretasted deficits.

Just like in Washington, decisions made by our elected officials in
Albany caused this downgrade, said Paul Steely White, Executive
Director of Transportation Alternatives.

The States raids on public transit funding have forced the MTA to pay for subways and buses with debt. Now, it will cost more for the MTA to run the system, and this will hit New Yorkers where it hurtsfare hikes and service cuts; unless our elected officials in Albany find secure revenue for public
transit.

The downgrades come as the agency waits for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pick a new director to replace outgoing chairman Jay Walder. Transportation advocates are concerned about Cuomo’s interest in the city’s mass transit system and have been pushing Cuomo to pick someone with experience with a large transit system. Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 8, 2011, 6:29 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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MTA Budget Proposal
July 27th, 2011

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s outgoing head Jay Walder released his 2012 preliminary budget and four year financial plan. The headline from the MTA says quite a bit in itself

“Unprecedented Internal Cost Cutting Limits Fare Increase to Agreed 7.5% and Protects Service Quality; MTA’s Financial Picture Remains Fragile with Many Risks; Labor Participation Critical to Plan.”

The $12 billion 2012 budget does not have any fare increases but relies on a three-year pay freeze for the Transportation Workers Union, and borrows billions to fund its capital plan. Unions, so far, are not hot on the plan.

However, the MTA does plan on 7.5 percent fare and toll increases in 2013 and 2015 and expects major funding shortfalls in 2014 and 2015.

Walder will be leaving his post in Oct. for a job in Hong Kong.

The full release from the MTA after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 27, 2011, 2:00 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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Cuomo Administration Suspends Licenses For 8 Bus Companies
July 25th, 2011

The New York State Department of Transportation has issued suspensions for the operating licenses of eight charter bus operators. The move comes during heightened scrutiny of the industry following a number of fatal bus crashes.

“The frequent, and at times flagrant, violations of state and federal safety regulations by charter bus companies has gone on for too long and put too many lives at risk,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement.

The eight companies are:

BEST TRAILS AND TRAVEL CORP

PARTY RIDE

A & W TOURS, Inc.

Touch of Class & Coach, Inc.

Silver Star Limo Company, LLC

Zoladz Limousine Service

Long Island Limousine Service Corp

Big Apple Bus Charter, Inc.

Here is the full release from the Cuomo administration:

Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 25, 2011, 6:32 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 10 Comments »

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Addabbo Explains Vote on Livery Bill
June 28th, 2011

Sen. Joseph Addabbo issued a statement today to explain his vote against the livery bill supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The bill that was passed by the Assembly and Senate will create a new class of livery cabs that will be available to commuters in certain busy areas of boroughs outside of Manhattan. There was heavy lobbying on both sides of the issue–with yellow cab drivers who were against the legislation surrounding the Capitol with their cabs and livery drivers who spent hours debating legislators in the halls. The bill was the last piece of legislation voted on before the same-sex marriage bill. Here is Addabbo’s explanation:

“My reasoning for voting against Mayor Bloombergs Taxi Plan bill (S.5825) is twofold. First, this matter should have been decided or negotiated with the NYC Council. Many state lawmakers, like myself, believe the State Legislature was being used to circumvent the usual City government legislative process pertaining to these types of matters. Second, this bill would not truly benefit my residents and certainly would hurt the livery cab industry much more than helping the yellow cab companies. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 28, 2011, 12:46 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 5 Comments »

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NY Gets Federal High-Speed Rail Funds
May 9th, 2011

New York has been awarded $354.4 million in federal funds to help advance New York’s plans for high-speed rail. Three projects are to be funded through the United States Department of Transportation. Last year New York seemed like a loser in the competition for federal rail funds–being granted only $151 million of the $4 billion it applied for while California received over $2 billion. But thanks to other states rejecting their funding New York’s rail plans got a new lease on life.

The first project will use $295 million of the funds to alleviate delays for trains entering and leaving Manhattan. The improvements will allow Amtrak trains to bypass busy commuter rail lines and thereby make commute from New York to Boston much faster. The project will also lay the groundwork for high-speed rail.

The second project will utlilize $58 million to help alleviate the bottle neck in the Empire Corridor. The Schenectady rail station will be replaced and the Rensselaer Station will see the addition of a 4th track.
The third project would spend $1.4 million to investigate the creation of an intermodal station in Rochester.

Three states–Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida rejected their federal funding and New York, along with other states, was able to apply to get a chunk of that cash. New York was fairly successful

“New York stands ready to use this federal money to rebuild our transportation infrastructure, expand high speed rail, and put New Yorkers back to work,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement. “In April I applied for federal grant money to fund promising projects that would push New York’s high-speed rail plans forward and create jobs,” Governor Cuomo said. “Today, the US Department of Transportation awarded New York $354.4 million for three projects. These initiatives have tremendous potential and will be a significant factor in ushering our economy and transportation system into the 21st century. I thank Secretary LaHood and his team for their careful review of the projects.”

Here is the full statement from Cuomo’s office: Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 9, 2011, 3:03 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Fare Increase Not a Bargaining Chip?
April 29th, 2011

Asking for a fare increase as city officials are trying to get a new class of cab in the outer boroughs isn’t playing hardball, Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, told Gotham Gazette today.

It’s merely about timing.

“It’s generally not a negotiation ploy by us,” Desai said, citing the increased cost of gas. “For us, the fare proposal has been in the works, because we know next month it will be seven years since we’ve had an overall raise. Driver income has not been at a livable standard.”

The alliance announced this week it will be asking the Taxi and Limousine Commission for an approximately 25 percent fare increase. The proposal will not be finalized until Wednesday, but Desai said it would likely ask for the waiting rate to increase from 40 to 50 cents and the mileage rate to go up to $2.50 from $2. The alliance will also ask for increases in taxi surcharges for rush hour and late night.

The request comes as the Bloomberg administration attempts to drill down a proposal to get more cab service in the outer boroughs. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in his State of the City speech in January he would propose legislation to allow livery cabs in the outer boroughs to pick up people hailing on the street — prohibited under current law.

After a backlash from city officials and the taxi industry, the administration is considering creating another class of yellow cab that would be limited to outer-borough pick ups instead.

Desai said the alliance isn’t opposed to servicing the outer boroughs, but as it stands now it’s not economical. Drivers cannot cruise residential streets for street pickups without losing money, she said. A fare increase would help convince drivers to go to Brooklyn or Queens, Desai added. She also suggested creating cab stands in commercial areas of the outer boroughs.

On his radio show this morning, Bloomberg said he was sympathetic to the cab industry’s qualms.

Above all else, Desai said she wants to make sure the yellow cab reserves the exclusive right to pick up New Yorkers at the curbside.

“We don’t want to see more vehicles on the road,” she said. “It’s going to increase congestion and increase competition in a field where it’s already competitive.”

By on April 29, 2011, 4:44 pm
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Immigrants,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Transportation,Work and Labor | 2 Comments »

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Vote Breakdown for Koch Queensboro
March 24th, 2011

We have had a number of requests for a breakdown of yesterday’s vote on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.

(We cover the debate this morning here.)

So, without further ado, here you go:

Maria Del Carmen Arroyo — absent
Charles Barron — no
Gale A. Brewer — yes
Fernando Cabrera — yes
Margaret S. Chin — no
Leroy G. Comrie, Jr. — no
Elizabeth S. Crowley — yes
Inez E. Dickens — yes
Erik Martin Dilan — yes
Daniel Dromm — yes
Mathieu Eugene — yes
Julissa Ferreras — yes
Lewis A. Fidler — yes
Helen D. Foster — no
Daniel R. Garodnick — no
Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 24, 2011, 11:08 am
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Land Use,Law,nextNY,Public Finance,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Council to Move Forward Bus Bill
March 23rd, 2011

The City Council is voting on a home rule message today that would give Albany the authority to pass legislation to require the regulation of intercity buses.

The move is an indication that the legislation will be approved in Albany.

The bill, introduced in Albany in February by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, would require discount buses register with the city. It would affect the types of discount buses involved in recent fatal accidents in New Jersey and in the Bronx. Supporters say it would give city officials a better indication of who is operating what vehicles, from where and when.

Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is charged with monitoring safety conditions on these vehicles. Council officials said the bill would not regulate safety and would not supersede federal authority.

The City Council must approve a home rule message before the legislation can move in Albany.

By on March 23, 2011, 2:35 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,nextNY,Transportation | No Comments »

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Regulation of Bus Companies Questioned
March 15th, 2011

Just hours after officials called for stricter safety regulations for discount buses departing from Chinatown yesterday, another fatal accident took the lives of two more passengers.

A Super Luxury Tours bus headed for Philadelphia slammed into a guardrail on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing the driver and another passenger. The crash came just three days after a brutal accident in the Bronx, which killed 15 people.

Saturday mornings crash was a heartbreaking tragedy and requires us to look closely at the safety regulations in place for the discount tour bus industry, said Sen. Charles Schumer in a prepared statement yesterday. While its vital we get to the bottom of what caused Saturdays crash, we must make sure that the regulations that govern the overall safety of this industry are effective and being followed by operators.

Schumer wants to see the National Transportation Safety Board investigate the entire industry.

According to the release, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced legislation last month that would require these discount bus companies, many of which operate from the curbside in Chinatown, to get permits from the city. They are now regulated exclusively by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. His bill would also designate where they can drop off and pick up passengers.

According to a study from the Department of City Planning, these companies conduct 2,000 trips from Chinatown every week.

We covered the issue last year. For an in-depth look at the controversy, go here.

By on March 15, 2011, 2:07 pm
In category: Albany,City Hall,Community Development,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Land Use,Law,Measuring UP,nextNY,Transportation | 2 Comments »

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Bike Lanes on the Agenda
February 16th, 2011

The latest bike battle is rolling into the City Council today with several pieces of legislation, including a requirement to report bike and pedestrian accidents more frequently.

One bill will force the Police Department to report on its Web site the number of traffic moving violations, crashes and injuries or fatalities on a monthly basis. It will also force the Department of Transportation to study all traffic crashes involving a serious injury or fatality every five years.

In recent months, bicyclists and communities have clashed over the number of bike lanes across the city. Today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the package of legislation would help communities and bicycle advocates understand why bike lanes go in certain areas.

“Getting people out of cars and on to bikes is a good thing,” said Quinn. “Bike lanes work great in some neighborhoods and don’t work well in others.”

We’ll report back later on how the council voted.

By on February 16, 2011, 2:50 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Economy,Electoral Politics,Gotham City,Governing,Law,nextNY,Parks,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Snow Update from Bloomberg
January 27th, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg updated New Yorkers on the progress of snow removal status this morning at City Hall. His remarks, verbatim, are below:

Good morning. Let me bring you up to date on the storm that hit our city last night and this morning. The Police Commissioner is here. He has to go to another meeting, so unless anybody has any real questions for him I dont think you do when he walks out it isnt that he doesnt care, its just that Ive told him do the other meeting.

When the snow stopped falling at about 4:00 AM, the official reading in Central Park was 19 inches. This is roughly twice the amount of snow that yesterdays evening National Weather Service forecast told us to expect. And we have now had the snowiest January in New York City history. We have had 36 inches since January 1st, breaking a record last set in 1925.

The heavy overnight snowfall which amounted to a foot or more of new snow by the early morning hours is why we decided to close schools today. Emergency agencies, like police, fire, and the public hospitals, have remained open. And as I said over the course of a dozen or so interviews with TV and radio stations this morning, as transportation options get better, City employees should come in to work.

The weather emergency that we declared yesterday afternoon remains in effect. Street cleaning and meter regulations will be suspended today and tomorrow. Clearing the streets remains our number one job and to do that, motorists should please, please refrain from driving.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 27, 2011, 11:42 am
In category: City Hall,Electoral Politics,Environment,Eye Opener,Gotham City,Governing,Measuring UP,nextNY,Public Finance,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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