Gotham Gazette

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  • mta disinfected covid

    Governor Cuomo talks subways (photo: governor's office)


    A city on the precipice of financial collapse. A federal government unwilling to provide help. Thousands of jobs and vital programs on the line. This was the situation in New York City in 1975, but this description is not far off from the picture in 2020.

    Though the causes of these two crises were different, the effect will most likely be the same: massive budget cuts, especially to new projects. During the 1970s, the MTA was implementing plans to expand the subway system, including building the

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  • pat foye distr

    Subway ridership (photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)


    We agree with the MTA that its fate hinges on the federal government, which must provide the MTA at least $10 billion in federal emergency funds through the end of 2021 to prevent the end of the New York City region’s mass transit system as we know it. 

    The MTA’s options without federal aid from its August “doomsday” plan are all terrible. Worse, they are far from exaggerations and are a glimpse into a

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  • 1 as grows

    Mayor de Blasio on the bus (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Early in June, when New York City was just entering phase one of its economic “reopening” and the city still had daily triple-digit coronavirus death counts, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious plan, the Better Bus Restart Initiative, to add 20 more miles of bus lanes and five new busways by October, in addition to making the 14th Street busway permanent. While this plan, offered during a unique opportunity to rethink city street use, did not go as far as many public officials and advocates would

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  • de Blasio city bus

    De Blasio rides the bus (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    As the coronavirus public health crisis waned and New York City headed toward entering the first phase of “reopening” its economy after the government-ordered near-shutdown, Mayor Bill de Blasio was under increasing pressure to develop transit plans to help New Yorkers returning to work get around by various and safe means. This was especially true regarding buses.

    While the city’s subways and buses are run by the state-controlled MTA, de Blasio does have significant sway over the bus system

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  • mta cuomo arrival

    (photo: Patrick Cashin/Metropolitan Transportation Authority)


    Is the MTA’s plan to redesign the Queens bus network an improvement, or will it further destroy the bus system? 

    The MTA released its Draft Queens Bus Network Redesign on December 30. Queens voices have protested the plan from Woodside to ...

  • mta priority bus

    (photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit)


    In the year since I wrote “Designing Bus Routes to Attract Passengers and Reverse Declining Ridership,” the MTA announced the results for the Staten Island Express Bus Redesign, completed a Bronx study, and began studies of the bus networks in Queens and Brooklyn.  

    These studies make incorrect generalizations resulting in formulas attempting to correct problems. It is not

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  • city council co jo keynote address

    Speaker Johnson (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is advancing his legislation to create a master plan for city streets, promising Thursday that the Council will vote on the bill this month.

    Johnson, a Democrat from Manhattan, first proposed the idea of creating a five-year plan for the city’s

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  • private bus new york city


    Mass transit watchers are eagerly anticipating who will be appointed to the six-person Traffic Mobility Review Board, which was embedded in last April’s state budget deal outlining the framework for instituting a congestion pricing tolling system around Manhattan’s Central Business District (CBD).

    All but one member (which is selected by the Mayor) will be appointed by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA). While two appointees will represent Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North interests, we strongly believe one of the other appointees must

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  • subway construction

    (photo: City Council)


    If City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, like-minded lawmakers, and a chorus of transit advocates get their way, New York City will become far less dominated by cars over the next few years.

    Talk of “breaking car culture” by increasing options and protections for bikes, buses, and pedestrians

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  • mta bus electric

    (photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit)


    One of the most frustrating things about local New York City politics is that many people who believe in progressive ideas on the national stage do an about-face when it comes to progressive change on the local level, often when that change might actually touch their day-to-day lives in some way.

    This phenomenon has been captured perfectly by the current debate around the 14th Street busway -- a pilot program approved by the mayor, which would prioritize public transit and trucks over private cars on one of the

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  • bx6 select bus inter ave

    Mayor de Blasio rides the bus (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    Elected officials, advocates, and especially riders agree: the city’s bus system is broken.

    That consensus was reached in recent years as bus speeds slowed to a crawl and the system hemorrhaged ridership. Various advocacy groups and elected officials have put forth studies and plans, and the entities with actual control -- the state-run Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the New York City Mayor’s Office -- have taken steps toward improving the situation, though

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  • city council cojo work train

    Speaker Johnson on the train (photo: City Council's office)


    Imagine a New York where cars no longer rule the road, and pedestrians and cyclists reclaim dominance of the city’s public space. While a New York where cars don’t dominate the streets may seem like a fantasy, to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, it is the future.

    In recent months, Johnson -- a Manhattan Democrat in his second year leading the 51-member City Council -- has gone full bore touting the idea of “breaking car culture,” or prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists,

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  • mta usb wifi

    (photo: MTA/Patrick Cashin)


    Transit policy is climate policy. In New York, transportation emits 30% of the city’s carbon pollution and 34% of the state’s. Since it’s easier to drive less in a city than in suburban and rural areas, much of that is carbon we can easily spare. When shrinking New York’s carbon footprint, transportation emissions are low-hanging fruit.

    Granted, the challenge is stiff. Car registrations in the city are rising, up 9% in the past four years. The city’s own government vehicle fleet has grown 19% in size and 25% in miles traveled in the past five

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  • corey jo public

    (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    [Note: this hearing was indeed held on Wednesday June 12; this article is a preview of the hearing]

    On Wednesday, the New York City Council transportation committee will hold a hearing on a bill sponsored by Council Speaker Corey Johnson that would mandate the creation of a five-year “master plan” for city streets with a variety of specifications aimed at making the city more friendly to bikers and pedestrians, and less deferential to cars. If passed and implemented, the legislation would have a major impact on

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  • gov cuomo sign upgrade mta

    (photo: governor's office)


    Your zip code and how much money you make can determine your health and quality of life in New York City – including the quality of the air you breathe.

    Recent data from The New York City Community Air Survey shows that certain neighborhoods have more particulate matter and black carbon than others. It should come as no surprise that many of these areas – like East Harlem, Washington Heights, or the South Bronx – are largely inhabited by people of color or people with lower incomes, who

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  • citycouncil r bay

    Speaker Johnson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson unveiled an ambitious proposal for municipal control of the city’s mass transit system on Tuesday at his first State of the City speech at LaGuardia Community College in Queens.

    “I am not here to be typical,” Johnson, who is considering a run for mayor in 2021, promised early on as he delivered a speech focused on nothing but transit, including a forceful push for replacing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state entity that controls the

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  • bus line

    (photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA)


    The first two parts of this series discussed the causes for bus ridership decline, the Fast Forward plan as it relates to buses and why its focus needs to be changed to reverse this decline, a plan that worked: the southwest Brooklyn changes, and MTA studies that did not achieve their desired results. Read part 1 and

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  • department trans

    (photo via NYC Department of Transportation)


    This is the second part of a 3-part series. Part 1 discussed the causes for bus ridership decline, the Fast Forward Plan as it relates to buses and why its focus needs to be changed to reverse this decline. In this part: measures that have worked in the past.

    The Southwest Brooklyn Changes of 1978
    No other group of bus route improvements were that

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  • gov an cuomo littering

    Gov. Cuomo on the tracks (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project
    Find the rest of the series here

    2019 will be a pivotal year for New York City transportation, unlike any this city has seen in decades. Not only is

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  • mta double decker electric bus

    (photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)


    Bus Ridership in New York City is on the decline despite innovations such as Select Bus Service (SBS). Newly appointed New York City Transit (NYCT) President Andy Byford’s ...

  • Cuomo subway repairs

    Gov. Cuomo underground (photo: The Governor's Office)


    With the transit system in New York City in constant crisis over a sustained period of time, from delayed trains underground to ever-dropping bus speeds on the streets, the question of how exactly to fix mass transit has been on the minds of elected and appointed officials, advocates and analysts, and, of course, frustrated commuters. In the aftermath of the short-term Subway Action Plan, the ...

  • MTA bus

    An MTA bus (photo: MTA Bus)


    The new congestion pricing surcharges on taxis and on-demand ride services below 96 Street in Manhattan are designed to address congestion in midtown, but they generate more controversy than impact. They might raise a few hundred million dollars a year for the MTA to fix the subway. But they won’t do anything to reduce congestion or air pollution. Meanwhile another big ticket MTA budget item has gotten little attention but will have a huge impact on New York City's emissions, air quality, and public health: bus procurement.

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  • mta double decker

    (Credit: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)


    In the Big Apple's transit circles, Andy Byford has quickly become the hottest London import since the Beatles. New York City Transit's new president, brought in this winter from his job as the head of the Toronto Transit Commission, faces the unenviable task of fixing the city's ailing subway system and restoring faith in its vital transit network. Just three months into the job, Byford is moving at a breakneck pace, and on Monday, he unveiled an ambitious plan to speed up New York City's snail-like local

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  • mta select bus service route

    (photo: MTA/Patrick Cashin)


    This is part three of a three-part series

    Previously discussed: the promises and the reality, the difference between bus travel time and passenger travel time, who benefits and who is hurt by SBS, how the mayor, MTA and DOT mislead, the true costs of SBS (part one); the denigration of local bus service, problems with enforcement, other SBS problems, negative effects on traffic and local

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  • transit crisis rescue

    (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    Even as the subways reach the breaking point, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers face an additional commuting crisis: the lack of fast, reliable transit service in huge swaths of the boroughs outside Manhattan. In neighborhoods from Flatlands to Queens Village to Castle Hill, getting to work is a grinding chore, even when the trains are on time. That’s because the transit system has failed to keep pace with the demand for better service outside the city’s core.

    Unlike the subway meltdown, this

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