Open Thread Wednesday

What’s on your mind?  Comment away!

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  • CassieVonMontague

    Lincoln’s Birthday was Wednesday.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Sounds good, but maybe you don’t get out much. The bus goes up Van Brunt from Red Hook, because that’s the best street there is. Yes, you could knock down some houses and build a highway, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want that. NYC – almost all of it – was “laid out” and populated in a different era.

    There are paths forward, but they are about as expensive and impracticable as the BQX.

    There are plenty of “food deserts” – that term is now in widespread use. There are also many “public transportation challenged” neighborhoods. Some are great for retirees, some for folks who work-at-home. And almost all of them are terrible for everybody else. It’s part of the reason people drive in NYC; it sure isn’t cuz it’s fun.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    It’s probably an urban myth, but one VERY outspoken (Heights-residing) woman with some influential friends was said to be responsible for a downtown Brooklyn-to-downtown Manhattan bus (and back) that went over the Manh. Bridge. Other than rush hour, it averaged 3-5 riders.

    The woman was quoted as saying, “Lots of people just aren’t comfortable in subways.”

    If you did the math on bus rides – given the cost of the buses and the cost of maintaining them and the cost of a very well-paid man or woman behind the wheel, you’d probably get $15 per person per ride SYSTEM-WIDE [in 2020!] outside rush hours.

    Do the math, as they say. No! Downtown Brooklyn is absurdly OVER-bused. If there weren’t 3 long no-car-parking blocks for buses to queue on Cadman W., it wouldn’t even be possible.

    Byford was the smartest man, by far, urban transp. ever had. He figured out in a week or 2 on the job that buses were to subways what horses were to cars by 1920 – all but obsolete where they competed.

    But while horses in NYC are limited to Central Park, there are a few neurotics (?) like you – sorry, if that’s unfair in your individual case – who still think they warrant a bigger piece of the pie.

  • Arch Stanton

    LOL who do you think is behind that article? General Motors et al corporations, that’s who. The same crew that bought most of the streetcar companies in then country and bankrupted them so they could sell busses and fuel to the cities…
    Besides, people in NYC are way more likely to use light rail than middle America. Fact: light rail systems have the right of way over other motor vehicles (including busses) Thus the travel time is considerably shorter than could be attained with buses.

    Here is a viable alternative for drivers using the BQE and you scream NIMBY. The hypocrisy is astonishing, SMH.

  • gc

    Lincoln’s birthday not listed on sanitation website as a holiday

  • Cranberry Beret

    As far as I can tell they didn’t even do a calendar for 2020. I only see 2019, and couldn’t find it via search. But they did put out a press release and tweet announcing no collection for Lincoln’s Birthday.

  • Cranberry Beret

    I’m a fan of light rail but this particular proposal is fatally flawed. They’re considering shared right of way for at least some sections (see original post). Doesn’t matter if the law says other traffic needs to yield to the rail traffic – that’s not realistic on a shared road. In which case they’ll never attain the desired speeds because those sections will bottleneck the rest of the system. Much better to set up dedicated busways for the rest of the route and not spend big $$$ for the rail infrastructure.

    I would be more intrigued if they came up with a viable route based on demand and feasability instead of coming up with the route based on real estate developer interest and then seeing if it flies.

  • Cranberry Beret

    What – are you saying people are building towers around here because of the BQX proposal?? Highly doubt it. Among other reasons, it’s because we’re already a transit-rich area.

    Also, I’m not sure why you figure BQE construction dooms busways, but not the BQX.

  • CassieVonMontague

    Here’s the press release:

    I highly recommend the DSNY mobile app. You enter your address and it makes a personalized calendar for you.

  • MaggieO

    ok. great. thanks for calling me neurotic and saying i don’t get out much. i’m trying to figure out what we’re actually disagreeing about here. it seems like you’re against the BQX. I am also against the BQX. Your proposed solution to address transit-deserts is — ? Mine is reroute, improve, speed up, and add bus routes to bring more people to places they want to get to. Buses could be better leveraged to get people BETWEEN subway lines. Maybe Jay/Smith/Atlantic busways aren’t the answer and don’t make the most sense but given the success on 14th street I think there’s strong evidence that reconsidering how we can better use our existing streets in terms of moving more people, without building a whole new transportation system, would be a good push in the right direction.
    Are you suggesting that the only answer is to expand the subway system?

  • MaggieO

    yes! if this route is really needed, make it a busway! why add a whole new system when we haven’t done as much with our existing resources as we could?

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Both (BQX and busways) are not going to happen. The former is just a loony idea in times when tax equity has never been more “off the table,” and the latter – in downtown Brooklyn, at any rate, is a bad idea because we have too many buses AND because the BQE fix “changes everything” (at least for the next 10 years.)

    And YES, downtown Brooklyn’s good transportation IS why (in good measure) so much building is happening here.

    And at a time when mass transit is not at its healthiest, the shorter one’s trip from an outer boro to a job still VERY likely to be in Manhattan THE BETTER.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Yes, we agree that the BQX is neither viable nor – probably – the best way to spend megabucks.

    I couched my “neurotic” carefully, because … I’m no one to talk, but this IS the Brooklyn HEIGHTS blog, and to me … all those buses just makes for lower air quality around here! and a big waste of money – that could be spent better on other forms of mass transit.

    Think about it – Fulton Ave. has a pretty good train running below it, but it also has 2-3 bus lines. Does that make sense? If one’s mental health or mobility issues rule out subways, Access-a-ride is a better answer than a redundant system.

    Actually, one of Byford’s last acts was an initiative to make bus routes rational – again! It’s one thing for a City Councilman to try to increase funding on libraries (we’re talking a pittance, there, and that’s a shame … but back to the topic), but fighting like hell to keep an underused bus line or to add another is just as odious as that Bronx Councilwoman trying to quash a $50 ticket by making a call.

    Transit personnel – like their counterparts in education – are paid way too much for way too little … and “work rules” make matters much, much worse.

    But if REBNY usually gets its way by spending, a handful of unions have the power to make or break many city politicians, and they abuse it so flagrantly that one can almost sympathize with Republican deplorables in Wisconsin.

  • MaggieO

    access-a-ride is a woefully inadequate replacement for accessible transit.
    i’m not sure what to say about your assertion that education personnel are paid too much for too little…
    i don’t want to fight for under-used bus lines without improvement. i want improved bus lines and routes to increase ridership. you seem to just want individual cars, which is highly inefficient for a dense city.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    FUN PIECE. Thanks for sharing. Warning to those who value 43 minutes more than I do – I’m a walking tour aficianado, and to take what sounds like a total airhead on a solo tour is challenging to begin with. When the guide doesn’t use periods as long as 5-8 minutes when walking where he has nothing to say about what’s on camera – HE SHOULD, of course, and WOULD if he were half-way “professional” – to talk about things like the history of the Heights [apart from a site-specific reference to G.Washington], a better approach would have been to edit it down to 15 minutes. (The banter is inane, I think, even by YouTube stds.)

    But if you have a friend or relative dying to know what our neighborhood is like, this is FINE, maybe even “very good.”

    I’m told that Homer Fink [BHB’s founder] did walking tours and WAS funny. Does anyone know if anyone does tours currently who’s either very knowledgeable or pretty knowledgeable AND very engaging?!

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    The core question of WHAT TO DO is both intriguing and important. But pretty much only for shooting the breeze purposes. There are at least 3 New Yorks – places like the Heights where public transp. basically works … and the rest of the City [no idea what pct by space or population] breaks down into those who have a car or ample funds for cabs & ride-hailing … and those who don’t.

    Red Hook got some “ink” on this blog in connection with Fairway. There are many thousands of people living there in NYCHA buildings. I’m sure they didn’t have enormous choice when they moved there, and I’m sure those of them who have decent jobs move elsewhere a.s.a.p.

    The others, realistically, are s.o.l. – there may be enough money in NYC and NYS to fix things like that, but there’s really nothing remotely like the will needed to address them.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Love to have a tour with Jeremy.

  • Pierrepont

    My small observation on this bus topic: Bus service can be made fantastic if anyone cares. The bus system in Paris, for example, is a joy to ride. (They also have a better rail system, too.) But there is something about the complexity of NYC and the MTA that guarantees we will never see that level of service here. Sad, but there you go.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    But what improvements? Wifi?

    Seriously, our rolling stock is now very OK, the routes really HAVE been chosen with some eye to usage, viability, subway connections, etc.

    The commenter below (I think) is right – bus service can be tweaked to advantage (a la Paris) – but there is definitely a je ne sais quoi or 2 that are currently missing.

    I could easily be wrong about this being all but doomed in NY in the 21st century, but the only innovation I know of is SBS, and that’s like metrocards or “omny” – low hanging fruit that buys a few extra riders by virtue of addressing the worst culprit – travel time. Not enough, not by a long shot.

  • ws gilbert

    You obviously don’t live on one of the North Heights narrow streets. If you did you would see the difficulty that trucks and fire engines have when cars are parked on both sides of the street. The fruit streets and other North Heights streets are simply not as wide as the streets in the south heights. That is why parking is allowed only on one side.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Ha, did you notice my handle?!? I indeed live on a street in the North Heights.

    The streets in the north heights in general aren’t narrower than those in the south heights. (City publishes the widths for zoning purposes if you don’t believe me.)

    In fact, many of the streets in Cobble Hill — where parking is allowed on both sides — are the same width as in the Heights.

    I agree that it’s difficult for large vehicles to get by (have you ever driven on Baltic or Warren?)

    But street width can’t be the driver of parking regulations in the Heights

  • William Gilbert

    Montage Street is approximately 29 feet wide while Orange St is 24 feet wide. You can measure them. Remsen is 27 feet wide. Those extra three to five feet mean a lot in getting a truck past cars parked on both sides of the street.