Monday’s Headlines: MTA Chooses Car Drivers over Bus Riders Edition

Map: MTA
Map: MTA

So let us get this straight: New Jersey-bound car drivers cause traffic near the Holland Tunnel — and long-suffering New York City bus riders have to suffer more?

Yes, that’s the situation in Soho’s famous car sewer (we’ve been writing about it since our old man editor was still young!). There are so many drivers choking New York City streets as they try to get back to New Jersey, that the MTA has repeatedly decided to truncate the M21 bus route rather than try to finish the route. We found out about this via Travis Eby on Twitter late last week:

Given our press cards and paychecks, we immediately emailed the Department of Transportation and the MTA to see what was going on. We asked the DOT if it or the MTA made the decision to truncate the line, and DOT spokesman Scott Gastel said it was an MTA decision. That said, Gastel ignored our other question — namely, “Is the city planning anything to deal with the number of cars that are now affecting the commutes of hundreds of bus riders? (This can be a long- or short-term plan.)”

The MTA was a little more expressive, telling us that it temporarily suspends the westernmost of the M21’s 20 stops “during certain rush hour periods, when traffic backs up at the Holland Tunnel” (in total, four stops are eliminated, but two temporary stops are created on Sixth Avenue). The agency said that removing those stops helps in “alleviating the delays” (though the agency did not say delays to whom: drivers or residents of areas west of Varick Street, who now have to walk several long avenue blocks to get home … all because of the hoards of Jersey drivers filling our streets).

The whole thing is just gross: car drivers already slow down bus riders enough — and rather than take a lane from them for smooth sailing for transit, the de Blasio administration throws up its hands and basically says, “Whaddya gonna do?”

We’ll be following up today and hopefully we can get the mayor to explain himself. He’s back from vacation, after all!

In other news:

  • There was lots of car-caused mayhem this weekend:
    • A drag racing driver killed himself in Queens. (NYDN, NY Post)
    • A driver crashed into another car on an Upper Manhattan bridge, then allegedly threw a gun out of the window. (NYDN)
    • Meanwhile, the rider of an electric, stand-up scooter (the very kind that will start being rented all over the Bronx on Tuesday) was run down and killed by a driver on Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn early Saturday. The driver was uncharged. (NY Post)
    • A Citi Bike rider was hit after a two-car crash in The Bronx. (NY Post)
  • Speaking of scooters and Tuesday, Lime CEO Wayne Ting says we need to eliminate driving in cities if we are to get ahead of climate change. (Smart Cities Dive)
  • Every police precinct station house in town (find yours here) is collecting the following for victims of Saturday’s Haitian earthquake:
    • medical supplies
    • personal hygiene items
    • non-perishable food
    • bottled water
    • clothing
  • Metro-North announced service increases after Labor Day, bringing commuter rail service on its three lines to 82 percent of pre-pandemic levels (MTA). And the Staten Island Ferry will return to full service. (Gothamist)
  • A soon-to-be-unemployed subway motorman apparently let his girlfriend drive the train. (NY Post)
  • We all know cargo bike deliveries are going to be a huge business — as Cycling Industry News just reminded everyone — so we need soon-to-be-Gov. Kathy Hochul to bring the legislature back to pass Sen. Jessica Ramos’s bill allowing for industry-standard-width cargo bikes in New York.
  • In case you missed it, last week, former amNY transportation reporter Mark Hallum freelanced a piece about the flaws in soon-to-be-ex-Gov. Cuomo’s Empire Station Complex plan.
  • Gothamist continued its recent, post-Robbins flip to a driver’s-eye-view of the supposed downside of the city’s Open Restaurants program, with a story about a struggling restaurateur on Guy Brewer Boulevard. We know that stretch of roadway, and there is plenty of parking on the residential side streets, so hanging a story on one restaurateur’s fear of taking away parking spaces is a bit disingenuous.
  • And, finally, speaking of bad framing, can we nip this kind of talk in the bud right now? In an otherwise exemplary piece on the rise, fall, rise and fall of Andrew Cuomo,  New York Magazine continued a tradition that has become popular among people who way they’re liberals to eat their young anyway. Scroll down to the very bottom of the piece and you get this unchallenged (and just flat-out-wrong) framing about the “wacky left” from (of all people, a rich developer!):

“The governor is a world-class asshole,” one New York real-estate developer said — but, he added, “the guy was an incredibly centrist hedge against what I perceive to be a runaway legislature. He was very good at manipulating the power of his office, and I think from a policy standpoint the business community has to be afraid of the State Legislature becoming fairly unhinged and flying too far to the left.”

Centrist hedge against the unhinged far left?! We’re not saying the developer’s opinion should be censored, but reporters Andrew Rice and Laura Nahmias owed readers a Barkan-esque takedown of that far-right GOP talking point. Jonathan Rosen’s thread put the Cuomo years in context:


With Debut of B44 SBS, Major Brooklyn Bus Route Poised to Draw More Riders

After years of planning, B44 Select Bus Service launched yesterday on the Nostrand Avenue corridor.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast marked the occasion this afternoon at a newly-expanded bus stop at Church and Nostrand. The B44, which serves nearly 40,000 riders each weekday along a 9.3-mile route between the […]
The MTA and DOT did not indicate any plans for busways on surface streets in a presentation to elected officials last week about the L train shutdown. Image: MTA

There’s Got to Be More to the L Train Shutdown Plan Than What the MTA and DOT Have Shown So Far

Starting in January 2019, service on the L train west of Bedford Avenue will be suspended for 15 months to allow for Sandy-related repairs. The only way to keep hundreds of thousands of people moving is to dedicate significant street space to buses on both sides of the East River. But at a presentation to elected officials on Friday, the MTA and DOT did not indicate that bus lanes are part of their plan, except on the Williamsburg Bridge itself.