COMING COMMUTE CHAOS

August 16, 2018 at 5:15 am

Has your commute become horrific over the past few weeks? It’s about to get worse. Find out why. “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz has the details.

Aired on August 15, 2018.

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>>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.
IT'S BEEN CALLED A COMMUTER
APOCALYPSE, A PERFECT STORM OF
SUBWAY REPAIRS, HIGHWAY
CONSTRUCTION, AND NEW
LEGISLATION THAT HAS NEW YORKERS
BRACING FOR THE WORST.
LANE CLOSURES IN THE LINCOLN
TUNNEL, THE DREADED "L" TRAIN
SHUTDOWN AND THE CONTROVERSIAL
CAP ON NEW RIDE SHARE LICENSES
MEAN GETTING IN AND OUT OF
MANHATTAN IS GOING TO GET EVEN
WORSE.
JENNA FLANAGAN SPOKE WITH
TRANSPORTATION ENGINEER, FORMER
NEW YORK CITY TRANSPORTATION
COMMISSIONER AND FORMER CAB BY
SAM SCHWARTZ.
SHE BEGAN THE CONVERSATION
ASKING HIM WHERE WE CAN EXPECT
TO SEE YOU THE NEXT FEW DAYS.
>> THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT
THINGS HAPPENING OVER THE NEXT
TEN DAYS.
ONE WHICH JUST HAPPENED IS THE
CLOSING OF THE 31st STREET RAMP,
WESTBOUND.
AND THAT'S TO ALLOW FOR MORE
CAPACITY ON THE MAIN ROADS OF
495, AND STARTING FRIDAY NIGHT,
OR SATURDAY MORNING WITH THE
FIRST BIG RUSH HOUR NEXT MONDAY
MORNING WE'RE GOING TO SEE A
LANE CLOSED IN EACH DIRECTION.
NOW, YOU KNOW WHAT IT'S ALREADY
LIKE ON 495.
>> OH, YES, OH, YES.
>> NOW ROUTE 3 IS GOING TO BE
DOWN TO ONLY ONE LANE OPEN
COMING INTO 495.
SO IT'S GOING TO BE REALLY TOUGH
ON THE REGULAR COMMUTERS.
THE GOOD NEWS, THOSE IN BUSES
ARE GOING TO BE FINE.
>> ALL RIGHT.
>> INTEGRITY OF THE BUS LANE
WILL BE MAINTAINED.
GOOD NEWS ALSO, THE BUS LANE IS
ONLY A MORNING BUS LANE.
SO YOU MAY BE WORRIED ABOUT THE
EVENING COMMUTE BECAUSE THE 31st
STREET RAMP WAS CLOSED THAT
RAMP, AND NOW YOU'LL BEGIN TO
NOTICE IT, CAUSES A LOT OF
FRICTION, THERE'S A LOT OF
TRAFFIC ENTERING.
BY REMOVING THAT RAMP, EVEN
THOUGH WE'VE LOST A LANE, I
PREDICT IT'S NOT GOING TO BE SO
BAD IN THE WESTBOUND DIRECTION.
IN THE EASTBOUND DIRECTION, FOR
GENERAL TRAFFIC, NOT THE BUS
LANE, PRETTY TOUGH, GET UP A LOT
EARLIER, THINK OF ALTERNATIVES.
GO THROUGH STATTEN ISLAND IF
YOU'RE FROM SOUTH JERSEY.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE
NEVER A GOOD ALTERNATIVE.
AND THERE'S THE INFAMOUS HOLLAND
TUNNEL.
THE GOOD NEWS IS IS NEW JERSEY
DOT WAITED FOR THE PULASKI TO BE
FINISHED, BETTER ACCESS.
FULL DISCLOSURE, THEY ASKED FOR
MY ADVICE ON THIS.
>> I'LL LEAVE THE MORNING
COMMUTE ONLY AND MOVE ONTO THE
"L" TRAIN, GOING TO AFFECT A LOT
OF PEOPLE'S MORNING AND EVENING
COMMUTES.
>> THE "L" TRAIN, TEN TO 15
YEARS AGO WAS A SLEEPY LINE.
NOW IT'S HIPS TERVILLE IN
WILLIAMS BURG AND ALL POINTS TO
THE EAST.
THAT IS NOW THE MOST CROWDED
LINE.
PEOPLE FROM THE MANHATTAN, BRUJ
AND TUNNEL CROWD FROM BROOKLYN
TRYING TO GET TO THOSE GREAT
VENUES IN WILLIAMSBURG AND OTHER
PLACES IN BROOKLYN.
APRIL, THE LINE IS SHUT DOWN FOR
THE NEXT 15 MONTHS.
WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO FIGURE
OUT WAYS TO GET PEOPLE ONTO
OTHER SUBWAY LINES.
THE GOOD THING IS, THE SUBWAY IS
SOMEWHAT VERSATILE IN THE SENSE
THAT THERE ARE PLACES WHERE THE
"L" ALLOWS TRANSFERS TO THE "M"
TRAIN, THE "J," THE Z AND A
NUMBER OF OTHER TRAINS.
MTA WILL PROVIDE 200 BUSES
COMING ACROSS THE WONDERFUL
WILLIAMSBURG BRIDGE.
>> MORE BIKES HAVE BEEN MADE
AVAILABLE, EVEN MOTORIZED
SCOOTERS, THE TRAM IS GETTING A
SECOND LOOK TO TRY TO EASE
CONGESTION.
EVEN IF YOU DO GET A CHANCE TO
GET ON THE BUS OR A DIFFERENT
TRAIN, NOBODY LIKES BEING
STUFFED INTO --
>> I DON'T WANT TO GIVE ANYONE
HOPE ABOUT THE TRAM.
IT WILL TAKE TOO LONG TO BUILD.
>> OKAY.
>> BUT, YES, PEOPLE ARE LOOKING
AT MORE BIKES.
THEY'RE LOOKING AT FERRIES TO
GET ACROSS THE RIVER.
THE CITY HAS BEEN VERY GOOD IN
THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS OF
ADDING FERRIES.
WE DO HAVE OTHER ALTERNATIVES.
THERE WILL BE SOME BUS SERVICES.
WE THINK THAT SOME RESIDENTIAL
DWELLING UNITS WILL GET TOGETHER
AND HAVE MINI BUSES THAT GO
ACROSS THE WILLIAMSBURG BRIDGE.
SO NEW YORK IS VERSATILE.
THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE THE
APOCALYPSE THAT PEOPLE ARE
CALLING IT.
>> I GUESS THAT WOULD BE THE
BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FOR THE "L"
TRAIN SHUTDOWN IS WE WILL
SURVIVE.
>> WE WILL SURVIVE.
>> ALL RIGHT.
WELL, SPEAKING OF ALTERNATIVES
TO GET AROUND THE CITY, THEN OF
COURSE THERE WAS THE RECENT CAP
WE SAW THE CITY PUT ON UBER AND
LYFT CARS.
DO YOU SEE THIS AS, FIFRST OF
ALL, ALLEVIATING THE GRIDLOCK WE
SEE IN MANHATTAN?
HOW DOES IT HELP OR HINDER?
>> IT'S NOT GOING TO MAKE A
DIFFERENCE TO THE CONGESTION YOU
SEE NOW.
WE HAVE ALL THOSE UBERS, 100,000
DRIVERS, FULL HIRE VEHICLES.
THE REAL ANSWER IS NOT A CAP.
THE CAP IS A MOMENT FOR THE CITY
TO BREATHE AND FIGURE OUT THE
RIGHT WAY TO GO ABOUT DOING IT.
I'VE ALWAYS MAINTAINED THE RIGHT
WAY IS BY PRICING IT
APPROPRIATELY.
THE PROBLEM WITH UBER AND LYFT
IS NOT A PROBLEM IN BROOKLYN,
NOT A PROBLEM IN QUEENS OR
STATEN ISLAND OR IN THE SUBURBS,
THE PROBLEM IS IN THE MOST
CONGESTED PART OF THE CITY AND
THAT'S WHERE THEY CONGREGATE.
THAT'S THE PROBLEM.
I'VE HAD A PRICING STRATEGY FOR
A NUMBER OF YEARS, MOVE NEW
YORK, UBER HAS ENDORSED THE
PLAN, LYFT HAS ENDORSED THE
PLAN, I'M HOPING THE CITY WILL
ENDORSE THE PLAN.
WE NEED OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO
SHOW SOME COURAGE.
THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY.
>> FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW,
WHAT IS THE PLAN?
>> THE PLAN IS TO CHARGE EVERY
VEHICLE COMING INTO MANHATTAN
SOUTH OF 60th STREET.
>> THAT SOUNDS LIKE CONGESTION
PLACING.
>> YES, CONGESTION PRICING.
AND FOR UBER AND LYFT AND VIA
AND JUNEAU, STARTING AT 96th
STREET.
PUT INTO EFFECT STARTING JANUARY
1st, 2019.
THOSE OF YOU USING UBER AND LYFT
IN THE AREA SOUTH OF 96th STREET
WILL SUDDENLY SEE A $2.75
SURCHARGE.
IT'S BETTER TO DO IT BASED ON
TIME THAN ANYTHING ELSE, TIME
AND DISTANCE.
THAT'S HOW TAXIS CHARGE YOU,
THEY CHARGE YOU WHEN THEY'RE
MOVING, BUT THEY ALSO CHARGE YOU
WHEN YOU'RE SITTING IN THE CAB.
AND I HAVE FOUND UBER TO BE
INCREDIBLY RECEPTIVE, LYFT TO BE
INCREDIBLY RECEPTIVE, BUT THEY
WANT ALL VEHICLES TO BE DEALT
WITH THE SAME.
I THINK THE TAXIES DESERVE A
BREAK, MAYBE BECAUSE I WAS A CAB
DRIVER 50 YEARS AGO, AND I
IDENTIFY WITH THEM, BUT THE CITY
DIDN'T DO RIGHT BY THEM.
>> LISTEN, IS THERE ANYTHING
ELSE ON THE HORIZON, TRANSITWISE
THAT WE SHOULD BE AWARE OF KEEP
AN EYE OUT FOR?
>> THERE'S SO MUCH.
WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME HERE.
IF YOU'RE A TRUCKER OR YOU DRIVE
A CAR, THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED
THE BQE TRIPLE -- IT'S THE
BROOKLYN QUEENS EXPRESSWAY GOING
THROUGH BROOKLYN HEIGHTS,
THERE'S A PROMENADE ON TOP OF
IT, VERY UNUSUAL STRUCTURE, ONLY
HELD TOGETHER ON ONE SIDE, ITS
LIFE IS JUST ABOUT IT.
SO THAT'S GOT TO BE CLOSED.
NOW, THE BQE IS THE ONLY TRUCK
ROUTE THROUGH BROOKLYN, LIMITED
ACCESS TRUCK ROUTE, HIGHWAY
TRUCK ROUTE.
SO WE'RE GOING TO SEE TRUCKS ON
LOCAL STREETS.
WE'RE ALSO WORRIED ABOUT THE
TUNNELS FROM NEW JERSEY.
WILL THOSE TUNNELS BE ABLE TO
LAST ANOTHER FIVE OR TEN YEARS
BEFORE THE GATEWAY PROJECT IS
COMPLETED?
I REALLY THINK IT'S PROBABLY
2030, 2035 BEFORE IT'S
COMPLETED.
SO WE'VE GOT ANOTHER DECADE OR
SO TO SWEAT IT OUT, THAT THOSE
TUNNELS REMAIN IN SHAPE.
>> OKAY, ALL RIGHT, WELL,
LISTEN, GRIDLOCK SAM, WE'D LOVE
TO HAVE YOU BACK, IF NOTHING
ELSE TO HOLD OUR HAND THROUGH
ALL THE NIGHTMARES.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
>> GREAT, DELIGHTED TO BE HERE.
>> THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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