BIG CHANGES TO YOUR COMMUTE

November 01, 2019 at 4:30 am

We’ll tell you about the new transit plan that’s actually working, bike lanes, the MTA’s multi-billion dollar plan to save the subway, and more.

Aired on October 31, 2019. 

Transcript Print

>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.
NEW YORK TRANSIT APPEARS TO BE
ON THE CUSP OF A TRANSFORMATION.
TO START WITH, THERE IS THE
$51.5 BILLION CAPITAL PLAN
RECENTLY ANNOUNCED BY THE MTA.
THE PLAN SET TO KICK OFF NEXT
YEAR IS THE LARGEST CAPITAL PLAN
IN THE MTA'S HISTORY AND
PROMISES TO INVEST BILLIONS IN
THE CITY'S SUBWAYS, BUSES AND
COMMUTER RAIL LINE OVER THE NEXT
FIVE YEARS.
AND THEN THERE ARE THE DRAMATIC
CHANGES TO COMMUTING IN NEW YORK
THAT ARE ALREADY UNDERWAY SUCH
AS THE RAPID EXPANSION OF
BICYCLE LINES ACROSS THE FIVE
BOROUGHS.
AN EXPANSION PUT INTO THE
SPOTLIGHT DUE TO THE ALARMING
RISE IN CYCLING DEATHS THIS
YEAR.
ALSO A RENEWED FOCUS ON THE
CITY'S BUS NETWORK, A COMPONENT
THAT, ACCORDING TO TRANSIT
ADVOCATES, HAS LONG BEEN
UNDERSERVED.
THE RECENT SUCCESS OF THE 14th
STREET BUS WAY PROGRAM, WHICH
BANS CARS FROM MOST OF THE BUSY
CROSSTOWN CORRIDOR, HAS
OFFICIALS CALLING FOR MORE OF
THE SAME.
SO WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING
AROUND THE CITY EASIER SMOOTHER
AND FASTER, THERE IS NO SHORTAGE
OF AMBITION.
BUT AS ALWAYS WITH NEW YORK CITY
TRANSIT, THE DEVIL IS IN THE
DETAILS.
SO JOINING US NOW TO DECIPHER IT
ALL IS VIN BAR OWN, TRANSFER
REPORTER AT A.M. NEW YORK.
SO LET'S START WITH THE BIGGEST
TOPIC AND THAT IS, OF COURSE,
THAT BIG, BIG, BIG NUMBER,
$51.5 BILLION.
>> RIGHT.
>> YEAH.
>> SO, YEAH, FOR THOSE WHO DON'T
KNOW, THAT IS THE SPENDING
BLUEPRINT FOR THE MTA OVER THE
NEXT FIVE YEARS.
EVERY FIVE YEARS THEY PUT OUT A
SPENDING PLAN FOR ALL OF THEIR
MAJOR NEW PROJECTS.
SO THIS ONE REALLY FOCUSES ON
THE CITY.
THE MAJORITY OF THAT MONEY IS
GOING INTO SUBWAY SYSTEM, GOING
INTO THE BUSES IN TERMS OF NEW
SIGNALS.
SO WE WILL BE REPLACING A
MAJORITY OF THE OLD SIGNALS ON
THE SYSTEM.
EVERYONE KNOWS, IS FAMILIAR WITH
THE TERM SIGNAL FAILURE, RIGHT?
>> OF COURSE.
>> WE WOULD BE MODERNIZING THOSE
SIGNALS WITH A COMPUTER
EQUIVALENT.
AND WE'D ALSO BE SPENDING
BILLIONS ON MAKING SUBWAYS MORE
ACCESSIBLE.
BUT THERE ARE TWO BIG PROBLEMS,
TWO BIG QUESTIONS I SHOULD SAY.
ONE IS WILL THE MTA GET THE
FUNDING TO SUPPORT THE PLAN,
AND, TWO, IS CAN THEY ACTUALLY
GET THE WORK DONE IN A
REASONABLE TIME IN FIVE YEARS.
>> OF COURSE.
AND JUST ONE MORE TIME FOR THE
PEOPLE WHO MIGHT HAVE FORGOTTEN,
WHO IS GOING TO APPROVE THAT
FUNDING?
>> WELL, IT'S GOING TO COME
THROUGH A VARIETY OF SOURCES.
THE GOVERNOR IS EFFECTIVELY IN
CONTROL OF THE MTA, RIGHT.
SO HE IS GOING TO PROVIDE -- HE
PLEDGED TO PROVIDE 3 BILLION
TOWARDS IT, HE IS ASKING THE
CITY FOR 3 BILLION.
OF COURSE, THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO PROVIDE A
CHUNK OF THAT MONEY.
WE ARE NOT SURE WHERE THE
ADMINISTRATION STANDS ON
TRANSIT.
THEY HAVE NOT BEEN FRIENDLY TO
TRANSIT.
SO THAT'S A QUESTION MARK RIGHT
NOW.
>> ALL RIGHT.
LET'S SAY MOVING ON FROM THE
BUDGET THAT THEY PUT FORWARD TO
DEMAND WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THE
MTA, OF COURSE, WE HEARD HE WAS
GOING TO BE LEAVING, THEN HE
SAID HE WAS COMING BACK AND
STAYING.
WHAT'S GOING ON WITH HIM AND THE
DIRECTION HE IS TRYING TO LEAD
THIS ORGANIZATION?
>> THIS SEEMS TO BE REFLECTIVE
OF A LARGER ISSUE AT THE MTA
WHICH IS PEOPLE LIKE BUYFORD WHO
IS ARE TRYING TO MAKE A
DIFFERENCE AND MOVE THE MTA IN A
POSITIVE -- IN A FORWARD MANNER.
THEY KEEP GETTING HELD UP IN
THIS BUREAUCRACY THAT IS THE
MTA, OUTSIDE PRESSURE FROM THE
GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, THE TRANSIT
PRESIDENT, ANDY BIFORD, WHO RUNS
THE SUBWAYS AND BUSES SUBMITTED
A LETTER OF RESIGNATION.
HE WITHDREW IT.
HE TOLD THE REPORTERS AND PUBLIC
THAT HE HAD CONCERNS THAT WERE
ADDRESSED.
WE NEVER GOT ANY DETAILS ON WHAT
THE CONCERNS WERE.
BUT IT IS A BIG PROBLEM AT THE
MTA WHERE THEY HAVE AMBITIOUS
PEOPLE COMING IN, YOUNGER
PEOPLE, PEOPLE LIKE BIFORD AT
THE EFFECTIVE LEVEL WHO FEEL
STYMIED AND STUCK.
>> OF COURSE WE HAVE SEEN ALMOST
A TURNSTILE, IF YOU WILL, OF
PEOPLE OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS,
I GUESS PERHAPS GETTING
EXHAUSTED BY THE SAME ISSUE.
BUT SO TO CONTINUE MORE WITH
TRANSIT, OF COURSE THE BUSES.
THAT'S A REALLY BIG ISSUE.
A LOT OF PEOPLE SAID THE BUSES
ARE UNDERFUNDED, THEY ARE
PROBLEMATIC, TOO SLOW, ET
CETERA, AND NOW WE HAVE BUS
WAYS.
FIRST OF ALL, THE 14th STREET
BUS WAY, WAS THAT REALLY AS
SUCCESSFUL AS SOME ADVOCATES
SAID IT WAS?
>> SO THE 14th STREET BUS WAY IS
RELATIVELY NEW.
IT JUST LAUNCHED IN THE
BEGINNING OF OCTOBER.
SO FAR IT DOES ACTUALLY LOOK TO
BE A BIG SUCCESS.
RIGHT NOW BUS SPEEDS HAVE
INCREASED BY ABOUT 30%.
RIDERSHIP HAS BUMPED UP.
SO IT SEEMS LIKE RIDERS ARE
NOTICING IT.
I WAS ON THE BUS THE OTHER DAY
AND A WOMAN SAID UNSOLICITED TO
ME THAT IT WAS AMAZING.
I NEVER HEARD THAT WORD TO
DESCRIBE THE BUS.
RIGHT.
SO IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING.
THE BIG QUESTION NOW IS WHETHER
OR NOT THE CITY CAN MAINTAIN THE
EFFECTIVENESS OF IT ONCE THEY
START PULLING AWAY POLICE
OFFICERS.
SO WE'LL FIND OUT IN A FEW
MONTHS TIME ON THAT FRONT.
THEN YOU HAVE ADVOCATES AND SOME
ELECTED OFFICIALS SAYING WE NEED
DO THIS IN OTHER PLACES.
>> OF COURSE.
WE HEARD THAT FOR SOME BUSY
CROSSTOWN THOROUGHFARES,
CORRECT?
>> YES.
RIGHT NOW IT SEEMS LIKE THE MOST
NATURAL PLACE IS TO GO FROM 14th
STREET TO 34th STREET OR 42nd
STREET.
THOSE WERE TWO STREETS FLOATED
BY THE SPEAKER, CORY JOHNSON,
AND THE BUS SYSTEM, IT MOVES 2
MILLION PEOPLE A DAY IN THE
CITY.
IT'S NOTHING TO LAUGH AT.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT REALLY NEEDS
INVESTMENT ESPECIALLY AS THE
CITY TRIES TO MOVE TO BECOME
MORE SUSTAINABLE, GET PEOPLE OUT
OF CARS.
YOU NEED TO HAVE RELIABLE BUS
AND SUBWAY SERVICE.
>> OF COURSE, SPEAKING OF
GETTING PEOPLE OUT OF CARS, THE
EXPANSION OF THE BIKE LANES.
NOW, WE ALSO HAVE SEEN AN
INCREASE IN CYCLIST DEATHS IN
THE CITY.
SO HOW IS THAT AFFECTING THE
INSU
URGENCY FOR MORE LBIKE LANES.
>> IT WAS A BIG COMPONENT OF THE
VISION ZERO.
THEY MAKE THE STREET SAFER FOR
CYCLISTS AND DRIVERS AND
PEDESTRIANS AS WELL.
SO WHAT WE HAVE SEEN THIS YEAR
IS AN UNFORTUNATE UPTICK IN
CYCLING DEATHS.
THE CITY SEEMS TO BE BLAMING
THAT ON A GROWING CYCLING RATE
AND MORE INDUSTRIAL PARTS OF
BROOKLYN WHERE A LOT OF THE
FATALITIES HAVE OCCURRED, AND
THEN ALSO AN INCREASE IN BIG
VEHICLES AND TRUCKS MAKING
DELIVERIES.
SO THEY HAVE, IN REACTION TO
THIS INCREASE IN CYCLING DEATHS
THIS YEAR, THEY HAVE PLEDGED TO
INSTALL MORE PROTECTIVE BIKE
LANES SEPARATED BY CARS OR BY
BOLLARDS, PLASTIC BOL LARDS, UP
FROM 20 MILES TO 30 MILES.
AND WE ARE WAITING TO SEE HOW
THAT WORKS, IF THEY GET TO THAT
30-MILE MARK.
BUT THERE IS A LOT OF CONCERNS
BIGGER THAN THAT AND THINK ABOUT
BUILDING OUT CYCLE WAYS LIKE THE
WEST SIDE GREENWAY OR THE EAST
RIVER PATHS WHERE CYCLISTS ARE
MUCH FARTHER SEPARATED FROM
TRAFFIC.
THEY ARE NOT INTERACTING WITH
THE TRAFFIC RALT ALL.
>> WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.
COULDN'T LET YOU GO WITHOUT --
THAT WAS SOMETHING THE MTA
WANTED TO FOCUS ON.
HOW BIG OF A PROBLEM IS THAT?
>> THE MTA, THEIR COLLECTION OF
FARE VISION DATA IS STILL A
LITTLE FLAWED.
IT SEEMS TO BE COSTING AROUND
$225
225 MILLION A YEAR.
IT SEEMS TO BE GOING UP THIS
YEAR ACCORDING TO THEIR STILTS.
THEY ARE TRYING TO CUT DOWN ON
IT.
AND PART OF THAT PROCESS IS
HIRING A HUGE NUMBER OF NEW
POLICE OFFICERS.
500 NEW POLICE OFFICERS, PUTTING
THEM IN THE SUBWAY SYSTEM,
PUTTING THEM IN THE BUS SYSTEM
TO POLICE THAT, TO POLICE OTHER
SO-CALLED QUALITY OF LIFE
PROBLEMS LIKE HOMELESSNESS AND
THAT HAS BEEN A BIG -- THAT HAS
BEEN A CONTROVERSIAL POINT AT
THE MTA.
A LOT OF ADVOCATES FEEL LIKE
ADDING COPS IS NOT THE ANSWER TO
THESE PROBLEMS AND THE MTA IS
TRYING TO WADE THROUGH THIS AND
FIGURE OUT WHAT'S THE RIGHT
APPROACH BECAUSE THEY ARE GOING
THROUGH A FINANCIAL CRISIS AT
THE AUTHORITY RIGHT NOW AND
ADDING COPS COSTS MONEY, TOO,
JUST AS FAIR VISION COST THE MTA
MONEY.
IT'S A DELICATE BALANCE.
>> WE ALWAYS APPRECIATE YOUR
REPORTING AND HELPING US
UNDERSTAND THIS DELICATE BALANCE
FROM THE MTA AND HOPEFULLY
LETTING US KNOW THAT OUR ABILITY
TO GET AROUND THE CITY WILL BE A
LITTLE BIT SMOOTHER.
>> AS ALWAYS, YES.
>> 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.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019