New York City Is Thriving. Why Is Transport Such a Nightmare?

Jul 30, 2018 · 373 comments
Steve Singer (Chicago)
Wrong question. Transportation within a hundred miles of the Empire State Building isn’t a nightmare because the region is economically thriving. It’s a nightmare because a physical form of inflation cripples that region. Instead of “too many dollars chasing too few goods” (the classic definition) it’s “too many bodies chasing too little space” on streets and inside subway cars (mirroring the region’s housing affordability crisis). Available transportation space is underpriced relative to demand (especially during peak periods). British economist William Forster Lloyd explained how it could happen in 1833, in his essay titled “Tragedy of the Commons”. That tragedy is the low supply of a resource compared to the demand for it aggravated by absence of responsibility for how that resource will be shared. Supply is: the carrying-capacity of thoroughfares anchored by hubs, that capacity fixed, or ‘inelastic”. Demand, of course, is elastic: many millions of individuals exploit that resource following the logic of self-interest, negating economic value of that shared-resource network to the commonwealth. Hence “the tragedy”. The result? What you have. Anarchy. The right question (two, actually) is: (1) how can you re-price supply so it actually controls demand? (2) how can this re-pricing be imposed in a highly-charged anti-regulatory political environment? The alternative is to endure slowly creeping paralysis followed by an economic collapse borne of gridlock and waste.
Cyclist (San Jose, Calif.)
Everyone able to do so should ride a bicycle, e-bike, or e-scooter, and New York City should make it safe to do that. You will get most places faster. Where I live, getting around by human-powered bicycle is faster than by car, and e-scooters have become such an overnight boom that it's reminiscent of the Gold Rush. E-scooters in particular have revolutionary potential.
Richard Rumelt (Oregon)
NYC transit is a mess mainly because it cost too much to build or operate anything in the city. These excess costs are due to corruption and lax labor union contracts and supervision. For data on the high operating costs see For a great article comparing construction of subway miles in NYC and Paris see The culprit is overmanning, overhours, and bureaucratic overlays by non-experts. If it costs too much to build and/or operate a system it cannot be improved or modernized.
UTBG (Denver, CO)
I've worked all around the world in transit construction. No place is less efficient that NYC. New Yorkers, you are getting what you deserve.
george eliot (annapolis, md)
Interesting comments about the joys of using public transportation in Europe. I guess some people are beginning to realize that America is not the greatest country in the world and Traitor Trump will not make it great again.
UTBG (Denver, CO)
@george eliot NYC is not America. The rest of the US recognizes the mafia, and deals with it.
Zelmira (Boston)
Some of this is simply perspective: I'm a native NYer, grew up there, went to school there, and commuted around the city for years. We return to the homeland whenever possible and actually find it fairly easy and quick to get around underground. Not so in Boston, where I've lived for the last 25 years. The MBTA is woefully inept and inadequate: whole areas of the city not simply "under"-served, but ignored completely. Trains are always late or breaking down. Residents who work the grave-yard shift and depend on public transportation can simply go "jump in the lake" (you know what I mean), as far as the city is concerned. The system shuts down by 12:30-1:00 a.m. As for the roads: ha ha ha ha ha....... pot holes galore, cuckoo traffic patterns, detours, streets far too narrow to share with trolleys, SUVs, bicycles, double-parkers, and wayward pedestrians,you name it. And you know what else? Bostonians are the worst drivers--rude, incompetent, and arrogant. Scofflaw cyclists everywhere. It's an obstacle course. New York drivers are aggressive, it's true, but in general, they are skilled. New York's MTA, streets, by comparison? Paradise!
reader (cincinnati)
Here in the city of Berlin. Compared to Munich, most Germans consider it filthy; but by American standards it is spotless. Transportation is efficient and affordable. NYC on the other hand is a dump. Dumpy public transport and dumpy airports. Citizens of NYC should demand more from their hard earned tax dollars.
UTBG (Denver, CO)
@reader Th Citizens of NYC are slaves to their public servants. There is absolutely no chance that they can solve their transit problems. None. Zippo. Nada...
su (ny)
Actually The question is which one do you prefer? 1- Rampant capitalism without thinking consequences. (Gig economy, congestion pricing, etc. 2- Decent capitalism like in Western Europe. If you ride taxi ( anykind) in europe and USA you will understand what I am saying. Taxi's in USA are filthy, unsafe, old, overused, not well maintained, rude, not modern.not belong to this era. cut throat animal transportation like. Nothing seems to be here in USA going right direction.
KarlosTJ (Bostonia)
The problem isn't the public transit system. The problem is the fascist thieving mafioso-mentality city government that extorts money from honest entrepreneurs and hands it off to cronies. The "medallion" system, invented in 1937 by LaGuardia, created a monopoly system of taxis in NYC, and limited the "supply" of taxicabs to roughly 12K. This was down from the free-market approach that led to 30K at the beginning of the Great Depression. This limit lasted sixty years, as NYC expanded - naturally this forcibly-imposed monopoly caused prices to rise. Essentially, everything the WeKnowBest government of NYC did over this history was incredibly stupid. Here's a solution, which the delusional NYC government will never approve: 1. Phase out the medallions over five years. 2. Provide rebates to medallion owners who bought their medallions in the last 10 years, pro-rated. 3. Reduce restrictions to operating a taxi company or a ride-share company. 4. Reassign the "taxi police" or let them retire. 5. Spend less in the rest of the budget.
Kohl (Ohio)
MTA corruption and too many people in a small space.
Ted Morgan (New York)
From the headline I expected an editorial about how NYC's transportation infrastructure is failing the city. Instead I got an editorial about how the city is failing yellow taxi drivers. Look, I'm sympathetic to their plight, but the fact is, it's a very minor issue compared to the crumbling transport infrastructure. The best way to reduce street congestion is to get the subway working again, taking millions of drivers off the streets. So, NYT editors, are you trying help the city or make a narrow appeal for a tiny special interest?
Able Nommer (Bluefin Texas)
WHEN THE ACTUAL transportation planning is muzzled by its leaders seeking office / crafted approvals, upstaged by the politicians throwing the next band-aid Hail Mary, and subordinated by the various externally-engineered studies from self-interest commissions and blue ribbon (transportation-hobbyist) committees, THE PLANNERS STOP REAL PLANNING. "Breakdown" maintenance is the de facto plan. The present and the future is cobbled together from this year's appropriations, from next year's targets, and from the dumpster fire of all the morphing plans THAT PLANNING OFFICE IS CONSTANTLY GIVEN. The mission of planning must be served from a proud, capable, and most importantly UNIMPEACHABLE civil service tradition. Think NASA. Now realize that New York is a TOO HOSTILE an environment for NASA-type planners (even if some could enter MTA's ranks and rest be elevated from within). So, find a leader who will fledge new / revived tradition in the actual planning office - OR - watch the dumpster fire win.
Carole Grace (Menlo Park)
I always use public Europe. NYC, and really all US cities are stuck with limited, archaic transit systems in large part because we all favor the automobile over public transit.
Elfego (New York)
Gypsy cabs are gypsy cabs. Uber, Lyft, and their ilk should be just as illegal as any other gypsy cab service that skirts the rules and operates without medallions. Just because their is an app acting as intermediary doesn't mean the service itself in any different. When did gypsy cabs become acceptable? It's wrong and it hurts hard-working people who play by the rules. Operations like Uber, Lyft, and all the rest should be illegal, period.
George S (New York, NY)
@Elfego “When did gypsy cabs become acceptable?” when they provided the riding public with a far superior, clean and reliable service!
crowdancer (South of Six Mile Road)
Wealthy New Yorkers don't ride the subway or buses. They largely have no sense of a larger responsibility to the city that makes their lives and livelihoods possible. They influence a significant proportion of the city and state political leadership that neglects public works until a crisis forces them to do so and even then what we get is mostly lip service and empty promises. After a grueling day of moving electronic impulses from one computer station to another, you just can't expect an exhausted hedge fund manager, bond trader, stock broker, investment banker or corporate lawyer to ride the F train with all those sweaty teachers, nurses, cops, fire fighters, low wage service employees, etc., etc.
Old Yeller (nyc)
While we're on the subject of what should go and what should stay, what about the pedicabs in Midtown? Dangerous, annoying, and price-gouging (rates that go up from $2.99 A MINUTE), these Bloomberg-era contraptions have no good reason to be on NYC streets and wouldn't be missed by anyone if they were gone.
Asher B (brooklyn NY)
Part of the problem in many places can be summed up in one word: tourists!
dmj (nyc)
I was told recently by service personnel (a boiler engineer at the Trump Place on Central Park South and an elevator operator at a ten-story residence on 5th Avenue) that owners of condos in those buildings pay between $80,000 to $100,000 a month for maintenance alone. Michael Bloomberg, a NYC resident whom some consider to be the grand architect of traffic congestion here, is reported by Forbes to be the 10th richest person in the world with a personal wealth of 5.6 billion dollars. Quite a gap there between what the super-rich and the middle class in this city can afford to pay. Perhaps city and state legislators should consider whether or not these super-rich residents of NYC are being fairly taxed.
vulcanalex (Tennessee)
Corruption, incompetence, arrogance, are only three reasons for a transportation mess. Probably too many people in too small of a space is as well.
Eddie (anywhere)
I LOVE public transport. I can get to the center of my closest city as quickly with public transport as with a car -- it's cheap, and I don't have to search for parking. Plus, having peasants like me on public transport clears the roads for rich people. But I live in Europe, where public need takes precedence over the greed of people such as the Koch brothers.
George S (New York, NY)
@Eddie Again with the Koch if they create the mess in NYC! Please!
Paul (Bellerose Terrace)
There are a lew of problems, though this article deals with only one. The taxi system is irretrievably broken and corrupt. Michael Cohen is a big trader in taxi medallions. Need I say more? Uber and Lyft create congestion, but not as much as dedicated black cars and limousines that transport a single bigwig in to work, hang around the streets for hours, then take the pampered prince/princess of importance back home. Those cars should be forced to park at owner expense instead of being on the streets. There should be Uber and Lyft surcharges on rides south of 110th St. in Manhattan, but not in outer boroughs. These surcharges should be invested directly into street maintenance and mass transit. There should be more bus lanes, and streets only open to buses, and maybe not the wide, two way streets. As a longtime avid cyclist, I appreciate the fact that NYC is no longer so dangerous for cyclists. However, the design has reduced traffic lanes. Perhaps parking needs to be reduced, and double parking has GOT to be stopped. Since developers are building yuger and yuger, perhaps allowing a few more floors in return for municipal parking spots in those buildings would be a good idea The subway signal system must be MTA priority one, enabling greater capacity and reducing misery. The MTAs planning is appalling, with N/W stations taken offline for 8 months at a time with no plan for handicap access. LIRR East Side forgot to include intermediate stops: Queens Plz & Lex interchange
Lynn (New York)
@Paul Yes, good ideas. As for the mass-transit invested surcharge you suggest below 110th Street in Manhattan, not outer boroughs (where there are many good public transportation options plus citibikes) I'd support $10/ride "There should be Uber and Lyft surcharges on rides south of 110th St. in Manhattan, but not in outer boroughs. These surcharges should be invested directly into street maintenance and mass transit."
Josh (Atlanta)
The reason is simple. Nowhere in the US, not even blue places like NY, are people willing to support a government that adequately funds necessary infrastructure.
Larry Lundgren (Sweden)
To the Editorial Board since there is no longer a Public Editor. Read the comments and learn that many of us want you to give us articles, even series, comparing various failed systems in the USA with first-class functioning systems in more advanced countries. Citizen US SE
Barry (New York area)
I welcome the additional capacity, as I now can get Yellow cabs in midtown when it's raining (I am not an Uber guy- so I hail them the old fashioned way). The increased supply has resulted in more availability, just like I learned in Econ 101. However, we have technology to "regulate" all the new cars with "T" plates (as well as incumbents in the Yellow cabs and Limo type vehicles) making illegal turns and clogging streets. Technology should be put to work in the form of cameras that can feed a streamlined process of issuing tickets. Additionally, all the alleged "traffic agents" need to have body-cams to capture violations, with automated and streamlined issuing of tickets for moving violations.
Want to get people out of cars and ease congestion? Make the subways and bus free during rush hours.
nydoc (nyc)
We have lost all sense of perspective. Super cities like London, Hong Kong and Paris are always crowded with traffic congestion and have housing shortages and issues with affordable housing. This is a given. Lots of affordable housing, clean air and good traffic in Butte Montana. Some things we do make congestion much worse. Reducing BROADway to a single lane to benefit cyclist, who constitute barely 1% of commuters on fair weather days is absurd. Bus lanes should be from 7AM to 7PM and not weekend and holidays. The yellow cab medallion system is a predatory government enforced monopoly that benefits non-driver medallion owners. The vast majority of cab accidents involve yellow cabs for a number of reasons. First, they start off about $120 deficit they have to overcome by driving recklessly. Second, they rarely own their own cabs. Lastly these yellow cab drivers are almost always obligated to cruise for fares and drive a full 12 hour shift. Uber and Lyft can work few hours, so the fact that they outnumber yellowcabs 3:1 is somewhat deceiving. I also find it amazing that so many liberals who are absolutely pro-choice when it comes to abortion are so adamantly anti-choice when it comes to transportation options. Finally, any money every collected from congestion pricing is going to waste and you can guarantee it will NOT fund MTA improvements. Congestion pricing will only guarantee that only the wealthiest can drive into Manhattan or take a cab in Manhattan.
Ma (Atl)
Wonder if anyone realizes that the population in NYC (and the borrows) is too high to be sustained. Manhattan is an island, and not that big of one at that. The subway system has had billions thrown at it, only to disappear in administrative and union worker (to a less, but real degree) pockets. The corruption in the transportation system knows no bounds. But in the end, it's the ever growing population in urban areas around the globe that is killing the planet, and destroying human attitudes. We cannot live on top of each other like ants. And there is no fix for too many people. Time to consider that as governments come up with band-aids to this root cause.
Mark Kessinger (New York, NY)
@Ma -- New York doesn't even rank in the top 20 of the most densely populated cities worldwide. And there area a number of cities the population of which is larger than that of New York.
vulcanalex (Tennessee)
@Mark Kessinger So what, it is still too dense for the resources. We don't have any of those problems here.
Mark Kessinger (New York, NY)
@Ma -- Actually, in a more dense urban environment, people actually have better access to most of the services they need on a daily basis than they do in suburban spawl. And things like energy resources are consumed much more efficiently.
su (ny)
I wouldn't like to be brutal but I have to say thsi. New York city in USA has one of the best Mass transport. having said that If anyone experienced in western Europe i.e Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, Benelux , the same mass transportation and Public road for private cars will come to conclusion America has stuck somehwere around 1970's in the modernization and development. Entire system doesn't look better than 1970's technology. Private roads in Manhattan doesn't even need description. just try to survive, it may explode ( steam) you may fall in to dig or you may hit plates , it never seen thing in europe Fifth avenue corner you may be ready to face up an 18 wheeler or a giant Crane or backnoe speeding. I mean nothing in USA transport says that we are living in 21st century. Air,sea, rail or highway all belong to 20th century. it is brutal.
su (ny)
It is ironic but this whole state of transportation reminds me old USSR ( I am from Western )Europe but we saw them in TV's . In old USSR mass transit wasn't that much good except couple of metro system. private cars was at best mediocre however roads were spectacular still like that. In US mass transit is so so 1970's level technology, private cars are spectacular , roads are literally aging soviet ghettos like, decadent, crippling , rusty, cracked, Traffic signs and regulations at best substandard. When I look everyday in NY streets bridges, Tunnels, subway cars, stations, busses, I see collapsing Soviet system like conditions, Given the fact that Our legislators philosophy towards infrastructure , US transportation future is not different than the 1989 USSR regime future.
Jomo (San Diego)
In my travels, I've observed heavy bike use in every city that has made a serious effort to accomodate them, even where the weather isn't conducive. Amsterdam is of course the prime example, but also look at Minneapolis, where some bike highways even have grass medians! When San Francisco converted part of Market St. to bikeways, everyone was astonished at the surge in bike commuting. Apparently there had always been a latent demand that was unserved. Imagine a city with no sidewalks, except a few that are discontinuous and don't lead to major destinations; a city where peds are forced to walk out in traffic. Few people would walk, right?
Fred (Brooklyn)
Reducing the number of cars in Manhattan is great. But how about addressing the reduction of available street space for all vehicles? There are many bike lanes with few bikes using them. The MTA has loading standards for subways to plan the right amount of service. How about a usage standard for bike lanes? If not enough bikes use the lane, take it out and restore it to general traffic.
Michael-in-Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)
@Fred: "There are many bike lanes with few bikes using them. " So use them! Think how much faster you'd arrive at your destination!! The backwards thinking (why are there bike lanes nobody uses?) is part of the problem. The solution is to simply use what's there instead of complaining.
Ana (NYC)
I'm very pro- bicycle but not everyone can ride one. if reasons commuting by bicycle makes absolutely no sense for me; there are huge gaps in citibike coverage and I have no room to store my own bike. I have other friends who cannot ride a bike regularly for any one of several reasons having to do with anything from the cargo they have to schlep to balance issues. plus it's impossible in the winter and or when there's any kind of inclement weather.
Bernadette Bolognini (Glendale AZ)
I just spent 2 months in Paris. I know it depends on what line you use, the lines 8,10,1 were clean and on time. I also realize Paris' subways do not handle the population of NYC. However, I spent 2 weeks in NYC and took A,1 lines out of Washington Heights. It was excruciating. It boggles one's mind that a vibrant city accepts outdated, definitely not timely nor clean transportation in 21st century. It's embarrassing to think tourists from across the world see NYC in such a deplorable condition. It makes one think that the inhabitants are not as brilliant, innovative as their counterparts in the major cities in the developed world.
robert b (San Francisco)
Make the buses run faster and more efficiently by painting lanes red and making them bus only. In SF creating bus lanes has allowed buses to save time by moving through areas where they formerly got stuck in stop-and-go traffic. Yes, car traffic may get slower, but most are single occupancy vehicles while buses carry 50+ riders. When people can get to their destinations faster on transit than in a private vehicle, uber use will decline.
Aubrey (NYC)
@robert b You may not know that this was done already, before this traffic worsening.
Bill M (San Diego)
We have a third world infrastructure that our parents and grandparents built and we have neglected to maintain and improve. Just returned from Northern Europe and they have livable cities with smaller amounts of homelessness and trash as well as transportation systems with tourists can easily access. Pathetic . Solutions require resources, maybe all the billions we are allegedly saving from NATO contributions can be earmarked to restoring a functional transit system?
vulcanalex (Tennessee)
@Bill M They also have a much different population, big difference. And no any savings from NATO is not going into your city.
Marat K (Long Island, NY)
Part of the problem with congestion on Manhattan streets is the through traffic from Long Island to New Jersey. The solution: build a tunnel under the New York Bay directly from Queens or Brooklyn to New Jersey! Living on Long Island, I feel that I live in a bottle with NYC being a bottleneck! It is so difficult to leave LI going to the mainland! We need a tunnel directly from LI to NJ!
Overton Window (Lower East Side)
Maybe it's time for New York City to become the 51st state so it can fix its own problems without meddling from Albany.
RJ (Londonderry, NH)
Shocking that the good liberals of the Times (and the mayor's office apparently) favor increased taxation and regulation to fix a problem that the market is solving. Well done folks.
Scottilla (Brooklyn)
@RJ OK, you got me. How is the market solving the problem? Uber is advertising heavily that something has to change.
ChesBay (Maryland)
Once, again, the profit motive is to blame for the lousy product. Cut back on comfort, space, quality, convenience, efficiency, and customer appreciation. Cut the cost, and raise the price. This is the way most transport, indeed most public utility, operates, particularly when they are private, for-profit. Can you say greed?
C (Brooklyn)
Bloomberg's disastrous PlaNYC 2030 Is a bib part of this problem. It called for a million more people living in the city and an even denser population of workers in Manhattan. It is a Pyramid scheme of taxation and included no transportation plan to deal with it. Perhaps he can cough up a couple $billion to improve public transport. He would barely notice it.
george eliot (annapolis, md)
"City and state officials have for too long neglected that failure and blamed each other for not doing enough. They need to work together to set things right." Officials in New York working together? In your dreams.
Ed (New York)
It's quite simple - impose a hefty ride tax for every Uber, Lyft and yellow taxi fare in Manhattan while waiving the ride tax in the outer boroughs. This lowers the demand for rides in Manhattan while providing incentives for drivers to serve the outer boroughs. Secondly, the MTA swamp must be drained somehow. Easier said than done, I know... but it has been a reliable stash of cash that state agencies, unions and others with inside connections have used with impunity; this needs to stop. Between increasing revenue from ride taxes and stemming the hemorrhaging of money, the MTA has the potential to be great.
David (NYC)
Construction vehicles really ad to the mess. 18 wheelers really can't fit ion city streets.
su (ny)
@David In Western Europe A truck more thna 2 ton capacity accepted as abomination in inner city center. Here rush hour traffic contains. 18 wheeler, humonguous cranes, speeding backhoes, 4 wheel front loader, hundereds of big 6-10 wheel trucks, thosuands of taxi's , a private car driver or motorcyclist in New york city is the same a wounded gazelle on african savana waiting to be eaten alive by those vehicles.
DaveD (Wisconsin)
How's that one party rule workin' out for you, NYC?
Paul (Bellerose Terrace)
@DaveD Better than it is for you. Of course, your one party is actually to do the bidding of the Koch Brothers. At least here, we are not broke, and we only have to tolerate David Koch’s name on cultural institutions.
John (Santa Monica)
@DaveD Better than your home state.
Sean (Boston)
The other day I was driving in the city and stopped at a light. Next to me as a cab with the windows down and they guy in the back suffering in about 95 degrees. It was a very hot day. Sweat was pouring off him. I could se his misery as we waited. That is why Uber and lyft are so popular. Taxis did this to themselves. Dirty cars that are broken driven by people on the phone the whole time and who are bad drivers. The subway is in the same boat. Dirty, packed cars. Stations that have no ac. No wonder people don’t use it.
John (Sacramento)
We must stop Uber; the poor must be confined to subway lines. It's blatantly racist.
I miss Bloomberg!
Marion Grace Merriweather (NC)
Because Republicans have controlled the State Senate for years. You're welcome. PS - TWO TERM MA-YOR !!!!!!!!
Ray Martz (Concord, Massachusetts)
Increase metered fairs?! The reason we are in this mess is that taxi's (whether individuals, the state, or whoever) gouged consumers so viciously that we had to innovate around them once the subway went to hell. I can not afford $15 trips, and distorting the market to force that on me is going to have terrible effects throughout the state.
Steve F (Branford, CT)
I drove a yellow taxi, full time for ten years. Then I decided to become a CPA. Not necessarily coming up in the world. As a CPA I've come to see many individuals who've decided to work for UBER. A few have even made enough to have to report their earnings on their tax returns. When I drove a taxi, turnover was measured in thousands of percents. People did it for a week and quit. Their reasons were legion. The same is true of UBER. So now NYC's streets are being inundated with tens of thousands of cars every day to give some few souls the chance to see if they can make any money at it, and more importantly, if they can stomach the nastiness of NYC's streets. Of course, almost everyone who's ever been out there for a week knows the result. Except us diehards. It's funny how little has changed. The TLC has never cared about the driver. The latest effort of its political appointees to pat themselves on the back and make themselves feel good is this crap about minimum wages. The TLC means a minimum reimbursement rate, since we all know that UBER drivers are independent contractors. This side of NYC's transportation system had always lived by one rule: PASS ALL RISK TO THE DRIVER. Of course de Blasio and his crowd are OK with that. As long as all those hipsters with their cell phones keep voting for him, then by all means: SCREW THE WORKER.
Kevin (Anchorage AK)
This mirrors concerns relating to fishery management in response to climate change. Fish stocks are moving and showing up in locations where there are not necessarily management institutions in place to handle them. NYC has moved from a restricted entry fishery (thanks to cab medallions) to an open access fishery with the introduction of ride-sharing. Of course the result is over-capitalization, a race to fish, and falling rents for fishermen (cab drivers). The novel part is that your fish want to get caught (people looking for a ride like short waits). The solution to this problem probably mirrors the way the USA and state of Alaska manage fisheries. Set a total allowable catch (TAC) (restrict the number of rides or trips) and allow drivers to trade permits to provide cab rides between each other. You can grandfather in the current cab drivers, and they can then trade their permits to more efficient drivers (people with larger capacity vehicles, who can carry more people per trip). You just need an environmental economist from Alaska (ahem) to design the program. I know a guy who would be happy to write something up.
Nick (NYC)
People easily forget that traffic was terrible before the dawn of the app-based for-hire option. A cap might slow a situation that continues to get worse at a more rapid pace, but the underlying issue is that the city needs to reduce the usage of automobiles in general. Congestion pricing is a more substantial tool to control the flow of automobiles into the city core, and it would have ripple effects throughout the metro. When the city reduces the number of automobiles in the core, it will become more politically feasible to use that space for other uses (bus only streets and bike lanes come to mind, but also expanded pedestrian infrastructure).
myasara (Brooklyn, NY)
I would support anything that puts fewer cars on these overly congested streets. I get that Uber and the like are convenient, but at what cost? A taxi driver's life? Personally, I wouldn't be caught dead in an Uber car, given the company's ethos, and when I can't find a cab by flagging one down, I use the Curb app or if I have to, Lyft. I've lived in NYC my entire life, and there's never been a dearth of car service. Even in the outer boroughs. Especially in the outer boroughs, where I am from. More car service is the last thing the city, indeed the planet, needs.
Asher B (brooklyn NY)
You're stuck in time. Uber is a wonderful innovation. It is very convenient for people who do not own a car.
chandlerny (New York)
Fix the sidewalks! Have you tried walking through Midtown? The Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations have kept approving new large real estate projects, yet there is no place to put these people when they leave their buildings. People are standing on the sidewalks engrossed in their phones. If you step out into the street, you're likely to be run over by a bicycle. How is one supposed to walk to the subway? The powers that be just took two lanes of traffic for "Buses Only." To help more people, they should have widened the sidewalks.
UTBG (Denver, CO)
I stand by the best comment here. There is no way that NYC can fix it's traffic and subway problems. All of the people in charge of the system like it just the way it works now. And they cannot be removed from their jobs. Ask the guy sweeping floors for $175,000 a year, and he is certain to tell you - this is a GREAT transit system!
In the Know (NYC)
If Uber drives spend 40% of their time idle, then how would "A minimum wage .... force app-based companies to be more proactive about matching drivers with passengers"? Why bother if you're not getting an incentive to work? And how would that help if taxi drivers were getting a minimum wage as well? The cost would be the same to consumers, who would end up paying more to cover higher driver pay. Get the TLC out of the government's hair and fix the subway.
Lawrence (San Francisco)
I’m writing to support and praise Uber. I use Uber all over the country, including in NYC. I get fast, reliable, predictable service. I get the cost of the ride up-front without any ticking meters. I do not have to wave my hand at any corners or trudge with my luggage to any taxi stand. I get a clean car and a friendly driver. I get an idea how long it’ll take to get from the upper East side to Penn Station. I can plan a trip days in advance at a good price — recently, from Cape Cod to Logan airport. I can get a car on Manhattan or in the Bronx with about the same wait time. Why would anyone mess with this?
Jeff Brown (NYC)
I can’t understand why nyc needs the approval of a state legislature in Albany to implement congestion pricing or the mta budget. These are decisions that affect only the city.
Al D (Brooklyn)
The MTA or Metropolitan Transportation Authority is a New York State Public Benefit Corporation. The New York City Transit Authority or MTA NYCT is a New York City agency that rolls up to the MTA parent. It has about 90% of the MTA ridership. NYC owns the tunnels and rights of way, and leases them to the MTA. The 2 agencies would need to bi-furcate for the city to re-gain control of its transit infrastructure.
nyspyboy (NYC)
@Al D That makes sense for the MTA budget but why does NYC need the legislature's approval to implement congestion pricing on the streets located in Manhattan?
Res Ipsa (NYC)
In the 70s, people fled the subways because it was physically breaking down, covered in graffiti, and crime was high. Some time after that, the City managed to clean up the subways and people returned underground, but traffic on the surface roads was still high. We now have even more people living in NYC, and the trains are cleaner, but the crowding, unreliability of service and poor quality of life underground makes it less appealing. Every train ride has some mentally unstable and/or homeless people hanging out in the train or on the platform, showtime performers and other buskers making noise while you are trapped in the train car while the train crawls along or just stops for an inordinate amount of time due to delays. There is no mystery as to why people are choosing ride share. Capping the number of shared rides won't fix those problems. In the meantime, the best thing the City could do is to spread out economic activity among the boroughs and encourage businesses to offer telecommuting. Requiring everyone to be in Manhattan at the same time when there's no transit or road capacity is madness. Some people would bike or walk to work if they could get higher paying jobs in their neighborhoods. That would certainly ease road and train congestion.
Lee Harrison (Albany / Kew Gardens)
@Res Ipsa -- the root problem is that everything in NYC, including the subways, are designed to cram people into and out of Manhattan ... and nothing else. Only one subway line (the G) does not go through Manhattan, and as the NY Times reported in 2008 many people thinking of the G as the subway system's "outcast" and the "unwanted drunk uncle everyone has." It has gotten worse since. The subway system spends billions in Manhattan (the Q, and maybe eventually the T line) and of course the insanity and obscenity of the Oculus/Fulton Street station. Here's what Port Authority chairman John Degnan said at the ceremony, “Expensive? Yes. Controversial? Perhaps,” referring to the pricey, delayed transit hub. “But hasn’t that been true with the history of art always? I think so.” That "art" cost 4 B$ ... twice the price of the new skyscraper next to it. The other boroughs get bupkis.
james jordan (Falls church, Va)
The transport problem in all of our major cities is a mess. I commute in D.C. and it is a white knuckle experience. It is clear to anyone who studies transportation and urban development that mass transit is critical to the quality of living in cities. NYC is an example of the best in providing the ingredients to attract the creative class and enrich their life experience. The handwriting is on the wall to improve mass transit and by necessity it means improving subways -- making them safe, convenient, on-time and smooth riding. Dr. James Powell the inventor of superconducting Maglev transport is working on a low-cost simple means to adapt superconducting Maglev to existing subway and commuter line trackage. It promises to be cheaper, quieter, and much more comfortable to ride. I recommend that the U.S. should test and develop this system for the next generation of urban transit. It is a version of the 1st generation system developed and tested by Japan, who acknowledges the genius of Dr. Powell. The US needs to develop its own standard and its own industry for the next round of 21st Century transport. As an added benefit this new magnet design has the capability to carry freight trucks and can make a major contribution to decongesting our streets. See Eficient passengers and freight that can operate at much lower cost is possible, but we need to develop a new approach. We can make our cities a great place to live and work, again.
Larry Greenfield (New York City)
Moving around in New York City Is slow as hell which is a pity And the city and state Addressed this far too late With their squabbles not at all pretty
Lee Harrison (Albany / Kew Gardens)
Cuomo and de Blasio what wonderful fellows to know especially Percoco if you want in on the graft you've got to stand in line if you want a ride cross town, you've lost your mind.
Sam (Ann Arbor)
The airlines and railroads have provided an example for all transportation services by showing how travellers can be screwed consistently to enrich someone (somewhere.) Severe boycotting may be the only answer.
OrigamiGuy (Lodi, WI)
I love visiting NYC but cannot understand the wealth of free parking. No borough need give away space for private cars. Solve housing and traffic problems by converting all parking garages into housing. Price out private car use & use funds to build out and improve transit. Let folks bitch and moan for the few years it'll take to make the change - everyone will benefit in the long run. A car free Manhattan would be an absolute mecca!
Brendan (NY)
Does the proposal for minimum wage for uber apply also to taxis? I'm reading elsewhere that it does not.
peter n (Ithaca, NY)
Congestion pricing. Make driving in the city expensive - its basic economics. Use all funds raised to improve public transport and cycling/walking options. Recreating a taxi cartel is a bad idea. It attracts and rewards seedy rule-bending rent-seekers like the president's ex-lawyer. The 'gig-economy' needs more regulation, but that should be done in a way that does not target specific industries or companies. People are working for Uber for peanuts because their alternatives are worse, and for many people it is providing real improvements to their standard of living (to say nothing of how we customers are benefiting).
Michael Lueke (San Diego)
The answer is obvious for a place like New York City. Start evolving towards the Dutch and Danish model of using the bicycle as the primary mode of transportation. It's cheaper, safer, quieter, cleaner, improves health and quality of life. And in many cases like a densely populated location like New York - faster!
Asher B (brooklyn NY)
Mr. San Diego, come and bicycle in NYC in January or February when it's freezing and snowing or when it's raining buckets or in July and August when there is oppressive heat. We have a lot of weather here. Most of it bad.
Zack (Ottawa)
A family friend, who was a city planner for the city of Toronto (some of the worst gridlock in NA), I think put it best. Most cities over the last 50 years have spent almost all of their infrastructure money on building more roads, bridges and highways, because that's what voters wanted. Public transit has always been a line item in the budget that no one plans for. Had some of that money used to build roads been used to expand public transit, overcrowding wouldn't be an issue and the subway would be in good overall repair. Funding for basic services, like public transit, shouldn't be contingent on getting more money from state and federal governments, cities need to plan and execute according to the needs of their constituents, rather than simply their wants.
Alan (Columbus OH)
Public transit seems to be, for a variety of reasons, excessively uniform across cities. That is, it is often inadequate in the biggest cities and overly robust in many other cities. This may just be a coincidence and the root of the issue is that it is excessively mismanaged across cities. Columbus could hire out some of its buses and drivers to NYC to help with congestion and not miss out. Especially in the summer, it is not uncommon to get a private or nearly private bus. Many of the riders are riding for free through a university pass, destroying any price signal or incentive to walk or bike. Others seem to be riding just to get on a bus for a minute without actually going anywhere. The few people using the less-busy bus routes (some are pretty consistently moderately busy) get a first-rate experience. In some models of the world, people might decide to move to cities with an over-funded transit system and low cost of living until these things somewhat balance out. I do not think these models have much predictive power, because, despite the claims of some marketers, most people do not move places because of the transit. They might favor places where they will not need a car, but whether the transit is barely adequate or great probably is not often decisive. People care a lot more about where they are going than how they get there. New York City has a monopoly or at least a big lead in many areas, so it is logical to conclude that transit will never be one of them.
bob tichell (rochester,ny)
If you want real to feel real disappointment in NYC mass transit visit the Paris subway. Trains are on time, uncrowded and plentiful. Stations and platforms are pleasant and clean rather than dingy, dirty and dark.
Jared (West Orange, NJ)
Could it be that the transportation problem is partially due to the fact that New York City's economy is booming? Of course, there are other factors. You have to start with the Manhattan-centric view of the world, resembling Steinberg's famous New Yorker poster 'The World as Seen From 9th Avenue'. There are echos of this in the editorial. The subway system was designed to get labor from the outer boroughs into Manhattan. Regional transportation developed similarly. The bus system, known as surface transit, was to fill in the gaps in the subway system. With the concentration of businesses in Manhattan, the public transit system is on overload. Ride sharing is just a market reaction to this overload. Since the businesses are in Manhattan, that is where your will find the concentration of Uber-like services. One solution is to spread new commercial construction and business placement outside Manhattan. This was done with the construction and mandatory removal of business to Hunt's Point Market. But then again, mass transit will be needed to get workers to these new locations. Forcing people to use currently overloaded mass transit will not solve the basic problem.
Vincent Amato (Jackson Heights, NY)
The redesign of our streets is, first of all, an aesthetic nightmare, but, more importantly, it is part of an overarching philosophy of remaking the city to suit the real estate interests and their clientele. High-rise luxury buildings now blot out the sky in northern Queens, but there is no sense of culture or community. The serfs must struggle the best they can with third world mass transportation. What the Imperious Bloomberg administration could not accomplish, the pseudo-leftist DeBlasio carries out. In a period when hoards of wealth have been piled high, the plutocrats and oligarchs have failed to make even the most meager contributions to the cultural life of the city. Turning New York City around from the devastating impact of the wealthy will prove far more difficult than it was to turn it out of past recessions and disinvestment. Where are the new schools, libraries, health facilities, affordable rental spaces, parks, concert halls, trolleys, jitneys, monorails...?
Vincenzo (Albuquerque, NM, USA)
@Vincent Amato Well said. As a native New Yorker with no prospect of ever returning home, I've, for many years, sadly watched from a distance the patterns you've described.
Dr B (New Jersey)
Exactly. Manhattan has become a gated community: racially segregated and extraordinarily expensive, it's ratified millionaire class contemptuous of working people and their families.  
Frank (Colorado)
Why is transport a mess? Really? You have to ask that question? The subway has lacked a proper maintenance program for decades. It worked far better when Mike Quill was the head of their union. Policy chops are seriously lacking among leadership. The only motor vehicles operating in Manhattan should be buses, delivery trucks, taxis and emergency vehicles.
Pukel-man (Druadan Forest)
The comments are so much more instructive than the article. They represent the underlying cause of the neglect of the common good by the cash-starved governments, from local ones on up the chain. This country was once capable of accomplishing great feats of engineering that benefited everyone, now oligarchy and inequality rule the day. As a side note, being of low-income, I would never dream of visiting NYC, let alone living there. As one of it's denizens is fond of saying, "Sad".
Andy (Salt Lake City, Utah)
You can't separate the dysfunction of one transportation system from the dysfunction of another. If the subway were working, fewer people would use ride-hailing apps. The subway crisis is pushing more people above ground. The market responds by supplying more Uber drivers. Whether you increase wages and/or cap vehicles, the effect is the same. Price is going to increase. Fewer people will hail Uber. However, demand hasn't changed. You've simply pushed the people who can't afford the new ride-hailing price onto a substitute form of transportation. You can't push them back underground because the subway is still broken. Instead, we'll be talking about a sidewalk crisis or a bike lane crisis again. These measures also reduce the number of ride-hailers but not the number of drivers. Quite the opposite. More people will want to drive since the wage is artificially inflated along with a new barrier to entry. More drivers with fewer passengers. That means more idle time. Drivers will wait around longer for fewer, more lucrative, customers. New York is really coming at this problem from the wrong direction. Road space is the scarce resource that needs to be regulated. New York doesn't have enough road and New York doesn't have enough adequate substitutes for road. That's your problem. The number of cars and the wage for drivers will sort itself out if you address those two problems. Unfortunately, that answer needs to come from Albany.
beauxeaux (upper east side)
your board put it succinctly. this is a first-class city with a third-class transit system in a second-class nation that virtually spits of mass transit. add to that second-class leadership at the local and state levels, political sure-winners whose egos trump rational policy. if anything, your board should be more directive and more radical: 1) declare mass transit the no. 1 policy issue in the metro area. if we can't move, the most productive people with choices will move far away where life is cheaper and easier. it's an economic development issue even more than one of quality of life and environment. we must enhance our competitive position. congestion pricing is an unavoidable solution but only a partial one. 2) abolish the MTA and start over. put it under city control but first reform contracting procedures which leach billions from our patrimony. you proved the point yourself with that wonderful story about the $4 billion ride from E 63 St to E 96n St. 3) reform oversight and overall political system. no one at MTA or controllers, state or city, uttered a peep about that boondoggle. require private audits by law. and limit contributions to cuomo, de blasio et al., who do very well, thank you, from construction unions and contractors who love the system as it is as the rest of us wait, steam and curse, looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Jonas Kaye (NYC)
As a frustrated straphanger, I will say this: you can’t fix a system as old and hard-working as the NYC subway in one year. I would like to believe that some of these new delays are caused by much-needed repairs to the system; but i believe it’s also true that the system itself is deeply corrupt.
Dennis D. (New York City)
Uber and their ilk are horrible options. A giant corporate entity has managed to convince what I assume to be fairly intelligent people to use their own cars as livery. Do they have any notion how much the wear and tear on a vehicle is? Or do they just think, as many do, that all you do is put gas or a charge on a car and that's it? Drivers for Uber and all these con artists are being taken to the cleaners. Please, look up how much it cost commercial companies calculate into figuring out how much to charge for their services. Many of you will be shocked. Drive for Uber? Why not just drive your car off of the Brooklyn Bridge and take the subway. You'd be richer and smarter. DD Manhattan
Steve (Los Angeles)
I don't know if this is a problem in New York but in Los Angeles the homeless have taken over the public transportation systems. Entering into a elevator that is being used as a latrine and dormitory doesn't really appeal to me. A recent conservation with a fellow Red Line traveler conjured up images of Gotham City before Batman arrived on the scene. Just recently a young black woman was stabbed to death by a mentally deranged person using public transportation on the BART system (San Francisco). When is the general public going to get some rights? The authorities are focused on the wrong problem. Thank God for Uber, Lyft, Yellow Cabs or anybody that can help you bypass public transportation.
Perspective (NY)
NYC will live or die with its subway system. There is no plan B!
Sonia Sierra Wolf (CA)
Replace New York in this article and you have San Francisco. Our public transportation is awful, and the issues with ride sharing are identical.
Michael Anthony (Brooklyn)
Limiting ride-share drivers or even introducing medallions to ride share would be a big help to relieve the congestion of the city streets but it would in no way help overall transportation in the city. What we need is a mass transit (in reality - subway) Marshall plan. This is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Can we do it? Absolutely. So why don't we? #1 - Politics. This is the easy part. The State controls mass transit in NYC but if Politics were the only issue at hand, politicians would blow over like a house of cards against public opposition. #2 - Construction costs - (really - NYC unions) The unions of NYC need to come to the table and negotiate a better plan with the city. The corruption of the NYC unions has made it cost prohibitive to build and major infrastructure in this city. Many say that the mafia no longer exists but it does. Instead of a surname is now called "Local" with a few numbers behind it. Some people lament against shaming the unions and the rights of workers. Mind you - this is not a union issue. This is an NYC union issue. The unions in other cities, Chicago (where unions started) for example, does not exist in this manner. They work with the city and state to be beneficial to all parties. There is pride in craftsmanship and most of all, pride in community. The NYC unions know no such thing. It is all about getting paid as much as possible for the least amount of work. It is truly a organized criminal faction.
Aubrey (NYC)
@Michael Anthony All due respect, you don't seem to know what you're talking about. NYC labor unions have been under pressure since the 2010 recession, that demanded PLA wage cuts and many wage and benefit givebacks. Despite that, city officials made a huge push to lose union jobs to untrained non-union labor. Maybe you're thinking of some old stories of corruption at the top (kickbacks and skimming) -- but that has nothing to do with unions themselves as a form of labor organization, or the rank and file of union men and women working hard to earn a living and to be part of building a better NYC community.
John (KY)
Is Dean Kamen still alive? Wasn't he going to solve this problem?
Outer Borough (Rye, NY)
1. Corruption = High Cost of NYC living; NYC dysfunction. 2. Well intentioned policies eventually give rise to unintended consequences. 3. Sacred cows get fat and protectionist. 1 2 3=NYC
Mogwai (CT)
Close the streets to cars. Only buses down East and West avenues. Streetcars for the last mile. America shows how mediocre and ignorant it is when it allows NYC traffic. Lame. There should be giant parking garages in the outer boroughs for everyone's vehicle - with express bus service to/from. Cities need to wipe cars out. Cars and cities are a terrible combination. Imagine the beautiful parks down 6th/broadway that could be created with a streetcar line down the middle. Americans have no imagination.
Nyalman (NYC)
Using suicides to highlight political points is awful. This conflates mental health issues with politics. Cheap.
Penny White (San Francisco)
Thriving for WHOM? Working class people are rapidly being driven out of the city and homeless people huddle on the streets and subway platform. My fellow "progressives" can be as blind to the plight of poor people as conservatives. This blindness is one of the reasons we've been unable to defeat the GOP. Economic class matters every bit as much as race, sex, & sexual orientation. WAKE UP!
Max (NY)
How in the world did taxi drivers suddenly become a protected class? Bodegas are being forced out by 7-11. Do we prop them up too? Where do the rest of us sign up to have the NYT and the city worry about protecting our jobs?
an observer (comments)
Traffic is a nightmare that makes the air toxic and raises temperature. 60,000 more cars crawling thru Manhattan than there were ten years ago. Fix the subways to get the riders out of cars. Install gates to thwart the fare beaters and the homeless. The homeless send riders scurrying from one train car to the next to find a a car homeless free. The homeless have made the E train their home. The smell of urine and worse is everywhere in the subways. Between that and the rats makes one want to avoid the subways.
Lily Quinones (Binghamton, NY)
The solution to this mess is a subway system that actually works and gets people to their destinations on time. it is ridiculous after all the money that has been showered on the MTA that the subways are still such a lousy option for transportation. I lived in NYC until 2003 and the last time I visited and attempted to use the subways, they were late, filthy and crowded, never again.
Martti (Minneapolis)
Literally no one outside NYC cares, you don't have to live there. If you want affordable housing, fresh air, and no traffic, maybe a jam packed city isn't for you.
Jason (New York)
@Martti it sounds like you have the same ultra-conservative mentality as many so-called "real" New Yorkers who are terrified of change to the point of hysteria. "Don't like it? Move," they say, as if actually working toward real world solutions to the problems faced by New Yorkers isn't an option or something.
crosem (Canada)
I recall a Krugman post where, late to a Manhattan meeting, he complains about NY traffic, expecting empathy. Instead, the 1%ers he is meeting with look at their shoes and mumble about helicopters. There's a message in this.
Chris Martin (Alameds)
This is not unique. Here in California we are less congested but also have less convenient public transportation. It is all about "limited government" faced with a problem that requires a strong public solution. Messing with Uber is no the way. addressing the backlog of public investment is.
PW2 (New York)
The City needs to increase traffic enforcement, with special emphasis on Taxis and black cars (TLC Plates). I recognize that the drivers of these vehicles are under economic stress. Unfortunately, that causes them to drive aggressively, running red lights and ignoring lane restrictions and other traffic rules with impunity. In addition, traffic regulations should be updated to limit street hails and pick-ups so they occur on only one side of the street (and "encourage" delivery trucks to double-park on the same side w/ adjusted fines)
HKGuy (Hell's Kitchen)
When I take the long hike from the JetBlue terminal at Kennedy to the AirTran, I'm often accosted by drivers, presumably unlicensed and in any event illegally soliciting a fee ride.
Howard (Washington Crossing)
The subway system allowed NYC to become the preeminent city in the world. Federal, state, and city funding for system renewal has been less than half of that required since Dick Ravitch left. The subway is now collapsing. And the amount of money being proposed for fixing the problem is only a fraction of that required. The Governor and the Mayor are fools. RIP: NYCTA!
DJM (New Jersey)
Congestion pricing is a gift to the wealthy, don’t do it NYC! Make the sidewalks wider, add more safe bike lanes, add more bus and express bus lanes and let the rich folk sit even longer in traffic-then you’ll get mass transit fixed!
Amv (NYC)
No one ever admits, in all these discussions, the obvious fact that as Manhattan is increasingly populated by the very wealthy, these very wealthy people don't want to (and don't) take the subways. The people who have the best public transit options in the country are the ones who clamor for ubers and often use their own private vehicles to get around. This is increasingly a class issue, and the NYT position will only make it easier for these people to have more options while the rest of us have fewer, and pay more for the privilege of being excluded from our city center.
Joel Peresman (Manhattan)
The rise of the Uber’s and Lyft can be pinned to what customers in NYC have wanted but have not been provided by traditional medallion cabs which is good service when you need it and price. They simply got out hustled. The previous administrations transportation chief had done a terrific job in trying to point this city in a direction that can help this traffic issue in NYC with the adoption and redoing of transit lanes to make more room for bikes and parking while still allowing for sufficient traffic lanes, pedestrian areas (like Times Square) that have created more opportunities for people to enjoy this city and have been proved to increase revenues for adjoining business while not slowing down traffic speeds, CitiBikes, etc. Congestion pricing is not a new idea. Simple steps could be taken to help; traffic police stationed in mid town to actually ticket drivers that block intersections (once someone gets a ticket and loss of points it is doubtful they will do that again), more focus on bus dispatchers in the neighborhoods to actually adhere to a schuedle so four buses don’t arrive at once and then you have to wait ages for another might actually drive people back to using buses and subways. You have to look forward and plan for the future which might cause some short term issues but there are smart people and organizations who are focused on these strategies and know that sometimes people have to be taken by the ear and pushed into the future
WorkingGuy (NYC, NY)
Have as many yellows as for-hires in Manhattan below E96/W110. Everywhere else thirds, now including boro (green) taxis. Accomplish this by the use of apps / geolocation. Easy. Then experiment with a total cap of all cars in a zip code by time and day to ease congestion. AGGRESSIVELY enforce traffic regulations on all drivers AND bicyclists. CONFISCATE bicycles and make bicycle owners go pick up their bikes and pay fines and fees, just like cars. cyclists flagrantly violate traffic laws and frustrate and endanger drivers and pedestrians alike. Forget congestion pricing, this just makes Manhattan a gated community for the wealthy. Manhattan median income for households is over $200,000: Manhattanites have the BEST urban mass transportation network and should pay for the beneficial use. $1,200 a year
Queen bee (NYC)
What happened to Mayor Bloomberg's "taxicab of the future"? There are still relatively few of these on the streets, and like the rest of the myriad taxi models in NYC they have fallen into disrepair (and watch out for that little step, which more often than not does not seem able to lock in place). On de Blasio's watch we have seen the taxi fleet descend into dysfunctional filth - I cannot recall a taxi ride in the past year that did not involve a dirty and/or smelly interior, or a constant loud rattling, or a dearth of shock absorbers, or a driver utterly unable to navigate the Manhattan grid without coaching. I now try never to use a yellow cab - Lyft and its ilk are cleaner, more reliable, and more often than not cheaper. The hired car system has gone the same way as the subway - disrepair due to the neglect of public officials and their finger pointing when things reach the tipping point. What the city needs, desperately, is a mayor who recognizes that transit is the lifeblood of NYC and who appoints a competent and visionary transit leader to create and implement a holistic transit vision for the city. I firmly believe that if Michael Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Kahn were still in their city jobs our transit system would be in significantly better shape.
Lindsay Sturman (Los Angeles)
There are some huge things to add to the list: bike lanes on every street — that can also be used by Scooters - which are reinventing transportation in LA. And ending the practice of giving 1.85 million parking spaces away for free. The UCLA parking guru Donald Shoup estimates that charging $5.50/ night for half would generate $3 billion dollars. By slowly raising the price, the city can push out the million cars that clutter the street, are mostly unnecessary, and are taking up priceless real estate that could be bike lanes, parklets, or cafes. Zurich has done it and traffic plummets. We know biking / scooters work - spend a day in Amsterdam or Copengagen. Also available: higher tolls on all bridges and congestion pricing... and lowering the price of buses and subways. We WANT people out of cars, but we are hand-wringing to find ways to make it easier to drive. It’s honestly upside down.
Gabrielle Hale (Texas)
I was enjoying the gridlock in Manhattan last week in an Uber, when it occurred to me that traffic flow space could be doubled if deliveries were restricted to the hours between, say, 10PM and 6AM. No double parking allowed during daylight hours.
Jonas Kaye (NYC)
It’s true. Not a lot of people know this, but 3am is the best time to receive a delivery of almost anything.
C (Brooklyn)
@Gabrielle Hale You need to consider the economic and human impact of your statement. Businesses would have to add a shift of employees who would then need to travel to work at hours when public transportation is completely unreliable. I'm not saying it wouldn't work. and certainly personal deliveries would have to be exempted, because who wants to get up at 3am to get that amazon package.
Nick (NYC)
@C If more people used public transportation at off-peak hours, the MTA would run more trains and buses during those times. And a lot of businesses should definitely shift to off-peak hours for deliveries. Most.
TermlimitsNow (Florida)
Transportation is only one of the problems NYC faces. The biggest problem is that the cost of living is so ridiculously high for the average Joe, that I actually wonder how it is possible that there are still waiters in its restaurants, and people to clean up the messes in NYC's streets. Among all the other blue collar jobs there.
Maven3 (Los Angeles)
Could New York's failure to build a modern West Side Highway (after tearing down the old one) have had anything to do with the unbearable traffic conditions in Manhattan?
Hal (NYC)
@Maven3, Because constructing new and larger roadways has always been the optimum solution. NOT.
DMB (Macedonia)
More needs to be written about this on a daily basis Why is it that any joker can drive from Nassau county through Brooklyn to lower manhattan via the Brooklyn bridge for FREE? Driving in Manhattan should be a privilege and expensive proposition. I know dozens of people that commute from Westchester via car to the city. It’s too cheap. Living in Brooklyn I’m also sick of crowded streets from Jersey and Long Island commuters weaving through the city to find the cheapest way possible to get somewhere. The BQE should be only free for people in B and Q, everyone else should pay Manhattan is a throughway from the Long Island to Jesery. That should be prohibitively expensive. Also, sorry but yellow cabs have sucked for years and have held back any innovation to get to our airports like a developed country That commission is getting its karma for having a crappy service and only self interests in mind. Too bad. Yellow cabs should frankly go away and ride sharing should be severely limited. The whole issue began when the commission failed to realize that Brooklyn and Queens needed service and we had to suffer through years of cabbies not going there which was illegal and discriminatory. That opened for Uber - guess what - too late- your green cabs are a terrible and miserable solution. That’s what happens when you don’t innovate - you go away. No one is standing up to political interests and instead a NYC tax payer is subsidizing everyone’s stupid job and commute. Enough
James Neal (Raleigh, NC)
New York City is the capital of the global elite. Rich New Yorkers own City Hall and Albany. Oh, and they do not use public transportation.
Charlie (Little Ferry, NJ)
In Manhattan and Brooklyn, the old brownstones have been replaced with high rise buildings, now increasing the number of tenants who will be using mass transit and/or taxis and Uber. While this population increase has now spread throughout rest of the five boroughs, there has been no accommodation made by the MTA or DeBlasio administration (and Bloomberg before him) to deal with this surge.
Navigator (Brooklyn)
there needs to be a way to separate bicycles and motor vehicles. The east and west river parks with their dedicated bike lanes are a great idea. But please, no bikes on midtown streets. It is unsafe and they cause congestion. bikes in the parks and in residential areas only. And get rid of all those ridiculous fake plazas with their little chairs and tables. The streets are the lifeblood of the city. clogging them up is a terrible idea. the politicians will want to implement new taxes like congestion pricing because that's what NY politicians do. but it will just make life more expensive without helping the problem. we have to open up our streets again.
Nick (NYC)
@Navigator Bicycles do not cause congestion. Bicycles are about a foot wide and can be navigated around. If I'm driving, I'm not blocked by a bicycle, I'm blocked by another automobile. As for bicycle lanes, there was terrible traffic before them. Traffic is more streamlined now and less erratic which has led to fewer collisions on those streets. And pedestrian plazas are great, the city needs many more. Times Square, for instance, is much better to travel through for all users than it was in the past. There are other examples across the city. Amazing how you forget that congestion has been a major problem in NYC well beyond the most recent pedestrian and bicycle facility implementations.
Plennie Wingo (Weinfelden, Switzerland)
NYC is quickly becoming the showcase American Potemkin Village. Peel away the veneer of so-called 'prosperity' and the truth reveals itself. The subway has become a kind of hellish netherworld, however this is not seen to be a problem by the rich who of course would never be seen dead down there.
Andrew (San Francisco, CA)
I’m just excited to see the NY Times bemoaning transportation in New York for a change and not ridiculing the Bay Area. (Of course, they’re blaming Bay Area-based private ride services.) The NYC Subway is crumby...but the tunnels are already dug. Just gut and upgrade and it could feel like the 21st Century. C’mon, New York, time to invest to become more than the crumby, former capitol of a once-unipolar world!
George S (New York, NY)
Frankly, another example of the blindness that is part of the problem...”...this cap would do little on its own to reduce congestion or improve the lives of drivers.”. Note what’s missing? Riders, the customers. Be honest...the main reason Uber and others have thrived is that the service from the scam marketed medialion cabs is and was often dreadful...dirty cabs, sitting like a prisoner in the back of a squad car, no air conditioning unless you made the, uhm, aromatic driver, turn it on, attitudes about where they would go, and many of them actually asking the riders for directions. All unacceptable. And not worthy of sympathy for a poor system. But when the city views cabs mainly a revenue source from medallion sales, customers are ignored.
Henry Lieberman (Cambridge, MA)
Time for a new transportation idea. Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is like a cross between a car and a train -- small two-person pods on an overhead rail, with computerized switching that computes a nonstop path from origin to destination. Example: A few small systems exist in WV and Heathrow airport, but the idea deserves wider consideration. Congestion pricing, better pay for rideshare drivers, etc. etc. will only shuffle who gets to sit in the traffic jams that will happen regardless. Gotta get people where they're going, without cars.
Nick (NYC)
@Henry Lieberman PRT is a lower capacity version of our subway. It would cost a fortune.
CK (Rye)
In NYC whatever is done for the masses is actually cash cow for the benefit of some interest. So you have to include six mental health diminished people killing themselves in a story about the system that moves 5 million people a day. And you wonder why there is actual logical planning and outcome?
Jim (Houghton)
Los Angeles is thriving, but you'd never know it to look at our streets. They're a total wreck. Traffic is worse every day; we're about two steps from total gridlock half the day. Add to that our water system has one foot in the grave -- we let it go too long. No one wants to pay for deferred maintenance that would have cost a tenth as much on a pay-as-you-go basis. Bad government, pure and simple. Along with taxpayers who feel all this stuff should cost exactly what they're willing to pay. A mess.
Mickey (New York)
My wife and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary and stayed at a hotel on 53td and seventh. The streets and sidewalks smelled like sewer. Homeless men and women camped on the streets with filth abound. We took the subway uptown and it was horrific. Hot, humid and more filth. NYC is prospering solely for the rich. Nobody else.
nydoc (nyc)
@Mickey I am going to hazard a guess that when the 58th Street homeless shelter is opened, things are not going to get any better.
Transport is such a nightmare BECAUSE the City is thriving. Not only is business good, we get 60 million tourists a year. Leave the above-ground transport industry like the yellows, Uber, Via,Lyft and the others alone. They will naturally attain their own level. It's not our business to artificially prop up the yellows. Should we also prop up the horse and buggy industry? With advancements to cars I hear that they're hurting. What we do need is a governor who is not a useless, whining, loudmouth incompetent who can fix up the subways and make people want to ride them. THAT will alleviate above-ground congestion. Don't we already have minimum wage laws? Enforce them as to wages earned by the livery car drivers. Want to see some immediate traffic relief? Make the subways free during rush hours.
SLBvt (Vt)
This reminds me of when automobiles were first on the scene. To increase sales, automobile manufacturers used their money and clout to rid towns and cities of their streetcars, thus forcing taxpayers to pay for road improvements for the cars that they were now forced to buy. Instead of expensive bike lanes that only a small number of people will use (we are not Denmark) and public support for Uber etc, lets put tax dollars to use for transportation that everyone can use: better bus service, subways, and yes, fun picturesque streetcars.
Flahooley (NYC)
@SLBvt Sorry, but you are mistaken: I live in Astoria and bike every day to work in Manhattan. The bike lanes are full of riders like me who pay taxes and cannot understand why the streets of Astoria and Long Island are full of potholes, why traffic laws governing reckless car and truck drivers are not enforced and how so many, many, many vehicles are clogging the streets of Manhattan. There are a lot of us: please remember that when I take my bike to work, I free up a space on the subway twice a day, creating more space for you.
SLBvt (Vt)
@Flahooley I am not anti-bike. My concern is spending so much money on one type of transportation, that while it is "booming," remains a very, very small percentage of commuters. It make more sense to spend tax dollars on improving and expanding the public transportation that the vast majority of people use.
Joseph Schmidt (Kew Gardens, NY)
@Flahooley you actually don’t pay taxes. Street repairs et al are funded by gasoline taxes, which you, as a bicyclist, don’t pay.
WDG (Madison, Ct)
I just received a "Tolls By Mail" bill for $8.50 for using the RFK bridge in the Bronx. Why not install a similar system throughout the most congested parts of Manhattan? Delivery trucks, Yellow cabs and app-based vehicles could be given toll amnesty, but fees could be set so that all other drivers would be forced to think twice about driving their cars into the city.
George S (New York, NY)
@WDG Yes, and all of that revenue (while the city monitors all movements!) would be used to "fix" things, or hire more politics; buddies, further fatten employee perks and benefits, or whatever else except fixing our transport problems.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@WDG: do you think a fee -- of either $8.50 or $22 as proposed, will stop THE RICH from driving into the city? Or will it only stop poor, working class and middle class people from driving? and ensure that ONLY THE RICH can continue to have the privilege of driving into the city?
Nick (NYC)
@WDG In progress. Look up MoveNY or FixNYC.
Aubrey (NYC)
Once again the NYT fails to acknowledge 2 key issues: 1) the main reason that traffic speed has slowed is the constriction effect of all the bus lanes/ bike lanes/medians that narrowed many avenues from 4-6 functional lanes to 1-2 causing stalls and bottlenecks, along with rerouting of turning lanes, light timing, and detours for pedestrian plazas. these may serve a different set of goals - but at the same time they are the real physical source of why traffic has slowed to a crawl: it has nowhere to flow anymore. like an artery that has narrowed. congestion fees and Uber caps will do very little to change that. 2) imposing congestion pricing on residents who LIVE in the congestion zones would be grossly discriminatory, imposing a $22/day fee on anyone who lives in the lower half of the island but not on those who use a car in the upper half of the island. congestion arguments have not addressed that.
Nick (NYC)
@Aubrey 1. Is not supported by facts. For starts, most bicycle lanes in the city (the relatively few that exist) do not remove a lane. They are mostly painted and exist in what was a buffer between a moving and parking lane. Some bus lanes have taken away moving lanes in some areas (they either absorb the parking or moving lane), but bus lanes are not common. Pedestrian plazas are also uncommon. Congestion has gotten substantially worse citywide, even throughout the metropolitan area. THE PRIMARY REASON FOR WORSENING CONGESTION IS too many automobiles in too small an area. Congestion pricing is an excellent solution to reduce congestion is the highly congested city core. The small percentage of residents that own a vehicle there should not be exempt because they too are adding to congestion. Congestion pricing is a user fee.
SteveRR (CA)
The social engineers are at it again. The Economist magazine ran a fascinating series of article actually analyzing mass transit around the world during the month of June - guess what actual empirical data shows - it is declining all over the world. People enjoy their freedom of choice - they want to be able to hail an Uber - they want their electric scooters - they want their bicycles. They don't want to be herded like cattle into smelly and unreliable carrier cars As the analysis states: "Blame remote working, Uber, cheap car loans and the internet" - just don't blame the folks freely exercising their rational choice.
beauxeaux (upper east side)
@SteveRR you got that 180 degrees wrong. most people love a convenient, clean, safe trip where you leave the driving to professionals. go to hong kong, singapore, paris, london and try out your thesis. not to mention there will always be more freedom of choicers congesting the roads that belong to all of us unless a market-based pricing system is enacted.
SLBvt (Vt)
Mystery: Republicans for almost two years have controlled the Congress. We continue to have a "good economy." Where are the improvements to our infrastructure? Our crumbling bridges? Our public transportation, that must be the worst public transportation in the western world? Answer: nowhere. Because Republicans have pocketed the proceeds of this "good economy."
Brice C. Showell (Philadelphia)
One word: greed, is the essence of the culture that defines the city's financial income base: why would the rich pay to ride poor?
John (NYC)
People might gripe and complain about the NYC subway system but think it through. It is the largest such system in the world, and it conveys close to 6 million people DAILY. It is our Mississippi River folks, an indispensable method of routing people, goods and services. Without it you do not have a viable New York City. Which means we should be better focused on its maintenance and upkeep than we have been doing. That said, it does have its issues, as any such system that is +100years old would, but I'll leave the why's, wherefore's and solutions of it to another discussion, because overall it does its job very well. As for surface transportation in the form of personal conveyances and such....well....personally I'd like to see all of it, on the island at any rate, banned. The island, itself, is only so large and personal transportation vehicles have saturated the space. Ban 'em. And if that's unpalatable to our political leadership class then heavily tax the use of them. Manhattan is arguably a pedestrian paradise. You can get everywhere on foot (or bus/subway). Personal vehicles are unnecessary and so their use therein needs to be re-thought. This is not the Robert Moses era; let's stop acting like he still reigns shall we? Times have changed. John~ American Net'Zen
M Burr (New England)
NY rests at the apogee of American capitalism, therefore greed is the basic virtue of this town. Greed is about individual power, advancement and hoarding. The subway is for the irrelevant masses and therefore is off little importance.
LennyM (Bayside, NY)
Virtually everything suggested in this editorial would make it more difficult for New Yorkers to find transportation. At the same time it would make that transportation more expensive.
Rami (NY)
Cycling lanes, cycling lanes and more cycling lanes! Pedestrian and cycling exclusive streets! Divert private vehicles out of the city by reducing parking bays and implementing toll system! Use the savings in on road maintenance (bikes and pedestrians == 100x less wear and tear) and the toll system to improve subway!
George S (New York, NY)
@Rami Fine - if everyone in the city is young and healthy. Ailing, disabled (which can include the young), elderly...oh, too bad, you should be on a bike! Uh huh.
John (Santa Monica)
@George S or use electric bikes or scooters
Abbott Hall (Westfield, NJ)
A viable two party political system might be helpful. Doesn’t have to be the GOP but when you have one entrenched party for years you have corruption, inefficiency and indifference to the real needs of the population.
Biz Griz (In a van down by the river)
there's a lot of other great cities in the world. Many are cheaper with nicer weather.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Biz Griz: when people figure that out....we'll be on our way to a New Golden Age. Right now NYC is coasting mostly on reputation and the wealth of the financial industry, which is deeply corrupt and headed for another crash.
Nick (NYC)
@Biz Griz They all have their own problems. NYC gets a lot of things right too.
John M (Ohio)
fix the subway, leave everything else, the subway is key......
Michael (Rochester, NY)
To: NY Times Editorial Board. The inability of government to function in NY City and NY State is associated, mostly, with corruption at all levels. That corruption is fundamental to Capitalistic Democracy and, as the Chinese have shown over the last 25 years, is definitely NOT the best system if efficacy of outcomes is a measure. If you want bullet trains between all cities, and, bullet trains to get to work, go visit China and talk to Xi.
M. (California)
Please do not put an arbitrary cap on new Uber vehicles--that would introduce the taxi medallion problem all over again! Institute congestion pricing, by all means, but don't create another land-rush wherein the original owners get wealthy and everyone else becomes a slave.
Robin Landa (Manhattan)
By mandate, every NYC council member and official should have to ride the subways during rush hours for their entire terms.
Frederick DerDritte (Florida)
Subways don't polute. They don't clog up the streets. And if NYC can get its ducks in a row, subways are the only viable means of supplying mass transportation in large metropolitan cities without forcing citizens to commit suicide in slow motion. F3 F3
Larry Lundgren (Sweden)
A simpler answer to the headline, rephrased as: Why is public transportation, at least in my America - Albany NY + New England - such a nightmare? Hypothesis based on 23 years living in Sweden spiced with one month visits to my America each of those 23. There is an American mind set displayed not only by politicians of many stripes but by a special subset of comment writers quite distinct from the subset that has lived in Europe. The mind set to which I point holds that there is no such thing as public needs that are to be met by government action and policy. I offer a view from above provided by a drone flying over the Albany bus station. Around the bus staton, boarded up buildings, pavement revealing century old layers, buses so primitive that riding in them (once a year for me) is an appalling experience. A bus station relic of some past century, not sure which. A pre-electronic ticketing system. And in contrast with European cities, no train station at all. I have written about this over the years and have gotten replies illustrating the mind set I point to, here a close paraphrase from a comment writer. "Larry, only poor people ride intercity buses in America, why don't you drive? Since only poor people use buses there is no reason to offer service such as you describe from Sweden." Times Editors, it is not only New York City that "lacks an efficient and fair transportation system", but USA as country. Citizen US SE
Larry Lundgren (Sweden)
@Larry Lundgren and @ Charles van Deventer about 6 down from my comment It took only minutes for a comment to be filed illustrating exactly what I wrote about in my comment. Charles de Venter, middle class, uses Via and sees no reason why the middle class shouldn't simply shift to Via etc and abandon the subways to the poor. Not a word from Charles about making the subway 1st world class, exactly the American mind set to which I point. Why should I, Charles, pay for a better subway, I can take Via. Larry L to myself and charles.
Michael (New Jersey)
I read recently in the New York Times that many medallions are held by passive investors. Instead of punishing the riders of Uber, why not pass a law restricting medallion ownership to one per person and it must be the owner-operator.
George S (New York, NY)
@Michael Good point - are a few individuals the holders of multiple medallions? Yet overtime we read about this today you get the image of the lone operator, like a mom and pop cab driver, with their own medallion struggling agains the "evil corporate" greed of Uber.
Michelle Neumann (long island)
well....i am a driving, Manhattan-born gal living in Long Island now. For YEARS I have driven into Manhattan (all parts) and the last few years have become nightmarish. have a few from-the-driver’s-perspective thoughts: limit delivery trucks to night-time deliveries (except emergencies) on DESIGNATED AVENUES ONLY. There are enough lanes to travel freely cross-town and north to south BUT there are ALWAYS double-or triple parked trucks, cabs of all kinds, and limo drivers galore- creating ONE lane ONLY! TICKET THEM, for heaven’s sake! the bike lanes, bike dividers and bike stations are idiotic - they have removed countless parking spaces, forcing MORE time circling around for a spot. and let us not forget the endless construction, particularly galling when one end of a street has finally been completed for some mysterious reason, only to now have the OTHER end begin construction. Ubers, taxis, and Lyfts are hardly the problem.
Barbara Barran (Brooklyn, NY)
Before we shed too manv tears for the drivers of medallion taxis, let's remember that these are the people who used to ask the passenger's destination before unlocking the doors, and then take off when they heard the word "Brooklyn. " They wouldn't stop for people with large packages. When I was using a walker after back surgery, they wouldn't pick me up if it was too close to their 4 PM shift change. And let's not forget about the immense difficulties that people of color had hailing a cab. The uncomfortable dividers. The refusal to turn on the A/C. The blaring TVs that totally obscure the passenger's view. The refusal to take one's preferred route. I could go on and on. Want to get cars off the streets? Fix the subways, and let the best-run car services pick up passengers.
Old Yeller (nyc)
@Barbara Barran And let's also remember the drivers of medallion taxis who in the great majority of instances got passengers to their destinations safely without any problems despite working 12-hour shifts with no benefits, being shaken down for bribes by both dispatchers at garages and TLC inspectors, having to endure drunks and occasionally clean up their vomit, having their working conditions ignored by not only garage owners but city officials as well because there is no union, and risking their lives each shift picking up random strangers who may or may not intend to harm them -- like my friend Phil Cohen, whose body was found in 1988 behind the wheel of his cab at the corner of 108th Street and Park Avenue with two bullet holes in his head.
Carol (Key West, Fla)
We were in Manhattan a few weeks ago and it was a pleasure. That said, the reality was it was a weekend in summer an unrealistic barometer. On this outing we used both taxis and Uber, taxis performed much better than Uber. Uber's biggest problems are an untrained workforce and an unfamiliarity with the city they need to navigate. Uber's vehicles were much cleaner than taxis. The advantage for Uber was the lack of monies via credit cards to use the service, simply hop in hop out. Most Taxis do take credit cards but it definitely slows the transaction greatly.
cheryl (yorktown)
Perhaps the problem to the T tiles questions lies in having too many cooks. Too many appointed people in positions of authority in too many powerful institutions who are paid well no matter what happens, and simply too many people - elected - who control the decisions, but no one with clear authority and responsibility. D DAY in WWII could never have been pulled off with this kind of set-up: never a final deadline, nothing on the line for those who obstruct planning...
Charles (Van Deventer)
Sadly the decay of the subway will only continue as middle class New Yorkers abandon it for Via and the like. Soon we’ll question why we need a subway at all, or why our taxes should pay for it, and it’ll become the crime infested hellscape it was until the 90s. Middle class NYers will leave the system entirely, and with it our collective experience. -written while riding in a Via
Larry Lundgren (Sweden)
@Charles - Charles, you appear to be a pretty good example of the subset of comment writers I refer to in my comment 6 above yours. You seem quite willing simply to abandon the subway since "middle class people" can take Via. You even admit the result of all middle class people to the subways, the transformation from bad to very much worse, OK for poor people (that phrase from a person who replied to a transportation comment some time past. So you want to fill NYC with even more cars. Why not make the case for a subway system of the quality of Stockholm or some other European city named by commenters who ride subways in Europe. my comment at citizen US SE
Jay Oza (Hazlet, NJ)
Why are people still driving when we have telephone, emails, social media, texting and video? Unless you absolutely have to be there, you don't have to travel. The problem is New Yorkers need to change their habit. No transportation system can fix bad habits.
Miriam Chua (Long Island)
Some cities (Paris) require that most deliveries be made at night, which eliminates the congestion of trucks.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
The ability to go from point A to point B in a reasonable time is akin to basic decency for a city to thrive. The famous American motto "time is money" does not seem to apply to the majority of folks needed to make it work. As they say, a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. But let's be fair, we have an ancient and outmoded infrastructure...and an 'exploding' population, demanding service, a nightmare impossibly hard to fix. Shouldn't we hire outside help for creative ideas as to how to fix this imbroglio? London and Paris come to mind, shown more efficient, and effective, than the U.S. thus far.
Lisa (Manhattan)
I’ve lived here for 35 years - long enough to see the subway go from a stinking, graffiti-filled, dangerous, nightmare to a relatively clean, comfortable, safer, advertising platform that ineffectively moves people from one place to another. Thirty years ago the only advertisers willing to have their name associated with the subway were a certain dermatologist and cigarettes. Now we see advertisements for mattresses, storage facilities, Seamless, Netflix, and other urban necessities on every square inch of the system. I often wonder what the MTA does with that enormous influx of advertising revenue (lots of town cars I imagine). The answer is to the messed up system is obvious - make those who benefit from the improvements made since the 80s (the advertisers) pay for the benefits that will prevent the system from returning to previous conditions. That and elect a mayor who lives in the same city that we do.
Prairie Populist (Le Sueur, MN)
Uber self,-driving cars, etc just automate chaos. It was the wrong choice. We need twenty-first century mass transit.
George S (New York, NY)
@Prairie Populist But what, in actual, real world precise terms, does "twenty-first century mass transit" actually look like in densely packed NYC?
Allen Shapiro (NYC Metro Area)
Since the City Council bill would not decrease the number of vehicles they should add the following. NYC DOT gets its travel time statistics from the GPS in medallion cabs. The city should require all for hire vehicles to install the same devices on for hire vehicles, and require these vehicles to provide the same data as the medallion cabs by having the TLC download the data directly from the cabs. This way the city get a picture of how much of the congestion is from these vehicles. The data could also be used to tax these vehicles for the additional congestion, instead of taxing suburban residents who may come in once or twice a month to see a Broadway show. The tax should go to the MTA for a specific purpose like making stations handicapped accessible.
Yankees Fan Inside Red Sox Nation (MA)
Boston has an excellent new Silver Line for easy transport to and from Logan Airport using buses in dedicated tunnels. Maybe New York could copy that good idea using a combination of above and below ground dedicated routes? Use clean electric buses too. In the same vein the city could DUPLICATE the subway system by having an above ground system that matches the underground routes using dedicated lanes for electric buses. Then you would have a choice between the subway and the aboveway.
phil morse (cambridge, ma)
@Yankees Fan Inside Red Sox Nation Depends on what you mean my's been around for several years and it's great...I can get to the airport from Porter Square in 45 min using the Red line and the Silver line.
Barry Schiller (North Providence RI)
if the demand to use public streets is higher than the supply (space on them) then the natural solution should be to charge for using the streets, whether it be private cars, taxis, or ride-shares. That's the way the market is supposed to work. proceeds can be used to improve bike/pedestrian/transit alternatives.
ACJ (Chicago)
In a trip to Japan, I found myself engaged in a conversation with two Japanese businessmen in bar--both spoke fluent English---and was struck by how they thought about their business. What intrigued me is both men were not reactive thinkers, but pro-active thinkers. The American mentality has become totally reactive with no thought to predictable consequences of evolving realities on the street. A novice urban planner could have predicted all of NYC travel wows years ago---in fact in reading the Caro's book on Robert Moses---urban experts attempted to dissuade Moses from his fetish with highway building. Reactive thinking and policies are very expensive and very inefficient---even the reactive policies suggested in this piece are merely bandages on deeper structural wounds.
The F.A.D. (Nu Yawk)
I've always thought that citibike and the proliferation of bicycle lanes was either a desperate move to deal with failing mass transit or more cynically, an opportunity to profit from failing mass transit. Bicycles are green and great but really not a viable mode of transportation for the masses in a city as dense and vertical as NY. Imagine even half of the subway crowds pedaling the streets- now that is congestion! Now think about that on a snowy Monday. And only now, when the streets are literally choked with behemoth Uber SUVs do we think about limiting them? Mass transit is literally the life blood of a city like ours. The key word is "mass". Bikes and Uber are turning the streets into a Mad Max style free for all, but the masses are still not getting around. Life blood stops = city is dead.
bsb (nyc)
"New York is one of the most prosperous cities in the world, yet it has one of the world’s most dysfunctional transportation systems." Do not forget, it has one of the most dysfunctional City government's, as well, starting with our Mayor.
UTBG (Denver, CO)
NYC probably cannot solve it's transit problems, ever. The entrenched interests between all of the transit groups and their allies in the regional governments ensure that the slow chaos of NY transit will continue forever. For example, it is nonsense that a subway line does not run directly to LaGuardia airport, but all attempts to do so have been blocked by cab and bus workers and their leadership. Same for JFK, and barely capable to Newark from the Port Authority. It is unfortunate that New York has become so difficult to travel in, or through. The City and the NY/NJ region are a crucial part of our country's economic engine, but if they cannot solve their transit and housing problems, companies need to move. Denver beckons...
Mark Holbrook (Wisconsin Rapids, WI)
Are you kidding me, Denver. I certainly don’t live there, but my son lives in Fort Collins and he and I both avoid Denver like the plague. A simple trip down the I-25 corridor will show you how not to design a city and its surrounding suburbs and cities. Denver is not the only problems, however. Most of our major cities suffer from the same syndrome as NYC: The lack of an eye toward the future. This article wonders how NYC is going to solve its problems in the immediate future, I wonder how most of our major cities are going to deal with similar problems when gas prices hit $6/gallon. What will the future be like because of our lack of vision, and our willingness to recognize the benefit of spending now for a future that is going to happen whether we are prepared or not.
UTBG (Denver, CO)
@Mark Holbrook You are absolutely right, and I was mainly indicating that like Paris, London and other cities, Denver has built a 'train to the plane'. NYC cannot do that. More importantly however, is the conscious effort in Denver, and to an increasing extent the suburbs, to build walkable neighborhoods where homes, schools, dining and shopping can be done without a car. We put less than 1,000 miles a year on one car we've had for ten years, because we walk to work, and nearly everywhere else on the weekends. We can Uber, ride the bus, rent bikes and electric scooters, etc., so in this dry climate, getting around is not that difficult. Getting to the mountains remains a problem, however.
Ichigo (Linden, NJ)
@UTBG I often must transfer flight between LaGuardia and JFK. What a pain! No easy way to go between, with luggage and everything, while making haste not to miss the connection. What a pain! What a dysfunctional system!
Brian (New York, NY)
A thoughtful editorial that dissects the problem in its many complexities and challenges. I'm no great fan of Uber as a company and have had a couple drivers try to scam me by not turning off the "meter" when the ride was over (to its credit, Uber quickly corrected it on my account). Still, I have to admit, the cars are far cleaner, more comfortable and reliable than yellow (or green) taxis. As another commenter noted, the lack of decent shocks or air conditioning in a cab is unacceptable. If I want dirty, hot and unreliable, I'll take the subway!
Larry Lundgren (Sweden)
@Brian - Times columnists and commenters need more often to add the adjective American in sentences such as yours about the subway. Thus "I'll take the only kind of subway offered in America." Subways in other countries are modern, clean, and good. (Yes recently Stockholm had an escalator problem) Same for buses as I have noted in comments even one today. Albany to Boston Greyhound beyond saving. Even cheapest Swedish intercity Flix has modern buses and Bus4You superior buses. Unthinkable in my America. Citizen US SE
Brian (New York, NY)
@Larry Lundgren You're absolutely right. I've used the subway in Stockholm and several other European cities, and they're what a public transportation network should be: modern, quiet, clean, and efficient. Whenever I see European or Asian visitors on a subway platform here in NYC I try and offer my best apologetical look. Surely, they're either amused or horrified by what they're experiencing.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@Larry Lundgren: the NYC subway is 100+ years old -- are those other subways anything like that old? And honestly, Larry, we have NO IDEA what "Bus4You" is in the US. If you are goign to reference it, you should describe or link to it. I am picturing it as a Greyhound-like inter-city bus service, but I do not now this for a fact nor have any idea what it costs. Or what "Flix" could possibly be. I CAN tell you that in the middle class people would ever attempt such a trip (Albany to Boston) on Greyhound because they would fly or drive a car. Such transportation is only for the poor, or elderly or disabled, and as you observed, is cheap but very shoddy and slow. Next time you are in the US...ASK AN AMERICAN how they would get from point A to point B and then BELIEVE THEM.
Jonathan Ben-Asher (Maplewood, NJ)
From the headline, I thought this would be about the subways and buses. I heartily agree that Uber drivers are entitled to a living wage. Uber has profited mightily from treating its workers as independent contractors, and it can certainly afford this. And something must be done to help medallion taxi drivers, whose lives are being ruined by Uber's expansion. But, in the end, New York, especially Manhattan, does not need more cars, and nothing should be done to encourage people to drive into the City. It needs public transport that doesn't drive its riders crazy with breakdowns, delays, horrible crowding and stress. As many readers have said, mass transit has always been the last priority in America, because most Congress members and the ultra wealthy don’t use it.
Paul Wortman (East Setauket, NY)
Uber is not the problem; it's the solution. There are simply too many cars and trucks in The City and a woeful public transit system. To reduce truck traffic trucks should be banned during the day. Cars should be charged much higher tolls to enter The City during working hours. The tolls should go exclusively to upgrade the subway system. More streets in mid-town and lower Manhattan should be pedestrian malls. In other words, people need to stop driving in Manhattan and use ride hailing services, taxis, buses and subways instead.
Uhearditfromhank (New York)
Yes,the comment about Construction is so valid, many hey streets have lanes blocked causing traffic to stall. Also, parking on key east and westbound streets reduce them to one lane. And of course trucks making deliveries cause major backups. The City dropped the ball with Uber etc. and won’t be able to come up with a good plan. As for the Subways, how many State and CIty Administrations let it deteriorate? The Second Ave Line, the three Mega stations took priority over repairing the existing system. I feel it’s a hopeless endeavor and us riders will hear the promises and still suffer from the poor service.
Cat London, MD (Milbridge, Maine)
Congestion charge! We needed it when I was growing up in the 70s and the city certainly needs it now!
Julie Boesky (New York, N.Y.)
Add a “Pied a terre” tax and use it to fund open doored “trolley” style buses (that would drive in strictly protected bus lanes) up and down the Avenues and major cross streets where riders are free to get on and off at any stopped traffic light rather than being forced to wait for designated stops.
Richard (New York, NY)
How can a city that runs on a 24 hour a day transit system expect to completely reform itself? It's a herculean task at a time where the city continues to develop even further. I think we're digger ourselves deeper into a problem that either cannot be fixed, or will be fixed in time for my grandchildren to enjoy it. This of course is assuming another Hurricane Sandy-like event doesn't completely erode what's in place.
Ichigo (Linden, NJ)
@Richard We all know other Sandy-like Hurricanes are coming.
New World (NYC)
Maybe we need walking sidewalks like in the airports. From Battery to 145th st. Five north south walking sidewalks. Pick some avenues. From river to river, five east west walking sidewalks; 14th st, 34th st, 57th st, 86th st and 125th st. Unlike London or Tokyo our grid is perfect for this.
Unconvinced (StateOfDenial)
@New World An obstacle is weather; these walks would have to be covered, so too costly (and ungainly) ... also just ordinary mechanical breakdowns is another obstacle ( esp. given the lengths).
Al from PA (PA)
@New World They have escalators outside, going up the hills in Hong Kong. If they can withstand the rain, similar escalators or walking sidewalks could be covered/designed to withstand snow and ice.
George S (New York, NY)
@New World Considering that the City cannot even keep sheltered escalators and elevators functioning inside train and subway stations, anything outdoors that would actually work and be properly maintained is a fantasy.
ecco (connecticut)
there's only one way to start the fix, recognize the trouble, which starts with 't' and rhymes with 'c' which stands for cuomo. do what you will with uber and lyft and taxis but the answers to public transit woes are in the reform of public transit and that begins with the election of a mayor ('t' also rhymes with 'b') and a governor who actually want to work at running (rather than using) the city and the state. the subways require an intense effort to get them running on time and in good repair, not a "program" but rather an all-hands-on-deck disaster-recovery type of effort and, on the surface, a good start would be the establishment of totally secure bus lanes and a flood of (more frequent) smaller electric buses for passengers and most deliveries on streets that should offer minimal, and expensive, access for private vehicles (there's a lesson in the ease of passing in the bus lane from, say, newark airport, as the private and commercial vehicles, sit in their crowded lanes). the fix would be difficult but not complicated, but don't expect the will power to come from the begetters of the failure, first let's replace "city and state officials (who) have for too long neglected that failure and blamed each other for not doing enough."
It's the cars that are the problem, from slowing down traffic to blocking sidewalk egress to killing cyclists. It's the subways and buses (why is there no express bus on the M104 Broadway route??) that are the solution. If every elected official at every level of government, including out-of-state ones, had to use public transportation every time they entered NYC, I'm willing to bet we would soon see real change in our tranportation options. Until that happens, the disagreement between NYC and Albany will continue as there's no motivation for progress.
ygj (NYC)
The NYC subway speaks directly to the real visible lack of concern this great city has for its less well to do. This discussion has gone on long enough. It is a dirty mess of a system, that shows no love of infrastructure no matter any political pretense/ Maybe there needs to be a wealthy person levy or something. Like anyone who makes over a set number pays a transport upkeep fee ear marked in city tax. As long as we have a prayer it is not misspent or skimmed. And please, enough with the articulated buses that troll around almost empty half the time.
Biz Griz (In a van down by the river)
They just said in the article that state law makers control the MTA.
Harpo (Toronto)
Uber depends on the city to build and maintain the streets on which they drive their cars. They pay nothing but gas tax for the privilege to compete with taxis and transit. Further, a proper accounting of the expense that Uber should be paying would include maintaining and operating the subways that keep cars off the streets, decreasing congestion. The next thing would be congestion tolls for those who use private vehicles to reduce traffic and generate income. Spend what us is collected on fixing the roads and the subways.
Karen (Bronx)
Medallion drivers have never provided service to The Bronx. We have used private car services, often at a high price. I have had difficulties with many medallion drivers such as: dirty, non air conditioned cars, loud music, barely understanding simple English phrases, griping about trip to the Bronx, practically extorting a large tip due to " long trip". My children have had difficulty getting medallion taxis from hospitals!! They had to call private car services and wait for a pick up to the Bronx. We do not live in a "dangerous" area. I am a 73year old woman and need good reliable service. In addition, medallions refused credit cards. Lyft and Uber are letting older people stay independent and able to travel. Back in the day, medallions were overpriced and now drivers have problems. Didn't drivers, city of NY as well as owners realize that there is a new world out there that actually services many residents instead of a few.
ando arike (Brooklyn, NY)
Automobiles are the problem, not the solution. Rather than making cars easier to hire and drive in the city, we should be trying to phase them out in favor of improved subways, light surface rail, trolleys and buses in dedicated lanes, and bicycles in their own dedicated lanes. Perhaps, too, there is a place for taxis, but these should be small, low-powered, and electric. Many European cities are seeing the wisdom of transitioning away from auto-based transport -- why should NYC be backward in this respect? The quality-of-life benefits of living car-free are enormous.
Unconvinced (StateOfDenial)
@ando arike Absolutely. And also maybe use waterways, both to get people to/from Manhattan and maybe freight vessels for commercial goods that need to bypass Manhattan (e.g New Jersey bound freight from Long Island). And yes, the biking culture of Amsterdam is something that New Amsterdam could use more of.
Nick (NYC)
@ando arike The city is heading that direction but the process is SLOW and PAINFUL.
Terry McKenna (Dover, N.J.)
We also need to find a way to serve the parts of the city outside of the existing subway networks. Subways take too long to build. But "bus rapid transit" may be workable - relying on dedicated lanes, fenced off so that cars cannot use them. But.. we need the will power.
Stephanie Wood (Montclair NJ)
We live in an overpopulated, third world banana republic, where tax breaks go to billionaires, and the rest of us struggle to get by with a crumbling infrastructure. No other developed country is like this. In other countries, people pay their taxes, and people benefit. My taxes here basically subsidize the rich, the churches, and the bloated military (I'm not a billionaire, so I pay high taxes). Not the working people who need to use the transportation system. In addition, more and more people are forced into cities, since there are fewer jobs that pay a living wage in this country anymore. Thanks again to the rich, like Trump, Bezos, Waltons, etc., who outsource and exploit for maximum profit, and pay no taxes on their infinite gains.
Ma (Atl)
@Stephanie Wood Sorry, but neither Trump, nor the others you mention have anything to do with transit issues in NYC. The public service unions and their members have robbed the city in excessive wages and inefficiency and the administration of the government transit system should be jailed for their corruption. Billions go to the city for transit annually, where did that money go? No, this one can't be blamed on Trump or industry or capitalism. It's solely in the square of local and state government and their mis-management and corruption. Embraced also by entitled union workers.
ProSkeptic (NYC)
While the MTA has a lot to answer for, the main problem is that most of the solutions to New York’s transit issues must run through Albany. The rest of the state views the city as a cash cow and is generally hostile to any initiatives that would improve the lot of New York’s beleaguered commuters. Congestion pricing’s recent ugly demise is but one example. New York City contributes far more to Albany than it gets in return. It’s time to present a united front, city and suburb, to address the issues that threaten to strangle New York City and State. Given all that, however, there are still some things the city can do on its own. Establish permit parking, so that the locals who actually pay taxes and live in the area get preference. (Many cities already do this.). Ban or limit street parking altogether on some busy cross streets. (This would also help businesses that rely on deliveries as well as tradespeople who utilize commercial vehicles.). There is no shortage of possible solutions. What’s lacking is the political will to implement them.
George F (New York)
“Why is Transportation such a nightmare?” Ideology and politics. No aspect of transportation in NYC is priced according to supply and demand. The subway costs the same fare regardless of distance and always has. Parking is far too cheap. Road access to manhattan can be had for free at all hours of the day. Bicyclists pay no taxes and rarely get traffic fines, unlike cars. If the transportation system can’t self-regulate itself with market forces, it will be regulated by politics, and politics is often ideological. The issues we see at levels of transport are really issues with our governance.
Lisa (London)
Surely the solution is to enhance the subway? It’s expensive, but long term it pays off. I live in London and lived through the years when the tube was being enhanced (redoing the Victoria line and now building the Elizabeth line) and it was a pain, but now it’s a pleasure. Going on the subway in NYC by comparison is like going back 40 years - it’s inaccessible if you are disabled / are travelling with a child in a buggy, unreliable and the stations dirty and seriously aged. The only place where the subway is superior is air conditioning on the trains.
Bill (Tuckahoe, NY)
I work in NYC and use the Subway everyday. To compare with another major city, we just completed our family vacation in London, England where we used the Underground system everyday, multiple times per day. The London Underground was a complete pleasure to use. The stations, platforms, escalators and trains were all clean, well-lighted, attractive, and efficient. Even the Underground ticketing system and station personnel were far superior to NYC. I would say that NYC’s subway system is an embarrasment compared with London’s Underground.
Plennie Wingo (Weinfelden, Switzerland)
@Bill And the London Underground is older.
Talk to say a student spending a semester in London for a good comparison with the NYC subways. They’ll tell you first that the Underground closes around midnight, forcing you to take a slow “night bus”. Next complaint is that it’s not air conditioned, making it brutally uncomfortable for a good part of the summer months. Third, outside the very center of town it seems more like a suburban railroad - the stations are not at all closely spaced.
Linda Burke (Hinsdale, IL)
As former New Yorkers, we visit Manhattan frequently and just returned from a visit packed with activity. We took the bus and subway plus the occasional cab with no problems at all! On principle, we do not use Uber. Bus drivers went out of their way to be helpful. When we didn’t know how to check value on our Metrocard, a subway employee emerged out of nowhere to show us how. Not only did we get where we needed to go, but everyone was convivial, helpful and kind. A nightmare??? We just didn’t see it nor have we at any time.
Try commuting. There is a big difference in the experience depending on *when* you are using NYC transit.
Arundo Donax (Seattle)
My West Coast family of five spent a week in NY in May, arriving/departing via EWR and commuting from an Airbnb in Jersey City to Midtown daily to do the tourist thing from Lincoln Center and the Met down to the Battery, using only the cheapest available public transit for the entire trip (NJ bus + PATH + MetroCard). We used no private transit: no cabs, shuttles, Lyft, Uber, etc. As near-neophytes, we had no problems getting around. If this is dysfunction, try using public transit out in my affluent suburb.
George S (New York, NY)
@Arundo Donax It's wonderful that you and your family had such a positive experience. But with all due respect, a one week visit hardly scratches the surface of what it is like to rely on these systems, especially the subway, on a daily basis, week after week. The feculent filth, the delays, the sweltering me, live here for six months or more, relying on the system to get to work, doctors' appointments, etc., and you would have a different view.
stan continople (brooklyn)
When DeBlasio proposed his millionaires tax to fix the subways, Cuomo broke an Olympic record for the 100 meters to quash it. As the Times reported recently, almost all his funding for reelection comes from the usual suspects, Wall Street and real estate, with virtually no small donors. De Blasio himself is not untainted in this respect, but if you put such a proposal up for a referendum, it would pass in a landslide, so why not do so? There are only so many millionaires in this city and most of them are so pampered in their amenity choked glass prisons to even venture outside and vote.
GC (Manhattan)
There are only so many millionaires but there are multiple thousands of outer boro 1-3 family houses paying a pittance in property tax. Park Slope brownstones, Forest Hills Tudors, Malba colonials all worth many millions with property tax bills in the four digits. Fertile ground for increase. Bring them up to the percentages paid by condos and coops and fix the subways. Before you cry that the oligarchs on billionaires row are paying nothing have a look at the current listings. Just saw a $5.9 million listing with property taxes - even with a temporary abatement - of $30,000 per year. Not bad for the city considering the residents probably consume $0 worth of services.
Chris (Brooklyn)
@GC Seems like a great way to raise rents and force people who were born in Park Slope or Prospect Heights, etc.... to sell out to actual rich people. Even if the building is valued in the millions, it doesn't help long term owners pay rising taxes. That will be the tenants or the new owners, who will renovate and sell expensive condos and coops.
David Keller (Petaluma CA)
Can we take a look at the "carrying capacity" (pun intended) for Manhattan and the rapidly intensely developing hubs across the city? From the traditional business and recreational areas, to the newer ultra-high rises - it seems like the city approves development without taking a look at how people can reasonably access transit, whether via subway, bus, private cars, taxis, bikes, ride services or helicopter. Domestic and international money is driving the intensification, but that investment is ultimately a fool's errand without working transportation systems. Trying to mop up after failures is really difficult. As an ex-native NYer, I fear the inevitability of fulfilling Yogi Berra's purported aphorism, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
Martin Daly (San Diego, California)
I began reading this editorial assuming it was about the subways and buses. Instead, I found half of one paragraph - out of twelve - on that subject, the rest about taxis and Uber, Lyft, etc. No reforms of the use of hire cars and taxis will change the mess of public transport and bring NYC into line with the great metropolises - London, Paris, Tokyo - that put real money into public transport, have innovative pricing, compensatory congestion charges for cars, and a riding public that expects service and that votes accordingly. City to working class: Drop Dead.
Jay Sonoma (Central OR)
Just another example of the rich not wanting their money to be used to help normal people.
AnnNYC (New York, New York)
What about removing those dumb pedestrian plazas, barricaded bike and middle-of-the-road parking lanes? Nobody ever points to them as the source of the problem but when they went in, that's when the traffic jams in my neighborhood (the formerly sedate West Village) began. We now have traffic and honking horns from midtown down into the Village. Nothing to do with Uber--it's because when you add in constant construction, you've lost half the lanes. Ask any taxi driver, they'll tell you the same. As for those bike lanes, what about regulating them and making sure that bikers stay in them, go in the right direction and require them to observe lights, just like we expect cars to do? As a pedestrian, I find it easier to avoid cars because you can hear them. Bikers tend to whiz out of nowhere and run lights. I almost never see them in my local bike lanes unless they're going in the wrong direction. We might as well turn those lanes back to vehicles and ease some of the traffic congestion.
RichardW (Manhattan)
i completely agree. The recent NYC traffic engineers reduced lanes for cars with the intention of slowing down traffic. They succeeded.
Rami (NY)
@AnnNYC actually data from most cities in the world show that more bike lanes and pedestrian friendly roads/spaces actually REDUCE Car traffic... one would assume that’s a pretty obvious statement... The issue with NY is that the bike lanes are actually not safe enough! Safer bike lanes == more bike users == less cars on the road
Nick (NYC)
@AnnNYC Oh please. Congestion has been an issue in the city long before the city started to implement those changes (which took off during the Bloomberg era). And those changes are still few and far and not nearly as dramatic as they should be at this point. The West Village wasn't "sedate", what are you talking about? Traffic has long been terrible throughout the city at peak hours, and especially in the Manhattan core. At least now it's safer to cross the street and ride a bike, which is the point. To create a livable city and making biking attractive as a transportation mode.
sk (New York)
Something overlooked in this article is NYC's free parking bonanza. Why not own a car in New York City? In residential areas, parking for everyone is absolutely free. If you have a government job (NYPD, FDNY, MTA, EMS, Executive Branch, City Council, Courts, Dept. of Education, etc.) you probably have a placard from the city or your union, and the NYPD will let you park ANYWHERE (legally or illegally) for free. Ditto if a cop likes you and you have a card from a police union, a mini-badge, any police manual, a brightly colored safety vest, or you have certain jobs like clergy, physicians, or doormen that are on their "favored occupations" list. All these vehicles take up curb space and when they're not parked, they're using road space. Good government types moan about these abuses a lot. But, nothing happens. Unions are powerful. And, do you really think a mayor who takes a motorcade 12 miles to the gym everyday is going to do much about it?
New World (NYC)
@sk It’s totally out of control. I live near the police station on E 20th St. The PRIVATE cop cars park in bus stops, fire hydrants, halfway into the crosswalks, in loading zones, anywhere there’s asphalt. Even the Uber/Lyft drivers have nowhere sit. And I’m not anti cops, I’m just for some semblance of law and order.
Fernando J. Lopez (MIAMI, Florida)
Agree totally with your assessment. Uber, Lyft and specially yellow cab drivers shall be entitled to better wages. I took a cab from La Guardia to Manhattan at 5 pm and the driver feell asleep every other block; he seemed exhausted! Dangerous for the driver, for passengers, pedestrians and other drivers. I urge the commission to better yellow cab fares! Lots of money in the city and lots of people that can afford increments!
Tuco (Surfside, FL)
How about a study on bike lane use? Remove the unused ones and traffic will flow faster.
Nick (NYC)
All bicycle lanes are used in NYC, some more heavily than others. The NYC DOT has numerous studies regarding the subject. Congestion was horrid before the implementation of bicycle lanes. At least now you can more safely ride a bike and cross the street at more locations.
Tuco (Surfside, FL)
@Nick Sounds like you work for the DOT.
bongo (east coast)
The temperature in several subway stations has been over 100 degrees, the past few weeks. Not an experience someone wants to repeat. Raising the minimum wage for both cab drivers and Uber-type drivers will go along way in removing useless auto's from the streets.
Juan R (NYC)
- Fix the subway; - Add true bus rapid transit (with dedicated lanes) in all boroughs; - Then, and only then, implement congestion pricing and hike the cost of parking to better approximate its market value; - Stop parking placard abuse; - And yes, by all means, impose a minimum wage requirement on app-based car services.
DeBlasio's vision zero plan purposely slowed down traffic in NYC. (For example by lowering the speed limit to 25 mph.) So, I don't understand what the fuss is about. DeBlasio got exactly what he wanted. Of course, now he will use the slow traffic to get laws passed (like congestion pricing) which will benefit the rich at the expense of the working class. He did the same thing with giving Zip Car exclusive use of hundreds of in-short-supply street parking spaces. Again, the benefit yuppies at the expense of the middle and working class. The inexpensive, doable solution to all this? Besides getting rid of DeBlasio? (1) Gradually phase out the medallion and car service model (which is dead) and instead raffle off non-transferable taxi licenses which are good for one year and would be needed for all types of car services (taxi, radio, Ubber). The taxi business will soon be dominated by AI's, so we should discourage the idea that taxi driving is a career. (2) Stop talking about congestion pricing and bridge tolls, which are all about turning Manhattan into a play ground for the rich at the expense of the middle and working classes. (3) Stop subsidizing Manhattan. Encourage commerce to move to the outer boroughs where there is more space. (4) Raise the speed limit back to 30 and 35 mph.
[email protected] Want Another Opinion (wright)
@XY How is Manhattan subsidized and by who. Consider where the NY tax dollars come from to begin with.
Marta (NYC)
The New Yorker just did an in depth article on the subways. The reason the subways are a nightmare and so many people have moved to ride sharing apps is - Andrew Cuomo. And George Pataki.
Catania (Dobbs Ferry NY)
A city planner of the 19th century suggested filling the East River to connect Manhattan to Queens and Brooklyn by land. This would prevent all the back up of vehicles jamming cross streets to use the bridges. It would also allow new roads to allow more access in and out of the city.
RG (Kentucky)
I just returned from a visit to a typical German city. There were streetcars, subway trains, busses, and regional trains to take people wherever they want to go. It was amazingly easy to get around, and inexpensive. There were also cars on the streets, but no traffic jams at all. This community obviously invests heavily in public transportation, and the result is a very effective transportation system.
Ken (Frankfurt, Germany)
@RG, I live just outside a typical German city (Frankfurt). Although much smaller than NYC, we suffer all of the problems of the automobile culture, especially traffic jams. Public transportation is indeed great but impractical in many instances, such as evenings or in travel between outer hubs, because the networks are focused on bringing a working population into the center of town during the working day. However, new tram lines are being built in the city and the bus service continues to improve. The only catch: you must be prepared to invest the time.
Sam (NYC)
It’s complex yet simple at the same time ... MTA is controlled by the state, Cuomo is playing a cynical game with Di Blassio, hence the city suffers. Other games have been played for years by numerous actors in this drama. Years of neglect, “non appropriation of funds” and the all important mismanagement bogeyman have gotten us to this moment in time. We all have to look in the mirror and stop complaining about the “other”. There’s enough guilt to build a pyramid, which isn’t that bad an idea at this point.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
The fundamental issues are corruption and inefficiency. Mass transit, with its tens of millions of daily trips, generates more than enough cash to have modernized, added routes, increased capacity. Why hasn't it? Archaic work rules that do things like allow transportation workers to commute to work on the clock. Allowing union rules to offer overtime to workers with seniority and high pay rates while qualified junior workers are not even working full time. [This is designed to increase the compensation of white men in comparison to minorities and women. Designed, not an accident.] Strange organization and governance by highly paid political appointees, who influence in favor of their cronies in negotiation of union contracts and also in contracted repair and construction contracts. Labor agreements that set artificially high wages for union workers and require not union contractors to contribute to union pensions rather than payments to benefit their own workers. Poor contract management. Contracts are let for poorly scoped projects and the contractor benefits from infinite change orders and rework of already completed work. Time and material jobs manned with multiple no-show phantom employees. It is not easy to spend seven times as much on a NYC infrastructure as is spent on a comparable project in Paris, France, but coordination between contractors and corrupt city employees can make it happen. If mass transit were functioning, road use would decline.
Larry Greenfield (New York City)
@ebmem There are about 5.5 million weekday trips on NYC subways, not "tens of millions."
Nathan (Los Angeles)
Less cars. More pedestrians and bikes and transport. It’s a quality of life issue.
Corwin (New York)
NY's approach to all things traffic boils down to finding reasons to find people and then doing it with increasing frequency . The investment in bicycle lanes won't achieve much in regards to traffic alleviation. There are people and situations for whom it's viable. For those who have body, age hurdles that would inhibit cycling as a primary form of transport, or who still need to travel when weather is bad, or who don't want to arrive at work drenched in sweat, or who commute from Queens to The Bronx, it's not likely to catch on. Devoting 30-40% of road space on streets in a city that historically struggles to accommodate traffic isn't likely to change that. The elimination of parking spots to create many of those lanes though? That accomplishes something. NY has lost the plot. They can't remember the problem but the solution is choking motorists. Ask anyone in Brooklyn or Queens who has to park on the street how often they drive in their free time. With most people I know, it's rare, as they don't want to spend 30+ minutes hunting for a spot when they get home. My street regularly packs so tight that spots beside hydrants are taken up as people circle like sharks for extended periods. Want to alleviate some traffic? Maybe use some of those cameras and start monitoring and adjusting traffic patterns in real-time 12 hours per day. It'll do more than 1/2-1/3 of lanes being devoted to buses that the city only decides to send down the street twice an hour.
Treadle See (UWS)
Circling my stinking UWS block looking for a space is my raison d’etre...I’m not a father, I’m not a film editor...I’m a parking space my core...just like my dear ole dad...anyone wanna trade lives? I’d switch with any Iowa farmer...
Talleyrand (18th Century)
Fix the subway = end of congestion. We can’t afford to pay the unions and subway engineers 160k annually. The second Ave subway is the most expensive tunnel project in the world— even more than the French. Why?
Edward Crimmins (Rome, Italy)
It's almost funny, talking endlessly about car services when the problem is not on the streets but underground. Compare the NYC Subway to any municipal government that actually cares about their people getting to and from work, then you know where the problem really is. Paris a city with a Metro that does function and already goes almost anywhere in the city, they are planning on adding 110 miles of track by 2030. New York City is hoping (but will fail) to add 3/4 of a mile of track in that time. Face it the powerful in NYC just don't care.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
@Edward Crimmins Subway extensions in NYC cost seven times per mile what they cost in Paris France. Corruption pays.
Des Johnson (Forest Hills NY)
The rules that apply to the open roads of Montana are utterly inappropriate to Manhattan. A narrow island, with narrow cross-streets, cannot function if large delivery vehicles are permitted at any hour of the day. Cross-streets are also negatively impacted by what seems like non-stop construction, with barriers, heavy vehicles, and cranes taking up scarce space. Congestion pricing must be part of the solution. Additional subway tunnels and bus lanes are needed. Smaller, smarter, people-movers are needed. But which vested interest will cry "uncle" first?
Garrett (NYC)
The car services are not the problem -- the lack of spaces for them to wait for or unload passengers is. Get rid of the bike lanes (which most bikers are not using anyway) and limit on-street parking to 30 minutes and you congestion problem is solved, there will be plenty of open space for traffic to move as it did before the Bloomberg administration decided to try and make Manhattan a gated community.
Arthur (NY)
There's corruption ( nine tenths of the problem) then there's also this: Our problems don't get addressed because our idea of how to address them is archaic. This because we imagine a strong man will solve them for us (Yes, once in a while it's a woman who's Mayor or Governor but not here in NY) We imagine that all problems should be addressed by powerful tops of pyramids. Not addressed by empowered professionals driven to innovate using science and knowledge but someone STRONG! Our idea of what a leader is is archaic and patriarchal, left over from the war metaphor which so much of our conventional wisdom is mistakenly rooted in. We imagine that a strong man is a leader and he will bark orders loudly to display his power and we will be saved by him. I suspect, strongly, that the real solutions lie with relatively humble but devoted career civil servants who are never consulted by "Leaders" because, well the aren't STRONG! How do London, Paris and Tokyo do it? Shouldn't that be the obvious question? I'm sure there are plenty of transportation employees who are wonky about the transport in other more civilized better organized cities. I'm also sure De Blasio and Cuomo are not going to empower them to enact a solution, it would take away a chance to show how strong they are, and of course to compete pointlessly against one another. Has anybody else noticed an intelligent woman is running for Governor, just saying.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
@Arthur Women in power in NYC are every bit as corrupt as the men. Eliminate the corruption and direct money to solving problems and you can get to an efficient transportation system appropriate for the twenty first century.
The city can also do other stuff, like install more bus lanes, enforce laws against placard abuse, and actually ticket drivers who illegally block bus lanes and gridlock intersections. The city doesn't have all the tools to improve transit thanks to the shared power structure with Albany, but there is a lot the city can do on its own if it had the political will to stand up to vehicle owners.
obummer (lax)
Another example of government run fiasco. Sell off the system and see immediate improvements .
Peter Jacobsen (Davis, California)
As long as the roads in New York City are free, they’ll be overcrowded. (And a corollary, as long as parking is underpriced, empty spaces will be hard to find.)
Sufibean (Altadena, Ca.)
Why does anyone in New York have a car? I lived in Manhattan and then Queens for five years without a car and lived very well. If I wanted to go out of,town I rented a car. I now live in Socal and HAVE to have a car; it's expensive: gas, oil, repairs, parking, insurance. I'd ride public transit if it existed in any viable form. Pasadena once had a good public transportation system that was dismantled to make way for more cars. Be grateful New Yorkers and improve your transit!
Treadle See (UWS)
We needs cars to get the heck out of nyc!!! Every chance we get!!!
Cyberax (Seattle)
A simple fix: 1) Recall all "medallions". Just terminate the program completely. 2) Mandate that ride-hailing companies pay drivers a living wage ($20 per hour, maybe?) That's it. And let the market decide the rest.
Manish (Seattle, WA)
And what about people who paid tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for medallions with the promise there’d be a cap on taxis?
Peter Greenberg (Austin)
Uber and Lyft will never agree to that. Their business model is based on having as little overhead as possible. No cars, no cameras All the burden carried by the indentured servants, I mean drivers. In fact, they’d prefer a cap to paying any kind of minimum wage. Taxi regulations were meant to allow some kind of Minimum wage with proper inspection of vehicles etc. Unfortunately the medallion price Went way out of whack because there was too much artificial constraint of medallions. The real emphasis should be on efficient transportation infrastructure a la European cities.
Stephen (New Jersey)
Does the city have no responsibility to people who invested their life savings in medallions?
GM (Austin)
Lived in NYC from late 1980s until 2007. The city changed so much to become like everywhere else and continues to do so. I can't for the life of me figure why it's worth it for long time residents. So much of it's uniqueness and appeal had been replaced by commoditization (banks, pharmacies, and Starbucks at every intersection, sometimes all three, same as any genetic city w/ 100k population) Costs have driven out so much of its young talent. Take restaurants: perhaps the most vibrant food scene in the world long ago drove out the most talented young chefs. Who can afford it but formulaic mid career chefs with wealthy friends to back them? Don't believe it? NYC restaurants used to be open all hours. New talent on the hustle. Now? Try and find a top flight joint serving food at 12:30. It's like St. Louis or Denver re closing time. You get great food now in Chicago, LA, Austin, Washington DC, San Diego at levels easily equal and with less pretense and at lower cost. Housing stock has become safe harbor for foreign cash. Working people don't live, can't live, in Manhattan anymore. Feel good about buying a $2m apartment in Brooklyn so your family has a bit of space, have at it. That's a sucker's move. And a world class Subway system made it all viable and livable. Scratch that now, too The best thing NYC always did was convince people that living there was worth all the hassle and downside. It certainly has lost the plot.
Daphne philipson (new york)
@GM New York is still the best place to live. Given the suburbs where I lived for 40 years or the city I take the city. Diversity in people by race and age makes our neighborhoods fun and interesting. the subway system needs alot of work but it still gets us where we want to go and will only improve.
Pike (Brooklyn)
@GM Spot on!
Sceptic In The city (NYC)
Someone has to say it: The investment in CitiBike and the implementation of separated, protected, bicycle lanes in New York is possibly one of the most ridiculous ideas ever foisted on the city. A bicycle is a good way to get some exercise, but it is a terrible way to travel, and an inefficient way to move masses of people across distances. To implement CitiBike the city has reduced the number of lanes for traffic on major north-south arteries to benefit a one passenger vehicle while allowing the proliferation of Uber and other taxi services. The result is increased congestion, and worse air quality. The city needs fewer cars, no bikes, and more mass transit. We should have more buses making more stops to carry more people, as well as some limited stop buses on the same routes for those who need to travel greater distances. The city also needs more frequent crosstown buses as well. If New York is to be a great city in the 21st century, it should not be using 19th century technology to move people around.
Brian Howald (Brooklyn, NY)
@Sceptic In The city The implementation of protected bike lanes in the late 2000s and early 2010s coincided with an increase in average speeds in Midtown. That is, until for-hire vehicles completely reversed it and then some. Protected bike lanes have made our streets safer by reducing the distance pedestrians have to cross and preventing people on bike from being doored or hit by people parking. The truth is that few people in many parts of the city got there by car but 75% of street space is still devoted to driving, despite its massive costs in re: slowing buses, thwarting deliveries, pollution, traffic violence, etc. Biking is not only cheap, but extremely healthy, and the city gets back in reduced health care expenditures and higher productivity of healthy people many times over what it pays to stripe lanes. The city needs more walking, more bikes, more buses, more trains, but as few cars as possible.
Pedestrian Advocate (NYC)
@Sceptic In The city, You know perfectly well that the fact that the bicycle is 19th Century technology doesn't have anything to do with whether it's good or bad for the future of NYC transportation. Cuteness of a turn of phrase doesn't lend substance. Furthermore, your reference to one-passenger vehicles shoots you in the foot. Four or five one-passenger bikes can take up less space than one car, even with multiple passengers--and even more parked bikes can fit in the space of one parked car. There's simply no way to pretend that cars aren't the far-and-away leader among causes of congestion. And, not that traffic adheres to the principles of fluid mechanics anyway, but the lanes dedicated to bike use are of course narrower than those dedicated to cars.
CHN (New York, NY)
@Brian Howald Please show some proof that "the city gets back in reduced health care expenditures and higher productivity of healthy people many times over what it pays to stripe lanes." That is by far one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever read. The city painted bike lanes, flooded the streets with bikes, and then washed its hands of the whole enterprise. There is no enforcement of existing laws and certainly no attempt to create new ones. Transportation Alternatives also does nothing other than pat themselves on the back for the chaos they created and continue to sustain. Cyclists are the most serious scofflaws of any transportation users, and they think they are entitled to do whatever is best for them. They have brought nothing positive to this city, not in terms of health, or safety, or utility. I walk a lot, and as a pedestrian it is not the cars that scare me; they know the laws and tend to follow them. Cyclists, however, scare me to death. They think laws are for "other people."
C (Brooklyn)
I’m very bored of congestion pricing as a solution, it will not work in NYC. It punishes Brooklyn and Queens in a huge way. It is faster on any given day to get from one borough to the other by crossing the river twice and going through Manhattan, it will only get worse. The answer is get the single car commuters off the road by adding a large surcharge for entering a parking lot between 7am and noon (even if you are a monthly customer). And eliminate double parking, even for passenger pick ups at all times by strict enforcement. That likely means establishing pick up zones on every block and eliminating a lot of street parking.
Matt R (Brooklyn)
Yellow cab drivers pull 12 hour shifts (too long to be safe) and I've often been terrified by their driving even though they are licensed and trained. Uber drivers work far shorter hours and seem safer to me. I'm not sure Uber is the problem. I've lived in NYC most of my life and have been taking yellow cabs since the mid 80s so I'm not making a snap judgment.
Sharon (Oregon)
@Matt R Uber/Lyft adds competition into the market which helps consumers a lot. We used both Uber and taxi service a lot last year in many cities. Often, but not always, Uber drivers were more helpful and courteous, they also drove safer. This summer my daughter had a taxi reservation to take her to the airport from Fredonia. It didn't show up, there were no Uber or Lyft drivers either. It cost $600 in increased airfare for the re-book. No shows were a problem for me in NJ years ago, when there was no Uber/Lyft. The market needs competition.....drivers also need living wages and safe working conditions.
George S (New York, NY)
@Matt R Trained? In what! A lot of them barely know their way around, are sullen, and lack fluency. Any training seems to be minimal at best!
Bengal10Wilkin215402 (Nj)
New York city should not consider reducing the of amount car services. They should stop and think why people use these car services in a daily basic. Their are a ton of reasons why these roads are so congested, and that doesn't involved the car services business. A native New Yorker have you ever seen the amount of construction that stops, or detours the street traffic. I think New York City Council should rethink the bills to freeze the number of Uber cars on city streets. For an, alternative they should aim to reduce the amount of construction site in the streets. Reducing the amount of car services will just make a complete mess for, those people in those services.
Otto Biggs (New York City)
Flooding the streets with minimally trained drivers that are empty 40 percent of the time while cruising for fares is not a fair, efficient, or first-rate transit system. We should have congestion pricing in Midtown and below for everything but delivery trucks, cut back on public parking except for rechargeable vehicles that are part of shared fleets, and prioritize mass transit both above and below ground. The city is continuing to grow, and the streets can only get so wide. Something has got to give.
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
New York has faced this issue for years, yet I don’t see any dramatic complexity in answering the editoriat’s question. NYC transport is such a nightmare despite the prosperity of the city because so much of taxed resources are consumed by providing free cheese and Band Aids. Vastly improving the transportation picture in NYC will require massive infrastructure investments, and New Yorkers simply can’t assemble the will to forgo enough of the free cheese to make a difference. Those who pay the freight for keeping the lights on in the city, the upper middle class and the wealthy, have had it and won’t tolerate even higher taxes that hit only them – on the premise, of course, that they’re the filthiest slime the universe has ever known and DESERVE to be enslaved. It’s not that dissimilar from the stories so starkly on display in Illinois (most centrally including Chicago) and New Jersey, which are NOT bankrupt only because they SAY they’re not. Now, NYC isn’t bankrupt (yet), but clearly is at an impasse – it can’t tax more, the city’s players and Albany won’t let them, and the billions it expends on itself just barely appease the masses that insist on bread and circuses. How could anyone rational EXPECT the city fathers to transform NYC’s transportation mess into something that works dramatically better? The bills to limit ride-sharing growth basically choose winners and losers – the winners are taxi drivers, whose …
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
... incomes are artificially inflated by holding back Uber drivers, and the subways, whose management wants more people forced to buy Metrocards so they can be abused by the poor service and conditions subways and buses offer. Or the editoriat’s eternal counsel to artificially limit the number of vehicles on Manhattan streets so as to force people into subways and buses, and that same poor service and conditions. But even if these bills and suggestions would be adopted they’d merely improve things financially at the margins and in a year or two with continued growth New Yorkers would be in precisely the same mess they’re in today. New York needs to reimagine its transport system from the ground-up for a new century, and that eventually will cost trillions. You gonna spend the trillions on free cheese … or infrastructure? You can’t have both. Where are you going to find the MONEY?
Richard (Chicago)
@Richard Luettgen New York City will get the money where it always gets the money, by 'taxing' the bridge and tunnel crowd with higher entry/user fees. It's kinda like a tariff.
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
@Richard (from Chitown) Actually, the bridge and tunnel tolls belong not to the city but to an independent regional authority, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (the governors of NY and NJ agree on top management), that operates the bridges and tunnels between NJ and NY, the region's three major airports, pays the workers and invests in regional infrastructure development projects, like golf courses for the excusive use of retired Port Authority workers. The city doesn't directly see a dime, except when the Authority builds something in the city, such as the new World Trade Center complex, and the city gets real estate taxes. But it's an interesting idea -- currently, bridge and tunnel tolls are only imposed on inbound Manhattan traffic -- what self-respecting New Yorker would pay to go to New Jersey? However, if the state allowed the city to place tollbooths on the OUTBOUND approaches, lawfully imprisoning motorists on Manhattan who didn't want to or couldn't pay the toll to NJ, then the city would develop an IMMENSE source of new revenue. Of course, that would make commuters and tourists TWICE as outraged and infuriated -- but, then … who cares about them? They're like … TAXPAYERS. Icky.
David Lelyveld (Washington Heights, NYC)
What if the police enforced traffic rules, including red lights, grid-lock and bus lanes, — instead of harassing teenagers? That would bring in income and make people hesitate to drive in yhe city when they don’t have to.
Greg Ursino (Chicago)
An excellent editorial if your goal is to increase the income of Uber drivers If your goal is to decrease the deadlock of transportation in Manhattan. To make the trip from say, Times Square to Soho be under 25 minutes. Not so much.
Michael c (Brooklyn)
I’m trying to think of the large prosperous city, somewhere on Earth, where the transit is sparkling clean and on time, and the streets are smoothly paved, and people prefer to ride underground in large groups instead of sitting quietly in the back seat of a private car. Oh, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Kelly (USA)
@Michael c Try Stuttgart, Germany. It’s very clean, punctual and well-organized. Granted it’s a much smaller city, but its infrastructure is great.
Joseph Koszary (Hong Kong)
Looking at cities like Hong Kong and London would be a start. They’re obviously not as perfect as you’re asking for, but they’re much closer to it than New York. Admittedly, a big component of Hong Kong’s system is its preponderance of taxis, but that’s an essential part of the mix when well-balanced with a good bus and underground system.
An American In Korea (Seoul Via New York City)
You might consider a trip to Seoul. Its subway transit system is mighty impressive in carrying its more than 10 million citizens from place to place everyday. Clean well-maintained stations, quiet cars, consistently air conditioned rides, easy to navigate with excellent signage for way-finding, *and* cheap with a base fare (1,250Won/1.12US$) depending on how the distance one travels. Let’s face it, the transit kingpins of New York could take a lesson or two on transit done right!
Jeffrey Fr (Port Washington, N Y)
simple solution. close 1 avenue on both sides of town to be used exclusively by buses. tons of buses. (electric buses).
cartercraft (hoboken, nj)
@Jeffrey Fr this was the idea for Madison Avenue waaay back in the Lindsay Administration. I went up Madison AVe today and it was as ridiculously congested today as it ever has been. #bigly #sad we can't implement something like this.
TheUglyTruth (Virginia Beach)
Truly brilliant. Limit paid for hire cars taking people around the city so they don’t need their cars in the city, so that people have to take their personal cars into the city, which is the problem in the first place. If you can find the genius who came up with this, ask them if it should be called the “taxi medallion rescue plan.”
Marta (NYC)
@TheUglyTruth Maybe we should ask the genius from Virginia if he even read the article. As it notes, the majority of paid car hire rides are individuals who would otherwise have taken a yellow cab or a subway. Subway ridership stats clearly reflect this. These are not individuals who would otherwise have driven their cars into Manhattan. Many New Yorkers do not have cars. Your problem is a figment of your own imagination.
Currents (NYC)
Thank you, NYT, for taking up local issues. With local news gutted, the citizens of this city need you to take up the slack.
Sparky (NYC)
Every time I take a yellow cab, I swear to myself I will not do it again. The drivers switch lanes every 12 feet, they are generally rude or indifferent, the cabs often smell terrible. On a recent ride home from LGA, the driver seemed to be falling asleep at red lights. Instead of trying to prop up this miserable, outdated business, let it either improve its service or go the way of the horse and buggy. Instead, it appears our feckless mayor and City Council will punish New Yorkers by making it more expensive and less convenient to take Uber, Lyft and Via. Those outside of Manhattan will suffer most. Stop putting riders last!
Mixilplix (Santa Monica )
Casey (New York, NY)
@Mixilplix Which is a magic cure for the subway and congestion...not. Here's the reality. Most vehicles in Manhattan are there for a business reason. Parking is already $60. Speed is all of 3 mph. No one drives to Manhattan for pleasure or fun. The Congestion TAX will just be added to the cost of doing business, and the money will be sent to the MTA, where it will disappear like the rest of it-it's not going to look like the Paris Metro or Berlin U-bahn. Congestion Taxation is a commuter tax, and a business tax. It isn't going to do squat in Manhattan....sorry.
James (DC)
"New York is one of the most prosperous cities in the world," but it is prosperous in the way that Lagos or Delhi is prosperous -- extreme wealth, but also extreme suffering and squalor. Naples, Italy does a better job of managing garbage than New York -- and they have clean and modern metro -- with world-class art in their stations -- to boot. Honestly, New York is easily the most filthy, squalid, and dysfunctional city I've seen anywhere in an OECD country. There is zero social ethos, zero solidarity -- extreme corruption and dysfunction. Why does New York have such a horrible public transit system? I don't know. Why do New Yorkers pay 15 percent of a year's rent to shyster "brokers" for the privilege of paying $2,000/month for a studio apartment with no washing machine or natural light? Just utter greed and dysfunction. New York's transport system is a disgrace, because New York -- and many New Yorkers themselves -- is a disgrace. The only people who think New York is the "greatest city on Earth" are the rich predators who dominate this city. Europeans and Asians laugh at the squalor of New York, the dysfunction of the subway, and wonder why the poor and working-class put up with the daily indignities of this city without rioting in the streets.
Frank (Sydney Oz)
@James yeah - when we stayed in Queens in 2010 - maybe Elmhurst - and got on the local buses to find everyone else was a poor looking Latino - going to work to service some rich folks - I saw that third-world aspect. First time I visited Manhattan around 1983 there was a great buzzy mix of rich and poor rubbing shoulders - I suspect something to do with rent control - which I understand developers may have finally destroyed ? So now rich folks can live in Manhattan - and their servants have to commute 90 minutes or more from Queens - the twain shall hardly meet ?
ddcat (queens, ny)
@Frank - I live in Queens and have lived in NYC all my life. Queens is a big place. It doesn't take 90 minutes to get into Manhattan from where I am in Queens. It's a 25 minute ride on the "F" train. When it comes. And Elmhurst - This is an immigrant neighborhood Thus you saw a lot of Latinos. You think there weren't immigrant neighborhoods 10, 30, 50, 80 years ago?
Mike (Mass)
@James, Ever been to Boston and ridden the T? It's worse than NYC, I swear.
Get rid of the yellow cabs...why should such an expensive and archaic model be in place?
bongo (east coast)
@QED Totally disagree, Uber type rides are always more expensive that cabs. I enjoy being able to find a cab quickly enough and now with the improved cabs, a much better experience. I do "hate" the "tv" in the back of the cab.
DCBinNYC (The Big Apple)
New capital projects with their photo-op ribbon-cuttings vs. long deferred maintenance -- riders be damned.
R.F.S. (NYC)
Why is it that you don't even mention the congestion caused by black limos constantly waiting on the streets and avenues for their wealthy corporate customers? Why don't we make it illegal for those limos to double-park while waiting for hours? Why do you take it all out on the car services that the common person can afford to use?
Jonathan (Oronoque)
@R.F.S. - Because these corporations and rich people pay huge amounts of city tax? Just a guess...
RM (Brooklyn)
As a bicyclist, what I find most infuriating about for-hire car drivers (whose cars are easily recognizable since their license plates start with a T in NYC) is that they seem to have no regard for bike lanes. (Unlike yellow cabs and green cabs, who have come to respect bike lanes.) Unfortunately it's a very common sight to see these drivers idle in the bike lanes to wait for and drop off their passengers or simply to check their phones to find their next fares. On top of that dangerous ignorance, there seems to be zero effort on the part of the NYP to enforce traffic rules and keep bike lanes free and safe. Why do these guys get to act with impunity and undermine the progress we've made on the streets?
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
@RM How much road tax do you contribute to pay for those bike lanes that were taken away from the drivers of vehicles that paid through annual licensing fees and fuel taxes to build them? Sit by the side of the road and count how many bicycle miles per hour per hour and figure out how much each bicycle rider should be contributing to infrastructure costs. Your lane was removed from more efficient transportation modes. Pay up.
CHN (New York, NY)
@RM I'd also like to see the NYPD enforce rules to keep pedestrians safe. I'd like to see them ticket cyclists who turn one-way bike lanes into two-way bike lines. I'd like to see them ticket cyclists who think that red lights are only for cars; or who can't be "cramped in" by those pesky bike lanes and choose to ride on the sidewalks instead. And they get angry because pedestrians are in their way! Cyclists complain about drivers' behavior towards them, and then the cyclists turn around and behave in the same fashion towards pedestrians. You deserve no sympathy.
D I Shaw (Maryland)
@RM As a bicyclist, you use an extraordinary amount of real estate in the streets, set aside at an extraordinary cost primarily during the Bloomberg administration, to move an extraordinarily small number of people an extraordinarily short distance mostly during pleasant weather in those parts of Manhattan which are closest to level. Simple physics dictate that bike lanes can never move remotely as many people as a properly functioning subway. Further, for whatever combination of self-righteousness and immaturity, bicycle riders have developed an anarchic culture that is a threat to everyone else on the streets. For every car waiting in a bicycle lane, their are 20 cyclists running red lights, going the wrong way, turning without signaling, zipping onto sidewalks when convenient EVEN with a bike lane available, and so on. New York is not the Netherlands, with low-rise buildings, low population density at street level, and completely level ground. Nor do their summers routinely reach the 90's F, nor winters the single digits and teens F. Nor has New York anything approaching the social cohesion of the Dutch which makes such an uncomfortable form of transport acceptable! The bicycle lanes are a highly ideological and extravagant response on the part of a fairly small group of enthusiasts who like to condescend morally to the rest of us while signaling their own virtue. One phrase: FIX THE SUBWAYS!!! (FYI I own and ride a bicycle, recreationally, in parks on a trail)
Joy Fallek (Brooklyn, New York)
If outer-boroughs need the services of Uber et al. because in some areas, transportation options are few, why not treat these companies as green cabs are treated: They would be able pick up freely in all boroughs but Manhattan. They could drop off in Manhattan. As the city promised when it issued yellow cab medallions, yellow cabs would then be the only cars that pick up passengers in Manhattan by street or app hail (i.e. Arro or Curb). This would eliminated all those cruising Ubers and consequently, some of the congestion. and it would maintain the covenant the city made with yellow cab medallion owners when it sold them the medallions.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
@Joy Fallek How efficient is it for those vehicles to deadhead back to the other boroughs?
steven (NYC)
Yes, let's regulate and regulate and make transportation for everyone not in Manhattan even worse again. It's happened before. I remember when living in Rego Park 30 years ago you easily could wait 45 minutes for the bus to the subway, a one mile trip So, livery cars would take you there for $1, everyone was happy. That worked for years, the cops looked the other way, then the orders came from on high to squelch it. I moved to Manhattan, but you can once again wait 45 minutes for the Q23. Do not downsize car services until the MTA is fixed, which will probably be....never.
berkeleyhunt (New York, NY)
Fix the subway. Don't mess with Uber or Lyft, just fix the subway. Don't buy ferries or streetcars, just fix the subway. Don't blame someone else, just fix the subway. Fix the subway.
Ace (New Utrecht, Brooklyn)
@berkeleyhunt 100% correct: more trains more often.
David (Emmaus, PA)
@berkeleyhunt And extend the subway to both LaGuardia and JFK. To not have fast, direct rail connections to major airports is ridiculous.
Matthew (New Jersey)
@berkeleyhunt Sure. Easier said than done. Massive aging infrastructure that moves millions a day. To do it, as in "fix it" you would have to shut it down and tear it all out and start over. The money to do that would be crazy huge. The disruption to the city would be huger. It would be decades. When they built it there was no real regulation and the public was much more willing to put up with the upheaval, and the workers were much more willing to put up with dangerous work conditions. Go ahead, google pics "building NYC subway". So what ya got in reality is patching it up endlessly. And that costs huge too.
ck (Brooklyn)
The problem is clearly the subway. How does making other options worse help?
Navigator (Brooklyn)
Too many years in a one-party political system. Tammany Hall is a historical phenomenon that has never entirely lost its grip on NY. The Giuliani and Bloomberg years helped but now we are back with the old tax and spend on entitlements track. Infrastructure is always the lowest priority. And the mayor and governor are content pointing fingers at each other. It is not a good situation. Look at the disaster NYCHA is in. Can we ever hope to repair all those thousands of decrepit units? We need to elect more non-Democrats. That's our best hope.
cartercraft (hoboken, nj)
@Navigator let us not forget all these elected officials have city cars and many have drivers. Once they are in office they are disconnected from the reality of everyone else...
rational person (NYC)
Even though the subway is a 5 minute walk away, my neighborhood is now flooded with ubers, lyfts, and other cars for hire. This has dramatically changed the character of the area for the worse.
BORIS (Australia)
Uber and Lyft just distract from the real issue with transit, which is that the subway is old and broken, and incredibly expensive to maintain or extend due to the unionized labor force that controls the MTA, and the friendliness between the MTA and officials who manage the budget. It is 10x more expensive to build and maintain the MTA than anywhere else in the world due to inefficiencies in labor, redundancies in the workforce and straight up fraud. Fix these issues, fix the subway, and the traffic issues may well resolve themselves.
AC (Hudson County)
@BORIS I was here in the 70s & 80s.Waiting 45 minutes for a subway - which would then be pulled out of service after 4 or 5 stations. Why? because there was no maintenance or other investment. Then NYC & NYS realized the city (cash cow for Albany) would collapse. We started investing in mass transit (thank you David Gunn). I will always remember sitting at 110 th St # 1 line station in late '85 or '86 when first saw a New subway car. Stainless steel, clean inside. It was like Christmas. Since things ran well, it was time for to neglect the system again. Then the MTA's crazy financing scheme in the the late 90s / early '00s. Are we still paying that interest? Throw on Super Storm Sandy. We've added 100,000 uber type vehicles in 3 years. Cap it for now. No one can move. No one can breathe.
Mike (Mass)
Too many people, everywhere, seems to be the problem. Fact is this is not going to get any less congested or better in NYC or LA, Seattle, Boston, SF, Atlanta, etc. All of our roads and highways are slowly turning into parking lots. In 20 years time, it'll be beyond bad and much worse. Ever been in traffic jam in Bangladesh or China?
Pedestrian Advocate (NYC)
@Mike Motor vehicles, not people, are the problem. Insufficient transit is the runner-up.
Danilo Bonnet (Harlem)
Congestion pricing is not the solution, and freezing for-hire cars will help. On my way to Yankee stadium from Harlem Every third car was a for-hire car The solution is investment and efficiency from the mta. Getting a foreign company to accomplish the maintenance should streamline the maintenance work
Gabe (New Jersey)
What's not mentioned is the question of why the state controls the subway system, when it only covers the city. When would an Upstate or Long Island legislator ever vote to fund the subway adequately? When would their constituents ever say, "You know what? We should give more money to fund something a hundred miles away from where I live, which I will never use."? If Cuomo wants the city to fund a greater percentage of the subway, he should turn over control of the subway to the city. We'll find the money somehow.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
@Gabe During the early 1960's, mass transit in NYC was running a surplus which city government diverted to other uses. By 1968, it needed money and the State took over and issued bonds. That was the year of the teachers strike and the garbage strike, one of NYC's near death experiences.
Mario (Brooklyn)
The city can also lead by example - no more free parking for city workers. For the vast majority of them this is an unnecessary perk that encourages more congestion. Take mass transit like the rest of us.
mlb4ever (New York)
"The TBTA was merged into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968. Surplus revenue, formerly used for new automobile projects, would now be used to support public transportation. Since then, more than $10 billion has been contributed by the TBTA to subsidize mass transit fares and capital improvements for the New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad." Congestion pricing is just another tax on drivers who already support mass transit through tolls and would do little in easing traffic. Tradesman and deliveryman that need to get into midtown regardless of the added cost. Not to mention the added costs always gets passed on to you know who.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
@mlb4ever: congestion pricing means the working class driver -- perhaps a small contractor or business person -- gets the shaft and cannot afford to drive into the city -- but I assure you, the Trumps and the Kochs and the other richie rich types will not care if you charge them $20 a day to drive in Manhattan! Worst idea ever.
Lee Harrison (Albany / Kew Gardens)
The taxi medallions never should have had a lasting property value: the city "sold" them as a one-shot fund-raising gimmick. They should be a right to operate a vehicle for a short fixed term, 1 year or less, and sold at auction.
Zack (New York)
Why not just abolish the medallion system and "yellow cabs" altogether? I have not met a single person who prefers yellow cabs to the ride hailing apps. It's an outdated, inefficient business model that should go the way of the phone booth. While there are many reasons for transportation reform, bailing out the taxi industry should not be one of them.
Marta (NYC)
@Zack I certainly think the medallion system needs reform but I still prefer yellow cabs over Uber or Lyft any day. Most cab drivers know where they are going, must comply with safety regs, and realistically, there needs to be a limit to the number of vehicles on the roads of NYC. Traffic is intolerable and stifling the City. And many older New Yorkers don’t use apps. Most of all - it’s disgusting to me how little drivers make. These companies are the Walmart of the roads - providing cheap stuff with no regard whatsoever for the public good or externalities.
bongo (east coast)
@Zack I prefer yellow cabs and if the city abolished medallions, it would have to payback the purchase price of each and every medallion to the owners of the medallion.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
@Zack The city sold the medallions to raise revenue in exchange for exclusivity for taxies. If the city wants to abrogate their agreement, it would only be fair to compensate the owners of the medallions, which at their peak were selling for $1 million each.
SHerman (New York)
You explained perfectly why the transit system is a disgrace, and you don't even know it. You sum up the state of the transit system by explaining that it "doesn't work for too many of the regions's workers." If decisions about how to fund and operate the transit system had been made for the last fifty years for the benefit of the riders, not the workers, the system would be in great shape. The Times recently reported that MTA workers pushing a broom down on a subway platform make $175,000 per year with benefits. If some of that money had gone into replacing signals, we'd have the decent subway system the riders deserve.
AC (Hudson County)
@SHerman No one psusing a broom down there makes anything close to that. Urban myth.
Ma (Atl)
@SHerman that's the problem with public service unions. And unions own NYC, as well as NJ, philly, and most large cities.
Waleed Khalid (New York, New York)
Instead of clamping down on alternative transit companies like Uber, legislation should be considered to make Manhattan car-free. I do not mean no vehicles, but rather no personal vehicles should be allowed on the streets unless they have out-of-state plates. Most NYers do not drive anyway either because of cost or because it’s just easier to hop on the bus or train or hail a Lyft. Banning personal vehicles in manhattan would free up congestion and allow alternative and city transit to move quicker. Additionally, it may even be good to impose a tax on single users of the ride-hailing apps- if the ride is for one person it would be taxed, but if for a group it would be left alone. This idea may sound weird so maybe there can be discussion about this.
Karen (Brooklyn)
@Waleed Khalid So you're suggesting that folks who live in NYC, who pay taxes to support the roads, traffic cops, snow removal etc, should not be permitted to drive a car in their hometown, but out-of-towners should be allowed??? I have to say I disagree. I would also say I support congestion pricing. Most NYrs know that driving is the worst way to get around the city--bad is it is--the mta is still a better option, and that is where our focus should go.
Bocheball (NYC)
NYC should not regulate the for hire car services. Their are many reasons they are so popular and there are reasons the roads are so congested, very little of the fault lies with these services. For one, the subway is completely unreliable- crowded platforms packed waiting for trains that often don't come, or on weekends you have no idea where they'll actually go. Other reasons that no talks about that congest our roads, are the immense amount of construction going on, whether above or below the ground. Lanes are closed and traffic backs up slowing all the cars down. I don't see NYC trying to regulate building construction, which blocks lanes of traffic, not to mention only provides housing for the wealthy. Then there are the wretched yellow taxis. After not taking them for years, I took one the other day, dirty, no shocks, so I felt every bump, minimal ac, sweating in cab. I couldn't wait to return to my LYFT share ride, where I get a clean, ac car, with the most polite drivers who don't speed and get me where I need to go, for 1/3 the cost of wretched yellow cabs. Then there are the casual drivers who bring their cars into Manhattan, clogging up streets. implement fees. In short, stop blaming the hire car services for the lousy road conditions. They provide a service to working class NYers, and affordable way to get to where you want to go, especially in areas which the subways and buses don't provide much service at all.
steve (new york)
The mayor and city council should look at capping another major driving force of midtown congestion...unrestrained development. The new zoning for the area around Grand Central Station will add tens of thousands of new commuters who will be using already overtaxed subway lines and streets.
@steve Your complaint is about “unrestrained development”, specifically “The new zoning for the area around Grand Central Station will add tens of thousands of new commuters”. Did you not read your own words “..,for the area around Grand Central Station...”?? This is exactly the location that would have the LEAST negative impact for street transportation! Out-of-town commuters would come by train, with no taxis/buses/cars involved. As a major subway hub (4,5,6,7,S), NYC residents would most likely commute by subway, again not by surface transit. In short, this is exactly where development should be encouraged.
Clay Sorrough (Potter Hollow, New York)
The traffic mess of NYC is not the technologies of transportation services but the application of leadership, city-wide, state-wide and nationally. If this complaint sounds familiar look at the state of governance in this country today. Seemingly our country has become constipated on a diet of conflicting politics, conflicting policies, disingenuous applications of solutions and usurped good intentions. These maladies manifest in local messes: huge traffic, sardineification of air travel, crumbling highways and roads and bridges, trains perpetually late or broken down, stinking atmosphere, a Rube Goldberg electrical grid and on and on. It is not the method, it is the madness.
Nancy G (MA)
@Clay Sorrough, makes me think politicians should try telling the public the truth once in awhile instead of taking a pass for their own job security.
Boris Kraft (Switzerland)
If the subway infrastructure would be up to standards (think public transport in Tokio, which isn’t exactly a small city either), people would (or better: could) use it. Limits on cars doesn’t solve the problem at all. The NYC subway system is a disgrace. No wonder, because the people who decide about investments likely use helicopters and couldn’t care less.
Nan Socolow (West Palm Beach, FL)
The existential crisis of New York City's transportation system won't be resolved anytime soon. This crushing nightmare of truck, bus, taxi, car, bike traffic can only be relieved by laws and payasyougo use of most inner-city streets. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon - built in 600 BC by the Mesopotamian King of Assyria -- was the world's most exquisite city back in the days of emperors and pharoahs in the Middle East. The famed and glorious city was abandoned forever by its inhabitants. Perhaps it became as unlivable because of too many people dying to live there as New York City has become this century? Babylon's hanging gardens -- "The Wonder of all Peoples" --succumbed to entropy. disappeared in ages past. Just wondering how long New York City will thrive. Just askin'
Bone Head (Ashton, MD)
Even in New York, it seems that Americans can't grasp the fact that big dense cities and cars do not mix well. Cars move very few people for the amount of space they take up - and in the city space is at a premium. The solution is fairly simple (though certainly not easy from a political standpoint). First, make public transit the easiest option for people - ensure that it runs on time and that it runs just about everywhere (where density can support its use) all of the time, and subsidize it so that it's affordable. Second, make those who choose to use cars (whether personal cars or cabs) pay for the true cost of that choice. That includes the cost to infrastructure as well as the environmental and public health costs - some studies have calculated these costs as requiring a tax of around $5 per gallon of gas (though the cost could certainly be imposed in other ways). The result is that fewer people would drive or choose to take cabs (who would pass the higher cost on to customers). Would that be bad for the auto and cab industries? Yes. And that's precisely the point.
C (Brooklyn)
@Bone Head How about making all form of transportation reflect the true cost use? You will find that public transportation and bicycles pay a much smaller part of their cost than cars do. I am not against those subsidies but you are incorrect if you think drivers in NYC doesn't pay a fair share. If you don't believe me consider the Toll on the Verrazano Bridge, an MTA property where most of the collected cash supports the subway. There are only poor mass transit options to replace that trip. That is only one example of the inequity that you are recommending, your concept only is to the benefit of the wealthy, that's the trap you have fallen into.
peter n (Ithaca, NY)
@C Very good points, I'd bet pedestrians and cyclists are paying their fair share. We all support public infrastructure with our taxes. Cars pay a bit extra for tolls etc. but its not like that covers all the infrastructure that makes care ownership possible and convenient. Most roads in the city are not toll roads, and cars use up more of that space than cyclists/pedestrians do. Not to mention the negative externalizes like air pollution, noise pollution, water pollution and traffic deaths.
See also