As thousands of European budget travelers swarmed the rainy city and prepared to gaze at the big crystal ball in Times Square, many New Yorkers had already moved on to 2008. Bill Clinton worried about Mayor Bloomberg’s buying his way into the presidential race: “He could spend $1 billion and hardly miss it,” said the former president.
We love the Daily News's I Team. It's the print version of the local news TV van that zooms around the city on special assignment and finds out when somebody is overcharging for your plumbing. You can just hear them as they type away furiously, singing to themselves, "shame Shame SHAME!" And today the News team has come up with a story you can really use — something to get angry about. From the people who brought you "SUBWAY STRIKERS ARE OVERPAID AND LAZY" comes "MTA BRASS ON RUNAWAY CASH TRAIN." Through their investigation, they found out a bundle of different ways that the MTA is wasting money, even as they ask for a fare hike:
• Resource Duplication: "The MTA has seven agencies under its umbrella — each with its own president as well as legal, human resources, payroll and other departments: NYC Transit, Metro-North, Bridges and Tunnels, Long Island Rail Road, MTA Capital Construction, MTA Bus Company, MTA Long Island Bus."
• Overhiring for Capital Projects: "Division was formed in 2003 to handle big construction projects, like the Second Ave. line and the expansion of the 7 line. It employs 68 — by next year that number is expected to rise to 150. There are 640-plus employees already working on capital projects at other agencies who pocket $38 million in salaries."
You may have seen a bunch of renderings of potential designs for the land above the Hudson Yards in this morning's papers. But as one of the teams' lead architects pointed out to us, "The challenge is, your eye immediately goes to the buildings, but it's unlikely any of the buildings are going to look like this. That's the challenge to the MTA, to boil down fundamental issues for the public." So instead, we're giving you one of the images that probably will find its way into reality if its team is selected — one for the long, narrow green space looking eastward from the Durst/Vornado proposal. That might just be the glass arc over the proposed Moynihan Station that you see in the distance. But meanwhile, what is Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling doing in the foreground on the right? —Alec AppelbaumRelated:The Next 'West' Thing [NYP]
Five Companies Bid to Remake Six Blocks of Hudson Yards Area [NYDN]
Ever wonder/rage at the ponderous logic behind the New York subway system? For twenty seconds of late-afternoon fun, check out the animated subway map that the kids at Appealing Industries cooked up. It shows, segment by segment, the order in which the whole damn mess was created. And surprisingly enough, it wasn't the G train that started it all
Animated History of the NYC Subway [Appealing Industries] via [Towleroad]
We've been hearing for a few months now about these alleged Rider Report Cards the MTA is asking straphangers to complete, grading the cleanliness and performance and whatever else of their favorite subway lines. We finally got a glimpse of one today, when a member of Team Daily Intel was handed one at his usual J/M stop on the way into work. What do we learn from an actual handout? So many things! That station and train announcements are supposed to be both easy to hear and informative. (Who knew?) That there's supposed to be a lack of both graffiti and scratchitti in stations and cars. (And that there's apparently such a thing as "scratchitti.") That they're planning to do this survey on each line each year. Like that they've already completed grading the 7, but only the 7. And, finally, that New York City Transit president Howard H. Roberts Jr. has the most easily forgeable signature of any major city official. Just something to keep in mind.
In another grand leap forward for mobile New Yorkers, someone other than the MTA is once again making public transit easier. Google is poised to launch Google Transit for the city, which will make it possible to search for directions from one place to another, using the quickest subway or bus route. (You know, sort of like HopStop.com but with the power and popularity of Google)The system is already in place for several other U.S. cities, including Tampa, Dallas, Portland, and Seattle. When they implemented it in Duluth, public bus use shot up 12 percent. This is genius, though the MTA's routine unannounced delays and murky service changes are likely to throw a lot of wrenches in the gears. After all, can a computer algorithm possibly pre-calculate "goddamn-sick-person-on-the-train ahead-of-us"–related delays?
Google May Start NY Transit Maps to Boost Ads [Bloomberg]
Google to Map the Subway [Subway Blogger]
Earlier:Facebook to Reduce Rage, Increase Hookups on Subway
In spite of ourselves, we're beginning to think that Facebook might actually be the solution to all of life's problems. We love their new Subway application, in which members can self-update delays and changes on MTA and PATH routes. Of course, once you've signed up with your regular subway line, you are linked with everyone else on it, which can be helpful if occasionally you like to come face-to-face with people you know from the Internet. Plus, you can rant or rave about a train as much as you like, for all to see. There's also a "Missed Connections" feature for when you make eye contact across a crowded car. Which, as we all know, is the only reason anyone takes the L train.
Facebook Subway Status App [Subway Blogger]
• One actual result of Troopergate (Brunogate? Spitzergate?): The State Ethics Commission passed a new rule preventing officials from using state aircraft unless the primary purpose of their trip is state business and requiring reimbursement for those parts that are not. [NYT]
• Sure, the Feds promised Bloomberg $354 million for his traffic-reduction plan (if he can get the city and state to pass it), but that dough's mainly to put up new bus depots. Of the roughly $200 mil needed to charge drivers entering Manhattan, Uncle Sam's promised only $10 million. [NYT]