"Let's rebuild 2 tunnels. And maybe build 2 more." (Before they collapse and destroy the economy.) - Boring. Not sexy. No photo-ops.
And that's the problem with humans. :(
There are of course many reasons for this, but I assure you not all human societies are clearly hostile to public infrastructure spending and anything that isn't private and for-profit.
In the years I lived in London I observed the Tube going from constant outages and weekend shutdowns, to later trains, more frequent trains, and new infrastructure projects like Crossrail. DLR, a conductorless system I rode daily,was only a few decades old.
As a NYer I'm deeply embarrassed by having seen first hand over 20 years the slow decline of the transportation system here. It's embarrassing when family and friends visit from overseas and display disgust and shock. NY comes off as wealthy and clean in popular media there, but the reality is closer to a Third World one.
The only city that's truly expanding their rail in a significant way is Seattle. With the ST3 project and the Redmond Transit corridor, hopefully they'll see some relief from the insane housing prices. But they needed that expansion two decades ago.
Don't even get me started on Caltrain.
Everybody is going crazy over self driving vehicles, but if we do get them, they won't be a reality for at least 10 ~ 15 years. It's a more difficult problem than people think, and all that money could be put into fixing and expanding our crumbling rail.
I don't understand why America hates rail so much.
Because in America, transit is welfare for poor people, and acts like it. Busses in small cities in Germany coordinate schedules to optimize transfers. Busses in secondary US cities just don’t shown up sometimes because the driver decided to clock out early. There is no accountability, due to the potent combination of the fact that the primary constituency is politically marginalized to begin with and also are not paying the taxes that fund the systems.
If US transit wasn’t so unbelievably shitty and inefficient, there might be some stomach in funding it.
Why not assume the obvious? The user experiences how crappy it is and sees how much it costs. He therefore balks at funding more expensive crappiness.
It's not a suggestion, it's an historical fact. I'll cite no less an authority than George Will, who in one of his more unfortunate descents into conspiratorial hackery essentially equates support for public transportation with communism:
> "The real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism. To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they—unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted—are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make."
Other conservative powers oppose public transport only to protect their own money. A good example is the Koch family, who vigorously fight any technology or activity that might threaten their fossil-fuel-fueled wealth, including public transport of all kinds. Rent-seeking may constitute a "rational" motivation on the part of the rent seeker, but many conservatives appear to align themselves with Koch-branded positions for purely ideological (and I would argue irrational) reasons.
Self-driving cars are eventually just another form of public transit anyways, so maybe that'll be the winning approach.
I don't really trust our government and loathe giving them more power. On the flip-side I hate the waste we produce in the name of freedom.
I'm not sure if you're starting to make a market-based Rational-Man-type argument, but I'll cut you off and say: you don't have a choice BUT take public transportation, unless you can afford to take a helicopter and live and work right near helipads. Even an Uber/taxi can be an impossible nightmare time-wise during rush-hour.
Most people who commute in on the NJT/Amtrak (the topic of the parent submission) don't have the choice to take a car or walk.
The NY Metropolitan area is not the rest of the United States. The population density is like nothing else.
"Lead us not into Penn Station..."
NYer as well, for long time, and while it's (public transport) in decline for sure, I think your timeline is off. I'd say it's only been in aggressive decline for the past few years, and gradual decline for last 10. Before that was getting better every year. Unlimited Metrocard made riding the subway safe at all hours as marginal cost for riders became zero, more riders = more safety.
First Corzine proposed it (the second or so in as many decades), then Christie replaces him and uses its cancellation for political gain (a fact with such frustration that I can't express it politely), then the project comes alive again at higher cost and with Obama Federal funding promises overturned by Trump.
Whoever said that decentralized control of infrastructure in a short-term-minded political environment was a good idea needs to wake up and visit countries in Europe or Asia with vastly superior infrastructure and ponder the idea that 18th century ideas could perhaps be wrong in 2018.
The US has a lot of catching up to do on it's basic infrastructure.
...Or you could walk 10 feet to terminal A and B and get drenched by the gallon of water leaking out of the ceiling
I read this week that each of JFK's terminals is run as it's own separate entity. If your flight goes to Terminal 4, and Terminal 4 has some issue or is overloaded, you can't go to any other terminal because they don't talk to each-other.
> If I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you'd think, ‘I must be in some third-world country.’
We were able to both fund and construct these tunnels a century ago, but somehow they now seem hopelesly out of our reach.
War is a machine, and it is eating away at America.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
"Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."
Starts around page 120 of http://content.tfl.gov.uk/tfl-annual-report-2015-16.pdf
Alon Levy, who was the source for many of the initial investigations into high costs here, argues quite convincingly that, at the current projected price tag, Gateway is not a justifiable project: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2015/11/13/when-theres-no...
The real problem here is that ARC, Gateway, &c. all have unjustifiably huge multi-billion-dollar price tags. We only have this problem in the first place because of the absurd construction costs in New York.
Additionally, the writer does not appear to have reached out to any independent transit people. Penn Station is actually less busy than, say, Châtelet-les-Halles in Paris, which has many, many fewer tracks. The biggest reason that it doesn't work well is just organizational – Penn Station would be able to handle its current capacity just fine if it did things that were standard elsewhere like through-running.
Lastly, neither Moynihan Station nor many of the Penn Station revamp ideas are well-regarded in transit circles. As noted, Moynihan Station makes people walk an extra long block. The original Penn Station, meanwhile, was not particularly well-regarded for things like pedestrian flow. It had a beautiful waiting room and some great architecture, but it's generally been regarded as being mediocre functionally, especially compared to Grand Central, which is both beautiful and has very good pedestrian flow.
If there's demand, I could ask the team/architects to do an ama of some kind.
But people aren't excited about rebuilding the 2 highly damaged tunnels underneath the river (or build some new ones).
Stuff like that is hard to sell because it doesn't capture people's imagination or attention - nor does it provide for great photo-ops. :(
We don't even need to make that redirect last longer than a few years to fund most of our pressing infrastructure projects.
And our military would still have a budget $300 billion greater than the next biggest military spender (China)!!!
I fear it could really hurt the economic activity of NYC. Take me for example, I like my job and I like the city, but I'm looking to work remotely or on Long Island rather than commuting. It's long but not so bad if everything is going well. The problem is the lack of consistency makes it unbearable. You never know when your train is going to be delayed and you're stuck on a packed train, or worse, stuck in Penn Station for an unknown amount of time. Life is too short to spend it like that.
For those who have never been to Penn Station, this is an accurate description of it on a typical summer day.
Why not make Penn users pay for using Penn?
I have been using Penn Station since 2010. The first problem that started was trains backing up because of tunnel traffic. The second problem started happening in 2014 where trains were backing up in the tunnel because of platform traffic. The third problem started coming when the tracks (not trains) started breaking down and then you had derailments, collisions, breakdowns, etc.
Penn station just never got a break in usage. And never got a reprieve with accidents. It always worked at 110% and whenever repairs were being made, travelers complained because it caused daily delays.
What we really need is a whole brand new station, a whole brand new tube, and a whole bunch of brand new trains to put the other ones out of service and under repair. Only then will commuters and NYC goers be happy.
Build two new tubes besides the existing ones, the take the existing ones out of service, renovate them, bam.
Now you've got 4 (?) tubes and much fewer delays.
The jubilee line extension crossed the Thames 3 times and cost $5b for the entire project including new underground stations and 6 miles of new tunnels.
“I think public transport is painful. It sucks. Why do you want to get on something with a lot of other people, that doesn’t leave where you want it to leave, doesn’t start where you want it to start, doesn’t end where you want it to end? And it doesn’t go all the time.”
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”
When the audience member responded that public transportation seemed to work in Japan, Musk shot back, “What, where they cram people in the subway? That doesn’t sound great.”
It's fairly simple as it is a 200 year old technology. It's not rocket science. What's not simple is how to divide the taxpayer money between the elites.
Still I'm glad that Paris has a good public railway system, even if the improvement work in the summer can be really annoying (like when they are cutting the West-East line for one month in Paris).
Mainly, I’d use the PATH train from Jersey City to 33rd Street, which ran frequently and mostly on-time.
The one time I had to visit a friend in Long Island, Penn Station wasn’t the horror show the article suggests. Then again, it was nearly 6 years ago, so it’s plausible that it has degraded. Fingers crossed that The Boring Company can actually execute.
PATH uses a different set of tunnels, and actually has four of them instead of just two.
It is always incredibly challenging to have to design solutions ontop of exisiting,immovable, infrastructure and old stubborn corrupt people.
Regarding the article, these statements are absurd.
> K. Jane Williams, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, sent a curtly worded letter to New York and New Jersey officials that snidely made the deal sound made-up.
> “We consider it unhelpful to reference a nonexistent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where 9 out of 10 passengers are local transit riders,” she wrote.
With New York residents rated 44 out of 50 on Wallet Hub's "2017’s Most & Least Federally Dependent States " state residents being dependent on the federal government, meaning NY residents give more than they get back ( Scale : 1 = giving less and being more dependent on federal funds versus 50 being more independent and giving more than it receives, being less dependent on federal funds ) as well as other nearby states, such as Massachusetts(46), New Jersey(49) and Delaware(50), I find it incredibly irritating for them to make it as if people who rely on that form of transit do not matter especially with transportation being a way to get out of poverty. 
So much for infrastructure spending....
Regarding Amtrak,the author in my opinion should have explained how the Amtrak works/run. They suffer because they do not have funding, but lack the ability to be forced to innovate because of virtually zero competition.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amtrak#Controversy)
To understand how Amtrak works, I suggest reading this.
>NY Times on MTA
Dont have a lot of experience with US, but Seattle and Redmond (which are on the west coast) had pretty awesome public transport.. I was able to navigate it pretty easily even though it was my first time in US, and it went pretty much everywhere
Go an hour south in your state (or over to the eastern half) and you'll see what GP means.
Penn, the Western Hemisphere’s busiest train station, serves 430,000 travelers
every weekday—more than LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports combined
According to Wikipedia Zurich main station served on average 441,400 per working day. And that's in a city of roughly 400'00 people (or 1.2M if you count the metropolitan area).
That's peanuts compared to monsters like Shinjuku in Tokyo, which was used on average by 3.64 million people per day in 2007.
So I'm wondering where they come up with the "western hemisphere busiest train station"
I frequently use Penn Station, Union Station (DC), and 30th Street Station (Philadelphia). All of them are overloaded, but things like waiting areas, bathrooms, food, ticketing aren't really that much worse in Penn Station. Aesthetics, on the other hand...
Like all of the station level stuff is important, but I felt like the article was more of a plea to make sure that we'd at least fix the actual track and tunnel level problems before NYC gets strangled.
No, it's not. This is all part of the scam politicians have been running on the public for decades. Namely taking taxpayer money earmarked for specific purposes (i.e. maintenance) and then not using it for those things. Then they turn around and say "we don't have enough money, we need to raise taxes to pay for these unforeseen costs", even though the costs were completely and entirely foreseeable. Also, let's not forget the egregious waste on construction that is rampant in publicly funded projects, with NYC being the worst offender of them all. Case in point - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/nyregion/new-york-subway-...
Fire (read: impeach/do not re-elect) those that do not their job by spending money not for its intended purpose. Discover this by regular, full, public audits.
Prosecute those who commit embezzlement and larceny and send the to prison if convicted. Make them serve long prison stints with no hope of parole for having violated their position of public trust and bar them from holding public office or lobbying positions on penalty of more punitive prison time.
 I don't want to derail the thread, but you can search on HN for the past discussion. Also, whatever we did worked fine. Out of the G7 countries, we're #2 in fiber penetration, behind Japan.
So yeah, as a taxpayer, I will be super weary of approving any bond measure for infrastructure projects unless there is an ironclad proposal to control the costs.
I guess we gotta pay those gate agents the big bucks to stand there and watch people walk through the emergency exit gates instead of paying the fare. Seems like a six figure job to me!
We're underfunded in the sense that "it costs us 5x as much to do the same thing, and we're only allocating 1.5x as much money to it as European countries." Kinda true but not really the root cause.
Deducting state taxes make state taxes look exactly like loss of income. If you would notice an equally heavy loss of income, you'll notice state taxes even with full deductibility.
Now, if it was a federal tax credit at full value of state taxes paid, sure, you wouldn't notice the state taxes. But that was never the situation.
Same at the federal level. That's more complex since the region gets bunch of money back due to "security".