I would make the opposite argument actually. Car drivers pay the same amount of taxes despite taking up more space on the road, causing more accidents etc. It's an unfair subsidy loophole that is finally getting plugged.
Buses, on the other hand, are a loss-leading and highly subsidized form of transport.
Your statement is absurd. You're arguing that something should have the right to occupy the public space and deprive others from using it just because the owner bought it and spends money on fuel.
Driving carries risk and at scale that risk will 100% every time manifest as real harm. It’s not about whether the risk is there but whether the gain is worth it. A less politically charged example, ordering your steak rare. There is real risk, and people get sick, a smaller subset get really sick. And yet we do it constantly.
Fuel taxes, sales taxes, and usage fees (tolls) generate roughly $150 billion per year.
Excise taxes do not even have a good national accounting system and I can’t find a US total number. But, for example, just CA generates roughly $10 billion in revenue from these fees.
Far from not covering the costs, the direct taxes and fees on cars are actually generating a profit.
If you want to talk about externalities you have to account for both positive and negative externalities.
 - https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiative...
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externalities_of_automobiles Extremely conservative list on Wikipedia. Anyone that e.g. has looked at real-estate pricing before and after a street was made car free and has seen valuations go up by x2-x5 can attest even just the impact on direct livability.
as another commenter said, the drivers brought this onto themselves. i think the impact of uber driving around waiting for a ride, + booked ubers double parked waiting for the charge to arrive, adds significantly to congestion. without getting into the uber/taxi debate, you could just see (and hear the honking) how difficult it was for the buses to get through even during normal traffic.
another quiet change that happened nearby, is the closure of union square w between 14th & 17th. theres an extremely high amount of pedestrian traffic, and near the edges of the square there's intersections that would get pretty dicey. now it's much, much better. to be fair, ny drivers are decent, but there's just too much volume (and pedestrians looking down at their smartphones). i'm sure people got hit on an almost daily basis. ironically, i'm more afraid of bicyclists hitting me than cars. they simply do whatever they want.
but still, i firmly believe these changes are a huge positive overall.
I’m in Seattle, not NYC, but this is an almost daily nuisance for me, both as a driver and as a pedestrian. Cyclists in general seem to have an attitude like rules and laws don’t apply to them. I see them blowing red lights, disobeying all-way stops, and nearly running over people all the time.
In my experience in cities where cycling is built into the architecture of the city, most do tend to follow the road rules. However, a pedestrian might still find it rude if a cyclist were to pass close enough to brush shoulders, or a driver might find it rude for a cyclist to lane split.
From my perspective that kind of "rudeness" is just part city life, though, it's not really something exclusive to cyclists.
On the rudeness aspect though, I do find cyclists in general pretty rude. I've even seen cyclists that seem to outright seek confrontation by putting themselves in situations that are unfavorable to them. For example, the other day I observed a challenging traffic situation and a driver had to stop mid turn at a corner. A cyclist was coming and saw the whole thing happen, but they still positioned themselves such that a "hook" accident could occur once things started moving again. As soon as the car started moving to complete their turn, the cyclist also moved forward and started arguing with the driver. It looked pretty clearly premeditated.
Bicyclist has their kid mindset of rules not applying to them, I believe. Also they go closer to pedastrians than they would with a car.
It maybe just that bicycles are not that good in dense cities. In my small home town there was enough space for both bicycles and pedestrians.
The difference is that cyclists don't kill people, and actually get hurt when they do stupid stuff like this. Cars often just drive off.
That's not why the article said they are there - they're there to turn cars away. Surely they won't care about people crossing a more-or-less empty street?
but precisely because it's almost empty, it's very easy to jaywalk and not think about the bus coming down the street at 25 mph.
The key to effective mass transit is not the type of equipment (train vs. bus) or the surface (rails vs. asphalt). It is the right-of-way, plain and simple. All other things being equal, a transport that has right-of-way, unimpeded by cross traffic, will be faster than a transport that has to deal with stop lights, cross traffic, etc.
That being said, mass transit can be extremely expensive if you take too many pains to construct the right of way off the surface. Digging is expensive and dangerous. Building elevated platforms is also more expensive, and often unsightly.
Now let's compare the means of traction: rails provide only fixed paths. They're relatively time-consuming to fix if they break. And if there's an equipment breakdown, if there aren't redundant paths with effective switching, it can cause a head-of-line blocking problem (comparable to a message queue). Meanwhile, tires are cheap and safe, while steering can easily avoid obstacles and other dangers. And repairing asphalt streets is relatively inexpensive.
So: we have good road technology. We have wide-enough arterial roads, many of which are already redundant. We have good-enough signaling technology now to create a virtual right-of-way (by setting lights to red before the vehicle crosses). Buses are pretty reliable these days, and far cheaper to manufacture than train cars. They can also be outfitted to be quite nice inside.
So, to me, dedicated bus thoroughfares using existing streets are a no-brainer. They win on cost, they win on effectiveness, and they win on time-to-market.
I can totally see 1 out of every 4 streets being used in major cities as dedicated bus thoroughfares as a viable alternative to building super-expensive and relatively unreliable transit alternatives. I've often said I'd love to see it happen in San Francisco. (The 1-in-4 idea being an approximation for most people to walk to their ultimate destination in a reasonable amount of time, but it's obviously adjustable according to block size, geography, etc.)
(Footnote: for those who maintain residences on the impacted streets, there should be various accessibility exceptions.)
But it's not reasonable to say it's "the right-of-way, plain and simple". Light rail is significantly more energy-efficient than buses, a factor that must be taken into account in an honest evaluation of the options.
2. As we move towards renewable energy sources like wind, geothermal, and solar, electric buses, powered by stored-energy batteries, become arguably "good enough". But that's less an energy-efficiency concern (although these are close to "free" after fixed costs have been paid) and more of a pollution concern.
> the opportunity cost paid by riders waiting for the construction
There is absolutely no reason that a city can't deploy a BRT system in the short-term while building the light rail. This is in fact a common strategy.
> a light rail option that doesn't have right of way is far worse (economically speaking) and will be far less popular than a bus fleet that does.
I agree that right-of-way is important, you are attacking a straw man.
> electric buses, powered by stored-energy batteries, become arguably "good enough". But that's less an energy-efficiency concern
Energy efficiency will always be a concern, regardless of the method of generation.
But! It's significantly easier today to deploy light rail powered by renewable sources than a comparable bus system. Today the gold standard for buses is CNG, which, while much less polluting than gasoline, is still a non-renewable resource.
Heavy rail is a better option. It's faster and transports more people at once than any BRT or LRT, and is costlier of course. But as they say, the fool pays twice.
I still don't see the point in having light rail, if bus thoroughfares with right-of-way are good enough for customers.
Of course that would itself be incredibly expensive. Roughly 1/4 the cost of all the roads in a city is a tremendously large amount of asphalt to maintain exclusively for buses.
The local businesses will also really enjoy being derelicted.
Repurposing an asset you spent $X to build is the same as spending $X on a new asset for that purpose, minus any depreciation you took up till that point.
To your point, if road costs continue to be the status quo, then 1/4 of what you spent on roads should now be covered by bus fares. That would make the buses impossibly expensive.
I’m sure that people who like riding public transit buses would love this policy, because your taking an already highly subsidized (loss leading) form of transportation and making it an order of magnitude more subsidized by giving them free private roads to ride on.
> repurposing an asset you spent $X to build is the same as spending $X on a new asset for that purpose
Does GAAP agree with your claim?
The depreciation expense for using the road accrues to whoever/whatever it is being used for.
If you allocate roads exclusively for buses, buses need to cover the cost of maintaining the road.
Today buses can’t even cover the cost of running the buses.
> The depreciation expense for using the road accrues to whoever/whatever it is being used for.
False. Depreciation happens no matter what. The accountants don't care how it's used. The taxing entity may care if you want to obtain a deduction for the depreciating asset as a cost basis, but that's not an accounting question.
> If you allocate roads exclusively for buses, buses need to cover the cost of maintaining the road.
No they don't. Ideally, maybe; but that's a political question, not an accounting question.
I’ll grant you that if there’s anywhere in the US the harm to local business would be minimized, it would be Manhattan. But the policy was being suggested for a lot more than just Manhattan.
For me 1/4 and 3/4 is the wrong balance, as it's too car friendly and makes no mention of trams and light rail.
People will learn quickly
> The MTA announced that it will ramp up its fines for bus lane blockers captured through its new automated bus-mounted camera system. Motorists who defy the new rules after a 60-day warning period will be hit with a $50 fine that will increase with every offense up to $250. That will begin with the M15 SBS on October 7, with the M14 and B44 due to be equipped with the automated cameras by the end of November.
It was pleasant to walk in the streets that time, the city looked more human, with less noise, less honk, less stress. However, some cyclists and escooter drivers are a bit uneducated, many of them don't respect stops or signs, they don't slow down, and would pass at 2 cm from you at 20km/h like you do not exist
Other than that, I'm 100% for banning cars and petrol-based motorcycles from big capital cities around the world.
It's genius. The train lines are above ground so the lines were cheaper to manufacturer, Emergency vehicles can get across downtown very quickly, and busses also don't have to deal with congestion.
Shouldn't traffic be modeled and leave stats to just simply determine what roads should be cars only, trucks, buses, etc?