As Co-Chairman of Tech:NYC, I get asked frequently to name the issues that matter most to the tech companies of NYC.

On my list, often at the top, is transit. Getting to and from work matters a lot to the employees of the growing number of tech companies in NYC.

And this summer has been a bad one for transit. If you haven’t been stuck in a subway and found yourself late for work, you’ve been anxious about that happening to you.

I take the subway to work a fair amount. It is simply the fastest way to get around NYC. And I like being in contact with the every day people of the city. You really get a sense of NYC in the subway. You see it all. I love it.

So I am in favor of the City making the needed investment, in partnership with NY State, which controls the transit system in NYC, to modernize and upgrade the subways. It would be nice to see our Mayor and Governor figure out how to do something together instead of just fighting with each other. I’m sick of that to be honest and I suspect most NYC residents are.

I am also fine with chipping in a bit more out of my pocket to pay for this upgrade. The Mayor says it will cost our family another $2700 a year to pay for this upgrade. I’m in on that. I do think the wealthy residents of NYC can and should help the city maintain and improve our transit system.

Finally, I would like to see new transit infrastructure built.

I like the City’s effort to expand the ferry system. I am a huge user of the East River ferries and I would like to see them routed up the Hudson to serve the west side of Manhattan too.

My favorite new transit project is the proposed BQX where I am a Board member and advisor. The BQX would provide street level light rail along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront neighborhoods and make it easier for companies and people to locate there as opposed to central Brooklyn and Manhattan where the density of transit options are today.

I would like to see the tech sector in NYC come together and support these transit initiatives. Elected officials need our encouragement and pressure to do these big infrastructure projects. They are expensive and the payoff is long term, well beyond their term(s) in office. So getting them done requires a lot of activation energy and we can and should provide it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. John Revay

    Fred,1. Favorite subway system in the US- Metro in DC2. Traveling outside of the US- you get a good sense on how our country is behind in mass transit systems

    1. awaldstein

      so true.In Milan on business and want to take a side trip to the French Alps, then fast track back to Paris to work?All trains. Super efficient. Less than $100 each route.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        I have a relative who lived in Europe for a few years working in an Indian export promotion agency. She visited many EU countries and used to rave about how cheap and convenient a EURail pass was. This was some years ago, don’t know it is the same now.

    2. Salt Shaker

      DC metro has turned into a horror show. Delays and long delays, though still amazingly clean. Same issues, though. Resource neglected. Hardly what it used to be. A fraction of NYC’s mileage of track.

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        I love how clean the DC Metro is.

  2. sigmaalgebra

    I live 70 miles north of Wall Street, have not been in NYC in 10+ years, have never been on a subway, and, bummer, for my last car registration had to pay a surtax for the Metro commuter trains into NYC.I know; I know; in a cost-benefit analysis there are all kinds of indirect benefits. Uh, in the grad course I took in cost-benefit analysis, we didn’t count these indirect thingys. Let’s don’t count them now.Mostly mass transit loses money. In the cases I’ve seen analyzed, mass transit loses money even if say that the systems are built for free. That is, mass transit can’t even cover opex, much less both opex and capex.For your proposed additional mass transit, what would the losses be? Who would have to pay, people 70 miles north of Wall Street who will never use those systems? Federal money from people outside even NYS?

    1. Matt Zagaja

      Unlike a business with a P&L statement the government has the luxury of considering a wide range of benefits when deciding to engage in an enterprise. The local fire and police departments don’t turn a profit, but folks still seem to want government to be in that business.

    2. SFG

      Whatever nonsense NYC proposing for mass transit, nothing beats Moonbeam’s 33 billion dollar high speed train that will take people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 3 hours. Who wants to sit on a train for 3 hours versus hopping on a flight? Also, the price tag will be more than 33 billion and it may not even work!

  3. Tom Labus

    The third NYC tunnel would be close to completion or done if not stopped by Christie in 2010.That project would have helped the mess were seeing this summer with NJ Transit and Penn Station

  4. JimHirshfield

    My transit time is pretty good. If yours is delayed or sluggish, add a little more fiber to your breakfast.In all seriousness, I’m totally onboard with everything in your post.

  5. jason wright

    my city has spent significant sums of money on a new tram system in the last several years and at a very high utility verses cost ratio (it serves only a few ‘corridors’ and is a marginal gain for a small minority of the total population, but it looks ‘progressive’). what it should have done was convert its entire disgustingly dirty diesel bus fleet (more than 350 in number) to electric. that would have required a number of charging stations around the city, which could also have been made available for private car charging to encourage people to make the switch to electric cars. the problem is that in the UK central government (London) controls +90% of any local city’s spending decisions, and central government is addicted to tax revenues from fossil fuelled cars. the nation state has to die, but how to put this dragon to the sword? blockchain may be the beginning, but it’s a space being occupied by greedy and selfish fuckers at the moment.

  6. awaldstein

    New York’s public trans is both great and a mess and needs obviously focus.Biggest changes in the last years has been CitiBike and Path in the Occulus.Shortest route to useable change is to build up the water taxis.I would be willing to up my contribution to help make this so.

  7. jason wright

    in the twenty first century we are all moving to the cities, apparently, which i’ve never understood with the rise of the internet, and the coming of blockchain ‘decentralia’ et.c. why would this citification ( the right word?) trend continue as distributed networks develop? will a human still need to live in a shoe box and be cattled on a transit system as this century unfolds?

    1. BillMcNeely


      1. jason wright

        probably 🙂

    2. JamesHRH

      Mechanization of farm labour. Service jobs are the new low skill labour jobs. You have to be near people to provide services.

  8. BillMcNeely

    Here in Dallas it’s very much a car culture.Bus and Rail are pretty anemic and really slow. You can drive to DFW airport in 20 mins vs the 1 Hr by Rail.Most folks don’t want to drive 20 mins to a station and then 30 minutes to wherever. Rideshare coming here 3 years ago was a blessing. It helps people all up and done the social economic scale find better work.We just had bike share come to Dallas this year with LimeBike. unfortunately they launched at the height of Texas heat. We will see.

  9. Matt Zagaja

    Overcrowding on transit is a huge quality of life destroyer for those of us in cities. The qualitative difference between walking onto a somewhat occupied T car with some seats versus one that is packed with people desperate to get home from work is a quantum leap. I can tell lots of offices have folks taking the day off or working from home on Fridays because of how easy it is to find seating on transit on Fridays. Honestly I think the future belongs to suburbia. We’ll have lots of mini cities with town squares and co-working spaces. People will live and work within walking/bicycle distance, many times “remotely” in the local co-working space, and then commute in to the “central office” for meetings sporadically. Or businesses will continue to just tolerate the productivity lost to going through transit hell.

  10. Jeff J

    I am a life long New Yorker and the CCO of Maven Clinic, a woman’s health tech startup located in lower Manhattan. I couldn’t agree more with you Fred. Our antiquated Subway system is stressed to the limit. As quite honestly is our infrastructure. Without aggressive and expensive measures taken now we run the risk of choking off the rate of innovation and the ability of the city to incubate and host innovative and disruptive startups. Our waterways are extremely underutilized. This past Friday I was shocked to learn the ferry to Yankee Stadium doesn’t run anymore! For New York to truly take off as a great city to launch startups we need a comprehensive approach that includes improving our public transport systems, leveraging our waterways, affordable housing and tax credits. Combine that with world class education and a diverse and eager work force and NYC can be the Silicon Valley of the East Coast

  11. leeschneider

    Nothing better than a ferry ride to start the day. Boston has a few ferries that service a couple towns south of the city and a couple towns north of the city. Really an excellent way to commute.

  12. JamesHRH

    Trains on the waterfront? Hard to believe there is a footprint for that idea. Huh.

  13. awaldstein

    Yup–In Jersey now so the Jersey City, Hoboken Water Taxi connection is there.Huge user and great benny to give out yearly keys to employees.

  14. Twain Twain

    The microcosms of life that we see on NY’s subway, especially at Times Square!When I lived in NY, I walked over Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan every morning (loved doing that) and then walked up Broadway to the co-working space near Chinatown.NY’s an easy city to walk; no hills or inclines like SF. If I was there now, I’d bike everywhere.

  15. Mike Zamansky

    What do you mean “weather related?” :-)I’d love to see integration w/ the subway system — too much to ask low income people who live paycheck to paycheck to pay citibike + subway.

    1. kirklove

      Yes. CitiBike…Subway…Ferry…Bus should all tie into one system. And all accessible with my phone.

      1. ShanaC

        and commuter rail. Have you seen pictures of Penn Station due to the LIRR?

  16. Renee Leibler

    I almost never comment on blogs but this week you are hitting the topics most important to me. Someone once said ‘judge a city on whether it’s wealthiest residents take public transportation’ – unfortunately for the most part NYC does not fall into that category. Two reasons why I would consider running for mayor of NYC: 1) Try to improve education 2) Improve public transportation:)

    1. JamesHRH

      good reasons.

  17. Pointsandfigures

    One of the costliest parts of a public transit system is the cost of labor. You might consider switching pension systems over to 401(k) style pensions to save on costs and put individuals in control of their destiny. The cost to build is exacerbated by all the environmental studies etc required before you build.Ferries are cool in places like SFO and Seattle, but what about winter in NYC?I use public transportation almost exclusively in Chicago. El or bus. My own bike or my own feet.

    1. awaldstein

      It is rare the river is frozen and while I know nothing about ice breakers and cost, someone does.for nyc, citibikes rather than personal one for short hops is the way. i’m a rider and often do the round the island trip but to schlepp a huge chain around and to be restricted to coming back on a bike is a challenge.each city is obviously unique.

      1. pointsnfigures

        We have Divvy. But alas they don’t fit me. Too tall. So I ride my own

        1. awaldstein

          ah….I keep forgetting! Sorry 😉

      2. LE

        but to schlepp a huge chain around and to be restricted to coming back on a bike is a challenge.If you go to the same predictable places I would think you could buy several locks and store them around the city. [1] [2] Even if they are not exactly where you will be if they are in the general vicinity. You then pick up the lock and use it at the final destination. That is what I would do.[1] It’s a lock obviously. So you just lock it to something public and leave it there. Worried about it getting cut off? Buy and put more than one in the same area.[2] Actually maybe there is a business here for someone. Store locks all over the city that someone can unlock with a code from their cell phone. No need to carry your lock. Just find the nearest available lock.

        1. awaldstein

          To me the magic of the city is not planning and wandering and always finding something and rerouting yourself as you go.That’s why Citibikes work so well.I use my bike but it is exercise, like yesterday to the GW Bridge and back and had food at the boat basin which is on the path.Each to their own is what makes the city so great.

          1. LE

            To me the magic of the city is not planning and wandering and always finding something and rerouting yourself as you go.I am the same way. To me an agenda makes things stressful. I think the LAAS (locks as a service) is the way to go for people like us.

      3. Mike Zamansky

        I always thought that some smart person would come up with a “bike lock share” system where you could have a heavy duty locking system at stations and with membership or a daily fee you could securely lock up around the city.

    2. PhilipSugar

      They use them all winter in Boston. I actually captained one once. I said to the captain: What are you running? You kick to port not starboard in reverse….is this a Yannmar? I use Cummins. He laughed and said yes, you want to try backwards for you? I said yes.

  18. Ana Milicevic

    There are three things I would like to see on this front, and all three could dramatically and quickly improve quality of life & transit availability for most residents. They are:1/ Daily congestion tax for non-commercial vehicles (especially egregious in Manhattan); proceeds used for mass transit & public transportation infrastructure2/ New ‘Tourist’ tax whose proceeds are used for public infrastructure improvements3/ Protected bike lanes

    1. awaldstein

      what is a protected bike lane in the context of lower manhattan (that is a joke!)

      1. Ana Milicevic

        :)Let’s just declare south of Canal a pedestrian, car-free zone and call it a day!

        1. awaldstein

          i am so in.i so wanted to have them put west street underground after 9/11. can’t even imagine what that would have done for the west side extending the park.dreaming is essential i agree!

        2. awaldstein

          BTW–NY is so much better and friendlier than LA for bikes.In places like Fort Collins, CO where there is lots of land they are building a vast bike path routing off the highways. Really quite fabulous honestly for people that live there.

          1. Salt Shaker

            Seattle’s system has recently changed. No more docking stations. You leave your bike wherever. Avails/location are tracked by GPS and an app. (System staff rounds up bikes w/ a truck if bikes are not evenly distributed.) Too early to say if this is a good solution. Prob wouldn’t work well in NYC given pop density. Bikes randomly left on sidewalks can be a health hazard. Amazingly, unlike the old system, no helmet distribution though.

          2. awaldstein

            Density and vertical living in NY make here unique I think,Considering spending a week working out of Seattle sometime this Fall hopefully as haven’t been back in awhile and not only used to live there but used to have some accounts.I liked the town and have great memories of doing a pirate radio station there, flying kites at Gasworks Park with my kid.

          3. Salt Shaker

            Though I’m most def a newbie, the city has changed a lot. We live downtown and ongoing construction (and homelessness) is massive. We had guests this weekend from Seattle who hadn’t been back in 9 years. They currently reside in a small town outside Bologna. The transformation to them was shocking, to me it’s progress cause I’m def an urban dweller. If you make the trip let me know. Some pretty good Walla Walla wines here.

          4. awaldstein

            Will do.When first I lived in Seattle i was much younger so the memories are from my early career–marketer for Pike Place Market and the same for the Bumbershoot Festival.When i did RLD though there was an industrial side of the 3d business that I ran so I had a lot of mapping customers from Seattle north to Fairbanks so I’ve kept my foot in reality over the years.Cool town and yes, if I come let’s spend some time.

          5. Salt Shaker

            We live right above the Pike Street Market. Prob use the mkt most days. Not cheap, but great quality fish, meats, produce. Far, far more liberal city than NYC. At times I feel like a neo-con here 🙂

          6. awaldstein

            Cool.Yup–was liberal way back when and a place to live as you wanted to,

          7. LE

            (System staff rounds up bikes w/ a truck if bikes are not evenly distributed.)This could actually be done as an incentive based system. Reminds me of those carts at airports.

          8. ShanaC

            sounds like you loved Colorado

          9. awaldstein

            I’ve been visiting and skiing there for a very long time. And a big fan of mountains after living in the Rockies in BC.Cool place,

  19. Richard

    Next to police, fire, trash, its hard to think of a greater responsibility of local government than to provide safe, relatable and timely public transportation.

  20. Salt Shaker

    Would love to see at least a test of privatization. Maybe a singular line or lines (1,2,3 or 4,5,6). You know the systems are terribly bloated and inefficient. Will never happen though. The MTA has turned into a massive political football.

    1. LE

      Would love to be the law firm that gets to negotiate and write those contracts.

    2. ShanaC

      it was private, and apparently it went bankrupt (or close to) while private

      1. Salt Shaker

        Didn’t know that. Devil in the details. Massive system, massive probs. Amazing they could create back in 1904 (same as bldgs like Empire State, Chrysler). Presume labor (and pensions too) now likely largest impediment. Nice the MTA fixed up a lot of stations (cosmetic), but wonder if was at expense of infrastructure?

        1. ShanaC

          there were issues going into the bankruptcy, including price controls from ww2 coming in…But yes, they were private from around 1904-1940

  21. PhilipSugar

    You know what I would love to see? And I tell Senator Carper who is on the Amtrak Board this all of the time.A total upgrade of the Northeast Corridor Train system.I should be able to jump on an Amtrak Train for $25 and go anywhere from Richmond, VA to Concord, NH every 10 to 15 minutes. Less in non rush hour.It should coordinate with the trains of VRE (Virginia), MARC (Maryland), SEPTA (DE, PA), NJT (New Jersey), Metro North (Connecticut), and MBTA (Massachusetts) So I can jump off at a major stop and go local.I should be able to with one card basically go anywhere up and down the coast and with Uber, Zip Car, Subway or whatever get to the destination.Can you imagine how much value this would cause to land near train stations?Right now it is cheaper for me to fly to Boston. It is cheaper for me to rent a limo. A limo! to take three people to NYC. The Amtrak fare is $300RT.If you take the New Jersey Turnpike you will see Bolt Bus, Mega Bus, Greyhound, and Tons of other non brand name bus companies going into NYC, because they are cheap.Dumb, dumb, dumb.It is like phone service. When long distance was so expensive not many calls. Now that it is free….tons. Same for internet. That I can support.

    1. ShanaC

      and expand in other areas of the country so that other areas get the same sort of density + commerce growth that the northeast does

      1. PhilipSugar

        Nope.Disagree.Trains work for dense areas. Not dense? Planes and Cars.It is this belief that causes the shityness in dense areas.They make literally Billions on the East Coast Corridor and then flush it down on trains that go places where there are more workers than passengers.No. Disagree completely. Let us in the country go to the major arteries.No problem. PHL to MCO?? $200 round trip on AA SWA or Spirit. Kill that route.

        1. ShanaC

          I want to develop density/take advantage of areas that are becoming dense, like boulder/denver metro

      2. Susan Rubinsky

        Trains are a mistake in areas with less density. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is better so that routes can be be changed to go where density emerges. Density will shift over time but it is far too expensive to then move train tracks. BRT is far more effective and efficient for less dense areas.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Yes we totally agree. If we want for people to not have to own a car you are totally right. The fact is however if you live in the country you really have to own a car. Just a choice.

    2. Salt Shaker

      Amtrak should have dynamic pricing on major NE corridor routes (NYC-DC, BOS-NYC). Traveling by train should never be remotely as (or more) expensive as flying, and it often is. Amtrak in NE has a center city advantage vs. air, which is under marketed.

      1. PhilipSugar

        They do. But roads are subsidized. It should never enter my mind to drive.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          EXACTLY the right word choice. When talking about utilization of tax dollars, politicians often call transit spending a “subsidy” but road and highway spending an “investment.” The FACT is that it’s all an Investment.

          1. PhilipSugar

            We are totally on the same page. Look when I see a train from FL coming to Wilmington, DE and see how empty it is (I can’t get on) what a waste.But there are a ton of people that can’t pay the fee from Wilmington, DE to NYC. You should see the work they are doing on the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 6 where it meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike.I am fine getting taxed and making it stupid to even think about driving to NYC.Does that help me? Probably net neutral. But does that help the East Coast? It really would.I don’t mind paying if I get benefit. Water, Sewer, Internet, Transport? Those are public commons. Run them right Make it so people want to live here.Sorry West Coast and other people, I can only comment about my area, which is what we all should do.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            There is the Highway Trust Fund with the money from gasoline taxes.

          3. Susan Rubinsky

            The problem with that funding formula is that when gas prices are low, there’s a corresponding low funding of transit. In addition, the Highway Trust Fund Formulas are based on percentages from it’s origination, not on current percentages. The idea is good. The framework is bad.

        2. Salt Shaker

          A one way coach tix one month out from NYC-WAS on numerous airlines is $72. Same route w/ “Value Fare” on Amtrak is $92, Acela Express $165. Flight time 40 minutes, train travel 3 1/2 hrs, 2 hr 55 minutes on Acela. Train pricing is out of whack relative to flying (and prob driving too).

    3. Lawrence Brass

      Ask Elon Musk to design and build something new, fast and clean for the east coast.

      1. PhilipSugar

        It isn’t complicated. Elon doesn’t need to do it. They have the rails. Simple. Fix the rails. Fix the bridges. Fix the stations. Less than we spent on the Gulf War by several orders of magnitude. Crew and train can make a round trip in 10 hours max. Send each off every 15 minutes, They run four days a week. One from a base in Richmond, VA one from a base in Concord, NHMake it efficient. You can hire more people. Take the price to a flat $25. A train moves thousands of people. Get the stations to make money. Let me move whenever I want.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          I was thinking about a really high speed backbone, an expensive thing. If the increase of real estate value around new suburban areas created by the system could be taxed, in line with what you mentioned, it is probable that it could finance part of its construction.I found this interesting video analyzing Amtrak and other train lines operation costs.

          1. PhilipSugar

            No my point is somebody said I should start the Hard Decision Party. Kill off all the other routes? Hell yes.On the East Coast, you make a round trip in 10 hours from Richmond to Concord. Not really high speed. You have two skilled and two unskilled people on the train and a turnstile at the station. 1 employee for 4 people??? More like 4 employees for 20,000 people. Give another four employees at Richmond and Concord to clean the trains. Everybody at the station makes more money by selling stuff than they cost? And then we have a big station in Wilmington, DE to maintain? :-)Standardize the trains on the other routes?I would make a shit ton of money. I’d pay off the cost in under five years even at my super cheap rates..

          2. Lawrence Brass

            Acela Express version people from the unions won’t love you very much though. You will have to move to Sugarville or fund a really decent retirement program if you want to do that.

          3. PhilipSugar

            I am a world renowned asshole

          4. PhilipSugar

            Litterally. All over the world. From London Dubai Mumbai Singapore Sydney LA Chicago and NYC. The sun never sets on people that think I’m an asshole

          5. Salt Shaker

            Ha, you are way too funny! In varying degrees, pretty much everyone has an a-hole quotient. Mine isn’t as “worldly” as yours, it’s a bit more parochial, but among those in the know there’s prob high levels of veracity. I pretty much don’t work anymore cause I found on occasion it brought out the worst in me. Got tired of the game playing, politics, the pressure and gen bs that comes w/ the territory. Fortunately, I don’t really have to work anymore. I’ve helped out financially both family and friends in need, and have been happy doing so. That’s lowered my a-hole ranking quite significantly according to the latest poll, but that’s w/ a small sample size and at low confidence levels 🙂

          6. PhilipSugar

            I totally respect your choice. Mine is my choice. I think if I didn’t work I would go down. But for others including my Dad? Different.

          7. Lawrence Brass

            I don’t think so, and if you really are… you are not alone. 🙂

          8. Lawrence Brass

            Ha ha.. that is a world class 24/7 AH.

          9. PhilipSugar

            I am not kidding. I can add cities. Dallas, Minneapolis, Paris, Berlin, Doha, Jakarta, Tokyo, San Fran….I am not afraid to call it like I see it.My blessing is people said I should retire in the 1990’s Nope. I actually like working, and I don’t care what anybody thinks of me.

          10. sigmaalgebra

            Do you actually have some data, say, the current opex figures. Then will your $25 fare and your assumed passenger volume pay for the opex? No sense in talking about capex if can’t even cover the opex.

    4. Susan Rubinsky

      I completely agree.I live in lower Fairfield County, CT, and the congestion on roads here is horrific. It’s common to get stuck for hours on I-95, between the NY line to Stamford/Bridgeport Urban Area and sometimes all the way to New Haven. I have a friend whose commute is two hours, each way, to go 20 miles here in lower Fairfield County. When you take Metro-North, instead, the trains are packed. If you get on to go to NY or anywhere South of Stratford during peak hours, you have to get on in the first 1-4 stops (New Haven, West Haven, Milford, Stratford), otherwise you stand all the way to Grand Central Station (therefore wasting the hour+ ride that you could be working on your laptop, etc.).The other issue here in CT is parking for the trains. Most municipalities here in CT have 8-10 year waiting lists to get a parking spot at the train station.The infrastructure on the NYC>CT>RI>Boston rail corridor is approximately 100 years old. Upgrading the rail infrastructure would have a number of positive outcomes:1- Get people off highways and into trains (often arriving to their destinations faster due to the horrific highway congestion)2- Reduction in carbon emissions due to getting cars off the highway and onto trains3 – Enabling economic growthAnd, you are on target about cost to ride. Don’t know the solution to that.

      1. PhilipSugar

        We totally agree. Put money into the train stations. Put on a ton of trains. If I was in charge of the Northeast Corridor I would put on 4 times more trains than demand was. I guarantee it would fill up and I would be buying more trains.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          They added more cars to trains a few years ago and they filled up in less than a month.

  22. cfrerebeau

    I always thought the main issue of maintenance cost for NYC was the 24/7 run. No other cities that I know have a transportation system running constantly. I enjoyed it quite a bit when I lived in New York city.

  23. ShanaC

    Congestion Tax? We need one!!! (It helped London!)

  24. phoneranger

    If the NYC and NYS spent every available penny on maintenance we would never catch up. We’d have a functioning transit system but we would never catch up to the point where we can afford circuitous subways to LGA and isolated street car lines between QNS and BK. There is no political glory from ‘just’ fixing what we already have but it’s the absolute right thing to do.

  25. Varun

    Thanks for posting on Transit. I respectfully disagree on a few things here because I believe the city can fundamentally change how they support and maintain existing infrastructure to pay for new initiatives. Love the ferries though!The devil is in the potholes really and how the city maintains streets (and bike lanes).Lots of opportunities to save $$$ from expensive milling and paving programs and instead shift to a proactive Maintenance strategy using frequent digital surveys of all city streets (and bike lanes).I lead a project for a non-profit that uses open source tech. to collect street imagery data to advocate for more frequent ground truth surveys of city street conditions to change how cities spent infra $$$ from an expensive + reactive + whack-a-mole approach to a more proactive one.In Fall 2015, we were able to survey 400 miles of NYC streets (70k images) using a single vehicle in 1 week. 15 such vehicles could cover all of NYC’s ~6,500 miles of local street infrastructure.In Spring 2016, we did the same for Syracuse, NY working closely with their Innovation Team.Multiple such digital surveys could provide a key insight on which streets degrade faster than others and completely change how the city maintains street infrastructure, all while adding a much needed level of accountability on what is effectively a sinkhole of public spending.Consider that milling and paving streets costs upto 12x times more than proactive (less brute force) measures and that most of NYC’s utilities lie on the street instead of on the sidewalk. A street that gets reconstructed today will be torn up within a few months to fix some inevitable gas line. (which is a whole different story)https://uploads.disquscdn.c…We’re also experimenting with computer vision techniques to automate the detection of defects (potholes and cracks) using the imagery we collect and repurposing our analysis to bike lanes.Would love to hear feedback, ideas or support our work or call me out if I have mischaracterized something here.https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…Furthermore re: BQX, imho, buses are a far more viable and flexible approach. Even here there is scope for improved service delivery. Consider that, the MTA spends upto $20,000 per bus to do the Bus Time app when in reality we can use Wifi positioning and $10 Raspberry Pis to offer the same level of service for a fraction of the cost.Lastly, I found this report from the New York Independent Budget Office extremely helpful in better understanding spending priorities.So Fred while it’s cool that you support being taxed higher for new transit initiatives, I’d rather take a page from the Maintainer ethos ( and ensure that we can do better in maintaining more imaginatively.(

  26. fredwilson

    Great point Kirk. Do you ever Citibike from Carroll Gardens to the West Village to get to work? That would be a great morning ride

    1. kirklove

      I do bike in sometimes, but use my own bike for that ride.

    2. jseliger

      Bikes now seem to be the fastest way to get around NYC. The subways are too unreliable.

  27. Thor Snilsberg

    While NYC’s and NYS’s electeds struggle to cement plans that will improve mobility in the CIty, dozens of organizations have successfully pivoted NYC to more progressive policies.Kudos to folks at Tri State Transportation Campaign, Transportation Alternatives and many many more for their work. During Bloomberg’s first term he would often be quoted that “congestion is the sign of vibrant economy.” Thanks to the efforts of the Livable Streets Movement (follow it on and and players like Nick Grossman (now a USV guy!), Bloomberg shifted his thinking and NYC is now a national leader in transportation policy. Best wishes with the BQX work!

      1. Thor Snilsberg

        Thanks, good stuff!

  28. Dennis Mykytyn

    I used to work for the MTA in the mid-80s and raised over $5 billion in capital funds towards new subway car purchases and rebuilding the system. The MTA has long used bond financings to rebuild the system, but operating funds are needed to repay the bonds, so there is a mismatch as the bonds issued 30 years ago are now maturing.While NYS controls the majority of Board seats, NYC has some Board seats too. But NYC has long underfunded the MTA, and with a multi-billion surplus should step up now and dedicate funds towards maintenance.DeBlasio’s tax surcharge will deliver very little towards the MTA and the transit system. It will end up being used as a subsidy of transit passes (whether that is a worthwhile goal is not the issue) as part of his attempts to reduce income inequality. Forget his numbers, the reality is once it is put in place, with little to no verification, all the funds raised will end up going to fare subsidies as savvy NYers line up to get cheaper Metrocards for life.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Prototypes are getting better and better.

  29. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:OFF TOPIC ALERT!Our condolences go out to those who have lost their lives and were injured in the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain.

  30. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:OFF TOPIC ALERT!Market sell-off. Worse day since May 17, 2017BABA $166 (36x) not letting up. Cloud business. DISCLOSURE: (No holdings)If the market is doing well empty vessel takes credit if the DOW is off 246 points distract distract distract. (The market has been begging for a correction) Earnings season pushed the market up not empty vessel.Business community losing confidence in empty vessel.Empty vessel has been bulletproof until the the business community abandons ship. If Cohen leaves the test begins. (Cohen exit is a hopeful rumor from a Progressive source)Exuberance being checked.All components down.GOLD $1291.00What is the crypto-currency market doing?BTC $4318ETH $301. BTC $388

  31. Pete Griffiths

    Couldn’t agree more.The impact on such investments on London was enormously positive.

  32. laurie kalmanson

    Make mass transit free to encourage ridership. Raise the gas tax.

  33. Justin Shubow

    Nothing would be a more uplifting and magnificent improvement of the NY region’s transit system than rebuilding the original McKim, Mead & White Penn Station, which was built in 1910 and demolished in 1963. Check out this article on the bold project to rebuild the station:

    1. Stanley Stillman

      Also check out the proposal of ReThink Studio

  34. gorbachev

    It’s not going to happen, because building the public transit infrastructure that would achieve that will cost 10x what it would cost to do in Paris.I think a better plan would be for NYS and NYC to come up with some sort of coherent plan on how to get workers work in other parts of the metro area than in Manhattan. What if there were incentives that made it easier to run co-working spaces in the outer boroughs, for example?I live in the burps. I don’t really have that many complaints about my commute, unless MTA screwed up something, because our office is right next to Grand Central Station, but I would still love to not commute to Manhattan every day. It wastes my time, and I really really hate being packed in the subway cars like a sardine in a sardine box.

  35. LE

    It’s pretty clear that the culprits are the ‘lard asses’. [1] And sure Cuomo (2020) vs. DeBlasio.After all you have an entirely predictable 4.3 million riders of demand per year. And at least with regard to the subway, and as long as there are no superstorms, a nominal impact of weather. Almost entirely fixed predictable costs. Compare that to being Amazon, Macy’s or Home Depot. Maintenance? Not a new problem and seems a bit simpler than keeping airplanes safe and flying.The equipment, technology and maintenance are all well oiled machines nothing new on that really (even though it needs updating).In business most people would die to have. A situation of low hanging fruit to pick. it’s actually boring.[1] Lard asses don’t do the obvious out of both lack of creativity and lack of any authority. They aren’t Matt Prince waking up in the morning cranky and caring. They are just waiting for the weekend barbecue. [2][2] Anyone who has ever been waiting to get into one of the Lincoln/Holland tunnel realizes that the process would go a bit smoother if there was several people there directing the flow of traffic instead of a free for all. Little things like that add up.

  36. ShanaC

    NYC/mta is 2x-3x the size of paris, and serves vastly more people. Aim to look more like tokyo and its greater metro area in terms of density, size, and service

  37. jason wright

    why 10x?

  38. gorbachev

    Educated guess based on other large infrastructure project budgets I’ve seen, incl. the 2nd avenue expansion. Whether the multiplier is 2, 5, 10, or 100 is kinda beside the point. No matter what it is going to be prohibitively expensive.

  39. ShanaC

    how much of that is the fact NYC’s system is maintaining an incredibly old system. They have machinists who custom make parts for repairs because they aren’t made anymore