Transit Sam: Week of July 20, 2017

Dates: Thursday, July 20 – Wednesday, July 26


I continue to monitor Lower Manhattan traffic to gauge the impact of the Penn Station repairs on Downtown streets near bridges and tunnels.  The west side continues to suffer from extra traffic, either because there are more drivers from NJ or, most likely, because conditions at the Lincoln tunnel are pretty miserable.  As we know, misery loves company and in this case, Lincoln’s got Holland to share the grief.  Streets leading to the Holland Tunnel continue to be bumper-to-bumper up Varick, down Hudson and across Broome and Canal.  Sorry, no summer traffic breaks for that area.

The Houston Street Overpass will be closed at the FDR from 11 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Sunday morning. Northbound drivers on Houston Street will be unable to enter the FDR at Houston Street; instead, take Avenue C to the 23rd Street entrance.

Demo alert! Demonstrators plan to gather at the south end of Union Square Park for Millions March for Medicare on Monday at 5 p.m., causing backups on 14th Street and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Further details are not yet announced, so follow me on Twitter @GridlockSam for updates. 

From the mailbag:

Dear Transit Sam,

What’s going on with traffic? No matter where you go, on any road at any time, everything is backed up, and it’s getting worse and worse. If anyone can figure this out I know it’s you.

Peter F. Murphy

Dear Peter,

I agree, traffic is worse than ever, and that was even before the Penn Station repairs.  A big part of it for Manhattan, and the western neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens adjacent to the East River, is Uber, Lyft, Juno, Gett, Via, and others. The presence of these App-based companies, also called transportation network companies (TNCs), on our roads has risen by 500% in the past two years.  Yes, you read that right, 500% or a six-fold increase! Earlier this year they surpassed taxis in the number of passengers carried.  Taxis have been with us for over a century — in five years TNCs have eclipsed their ridership.

Traffic volumes, because of TNCs, jumped by 7% in the past two years, lowering speeds by 10-20%.  When it comes to Lower Manhattan you are also suffering from the boom in “placard parking.”  I know the mayor announced a crackdown but it’s not nearly enough.  There needs to be central control of placards, the numbers need to be slashed, the IRS should be notified of a $8,000 benefit (the cost of parking for a year in a garage in lower Manhattan), and enforcement placed in the hands of an agency independent of the NYPD, maybe the Department of Investigations. I’m worried things will get even worse for drivers with the current transit crisis, which no one seems to be solving.

Transit Sam

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