By Sam Schwartz
Dear Transit Sam,
Why is N.Y.C. repaving Leonard St. with cobblestones? Isn’t it worse for bike riders and slippery for traffic? How far are they going to go?
Charlie, Worth St.
Ever hear the expression as a kid, “Put it back the way you found it.” That’s exactly what N.Y.C.’s Department of Design and Construction is doing, per the city contract, replacing cobblestone with cobblestone, which are typically found in historic districts. The cobble is sloped (think of it like a bubble in the center of each brick) so that water drains off to the sides. Lines are chalked out so crews know where to set each block, with sand placed and filled in between to keep the stones in place and as evenly spaced as possible. Overall, cobblestones are generally not bike friendly, due to their uneven surface, though the new cobblestones won’t be as slick for bikes or cars since there won’t be any surface wear at first. This comes straight from one of the world’s most renowned traffic experts, my co-worker Richard Retting. Also, it’s very hard to put lane lines down on cobblestones so I doubt that the city will be putting in a marked bike lane. Cyclists should let me know their thoughts once construction of the street from Hudson St. to West Broadway is complete in August/September of this year.
Dear Transit Sam,
For EasyPayXpress pay-per-ride, why is your account replenished when it reaches or falls below $30? Why not $10 or $15? I don’t use the subway that often so $30 just seems a bit steep.
Margot, Lower Manhattan
Better to have your MetroCard more than half full instead of half empty. Let me clarify. Thirty dollars seems like a hefty threshold to automatically replenish your account, but there’s a good explanation. Riders who use express buses regularly at a cost of $5.50 per trip or $11 round trip, spend over $30 in just three days or three round trips.
N.Y.C. Transit spokesperson Paul Fleuranges explains that, “Having a customer board a bus, dipping a card in the fare box and receiving a message of ‘insufficient fare’ would be in direct contradiction to one of the main selling points of EasyPayXpress, which is the MetroCard that never runs out of rides.” Thus, the original intention of the $30 threshold was to accommodate EasyPayXpress card holders who use express buses frequently.
However, since more straphangers are using EasyPayXpress for local bus and subway routes, which are considerably lower in fare, N.Y.C. Transit lowered the replenishment level for pay-per-ride to $20, plus the 15 percent bonus, which took effect June 28 (along with the fare hike). And I suspect more straphangers will sign up for automatic replenishment after reading this column, which they can do by visiting http://www.mta.info/metrocard/EasyPayXpress.htm.
Sam Schwartz, a former first deputy commissioner of city transportation, is president and C.E.O. of Sam Schwartz Engineering, a traffic engineering consulting firm to private and public entities including the Port Authority at the World Trade Center site. Email your questions to TransitSam@DowntownExpress.com