Volume 22, Number 06 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 26 - July 2, 2009.
By Sam Schwartz
Dear Transit Sam,
Are you aware of any N.Y.C. agency that’s empowered to enforce the “No Honking $350 Fine” signs that the Department of Environmental Protection put up at certain heavy traffic prone intersections, and that actually do enforce said warnings? Are these signs even actually enforceable under the law? I ask these questions because of my repeated 311 calls about extreme honking conditions at specific honking prone intersections sporting such signage in my immediate neighborhood, but nothing has ever been done to clamp down on this all-too-frequent urban cacophony. Which agency is empowered to levy these advertised fines? What’s stopping enforcement? Is there any point in raising the issue with them directly? At a minimum, the seemingly absolute absence of enforcement strikes me as yet another lost revenue opportunity for N.Y.C.! What’s your take?
Spring and Washington St. resident
The signs are often put up by N.Y.C. Dept. of Transportation at the request of N.Y.C. Dept. of Environmental Protection. Although D.E.P. has officers that can enforce noise violation laws, there are so few of them that the burden for most enforcement falls on N.Y.P.D. (and most 311 complaints are funneled to N.Y.P.D.). The most effective enforcement program I’m aware of is the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side. Horn honking “stings” are set up where officers will monitor specific intersections and cite drivers for unnecessarily honking their horn, which is prohibited under law unless used to warn of danger. Officers must witness the motorist beeping their horn, which is why enforcement is so hard to begin with. I spoke with your precinct — the First. They blame the honking on the horrendous conditions at the Holland Tunnel. They’ll do what they can, but frankly I’m not sanguine.
So Michael, here’s what I suggest. Fight noise with noise. Demand that 19th Precinct type “stings” take place in Hudson Square. Shout this to 1) Community board — they tell me they’ve received very few complaints. 2) Your councilwoman, Speaker Christine Quinn. 3) On July 1, you can contact the brand new Hudson Square Business Improvement District headed by the very effective and not-too- silent-herself, Ellen Baer. Good luck!
Dear Transit Sam,
I commute by subway from Battery Park City to Upper Manhattan and use a monthly MetroCard. With the fare hike set to take effect this weekend, when should I buy my MetroCard to ensure I can still use it once the hike takes effect?
The magic date for buying a one, seven, 14 or 30-day unlimited MetroCard is June 28. They all must be activated for the first time no later than July 6. One day unlimiteds purchased before June 28 are valid through July 6, seven day unlimiteds are valid through July 12, 14 day unlimiteds are valid through July 19 and 30 day unlimiteds will be valid through August 4. If purchased before June 28, but activated after July 7 and you’re stuck with an unused or partially used MetroCard, you can still receive a refund on a pro-rated basis. As I’ve written in past columns, I’d also suggest signing up for EasyPayXpress, a.k.a. automatic replenishment at 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.