Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's a shame we need an upzoning to get better subways

From DNA Info:

More rush-hour subway trains, wider stairways, new escalators and a pedestrian connection to regional rail lines are all part of the MTA's planned upgrades for Grand Central Terminal under a proposed rezoning of the area, the Department of City Planning said Monday.

The projects, estimated to cost $465 million, were presented to the City Planning Commission, which is reviewing the Bloomberg administration's application to rezone an aging 73-block area around Grand Central with newer and larger skyscrapers.

"This may not be the sexiest thing," city planner Frank Ruchala acknowledged during his presentation, but "it's a significant improvement to the system."

An accompanying slideshow touted "less congestion, improved sight lines, and additional Lexington Avenue express-track capacity."

The upgrades would be funded, at least in part, by a District Improvement Fund, an account paid into by developers planning to construct high-density buildings in the East Midtown rezoning area. The money would be overseen by a five-member, mayor-appointed committee, and would be earmarked for transit projects and other infrastructure upgrades.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also promised to allocate city funds for East Midtown infrastructure projects, but he and the city have yet to offer any firm commitments.

The measures presented to the City Planning Commission at Monday's meeting included adding an underground walkway between the Lexington Avenue subway lines and the Long Island Railroad, which is being extended to Grand Central Terminal as part of the MTA's East Side Access program.

Other plans include widening stairways and adding escalators at Grand Central and subway stations at Lexington Avenue and 51st Street, Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street, and Madison Avenue and 53rd Street.

All told, these improvements and others would allow one more northbound 4 or 5 train to pass through Grand Central during the evening rush-hour, and another southbound train during the morning rush.


Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm dumb but isn't up zoning and over development putting more strain on transit?

That's why we ALWAYS need "better" subways?

It seems to me we'll never catch up.

More contracts puts more kickback money into pols'
pockets too.

The unions are running the country into the ground.

Anonymous said...

Exactly my feeling. They add capacity for a 10,000 in the transit system and add 100,000 to the demand.

What does a million people in NYC do for you and me - nothing.

Anonymous said...

Upzoning this area is unbelievably foolish and shortsighted and anonymous #1 makes a good point about transit capacity - especially in that part of the city.

The way the story frames this argument, in essence, seems to indicate the mistaken belief that mass transit is supposed to somehow pay for itself. (To get more subway capacity we need to have more people in the area paying a fare to use it).

This is nonsense. Every single form of public transportation and infrastructure in the civilized world receives subsidies of some kind. Taxes subsidize the construction and maintenance of roads, sidewalks, rails etc. etc. etc. That's how it works - not the other way around. You don't throw a bunch of people in the area to attract transit. You invest in transit and then people will show up. It's a long-term investment that benefits the area.

Plus, there is no need to have more density in that part of Manhattan to justify having more trains. The justification ALREADY exists. Ask anyone who uses the 4, 5 and 6 trains on a regular basis. The existing congestion is much much worse than on the West Side where there are two north-south lines in most areas. Current conditions warrant additional service.

Also disturbing is that upzoning the area in question puts a number of historic skyscrapers at risk of being demolished. Once these buildings are gone they are gone for good and I guarantee that anything replacing them will be inferior and not be something tourists or anyone else for that matter will ever love.

Do we want to keep things like amazing art deco office buildings in our city - something that New York is known for and makes the skyline special - or do we want more buildings that could be anywhere. Case in point - Bloomberg's building. Can anyone even picture this building? Probably not because it's forgettable - and this is our mayor's flagship for his company.

Upzoning this area has nothing to do with providing more trains, it has to do with providing cash to developers who don't give a rat's rear about this city.

Anonymous said...

MTA's been saying for years that they can't put on more rush hours trains because they need to maintain a certain spacing. Which makes sense. So this promise is bullshit. What a surprise. And if they did ANY upgrading, who will pay for it? You can be sure straphangers will be picking up a portion of the tab!

Anonymous said...

"Maybe I'm dumb but isn't up zoning and over development putting more strain on transit?"

Strain?? Wait until the LIRR starts pulling into Grand Central in 2019.
They want 24 trains per hour to dump their hoards into the subways and the streets.
Fun city.

Anonymous said...

"Up-zoning" makes the owners of land and buildings capable of knocking down a building with X rentable square feet and putting up a building with 2X or 3X rentable square feet. So as always, it is about making the rich richer.

I don't think there's marginal capacity to be increased from the subway lines that run through midtown. It would take a real increase like completing the Second Ave Subway to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Just another project for the Straphangers to pay for.....another excuse for them to raise fares!!

Anonymous said...

Escalators ?
Take a good look at the population on the subway and most children under age 5. The last thing **most** of these people need is escalators and candy stands put in front of them.
Elevators and ramps for disabled should be the only exception !!

Anonymous said...

"Up-zoning" makes the owners of land and buildings capable of knocking down a building with X rentable square feet and putting up a building with 2X or 3X rentable square feet. So as always, it is about making the rich richer.

Hope they don't get Mr Upzone from Dutch Kills Civic involved. The worst in neighborhood preservation is the best funded by Jimmy and Cathy. Even Michael comes out of the woodwork worrying about a stop sign.

Say 'upzone' and you cannot beat back the pols with a stick.