« June 2007 | Main | August 2007 »

July 2007 Archives

July 18, 2007

Zero Sum Game (in a good way)

[err, so now NY may get it together on congestion pricing, but the train of thought is relevant nonetheless]

While usually calling something a zero-sum game is a bad thing, in this case I mean it positively. The $500M for a congestion pricing pilot that New York has lost may still lose would go to somewhere else like Dallas, San Diego, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver, Miami, Seattle or Minneapolis. I am a New Yorker born and bred, and am as disappointed as anyone about this, but I think in this case we all may be suffering from a slight case of New-York-is-the-center-of-the-world-itis.

None of these other cities have nearly the mass transit system that New York has. Probably combined their mass transit systems don’t carry half the passengers ours does, and most people living in those places think of cars as an absolute necessity for practically everything they do. In a broader sense, it could very well be an overall net positive that the congestion pricing pilots happen in other cities. Perhaps those places will make incremental progress in shifting people out of cars and more importantly, changing peoples' value systems when it comes to cars vs. other modes.

If we are really lucky, this could be the first wave in a national shift towards more rational thinking about transportation, which would definitely benefit NYC in the long term. In truth, I'm a lot less worried about NYC than I am about other cities and the country/world as a whole, so I wonder if it doesn't hurt to at least imagine the possibility of some greater good coming from Albany's (seeming) ineptitude.

July 30, 2007

Where's the Beef?

Or at least, the capacity?

The first strategy for adding additional housing outlined in Mayor Bloomberg's 2030 plan is to pursue transit oriented development. In simple terms, dense development around transit stations and hubs. However, the plan also describes capacity issues that our transit system faces today and will face in the future. So, we should build all our new housing clustered around a transit system already reaching capacity? Hrmmm...

Looking at subway ridership in a long term context, it's pretty clear however that while some lines may be quite crowded today, the system as a whole is substantially below the highest usage levels it has supported historically. On the whole, we have recovered from a nadir of 915 million trips in 1977 to 1.5 billion trips in 2006 -- about the same as in 1952.

We all know that commuters from Williamsburg and the Upper East Side are suffering, but the question remains -- are there parts of the city where subway usage is substantially below levels that have been supported in the past? Comparing each station's 2006 annual ridership to levels in 1952 yields the following map, where red indicates a net decrease over the last 54 years (and thus, theoretically, excess capacity):

This analysis of course doesn't account for the fact that bringing the South Bronx back to historical levels would make the problems on the Lexington line even worse than they are today, but it at least gives a sense of what areas could accept housing growth around subway stations if the most pressing line-level capacity issues were resolved.

What if we want to look at each station's or line segment's pattern over time? As they say here in London -- "watch this space" (and think sparklines).

[Technology Shoutout: most of the work for making the above map was done by the ever-more-brilliant open source PostGIS and GeoServer packages.]

About July 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Frumination in July 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2007 is the previous archive.

August 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.