Dear New Yorkers

If Governor Andrew Cuomo’s continued blithering idiocy manages to stall Amtrak’s Gateway tunnels until after one or both of the Hudson River Tunnels fails,

and if Mayor Bill De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton succeed in wiping out the Times Square pedestrian plazas, one of America’s most successful urban street interventions, over a handful (sorry) of boob-related incidents,

please, please, please, do not all move to Philadelphia at once.  There are eight million of you, and as we are in the midst of proving, we have problems when more than a half million people or so show up at any one time.  (We will totally take that first half million, though.)  Also, you seem to have a penchant for electing dumb fuckups who ruin everything, and that is about the last thing we need to do.


More in sympathy than in gloating,



Why It (Probably) Couldn’t Happen Here

I’ve been wrestling with the recent Spuyten Duyvil derailment on Metro North; other people have covered what we know about it much better than I could, and honestly there’s very little more to say in the face of a human tragedy such as this. I’ve been swinging wildly between despair and vitriolic anger, and had no desire to inflict any of that on you. But it does merit a few words here.

If you are looking for a good summary of the crash itself, I would commend you to The LIRR Today’s writeup, which is the best I’ve seen. I will not attempt to duplicate that work. Continue reading Why It (Probably) Couldn’t Happen Here

What Williamsburg can tell us about two tracks and short trains

Stephen J Smith has a piece up at the New York Observer on how much capacity can be squeezed out of New York’s L line (14th St-Canarsie), in relation to a massive proposed development in Williamsburg. The answer seems to be “a lot”, and Smith does an excellent job in showing his work. A combination of signals upgrades and power system upgrades can yield a 38% increase in the available capacity of the notoriously crowded two-track line (in trains per hour); while new rolling stock, and new development patterns permitted on the streets above the subway in Brooklyn, can balance the loading profile of the trains and make that capacity more productive. It’s a good case study in how to get maximum leverage out of existing infrastructure. Important in New York, where resources are strained by a cost structure resulting in $1 billion/km subway construction costs, and important here in Philadelphia where resources simply aren’t available.