Transit, strike 2

negotiatingIt seemed very cool for a while to have no car. Why have a car when you are two blocks from a subway station that will take you anywhere in the city? Now we are asking how long this can go on? A recent article in the Times suggests that if it lasts until the end of the week, it could continue on indefinitely. Already, it is taking its toll on the city, and has put a serious dent in a lot of retail businesses, restaurants, and hotels in the city.

Jamie has been walking the three miles to work. I accompanied her part of the way today, and took some photos. It was late in the morning, so things had died down, but it is strange to see so many people walking into work. Looks like Europe or something. It’s not really a bad walk, but it is chilly out there, and New Yorkers are used to cold only in short bursts.

The emergency plan set in place a “no drive zone” downtown for cars with less than 4 passengers, in the hope of stopping the city from gridlocking. Commerce tends to work around regulation in interesting ways. The southbound lanes of Broadway were blocked at 96th street, starting yesterday, and the police permitted only high occupancy vehicles. Unfortunately, by 5 am, Broadway was clogged with cars and trucks that had not gotten the memo. As a result, there was an impromptu market established, with drivers yelling to the sidewalk trying to solicit people to become part of their carpool before they hit the roadblock. The walkers this morning were often carrying signs indicating where they were going, a small efficiency in the system that was counterbalanced by efforts to stop this practice.

I was surprised to see a Mercedes SUV clear the blockade and drop off most of its passengers at 95th street, followed by a BMW doing the same thing. Apparently, the two cars somehow recruited people to ride with them through the blockade so that they would have use of their cars. This would be despicable, except that south of 96th the roads were nearly empty. Cars that made it through had a pretty much open road in front of them.

The blockade doesn’t work. If they were serious about the problem, they would have opened the city only to trucks, emergency vehicles, and cabs that could only operate within the cordoned off area. Right now, taxis are having the same problem as other vehicles, unable to assemble the right collection of people going to the same location that allows them to make it through the blockade. If it were a less porous barrier, systems could operate relatively autonomously within the city center and outside of it, with points of offloading and loading around (for example) 96th street.

And while we are at it, we need dirigibles to Long Island. How long will it take to redeploy the dirigible moorings on the Empire State Building?

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One Comment

  1. Posted 12/22/2005 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had to drive into Queens every day since I got back from UB for December Break, I have to say with almost everyone staying home because of the driving ban it was quite nice to have no traffic on the Northernstate/Grand Central; though I’m glad the strike’s over considering the strain it was having on NYers and of course, the LIRR.

    – Matt

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