Changing from a foamer to more of a pragmatist

In school, because it takes my very little time to do my work, I have time left in class. As a result, on my left over pieces of looseleaf I would make small fantasy subway maps, or plans for the New York City Subway. Looking back at them, even the ones from the beginning of the school year, makes me feel silly. How could I have thought this was a priority? What stupid idea was that? And so on. I thought that the 7 train should be converted to the B division, I thought that the 7 should be extended down 11th Avenue to 14th Street, I thought the N should be extended to Flushing, and I thought that PATH should be connected with the 6 via a track connection. In an ideal world, where there was infinite money to spend, yes, maybe some of these ideas would be good. However, we do not live in that world. There is a limit to how much money is allocated to transit, and the political reality in which the MTA does not get the money it needs, there is not room for many new lines. Even looking back to my plans from a month or so ago, there are many extensions or lines that should not be prioritized.

For instance, a line running via the Bushwick Branch of the LIRR, Flushing Avenue, and the Long Island Expressway. I had thought of that line on my own, and Andrew Lynch happened to think of the same idea. It seems good on paper. However, because not many people want to travel from Northeast Queens to Central Queens and Williamsburg, and because of the high cost, it does not see like the best use of taxpayer dollars and farebox revenue. Also, another line that I thought should be built, but I have taken out of my plans is the Tenth Avenue Line in Manhattan. It would have extended the L train up the Far West Side up Tenth Avenue, with a transfer to the 7 and it would have terminated at 72nd Street with a transfer to the 1, 2, and 3. The 7 train extension should be able to serve the area for some time, and even more so with an infill station at 10th Avenue, which I still support. Also, the outer boroughs should have more of a focus than Manhattan. Other than the Second Avenue Subway, with a branch on 125th Street, there is not too much else in Manhattan needed. Tail tracks at Eighth Avenue would be nice, allowing for additional capacity on the ever growing popular L train. Money should be focused on the outer boroughs, where commutes are long, and people with lower incomes often reside. These people have to toil day after day with hour long commutes, often involving multiple buses and the subway. By reducing their travel times, these people can spend less on transportation, they could spend more time with their families, and they can contribute to the economy. This is just a post introducing some of what the purpose of transportation is and which communities it should serve.

Finally, before I finish this post, I would like to describe what would be cost effective and what would be more realistic. In the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, there are all underutilized or abandoned railroad right-of-ways (ROWs) that could be used. In Brooklyn, there is the Atlantic Branch. It provides a quick ride from Atlantic Terminal to Jamaica (only 20 minutes), but the fare is high ($7.25 off peak, and $10.00 during peak). One possible option, which has been considered for some time, is to take the line in as part of the subway system, as an express line. The Second Avenue Subway could be extended into Brooklyn and could be connected to the line. I don’t think that this is the best use of the line, and in a later post I will explain what I will want done with this line. In the mean time, an additional stop should be added in Woodhaven, where one is abandoned, and the fare should be lowered to $6.50.

In Queens, there is the Port Washington Branch. The branch parallels the IRT Flushing Line for most of its length, and it has the potential to provide much needed relief to the 7 train. The branch is the only branch of the LIRR that does not serve Jamaica, as it branches off further west at Winfield Junction. The branch, for much of its length, serves communities in Northeast Queens, and it also serves the Nassau County communities of Great Neck and Port Washington. I think that the line should be converted into a subway line. This would allow more trains to run to points further east on Long Island. While people from Great Neck and beyond won’t want to mingle with the subway passengers, and they want to keep their premium service, they will get superior service, with more destinations in Manhattan, and more frequent service than every 30 minutes.

Before I ramble on for too long, I need to mention the Triboro Rx. I think that the idea is great. It would be relatively cheap compared to the boondoggle that is the Fulton Center, the WTC station, or the 7 train extension. It would allow for new trips to trx_copybe possible between Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. New service would be available in Canarsie and Ridgewood, among other areas, and new transfer opportunities would be available. If the line were a light rail line, the line could then have the potential to be extended over the Verazanno Bridge. I disagree with the current plan laid out by the Regional Plan Association. Their plan has too few stops and it doesn’t make sense to go to Co-Op City. Instead it should utilize the Port Morris Branch before going under 161st Street to Yankee Stadium. For more details look at This is all for now. I will post more on my plan later on. Toodles.

My reason for being here and my goals

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Ever since I was really young (It is odd saying this as I am almost 16) I have been interested in transportation. Specifically the New York City Subway. From a young age I have collected all sorts of transit memorabilia (subway maps, timetables, railroad timetables, maps, bus maps and all of that stuff). I also  have a lot of books. I live in New York City and as a result I have been on the subway hundreds and hundreds of times. I have learned and learned more about the system through looking at books, actually going through the system, online on forums like subchat and New York City Transit Forums, and actually taking the time to go into the Municipal Archives. I love to edit wikipedia in order to allow others to get a better understanding of New York’s transportation system. As a railfan I know all the little things about our transit system, such as memorizing the map, knowing the track layouts, knowing which subway cars are on what line, knowing all about its history, the signaling, past proposals, and even things that the MTA doesn’t know.

Recently, I have made up my mind and I desire to become a transportation planner, an urban planner. In my free time I make fantasy proposals that would help make New York City more connected, more affordable, and easier for people to live in, regardless of how much money people make. My first proposals started out really big, and were unrealistic. They would have so many lines that would really help NYC. However, this is not Shanghai. We cannot have this many lines built because of our political reality. Our Governor is a car person and doesn’t care about public transportation. He has vetoed the Lockbox bill, which would have ensured that MTA funding would stay for the MTA. He has vetoes a bill that would have provided an additional free transfer. And most of all, he is refusing to fund the MTA’s Capital Program. I will create a future post about Cuomo later. Today, America is not investing in our infrastructure. Instead, we are wasting it on overspending on the military, and on bickering in Congress getting nothing done. Republicans are against spending a lot on transit, but are for creating jobs. News flash. Public works projects provide new jobs. If there was a constant stream of public works projects across the country more people could go back to work. This would accomplish multiple things. It would reduce unemployment, it would allow for people to get around more efficiently, and it would support economic growth.

With this blog I hope to raise awareness for the importance of transportation, and I hope to propose ideas that will be taken seriously that would help people in their every day lives. I will mostly be focusing on the New York Region, however, now and then, I might focus on things around the country. In this blog I will try to balance two things: a project’s benefit, and its cost. While most of these proposals won’t come to fruition, it is still good to dream big. I hope that I will be able to show illustrations of these proposals, but I am not very good with this so far, so sorry about that in advance.

I really look up to other blogs, such as Second Avenue Sagas, Pedestrian Observations, Cap’n Transit, Queens Transit, and the private LIRR Today. I am younger, only 15, and over time some of my posts might look stupid, or even ridiculous. If you find anything wrong with my posts please respond to me, and even offer a counterproposal. I hope that this blog will help get people interested in our transportation system.

Lets just hope that someday I will be able to help complete a plan like this.


Shaul Picker