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With the announcement earlier this week, though, of a brand new applied sciences campus run by Cornell University on the souther end of the two-mile landmass, life could change on Roosevelt Island. In a post yesterday, Cap’n Transit wondered how Roosevelt Island would remain relatively car-free. So…not going with the full 1968 Super-Express F train plan is a kick in the proverbial behind now, isn’t it?
There is already a bus circulator system, and expanding it to the southern half of the island makes sense. Somehow I suspect researchers making six figures aren’t going to be very keen on taking a bus period. Yeah, I think additional transit options are largely about a capacity problem that may or may not exist. NYC can still add an opt-out option where developers offer residents car share and MetroCard benefits, instead of building parking, without violating the rule.
The 63rd Street tunnel is running under capacity, since 63rd and Lexington is a residential neighborhood whereas 53rd is the heart of Midtown. If they ever finish phase 3 of the second ave subway, the 63rd st tunnel would probably be used to connect a local service in Queens (revived V train probably) to 2nd Ave. Why isn’t there already a station at 63rd St and York Av to accommodate the hospitals and Rockefeller University? Two new deep, near-the-water stations, similar to the Roosevelt Island station, would be a transportation revolution for the East Side of Manhattan. There cannot be a benign explanation for getting rid of that streetcar and replacing it with a nightmare like the Q60 either. In the case of the EDC, it almost has to be malice; these are economists and engineers who must know that surface rail is about the cheapest possible option in an environment like NYC. And I know I ask most of these questions every time you bring up this topic, but I haven’t seen an answer yet: Where do you put the storage and maintenance facilities? If your goal is to speed up the Q60, be careful that you don’t do it in a way that makes it no more useful to its existing riders than the subway is already.
Come on, if that were a risk, this would have no way to be anything but a smashing success by any stretch of the imagination. I think last time you asked this, it was in relation to another ROW, and my answer was who cares? I think those costs pay off in the end because of lower maintenance costs and equipment turnover and higher ridership, but I realize they’re not trivial costs. Do these things happen on Queens Boulevard, and would they happen under the Queens Boulevard viaduct?
I suppose having to cross the street, particularly nasty Queens Boulevard, to get from a local bus to a median-running rail service could be a PITA, but it could at least be a PITA limited to the area along the viaduct. My point is that a lot of Q60 riders are traveling short distances from local stop to local stop. On the same note, why would you put LRT specifically on a route that parallels the subway, where anybody who wants to avoid the bus and ride a train already has that option? If the maintenance facility isn’t located directly along the route, then tracks need to be installed (and maintained) connecting it to the route. I think those costs pay off in the end because of lower maintenance costs and equipment turnover and higher ridership, but I realize they’re not trivial costs. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend your capital dollars to replace a bus line that doesn’t already have a rail alternative? And the Q60 isn’t a particularly frequent or busy line, so I’m stumped by your choice of the Q60. If the maintenance facility isn’t located directly along the route, then tracks need to be installed (and maintained) connecting it to the route.
If you’re envisioning a larger network of LRT routes, chances are you’ll end up with either a lot of off-route trackage or a lot of small, inefficient shops, one for each line. Near as I can tell, a lot of the routes where LRT might shine in NYC could logically interact with each other. Still, rail ROWs seem cost-competitive to maintain, operating labor costs get knocked down significantly, energy costs should drop, equipment turnover is lower, etc..


So I really have trouble seeing a scenario where there isn’t an uptick in riders for the route. For all practical purposes, buses can be as stuck and unable to detour as a train can.* But sure, there are advantages to rubber-tired vehicles. It’s not a matter of its being a PITA – it’s a matter of it effectively doubling the headway for anyone who can use either route. It’s probably used for parking because, according to the 50?s planning philosophy that prevailed until very recently (and is still the way many think), lots and lots of parking is the best possible use of land. Here are the numbers for the annual ridership of those buses: Q60 and Q32 can be found at those respective URLs.
Trains are apparently more able to detour around obstructions than buses driven by *actual city bus drivers*.
I bike that way all the time and it’s easy to see where the elevators were, but there are no platforms.
Roosevelt Island already has a gondola and a subway that are very close to where the old trolley stop used to be and those provide faster service to more locations in Manhattan than any trolley ever did. This new structure would either be attached to the existing bridge or it would have to be new bridge(s). Given the traffic that bridge attracts, in both Manhattan and LIC, it could make perfect sense to take away a lane or two of traffic. Buses can also be given their own ROW – at a much lower cost than building train tracks and catenary.
Even if that were true (it’s a misleading claim at best), you think buses could travel at speed under the Queens Boulevard viaduct?
Cut off from both Manhattan and Queens by water, the largely residential island with a few hospitals sits amidst the East River.
The school will start to open in 2017, and city officials expect it to be fully built out by 2027. The infrastructure on the island can’t really support a huge influx of cars as it is even as the current hospital areas near where the campus will go up are relatively car-heavy. With the Cornell campus, the city could be sending upwards of 10,000 people a day to Roosevelt Island, and the transportation infrastructure improvements must be a part of the conversation before the project moves too far along.
Cornell has a nice chunk of change in their endowment, and they can pay the MTA to run a loop just to serve the south end of Roosevelt Island and connect with the 63rd Street subway, the tram link and the Q102.
They’ll either take a livery cab (which they can hail right on the street) or hire Black Car services like most NY corp execs do. I suspect the MTA is too expensive for even the largest private employers, plus there’s is no system to rent extra service on a contract basis like you described. So Cornell can’t directly subsidize a route, but only give out MetroCards in hope that the MTA will decide to add service.
But they depend on the MTA to be interested and able (since the new rides might still be money losers) to add service. It’s almost certainly a mission for them to make New York welcoming for contemptuous motorists. The surface route would still be almost exclusively suitable for local trips, and would never be able to replace the subway for trips to Manhattan. But they’d have to do that anyway at Queensboro Plaza if they choose to go into Manhattan, so they may as well get it over with in Sunnyside and have a one-seat ride or at least cross-platform transfer to the BMT.
If an existing bus maintenance facility can’t handle it, just go wherever is cheapest?
If it’s done properly, at least storage space needs should be reduced because of better throughput. Most street blockages would be emergencies, and they must be a bigger problem for buses and POVs than they would be for vehicles running at least largely on their own ROW. If it’s done properly, at least storage space needs should be reduced because of better throughput. I don’t see a particular logistical problem with buses and trains sharing a ROW on some parts of Queens Boulevard. However, presumably at least some bus maintenance facilities are suitable, and hopefully some parts and labor could be shared with the buses.


Such an LRT service could be speed-competitive with the subway for some intra-borough trips, so it would most likely attract riders who currently have to transfer between the IND and 7.
But even if there aren’t any new riders, it should be possible to move existing riders faster using less labor and equipment. All of the tracks that NYCT is currently responsible for are in exclusive rights of way, and the streets that DOT clears are currently used by rubber tired vehicles.
But if an LRT is capturing the local traffic, maybe it could be beneficial for Roosevelt Avenue riders to skip most of those stops and just go straight to LIC and then Manhattan.
The plans call for housing for 2500 students and another 280 faculty members, and the Economic Development Corp.
It’s a manageable half-mile walk from the F train, but that walk is a relatively long one compared with how close, say, Columbia, NYU and Fordham are to their nearest train stops.
Will transit play the proper role or will it, as Stephen Smith worries, turn into yet another academic Corbusian nightmare in New York City?
Roosevelt Island will need a light rail line running along it to shuttle people to the F stop. Way cheaper than trying to reconfigure the 53rd Street tube for a new stop, and from a politician’s perspective, way less downside than angering Queens subway passengers by periodically having to disrupt service to build the new station.
Nothing that the F train and tram (with supplemental on-Island shuttle bus service) couldn’t handle.
However, if Cornell can pull it off, it will set a precedent and provide yet another argument for reducing parking in large developments (e.g.
Besides which, the most crowded point on 63rd-Second would be 55th Street or perhaps 42nd Street, so jobs at Roosevelt Island, i.e. They want to inflict low-capacity, slow buses on people and they’re willing to spend lots of money to do it.
It doesn’t work, however, because whatever you can get by driving to a mall in New York you can get by driving to a mall anywhere else.
I’m not sure buses would fit under the viaduct, comfortably anyway – which might be why that ROW is used for parking these days. But all told, between the two of them, ridership seems to be about 9 million, with some overlap for both services between Manhattan and Roosevelt. BRT has been a cheap-out option by US transit agencies trying to find a cheaper, less-effective alternative to light rail. There’s no station right now, and I have no idea if one is even technically or economically feasible. On the subway side, you better hope those R179s are in by then and CBTC is up and running on IND Queens Boulevard to pump more F trains down that 63 St tube.
It would be one thing if buses actually saved money over surface rail, but they most often don’t. The Q32 does go to Penn Station, however, and the Q60 does not, so it probably makes sense to keep a Q32 bus service around for that reason. But it would serve to anchor the campus and would nearly eliminate the need to drive to Cornell-on-Roosevelt. It’s a neat thought experiment, but obviously none of these things are happening until a frost from hell cleanses Albany. Its residents love it for its access and idyllic qualities amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. Currently, while the F train itself at Roosevelt Island is very crowded, the station is only the 180th most popular.
The best strategy is problem-avoidance, and rail in a mostly private ROW, as could be done rather cheaply on Queens Blvd, just does that better than buses. That figure is a bit deceptive though as the 37.6 percent increase in ridership from 2009 to 2010 was the second highest in the city. Over 2.5 million riders a year use the station, and that number will jump considerably with the campus.



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