Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mass Transit Riders Up With Fuel And Toll Hikes

Though it doesn’t seem like our streets and highways are any less congested, passenger totals on New York’s trains, buses and ferries are up significantly the past few months. The MTA is smiling. Random questioning of riders found that this uptick in MetroCard users is a direct result of higher oil prices and bridge and tunnel fees. Many will never return to their gas-guzzling ways again. (Now who says Gothamites are dumb???)

Petit Revives Grande Memories

In 1974, Philippe Petit walked a cable stretched between the towers of the World Trade Center. He was arrested by the NYPD and sent for psychiatric tests. After all, what normal man would dare to amaze and excite people with a high-wire feat not performed with the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus inside Madison Square Garden? Though many doubted his sanity by the height of his stunt, he was judged to be normal. An older, but no less entertaining Philippe Petit walked a tightrope in Washington Park recently; this time, a mere five feet above the ground. Nevertheless, he still evoked memories of the WTC and a time when we New Yorkers were able to look skyward and witness beauty and miracle combined. Thanks for the memories, Phillipe.

“Superbug” Cases Flying Higher

Since February, over 700 cases of the MRSA have been confirmed in New York by the city Health Department. This extremely drug-resistant virus killed a Brooklyn boy in February. Only 21 of 49 labs have reported in so far. That means the actual number of cases could easily be twice as much or even more. Caution needs to be taken. Until official protection directives are issued or a cure is found, stay safe New Yorkers.

NYPD Going “Higher-Techie”

New York City is planning to build a state-of-the-art $30 million command bunker in lower Manhattan on Park Row for the NYPD. It will be connected to police headquarters. This eight story facility will contain all the toys to effectively deal with crime fighting, terrorist attacks and natural disasters. In the same way that the President’s primary responsibility is to protect America, city officials' main duty should be to protect New Yorkers. Build the building. Fill the toy chest.

Taxi Medallion Sales Drive Record Prices

The city collected $54 million dollars recently after selling new medallions for cabs. TLC Commissioner Mathew Daus said "The industry has never been better." A regular medallion sold for a record $524,000. A pair of wheelchair-accessible medallions also sold for a record $1.31 million dollars. As part of the auction, 87 medallions for wheelchair-accessible minivans were sold. This will bring New York City’s fleet of taxis available for the disabled to 231; the highest in the nation. Nice to have all the additional cabs around town, but will any come with a polite driver who speaks English, willing to drive to the outer boroughs?

Rent Fractions Dividing Tenants From Money

One third of all New Yorkers now give one half of their paychecks to landlords for rent. The number of renters coping with this new math is up 15% from just 9 years ago. With rising costs and a fairly liberal Rent Guidelines Board, don’t expect the numbers to head down in the tenants favor anytime soon. We can’t really fault the landlords here though. It’s simply another sign of our economic times. But, they’re still the easiest villains to target.