April 19, 2019
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Stephanie, thank you so much. I want to tell you, I can immediately predict you're going to have a lot of success in whatever field you choose. You’re very, very well spoken and I was struck immediately by, you know, how you jump here in front of a press conference effortlessly. So, you're on your way, and we want to make sure you're on your way in the meantime to school and getting to school on time. And the whole idea of this plan is for Stephanie and so many other students, for folks getting to work, for parents trying to get their kids to school or getting to pick up their kids in afterschool, to change life in the city so that, that constant sense of unpredictability changes. What Stephanie just talked about is what I hear from people all over the city, certainly about our buses, certainly about our subways – you can't depend on them. Now, we have to make a lot of changes to fix that. We can't be the greatest city in the world and not be able to get around or not be able to depend on the buses and the subways that we need. So, what Stephanie's talking about is an example – the way people have, you know, made all the adaptations in their life to assume things will be late, and we want to do something to change that once and for all. And Stephanie, I just want to thank you. I know you've been involved previously as an activist, fighting for these changes. Everyone, let’s give Stephanie a round of applause and thank her.
And we're here at a great New York City institution, the 92nd Street Y, beloved in this city. And we're here because right on Lexington Avenue – I was out there with a number of you before – is one of the places where you're going to see change happening. If you look at Lexington Avenue the way it is now, the buses crawl along too often. It just doesn't work the way things are configured now. And all of those delays that Stephanie talked about are partly because we don't have some of the right design and we don't have some of the right approaches. We know we can do better. So, we are rolling out, starting today, projects that are going to help hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers get where they need to go quicker, and we're going to do it very, very quickly. We know that people's lives get disrupted all the time and it shouldn't be that way.
So, we're not going to do this slowly, we’re going to start immediately now in 2019, and we're going to reach our goals by next year, 2020, because we want to see for 600,000 New Yorkers a faster commute, whether it's to work, to school, wherever they're going. We want it to go faster.
I want to thank everyone who worked on this plan. This is a very important new development for 600,000 people – the Better Buses Action Plan. And when we put out one of these plans, I want you to know that there's many, many people who put a whole lot of work into its fruition. These things don't grow on trees, people have to do a lot of work in the administration to figure out all of the details, all of the things that have to come together technologically and otherwise to make it work. A special thanks to all our colleagues at the Department of Transportation. And I know it's a labor of love for all of you to make these kinds of changes, and I appreciate your hard work. To members of administration who help lead the way – I want to thank our Chief Climate Policy Advisor and the Director of our OneNYC initiative, which you're about to see the extraordinary report – the extraordinary OneNYC report coming out next week. Dan Zarrilli, thank you for your great work. And on behalf of DOT – Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Planning and Management, Eric Beaton, thank you. And thank you for being a very good tour guide earlier. Of course you're going to hear from Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin in just a moment as well.
To the folks sitting behind me – all of you, the advocates from a number of organizations – I see Rider’s Alliance is here, and the Straphangers Campaign, and NYPIRG. Everyone who fights for these changes, your voices make a big difference. We hear your voices, we get inspired by them. A lot of times the ideas and the innovations come from grassroots organizers showing us other and better ways of doing things. So, I have a request to all the activists and organizers – would you please look at your neighbor and give them a round of applause?
Now, if you're going to talk about how New York has got around you've got to, of course, talk about subways and buses, and we took a major step forward for both with the congestion pricing plan. And I want to say, a lot of times, you know, problems and bad news gets all the attention. I hope we're going to spend a lot of time in the coming weeks and months talking about something that actually was a victory for all New Yorkers, that a congestion pricing plan did get passed in Albany just in time and it's going to open up a whole series of positive options for us, going forward. And I want to thank the Governor, I want to thank the Legislature for acting on this plan because that's the first step of what we need. But as you're going to see in this proposal today, and this plan, and all of the OneNYC vision – we have much more to do. And the Better Buses Action Plan is something that we can do to address the fact that New Yorkers have some of the longest bus commutes in the whole country. It does not need to be that way. We can do things differently. We can do things better. And the commitment we made – and it's not a small one. You know, a lot of times I say to members of my team, we're going to make very big commitments and we're going to put them on tight timelines and it's going to inspire everyone to be their best selves and to achieve the most they can. I said this in the State of the City – we will speed up bus rides for 600,000 New Yorkers, by 25 percent, by next year. So, it's a very aggressive goal. Shave a quarter of the time off of people's commute by next year for 600,000 people. And this is going to involve over 20 projects all over the city. It will involve new bus lanes, in some cases. It will involve green light priority for buses at 300 key intersections around the five boroughs. It will involve redesigning some of our current bus routes in Queens and the Bronx, and a whole host of other examples. And I want to make it specific to where we are now – the M103, which stops right outside where we all were standing before – if you're coming from East Harlem to Hunter College to go to school, a lot of times in the morning rush hour, to get there for that nine o’clock class, that can be about a 30 minute ride. We believe that the Better Buses Action Plan will allow us to shave as much as seven minutes off that ride for a student coming from East Harlem over to Hunter College. Now, seven minutes, you can say, well, seven minutes? How big a deal is at? Well, as New Yorkers, we value every minute – New York minute, right? We really treat time is very, very precious. But if you say you're going to save seven minutes on each ride every day, that's roughly nine fewer hours of commuting per semester – nine hours given back to Stephanie and other students to be able to live their lives and do so many other important things.
The bottom line is, to achieve this, we have to deal with the fact that we've got not only a need to change the bus routes and the signals, we also have to address the underlying reality of streets that are more clogged than they need to be. I have no doubt that congestion pricing will be one part of that solution, but there's something else that we need to act on. And I hear this from New Yorkers all the time, and you know, I've done about 60 town hall meetings and I talk to people all over the five boroughs in all sorts of ways, and I have heard this for years and years. People say, what can we do differently about deliveries? All the delivery trucks that take up a lane that forced traffic to have to go around them – and particularly obnoxious when it happens during rush hour. So we've been searching for ways to address this problem once and for all. And we know that a single double parked delivery truck can disrupt a whole block, can slow down everything, can slow down buses as well. So, we have to get at the heart of this. So, one of the things we are doing, starting today, is we're going to triple the number of overnight and off-hour delivery locations in the City that have been achieved through an initiative we've done with businesses. We've worked with about 500 businesses so far. We're going to increase that rapidly to 1,500 business sites and it's going to work with them to ensure that their deliveries happen before rush hour in the morning, or overnight, or anytime that will not disrupt the flow of traffic. We're finding a lot of interest in the business community and we found a lot of ways to make that work better for them. This initiative is working, it's going to get expanded rapidly and as it keeps working we're going to go farther and farther. So, that's another important piece of the equation.
Lastly, to say, one of the other things we're talking about today – it’s not just about our streets, it's not just about our buses or cars, it's also about our sidewalks. And we know that in many parts of this city, particularly in Manhattan, we're seeing sidewalks that are really, really crowded. To some extent, we are victims of our own success. We have more population than ever. We have more businesses and jobs than ever. We have more tourists than ever. We’ve got a lot of building going on, that means a lot of scaffolding. There's a lot of reasons why the sidewalks are so crowded, but it's time to take another step to experiment with pedestrian priority zones, areas that are devoted just to pedestrians so that we can give people an easier time walking around. We are the probably the number-one walking city in America. And it's something – when I talk to people around the country, they always kind of are shocked that New Yorkers walk as much as we walk. We probably walk more than any Americans anywhere. And that's another reason this is a great city, but we have to make it easier in some places to do so, and we're going to be looking at locations for that. And Lower Manhattan is a key example of a place that this kind of strategy could really work.
So, all of this is about helping people get around. All of this is about improving quality of life. All of this is about reducing the stress and helping people get where they need to go on time so they can really experience all the good in this city. And this is something New Yorkers deserve. We want this to be the fairest big city America, this is the kind of thing that New Yorkers deserve.
Want to say a few words in Spanish –
[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
And to make the city better for everyone, I turn to our Deputy Mayor for Operations, who amongst the agencies that reports to her is the Department of Transportation. She's been working very closely with them on a number of the initiatives that we're talking about today. And Deputy Mayor Anglin will now walk us through some of the specifics of today's announcement.
Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin, Operations: Thank you, sir. And good afternoon, everybody. Our streets and transit are about to change and some very big ways. As the Mayor said, the MTA is finally poised to have sustainable funding to fix our subways. Congestion pricing is a major part of that and it's going to help us get traffic moving, but there are a lot of other pieces that we, the City, control and that we want to continue to do something quickly to get our streets moving and our buses moving again. On Monday, when we release our OneNYC 2050 strategy, we’ll be laying out a whole slate of approaches to transportation. But today, we want to preview, as the Mayor said, a few of the bigger ones.
So, first buses – outside of our Select Bus system, bus speeds and ridership had been dropping. And I think we've heard that quite a bit today from our student here, but we want to turn that around. In the Mayor's 2019 State of the City, he announced a citywide goal of improving bus speeds by 25 percent by 2020. And, as you can see, we have a plan today and called the Better Buses Action Plan – it’s a report that was issued today – that shows that DOT will be working on 24 projects that will mean faster trips for 600,000 bus riders just in 2019 alone. We’ve identified 300 intersections that will get special signal prioritization to move buses through congested streets faster. These signals will allow buses to speak with traffic lights and they'll be able to talk to each other to help things keep moving so that we can increase speeds, hopefully, pretty rapidly. The plan today identifies the bus lanes that we will be installing and also those that we’ll be upgrading. An example here, as we talked about, 44,000 people today walk the bus lane down the stretch of Lexington Avenue that we just walked earlier, which we'll get a new bus lane later this year. We're focused also on a high other – other high ridership routes and pinch points, including Madison Avenue and 42nd street in Midtown, Webster Avenue in the Bronx, Main Street in Flushing, Church Avenue in Brooklyn, and the junction of Narrows Road and Highland Boulevard on Staten Island. These changes will shave five to 10 minutes off of riders’ commutes. And while that does not sound like a lot, it adds up to hours and then ultimately days in a given year.
Next, as the Mayor talked about, we're going to focus heavily on truck deliveries. Right now, we have a huge amount of deliveries that are occurring during the busiest times of the day. That means double parking and congestion. The City's research shows that if we shift to delivering on off-peak hours before 6:00 AM and after 7:00 PM, a driver can double or triple the number of deliveries a truck can make. So, DOT is going to do to triple the number of business locations currently enrolled in our off-hour delivery program, as the Mayor, said from 500 businesses to 1500. What's great about this program is we will be able to help the businesses make the transition. We will help them by working with distributors to rework schedules and help with on-the-ground logistics to do this. We have a lot of big names in the program already – Coca Cola, Anheuser Busch, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Just Salad, who’s here with us today – a representative – Rite Aid and Whole Foods. DOT is preparing mass mailings to all businesses in areas of Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn to make the case for our off-hour delivery program and to try to persuade them to come into the program. We'll go door to door to promote it. And in addition, any business who is interested can just call 3-1-1 right now and we'll start working with you immediately. So, our experiences when businesses realize how much we are willing to do to them come into this program, you know, they're willing to make the change.
So, lastly, as the Mayor said, we're going to give pedestrians more room to breathe in one of the most crowded parts of the City, Lower Manhattan. We’re calling them pedestrian priority streets. We'll take space that's currently dedicated to cars and give it back to pedestrians, helping to unclog sidewalks. I walk around Lower Manhattan and I know that I see people walking in the streets because the sidewalks are so crowded and that is a big safety issue we want to address. We have a mix of tools from pedestrian-only plaza's to shared streets that actually allow very limited vehicle access, but have very slow travel rates. DOT will look to install these treatments later this summer or fall, following a very engaging community outreach, because we know that we have to make sure we are putting these in the right place with the community effort to make sure that we are choosing the right sites and it can be harmonious for everybody. We want to get this right and we think that this is the right time to do it.
So when we add all this up – new subway funding, congestion pricing that we've just secured in Albany, faster buses for hundreds of thousands of riders, shifting thousands of deliveries to the overnight, and giving pedestrians more space – we’re talking about changes that are going to make a big difference in how not only people get around this city, but how people live in this city, and, as the mayor said, the quality of life that people have living in this city.
So, thank you, Mr. Mayor for really helping us push these initiatives along. And I look forward to working with DOT to make sure that we do implement them as fast as we can and to get all the good workout to the people who will then see a difference in the way of life.
Mayor: Amen. Thank you very much, Deputy Mayor Anglin. And now, turning to a strong voice for people in this borough, and I think Gale Brewer would say that Manhattan nights are not afraid to say if something needs to be fixed or done differently – and Gale certainly isn’t. You have focused on Select Bus Service, among other things, and we welcome you today. Gale Brewer, Borough President of Manhattan –
Mayor: So, we are going to take questions on Better Buses Action Plan, and the other elements of the plan we’re talking about today with the deliveries, and the pedestrian zones. Let’s take questions on all of that to begin, questions? Please.
Question: So, what role do you envision community boards playing in these street changes for the bus improvements. Obviously with the – it says in the releases they will be a little bit more involvement in with the pedestrianization in Lower Manhattan. But what about bus lanes, and things like that, are you just going to do them?
Mayor: You know, I’ll let my colleagues talk to the specifics of the process. I mean look, I think in general we’ve had a lot of discussion with community boards on many of the things the DOT does, and as everyone knows that’s a consultative process and sometimes that leads to some very specific changes, and sometimes the voices are heard but we still move forward with a vision. Unquestionably we have to get this reduction in speed. So, one of the things we learned for example the SBS – is sometimes community boards and community leaders would say here’s a way to get your goal a different way. You know, here’s a revision you can make that doesn’t interfere with your goal but it is helpful to local business or you know, addressing some other community need. We are very, very interested in that kind of feedback. But I want to be clear that we must speed up our buses. So one way or another we’re going to get there. Either of you want to speak to that?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Yes, no, I agree. For you know, new bus lanes or bike lanes, DOT does extensive community outreach, community meetings, we talk to and listen to the people living in the area before they map out a plan. We don’t just map out a plan and say this is where we’re going to go. So we make sure that we’re integrating that within the community and talking with people for the community.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer: I just add - that you know, of all the issues the community boards – since I talk to them all day long, 24 hours a day almost. They would be very pleased with this, compared to all the other topics that they have to deal with. So I think this would be very positive in their mind.
Mayor: Go ahead.
Question: On the pedestrian priority zones, the release mentions looking at changing street parking regulations. I think Deputy Mayor Anglin mentioned giving space dedicated to cars back to pedestrians. What exactly are we looking at? Are we looking at driving lanes? Are we looking at taking away parking?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: So, I am happy to jump in. So we are still working through the areas as well as what the areas will look like. But often it’s common that you might see that there are certain streets where we don’t have any parking and that we mark those streets differently so that people know you can’t drive down there. It’s that type of thing that we’re – can I call it shared streets or pedestrian plazas. So the shared streets – we take away parking in those areas, but it makes it move faster in areas around it, so that all you really allow is people to come in and maybe do a drop off or a pick-up, because we want to make sure that people need to get something they can. So, yes, you will see changing in parking and different markings and various different things, depending on what we do.
Question: And eliminating parking across the board in those areas?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: No, no, it’s going to be different areas. We’re going to look at what works for that area, so it depends, not always going to be eliminated completely. But we have to look at what our goal is for each area we choose and what’s the best way to accomplish that. And some may eliminate parking, and some may be changing parking hours. So it really depends on the area.
Question: How does the delivery aspect of this plan relate to the Clear Curbs, Clear Land initiative from a couple of years ago? Was that program a success? I don’t think we got any findings from that.
Mayor: Yes, I’ll start, and then Laura can jump in. We got mixed findings so far from what we looked at. And we’re not done yet is the truth in terms of trying to figure out this issue. This approach working with the businesses has been very impressive. Meaning, we’re seeing real results quickly. So we certainly want to deepen that. But I think as we look around the city trying to figure out where specific restrictions work and not. I think the thing that came back from the pilot was it really varies by location and condition. So we’ve got to figure out sort of a bigger, better pilot that allows us to test more places and figure out where it’s best suited. I still think there is a lot of merit. I mean, Gale and I – we have known each other for several decades. And I say that, because we’ve spent our lives talking to New Yorkers and boy you hear this from a lot of people. And I don’t think it’s – I don’t think they’re missing something. I think they’re right on the money to say there’s got to be some way to channel deliveries away from the most sensitive places, and the most sensitive times. And certainly this initiative is one of the pieces, but there may be other tools as well that we can find. Go ahead.
Question: Just to follow up on that, and a kind of related question. It seems like the City has talked a lot about the challenges that Fresh Direct and other home delivery groceries that plays where pretty much the resident gets to pick when they want it delivered at what time. Have you had any discussions with those companies as to you know, maybe restricting customers’ options or like where do those types of deliveries play in that part of this?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: I’ll see if Eric has, my – I don’t believe we’re looking at restricting those hours but I’ll let DOT answer that question more specifically.
Deputy Commissioner Eric Beaton, Department of Transportation: And we do talk to all those companies and we want to make sure that everyone follows the rules of the road. That they’re not parking in bus stops or in places where they shouldn’t be. We also know that they’ve provided a lot of availability for fresh produce to a lot of places. So our goal is to really work with them and try to find ways to make deliveries legal and possible. You know, they are places where restrictions are appropriate, there are places where working with companies are appropriate and we take a nuanced approach in looking at each of those.
Mayor: Well, let me offer a layman’s prospective and Eric you can provide an erudite response to my layman’s prospective that I think some of the biggest problems we have are not smaller residential streets where you might find a Fresh Direct truck for example. I think it is the classic, you know, street that’s really important for people trying to get around, particularly in rush hour and lots of stores and you know, just one delivery truck can screw everything up, multiple delivery trucks can really screw everything up. And that is to me the fixable problem that this initiative speaks to and hopefully you know, some other tools will speak to as well. Tell me if I’m in the ballpark?
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: Oh, you’re in the ballpark, you’re at the plate.
Mayor: I’m in the ballpark.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Absolutely.
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: It’s exactly right, we need the busiest places that really block up traffic that’s obviously where we get the most bang for our effort in focusing.
Question: The M14 route on 14 Street is on your list, but the MTA has already been trying to install SBS, and they’re already at a stalemate, because local residents want the local stops, but you can’t have the local stops and SBS, if you want SBS to work. So how are you going to solve this already existing stalemate and multiple it across the city?
Mayor: And then throw the L-train in and – we’re having a lot of fun on this issue. So, Laura, I think you’re saying we’re hoping to have some updates. We’ve been talking constantly with community leaders, and residents, and of course MTA and we’re hoping for next week to have some update on this.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Correct, correct. That is our goal.
Mayor: So, stay tuned, way back. Way, way back.
Question: There is no –
Mayor: Wait, no. Way, way back first, go ahead.
Question: So if we’re talking about pedestrian, pedestrianized zones in Lower Manhattan. That’s a scenario that has an enormous problem with placard abuse. What’s to stop that from kind of messing this up?
Mayor: Well, I’ll state the – I’ll be the layman again, and the experts can jump in. I think if you have a pedestrianized zone, the placard abuse becomes even more obvious, and you know, even more straight forward to enforce. But again, and Laura has been working on this intensely with her team. The new approaches on placard abuse I think are going to change the entire reality because of the use of technology and sort of taking – and we were honest about this when we made the announcement, taking the human element out of it. I love humanity, but when it comes to placard enforcement, there is a human challenge that we need to overcome. So, one, I think the bigger solution will soon be here. Two, I think if you’re trying to abuse a placard, and you’re like the only car parked on the street, you probably maximize your chances of enforcement. Go ahead, right in front of you, go ahead.
Question: There is no NYPD presence here, but a lot of this seems to boil down to enforcement, especially the trucks blocking bus lanes, and [inaudible]. How do you ramp up enforcement when it seems to be such a problem?
Mayor: Well, I don’t – let me say, there is no NYPD presence simply because we’re talking about three specific things that are proactive and not about enforcement, but unquestionably enforcement has to be available as part of the equation. When we talk we talk about in this plan, for example, the signal – using the signal technology differently, that’s not an enforcement issue, that’s using technology to you know, give a bus a green light that it wouldn’t have had otherwise and help it move along. Or obviously, you know the designing the streets better is a good thing onto itself. But yes, we’ve announced previously that we’re going to be very aggressive about bus lane enforcement, and you know, some of what’s going to happen here like out here in Lexington is you’re going to be to see the bus lane really, really clearly, like we’re taking all the mystery out of it. we’re going to make it much more dedicated, you know, bright colored, clear, delineated, which is going to make I think it even clearer to people that enforcement can and will happen effectively.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: And, if I could just add, we previously made an announcement with the Police Department about enhanced enforcement within bus lanes, and just in that short period of time the data is showing that 432 cars have been towed, over 16,000 summons have been issued for bus lane violations, and where this may not seem a lot, but we’re also seeing anecdotally is a car pulls into a bus lane to run into a store, the police car pulls up behind them and they run and say I’m moving, I’m moving. So I think the presence within the bus lanes of the enforcement we’re seeing is really starting to make a difference. And in addition, we also are doing more cameras in the bus lanes to ensure that we’ll be able to ticket people if they’re inappropriately in the bus lanes. So, I think these two initiatives and others that we announced earlier are really starting to grab hold.
Mayor: Just to pick up on this point, because I’m reading over Laura’s shoulder that just for January through March since we announced the enforcement in the bus lanes, that’s almost 17,000 summonses just for three months. So even by New York standards that’s a serious number. Please Greg.
Question: Have you guys thought about the confluence of the crazy BQX, I’m sorry not BQX, sorry about that –
Deputy Mayor Anglin: BQE?
Question: BQE, even better.
Mayor: Yes, even better.
Question: The BQE and the implementation of the downtown, restricting the downtown zone at the same time that you are going to have to deal with the BQE?
Mayor: I’m sorry, when you say restricting the downtown zone, you mean to Lower Manhattan or what are you saying?
Question: To Lower Manhattan.
Mayor: How the Lower Manhattan pedestrian?
Question: [Inaudible] back to 2020 I think?
Mayor: At the end of 2020, yes.
Question: Almost exactly the same time when I think you guys have to start working on the BQE, because there’s a time, there’s a clock ticking on that?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Correct. By 2026 on the BQE, if we do not do anything then trucks will be banned from using it. And that is our goal to avoid that. I think the – obviously as we go through the process through the BQE, anything we do, we are now doing a panel of experts, we are doing more community involvement in it. Anything we do will require traffic studies and environmental studies so I think all of that will need to be integrated with the different parts of this. We are not closing all of Lower Manhattan with our pedestrian priority zone, so please understand it’s going to be areas that we look at that we feel traffic will still be able to move, but it will really benefit the pedestrians. So, the both will have to meet at some point and will have to factor them in as we are doing all of these different proposals. And DOT does this all the time.
Mayor: Two pieces, one I want to say because I want to make sure we are not giving people the wrong impression on the pedestrian zones. So first of all we are going to be certainly talking to communities about what it would look like and how much to do. There are clearly places where you have major streets you would never turn into a pedestrian zone. So you know, a classic place to turn into a pedestrian priority area is a less used street for example, a street, that you know it doesn’t have such an impact to do that. But on the question of BQE and congestion pricing, I think the pulling out this point from Laura’s answer – congestion pricing will be up and running give or take a year and a half, a little more. Action on the BQE, because we are now studying a whole range of options, and you are right, then you go to all sorts of design and one thing or another. That’s going to be substantially behind the initiation of congestion pricing. So, at least we will have a chance to figure out how to make congestion pricing work in the here and now before any final action is taken on the BQE. We do have to get to some plan for it sooner rather than later, but they are not going to immediately overlap which is good. Go ahead.
Question: [Inaudible] from earlier I know you said you are going to announce something on 14th street next week, but point blank, do you support an M-14 – a 14th street busway?
Mayor: Next week is a good time to talk about it. It’s a real discussion with the community and I want to be respectful of that, and we are going to come back with what we think is a fair outcome. Go ahead.
Question: Do you have a cost for all of these plans?
Mayor: A cost for these particular pieces we are announcing today?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: So I think the Bus Action Plan, we have $280 million in total capital funding already that we are looking at for this. And we are going to add about $12 million in DOT’s annual expense budget for bus improvements. We will also need to work with the PD and traffic agents to figure out what we are going to need to mitigate as we transition into these. So we are working through those numbers now. And I don’t know if you have anything else Eric, but I think those are the main costs associated with this, because the bus lanes are capital intensive.
Mayor: Right, and I don’t know the answer to this, but I don’t mind asking out loud, I do not remember since we announced in the State of the City if we included in the preliminary or we are anticipating including it in the Exec, the capital dollars?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: I will have to check, sir.
Mayor: Okay, we’ll come back on that. The delivery work which DOT again has already started that is about some extra personnel, but it’s small but high impact investment.
Deputy Mayor Anglin: I think there will be about $1 million worth of mailing and outreach to businesses for that program.
Mayor: Right, okay who else? Back there.
Question: Mayor, talking about moving buses along, how about moving motorists along? How will all of these changes affect perhaps the speeds of vehicles in the streets and the second part of this – will the bus lanes have certain hours of restriction because some of them do it, some of them don’t. What’s the future for that?
Mayor: So I will let my colleagues talk to the hours question. I mean look, we are entering a new world here with congestion pricing, so certainly when you are talking about the Central Business District of Manhattan, you know we have to look at the whole picture. What will congestion pricing do to reduce the number of cars coming in and vehicles coming in. Also over time what will it do to help us improve the subways and buses so that more and more people take them. There’s no question that people started turning away from subways and buses because they weren’t working as well. If you start to fix those problems then I think a lot of people will come back to them. Because when they are working, they are far superior to driving in many parts of the city. So, this is all going to evolve over time. I would argue on a sheer numbers level, when you think about the 600,000 New Yorkers who are going to benefit from a plan to speed up buses by 25 percent, that just is so important, that’s the priority, we obviously hope the whole equation works for everyone, but right now I am thinking about you know, the sheer numbers of people who take our buses who need a faster ride and I think this is a smart way to get it for them. On the hours, anyone want to speak –
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Yeah, I think, I’ll turn it to Eric but different bus lanes depending on conditions have different hours, they monitor that quickly before we implement, they figure out what they could be. I’m not – I’m pretty sure not every bus lane has the same hours and not every bus lane in this plan will have the same hours, but Eric, I don’t know if you want to add to that.
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: Yes, that’s right. We look at each place very thoughtfully and very individually that just because something works in one place, doesn’t mean we do the same thing everywhere. So we look at the traffic flow on each street. We talk to communities, we talk to businesses and we try to find the right plan that does the best for the most people. And we look at the traffic very carefully too. Whether it’s looking at signal timing, looking at, we can do turns [inaudible], intersections, things that can make the bus go faster while still improving the overall outcome for everyone.
Mayor: Okay on this, Gloria?
Question: Mr. Mayor do you know on average how fast a city bus moves right now? I know it varies.
Mayor: A lot slower than it should be. What’s out latest?
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: It’s about seven and a half miles per hour across the whole city.
Question: And seven and a half miles per hour is right now. So what will this 25 percent improvement bring it to?
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: So we think it gets it up towards eight to nine miles an hour which you know, it sounds small, but as the Mayor so eloquently said, that adds up to minutes every day, that adds up to hours over the course of the year and it adds up to a more reliable system too. Where instead of having to wake up early to get to school, you can know when that bus is going to come, you know when it’s going to get there, it’s incredibly valuable, even that little increment.
Mayor: But Eric, I also want to say in the name of clarity, because this, it feels like that averaging kind of pulls together so many things that it’s a little deceptive. You know, first of all I don’t know if you include express buses and other things in it or not.
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: Yes, it’s everything.
Mayor: But the, you know some buses, depending on their route, clearly move a lot faster, others are going to move a lot slower because of being in a highly congested area for example or a very busy area, different times of day and all. So you know, that average, I mean you can safely say Gloria that says on the low end, some buses are really crawling and that we want to do something about. There’s obviously that we have all been on that move a lot better than that. But I take down to the human element as well. If you can give someone back you know five minutes, ten minutes on their ride every single day that really matters to them.
Question: And each of these five improvement areas will – is there an exact timeline for each or are they all expected to be completed by 2021?
Deputy Mayor Anglin: We do have a schedule that we can provide that will go through our process, we have to map them out so that we can have appropriate construction workers and make sure we have traffic flowing so yes there will be a schedule. And Eric will they all be done by 2020?
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: So the one’s in this report today, we are saying our plan for this year, and that we expect those to be done in 2019. And we would have similar programs in future years, working with the MTA as they do their redesigns around the city.
Question: So these five that are in the announcement today, 20, by this year?
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: Yes, the five are examples from the 24 that are in the report that we expect to all be done this year.
Mayor: Okay anyone else on this announcement today, any of the pieces in this announcement, going once, twice. Okay. Let me do a little comment up front before we go into other topics. And I want to just talk about the Mueller Report obviously on everyone’s mind today. And look based on everything, all the analysis I’m seeing, certainly from a lot of folks who are looking at this from an objective, legal perspective that even in its redacted version the Mueller Report is a catalogue of outrageous acts and possibly criminal acts. There’s a lot more here that needs to be looked at. There’s a huge attempt going on by the White House and the Justice Department to down play it. It should not be downplayed in Congress. I’m absolutely convinced will look very hard at the situation and determine what action needs to be taken. But I also have to say as we are watching a huge amount of time and energy being taken up by that discussion, we are not seeing enough time and energy going into the discussion on climate change. And I say this very specifically, I want obviously the Congress and prosecutors to get down to the bottom of what happened in the President’s dealings with Russia and all other associated matters but I think at the same time we have to focus more on the urgent issues facing us right this minute. And there’s no question that a lot of issues are being lost here that need to get much more urgent attention. And bluntly I sometimes fear that the White House actually takes advantage of this other discussion even though they may not like it, to have to, to be able to not answer for things that are absolutely existential like the threat of global warming.
So that is one point I want to make. The second point I want to make is, and I say this as someone who believes in what I believe philosophically and as someone who is a Democrat. I think we have to be very clear there is going to be an election in 2020. I think a lot of people have been waiting for this report, hoping it would lead to impeachment proceedings and that would be the way that change happens in this country. I have never believed that and I don’t believe it now. I believe that the way change will happen in this country is through the 2020 election. And that folks who want to see change should put their focus there, not on hoping that this report leads to one thing or another. There should again be full, full follow up on it. But really, the thing that we can depend on is an election and the better way to make change is an election, and I hope that we, while following up appropriately on the report, get attention back on the bigger issues at hand so that people can make their choice about the future of this country. Take any questions, way back?
Question: Since numbers released today show that actually more people are leaving New York City than they have in more than a decade, I want to get your take on it and so do you – why do you think so many people are – 38,000 people are leaving New York?
Mayor: Yeah, I want to caution, and I haven’t gotten all of the details. I think we’re very, I’m very much questioning – our team is very much questioning those results and the methodology that was used. Every indicator we have seen in recent is of steady growth, and you know, we’re seeing stuff come out of Washington – I don’t even have to talk about the 2020 census and all the problems with that, but we’re seeing a lot of very questionable methodologies, so I would say to all New Yorkers, what we see with our own eyes appears to be the real truth – that our population has been steadily growing and yeah, I’m sure there some outflow but I – from everything I can see it’s being more than made up for by the inflow, but we’ll give you a more detailed analysis going forward. Way back.
Question: Going back to what you were saying about the climate, would you give us your reaction to the green building legislation that was passed in the City Council today? I’m sure you’ve heard from the building community, or building ownership community, about the hardships that they – how, do you anticipate they’re going to absorb the cost [inaudible] passed on to its tenants?
Mayor: It has to be done. First of all I want to commend Speaker Johnson and Councilmember Constantinides, and the whole Council – they’re doing something very important and we worked very, very closely in a lot of detail over these last months to get to something that we all agree on strongly. We did meet – there’s a lot of discussion with the private sector, with the real estate community, but in the end this is an existential threat. This is about survival and right now with our national government having walked away from the Paris Agreement, New York City and other cities have to step up even more, and states have to step up. Look, this is about survival. So, if you look at this plan, there’s plenty of time for businesses to adapt to it, but it’s not option to ignore this threat, and we baked in very serious penalties if any building owners don’t take it seriously because we just don’t have a choice. You know, a lot of people think about cars when they think about emissions and global warming, in New York City buildings are an even more important source, so this is where we can make a difference. We’re going to do a lot to work with the business community to make it work, and we think – I do believe technology continues to improve which will make their job easier, but we could not low ball this, we couldn’t walk softly on this one, this is about survival. Yeah.
Question: Mr. Mayor, Streetsblog reported today that of the 11,000 pedestrians reported as injured on streets last year by the NYPD, only 9 were hit by e-bike riders. Does that challenge, contradict, or give pause to your view that the e-bikes are unsafe or a safety concern?
Mayor: I understand why, you know I appreciate those facts, and I understand why people would say “hey, you know, this is not as important as some other things” but I would simply say we’ve got a class of bicycles that go, or e-bikes I should say, that go way too fast, where there’s plenty of evidence of them being used in a manner that’s reckless, that doesn’t conform to the way all the other types of transportation work. In other words, a car, a truck, a motorcycle, they’re on the street, they follow all the traffic rules, if they don’t it’s very clear what happens, you know, a bicycle in a bike lane – this has been, to me, the mode of transportation where we’ve seen a lot of recklessness, a lot of going the wrong way down the street, a lot of speed at levels they shouldn’t be for very closely packed areas – it’s a problem. Now, do I think it’s a unresolvable problem? No, I think we can resolve it. I think if we can work with our colleagues in Albany, one of the things I find promising is putting some physical speed limitation technology into the e-bikes, that can be a game-changer, because the pedal-assist bikes, to me, are not the problem – it’s the ones that go faster. So I think there is a pathway, and I think we can find a way to help people who have the current bikes to convert them to something that’s safer, but I’m just – I’ve been asked a question, I appreciate the question, but I’m just not going to stop saying I think it’s a safety problem, and a lot of my constituents think it’s a safety problem.
Question: But doesn’t the data seem to indicate that that concern is more about perception than reality?
Mayor: I – look, I think it is not perception to say that we know these bikes are being used differently than everything else around them. They go – they are faster than an average bike, obviously, and they don’t conform the way, you know, a car, a truck, a motorcycle would to traffic rules, it’s just a known fact. You don’t tend to see motorcycles going the wrong way on a street, or sometimes going on the sidewalk. You do with e-bikes. I mean it’s just a different reality, and I think it’s a problematic reality. Now I don’t know if Gale Brewer has a comment – I like inviting controversy.
President Brewer: I think that the e-bikes, because in Manhattan in particular, you have a lot of seniors who are nervous about them, we have to figure out the enforcement. I don’t know if it’s possible to do it with an actual inhibitor in terms of the speed, but we have to figure out something that has more enforcement, and the police officers are trying, you see the summons list that they have at every single discussion – and the other possibility would be to have some kind of a registration, you know, so – some of the motorbikes, the small motorbikes have a state registration – that would help because people don’t know what the number is, and they go flying by and they want to be able to register they’re complaint. So there are different ways of solving it, but it does – it needs attention before you go full force. And again, I know that it’s a very – there’s only one topic in New York this controversial – two topics, one is real estate and the other is bicycles. Those are it.
Question: Talking – kind of related. Citi Bike pulled all of its pedal-assist e-bikes last week, I’ve talked to numerous people who’ve broken bones after they’ve flipped over the handle bars. Are you introducing anymore oversight to that program to make sure that those bikes are up to snuff and safe for riders? And what’s your response to them pulling it?
Mayor: Yeah, look, it came as a real surprise and it’s a serious issue. It’s a serious concern. In terms of the next steps, Laura at DOT, I know we’re looking at it – what are you—
Deputy Mayor Anglin: Yeah, so you’re right they did pull them. They pulled them in other cities as well. So, we are working with them to figure out what their plan is forward, we will also require more reporting from them on any incidences happening going forward so we can keep better track of it. But I think the goal for us would be more closely monitor and ensure that the safety measures that are necessary and we’re in the process of doing that, and DOT’s in the process of doing that. But the second part is that we’re going to require more incident reporting so that we can see what’s going on the field, and that’s a new thing we’re going to implement.
Mayor: Way back. Way, way, back.
Question: Staying kind of on the same topic, according to NYPD data, traffic fatalities or traffic injuries are up 41 percent from last year. Now other than the existing Vision Zero initiatives, I was wondering if there are any specific things you were planning on doing to combat [inaudible]
Mayor: Look, we now have five years of Vision Zero data that proves the initiative works, the strategy works, but I’ve said every single year, we just have to go much farther. So there will be more enforcement on things like speeding, failure to yield, unquestionably that’s been ramped up, every year we intend to do more. There’s a lot of street redesigns that are coming online soon that we think are going to make a big impact. Vision Zero just – it literally will have to grow every single year, and look, anytime we see an uptick, I mean this is a human tragedy, we hate that and, you know, take it very, very seriously. Sometimes there are things we look at that we immediately know we can do something differently, other times it’s other factors, but I would say to you it’s just more and more and more, and certainly on the enforcement level – every time we double down on enforcement we get a good impact. Yes?
Question: Back to the question of e-bikes. I mean, don’t you see cars going way too fast on streets, or cars mounting the curbs, crashing into storefronts—
Mayor: Oh whoa. Cars mounting – wait, wait my friend. Cars mounting the curb, crashing into storefronts – would you just let me finish, you’re very into this question. That is a horrible and aberrant situation. I am saying with e-bikes, you see e-bikes go up on the sidewalk, not in the middle of a crash, but as a part of their practice, and going the wrong way on the street as part of their practice. I’ve seen it, plenty of times, it’s been reported to me by lots of my constituents. You don’t see cars drive on the sidewalk a whole lot, or go the wrong way down the street a whole lot as a matter of course, some do it and they caught a lot of the time, or God forbid there’s an accident. E-bikes, it’s that the problem with them is, is they’re betwixt in between. They kind of don’t fit any easy category and therefore the people who use them take some liberties and the law has been amorphous, and we’ve got to bring all these pieces together. Now the good news is, if we can look the speed levels down, physically, that will really substantially help address the problem.
Question: Just the second part of the question, are you sensitive – you know, you promote as a proud champion of a sanctuary city, a lot of these e-bike riders are immigrant delivery workers, and this is how they make their livelihood. Are you worried this crackdown is, you know, targeting them even if you say it’s supposed to be towards business but it’s—
Mayor: Yeah, well first of all it is supposed to be toward businesses and I, you know, have had this conversation with the NYPD that we have to ensure that all precincts are educated on this point. Wherever the summons can be given to let’s say the restaurant, rather than the worker, we want that. Now what we found since is some workers work for these kinds of consortiums that you know are their own companies and that creates a little bit of a problem but I’ve got to go with safety first. I really have to emphasize this. This is a safety problem, and it’s a safety problem waiting to happen a lot of the time too. To Gale’s point, I hear this a lot of from senior citizens in particular, and I got to start with safety. Now, I would also say to all the restaurants, for example, there’s other ways to deliver, you know. Before they used e-bikes as much they found plenty of other methodologies to deliver, they could be using the ones that are already legal and straight forward. So I don’t think there’s only one to solve it but what I hope we can do in Albany in the next couple of months is come up with a way to legalize, reduce the speed, have some kind of transitional effort to help the current folks, I think there’s a pathway to that, but if you say, even though I absolutely believe in respecting and supporting immigrants, but there’s a public safety issue, I’m always going to start with the public safety need. Way back, way, way back.
Question: Mr. Mayor, could you or someone on the dais share with us, our readers, our listeners, and our viewers, what the current regulations are regarding the use of mechanical, electric, or motorized bicycles in New York City?
Mayor: Sure, e-bikes, as we know them, not the pedal-assist but the other e-bikes, are illegal. Take it away.
Deputy Commissioner Beaton: That’s right, so if you’re riding a regular bike, if you’re riding what we call a pedal-assist e-bike, which means you’re still pedaling and the power kicks off when you go over a certain speed, those are legal. If you’re riding something that you’re using a throttle, you’re turning the handle – right now that is not legal under state law, it is not legal in New York City, and we do want everyone to follow the laws.
Question: Last year, out of more than 3,000 instances, ACS, using emergency powers, removed kids from their parents without going to court nearly half that time. In many cases, WNYC did an investigation and found there was no emergency at all. Do you see a need to change this program?
Mayor: I need to see the specifics that you’re talking about. I used to, in my previous work on the City Council, do oversight for ACS as chair of the General Welfare Committee for eight years and I’m very sensitive to the point that that power to remove a child needs to be used very carefully. I will say it’s kind of similar to the previous question. When in doubt you have to air on the side of safety, and if ACS believes there’s an imminent threat to a child, of course they need to act, and a lot of times that is a very time sensitive reality. But we have to make sure it’s done right, and we have to make sure that that is not overused, so I would be very happy to see what you’ve put together and see if there’s something we have to address.
Question: Mr. Mayor, do you have an update for us on measles? I have it here that the City has issued fines to three individuals who –
Mayor: Doctor, come join us.
Question: – vaccinated?
Mayor: Dr. Daskalakis, our Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Health, why don’t you give the update from today?
Question: Could you just say your name and title, because I don’t –
Deputy Commissioner Demetre Daskalakis, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Yes. It’s Demetre Daskalakis, I’m the Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control at the Department of Health. So, our update today is that we had issued three violations to individuals who did not follow our order – the emergency order to be vaccinated if they lived in certain zip codes in Williamsburg in the 48 hours after the order – so, really, by the morning – by early morning of April 12th.
Question: How did you find them?
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: We have out disease detectives that work around the clock identifying potential contacts to measles. So, we used our contact tracing as the way to identify individuals who did not receive vaccine as ordered.
Question: And are those summonses all for $1,000?
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: They’ve gotten violations and those will be referred to OATH, where they may be violated – they may get a violation – a fine up to $1,000.
Question: Okay. And sorry, my last question is – did you also issue another closure order for four schools in the area?
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: So, we are issuing – we will be closing four additional schools in Williamsburg, that’s correct.
Question: As of tonight? Tomorrow morning?
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: The orders will be delivered today.
Mayor: So, for tomorrow.
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: For tomorrow.
Question: Do you have those –
Mayor: Meaning, they need to be closed tomorrow.
Question: Do you have those locations?
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: I do, I can actually give you the names –
Mayor: Why don’t you – if you’ve got them, say them.
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: There’s Beth Rachel School, at 68-84 Harrison – that’s in 11211; 241 Keap Street, that’s a pre-school in 11211; 590 Bedford, that is a pre-school in 11249; and Beth Rachel School for Girls at 720 Wythe, that is 11249.
Mayor: Anything else on measles for a moment? Just want to see if there’s any other question while we’ve got Doctor –
Question: [Inaudible] diagnosed number –
Mayor: What’s the number of cases today?
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: So, as of today, our last public update was 329. I can update for today, if that’s okay –
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: So that’s 359 confirmed cases to-date.
Mayor: 359 –
Deputy Commissioner Daskalakis: 359 –
Mayor: Okay, go ahead.
Question: NY1 on Monday night – your response to Trump’s proposal to release asylum seekers to sanctuary cities, namely that you’d sue to stop him is at odds with a number of other mayors who say they’d simply welcome the immigrants with open arms. What’s that [inaudible] about there?
Mayor: I haven’t seen what my colleague mayors are saying. I am saying, look at the origin of this idea. We already know about the dialogue that happened at the Department of Homeland Security where officials at the Department of Homeland Security identified this as an illegal policy. It is clearly about political retribution and political targeting, and that’s absolutely inappropriate when it comes to dealing with the lives of immigrants. That’s using immigrants as political pawns – that’s illegal and inappropriate. It also has strong resonance with the President’s attempt to deny security funding to certain cities based on his political judgement, which was found illegal by a federal court. I think it’s absolutely in the same vein.
Question: But the – I spoke to some immigrant advocates yesterday, and even a City Council member who said the message is confusing and, in fact, stokes some fear among immigrants in this city who are already concerned because ICE is in the courts.
Mayor: I would say after years of this city showing respect for immigrants, our support for our fellow New Yorkers, including fellow New Yorkers who happen to be undocumented – all of the ways we do that and the fact we don’t ask documentation status – I think it’s very well established in immigrant communities how this city respects and supports immigrants. I think my saying that this is an illegal, immoral policy doesn’t change that one iota.
Question: I wanted to see if you had a comment on the man who brought gasoline into St. Patrick’s Cathedral and will you increase security at Catholic churches or other churches around the City?
Mayor: I spoke to Cardinal Dolan about this earlier today. Look, this is a profound troubling incident. It obviously appears to be very individual, but coming on the heels of Norte Dame, you know, very, very troubling. And we have a substantial security presence around St. Patrick’s. We’re going to make sure, of course, that’s continuous. I, on first blush, don’t assume a bigger issue regarding Catholic churches – not hearing that from NYPD at this point. We’ll look at every angle. I think this was a very particular, individual act, but it is a reminder that we’re going to do everything we have to do to protect St. Patrick’s.
Question: So, the City Department of Investigation substantiated an allegation that you violated the City Conflict of Interest rules that all City employees are supposed to follow. And I, first of all, can’t remember that happening with any other New York City mayor in recent memory. And then, there’s no punishment as far as I can tell – or not one that’s public. The substantiation report was not made public, it was filed back in October. What kind of role model are you providing for the other City workers who have to follow these same rules?
Mayor: I feel that throughout the last five years and four months, I, and my administration, have shown that we do things the right way and we do things on the merits, we do things legally and appropriately. I feel very consistent about that and everything that you’re referring to has been looked at exhaustively and been addressed.
Question: But it hasn’t – this substantiation of a specific –
Mayor: Again, it’s been looked at and addressed.
Question: Do you feel that – is that ethical behavior?
Mayor: I feel absolutely that I’ve acted consistent with all the right standards throughout, and everything’s been looked at and addressed.
Freddi Goldstein: Last one –
Mayor: Go ahead –
Question: So you don’t think that the DOI finding has any merit?
Mayor: I’ve spoken to it.
Question: Just to follow up – you’ve actually never been asked about this before because it’s never been out publicly. It is substantiating that you violated conflict of interest rules.
Mayor: Again, all of these matters have been looked at, investigated, no further action taken. That’s all there is to it.
Question: Did the Conflict of Interest Board discipline you in any way?
Mayor: I’m just not getting into it further, it’s all been looked at.
Question: You won’t say –
Mayor: No, I have nothing else to say about it.
Go ahead, Jeff.
Question: Mr. Mayor, in terms of your current fundraising with the Fairness PAC, the DOI report takes about how there wasn’t a clear line as to who was vetting the donations to make sure that they were not coming from people who had business before the City or pending business before the City. So, what’s the process now with your Fairness PAC? Who is vetting those donations to make sure that individuals –
Mayor: The folks at the Fairness PAC can go over all of the technicalities with you. We’ve said very clearly, you know, we do not take donations from folks on the doing business list, which is the obvious straightforward way of knowing someone’s status. The dynamics in the past were different because we’re talking about a very different kind of vehicle, but, yeah, we can get you that – how that process is being done now.
Question: What’s the difference between Campaign for One New York and the Fairness PAC?
Mayor: One is a political action committee and the other was a vehicle specifically to achieve certain policy goals. It was all about achieving Pre-K for All, and the affordable housing plan. It was an entirely different entity.
Last call – Gloria?
Question: Part of what was also in that report was that it said you didn’t – you told them you didn’t recall whether you – while you were speaking to the donors, whether or not you told them that them donating or not donating would impact the decision that the City would make on whatever business they had before the City. So, did you know they had business before the City or where they –
Mayor: Again, I’m just not going further into it. This has been looked at by the appropriate entities. No further action was taken. I have nothing else to say on it.
Last call on anything else? Is that something else? Go ahead –
Question: The report also said that you –
Mayor: Okay, it’s not something else. I’m just going to tell you, I have nothing else to say on it.
Question: You haven’t answered our questions –
Mayor: As I have nothing else to say on it. That’s an answer.
Question: You’ve never been asked about it so how could you have –
Mayor: Again, I have given you my answer.