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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Announces Initiatives to Help Ease Congestion

October 22, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everybody.

It’s a beautiful day in New York City, and we all know we’re the greatest city in the world. There’s so many things to love about this place. There’s so many things to celebrate. But we also know it’s too hard to get around, and in some ways we are a victim of our own success. New York City has grown in many, many ways. We have the biggest population we’ve ever had in our history. We have the most jobs we’ve ever had in our history. We have the most tourists we’ve ever had in our history. We have a huge amount of construction going on because the economy is booming, and people want to live here. Those are good things, but they come with a real price. And one of the challenges is congestion, and congestion is at a level that for so many people in this city really affects their lives negatively, and I certainly don’t find it acceptable. There’s more we have to do to address the congestion issue.

And I have to tell you, if you’ve driven on our streets lately, you’ve experienced it. If you’ve taken a bus – 2.5 million New Yorkers use the public buses every day – they know from their own experience. The buses also – mass transit – also is affected by congestion. We want to do better, and we’re going to unveil today a plan that will make a real difference. I will tell you up front it’s not a panacea. It will not make all the congestion go away overnight. Some of the reality is just so many people are in this city, particularly Manhattan on a weekday – all the people come in for work, all the commuters, and again all the tourists – we understand some of those problems are going to be a challenge for a long time.

But we know we can do better. We know we can make this city less congested. We know we can speed up people’s rides, and that’s what we’re here to announce today.

Now, we’re here in the heart of the matter. This part of the city is where the problem is the greatest, but we’re also going to talk about some important parts of the outer boroughs that really feel the congestion problem as well. But here is the epicenter. It’s where so much of our business community is. It’s where so much of our tourism is. And we’ve seen a real growing problem. Since 2010, so over the last seven years, the average vehicle speeds in Midtown have declined 23 percent. That’s striking, and that’s a problem. We know the human price of congestion. It means people miss job interviews. It means they’re late for doctor’s appointments. It means they have less time with their families. We understand it costs people money, and it makes pollution worse on top of it.

So our job is to help people get around. Our job is to lift that burden and make New York City more livable. And that’s the way we make life easier. I love this city. We all love this city, but we know it’s not the easiest place to live. It’s the best place to live. It’s the most wonderful city in the world, but we’ve got to make it easier. We’ve got to make it more livable. We’ve got to make it easier for people to get around.

We’re going to lay out a five-point plan today, and I want to thank everyone who’s been a part for months and months of putting together this plan. Special thank you to our transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg. She and her team have worked really hard over these last months to put this together. A great thank you to the Chief of Transportation for the NYPD, Chief Tom Chan, for his extraordinary work on this plan but also being one of the great leaders of Vision Zero along with Polly. And the Chief Administrative Officer in the Mayor’s Office, Laura Anglin, who has spent a lot of time coordinating with all the different pieces of government to put these pieces together.

Now, this plan is straightforward. We’ve got to clear out the roadways in many different ways. It’s not a one piece plan – it’s a five point plan for a reason. There’s a lot of different pieces to this problem. Congestion takes many forms. There are many solutions. We’ve got to apply them all. And this is for people who drive. This is for people who take the bus. This is for pedestrians, and certainly another really important piece for our first responders, so emergency vehicles can get through more easily. There’s a lot of powerful pieces in this five point plan, so let me go through with you the elements it’s going to take.

And one of the things you’re going to see is it includes a heightened role for the NYPD. We want the NYPD to be more deeply involved in fighting congestion and enforcing the traffic rules. The role of the NYPD in Vision Zero has been outstanding. It has helped to achieve the extraordinary goals of Vision Zero – the progress we’ve made – but it’s also helped to change people’s behavior. When you see the NYPD, you take it seriously. So some of the things we’re seeing about better driver behavior come from that enforcement role of the NYPD and Vision Zero. All of that is going to continue, but we’re adding new responsibilities in terms of addressing congestion.

And the goal here is – when we start first with Midtown – is not just to stop the bleeding and to stop things from getting worse. We actually want to reverse the negative trend. As I said it’s gotten slower over the last seven years. We want to turn things around, so the vision of this plan, which will begin implementation in January is that by the end of 2018 speeds on the streets of Manhattan will increases by 10 percent in Midtown Manhattan. We want to see tangible results quickly. It’s just the beginning. It won’t make everything perfect, but we believe with strong enforcement with the other elements of this plan, starting here in Midtown Manhattan that you’ll see a 10 percent increase in speeds by the end of next year. Now, the first of the five points – every one of them by the way, here’s your code, everything starts with the word ‘clear,’ and we’d like to see a lot more clear streets in this city, so we’ll go through all of these items.

They all begin with clear, and the first one is called “Clear Lanes.” So it will be active in 11 of the busiest crosstown streets in Midtown. And right here is an example. This intersection is an example of one of the places that’s going to see the benefits from the clear lane strategy. So the way it works is on weekdays between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm there will only be one side of the street where deliveries and standing will be allowed. So it will be a very straightforward rule. If you’re on the side where standing is allowed, you’re on the side where deliveries are allowed – great. If you’re on the other side, you’re in violation – period.

We want to be really clear that if we want our streets to move better, we need clear rules and strong enforcement. And this is going to make a difference. To give you the analogy, this is like a doctor dealing with clogged arteries and doing a procedure to clear those arteries. That’s what we’re going to do with these clear lanes. The rules will be enforced by our traffic enforcement agents who do a great job, but we’re adding to the enforcement NYPD officers. So we will be adding an additional 110 officers to the force specifically to enforce these clear lanes.

The second item in this five point plan – “Clear Curbs” And this is a new idea, it has not been tried in the city before. It’s one of those common sense ideas that people talk about all the time. When I talk to my fellow New Yorkers it’s the kind of idea that comes up all the time. They say we’re all seeing this congestion, and the delivery trucks are a big part of it. Why are there so many delivery trucks right in the middle of the busiest parts of the city – not only in Manhattan, in the outer boroughs as well – when people are trying to move around the most during rush hour? Why aren’t the deliveries after hours? Why aren’t the deliveries at a time when it wouldn’t cause so much disruption?

Well, I think they’re right. So we’re going to start a program to test that assumption. It will be a pilot program in Manhattan but also in Brooklyn and Queens, and it will be during weekdays in certain parts of Midtown and in two corridors – one in Brooklyn, one in Queens – so we’re going to test it. Starting in January for six months, and we’re going to see how that test goes.

If that test goes well, it’s something I want to lock in and expand to other parts of the city. If it doesn’t go well, we’ll re-access.

But here’s the idea. During the morning and evening rush hour – we’ll define that in this case as 7:00 am to 10:00 am and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm – we will ban all deliveries and standing on both sides of the street in the designated areas.

So, let’s be clear. People who need to make deliveries to a business, they’ll be able to between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. They’ll be able to – the overnight hours and the evening hours. But why on Earth should deliveries be made at the exact time when most New Yorkers are trying to get to and from work? It makes no sense. But that’s what we all live with.

We were talking about one of the corridors we’ll be trying this on, Flatbush Avenue, and Commissioner Trottenberg and I were talking about and I have, many a time, when I drove myself coming out of Park Slope and going in to City Hall, I would go down Flatbush Avenue. And the Commissioner said exactly what I experienced. She said one truck – one truck in the wrong location can jam up all of Flatbush Avenue and can substantially slow down the commute.

So, we want to make sure there’s no trucks in a position to do that. So, again, it’ll be a part of Flatbush Avenue, a part of Main Street – Roosevelt, I’m sorry, Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, and a zone in Midtown. And you’ll see it all laid out.

But deliveries and standing on both sides of the street in these designated areas will be banned from 7:00 am to 10:00 am, from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. This will be a six-month pilot program. And given that all three of these places in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan have tremendous congestion problems during the rush hour, we think it will be a good test of whether the strategy is something we can use in the future.

It will be enforced by 114 of our existing traffic enforcement agents. So, we’ll put real teeth into the enforcement effort on this.

And let me also note, we want to help businesses to think about ways they can do more and more of their deliveries, receive their deliveries off-hours, you know, in these areas but everywhere in this city.

The Department of Transportation has a lot of ability to help businesses figure out new ways of doing things. They have plenty of businesses that have adopted a strategy of taking overnight deliveries or off-hour deliveries, who have succeeded. So, we can help connect businesses that want to pursue that model to the ones that have succeeded already.

The Department of Transportation also has a great logistics team that can literally sit down with the planners of any business and say here’s how we can make it work. We’ll help show you the roadmap. We’ll work through your problems with you if you want to try and get your deliveries to be at a time that are less disruptive to the neighborhood. So, that’s the second point.

The third point is called “Clear Intersections.” Now, in my many years as a driver nothing bothered me more than when people blocked the box. When one car blocks the box, it affects everyone else’s life. It slows down traffic, creates, congestion, it causes more pollution. It’s just an extraordinarily bad what a single car, or even more, a single truck, can do to disrupt everything.

New Yorkers hate it when someone blocks the box and messes up their life. It’s as simple as that. But we need enforcement. It’s a well-known fact that when someone blocks the box, New Yorkers attempt to enforce in their own colorful fashion using certain obscene gestures and other comments.

That’s not what’s going to work. What we need is aggressive enforcement. We’re going to add 50 more officers to the NYPD and they will be applied at key intersections around the city. We will be very quick, if someone blocks the box – and we all know if you don’t want to block the box, you don’t go when you’re not sure you can get across. But if you block the box, there will be consequences.

You will see an NYPD officer approach you. They will give you a fine. You will have two points on your license. There will be real consequences and will send a message that this is behavior that just hurts everyone else and is not acceptable.

So, this is going to start in earnest in January. You’re going to see it quickly. You’re going to feel the impact. And I would urge all my fellow New Yorkers to live by a simple four-word rule – don’t block the box.

Be fair to everyone else. Don’t block the box.

The next item on this five-point plan is called “Clear Zones.” There are places around the city that are well-known hotspots where there’s been particular congestion problems for years or where there’s new concerns about congestion that has to be addressed.

Hunts Point in the Bronx is a classic example. We need to put updated truck routes in Hunts Point so the traffic will move better.

The North Shore of Staten Island, where the new Empire Outlets is coming, that’s going to be a huge new attraction in that part of Staten Island. There’s going to be a lot more traffic. We’re going to be putting more enforcement agents there. We’re going to be changing signal timing. We’re going to take a number of steps to make sure that traffic flows.

There are locations in each borough that need these specialized, individualized approaches and the “Clear Zone” strategy will address each of them.

The fifth point, and the final point, is “Clear Highways.” Now, I want to be clear, this is a big part of our problem but this is work that can only be achieved in partnership with State of New York. The State obviously has purview over a lot of our highways. We all understand – the State and the City both understand, everyone understands – congestion on the highways is a major issue.

We have a very good working relationship between City Department of Transportation and the State. We’re going to call together a task force of our officials, State officials, elected officials, community leaders to focus on some of the worst highway problems in the city.

I will start with my personal, all-time, most-hated highway – the Cross Bronx. This to me – thank you, Marcia. There’s one vote for Cross Bronx goes first on the list.

There’s a lot that has to be done there. It has to be done in coordination between the City and the State. But the Cross Bronx – the situation is unacceptable.

Another obvious one – the Staten Island Expressway. And then if you get through the Staten Island Expressway, you get to hit the Gowanus Expressway and you have a-whole-nother host of problems.

Those three need special attention and in many cases will need new solutions. What are some of the things that we want this task force to look at? Well, first of all, managing the flow of traffic onto the highways. In some parts of the country, they literally have traffic signals, stop lights that manage the flow of cars onto the highway. If the highway’s all jammed up, they hold cars back to un-jam it and then let more down.

That’s something we should examine. Nothing of what I’m saying here is written in stone. It has to be worked through in coordination with the State, and we look forward to that partnership.

But these are some of the ideas that have to be assessed because the status quo isn’t working. So, that’s one option. Another option – prepositioning of emergency vehicles to deal with crashes. Look, we know that a single crash can hold up a highway, can hold up tens of thousands of cars even.

We know sadly we’re seeing more and more problems with crashes especially because of texting while driving. We think it makes sense to have the emergency vehicles right where there’s been a history of crashes so they’re right there on the spot. They can address it immediately.

We obviously want to try and stop the crashes to begin with. That’s what so much of Vision Zero is about. But since we know there’s still too many, why not put the vehicles right there at the most likely location so they can respond most quickly?

And finally, for some highways, they have HOV lanes and in many cases it’s been a great difference-maker, others don’t like the Cross Bronx. We should look at that and see if that might be a helpful step.

So, that task force, we look forward to getting together and looking for ways to help our highways flow better.

No one of these items is a magic bullet but taken together they’re going to make a big difference in the lives of everyday New Yorkers. They’re going to make our streets better. They’re going to reduce congestion.

And it’s really about helping people to live here. People work so hard in this city. We want to make it a little easier and this plan is going to help. At the same time, we’re going to keep expanding our mass transit options. And I want to emphasize this – we need our traffic to flow better but the best way to improve our city overall when it comes to getting around is to keep improving mass transit options.

Very proud of the announcement, Friday, of 21 new express bus – excuse me – the Select Bus Service routes. Twenty-one new SBS routes. What’s going on with NYC Ferry is fantastic. Light rail is up ahead. Citi Bike has been a huge success. These are all part of the solution.

So, we’re going to reduce congestion while providing more and more mass transit options at the same time.

Just a few words in Spanish before I turn to my colleagues –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, I am now going to turn to a Senator who speaks up for the people of her community here and knows plenty about what people feel about congestion – State Senator Liz Krueger.

[Applause]

[...]

Thank you, Liz. Thank you so much.

Now, I have to say, when the Chair of our Transportation Committee in the City Council – when he shows up, it’s usually a family affair. His daughters probably know more now about City government than most of us. So, it is always a joy to welcome your whole family. Chair of the Transportation Committee, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

[Applause]

[...]

Next, I know he hears from his constituents all the time and they share the frustration over how hard it is to get along. And I want to thank the Councilman for joining with us to try and find the solutions that will really make a difference. Council Member Ben Kallos –

[Applause]

[...]

Thank you, Ben. Finally, I want you to hear from a real expert. He represents folks all over this city and state, and nation in fact, who drive and suffer from congestion. It’s my pleasure to bring forward from the American Automobile Association, Alex Slakey.

[Applause]

[...]

Mayor: Thank you very much. And I want to affirm one last point that Alex made there. Again, all of us who have driven a lot in this city, with a few exceptions I guess, we would say you know someone who blocks the box ruins everyone else’s day and they deserve the penalties they get. So if there is any assumption out there they’ll be some unhappy drivers who get tickets. Well, they won’t get a ticket if they handle things right. But you know think of the thousands of people who are negatively affected when one driver blocks the box. There has to be consequences for that.

Okay, so we’re going to take questions on this five-point plan and then we’ll take questions on any other matters for a few minutes.

Go ahead Erin.

Question: I have a couple questions. So for the delivery restrictions, can you just explain how that compares to what the rules are now? And you talked about people who are parking in parking spaces or this double parking and –

Mayor: Polly or Chief Chan? Who wants to come up and speak to that?

Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Department of Transportation: I can take a quick crack and then Chief Chan can speak about the enforcement end of it. In a lot of the terrain we’re talking about we have different curb restrictions. But what we’re going to do now is essentially replace what in some places where deliveries are allowed. For the rush hours, as the Mayor said, morning and evening no deliveries on either side of the street. And we will work with local businesses to help them figure out a good schedule for deliveries. But we are going to change what we allow in terms of deliveries in these quarters.

Question: [Inaudible]

Commissioner Trottenberg: Correct, Correct.

Question: And can you also, I mean if I understood correctly. These are mostly major corporations, that they mostly have deals with city where they get a discounted rate on their parking ticket? So are you doing anything to make sure that they don’t just kind of write it off [inaudible]

Commissioner Trottenberg: Right, we are actually working with the Department of Finance looking at the fine structure in the Stipulated Fine Program, so yes that will be a part of what we want to reform here.

Mayor: But I would add to that the – sorry – the – I think it’s a real concern Erin that some companies may say, oh we’ll just take a ticket. But I think that’s also predicated upon imperfect enforcement. You have here a whole different dynamic. You have literally we clear out the whole place. You show up, you’re getting enforced. So I think the number of tickets, the intensity of the enforcement will change behavior because not like maybe I’ll get a ticket maybe I won’t, which is what I’m sure a lot of the delivery people think now. It’s – we’re literally defining areas and putting enough enforcement strength on them that you’re not going to get away real easily. It’s going to be really easy to figure out who is violating and to give them a fine. They keep coming back every day; they’re going to get tickets every day. That adds up a lot. So I think it’s a different dynamic.

Erin go ahead, you had a follow up.

Question: So these are, these are mostly then areas where parking –  regular parking would not currently being allowed but deliveries are allowed? So by getting rid of the delivery, you actually put up more space for the traffic?

Mayor: Yes, clearly these are areas where there’s deliveries now. But you could speak to that.

Commissioner Trottenberg: Right, it’s mostly areas where its deliveries or no standing zones.

Question: [Inaudible]

Commissioner Trottenberg: I’m sorry except?

Question: Except the delivery are allowed.

Commissioner Trottenberg: Right, right. There are places where we’re allowing deliveries and sometimes standing during the rush hours. We’re now going to say you can’t do that during rush hour. Do it in the middle of the day or off hour.

Mayor: Marcia?

Question: Mr. Mayor will this increase the enforcement in new hires –

Mayor: Will increase?

Question: Increase the enforcement in new hires or are you reassigning [inaudible]?

Mayor: For NYPD it’ll be 160 new hires. 160 new police officers devoted to these anti-congestion efforts. And then with the traffic agents, we will be using existing. Now remember, we’ve added a large number of traffic agents. In fact I have a handy summary. Since the beginning of the administration we’ve added 526 traffic enforcement agents. Some of that was about Vision Zero, some of that was about specifically addressing congestion and for blocking the box. So this is something we can use existing personnel when it comes to the enforcement agents. But with police it will be new personnel. Hold on a second.

Question: [Inaudible].

Mayor: I couldn’t get any of that. Patience, okay go ahead.

Question: [Inaudible] class that comes out of the academy –

Mayor: Louder, louder.

Question: [Inaudible] generally have the new classic police officers in the academy sometime in December on New Year’s Eve. Would you be taking 160 of them?

Mayor: I will, I’ll let –

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Yeah, look first of all, within PD because it is such a large organization and we obviously have added 2,000 more officers on patrol, immediate actions can be taken, immediate adjustments are always possible. But we’ll be adding permanently 160 new members. In terms of whether that will be reflected in the next class or how it’s going to work, Chief I don’t know if you know that or that’s something we’ll have to get back on.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: The dollar figure, so we are confident that the vast majority of the cost on the expense side will be paid for with additional revenue that comes from enforcement. And again we’re enforcing to achieve a goal. We’d love to not have anything to enforce. But we know with more aggressive enforcement will come revenue from it. That will offset largely the cost. In the budget process which will culminate at the end of the year going into next year we’ll hone exactly how much is going to be needed beyond that revenue piece to pay for it.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Alright, speak loud Marcia.

Question: You said that Midtown’s [inaudible] would increase by ten percent –

Mayor: Correct. 

Question: So do you have an estimated [inaudible] go from what to what?

Mayor: Yes. Polly, what’s a ten percent increase in Midtown?

Commissioner Trottenberg: So right now what we’ve seen the past five years is average Midtown speeds have been dropping about .3 miles per hour per year. So five years ago speeds in Midtown were around 6.5 now we’re down to about 5 –

Mayor: Miles per hour.

Commissioner Trottenberg: 6.5 miles per hour. In Midtown average speeds, obviously that’s factoring when things are very slow and things are a little faster. This year, in 2016, it was five miles an hour. We figured by the end of this year if the trend continues it would be around 4.7 miles an hour. So we’re going to shoot for it – for you know, first of all stop it from getting worse and then hopefully get us to a ten percent increase by then end of next year, which would get us to around 5.2 miles per hour.

Question: And that would make a difference to people dramatically?

Commissioner Trottenberg: I mean I think it’ll make, I think it will make a difference. You know, look I’ll be happy if can start to turn the trend around. I am not going to promise it will be super dramatic in one year but we think it’ll make a difference.

Mayor: I think, Marcia the key point here is all of these pieces are going to show us the way forward and you’ve heard the feeling that my colleagues have on things like fighting block the box and fighting the deliveries being made right in the middle of rush hour, right? If we get those two pieces right, I think it offers tremendous possibility going forward. Because to Ben’s point we can keep expanding this approach. If it’s working we’re going to invest in it. So I think the point is if we see a ten percent increase in a year that says double down and keep going. Because this is only a small part of Manhattan we’ll be doing the full treatment for. If it’s working we’re going to look to expand that.

Yes?

Question: Is this five-point plan a way to jam up Governor Cuomo’s task force looking into congestion prices.

Mayor: No, we’ve been talking about his months and months. He – you know, he has every right to put together a task force but that was announced a couple of weeks ago. Everyone here who has been reporting everyday knows I’ve talking about a congestion plan for months. It’s taken quite a while to get all of the pieces right. But it is long since in the plans.

Question: Congestion pricing, can you just talk a little bit about why you do not like it?

Mayor: I think I’ve said it possibly a thousand times, but why not once more. I have not seen a plan that I think is fair. There is no plan from Albany right now let’s be 100 percent clear. The Governor said he was interested in congestion pricing that was what a month or more a go. We have not seen a plan. So the only thing we have to go by is the two previous plans, the Bloomberg plan from most of a decade ago and the plan from Move NY.

The Bloomberg plan I opposed, I thought it was very unfair to Brooklyn and Queens. The Move New York plan I thought was better but did not account for the inequities. It didn’t account for the fact that this is in many ways a regressive tax. Rich people will pay it without even knowing and poor people and working class people will really take a hit. And it doesn’t make any accommodation for people who need to go to the hospital including folks who have limited means. You know there is a lot of reasons that I don’t see something that I think would work. But if there is another plan I’ll look at it. I have not seen anything new.

Question: [Inaudible] be a way to fund improvements in the subway –

Mayor: Well, the millionaire’s tax is a better way in my view. The millionaire’s tax – taxing New York City residents only, millionaires and billionaires to fund the MTA is a much clearer, cleaner solution. And I believe, I’ve said it that suburban legislators could vote for it because it does not affect their constituents.

In the back.

Question: Can you just confirm that in January is when your plan would go into effect?

Mayor: Yes, January.

Question: [Inaudible] for six months to start?

Mayor: No, no wait there is different pieces here. The six months, and Polly can jump in or Laura Anglin can jump in on any further definition, the six months is particularly about the notion of banning the rush hour deliveries. That’s a six month pilot. You can see the Queens location, the Brooklyn location, and the Midtown locations for that. That piece would be a real change of approach. If it works we’re going to go farther. If it doesn’t work we’re going to you know try and adjust it. But the other pieces we’re talking about will be on-going. Want to speak to any – good I got it.
Alright, yes Bridget.

Question: Mr. Mayor just to get back to Marcia’s question for a second. To go back to Marcia’s question for a second in terms of cost of the program. Do you have an estimate of how much revenue you need to bring in to sort of even it out? And then I have a follow-up.

Mayor: If we don’t have it handy, Laura can get it to you. Again, the working assumption is the revenue generated will basically cover the personnel cost. There are some separate capital costs that are not that extensive but will be accommodated in the budget in January. So do we have any working model on that or do you want to come back? We’re going to come back to you on that later today.

Question: And then just a follow up. Can you talk about the process that was involved in putting these points together and the role of the business community in giving their input and how this will affect them?

Mayor: This discussion internally has been going on now for, you know by my estimation four to five months. Very extensive but we’ve really focused on everyone in our team brining input from talking to the business community and others for a long time on these issues. So we didn’t go and you know bring in a specific group of business leaders to discuss it. We know already there is a tremendous frustration about congestion. Midtown is the epicenter but these other examples, there’s plenty of frustration too amongst residents and drivers in the business community alike.

We know there is sensitivity on the delivery hours but we also know the status quo isn’t working. That’s why want to try something that was a change that left some flexibility but would make a define change and we want to do it on a pilot basis. There was discussion of trying to do something permanent. We came to a conclusion that was too big of a jump that we had to test it. But that not testing made no sense.

And I know there will be some criticism, I have no doubt. But if the status quo is this broken we have to do something different. This is one of the biggest changes we can make. And then you know we looked at with the clear lanes and with the clear intersections. We looked at previous efforts by the City and we saw some things that actually were productive. Previous efforts on block the box often were good but they weren’t sustained and there wasn’t as much enforcement as they needed. The through streets that Bloomberg did in many ways worked but again needed more enforcement apparatus attached.  So, we updated some ideas from the past based on what we saw but this was a process a lot agencies putting together basically years and years of experience to make a decision.

Question: I know that in – there are parts of Queens where you often hear residents talking about trucks that idle on the streets and asked for more enforcement there. If this doesn’t seem to be something specifically part of this plan, is that something you’re looking to do?

Mayor: Oh yes.

Question: How does that work?

Mayor: We thought about adding anti-idling efforts into this. There is a lot in here. That will be a future vision that we’ll come out with. But I really want to reduce idling in this city on many levels starting with what it does to our health and what it does to – in terms of worse pollution, worse emissions exacerbating climate change. It’s just something we’ve got to change. But that’s going to be its own initiative.

Back there you have one? No, yes?

Question: Sorry I don’t have one –

Mayor: Ok, sorry, go ahead.

Question: Yes, you mentioned it – Mr. Mayor – you mentioned it at the top that you were hoping to improve emergency response time?

Mayor: Yes.

Question: Have you done any studies as to how much that will increase?

Mayor: I’ll see if my colleagues have an immediate answer, I think what I was saying was more of a common sense point. We know that the overall congestion level is affecting mass transit and it’s affecting emergency vehicles, not just private vehicles, that was the broader point. So anything that starts to create more rationality by definition helps our emergency vehicles as well, but I don’t know if there was specific projection? No.

Back yes?

Question: Yes I have two concerns and one is about the block the box which I’m glad you’re addressing. Is everyone [inaudible] that the pedestrian crossing is part of the box?

Mayor: I couldn’t hear that last part.

Unknown: [Inaudible] media questions [inaudible]

Mayor: I’m sorry I didn’t know if you were media or not? This is only media questions right now, but thank you, any other media with a question? Wait, wait let’s get to folks who haven’t gone yet.

Question: What part of this plan depends on cooperation with the state government –

Mayor: That last piece, the highways piece does, by in large the other pieces are within our purview, right? I mean the only one that really will need a coordinated effort is the highways piece.

Question: Given the episode with the self-driving cars you had recently with the State government, what kind of gives you the expectation that you’ll get cooperation [inaudible]

Mayor: Because I think a couple reasons – let me let the ambulance go through, just another quite Sunday in New York.

First of all, because, there is a ground swell of concern that state leaders feel just as much as city leaders. People are really sick of the congestion and are looking for solutions, we’re coming forward in a very cooperative vein to say, here are some ideas that might help, let’s see if we can work on these together.

I don’t think anyone in the state, the legislature, the Governor’s Office, the Department of Transportation, I don’t think anyone would want to not embrace that notion of trying to do something because there is such a demand. I think the other fact is that there is really good cooperation right now between the two agencies, the State and the City level, they work together all the time, they get a lot done, so – they share a common mission, so I am on this front hopeful. And just because there is sometimes political differences, doesn’t mean that people can’t still get a lot of work done.

Question: Mr. Mayor, do these curbside restrictions – how do they relate to taxi and ride hail to pick up the drop offs? Are you worried at all that those are going to kind of block the – [inaudible]

Mayor: I think I’ll start and then Polly jump in, well – well you’ll jump in – let me just start, my layman’s – hold on a second – with my layman’s answer, and then Polly can give a more expert answer. The focus on delivery vehicles actually unloading, which is a world apart from someone getting in and out of a cab, I mean a much more involved enterprise and takes a lot more time and people standing which is not the same as drop off. These are qualitatively different things. So I think, by definition, it is a big advantage if you take the deliveries out of the equation and the standing out of the equation. Do I think it would lead to more activity? I find that hard to believe because all those vehicles are out there already moving around and dropping off and picking up and that’s a bit of a fixed asset.

Commissioner Trottenberg: I’m the José Altuve to your Aaron Judge –

You will still be allowed to do quick pickups and drop offs. And I would just say particularly when you look at the map of midtown and the idea of clearing some cross streets, and reinstating some of those left turns, those are – speaking of the industries we have talked to that’s particularly something I have heard very loud and clear from the taxi and the FHV industry. So I think they will enthusiastic about that.

Mayor: Okay, yeah.

Question: Mayor there are some areas of the city where you actually can’t [inaudible]

Mayor: I couldn’t – You’re so far back, I couldn’t get that last part, there are some areas in the City where you can’t make a turn?

Question: You can’t make a turn in Midtown.

Mayor: Right.

Question: I’m wondering are you rethinking some of those intersections? Are they going to be rolled back?

Mayor: Okay, I will start and again turn to Polly. Again, this is additive. It’s not to take away things that we think are helping the flow of traffic now, it’s to add new tools that we think will speed things up and see how it goes, obviously in one case a formal pilot. But with everything we do, if things are working, we are going to do a lot more of it, if things aren’t working we’re going to change approach. But I don’t think it has any impact on those no left turns and all.

Commissioner Trottenberg: We are actually going – as you can see where those circles are – we are reinstating some turns. As you know, over the years, you’re right, we have actually banned turns in certain places to help with traffic flow, but as traffic has continued to grow, and we have seen changes in traffic patterns, we’ve now seen some spots in Midtown where we actually want to reinstate them and see if that helps improve the circulation. And, again, we’ll see how it works and we will adjust as needed.

Mayor: Yes?

Question: Mayor, when it comes to blocking the box, there are times particularly on gridlock days, where you can not physically get through an intersection in one traffic light cycle, it’s impossible. Should those people be ticketed?

Mayor: I think the fact is, and I have been involved in this very reality, where you are trying to make that decision on whether to go and I learned the hard way. You are supposed to be cautious, you are not supposed to go out there unless you are a 100 percent you can get across. And this about changing approach and changing culture, as with so many other things, you got to be very cautious. So I think a lot of people who block the box are reckless and it affects everyone else, so I think the bottom line is we got to make clear that there are consequences. It’s necessary to clear out things, because right now, it’s not working, it’s not an acceptable status quo. So we can’t let it keep going on.

Who else has a question? Yes?

Question: What are the fines for both of these things, the blocking the box –

Mayor: Say it louder.

Question: What are the fines for each of these things, blocking the box and the illegal deliveries?

Mayor: Couldn’t hear you Erin, you going to have to compete. Go ahead Erin.

Question: How much are the fines for illegal deliveries and block blocking?

Mayor: How much are the fines for block the box?

Question: Yeah.

Mayor: $88 if it’s a moving violation. $88 and again it can be two points on the license.

Question: And how much for making an illegal delivery [inaudible]

Mayor: The second part?

Question: Making deliveries where you are not supposed to. 

Mayor: Making deliveries where you are not supposed. Do we have the fine on that, Chief do you know that?

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan: Off the top of my head, I believe the no standing, that would $115.

Question: Okay [inaudible] block the box enforcement apply, I believe in the law it says if you’re blocking the crosswalk will you also get this ticket?

Mayor: Say that again.

Question: If you are blocking crosswalk, does that count as blocking the box under what you are doing here?

Chief Chan: That’s within intersection, again, you are required to take a look at the intersection, you have to be able to proceed through the intersection. So if you are blocking the crosswalk, you are still in the area that’s designated in the box I believe we will look at that –

Mayor: Erin, I think, look, we believe in officer discretion, that’s what is being taught now at the academy and in all the training. If someone’s – you know – the nose of their car is just over the line, that is one thing, but literally if you block the entire crosswalk, and pedestrians are forced out into the lane of traffic, that’s not safe. That would absolutely qualify, correct Chief?

Chief Chan: Yes.

Mayor: Go ahead.

Question: [Inaudible] consider Ubers and other ride sharing apps [inaudible] in this plan?

Mayor: Well, you know, I think we recognize that’s a big piece of the puzzle now, but the issue here is really to try and deal with the physical reality. If you – tell me if you have a specific thought you are raising here because –

Question: [Inaudible] it is an increase [inaudible] like there are delivery options for like Uber, like Uber has like deliveries for groceries and things like that, there would be unloading and things like that –

Mayor: Oh, whether they would be counted – a delivery is a delivery, right? I mean from what I can tell –

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Oh, a delivery by an Uber versus a passenger ride.

Commissioner Trottenberg: Right, I mean we allow expeditious pick up and drop off at the curb, so if –

Mayor: Of people.

Commissioner Trottenberg: Right – I suppose if someone came to the curb and grabbed their delivery that would be fine too. They can’t sit there and park during those rush hour periods though.

Mayor: You know, some of this will sort out by doing it, but there is a qualitative point. Delivery, just like standing, I think they follow a logic – and correct me if you disagree – you stop, you dead stop, you get out, you – you know or in the case of delivery, you’re getting stuff out of your vehicle to bring in somewhere or people coming out to receive it. So it is a pretty involved thing, and standing means you are dead stopped for a period of time. I guess Polly is right, if there is a – there might be an exceptional situation where a really quick, you know, mini-delivery. But basically, if we see anything like delivery activity that is causing the lane to be stopped, we have treat it the same way, whether it is a car or a truck or anything. Okay, last call on this announcement, then see if there are any couple quick questions on other things.

Anything on this announcement? Anything on anything else? Yes?

Question: Earlier today, about three hours ago, I saw a tweet from your account that was very laudatory of the Yankees, I was wondering have you been hacked?

Mayor: No. That is, that is authentic.

Question: How do you feel about the Yankees losing last night? And what did you personally do to orchestrate their loss.

Mayor: I had nothing to do with their loss. The – look it’s a great team – I – I – if you’re a real baseball fan like I am, you respect a team that came together and really played exceptionally. They were – everyone knows they were not supposed to be in the ALCS this year. It was projected to be at least another year away before they could play at that level. I give Brian Cashman a lot of credit. The trades were outstanding. Robertson, Conley, and, Todd Frazier, I mean these were really good moves and the team, look, look at Aaron Judge’s quick development, Gary Sánchez’s quick development, it’s really, really impressive. So I tweeted, personally, to say I really do admire what they did, they will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, and people should be proud of – the Yankees fans should be proud, and the Yankees themselves should be proud. I still know what my affiliations are, but you can honor a team when you respect it.

Question: Follow up question, are you feeling quite well right now?

Mayor: Do you want to check my pulse? Quick get medical help immediately.

Question: We had a photo run in the paper today of this man sleeping under a seat on a subway train.

Mayor: I have not seen that but go ahead.

Question: With winter coming I’m wondering what you plan to do to, you know, ease issues with people sleeping on seats –

Mayor:  It’s not acceptable for people to sleep on a subway train like that. We will enforce it, and this is exactly as you may know, there are particular rules that are related to the MTA, that give additional enforcement ability to the NYPD. A case like that would be enforceable, and we’ll enforce it. We’ll put whatever personnel we need on to stop something like that from happening.

Question: [Inaudible] how will you enforce it? With a summons or arrest or?

Mayor: Again, officer discretion. I don’t know the exact charge, or charges. It is up to the officer to decide what to do, but it is an unacceptable condition. So to begin with, they would cure the condition, under the circumstances the officer decide which of the tools they can use.

Question: You released – data was released a few days ago showing the dramatic drop in criminal summons after the recent reforms –

Mayor: Yeah.

Question: Not a corresponding rise in single summonses, I guess. Just wondering what you make of that? Is that what you hoped to achieve, or do you have any concerns, you know, that officers are not giving any kinds of summonses?

Mayor: Look, as you know, over the last four years some of the changes have been initiated by the administration, such as the end of arrests for low level marijuana possession alone, not in combination with other offences, but low level marijuana possession alone. That was done by City Hall and NYPD working together to come up with a new plan. Others initiatives have been started by the City Council and through the legislative process. The fact is when you look at safety in the city, we continue to get safer, NYPD is acting aggressively on quality of life issues, and responding, I think, better and better to concerns raised by community residents, that’s certainly consistent with neighborhood policing.

It’s the same point about officer discretion. What the Council did was give officers a variety of tools, as Bill Bratton always said to me, arrest is not the goal, arrest is one of the tools. You want to fix the condition, first and foremost, in some cases a warning will suffice, in some cases a summons, in some cases arrest, but you want officers to have different tools and obviously for the lesser offenses, less severe penalties. So look, I think we are acting to improve quality of life while also reducing the negative encounters between police and community. So I think this is the right direction. We’ll keep looking at, we’ll keep seeing how it plays out, but we are training our officers to use their judgement as to what is the best solution in each case.

Let me see if there is one or two more before we go? Okay, thanks everyone.

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