Monday, January 16, 2012

Rooftop Parking On Roosevelt Island Motorgate Parking Garage Closed For Winter Starting Tomorrow

Received the following advisory from Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) on winter closing of rooftop parking level at Motorgate Garage:

Image of Motorgate Parking Garage Rooftop Level
Winter Closure of Garage

In an effort to maximize safety and reduce wear and tear on the roof of the garage, the roof will be closed again this winter. Your requirement to park on the roof has been eliminated and you may park in any unreserved space elsewhere in the garage from now until April 1, 2012 or as otherwise advised. The roof will be fully closed effective 10AM on Tuesday, January 17th, so we request your cooperation in moving any vehicles before then. Existing rooftop accounts will, of course, continue to be charged the rooftop rate while the roof is closed.

We appreciate your cooperation with this safety measure and your attention to the barriers that will be placed at the entrance gate. Cars found violating this restriction are subject to towing and/or revocation of monthly parking privileges.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.


Roosevelt Island Operating Corp Advisories Group
As of this afternoon, some cars were still parked on the roof.


Trevre Andrews said...

Only on Roosevelt Island, in the middle of New York City, would they close off perfectly useful parking space to reduce "wear and tear".  The citizens should be up in arms at this under utilization of precious resources.  Weren't we just talking about how inefficiently priced Motorgate is?  If there is extra supply (i.e., you are closing the roof) why not lower the prices, make some additional revenue, and provide an increased service to the island? 

Its not that RIOC doesn't do anything right, but its stuff like this, the food truck, the bike rack signs, the expensive parking...emmm I mean smart parking that keeps them what they are instead of being something better.

Anonymous said...

I agree, let it snow and ice so cars can crash into each other or become stranded. Great idea!!!!

CheshireKitty said...

Rooftop parking is closed for a few weeks or possibly a month or two every winter because of snow.  If not, rooftop parkers would have to struggle through snowbanks on the roof - since it would be impossible to completely remove the snow since not every car is off the roof at any one time unlike at commercial lots which are empty once the business closes.  

There's plenty of room throughout the unreserved sections of the parking structure to accommodate all the rooftop parkers.  There is no shortage of space in Motorgate. 

Motorgate does this courteous and sensible rooftop parking winter weather shutdown every year - less for the wear and tear on the roof than for the wear and tear on cars, which would have to plow through snowbanks etc.  

Trevre said...

Right because if it snows cars would not have to drive through that snow once they were out of the garage.

xcfmx said...

What snow?

Trevre Andrews said...

Right, because when it snows, it only snows on the roof of  Motorgate and when you leave the garage there are no snowbanks and it is not slippery.

"There's plenty of room throughout the unreserved sections ..."
Exactly!  why are there so many unused spaces?  The prices are to high as I said before you.  You missed my point.

YetAnotherRIer said...

The prices are on par with other garages in NYC. Anything to deter car ownership is a good thing, IMHO. 

Trevre Andrews said...

This is very simple, yet poorly understood concept.  If you have 1000 parking spots and you charge $200/month but the demand is only for 600 spaces, you make $120,000/month and serve 600 ppl. If you charge $150/month, more people are willing to pay and you fill up the garage making $150,000/month.  This is a win win situation if properly managed.  The customers win because more can park and at a cheaper price.  The garage wins because they make more money, some of which they could use to pay someone to shovel the roof when it snows.  You win because more people park in the garage and stay off main street.

Alas Roosevelt island is an exclusion zone for this type of calculation due either to apathy or unaccountability.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Nope, I lose. I want less cars on the streets (and garages) in general. I am perfectly fine with the pricing.

Btw, where did you get these numbers from? AFAIK, there are not that many reserved spots available but plenty of unreserved.

Trevre Andrews said...

Its a hypothetical situation, I made the numbers up to illustrate how a good idea is one that benefits all involved.  While you want less cars, you aren't considering the unintended consequences of that want.  You should read this.  The car has actually done more for you than you know.

Anonymous said...

Trevre, are u the owner of Motorgate? When u buy the business we look forward to reduced pricing. Until that time, if u don't like the pricing or the rules don't park there!!!

Frank Farance said...

Trevre, RIOC closes the top of Motorgate to reduce snow plowing, etc.; Motorgate rooftop patrons get the benefit of roof-ed parking for a couple months (without paying additional fees); and there is no shortage of parking.  A win for everyone, and operations money is saved.  Many people would say "That's a nice solution to save money with the side benefit of increased convenience".  So when you say "It's not that RIOC doesn't do anything right ...", but in fact this is a good management solution.  In fact this kind of solution approach is used elsewhere to reduce maintenance costs.

CheshireKitty said...

I don't think the parking price structure is excessive; it's about par for the course for a NYC garage.  

Is Motorgate underutilized?  I don't think so.  There are *some* unreserved spots available throughout, probably more than enough to accommodate the rooftop parkers, but I wouldn't say it's exactly underutilized.  It depends on what you would consider full utilization.  

Also, why does something have to be completely utilized to be "efficient" in the first place?  Public transportation runs overnight largely empty, but it still runs.  As far as I know nobody says to shut down the buses and trains overnight although it might be more "efficient" to do so. 

As I said in my earlier post, Motorgate extends the courtesy to the rooftop parkers during the winter so that they do not have to try to break through the snowbanks or shovel their way out.  Of course street parking would expose a driver to the snowbank problem and there are some who for this very reason will not park on the city streets while snow/ice is on the ground.  Many drivers will avoid driving in snow (or other hazardous driving conditions) if at all possible, just as many would rather not park on the street if that means shoveling through hard-packed snowbanks (especially if they do not own a truck).  

Motorgate letting rooftop parkers use the indoor unreserved area during the winter is a courtesy that makes sense for both Motorgate and its customers.  

Frank Farance said...

Treve, this is a simple economic concept, but you've mis-presented it.  You assume that the demand is elastic, based upon price, but that isn't so for Motorgate.  Reducing the price by $50 is unlikely to cause 400 more people to pay $150.  Why?  Because owning and operating a car is a much higher cost than parking in Motorgate.  The $50 savings per month is unlikely to get other people to spend the thousands of dollars a year to own and operate a car.  Thus, the demand is relatively inelastic, which means: reducing the price just merely reduces the operating revenue (not a good outcome) without significantly increasing demand.

You say "Roosevelt Island is an exclusion zone for this type of calculation due either to apathy or unaccountability", but the problem here is that you haven't considered that demand is mostly inelastic with respect to your price range.

Frank Farance said...

You ask "Also, why does something have to be completely utilized to be "efficient" in the first place?".  You're absolutely right.  In many systems, the best efficiency occurs at utilizations less than 100%.  A good example is the highway.  While it might be possible to densely pack a roadway with cars, its best efficiency might be at 10%, i.e., driving 50 MPH without rubberbanding is much better than bumper to bumper (higher utilization, but much less efficient).  Ditto for parking systems (albeit the utilization is higher, but not 100%).

YetAnotherRIer said...

Thanks for the history lesson. The thing is I can cite countless studies that show that the car is the root cause for many social problems. Just have a look through Streetblogs.

Trevre Andrews said...

It is also the root cause for 10 times as many social solutions, outweighing the negatives it causes.  If this wasn't true we we wouldn't be using them as much. 

Trevre Andrews said...

Really, on an island with a parking problem in a city with a parking problem you are saying we shouldn't 100% utilize the parking spaces?  Yes, I understand there needs to be space for non-contract parking, but if they can clear of the roof the garage is being underutilized.  Are you arguing just to argue?

Trevre Andrews said...

You are assuming that everyone who owns a car parks in the garage, when many people own a car but just park it elsewhere.  It is a very elastic system as there are many other options for where people can park (queens, manhattan).

Trust me having faith that RIOC will make decisions in our best interest is a huge mistake.  You of all people shouldn't be taking their procedures without a grain of salt.  I know that and I have only been here 2 years.  Just look at the awesome deal they got on the ground leases for the buildings on the island, oh and my god those main street stores sure are filling up fast. 

YetAnotherRIer said...

Trevre Andrews As a reply to benefits vs problems of car ownership: I know this is a very complex topic and cannot be reduced to a few comments in a blog commentary but I'd just like to point out that the relationship between people and their cars is something relatively unique in this country compared to most other first world countries. I am not here to argue that the car did not bring anything good. It did. But the way cars are "worshipped" in this country causes more problems than it will do good long-term. How it is given more thought and resources than to pedestrian or other alternative forms of transportation is mind boggling.

Trevre Andrews said...

Agreed.  I would like to see at the very least fewer giant cars in the city for those with ego problems, but if that is what those people want to spend their money on that is their choice.  Just out of curiosity, how do you feel about motorcycles? 

mogensjp said...

Motorgate has spare capacity, and the fancy parking spaces on West Road behind Riverwalk have spare capacity (lots of it).
When will RIOC learn that the Main Street congestion is best reduced by increasing the frequency of the Red Bus service
(which would facilitate accommodating strollers and shopping carts as well).

Frank Farance said...

I would agree that it might be possible for the Red Bus service to increase to such a level that some loading/unloading traffic is reduced, but we're talking about doubling (at least) the frequency of Red Bus service.  This would require at least three more drivers on at least two more shifts.  Using the $110K number for the Octagon Express bus as an estimate, you're talking about adding at least $660K/year to the RIOC budget for the extra service.  I don't believe we'd' increase Motorgate revenues by that amount because loading/unloading cars are mostly (1) already parking in Motorgate, so no increase in revenue, or (2) don't park on Island and have no intention to (e.g., car service).

However, the biggest concern might be air pollution from the extra bus service, which at that point, have very low passenger counts.

The congestion on Main Street comes from different sources:
- hospital shifts begin/end three times a day
- morning school bus drop off at PS/IS 217
- morning school bus drop off for Child School
- morning school bus pick-up at Island House (UNIS?)
- morning car service
- afternoon school bus pick up for Child School

The 7-9 AM slot could use improvement (hospital shift, PS/IS 217 drop off, Child school drop off, Island House pick-up, car service).

Frank Farance said...

My point is: in order to make use of proposed lower monthly rates, one needs to have a car to park in Motorgate.  Reducing the price from $200 to $150 per month isn't going to significantly increase the number of monthly parkers, and you'd need to have 400 new monthly parkers ... just to get to the same revenue you had before.  Doesn't sound like a good financial plan.

Frank Farance said...

You've been here for 2 years so you've missed July 4 celebrations in the East River when many people come to Roosevelt Island.  Had you been here, it would be obvious to you why Motorgate should not be at 100% utilization (even with short term parking).

Utilizing 100% of a resource can be terribly inefficient, so smaller utilizations might maximize efficiency.  This is a well understood problem in computer science (why 90% utilization is more efficient for disk drives), queuing (why highways are more efficient at 10% than 50% - hint: look at traffic lights at entrance ramps), and other areas, such as operations research.

I'm not arguing for the sake of argument, I'm pointing out the kinds of analyses that are commonly done when thinking about these kinds of problems.

Trevre Andrews said...

Your only argument now is that other things do better at less than 100% utilization, and that once every two years the garage is at capacity.  I am not arguing for 100%, but there shouldn't' be so much left over capacity that we can close an entire floor. 

CheshireKitty said...

You are saying that there are hundreds of Roosevelt Islanders who own cars and park them in Queens or Manhattan to avoid paying the fees Motorgate charges?  Where are you getting your information from?  

Trevre, your assumption doesn't make sense.  Where is the nearest less expensive lot - is it within walking distance of the 36th Ave Bridge?  

Or do you think car owners are chancing parking their cars on a long-term basis in the rather isolated, desolate area around Vernon?  

There is hardly any street parking left in Manhattan, we all know this.  

Are the  garages in Manhattan really less expensive than Motorgate?  This is unlikely.  

Garages in Queens may be less expensive but then the auto owner must go through the song and dance, meaning time and inconvenience of taking public transportation, of getting to a garage in Queens.  

You are saying hundreds of Roosevelt Islanders park in the boroughs in order to avoid the "high prices" of Motorgate?  I find this unbelievable and I challenge you to provide proof or any evidence to back up your claim.  

YetAnotherRIer said...

It it weren't for the sound pollution motocycles cause (too many times do I hear a motorcycle going down the FDR creating so much noise that it is still too loud in my apartment ACROSS the river)  they create less problems than cars but still require a lot more resources than other means of getting around (on a per traveller basis).

Trevre Andrews said...

Nobody has hard numbers on how many people on the island have cars but don't park them in motorgate.  I have been parking in queens for the last two years, and it isn't a desolate area, and I have met lots of other people walking over there who also park.  Half the households in the city own cars, and 25% own cars in Manhattan, so roughly there are between 1000 to 2500 car owners on the island.  Many of us use our cars for weekend trips and not for commuting.  Yes for $50 less I would consider changing where I park my car and motorcycle. 

How about RIOC provides us with the revenue and usage at motorgate so we can decide how efficiently the space is being used?

Frank Farance said...

Mr. Andrews, overall the flaws in your thinking are: taking a myopic approach both rhetorically and analytically, e.g. responding to only one point of the argument, and not considering related/second-order effects.

I have given you the courtesy of reading your articles and citations (even though you haven't read them yourself), I wish you'd reciprocate.   When I referenced the July 4 episodes, it was not to claim that the lot it full once every two years, but to have a deeper understanding of the problem.  Just like the discussion on the straight vs. angled parking lines, one can describe it in words, but he/she has a deeper understanding of the problem behind the driver's wheel.

So instead of 100% utilization, which would cause a much greater increase in street parking because there is no where else to park, let's consider 80% utilization as the target.  Even using your $150/month rate, you barely break even.

So if 80% is used (and the 200 new monthly cars are likely from off-Island), then there are only 200-ish spaces left, which can easily become full on weekend/holiday visitors because for the 4400-ish apartments on the Island, you have less than 4.5% parking spots available.  In other words, if your (driven) visitor rate is more than 1 of 22 apartments, you're out of parking.  For example, if Island House, with 400 apartments and 1000 residents, has more than 18 (driven) visitors, then there is no parking.  Thus, full lots are not just a July 4th event when monthly parking is increased as you suggest.

In conclusion, given the present size of Motorgate, maybe 60% utilization is about the right level for our size community.

Trevre Andrews said...

I respond to the points I think are worth responding to, and I don't have all day to address your every argument. 

What references have you provided me to read?  Are you accusing me of not reading the article about horse power?  based on what?

In any case there are enough "extra spaces" to close the entire roof of the garage for several months which indicates that amount of space is not regularly being utilized.  Its as simple as that.   

CheshireKitty said...

Trevre, I'm impressed that you have been parking your car and motorcycle on the street in Ravenswood for two years and nothing has happened to either of them.  It is a desolate area since it's mostly industrial with a scattering of low-rise dwellings.  It's OK during the day but at night it's dead.  In any event, it's never an active or "hopping" area.  In Ravenswood, you have the largest projects in the US  - Ravenswood itself and the pjs up at the coves.  The pjs are not desolate that's true because people are packed into them but they are certainly not wealthy localities.  Are they "safe" pjs?  Is there no crime in Ravenswood?  There must be some - possibly even car theft related crime.  

You are really parking on the street all week in the area of Vernon or are you parking in a garage all week in the area of Vernon?  It's amazing that nothing has happened to your vehicles all this time... I guess the city really is getting a lot safer.. 

Trevre Andrews said...

Frank, I guess you missed my preface which noted this was a range and an estimate.  You hang on 2500 but I said 1000 to 2500.  There are about 350 spaces per level in motorgate, with about 4-5 levels that comes out to 1500+ spaces. You note a 60% occupancy which would put the number of monthly parkers at 1000 (at the bottom end of my range and the top of yours, but still within it).  I am sure we could get the real number of monthly parkers from RIOC but I think that is a pretty good estimate.  Plus there is parking by/in Octagon. 1000-2500 seems like a pretty good "Range" to me. 

Regardless of any of the other arguments you make if they can close 350 spaces for 2 months that means there are at least 350 extra spaces that aren't being utilized annually.

I am done having this conversation arguing about something that has a easy obvious solution (i.e., reduce the price to up utilization, offer better motorcycle pricing, and/or reduce daily rates.  It is silliness not to utilize the resources on the island (motorgate/retail space/bike racks/lack of motorcycle parking) and reflects the poor management of the island in general and their continued unaccountability to the people that live here.   

Frank Farance said...

Surprise! RIOC is doing a great job on filling Motorgate with monthly parkers.  I just spoke with Evie Przybyla, RIOC's Transportation Planner, to get some hard numbers.  Motorgate has 1522 spots, of which 250 are rooftop (temporarily closed), which leaves 1272 spots.  There are between 1528 and 1575 monthly parkers, i.e., a utilization of 120-124%.  Note: It is possible to have utilizations higher than 100% because of the 3 shifts in the hospitals, day vs. night parking, and so on.

Mr. Andrews says "I am done having this conversation
arguing about something that has a
easy obvious solution (i.e., reduce the price to up utilization, offer
better motorcycle pricing, and/or reduce daily rates.  It is silliness
not to utilize the resources on the island (motorgate/retail space/bike
racks/lack of motorcycle parking) and reflects the poor management of
the island in general and their continued unaccountability to the people
that live here."  It seems that, at least on the monthly parking aspect, RIOC seems to be doing a good job at Motorgate.  (Important Note: My compliments on monthly parking DO NOT necessarily extend to other aspects of Motorgate management, such as lighting, etc..)

In essence, Mr. Andrews wants RIOC to reduce rates by $50/month so he can park TWO vehicles, yet Mr. Andrews ignores the negative operational and financial consequences of that suggestion.

Octagon has about 100 spots, monthly parking is only for its residents, and it has approximately 60-70% utilization.

In summary, RIOC is doing a better job filling its garage than the average Manhattan garage (120% vs. 60% utilization); and Mr. Andrews numbers and methods are still wrong/unsubstantiated.

Trevre Andrews said...

Wait, didn't you just crucify me for "your estimate is WAY unreasonable", yet you are saying there are 1500 parkers which is almost right in the middle of my range? 

And if they are at such high utilization how can they afford to close down 250 spots (or about 18%) for two months a year?  Where do those 250 monthly parkers go for the two months (I assume they are able to fit somewhere else in the garage).  That space is therefore not being utilized the other 10 months of the year, unless for some reason more people park 10 months of the year than the 2 months the roof is closed.

Something doesn't add up and my estimates were pretty good for not having any hard information.  I contacted RIOC for the same information but didn't get any reply, funny how they got back to you. 

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