We all know how much I hate the MTA, but I hate commuting via car way more. I also hate that when I go home to VA I sometimes forget driving is a thing, so I'll meet friends, have a couple beers, and then need to sober up for an hour or so before heading home (#notolerance).
People do drive in New York, especially real estate agents, but I'm mostly not among them. I drive out of NY, but do everything in my power to avoid using my car in the city. I’m a huge public transit proponent, which is part of why I’m so heated about the state of our subway. This is our nation's most walkable/functional-without-a-car city; don't ruin that with bureaucracy and incompetence!!!
The MTA is next-level awful right now, and all the ride sharing apps that have sprouted up are taking full advantage. In the absence of functioning trains, companies that started as reasonably-priced options have begun gouging people. Which brings me to what I really want to complain about (classic): Via. Via has joined the MTA on the list of things I am railing against for their treatment of customers. The other night I paid an exorbitant amount for a shared cab because I was so tired after flying from Berlin that I was worried for my safety were I to take the train and pass out. What should have been a 25-35 minute ride quickly became an hour when the driver repeatedly mapped to the wrong place, used an app NOT sanctioned by Via (you are required to use theirs to navigate), and nearly got into an accident with a white Volvo. The ride ended with me having to switch seats to direct him (because apparently he couldn't read his map), while whatever navigation system he had set to the incorrect address yelled over me. I was on the verge of tears because of how tired and unsafe I felt throughout the whole thing, while he repeatedly said it "wasn't his fault," as though it could be anyone else's.
I wouldn't be quite so upset had I not spent so much time on planes leading up to this, but the way their customer service has handled it is inexcusable. Not only do they claim I'm lying about the whole thing, but they wouldn't even respond to me for three days. And now I am putting them on blast in the hopes that nobody else has to go through such horrible treatment. I will pay the extra dollar or two for Uber or Lyft, because I have never received this kind of response from them. Worst customer service EVER, and I'm including Time Warner in that. Thanks, Via, for joining in the victim-blaming of 2016. Didn't you hear we're past that by now?
But, always the optimist (sorry, really mad at Via, hence the rant), I still LOVE that we don't have to depend on cars to get around most of the time. I wrote this whole NY Value on my phone while on the train today between appointments, because I was running around the city for 12 hours. I wouldn't be able to do that if I had to drive. I love driving, but not when it involves traffic and I feel like I need to get work done!
Real Estate Value - how the trains affect rents/sales prices.
I have already worked with several of what I call “L train Relocation” clients. These are people fleeing Williamsburg and Bushwick in anticipation of the L between Brooklyn and Manhattan closing for at least 18 months, but knowing the agency’s complete incompetence it will likely be closer to 3 years. This begins in January of 2019, and the market has already adjusted to the "rumor" part of this improvement (with sales prices not really dropping, rental prices dipping slightly). The "actual" market adjustment will occur when the train finally shuts down and people living there experience how good or bad the alternatives are in their day to day. I find this extremely fascinating because behavioral finance is my favorite finance, and this is completely a question of human lived experience affecting markets. Look forward to a lot of data-driven writing around this once it happens, because I do love a case study!
But on a positive train front, the mythical 2nd Avenue line (it's been a rumor so long it's even mentioned in Mad Men) finally opened in early 2017, and it's one of the most functional parts of our subway system. Areas of the Upper East Side that were four avenues from the train are suddenly more accessible. And, like in Williamsburg, the exact effects are hard to track, but it does seem to have contributed to a rise in rents/sales prices. Here's an interesting article if you want to delve more into it.
Alright, guys, drive (or don't) safe, and I'll be back next week!