Home Asides Coming Soon: Service cuts, in detail

Coming Soon: Service cuts, in detail

by Benjamin Kabak

Unfortunately, I’m in the middle of a long take-home exam for one of my law school classes and do not right now have the opportunity to go in-depth on the MTA’s planned service cuts. They are very extensive though with students and the disabled getting hit the worst. In a way, it’s a great political ploy by the MTA, but it’s sure to engender more outrage toward an agency with few other choices. I’ll have a detailed post on the cuts up as soon as I’m through with this final.

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Greg December 14, 2009 - 3:47 pm

Don’t waste time with the blog. Focus on law school. Good luck with your exam!

Marc Shepherd December 14, 2009 - 3:53 pm

I don’t get it.

Why not offer two plans, one with a fare increase and no service cuts; and the other without? That would at least be giving the public and the legislature the option:

“If we must keep the fare flat, then this is the amount of service we must cut. If we do not cut service, then this is the amount by which we must raise fares.”

Working Class December 14, 2009 - 4:03 pm

I like your idea alot. First option should be a $3 base fare with no discounts. Second choice should be whatever choice option they are already going with.

John December 14, 2009 - 4:53 pm

It’s a good idea, but who would make the decision? Would it somehow go to a public vote or what?

petey December 14, 2009 - 3:59 pm

hey benjamin! where are your priorities! 😀

Aaron December 14, 2009 - 4:05 pm

The Access-a-Ride thing in particular basically eliminates the program. A person disabled enough to properly qualify it is not going to be able to safely jump the gaps between the subway cars and the platforms anyhow, not without a PCA to help them, not to mention the lengthy steep ramps in places (Port Authority on the A,C,E comes to mind, the first time I went down that ramp I was firmly convinced that I was going to lose control of the wheelchair, fly off the platform and plaster myself against the wall, causing me to be hit by a train and die shortly thereafter – I was quite relieved to find a railing at the bottom to protect me from that exact outcome.)

On top of that, NYC has a serious problem with bus stops being blocked by people who engage in rockstar parking. I avoid busses if at all possible because I am not a fan of playing in traffic or hoping that the lift will reach the pavement, and the odds of your bus stop being blocked by a car have been, to my experience, astonishingly high.

I’m pretty athletic (like, used to play wheelchair basketball athletic), and I’m still mindful that at 63/Lex on the F and Franklin Avenue on the C that I may have to get out of the wheelchair to pull it up to the train. When I got of the C at Franklin a few weeks ago coming back from JFK with heavy luggage, I was seriously concerned that I wouldn’t be able to keep the front wheels in the air long enough to keep them from falling between the platform and the train because of the weight of my bags. I avoided Franklin/Fulton after that, used the B,Q at Prospect exclusively, solely because of the huge gaps at Franklin/Fulton. I figured I could just as easily transfer to the 8th Ave IND at W. 4th if I really needed it.

Don’t get me wrong – accessible stations are a G-dsend for people like me. But I am lucky in that I have excellent upper-body strength. Not every person has that luxury, and I would be scared to take an electric wheelchair over some of those gaps.

The worst thing is that while parents will scream at the top of their lungs for their student metrocards, disabled people usually lack effective advocates short of filing a lawsuit, and this will probably go unanswered and never be restored again.

Alon Levy December 14, 2009 - 7:57 pm

In your experience, do elevators usually work?

Aaron December 15, 2009 - 12:51 am

“Usually” is a vague term. “Usually,” yes, but the consequences for failure can be severe, particularly on lines with very limited accessibility to start with. From my experience I would venture to say that a regular commuter with a single transfer is going to run into an elevator outage at least once per week. Depending on the station, the effect could vary from minor to devastating. Some stations have redundancies, either intentionally or accidentally (accidentally = both MTA and PATH installed elevators at Herald Square, so if the MTA elevator goes down you can bogart the PATH elevator). Some stations are so isolated from other accessible stations (Utica Ave on the 4 comes to mind) that if an elevator is out you may as well go home.

When I was last in NYC (most of Oct.), the Times Square elevator to street level was out the vast majority of the time, which essentially took that station back out of service for me except as a transfer point, but as I said, I’m fairly athletic, so I just walked from Herald Square, something I had to do with frequency when I lived in the City, prior to Times Square being accessible at all.

There are certain extremely important stations where an elevator outage can render the system unusable (a major one being Herald Square, believe it or not – to my knowledge, the only transfer between the N,Q,R,W and the B,D,F,V in Manhattan, and there’s no good way to duplicate that elsewhere without backtracking 30 minutes to Atlantic-Pacific). If the elevator at GCT to the IRT is taken out of service, commuters from the suburbs who need wheelchair access are in deep shit.

Of course, it’s often possible to invent a bus workaround for most problems, but the scope of the problem is larger than that – I would say that as soon as you find an elevator out of service, you can immediately add 30 minutes to your trip at a minimum. For people who have to be places on time, that can be pretty devastating.

I don’t want to be misinterpreted – Compared to other cities’ bumbling and failures (Boston and Philly come to mind), I’m very happy with what MTA has been doing thus far. They have an extremely difficult problem and they have done the best they can to solve it – their resources are simply not to the level that they could have undertaken a more drastic capital program. As compared to 2002, when elevator outages happened with astonishing regularity, they are much less frequent. But they’re still a serious problem.

Jillian December 14, 2009 - 4:22 pm

Good luck on your exam!

Jerrold December 14, 2009 - 4:29 pm

YES, good luck on your exam!

Now, let me say that the proposed service cuts, ridiculously excessive, are probably intended to soften up the public to be willing to accept a fare increase. When they raise the fare, everybody will be breathing a sigh of relief that they did not make those cuts after all.

Mike Nitabach December 14, 2009 - 5:23 pm

One certainly hopes that the MTA will be smart enough politically to make certain that everyone understands that it is the fault of the government that these service cuts are occurring, and that there is absolutely nothing the MTA can do.

Working Class December 14, 2009 - 6:33 pm

They will not paint the government as the bad guys they will as usual blame there own blue collar workers. But only the ones that work for the TA not the other branches.

Anon December 14, 2009 - 6:34 pm

OFF TOPIC: This is just too cool


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