Author Archive

Loading

No trip to Philly is complete without a walk down memory lane. #tokens #septa

View on Instagram

I’m in Philadelphia this week for a few days for work, and I’m always reminded when I take a trip down here how, despite the problems New York has, I’d rather have the MTA running things than SEPTA. They did manage to get commuter rail through-running through Center City right — which is something the MTA and New Jersey Transit have yet to achieve. Meanwhile, my absolute favorite part of any SEPTA trip are the tokens. Somehow, Philadelphia doesn’t even have last-generation fare payment; they have mid-20th century fare payment in place. They’re working toward a new payment technology and may have something in place nearly half a decade before the Metrocard is phased out. For now, though, I’ll enjoy using the token. It’s a public transportation time machine.

Categories : SEPTA
Comments (44)

First, a survey: Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, a North Brooklyn-based advocacy group, is conducting a transportation survey for those who live in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. If you fit the bill, head on over to their website to answer some questions about how much you love or hate the G train, what the city could do to improve street safety, and the reach of Citi Bike. (For background, check out this DNA Info story.) Now, onto the service advisories.


From 11:30 p.m. Saturday, October 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, 1 trains are suspended in both directions between 137 St and Van Cortlandt Park-242 St. AC, M3 and free shuttle buses provide alternate service.


From 3:45 a.m. Saturday, October 11 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday, October 12, Wakefield-241 St bound 2 trains run express from 3 Av-149 St to E 180 St.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 10 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, Flatbush Av-Brooklyn College bound 2 trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to Franklin Av.


From 6:00 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Saturday, October 11 and Sunday, October 12, New Lots Av-bound 3 trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to Franklin Av.


From 11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 11 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, October 12, and from 11:00 p.m. Sunday, October 12 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, New Lots Av-bound 4 trains run local between 125 St and Grand Cantral-42 St.


From 11:45 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Friday, October 10 to Sunday, October 12, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, October 12 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, New Lots Av-bound 4 trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to Franklin Av.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 10 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, 5 trains are suspended in both directions between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E 180 St. Free shuttle buses operate all weekend between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E 180 St, stopping at Baychester Av, Gun Hill Rd, Pelham Pkwy, and Morris Park.


From 5:45 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, October 11, and from 7:45 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday, October 12, E 180 St-bound 5 trains run express from 3 Av-149 St to E 180 St.


From 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 11, and from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, October 12, 6 trains run every 16 minutes between 3 Av-138 St and Pelham Bay Park. The last stop for some 6 trains headed toward Pelham Bay Park is 3 Av-138 St. To continue your trip, transfer at 3 Av-138 St to a Pelham Bay Park-bound 6 train.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 10 to 4:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, Pelham Bay Park-bound 6 trains run express from Parkchester to Pelham Bay Park.


From 3:45 a.m. Saturday, October 11 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday, October 12, Flushing-Main St bound 7 trains run express from Queensboro Plaza to 74 St-Broadway.


Beginning 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13 until January 2015, Inwood-207 St bound A trains skip 104 St and 88 St.

  • For Service To/From 104 St: To 104 St, take a Brooklyn-bound A train to Rockaway Blvd and transfer to an Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd-bound A. From 104 St, take an Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd-bound A train to 111 St or Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd and transfer to a Brooklyn-bound A.
  • For Service To/From 88 St: To 88 St, take the Brooklyn-bound A to 80 St and transfer to a Far Rockaway-Mott Av or Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd bound A. From 88 St, take a Far Rockaway-Mott Av or Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd-bound A to Rockaway Blvd and transfer to a Brooklyn-bound A.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 10 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, A trains are suspended in both directions between Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd and Rockaway Blvd. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service between 80 St and Lefferts Blvd, stopping at 88 St, Rockaway Blvd, 104 St, and 111 St. Transfer between free shuttle buses and A trains at 80 St.


From 11:45 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Friday, October 10 to Sunday, October 12, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, October 12 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, Queens-bound A trains run express from 145 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, October 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, Inwood-207 St bound A trains run express from Canal St to 168 St.


From 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 11 and Sunday, October 12, Euclid Av-bound C trains run express from 145 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle.


From 10:45 p.m. Friday, October 10 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, Norwood-205 St bound D trains run express from 145 St to Tremont Av.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, October 10 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, E trains are rerouted via the F line in both directions between Roosevelt Av and W 4 St-Wash Sq. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service between Court Sq-23 St and 21 St-Queensbridge, stopping at Queens Plaza.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, October 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, E trains run local in Queens.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, October 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 13, F trains run local in Queens.


From 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 11 and Sunday, October 12, G trains run every 20 minutes between Long Island City-Court Sq and Bedford-Nostrand Avs. The last stop for some G trains headed toward Court Sq is Bedford-Nostrand Avs. To continue your trip, transfer at Bedford-Nostrand Avs to a Court Sq-bound G train.


From 5:45 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday, October 11, and Sunday, October 12, J trains are suspended in both directions between Hewes St and Essex St. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service between Hewes St and Essex St, stopping at Marcy Av. Transfer between trains and free shuttle buses at Hewes St and/or Essex St. For direct service between Brooklyn and Manhattan, consider using the AC or L via a free transfer at Broadway Junction. J service operates in two sections:

  • Between Jamaica Center Parsons/Archer and Hewes St.
  • Between Essex St and Chambers St, every 15 minutes.


From 5:45 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday, October 11, and Sunday, October 12, M trains are suspended in both directions between Myrtle Av and Essex St. Take the JL and/or free shuttle buses instead. For direct service to/from Brooklyn, consider using the L via free transfer at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service between Hewes St and Essex St, stopping at Marcy Av.

Franklin Av Shuttle
From 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Saturday, October 11, S Franklin Av Shuttle trains run every 24 minutes.

Categories : Service Advisories
Comments (1)

The Commercial Transformation of Columbus Circle

The MTA’s rehabilitation of the Columbus Circle subway stop was an odd project. Like many before and after it, it took far longer than the MTA budgeted and ended not with a ribbon-cutting or even an announcement but with a whimper. One day, it was under construction, and the next day it wasn’t. It’s still not quite finished either as the corridor underneath 8th Ave. remains simply that.

As part of the original plans, this corridor was to become a commercial space with high-end tenants. It was, then-MTA head Jay Walder told me, to be the first of a new breed of MTA real estate. Instead of dingy newsstands and off-beat shops, Columbus Circle was to pave the way for a re-envisioning of subway real estate. It could be popular and a destination in and of itself.

Now, years after the renovation wrapped, that dream is inching closer to reality, Matt Chaban wrote in The Times this week. Chaban profiled Susan Fine, the current head of Oases Real Estate and the former MTA exec who was in charge of the rebirth of Grand Central, as she works to draw in tenants at Columbus Circle. Beginning 2015, 30 storefronts will line in the corridor as a set of shops called TurnStyle. These stores will include grab-and-go options such as Magnolia bakery, some electronics and high-end shopping spots, and larger upscale fast food types.

If Fine is successful — and that’s not a given as she has to convince New Yorkers to dine in a subway station — the MTA could bring this public-private commercial partnership to other subway stations with high foot traffic and open spaces. Taking up residence in the 7th busiest subway certainly won’t hurt the cause. “The trick was really figuring out strategies to slow people down,” Jessica Walsh, one of Fine’s partners, said. “If we can make it an interesting space with its own identity, we’re pretty confident we’ll not only catch commuters, but tourists and even people on their lunch break. Deep down, we all love the subway.”

CM Rose lead Staten Island calls for transit investments

As the MTA’s next five-year capital plan has come into view, complaints from Staten Island have increased. I wrote about the isolated borough’s complaints last week and pinpointed politicians as the leading cause of their problems. To be fair to Staten Island, though, not all of their politicians are as opposed to transit improvements as others, and this week Council Member Debi Rose flashed her credentials.

In a piece for the Staten Island Advance, Rose made the case for more transit investments for Staten Island. Not satisfied with the new ferries or the promise of new rail cars for the Staten Island Railway, Rose argued for some use for the North Shore and West Shore rights of way. She isn’t wrong, but her piece highlights the political problems here as well. Rose admits that the city doesn’t invest enough in transit, and although she rails against fare hikes and toll increases, she doesn’t propose a solution or a funding scheme.

As I’ve said before, the answer here is simple: Put your money where your mouth is, and the MTA will listen. If Rose wants BRT for the North Shore ROW, all she has to do is find a way to pay for it. But would she risk alienating Staten Island drivers, a strong constituency who will not be the first to support a congestion pricing plan? I doubt it. Without leadership that leads to dollars, nothing will happen.

The Man-Spread Blight

Finally, a more whimsical piece from amNew York that delves into one of the most egregious breaches of subway etiquette: the man-spread. We’ve all been there when some guy next to us is sitting with his legs spread far wider than any normal human would ever need. Perhaps it’s overcompensation; perhaps its ego or obliviousness; perhaps it’s a combination of all three. Whatever the cause, it drives me nuts.

In an amNY piece, Sheila Anne Feeney tried to get to the bottom of this phenomenon, and her article will in turns amuse and infuriate you. The perps and defenders act so righteous — “Men need space,” one person said — while those trying to find seats get glares or worse.

Comments (20)

A few years ago, at around the time Sandy swept through New York, Andrew Cuomo determined it looked gubernatorial and in charge for him to announce good news regarding the MTA. In the grand tradition of New York executives stretching back to 1968, Cuomo decided that the MTA could be used to boost his image with downstate voters, and now, every time good news comes out, his press office sends out an email “announcing” the happenings. Tunnels reopening? Sandy work on the R train wrapping early? New wireless service underground? Federal storm preparedness funds? It all comes from Cuomo’s office.

“What happens though when there is bad news?” you may wonder. Funny you should ask because that’s when Cuomo disappears faster than Keyser Soze. He’s more than willing to take credit for everything on which he had little to no affect; that is, after all, his prerogative as the MTA is a creation of the State of New York. But when something doesn’t go right, when there are bad headlines to be made, Cuomo does what many others have done before him — he tries to distance himself from the MTA. (He may even be exerting pressure to actively avoid bad news. From some accounts, the MTA may wait to announce the details of the 2015 fare hikes until after Election Day so Cuomo can avoid the bad press. Usually, the new fare schemes are announced in mid-October prior to a March fare hike. But I digress.)

This dynamic came to a head this week following the CPRB rejection of the MTA’s capital plan. In his comments about the capital plan, Cuomo, who you may recall is in charge of the MTA, seemed surprised that the thing had a $15 billion gap. He didn’t offer up any solutions and seems to think all is copacetic when it comes to MTA funding.

Here’s what he said to Capital New York: “The first budget from every agency also always calls for $15 billion. That’s part of the dance that we go through. That’s why I say it’s the initial, proposed budget. We’ll then look at that budget and go through, and we’ll come up with a realistic number. But we have a very real $4 billion surplus, and we have a 2 percent spending cap that I still follow. So that’s the discipline that’s in the process.”

When later asked about a funding scheme involving, say, congestion pricing, Cuomo was quick to dismiss the idea. As Kate Hinds reported, Cuomo simply said, “There’s no need for it. We have a surplus. Look, we had a $10 billion deficit, and we didn’t do tolls.” That $15 billion is just going to materialize out of thing air. (Or will Cuomo, as he intimated, use the money from the bank settlements to fund the MTA?)

For its part, in a rare act of defiance, the MTA seems to be toeing the capital line. While Cuomo has suggested the capital budget could be pared down — and it’s likely to come in below the current $32 billion price tag — Tom Prendergast spoke yesterday about the need for investing in the system. Streetsblog’s Stephen Miller was on hand to report as Prendergast defended the five-year plan. Disputing Cuomo’s earlier assertion that the proposal was “bloated,” as the governor said, Prendergast warned that he’d be willing to drive the MTA further into debt. “I don’t like greater debt finance, but I’ll tell you what,” he said, “I’ll treat that finance as a bridge to another day.”

As Miller notes, Prendergast’s co-panelists discussing transit governance were quick to point to Cuomo as the ultimate arbiter of all things MTA, whether the governor admits it or not. Many MTA board members answer to Cuomo, and Prendergast is a Cuomo appointee who serves at the pleasure of the governor. While Cuomo may try to shirk the bad news and trumpet the good, this is his beast, as it was every governor’s before him since Nelson and David Rockefeller’s plan to depose Robert Moses. The $15 billion gap is at his feet. How he moves forward will speak volumes of his approach toward New York City and transit, and I’m not feeling particularly optimistic about it.

Categories : MTA Politics
Comments (30)

A less-than-spectacular view from above. (Photo via WTC Progress on Facebook)

As long-time readers (or even recent converts to the site) know, I am not a particularly big fan of the Port Authority’s PATH Hub at the World Trade Center site. It’s a monument to an architect and a mall ahead of a transit center. Already, what’s opened has been both overwhelming and less than impressive with narrow staircases and insufficient access to the platforms. As form and function pull at a limited pool of dollars, the PATH Hub is the epicenter for the debate.

Yesterday, The Atlantic’s CityLab published a piece of mine on that very topic. It’s the culmination of years of railing against the price tag and design of the PATH Hub. I’m not against great design for transit, but as it does at Grand Central, the design should flow from the function. Santiago Calatrava’s monstrosity does just the opposite as form overwhelms function.

An excerpt:

From a practical perspective, where Grand Central seamlessly integrates commuters with its purpose as a rail depot, the Port Authority’s new hub fails its customers, the PATH-riding public. One platform is already completed, and its design flaws are obvious. Staircases are too narrow to accommodate the morning crowds who come streaming out of the trains from Hoboken, Jersey City, and beyond, while the narrow platforms quickly fill with irate commuters. Anyone trying to catch a train back to the Garden State risks a stampede. The marble, bright and sterile, picks up any spill, and a drop of water creates dangerously slippery conditions until a Port Authority janitor scurries out of some unseen door, mop in hand. Passenger flow and comfort, two of the most important elements of terminal design, seem to be an afterthought. The PATH Hub is shaping up to be an example of design divorced from purpose.

The price tag too creates consternation among those fighting for sparse transit dollars. For $4 billion, the Port Authority could have extended PATH to Brooklyn, built a one-seat ride from Lower Manhattan to JFK Airport or helped cover the cost overruns from the dearly departed ARC Tunnel. For $4 billion, the MTA could build out most, if not all, of another phase of the Second Avenue subway or the lost 7 line station at 41st Street and 10th Avenue five times over. At a time with real needs for regional transportation improvements, a $4 billion missed opportunity stings….

In his writings and lectures on “Why Architecture Matters,” the architectural critic Paul Goldberger writes: “When architecture is art, it does not escape the obligation to be practical, and its practical shortcomings should not be forgiven.” Politicians choose architects who create buildings with visual designs that leave a mark in the public memory. For an occasional visitor to Lower Manhattan, Calatrava’s building is a sight to see, but for an occasional PATH rider, Caltrava’s platforms and staircases are a reminder that transit users in the eyes of celebrity crafters are afterthoughts. The riders don’t post photos to Instagram and swoon over a stegosaurus-like structure rising out of the ashes of the Twin Towers; they grumble about narrow staircases and shoddy construction.

Please do go read the full piece at CityLab. I try to end it on an upbeat note. We as a society used to design great buildings that were also functional. If we try hard enough and focus properly, I’m sure we can do it again.

Categories : PANYNJ, Self Promotion
Comments (42)

When the MTA unveiled its 2015-2019 capital plan a few weeks ago, agency officials knew it would not be smooth sailing. The agency had identified $32 billion in projects and $16.8 billion in steady revenue streams. The proposed budget included no contributions from New York State, and it was a challenge, in its way, for Albany to tackle the hard question of capital funding (and perhaps a Move NY Plan). It was then no surprise that the state’s Capital Program Review Board torpedoed the plan.

In a brief note issued to the MTA last Friday, the CPRB simply said, “Nope. Good try, good effort.” They didn’t offer a rational — though the humongous funding gap was clearly to blame — and sent the plan back to the MTA “without prejudice.” That was the easy part. The hard part comes next. That’s the part where the MTA pares down the plan; Albany figures out some funding scheme; and everything gets approved.

It sounds so easy, but of course, it’s not. Along the way, the MTA will have to contend with the usual array of everything. In a Bond Buyer article about the CPRB decision, one know-nothing type putting himself out as a government consultant even tried to resort to that tired “two sets of books” trope. It’s an uphill battle every five years and one that no one ever seems to remember or learn from ahead of the next fight.

Yesterday, the obstacle was City Council. Now, MTA hearings in front of City Council aren’t all charades. It’s an opportunity for politicians to get MTA officials to say some things on the record, and what they said yesterday raised some concerns. The MTA seems to be planning the next phase of the Second Ave. Subway to go under pre-existing tunnels; they keep saying B Division countdown clocks are 3-5 years away, the same timeline they’ve had for 2-3 years; and plans to build a subway to Laguardia will proceed over a bunch of NIMBYs’ dead bodies in Astoria. That’s all been around in one form or another, but yesterday’s hearing served as a reminder.

Things went south when the capital plan came out though. A read through WNYC’s Kate Hinds’ tweets reveals city politicians arguing, after the fact too, for pet projects in their neighborhoods. While Mark Weprin deserves a nod for voicing some support for the Move NY congestion fee plan, some City Council members (and, um, MTA officials sitting in the hot seat) didn’t even know the basics of BusTime.

Overall, the hand-wringing seemed largely appropriate for a political arena, but as the City Council offered up some half-hearted solutions for someone else’s problem, no one bothered to talk about their contributions to the capital plan. In the MTA’s $32 billion plan to help improve mobility in and around New York City, the city’s capital funding contributions are pegged at all of $657 million or two percent of the total required funding. This meager amount of $131 million a year assumes a 25% increase over previous capital plans and some additional money for the MTA’s bus program. Who has skin in the game? Not City Council.

Ultimately, this is all about the dollars. Those people who pony up and take the step necessary to identify funding streams can have their say in the planning process. For now, though, the political charade plays itself out. The end game is obvious, but how we get there is not.

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (45)

Is this a worthwhile use of Port Authority money?

If most transit-minded folk in the Tri-State area had $1.5 billion to spend, an extension of the PATH train to Newark Airport wouldn’t be high on the list of priorities. With that money, most people would add to the pot for a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel, take a look at investing in another phase of the Second Ave. Subway, explore a subway extension to Laguardia Airport, begin the Triboro RX line or look to one of any number of other projects. The Port Authority of course chose the airport extension.

Now, it’s not much of a surprise that the Port Authority is building out this PATH extension. It does serve some useful function as it provides a more direct connection to Newark Airport for anyone traveling by public transit from Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, and, more importantly, Jersey City and Hoboken. We’ve also heard of interest in this project for the past three or four years, most recently as an odd quid-pro-quo given by New Jersey to United Airlines in exchange for direct flights to Atlantic City.

As the ball has slowly rolled forward on this project, the costs have gone up. In 2004, PA documents projected a $500 million cost. When Gov. Chris Christie first pushed this extension, it was predicted to carry a price tag of $1 billion. A few months later, some reports had total costs estimated between $2-$4 billion. Now, the Port Authority is aiming to spend $1.5 billion and construct this at-grade extension over mostly preexisting right-of-way in five years starting in 2018, according to a report from NJ.com. Why construction will take so long is anyone’s guess.

As follow-up, Steve Strunsky asked if the project is worth it. That’s a question I’ve pondered for a while, and Strunsky writes:

“It’s long overdue,” said John Degnan, the chairman of the Port Authority, who pointed to a 2012 report in favor of the project by the Regional Plan Association, a Manhattan-based transportation research organization. Degnan, who became chairman in July, said he could not address the increase in the extension’s projected cost since 2004.

NJ Transit already provides direct service between Manhattan — by way of New York’s Pennsylvania Station in Midtown — and Newark’s AirTrain station, which means the PATH extension would be largely redundant, said Steve Carrellas, a New Jersey spokesman for the National Motorists Association.

“If it’s redundant, what’s the need?” said Carrellas, adding that the PATH system is already subsidized by Port Authority toll payers. Then again, Carrellas added, since Newark airport generates revenue for the agency, supporting it with a PATH stop could also be considered sound financial policy. Travelers can now get to the airport by train from Lower Manhattan as well. But it requires taking a PATH train from the World Trade Center to Newark Penn Station, then transferring to an NJ Transit train from there, which could discourage travelers burdened by luggage or tight schedules, said Wendy Pollack, a spokeswoman for the Regional Plan Association.

Strunsky’s piece unfortunately isn’t the strongest. It’s easy to find transit advocates who aren’t also representing motorists and truckers who don’t want to pay tolls to support rail to speak out against this project, but with the RPA’s imprimatur, it has the aura of invincibility. Still, it is a boondoggle that duplicates preexisting service and, as currently planned, doesn’t get people any closer to the airport than an AirTrain station.

I hear the arguments in favor of this plan and recognize it has some benefit to areas that are undergoing rapid growth. But I think you have to ask if it’s worth it considering preexisting service to Newark and other, more pressing transit demands in the region. Why has the Port Authority latched onto this one? Because it has a champion in Trenton. If not for turf battles between the PA and the MTA, they should spend this money on Laguardia access. If PATH can go straight to the Newark terminals and bypass the painfully slow Newark Airtrain — which it isn’t currently projected to do — this could be an acceptable project for reasonable dollars. But it costs too much and doesn’t solve the Newark Airport access issues. Simply put, it shouldn’t be at the top of any list for spending priorities.

Categories : PANYNJ
Comments (216)

So I had a back-and-forth with the MTA about these service advisories. I noted last week that the press office is no longer providing a reason for the changes, and as I said then, I and a few others liked seeing why our trains were rerouted, running local or being bustituted every weekend. The press office said to me that gathering all that information took up too much of their time, and so now we have service advisories without that information. I still prefer the added info.

Before I delve in, let me think to a Times piece on subway construction. You may think this would turn into a piece on why everything is so costly and takes so long and how initial planning for the Second Ave. Subway led to this foolish phased build-out, but you would be wrong. It is instead a piece of tropes that won’t die. West Siders want the 7 line extension; Upper East Siders are again complaining about subway construction. They’ll love the Second Ave. line once it opens, but for now you have people who didn’t adequately prepare for construction moaning about it. Same old, same old in the land of NIMBYs.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 3 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, Flatbush Av-Brooklyn College bound 2 trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to Franklin Av.


From 6:00 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Saturday, October 4 and Sunday, October 5, New Lots Av-bound 3 trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to Franklin Av.


From 12:01 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, October 5, Harlem-148 St bound 3 trains run local from 72 St to 96 St.


From 11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 4 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, October 5, and from 11:00 p.m. Sunday, October 5 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, New Lots Av-bound 4 trains run local between 125 St and Grand Cantral-42 St.


From 11:45 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Friday, October 3 to Sunday, October 5, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, October 5 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, New Lots Av-bound 4 trains run express from Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to Franklin Av.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 3 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, 5 trains are suspended in both directions between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E 180 St. Free shuttle buses operate all weekend between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E 180 St, stopping at Baychester Av, Gun Hill Rd, Pelham Pkwy, and Morris Park.


From 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 4 and from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, October 5, 6 trains run every 16 minutes between 3 Av-138 St and Pelham Bay Park. The last stop for some 6 trains headed toward Pelham Bay Park is 3 Av-138 St. To continue your trip, transfer at 3 Av-138 St to a Pelham Bay Park-bound 6 train.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 3 to 4:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, Pelham Bay Park-bound 6 trains run express from Parkchester to Pelham Bay Park.


From 3:45 a.m. Saturday, October 4 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday, October 5, Flushing-Main St bound 7 trains run express from Queensboro Plaza to 74 St-Broadway.


From 12:01 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Saturday, October 4 and from 12:01 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Sunday, October 5, 7 trains operate in two sections:

  • Between Times Sq-42 St and Mets-Willets Point.
  • Between Mets-Willets Point and Flushing-Main St.


From 11:45 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Friday, October 3 to Sunday, October 5, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, October 5 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, Queens-bound A trains run express from 145 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, October 4 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, Inwood-207 St bound A trains run express from Canal St to 168.


From 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 4 and Sunday, October 5, Euclid Av-bound C trains run express from 145 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle.


From 10:45 p.m. Friday, October 3 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, Norwood-205 St bound D trains run express from 145 St to Tremont Av.


From 5:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday, October 4 and Sunday, October 5, Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound D trains skip Fort Hamilton Pkwy, 50 St and 55 St.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, October 4 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, E trains run local in Queens.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 3 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, Jamaica-179 St bound F trains skip Fort Hamilton Pkwy, 15 St-Prospect Park, and 4 Av-9 St.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, October 4 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, Jamaica-179 St bound F trains run local in Queens.


From 11:45 p.m. Friday, October 3 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, October 6, Long Island City-Court Sq bound G trains skip Fort Hamilton Pkwy, 15 St-Prospect Park, and 4 Av-9 St.


From 5:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday, October 4, and Sunday, October 5, Jamaica Center Parsons/Archer bound J trains run express from Myrtle Av to Broadway Junction.

It’s no secret that the MTA’s goal of achieving a State of Good Repair would always be a tough one to meet. The agency’s pace of work isn’t fast enough to keep up with the demands of a system sagging under the legacy of deferred maintenance, and as contractors slowly slog through even basic component replacement efforts, stations that were opened or refurbished in the past 20-30 years are starting to show serious wear and tear. Just how bad the state of the infrastructure is though was laid plain for all to see in a reporter issued this week by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

According to this audit, only 51 of the city’s 468 stations were free of defects, and only 25 percent had most of their station components in good repair. “New York City Transit reports it is making progress on repairing stations but the pace is too slow and much more work needs to be done,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Worn or damaged stairs and platform edges pose risks for riders, while broken tiles, lights and peeling paint leave riders with a low opinion of the transit system.”

The short report paints a grim picture. You can read the PDF, and I’ll excerpt accordingly. From DiNapoli’s press release:

According to the latest [New York City Transit] survey, more than one-quarter of all structural components had defects. At 94 stations, at least half of the structural components needed repairs. The subway stations in Brooklyn and Queens had the largest percentage of components with defects (one-third). Nearly half of all platform edges (43 percent), which are important to rider safety, had defects in need of repair. While 33 percent of platform edges had a moderate level of deterioration, 10 percent exhibited serious defects. NYCT data also showed that 27 percent of station components — such as ceilings or columns — needed to be painted. Also, the tile or other finish on one-third of all subway platform walls and floors did not meet the NYCT’s minimum standards and needed to be repaired.

From the report:

Among the four boroughs served by NYCT, the stations in Brooklyn and Queens had the largest share of structural components with defects (one-third). Only 1 of the 81 stations in Queens was free of defects, although 13 others had most of their components in good repair. In Brooklyn, 28 percent of the stations had at least 90 percent of their components in good repair. In the Bronx, 26 of 70 stations (37 percent) had at least 90 percent of their structural components in good repair. Manhattan had the lowest percentage of components with defects (22 percent), but only 40 of the borough’s 146 stations (27 percent) had at least 90 percent of their components in good repair.

…Platform edges, which are important to rider safety because they close the gap between the platform and the train, had the largest percentage of defects (43 percent) of any structural component. While 33 percent of platform edges showed a moderate level of deterioration, 10 percent exhibited serious defects. One-third of other platform components (such as ceilings, floors and columns) were structurally deficient, while similar components at the mezzanine level (i.e., the area between the platform and the street level) were in better condition.

These gory and concerning details though are almost besides the point, and in that sense, both DiNapoli and I have buried the lede. At one point, DiNapoli notes that the MTA had hoped to renovate all 468 stations by 2022 but will be unable to attain that goal. He also states that nearly 20 percent of all escalators and elevators have outlived their useful lives. In another, DiNapoli notes that while Transit has renovated 241 stations over the last 32 years, “once the work was completed, however, NYCT moved on to the next station for rehabilitation without committing the resources to maintain the renovated stations.” Thus, stations that were renovated have inevitably begun to break down.

What DiNapoli does not cover are the reasons and ways to close this gap. The MTA’s work takes far too long, and the structures aren’t in place to adequately maintain stations after they’ve been renovated. It is a fine mess brought about by a history of disinvestment, politics and operational challenges. There’s no easy fix, but if it seems as though the subway system is crumbling around its users, well, that’s because it is.

Comments (16)

Nearly two years after the storm, it’s easy to consign the floodwaters that consumed New York’s underground infrastructure as Sandy rolled in to memory. Thanks to the perfect storm and tidal conditions, nearly every tunnel into and out of Manhattan suffered from saltwater flooding, and as we’ve seen with the MTA, work to repair the damage has been time-consuming and costly. Even as the G and R train tunnels have reopened, eight other subway tunnels will require some degree or remediation and repair work.

We’ve heard over the years that Amtrak’s tunnels suffered similar fates. Already nearing the end of their useful lives, the saltwater corrosion has sped up the process, and now the rail provider is warning that very disruptive repairs are required to maintain and rebuild the tunnels. In a PDF statement, Amtrak announced that a new engineering report has recommended a phased approach to rebuilding the tunnels that involve taking individual tubes “out of service for extended periods.” The agency had more to say:

Superstorm Sandy created a storm surge that resulted in sea water inundating both tubes of the Hudson River tunnel and two of the four tubes of the East River tunnel. The report found no evidence that the tunnel linings themselves are unsound, but it did find that chlorides and sulfates caused, and are continuing to cause, significant damage to key tunnel components such as the bench walls and track systems as well as the signal, electrical and mechanical systems.

The tunnels are safe for passenger train operations. Amtrak has a robust tunnel inspection program, conducts regular maintenance work and will be performing interim work as needed. However, a permanent fix is required soon so that the tunnels remain available for long- term use by the traveling public. Amtrak engineers are working with expert consultants on designs to rehabilitate the two damaged tubes of the East River tunnel and will coordinate with other agencies to minimize impacts to train service and other projects.

Now, the coverage of this announcement has been rightly dire. The Times, The Journal and Capital New York all ran stories about how problematic service could become. To perform even basic remediation work, which could begin in late 2015, Amtrak needs to close one of the East River Tubes, which could cause a reduction in Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit service by around 25 percent. If and when Amtrak has to close one of the Hudson River Tubes, service could fall by as much as 75 percent.

The real problem is that the work that must go on — full saltwater remediation — can’t and won’t happen, Amtrak says, until another Hudson River crossing is built. In a way, this engineering report gives Amtrak another platform upon which to base their argument for the Gateway Tunnel, but as Amtrak officials have noted, it’s likely to be another decade before Gateway is open. That timeline is of course contingent upon funding, and right now, the money isn’t there. One way or another, Amtrak anticipates only approximately 20 years of life left in their Hudson River tunnels.

This news has raised the spectre of the ARC Tunnel, and in a twist of the knife, to The Journal, a spokesman for Chris Christie stated that the New Jersey Governor “has always recognized the need for additional trans-Hudson transit capacity.” For now, Amtrak is moving forward on design and planning while awaiting the money. “Amtrak,” the agency promised, “will ensure the safety of all passengers and balance efforts to minimize service impacts while also advancing as soon as possible the permanent fix needed for the long-term reliability of the tunnels for train service to Penn Station, New York.”

Categories : Gateway Tunnel
Comments (115)