There’s a whole slate of weekend work ahead of us, but before we delve in, let’s take a second to discuss MetroCard Vending Machines. From 1 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. at the latest, MetroCard Vending Machines will not take credit or debit cards. The MTA is performing routine maintenance, and any fare transactions will be cash only. This should be great fun for those drunk riders trying to get home without a valid MetroCard. By Saturday morning, the system will be up and running, and Mayor de Blasio can continue to not pay his fares.
On to the next…
From 11:30 p.m. Friday, August 15 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, 1 trains are suspended between 96 St and Van Cortlandt Park-242 St due to CPM Brick Arch Repair at 168 St and 181 St, and repair work in the area of 125 St. AC trains, M3 and free shuttle buses provide alternate service.
From 11:00 p.m. Saturday, August 16 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, August 17, and from 11:00 p.m. Sunday, August 17 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, New Lots Av-bound 4 trains run local from 125 St to Grand Cantral-42 St due to CPM cable work south of 125 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 15 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, 5 trains are suspended between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E180 St due to CPM Signal Modernization on the Dyre Ave Line. Free shuttle buses operate between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E180 St all weekend.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 15 to 4:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, Brooklyn Bridge-bound 6 trains run express from Pelham Bay Park to Parkchester due to station rehabilitation work at Buhre Av and Zerega Av, and platform edge and canopy work at Pelham Bay Park.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 15 to 4:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, Pelham Bay Park-bound 6 trains run express from Hunts Point Av to Parkchester due to MOW track tie block renewal south of Whitlock Av and track panel installation north of Elder Av.
From 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, August 16 and from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, August 17, 6 trains run every 16 minutes between 3 Av-138 St and Pelham Bay Park due to MOW track tie block renewal south of Whitlock Av and track panel installation north of Elder Av. The last stop for some 6 trains headed toward Pelham Bay Park is 3 Av-138 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 15, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, A trains are suspended between Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd and Rockaway Blvd due to CPM 88 St station rehabilitation. Far Rockaway-Mott Av-bound A trains skip 88 St and Rockaway Blvd. Free shuttle buses operate between 80 St and Lefferts Blvd, stopping at 88 St, Rockaway Blvd, 104 St, and 111 St.
From 11:45 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Friday, August 15 to Sunday, August 17, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, August 17 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, Inwood-207 St-bound A trains run express from Canal St to 59 St-Columbus Circle to due to CPM preparation for Hurricane Sandy Work.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 15, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 4, A trains are suspended in both directions between 168 St and Inwood-207 St due to MOW track tie renewal near 181 St. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, August 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, Queens-bound A trains run local from 168 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle due to MOW track maintenance and rail work north of 59 St-Columbus Circle.
From 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, August 16, and Sunday, August 17, 168 St-bound C trains run express from Canal St to 59 St-Columbus Circle to due to CPM preparation for Hurricane Sandy Work.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, August 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, Coney Island- Stillwell Av-bound D trains run local from 145 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle due to MOW track maintenance and rail work north of 59 St-Columbus Circle.
12:30 a.m. Saturday, August 16, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, E trains run local in Queens due to CPM signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Av and Kew Gardens-Union Tpke, and MOW track tie renewal at 65 St.
From 11:15 p.m. Friday, August 15, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the M line from Jackson Hts-Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts Rock Ctr due to Second Avenue Subway construction work.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 15 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, Jamaica 179 St-bound F trains are rerouted via the A line from Jay St-MetroTech to W 4 St-Wash Sq due to CPM preparation for Hurricane Sandy work.
From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, August 15, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 18, F trains run local in Queens due to CPM signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Av and Kew Gardens-Union Tpke and MOW track tie renewal at 65 St.
From 6:30 a.m. to 12 midnight Saturday, August 16, and Sunday, August 17, R service is extended to Jamaica-179 St due to MOW Jamaica Yard lead switch reconstruction.
As a general disclaimer, I’m on the board of the Riders Alliance. I don’t allow that position to cloud my views and judgment. Make of it what you will.
Over the past few years, since John Raskin’s Riders Alliance entered the scene, the grassroots organizing advocacy group has gotten the attention of the MTA in some unique ways. Along with strong support from Daniel Squadron, the Alliance has convinced the MTA to conduct targeted line reviews for individual subway routes, and so far, the F, G and L have all seen concrete analyses and improvements as a direct result.
A few months back, during his MTA confirmation hearing, Tom Prendergast let slip that he would consider full line reviews for the entire system. In a sense, this was a surprising thing to say off the cuff because Prendergast was essentially committing significant MTA resources to around 20 individual line reviews. In another sense, it seemed shocking that regular internal studies of subway lines wasn’t already a part of the MTA’s operational handbook. Nothing really came of it, and a few months ago, Squadron sent a letter asking for an update.
Quietly, the MTA has tried to distance itself from the full line review, and in a larger Gotham Gazette piece about the Riders Alliance, the MTA went on the record in downplaying Prendergast’s comments. Read the entire piece for a deep dive into current advocacy efforts, and I’ll excerpt the key parts on the line reviews.
Chairman of the MTA Thomas Prendergast has said in the past that he supports an eventual full-line review of every line in the system and many activists have encouraged the chairman to make that happen. However, MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz told Gotham Gazette that each full-line review is a massive long-term undertaking. Ortiz said the reviews require a significant number of staff and good deal of money. Those staff come from both the MTA’s planning and operating units, financing is always a major challenge, and the reviews can not be performed quickly. “The A and C line review is something that will take some time. We can’t start that right away, so it will probably get completed at some point in 2015,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz added that the cost alone would prevent any comprehensive review of all subway lines in the immediate future. “That’s just not going to happen,” he said. Explaining that a full-line review requires the MTA to examine every aspect related to a line’s operation, Ortiz detailed that this includes ridership, infrastructure, scheduling, and service design down to the efficiency of shared trackage with another line…
MTA’s Ortiz notes, too, that despite the exhilaration activists and politicians may feel over improvements brought by full-line reviews, some of the more lasting improvements, such as the dramatic uptick in train frequency along full-line review veteran, the L line, were in fact due to multi-million-dollar investments in new infrastructure.
As Cody Lyon details, that multi-million-dollar investment concerns communications-based train control which allows the MTA to significantly ramp up capacity along individual subway lines. It is, in fact, the key driver behind capacity increases along the L line, but it’s a significantly large investment with no clear future throughout the city or funding sources.
To me, though, this shouldn’t be an either/or proposition. Out of the line reviews came common sense upgrades that improved train service and customer-facing relations. The MTA should figure out a way to assess its system every few years without the urgings from politicians. If that’s no way to make that a part of a $13 billion operating budget, I worry for the future of rationalized and convenient transit designed to meet demand.
Furthermore, the big-ticket items need funding and support as well. The line review can only go so far before the need to spend millions or billions on signal and communications upgrades kick in. As stewards of the subway, though, it’s up to the MTA to do both, and right now, they seem to be struggling with this mandate.
Massimo Vignelli’s original vision for subway wayfinding involved three pieces — a schematic map, a guide to subway service and a geographically accurate neighborhood map for immediate navigation aboveground. At various points in time, these elements all caught on but not at once when the late designer introduced the concept in the early 1970s. Today, in my opinion, the MTA’s neighborhood maps, complete with nearby landmarks and subway staircase location, are the most useful of the various guides and maps the agency offers, and this week, Transit formally announced a redesign in conjunction with NYC DOT’s WalkNYC wayfinding initiative.
“This partnership with the MTA allows for consistent maps above and below ground, making it easier for users to reach their destinations,” NYC DOT Commissioner and MTA Board Member Polly Trottenberg said. “We’re excited to provide this resource to New Yorkers and tourists to find their way in the city.”
For over two decades, the MTA has maintained neighborhood maps through shifting subway service patterns and changes above ground. Currently, the agency has 68 maps in all 468 subway stations, each with a radius of around 15-30 blocks. The current iteration is imprecise as the same map you’ll see in, say, Union St. is the same as the one hanging at Grand Army Plaza or 15th Street-Prospect Park stations. The new Pentagram-designed maps will instead be centered around the station in which they hang and incorporate the design of the WalkNYC wayfinding maps but with more information relating to other transit options included local, express and SBS lines. The new maps will focus on around only 12 blocks instead.
“Though we’ve kept the MTA’s neighborhood maps up-to-date, this is the first redesign since the original set created more than 20 years ago and will be extremely helpful to subway customers as they leave the system and look for neighborhood points of interest,” Paul Fleuranges, the MTA’s Senior Director of Corporate and Internal Communications, said. “With this new map, everyone will rely on one way-finding system, both above and below ground.”
To me, as I noted, the best part of the current maps are the station footprints. These maps are generally displayed in the fare control areas with diagrams showing exactly where, aboveground, staircases lead. It’s convenient for exiting and even more so for entering at unfamiliar stations. When I first saw the new maps, I thought this vital cog had been removed, but upon closer examination, and with a confirmation from the MTA, I learned this was not only not the case but a real reason why the maps will be slowly rolled out throughout the city. “Of course the new neighborhood maps contain subway stairway info,” an MTA spokesman said to me. “That was actually one of the time consuming things as station shapes and entrances are not in the DOT’s database of information.”
The new signs are currently in five stations that all intersect the SBS B44′s route. The list includes Bedford-Nostrand on the G, the Nostrand Ave. stations along the 3 and A/C, and the 2 and 5 trains’ President and Sterling St. stations. It’s a subtle, but positive, improvement for the benefit of customers.
Tomorrow I should have something more on the new neighborhood maps the MTA is slowly unveiling throughout the city as part of NYC DOT’s WalkNYC, but for now, you’ll have to wait. I have an inquiry in concerning a certain feature that likely is still in place in a diminished form, and I’d like to get out to Crown Heights to snap some photos. Sit tight. Tonight, instead, I have a news round-up.
Bed bugs found on — and now gone from — the N train
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good old fashioned bed bug scare in the subway. The last one, in fact, dates from the height of the bed bug infestation in 2008 when wooden subway benches seemed to provide a safe haven for the cimicid insects. The problem came roaring back into the headlines last week when a few N trains were taken out of service due to reports of insect sightings. The infested cars — and the rest of their trains — were fumigated, and the R160s were placed back in service. While the Daily News reported of a bed bug sighting on the 5 over the weekend, the MTA has said that its trains, as far as agency personnel know, are now free from these bugs. I wouldn’t have had much of an occasion to ride the N train since the infestation first hit the news. Have you?
Transit testing track detection system at
Rector St. unidentified station
As the MTA responds to last year’s brouhaha over subway/passenger collision deaths, the agency has moved forward with plans to test a track intrusion detection system. Pete Donohue had the opportunity to tour the setup at the unidentified station as part of a Daily News exclusive, but as the MTA allowed photos, it soon because obvious which station is hosting this pilot. As a few astute Subchatters posited, it appears as though Rector St. — which these days sees limited service due to the Sandy-related R train closure — is playing host to the system. Without 24/7 R service, the MTA can test the system without interrupting live train service. Donohue had more details:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been testing several “track intrusion” detection systems at a secret location — featuring thermal imaging cameras, laser-beam transmitters and other high-tech tools intended to alert the motorman if someone falls on the tracks. The tests have gone so well, transit executives now expect to begin installing one or more of the systems in subway stations during the 2015-2019 capital program, officials told the Daily News. “It’s not going to happen at 468 stations overnight, but once we determine the best technology, and identify funding sources, we can go out and start deployment,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said…
Konal Kumar, an associate project manager, lowered a large inflated rubber ball, wrapped with thin cable, from the platform. The breach was detected by laser beams scanning the platform edge. Automatically, diamond-shaped signals, which instruct motormen to slow down, began flashing along 300 feet of track that leads into the station. Closed-circuit television cameras, meanwhile, transmitted live video feeds to a monitor set up in the station for the demonstration. When fully implemented, video will be displayed on dispatchers’ screens in the Rail Control Center in Midtown, along with schematics showing exactly where along the platform the track intrusion occurred, a detail that will help first responders.
Train operators won’t immediately slam the brakes. They will slow down but only halt if they see someone on the tracks, or are directed to stop completely by a dispatcher, Bienstock said.
According to Donohue, the system could cost between $50,000 and $500,000 per station — a huge range that could lead to massive costs for the MTA. Would platform edge doors, similar to those found in Tokyo, be a more affordable solution? MTA estimates say no, but either way, a systemwide solution will be costly and ultimately imperfect. The lives saved over the course of the system’s useful life will though likely be worth it.
It’s been nearly eight years since I started this site, and in that time, the MTA has repeatedly struggled with communicating its service diversions to the public in a way that’s clear, concise and easy to comprehend. In late 2006 when I launched Second Ave. Sagas, the signs looked like this; in 2007, the MTA rolled out redesigns; and inspired by London, in 2010, Jay Walder introduced our current set of signage. Despite these advances, a recent report levied a new round of criticism toward New York City Transit and the way the agency communicates an ever-increasingly complex set of service diversions to its growing off-peak and weekend ridership.
The latest report comes to us from the New York City Transit Riders Council and is available online as a PDF. In a series of surveys conducted over a span of three months in early 2014, NYCTRC surveyors canvassed the subway system for signage, explanations and generally adequate information for riders both in the system and out. As expected, certain findings were adequate and others less so. Ultimately, the MTA has to communicate information to millions of riders who often aren’t willing to digest it in an easy-to-understand why, and although the agency has taken steps to improve messaging, it still isn’t perfect.
The report itself is worth the read because the NYCTRC offers a summary of why the MTA needs to perform so much work. Essentially, after years of maintaining track mileage, upgrading rolling stock and keeping stations in some state of repair, the infrastructure demands became so overwhelming that the MTA is going to spend a significant portion of its next few capital plans on repairing and modernizing antiquated signal systems. These repairs necessarily demand inconvenient service changes. But there are of course mitigating factors, including winter storms, that lead Transit to cancel these General Orders, or GOs, before they begin but after they’re announced.
It’s here — providing information on the go and also on the fly — where the MTA ostensibly suffers. According to the survey, some stations didn’t have signs posted before fare control while none of the trains surveyed had signs posted about service diversions. Yet, when diversions had been canceled, automated announcements still contained information about service patterns during the diversion. In other words, a train saying it was running express as part of a (canceled GO) would actually run local, thus confusing passengers trying to get anywhere. Here’s the report’s summary:
When station signage was not posted at all key points with stations, finding service diversion information was a challenge. Key points within stations include station entranc- es, on walls and columns approaching turnstiles, near turnstiles, and on station platform walls and columns. If signage is not posted consistently at all key points, information can be missed by passengers, leading to confusion and preventing passengers from making informed decisions.
The continued placement of weekday and weekend directories before passengers swipe their MetroCards is vital. The directories, in addition to station-specific signage helps to in- form passengers of system-wide service diversions. Also, if service diversion signage is not posted adequately in train cars, a passenger’s ability to replan their route when they learn of a change is limited.
To improve communications, the Riders Council offered up nine suggestions. They ranged from the basic and common sense — a better training program concerning GOs for customer-facing employees and better internal communication alerting station agents of cancellations to diversions — to the obvious — better signage in along the path of entry and a timely removal of signs once GOs are over. Interestingly, the Riders Council also recommend a more visual approach to signs announcing diversions. They urged the MTA to include clear diagrams concerning alternate routing and add information on parallel subway and bus lines. Such an approach would include expanding the Weekender to weekdays — something the MTA has already done.
For many travel is inherently visual. We use maps rather than descriptions to get around, and that’s especially true of transit systems and their service diagrams. The MTA has used maps to positive results in displaying diversions related to FASTRACK and such an addition to the weekend guides and signs would assist people in interpreting wordy and confusing signs.
Ultimately, it’s a tough give-and-take between presenting information that people will read and presenting information that they’ll absorb. The MTA can’t force its customers to read signs they’ll inclined to ignore but a map at least makes it easier to see. As weekend and off-peak ridership continues to grow but the demands of a signal system overhaul remain, communicating alternate routes, GOs and other changes to service changes will become more important, and Transit would be wise to heed the advice of its Riders Council.
How’s this for an added twist on your typical “Showtime!” routine? A group of Broadway actors subtly boarded an A train recently and broke into song. It wasn’t just any song; it was “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King, perhaps one of the most recognizable songs in the Disney oeuvre. At first, the A train riders are as nonplussed as any jaded New Yorker and some even seem — probably rightly so — annoyed by the interruption. But eventually, they give the cast of the show a rousing ovation. Now if only the cast of Cabaret would reenact “Willkommen” on a Q train.
Now on to the weekend changes.
From 3:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 9, due to track panel installation near Jackson Av and Prospect Av 2 trains will run in two sections:
- Between 241 St and 149 St-Grand Concourse, with southbound 2 trains running express from E180 St to 3 Av-149 St.
- Between 149 St-Grand Concourse and Flatbush Av.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 8, to 6:30 a.m. Saturday, August 9, and from 11:45 p.m. Saturday, August 9, to 5 a.m. Sunday, August 10, Bronx-bound 4 trains run express from 14 St-Union Sq to Grand Central-42 St due to CPM cable work south of 125 St.
From 11 p.m. Saturday, August 9, to 6 a.m., Sunday, August 10, and from 11 p.m. Sunday, August 10, to 5 a.m. Monday, August 11, New Lots Av-bound trains run local from 125 St to Grand Central-42 St.
From 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, August 9, 5 trains are suspended between E180 St and Bowling Green due to track panel installation near Jackson Av and Prospect Av. 4 trains make all 5 station stops between 149 St-Grand Concourse and Bowling Green. 5 shuttle service operates between Dyre Av and E180 St all weekend.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 8, to 5:00 a.m. Sunday, August 10, Bronx-bound 6 trains run express from 14 St-Union Sq to Grand Central-42 St due to station rehabilitation work at 23 St.
From 12:45 a.m. Saturday, August 9, to 5:00 a.m. Sunday, August 10, Manhattan-bound 6 trains run express from Pelham Bay Park to Parkchester due to station rehabilitation work at Buhre Av and Zerega Av.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 8, to 5 a.m. Monday, August 11, Manhattan-bound 7 trains run express from Willets Point to 74 St-Broadway for signal tests and panel installation north of Willets Point.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 8, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, August 11, Queens-bound A trains run local between 168 St and W4 St, and are then rerouted via the F from W4 St to Jay St-MetroTech due to rail installation north of 59 St and electrical installation at Fulton St.
From 6:30 a.m. to 12 midnight, Saturday, August 9, and Sunday, August 10, Brooklyn-bound C trains are rerouted via the F from W4 St to Jay St-MetroTech due to electrical installation at Fulton St.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, August 9, to 5 a.m. Sunday, August 11, Brooklyn-bound D trains run local from 145 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle due to rail installation north of 59 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, August 8, to 5 a.m. Monday, August 11, World Trade Center-bound E trains run express from 34 St-Penn Station to Canal St due to electrical installation at Fulton St.
From 11:15 p.m. Friday, August 8, to 5 a.m. Monday, August 11, Brooklyn-bound F trains are rerouted via the M from 47-50 Sts Rockefeller Ctr to Jackson Hts-Roosevelt Av due to Second Avenue Subway construction work.
From 6:30 a.m. to 12 midnight Saturday, August 9, and Sunday, August 10, R service is extended to the Jamaica-179 St F station due to MOW Jamaica Yard lead switch reconstruction.
As the MTA gears up to release its proposal for its next five-year capital plan within the next few weeks, agency CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast went to Albany to preview the package. We learned that funding for Phase 2 of the Second Ave. Subway will be included in the request, and a variety of other plans that I’ve discussed over the eight years of this site’s life will slowly come to fruition. Still, funding questions remain, and Prendergast challenged Albany to do something about it.
Earlier on Thursday, I noted that Prendergast had requested $1.5 billion for Phase 2 of the Second Ave. Subway. Phase 2 includes stations at 106th and 116th and Second Ave. and one at 125th St. and Lexington. The subway will use a mix of preexisting and new-build tunnels. As far as the money goes, the MTA’s plan for the next few years involves wrapping up Phase 1, refreshing the environmental impact study and working out designs for Phase 2, and beginning construction toward the end of the five-year period. I assume then that additional funding will come from the feds and from the next five-year plan that covers the years 2020-2024.
Even with a slower timeline — the full four-phase SAS was originally to be finished by 2020 — Phase 2 is the key to this project’s future. It connects with the Lexington Ave. line and Metro-North at 125th St. and provides the option for westward extensions to Manhattanville and northward to the Bronx. It provides the entire East Side will easier service to Times Square and Herald Square and will relieve crowding on the 4, 5 and 6. It can’t come soon enough.
But what else awaits? Pete Donohue provides the details. In addition to much-discussed safety enhancements for the MTA’s commuter rails, Donohue noted the following:
Prendergast said the plan, which isn’t finalized, would likely include approximately $20 billion for so-called “state of good repair” maintenance projects, like replacing tracks, signals and older subway trains. It is also projected to feature $5 billion for expansion projects, like the Second Ave. subway and the Long Island Rail Road link to Grand Central Terminal that is now being built. Further, Prendergast anticipated the plan would provide anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion for rider enhancements, including countdown clocks on lettered subway lines and a swipe-less replacement of the MetroCard fare-payment system.
But what of the money? Prendergast and other MTA officials discussed this funding gap as well. The agency wants at least $27 billion, and although Albany could permit the MTA to issue more debt, sending the agency further into the red won’t help improve operations or financial security. “We can’t keep adding to our debt load. [It is] a formula for failure,” Prendergast noted. “The bottom line is, the capital program needs an infusion of new, sustainable funding, and we need your support in that regard.”
How that support manifests itself is up for debate. I’ve been expecting a tolling/congestion pricing plan to make a comeback simply because the state has few other avenues for revenue that could be directly tied into transit improvements while improving traffic flow throughout heavily congested areas of the city. MTA officials have also discussed contributions from the real estate interests that have piled up dollars throughout the city, and the MTA Reinvention Commission is, hopefully, looking at the issue as well.
The funding will remain a concern throughout the next few months, but I’m relieved to see the MTA focusing on moving the ball forward. They have momentum as new projects come online over the next few months and years and should maintain and build on that expertise. SAS Phase 2 is a must-have, and the sooner it starts the better. How we opt to pay for it will be very telling indeed.
For the last few years, there’s been an ongoing “will they or won’t they” watch concerning future phases of the Second Ave. Subway. With Phase 1 funded and set to open at the end of 2016, the MTA could have been preparing to get started on Phase 2 — the northern extension to 125th St. — but with finances shaky and labor contracts outstanding, the agency had kept its plans close to the vest. Well, the future for the Second Ave. Subway is no longer a secret as MTA CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast stated today that substantial funding for Phase 2 will be included in the 2015-2019 five-year capital plan.
While fielding questions during an Assembly hearing, Prendergast announced that the MTA will ask for $1.5 billion for Phase 2 construction. This total is approximately one-third the estimated cost, and the expectation is that the feds will kick in additional money with the rest to be determined. Phase 2 is a key part of this project as it connects the northern extension of the Q train to the Lexington Ave. line and Metro-North station at 125th St. and can help alleviate a lot of the pressure on the 4, 5 and 6 trains. I’ll have more on this later, but this is a welcome development and very, very good news.
Let’s talk about the old City Hall loop station long out of service. Sitting under City Hall Park and, well, City Hall, it’s a Guastavino beauty that served as the launching point for the crazy, cacophonous subway system we have come to know and, at various times and various moods, love or hate. It closed to passenger service in 1945, a victim of a poorly designed platform and declining ridership. It’s open now for tours, and passengers are permitted to ride 6 trains through the loop from the southbound Brooklyn Bridge platform to the north side. Take that ride during the day if you never have. It’s the closest thing you can find to hopping into a time machine.
Let’s also talk about the Transit Adjudication Bureau. The TAB is a quasi-judicial body set up to adjudicate summons issued in the subways and buses by NYPD cops. Since the hearings concern infractions and summons that don’t rise to the level of criminal charges, civil rights advocates, while wary of the TAB, have not gone to the mats over due process concerns. The TAB need not have due process protections required of criminal courts, but so long as some process is followed, it works. When that process breaks down, though, it’s concerning.
A few weeks, Joshua Patchus wanted to catch that City Hall stop, and so he and a friend rode the 6 through the loop. His subsequent blog post gives away the ending: He got a summons and decided to fight it. He lost in front of the Transit Adjudication Bureau. He broke no rules and no laws, and he shouldn’t have received a summons. Then the TAB failed. To me, that’s concerning.
Josh and I exchanged emails this week concerning his plight, and his story is a by-the-books example of transit justice gone wrong. The 6 train Patchus boarded announced “This is the last downtown stop on this train, the Next stop on this train is the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall on the uptown platform.” That’s a clear sign that it’s safe to stay on. The train left Brooklyn Bridge and proceeded through the City Hall Loop without stopping. As Josh explained to me, it took about as long to go from the downtown platform to the uptown platform as it did for the train to go from Canal St. to Brooklyn Bridge.
When the train arrived on the uptown platform, two police officers asked Patchus and his friend to exit the train. The cops then handed out summonses alleging a violation of Rule of Conduct 1050(6)(2d) — which is a posted sign or announcement. Patchus decided to fight and had as evidence the 6 train recording and an affirmative from the conductor allowing him to stay onboard. Still, it wasn’t enough to convince the TAB judge who claimed that the summons was “legally sufficient to establish a prima facie case.” The TAB decision stated as well that the “Respondent did disregard the overhead announcement.”
Now, clearly, the TAB was wrong. There was no overhead announcement because it wasn’t a violation of any rule to ride through the City Hall Loop. The summons is more defensible because these things happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe the cops were new to the beat; maybe they weren’t trained. The MTA has since assured me that the agency will work closely with the precincts to ensure riders are not ticketed for riding through the Loop.
What happened with the TAB raises serious concerns though. The TAB’s own procedures require the ticketing officer to prove that the respondent — in this case Patchus — has violated a rule, and the person receiving the summons can then dispute this claim. It’s the bedrock American principle of innocent until proven guilty. It doesn’t seem as though the TAB adjudicator cared much for this procedure or for the rules, and a ticket for something that isn’t a ticketable offense was upheld.
Now, for Patchus, all’s well that ends well as the MTA plans to get his case dismissed, but that happened only after reporters started sniffing around the story. Patchus had in fact planned to appeal, a move that would have cost him more time. The MTA couldn’t provide much information on how TAB got this wrong, but I wouldn’t be too thrilled to have to fight an improperly issued ticket only to see it upheld. The system seems broken, and outside of concerns over the constitutionality of TAB proceedings, the consequences have real costs for subway riders.
My apologies for the silence over the last few days. I’ve been swamped with a combination of baseball games, wedding planning and work, and I haven’t had time to move through the posts I have in the queue. You’ll unfortunately have to wait a little longer, but here’s a treat for you this Wednesday. I’ve always had a huge soft spot for this 1970s-era song from Sesame Street. Dig the Vignelli map cameo too.