Earlier on Friday, with a potential LIRR strike less than ten days away, the MTA unveiled its contingency planning. As you might expect, it relies, in part, on a wing and a prayer. The LIRR has approached numerous companies to ask that they allow employees to telecommute, but for many that’s a non-starter. Instead the MTA recommends everything from ferries (hooray) to taking vacation time. It’s not pretty, but there’s plenty of time left for the sides to come to terms prior to the strike.
Meanwhile, New York City denizens have this weekend’s service changes with which to contend. Here you go:
From 3:30 a.m. Saturday, July 12 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday, July 13, 2 trains are suspended between E 180 St and 149 St-Grand Concourse due to track panel installation south of Prospect Av, electrical work near 3Av-149 St, and overcoat painting south of Jackson Av. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service.
From 11:00 p.m. Saturday, July 12 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, July 13, and from 11:00 p.m. Sunday, July 13 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Crown Hts-Utica Av-bound 4 trains run local from 125 St to Grand Cantral-42 St due to CPM cable work south of 125 St.
From 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, July 12, and from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday, July 13, 5 trains are suspended between E 180 St and Bowling Green due to track panel installation south of Prospect Av, electrical work near 3Av-149 St, and overcoat painting south of Jackson Av. 4 trains make all 5 station stops between 149 St-Grand Concourse and Bowling Green. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 4:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Brooklyn Bridge-bound 6 trains run express from Pelham Bay Park to Parkchester due to CPM station rehabilitation work at Zerega Av and Buhre Av.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Times Sq-42 St bound 7 trains run express from Mets-Willets Point to 74 St-Broadway due to CBTC related work near Mets-Willets Point.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, 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 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, 168 St-bound A trains are rerouted via the F from Jay St-MetroTech to W 4 St-Wash Sq, then run local to 59 St-Columbus Circle due to CPM electrical work north of Jay St-MetroTech.
From 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, C trains are suspended in both directions between 145 St and 168 St due to MOW track tie renewal near 181 St. Take the A train as a travel alternative. A trains run local between 145 St and 168 St.
From 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, 145 St-bound C trains are rerouted via the F line from Jay St-MetroTech to W 4 St-Wash Sq due to CPM electrical work north of Jay St-MetroTech.
From 6:45 a.m. Saturday, July 12 to 8:00 p.m. Sunday, July 13, Norwood- 205 St-bound D trains run express from Bay Pkwy to 9 Av due to CPM prep work for circuit breaker house north of 62 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Coney Island-bound D trains skip 182-183 Sts due to MOW track tie renewal south of Bedford Pk Blvd.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Jamaica Center-bound E trains run express from Canal St to 34 St-Penn Station due to CPM electrical work north of Jay St-MetroTech.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 12, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, 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 9:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Jamaica-bound F trains are rerouted via the E line after 47-50 Streets to Jackson Hts-Roosevelt Av due to Second Avenue Subway construction work.
From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, July 12, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, 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 5:00 a.m. to 12 midnight, Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, G trains run every 20 minutes between Long Island City-Court Sq and Bedford-Nostrand Avs due to Hurricane Sandy recovery work in the Greenpoint Tube. The last stop for some G trains headed toward Long Island City-Court Sq is Bedford-Nostrand Avs.
From 6:30 a.m. to 12 midnight Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, R service is extended to Jamaica-179 St due to MOW Jamaica Yard lead switch reconstruction.
Whenever I hear about another task force or panel or committee charged with some grand objective, I raise a skeptical eyebrow or two in its direction and hope for the best. Over the years, we’ve seen All Star panels come and go in a variety of capacities, and although some lead to change, improvements are incremental, not revolutionary. The MTA has received its fair share of recommendations — often at the urging of Richard Ravitch – and New York State and its leaders have hesitantly embraced measures designed to improve the agency’s operations and its financial security. Still, a panel is a panel is a panel.
A few weeks ago, right before I left for vacation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA announced the MTA Reinvention Commission. This thing clearly has lofty goals. Reinventing the MTA is a monstrous task that would do wonders for the future of New York City but involves a fair of amount of Robert Moses-esque consolidation of power that no one seems willing to take on. It would require challenging, instead of caving, to antiquated and entrenched labor, construction and general operations malaise. It would be hard.
So who’s up for the challenge? The Reinvention Commission has a high-falutin’ title and some bold-faced names attached to it, but when you start to peak under the hood, it may just be an attempt to thoughtfully plan out $30 billion in capital expenditures. That’s not a bad goal, per se, but it’s not going to reinvent much of anything. Ultimately, per Gov. Cuomo and the MTA, the group will “consider changes in customer expectations, commuting trends and extreme weather patterns as it develops future Capital Plans, the multibillion-dollar five-year programs of MTA investments to renew, improve and expand the transportation network.” Reports and recommendations will follow public meetings, and the spectacle will seem very, very familiar.
“The MTA has made incredible strides in rebuilding the network that makes New York grow and thrive, but we can never be satisfied with what we have done so far,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said in announcing the commission. “As we prepare the next Capital Plan to guide investment for the next five years, as well as future five year plans, we want experts, stakeholders and customers to offer their thoughts on how to make those investments work for decades to come.”
As far as personnel, Ray LaHood and Jane Garvey are co-chairing this behemoth, and it reads as an international and local who’s who. Academics from New York and officials from Toronto and London will chime in; Enrique Peñalosa will join Denise Richardson and Gene Russianoff. Kathryn Wylde and Robert Yaro will sit at the table as well, and only Richard Ravitch himself didn’t seem to get an invite.
So as the public meetings begin next week at MTA HQ, we can see what’s in store for the reinvention of the MTA. The first questions seem highly practical to those paying attention, but they’ll generate rote answers from the public at large who can attend meetings that run from 5:30-8 p.m. during the week or 12-1 p.m. on a weekday.
What challenges do you think the MTA needs to focus on as it develops its capital plans over the next century? How will population growth impact service? How can we overcome institutional, inter-governmental and jurisdictional barriers? How does the MTA keep pace with technology? Energy efficiency? Innovation? How can the MTA pay for all of this? And how can the MTA do this all more quickly than it does today?
These are obvious questions with hard answers, and while I’m not one to cheerlead when yet another panel is announced, if these professionals can answer even one of these questions, we may be better off after than we are today. It’s a tall order for an agency tasked with carting 6 million people around the New York City area everyday. How can they do it better? Let me count the ways.
As the dog days of summer descend upon us, the threat of an LIRR strike any time beginning in 11 days looms larger and larger. While the MTA brass and LIRR unions met on Tuesday, the sessions lasted only around four hours, and the MTA is looking not to Albany but to Washington for help.
It’s interesting to see the buck pass from Andrew Cuomo, up for reelection, to Congress, a deeply unpopular, highly partisan federal agency. As the LIRR is overseen by the feds though, Cuomo can punt. Whether voters will recognize this in November will depend upon the outcome. Earlier this week, though, while speaking with reporters, Cuomo, who was willing to take the credit for bridging Transit’s and the TWU’s labor impasse, effectively punted on the LIRR. WNYC offered up this transcript:
“It’s actually Congress that can end a strike and impose a settlement one way or the other,” Cuomo said on Monday. “So right now it seems that Congress is pivotal to what happens here, and from what I read in the newspapers it’s going to depend on what Congress intends to do and what they say they’re going to do. Congress can order them to go back, Congress can order a settlement, Congress can order mediation, Congress can order arbitration, Congress can do almost whatever they want, because they are in control of the resolution of the strike.
“The possibility of a strike causes so much anxiety I don’t even like to think about it. There is no good alternative to the LIRR on Long Island. The commute would be horrendous, however we do it. And they talk about contingency plans — we’ll have buses, we’ll have carpools — and you can do all of the above; it is still a miserable situation. So I have said to both parties: I truly hope it doesn’t get to that point. If it does get to that point, I hope Congress acts immediately to resolve it, and resolves it in a prudent way. But that they resolve it.”
Small comfort to the people of Long Island, but MTA CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast, clearly at the behest of his boss in Albany, has asked Congress to assist. He’s traveling to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to discuss the situation with lawmakers and sent a letter ahead of his arrival to Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi asking Congress to do something. He wrote:
I am writing to you to seek clarification on what role Congress intends to play in the event that 5,400 employees of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) walk off the job as early as Sunday, July 20th and paralyze the nation’s largest regional economy. Tomorrow I will be traveling to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress on the MTA’s position and request a clear answer on whether the United States Congress is prepared to take action if LIRR’s unions decide to stage a strike.
Over the past several months the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has made a number of attempts to settle a labor dispute with unions representing LIRR’s employees. As Chairman of the MTA, I strongly believe that a resolution can be reached in a fiscally responsible manner; unfortunately, the union’s leadership has taken the position that the MTA must meet its demands or it will strike, a threat they feel comfortable making because they assume Congress will stop their strike after a few days.
As you may know, the MTA’s negotiations with the LIRR’s unions are governed by the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA), which gives commuter railroad employees the right to strike, which is a right that no other public employee in the State of New York has. Once LIRR employees walk off the job, absent a settlement, it will require an act of Congress to bring these employees back to work. The MTA will continue to push for a resolution that does not overly burden our passengers; however, we believe that the union’s leadership has made a tactical decision that Congress will intervene on their behalf in the event of a strike. As a result, the union’s leadership has been unwilling to work constructively with the MTA to come to an agreement.
Prendergast has presented Congress with three options — prevent a strike, allow a strike and require settlement sometime later, or allow a strike and take no action — and wants to know which one will be the likely outcome. It’s a move designed to put pressure on Washington and gain clarity into a situation that will likely not be resolved without outside influence.
It’s hard to read the tea leaves right now, but Congress doesn’t do much passing of resolutions these days. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a strike, and to that end, it’s not clear how the region will be affected. It won’t be pretty, and one way or another we’ll find out soon enough how this story ends.
Did’ja miss me? Sorry for the prolonged silence. I’ve been out of town for the past 10 days, visiting 12 breweries, kicking back for a bit and, well, getting engaged. It’s been a busy and exciting week and a half.
While I’ve been wrapped up in other things, since it’s summer, the transit news tends to slow down a bit. We know the Fulton St. Transit Center isn’t opening for a few more weeks, but what else have we missed? I’ll run down the big stories below and follow up as appropriate.
Help Point Starts to Spread
You may have noticed over the past few weeks that Help Point intercoms have started to appear in a variety of stations throughout the city. This is part of the MTA’s effort to expand security underground. The intercoms are now up on new platforms and stations across the four boroughs. Still, I have to wonder why this is a separate effort from the Transit Wireless roll-out. Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to speed up the wireless rollout rather than sink money on an entirely separate alert system?
Meanwhile, the MTA’s overall security efforts, which stemmed from the 2001 terrorist attacks, have been pushed back by a year or two. Eventually, the system will be secure, but it may not come before the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Meanwhile, Bill Bratton wants security cameras in every subway car.
Showtime Crackdown Continues
Speaking of Bratton, the NYPD has begun a crackdown of “Showtime!” dance troupes. As you know, I’m not fan of these subway acrobats. Generally, they’re annoying and pushy with the potential to hurt someone. That said, the NYPD is changing these kids with misdemeanors for their routines, and I am deeply ambivalent about it. I believe in the #WarOnShowtime, but misdemeanor arrests seems excessive. Plus, it’s now generally a worse crime to break down on the Q train than it is to kill someone with a car in New York City. That’s troubling to me.
Bus Countdown Clocks Coming Soon….At A Cost
Last week, a bunch of City Council members — but not all — announced an aggregate expenditure of $2.8 million to install bus countdown clocks at stations in their districts. As you’ll recall, the MTA won’t foot the bill for this technology, and advocates have pressured city pols to use discretionary funds for this purpose. It’s a noble effort, but one that leads, as I see it, to two kinds of people: those without countdown clocks and those with countdown clocks.
Considering how many people have smartphones and access to Bus Time via other cellular technology, Crain’s rightfully questioned the expenditure. To what better uses could we put this money? It’s worth a thought.
Posting has been light lately as I’ve been quite busy at my day job. Plus, I’m on vacation for the next week and likely won’t be near a computer too often. Thanks for still checking in. I’ll try to cover, at various points, the looming LIRR strike, the MTA reinvention commission, plans to develop a food court at Grand Central and the air rights dealings happening above the future Moynihan Station.
For now, make sure you check out the latest episode of “The Next Stop Is…” You can find it here on iTunes or here as an MP3. Eric and I discussed last week’s power outage, the line review for the A/C trains, and the problems the MTA faces in finishing megaprojects.
Finally, this weekend’s service changes:
From 11:00 p.m. Saturday, June 28, to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, June 29, and from 11:00 p.m. Sunday, June 29, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Crown Hts-Utica Av-bound 4 trains run local between 125 St and Grand Cental-42 St due to CPM cable work south of 125 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, 5 trains are suspended in both directions between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E 180 St due to CPM signal modernization on the Dyre Avenue Line. Free shuttle buses operate between Eastchester-Dyre Avenue and E 180 St. Transfer between trains and shuttle buses at East 180 St.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27, to 4:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall-bound 6 trains run express from Pelham Bay Park to Parkchester due to station rehabilitation preparation at Buhre Av and Zerega Av.
From 2:00 a.m. Saturday, June 28, to 4:30 a.m. Sunday, June 29, 7 trains are suspended between Times Square-42 St and Queensboro Plaza in both directions due to CBTC related work and track panel installation south of Queensboro Plaza. EFNQS and free shuttle buses provide alternate service. Q service is extended to Astoria Ditmars Blvd on Saturday, June 28, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Shuttle buses operate between Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av and Queensboro Plaza making station stops at Queensboro Plaza, Queens Plaza, Court Square, Hunters Point Av and Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av.
From 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, June 28, the last stop on some 7 trains headed toward Queensboro Plaza will be 74 St-Broadway due to CBTC related work and track panel installation south of Queensboro Plaza.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd-bound A trains skip 111 St due to station rehabilitation work at 104 St. Use the Q112 bus as a travel alternative.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, 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 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29, C trains are suspended in both directions between 145 St and 168 St due to MOW track tie renewal near 181 St. Take the A train as a travel alternative. A trains run local between 145 St and 168 St.
From 11:15 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Coney Island Stillwell Av-bound F trains are rerouted via the E line from Jackson Hts-Roosevelt Av to 5 Av/53 St due to Second Avenue Subway construction work.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Coney Island Stillwell Av-bound F trains skip Sutphin Blvd, Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd and 75 Av due to rail work south of Parsons Blvd.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, June 29, Manhattan-bound Q trains run express from Kings Hwy to Sheepshead Bay due to station rehabilitation work at Parkside Av, Beverly Rd, and Cortelyou Rd stations.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Coney Island-Stillwell Av-bound Q trains run express from Kings Hwy to Sheepshead Bay, bypassing Avenue U and Neck Rd, due to track panel work at Brighton Beach.
From 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, June 28, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, June 29, Q trains are extended to Astoria Ditmars Blvd due to CBTC related work and track panel installation south of Queensboro Plaza on the 7 line.
(42 St Shuttle)
From 12:01 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29, the 42 St Shuttle operates overnight due to CBTC related work and track panel installation south of Queensboro Plaza on the 7 line.
With three months left in a seven-year project, you’d think that the company — or in this case, agency — managing the project would have a good handle on how much time would be needed for completion. You would think that by announcing very publicly an opening date, the agency would do all it could do to meet that opening date. You would think that yet another delay in a project that was once expected, far too optimistically, to be completed six or seven years ago for 50 percent less than its current budget would be cause for major concern. And perhaps, in some circles it is. But right now, it’s just business as usual.
During its board committee meetings earlier this week, the MTA let slip that the Fulton St. Transit Center will not have its official opening on Thursday as planned in March. Instead, as I speculated last week, the opening will be delayed another 60-90 days. As components to this project open, completion then will come by the end of September.
So what is holding up the project? It couldn’t be that, as with the 7 line, the MTA can’t get a bunch of elevators to work, right? These aren’t even incline elevators; these are your typical up-and-down escalators that are in every tall building and were invented in 1852. Well, lo and behold: If we consult the materials released after Monday’s meetings, one of the outstanding items concerns the elevators. Six elevators have yet to be tested. The MTA also needs to obtain its Code Compliance Certificate and wrap up testing of its fire alarms and communications systems.
In its short assessment of the state of this project, the MTA’s Independent Engineering Consultant doesn’t have much to add on a specific level. The project has simply not met the requirements needed to be permitted to open yet, and it is but one of many outstanding MTA projects facing this issue. As a result, the IEC has urged the MTA to conduct a coordinated review of its megaprojects to “ensure resources can support their current schedules.” Even a cursory review — showing a three-month delay at Fulton St. and at least a year-long delay for the 7 line — cast more than just a shadow of doubt over any other schedules. A review could help shed light on the MTA’s finish line problem.
So we’ll wait for the politicians to slap their backs over a project with a tortured history. It began as an idea with a quick timeline for build out and a $700 million shortly after 9/11, and it has turned into a $1.4 billion transit hub across the street from a $4 billion transit hub at a time when building up would have made more sense fiscally than building a three-story mall. The station is nicer; the ADA compliant elements were badly needed; and transferring throughout Lower Manhattan is easier. Stumbling to the finish though is in line with the rest of this project’s problems. After all, the MTA’s house ads promising the opening of the Dey St. Passageway back in 2012 still hang in subway cars throughout the city.
Later on Monday, the MTA Board’s committee meetings will meet to discuss the various business before the agency, and one of those meetings — for the Capital Program Oversight Committee — will get an update on the 7 line extension. Shockingly, the MTA isn’t quite right to announce a firm opening date for this project, and it may not be ready for passenger service until early 2015. Will we have hoverboards, flying cars and a Cubs World Series win or the one-stop 7 line extension first?
When we last heard of the delay, The Times explored some reasons for the elusive revenue start date, and this month’s Board materials shed further light on the problems. Notably, the project just isn’t finished. It’s now six months beyond when the MTA had planned to wrap the project, and the 34th Street Station is only 95% complete. Now, it’s true that the station can open prior to 100% completion, but the outstanding problems are significant.
Notably, the Finishes and Systems contract is only 89% completed, and this is the last contract required for completion prior to revenue service. This contract includes the elevators and escalators and the communications system — all of which won’t be tested until July — but the tunnel ventilation system hasn’t passed acceptance testing yet. The project had no contingency built in, and it’s starting to show.
According to the MTA materials, while the elevators have earned headlines, the ventilation fans are more problematic. The fans for certain sites failed factory acceptance, and the contractor is performing additional pre-tests to ensure that certain corrective measures work. Tests are supposed to begin again this month, but we won’t know for a few weeks how this part of the project is progressing. Without the fans, the MTA cannot begin servicing this station.
Meanwhile, the escalators and elevators at the 34th St. site remain an open question. Testing will begin again next month, and the contractors have agreed to speed up work on these elements of the project. This sounds well and good, but while the MTA is remaining vague on the completion date, their independent engineering consultants are now predicting revenue service by February 2015, a full 14 months after then-Mayor Bloomberg’s ceremonial ride back in December. The IEC notes that the MTA’s own December 2014 date relies on accelerated contractor schedules that the contractors haven’t been able to meet. Any slippage will push the opening date back further.
As I’ve noted before, these opening dates won’t matter in a few years once people are passing through this station on a regular basis, the 7 line won’t fulfill its potential until the Hudson Yards project is more fully realized. But the IEC also urges the MTA to consider how this failure to meet promised revenue service dates could impact other ongoing projects. For the Second Ave. Subway, the IEC urges the MTA to conduct a coordinated review to ensure resources can meet revenue service projections. It’s not clear if contractors can fulfill this aggressive schedule either.
So we wait, and the MTA shuffles its feet. It’s important to show to politicians who control purse strings that the MTA can deliver a functional project relatively on time. But right now, this 7 line extension remains a promise and not a reality.
As the end of the month — and a looming vacation nears — I haven’t had as much time to post lately as I usually do. Thanks for bearing with me these past few weeks. I have news on which we must catch up, and I’ll try to follow up with longer posts next week. Eric and I will be recording a new podcast this weekend, and we’ll touch on a few of these topics. The news is picking up.
First up, MTA Board appointments. As Albany wrapped up its legislative calendar with a flurry of activity this week, a variety of new MTA Board appointees made it through the approval process. NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg will join the Board. She’s not the first city DOT chief to join the MTA Board, per Times editor Dean Change. She’ll be joined by Iris Weinshall, a former DOT commission who is my neighbor, the wife of Senator Chuck Schumer and a notorious opponent of the Prospect Park West bike lane.
In operations news, the A and C trains are getting a full line review. Transit will conduct a top to bottom review of service along the 8th Ave. and Fulton St. lines as the Riders Alliance continues to win reviews for some of the city’s least reliable lines. I joked on Twitter that more frequent evening rush service to Brooklyn and newer rolling stock should do the trick, but we’ll see what the MTA uncovers in a few months.
Finally, I have some news on the 7 line extension and East Side Access. According to the latest MTA Board committee meeting materials, the 7 line may not open until early 2015, but the MTA is working hard to begin revenue service prior to the end of 2014. More on that on Monday, but clearly this is a mess. Meanwhile, the MTA has determined that they expect East Side Access to cost around $10.7 billion and be ready for passenger service before the end of 2022. I also expect flying cars and hover boards around then. Still no word on the definitive ribbon cutting for the Fulton St. Transit Center.
That’s lot of catch-up. Now the weekend service changes. Read More→
Updated (10:25 p.m.): A cryptic message recently appeared on the MTA’s website: “Due to a temporary power loss system wide, expect delays on all lines. Allow additional travel time.” It’s not exactly clear what subways, if any, are running or how this power loss is having an impact on service. I’ve reached out to the agency for more details, and here’s their statement:
Con Ed had a minor power outage that caused signal problems in the subway system. As a result, a number of trains pulled emergency brakes. Power was restored in less than 5 minutes, and there’s some residual delays from that. No injuries, no major delays, no stalled trains.
I can’t recall the last full-fledged power outage in the subway. Was it during the 2003 blackout? I did notice the lights in my office flicker at around the same time. Anyway, allow additional travel time, but it seems as though the problem is on its way to resolution as power was restored nearly 50 minutes ago at this point.
In late March, as part of a presentation to the its Board committees, the MTA announced an opening date of June 26 for the Fulton St. Transit Center. Years in the making and nearly 100 percent over its initial budget, the post-9/11 project — one of two massive retail/transit centers opening near Ground Zero — become the poster child for MTA construction mismanagement and the project Michael Horodniceanu vowed to deliver on time. Well, June 26th is eight days away, and the Fulton St. Transit Center’s opening date remains shrouded in mystery.
A few days ago, a few readers emailed me concerning the state of the Fulton St. hub. Since I’ve switched to the Brighton Line for my daily commute, I no longer pass through Fulton St. and haven’t had a chance to check out the project in some time. It’s clear that it will open soon, but just how soon is an open question. SAS readers have speculated that the project still has more than a week or two left, but the MTA can and has opened projects that are substantially complete with finishing work still required.
So yesterday, I asked the MTA if the Transit Center is going to open on June 26th — next Thursday — and received a non-committal answer. “The date,” I was told, “will be firmed up next week during committee meetings.” Now, that doesn’t mean the center won’t open a few days after the committee readings, but if I were a betting man, I’d probably take the over.
In the grand scheme of transit history, when the Fulton St. Transit Center opened will quickly become irrelevant. Five months after it opens, we won’t care that the MTA missed its initial promised date, and in five years or five decades, no one will remember. But this deadline bleed isn’t unique to Fulton St. After nearing completion, the South Ferry station opened a few months late, and the 7 line will be nearly a year late. All of these projects struggled to pass that finish line on time, and that’s a little bit of a problem as the MTA needs to retain its credibility to gain more funding. It’s the same problem that plagues staircase repairs, escalator installation and station rehabs. Now who thinks the Second Ave. Subway will start revenue service on time before the end of December 2016? Anyone want to place a bet?