transitinvestment

The map above comes to us from GOOD Magazine. It shows the total system length (represented by subway cars) and the total daily ridership in millions (represented by the silhouettes). Cleary, as the enlarged version shows, United States transit ridership lags far behind European and Asian systems in terms of ridership.

As the City grapples with the need to fund transit, we could muse on how absurd it is that this debate is even happening. As the end of the first decade of the 21st Century draws to a close, America has not come to grips with urban life and urban methods of travel. The MTA is fighting tooth and nail just to stay afloat, and while the agency is trying to expand its system, the reality of those plans is no sure thing.

One day, maybe, we’ll see urban transit systems receive the same level of commitment as roads. After all, more people take the subway in New York in one day than they do driving along the city’s roads. It’s far better socially, environmentally and economically, but it looks like it will take nothing short of an MTA collapse for New Yorkers — and Americans — to realize it.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, downtown 1 trains skip 96th Street due to station rehabilitation.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, 2 trains run in two sections (due to switch renewal at Nostrand Avenue):

  • Between 241st Street and Franklin Avenue and
  • Between Franklin and Flatbush Avenues

Note: In the early morning hours between 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., trains run every 30 minutes between Franklin and Flatbush Avenues.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, downtown 2 and 3 trains skip 96th Street, then run local from 86th to Chambers Streets due to tunnel lighting.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, uptown 2 and 3 trains run local from Chambers Street to 96th Street due to tunnel lighting.


From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, Manhattan-bound 2 trains skip Burke Avenue, Allerton Avenue, Pelham Parkway and Bronx Park East due to rail repairs.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Manhattan-bound 2, 3 and 4 trains run express from Utica Avenue to Atlantic Avenue due to track chip-out at President Street.


From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, Manhattan-bound 4 trains skip Bedford Park Blvd., Kingsbridge Road, Fordham Road and 183rd Street due to switch work north of Kingsbridge Road.


From 12:01 a.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday, March 7, from 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday, March 8, and from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Brooklyn-bound 4 trains run local from 42nd Street to Brooklyn Bridge due to rail work.


From 12:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday, March 7, from 12:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday, March 8 and from 12:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. Monday, March 9, Crown Heights/Utica Avenue-bound 4 trains run local from Atlantic Avenue to Utica Avenue due to switch renewal at Nostrand Avenue.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 6 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, free shuttle buses replace A trains between Jay Street-Borough Hall and Utica Avenue due to the Jay Street rehabilitation project.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, A trains run local between 168th Street and Euclid Avenue with free shuttle buses replacing A trains between Jay Street-Borough Hall and Utica Avenue due to the Jay Street rehabilitation project.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, there are no C trains running due to the Jay Street rehabilitation project. Customers should take the A instead and note that free shuttle buses replace A trains between Jay Street-Borough Hall and Utica Avenue.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Bronx-bound D trains run express from 145th Street to Tremont Avenue due to signal work.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Bronx-bound D trains run local from 59th to 145th Streets due to switch renewal south of 81st Street.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 6 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Manhattan-bound E and F trains run local from Forest Hills-71st Avenue to Roosevelt Avenue due to track chip-out.


From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. March 9, Jamaica Center-bound E and F trains run local from Roosevelt Avenue to Forest Hills -71st Avenue due to track chip-out.


From 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 6 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9 (until further notice), there are no G trains between Forest Hills-71st Avenue and Court Square. Customers should take the E or R instead.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 6 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, free shuttle buses replace L trains between Rockaway Parkway and Broadway Junction due to track panel installation at East 105th Street.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, N trains skip Prince, 8th, 23rd, and 28th Streets due to switch at Queensboro Plaza. Customers may take the Q or R instead.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, N trains are rerouted over the Manhattan Bridge between DeKalb Avenue and Canal Street in both directions due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, Manhattan-bound N trains skip 30th Avenue, Broadway, 36th Avenue and 39th Avenue due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza.


From 5 a.m. to midnight, Saturday, March 7 and from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, there are no N trains between Lexington Avenue-59th Street and Times Square-42nd Street due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza. Customers may take the 4, 5, 6, Q or R instead.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 8, there are no N trains between Queensboro Plaza and Lexington Avenue-59th Street due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza. Customers may take the 4, 6 or 7 instead.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 10 p.m. March 8, Q trains run on the R line between 57th Street-7th Avenue and DeKalb Avenue due to switch at Queensboro Plaza.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Kings Highway due to Brighton Line station rehabilitation.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 7 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 9, R trains are extended to the 179th Street F station due to a track chip-out.

Categories : Service Advisories
Comments (6)
  • The futility of courting Republicans · As the three Democrats from New York represent a huge obstacle in the way of an MTA bailout, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is attempting to court upstate Republicans. According to William Neuman and Nicholas Confessore, Republicans are unwilling to budge in their opposition. Even George H. Winner, a Republican representing the district that houses a subway car manufacturer, won’t budget on the ideological concerns behind a payroll tax. This tax would impact only those counties served by the MTA, but no members of the GOP want to cross party ranks right now.

    As Kathry Wylde, the head of a pro-Ravitch group said, “This ought to be a bipartisan effort. Everybody has an interest in the M.T.A. and the transportation infrastructure of the region.” It ought to be, but in New York State politics, it never is. · (7)

anittollers

Carl Kruger (left), Pedro Espada, Jr. (center) and Ruben Diaz, Sr. refuse to budge on the issue of East River tolls.

When the MTA starts cutting service and raising fares in less than three weeks, remember the faces of the men up there for they will be the reason why. Democratic State Senators Pedro Espada and Ruben Diaz, both representatives from the Bronx, and Carl Kruger from Brooklyn are hell-bent on avoiding tolls for no good reason.

Never mind that the overwhelming majority of their constituents don’t have cars and those that do, don’t use them on a daily basis. Never mind the role of transit trumps the use of cars. Reality has no place in this debate apparently.

In Brooklyn, only around five percent of commuters rely on the East River bridges for their daily commutes. In the Bronx, the numbers are similar: 5.7 percent of Bronx drivers commute alone to Manhattan via the Harlem River bridges while another 2.1 percent carpool. Of the remaining 92 percent, 29.9 percent rely on transit to get them into Manhattan while another 30 percent rely on transit for non-Manhattan-bound commutes.

So what do the Bronx politicians say? No tolls. Not now. Not ever. Elizabeth Benjamin, writing about a triumvirate she calls the Three Amigos and I call the Three Stooges, has news of this disloyal opposition:

The Three Amigos – Sens. Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada Jr. and Rubuen Diaz Sr. – who recently reaffirmed their relationship and started strategizing again as a team, today issued a joint statement demanding that the MTA go “back to the drawing board” and do everything possible to avoid tolling the East and Harlem river bridges.

The three senators are “demanding” that the MTA agree to a forensic audit conducted by an outside entity and a complete accounting of all its assets – including real estate holdings, which is an issue other lawmakers have been hammering on for a while now.

The trio is open to the idea of a payroll tax, which is the other revenue-generating proposal made by the Ravitch Commission, but called the tolls a “non-starter.” “The Ravitch plan, and the attempt to foist it on the Legislature during budget negotiations, is ill-conceived and misguided,” the senators said in a press release…”Tolls hurt the ridership of our city, hurt the general public, and hurt the small business community. It is our shared belief that no plan should annex the boroughs. That is what tolls on the bridges would accomplish.”

I already pay $4 a day to go from Brooklyn to Manhattan. If I lived in Manhattan as my parents do, I’d pay $4 a day to go from Point A in Manhattan to Point B. Why people who live in the outer boroughs and drive — often unnecessarily — should get a free ride at the expense of my subway system is well beyond me. I don’t expect the Three Stooges to offer a coherent argument on that point though.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith can’t get any Republicans to cross the aisle to support taxes yet. He is stuck with a 29-30 vote and needs these three — rogue opponents with the Democratic party to his own position as Majority Leader — to fall into line. While Diaz has two half-cooked plans to fund the MTA, they are laughable and impractical 11th Hour solutions. Explains Benjamin, “One that would require the state to buy prescription drugs from Canada and another that would force ConEd to pay taxes.”

In their press release — ridiculed by Streetsblog commenters — they urge the MTA to “go back to the drawing board.” Start over from scratch three weeks before an era-defining moment in New York City history, they urge.

“Why should I be punishing my state and the people from my district?” Diaz Sr. asks. Well, Mr. Senator, by not supporting transit that is exactly what you’re doing. If the MTA fails, if Diaz’s precious drivers maintain their free rides while everyone else pays, I wonder who exactly will be punished.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (8)

At the end of February, New York City Transit announced that, due to construction and budgetary concerns, weekend service would be slashed no matter what. The cost savings for this move was set at around $4 million a year, and New York City Transit President Howard Roberts explained that the decision was spurred on by the MTA’s ambitious state-of-good-repair plan.

Yesterday, amidst the rancorous politicking over the MTA’s potential rescue plan, NYC Transit apparently reconsidered those potentially permanent cuts. NY1 News reports:

The MTA now says a plan to cut back weekend subway service can be avoided, if Albany lawmakers act on a plan to shore up the agency’s $1.2 billion budget gap.

Last week, the MTA said it was moving forward with plans to reduce the scheduled frequency of weekend subway service on most of the lettered lines, beginning in June. But the agency has since reversed course and now says it will drop the plan, if lawmakers come through with a rescue plan for the cash-strapped agency.

Maybe the MTA reevaluated its need to drop weekend service cuts. Maybe this is just sloppy politics. If it’s the latter, this move won’t help the MTA respond to State Senator Malcolm Smith’s claims that the agency has no control over its finances. It sure is an odd political carrot, but as a frequent weekend rider, who am I to complain?

Categories : Service Cuts
Comments (5)

After another day of MTA politicking, clear battle lines are being drawn in the fight over the transit agency’s future. In a surprising turn of events, State Democrats are opening up to the reality of tolls while State Republicans are preparing to fight the payroll tax proposals.

Most welcome is the news about the Democrats. Based on reporting by Glenn Blain and Pete Donohue, reality is finally setting in, and New York’s elected representatives have finally realized that service cuts and fare hikes would impact far more people than bridge tolls. The due of Daily News reporters write:

MTA and state officials made “significant progress” toward a plan that could avert the shutdown of some subway and bus routes, authorities said Wednesday.

Sen. Martin Dilan, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said Democratic opposition to tolls on East River bridges as part of solution to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s fiscal crisis appears to be softening.

“Members are starting to find that a majority of their constituents use the subway to Manhattan and more of their constituents will be impacted” if the MTA’s doomsday budget, including whopping fare hikes and service cuts goes, into effect.

Referring to Sen. Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens), Dilan said, “I think the leader has confidence that he can probably get most members on board if we get some sort of givebacks from the MTA in terms of more accountability, transparency, greater fiscal transparency.”

While I’m happy to applaud this news, Sen. Dilan talks as though his co-Senators are just getting around to realizing this point now. I know New York politics has never carried with it a very good reputation, but are State Senators really that clueless? Do they not realize that their constituents have long used the subway in far greater volume than the city’s roads? Can they not do simple math? As long as they save the MTA, the ineptitude of our State Senators doesn’t matter.

Meanwhile, Sheldon Silver believes he now has enough votes in the Assembly to pass his $2 toll plan. Republicans, however, are planning to vote against any MTA bailout with taxes, and City Council members — whose constituents are the same transit users as the State Senators’ — may block transfer of the bridges to the MTA on some sort of quasi-home rule/anti-toll basis.

“A real property transfer is subject to our land use review procedure,” Councilman Lew Fidler, D-Brooklyn, said to Crain’s New York. “I surely would object on that basis and join any lawsuit brought if it were done without our consent..I realize that two bucks is not a burdensome amount, but if you think that amount will remain so low, I have a bridge to sell you.”

If the State Senators can embrace reality, why can’t Fidler? The MTA doesn’t have time for politicians to learn that the subways are truly where populist sentiments lie. That is a lesson that must be embraced now and not after everyone is mad over bad, expensive subway service. This Great Transit Awakening better speed up. It has three weeks.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (4)

Hot on the heels of Albany’s appeals to populist anger at the MTA comes more news about the state of the proposed Ravitch plan to save transit. It sounds like there will be some backroom politicking over the next few weeks as the MTA Board’s self-imposed March 25 deadline draws near.

In a somewhat surprising about-face, the New York Post urges Malcolm Smith to see Sheldon Silver’s $2 toll plan through the Senate. The Post has mostly protested taxes and tolls, but this latest missive believes that, because Richard Ravitch is a trustworthy source, the MTA really does have this budget problem. Another audit just months after Ravitch conducted his own thorough investigation would be an unnecessary and costly political diversion.

“Smith doesn’t seem to have the foggiest idea of how to save the system. And if he doesn’t know, how will he convince defiant members?” writes the paper’s editorial board. ” If he thinks the Senate’s constituents will be unhappy with tolls, what will they say about massive fare hikes? Or, in the not-too-distant future, a crippled mass transit system? It’s that serious.”

The Daily News’ editorial board takes a similar tone with Smith. Blame him, they say, when the MTA is in shambles.

Business leaders who recognize what an underfunded MTA means to the economy are calling upon State GOP representatives to support a bailout. New York’s partisan lines are thickly drawn, but if the business community starts pushing this proposal, state Republicans may just rally behind the tolls.

Finally, the Post notes the MTA bailout may get stuck in Albany for months. Senator Smith has indicted that he wants to tie the MTA’s money into the state budget, and any deal on the state budget is still months away. Smith’s office publicly denied this allegation and has stressed a desire for a speedy resolution to this problem.

That sound you hear is the Doomsday clock ticking ever closer to midnight.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
Comments (1)

In 2003, the MTA was no better off in the eyes of the public than it is now. That year, the agency was accused of cooking up two sets of books in order to justify a fare hike. One set showed the agency operating a deficit; the other showed a historic surplus.

At the time, Alan Hevesi unleashed a scathing report about the MTA’s behavior, and the agency was judged permanently guilty in the eyes of public opinion. It would be a watershed moment in the history of government — or quasi-government — agency corruption.

Fast forward to 2009. None of the MTA officials or board members responsible for the “two sets of books” scandal is still in power. Instead, the MTA Board is headed up by people with bona fide transit credentials, and the agency has attempted to be more transparent. Still, after years of governmental neglect, the MTA’s finances are in legitimate disarray, and if to close what may be nearly a $2 billion budget gap, the MTA will have to implement a Doomsday budget on March 25 if the state doesn’t act.

For its part, the State Senate can’t get over a scandal six years in the past. Glenn Blain and Pete Donohue tell of state Democrats questioning the MTA’s credibility:

Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority “does not have a history of being forthright in terms of their budget. You know, they kept two books at a time.”

Senate Dems planned a “full vetting of MTA finances” and want to strengthen the state controller’s oversight of the authority, Smith said in a statement last night. Senate action on any bailout plan wouldn’t happen this week, a Smith spokesman said.

The “two sets of books” phrase was popularized in a legal challenge of MTA fare hikes in 2003. A suit based on reports by the state and city controllers claimed the MTA misled the public by exaggerating its financial situation. Two trial judges agreed, but an appeals panel overruled them. It unanimously declared “the record does not support the lower court rulings that the 2003 and 2004 deficit was ‘fictional.’”

Smith, it seems, is willing to penalize the MTA — and by extension, all New Yorkers — for a story that broke six years ago and was resolved by the state courts half a decade ago. At what point does this fishing expedition become simply that? Smith doesn’t want to confront the hard truth of Senate inaction and would rather pawn off these problems on the good old public scapegoat version of the MTA.

Ignore the fact that 22 of 62 State Senators weren’t even in the legislative body when this scandal broke. Ignore the fact that we should vote out any who don’t support the MTA. Just think about that time when bad MTA leaders cooked the books. Clearly, the only logical result is another audit, and by golly, that’s just what the Senate Dems are getting three weeks before doomsday.

Elliot Sander, the current MTA head who actually knows what he’s doing, had the best response to the Albany inanities: “The time for excuses is over. Albany needs to act.” Hear, hear.

Categories : MTA Economics
Comments (19)

Cell service in the New York City subway has become something of a afterthought around town. Every two years or so, the story pops up in the news, and the MTA claims cell service underground is “coming soon.”

In fact, 18 months ago, the MTA signed a contract to start rolling out cellular service to every underground station. The pilot program was originally supposed to be ready two years after that. I wonder if we’ll actually see cell service in six months or so. Anyone want to bet on it?

Meanwhile, down in DC, where the cavernous Metro is, at some places, hundreds of feet deeper than the New York City subways, cell service for Verizon customers has been a fact of life for DC riders since the WMATA and Verizon started developing a system back in 1993. This collaborative effort between the transit agency and a cell carrier led to a Verizon-built and -owned network, and the WMATA got a free underground radio system out of the deal.

Yesterday, Metro announced that the entire system would be covered by all major U.S. cell carriers and Wi-Fi service by 2012. New York will have to play catch-up soon. Dr. Gridlock of The Washington Post reports:

Twenty of the busiest underground stations will have expanded cell phone service by the end of this year, and the entire rail system will be equipped by 2012, Metro said in an announcement this afternoon…

Four companies — Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile — will build a new wireless infrastructure in the underground rail system during the next four years, the announcement said. The companies will design, build, operate, maintain and own one wireless network. They also will build a second wireless network, which Metro will own, operate and maintain for its operational and public safety communications…

The wireless contract will generate a minimum of nearly $25 million during the initial 15-year term and an additional $27 million during the five, two-year renewal terms, Metro said. Other FCC licensed and unlicensed carriers can gain access to the networks either through entering into agreements with Metro or the group of carriers, all of which will produce additional revenue for the transit agency.

Thus, the obvious question: If the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority can enter into such a favorable deal, why can’t the Metropolitan Transportation Authority?

I understand that New York City’s system is far more extensive and significantly older than D.C.’s Metro. It’s also much closer to the surface and, to my amateur eye, would seem to be far more conducive to underground cellular service than a system that features stations 160 feet below ground.

While the MTA struggles to find money to cover operating expenses, the transit agency has to keep an eye out to the future. It has to be able to maintain New York’s competitive edge in a cutthroat global economy. Inevitably, that means equipping the city with a state-of-the-art transportation system. If DC can do it, so could New York.

Categories : Subway Cell Service
Comments (23)

Twenty two days isn’t a very long time, but that’s all the state legislature has left if they want to save the MTA — and New Yorkers — from massive MTA fare hikes and service cuts. Meanwhile, storm clouds are gathering in Albany for an epic fight over the fiscal future of transit in the New York City Metropolitan Area.

On one side is Sheldon Silver and his version of the Ravitch Commission recommendations. He supports the payroll tax and East River crossing tolls, but instead of the $5 fee Richard Ravitch proposed, Silver wants to start things off with a $2 fare, even with the current subway rate. It won’t stave off the inevitable cuts and hikes, but it’s better than inaction.

On the other side is, well, everyone else. Some of Silver’s fellow Assembly representatives and some State Senators are decrying the toll plan on the same old populist line. These tolls will somehow hurt middle class New Yorkers. Those are, by the way, the same middle class New Yorkers who don’t own cars, don’t drive back and forth to work each day and do rely on the subways, buses and commuter rails to get around the region. When someone in the media will tell representatives such as Adriano Espaillat, Rory Lancman and Jose Peralta that, I do not know.

Also on the agin’ side is Comptroller William C. Thompson. The New York City official and potential mayoral candidate voiced his strident opposition to tolls and again called attention to his plan to drastically increase driver licensing fees. Again, this is a perfect example of a politician putting forward a plan that would have a disproportionate impact on those who can least afford it without creating a true distribution of responsibility for the MTA’s financial picture based on use of bridges, roads and rails.

Finally, we have State Senator Malcolm Smith. The Senate Majority Leader is wavering on the toll plan. He doesn’t understand how the MTA, behind Richard Ravitch’s suggestions, could go from needing a $5 toll to suddenly being satisfied with a $2 toll. As a result, he has called for and gotten the go ahead to conduct at MTA audit. It’s doubtful that the MTA audit will be completed in three weeks and a day, and the answer to his quandary is simple really. The MTA knows that its best hope politically is a $2 toll. Some of the money they need is again far more preferable to none.

In the middle of this imperfect storm is Richard Ravitch. He is the subject of a sympathetic profile by Sam Roberts in The Times today. Everyone loves him; everyone — from Silver on down — trusts him; and yet politicians are still hung up a six-year-old bookkeeping scandal that was perpetrated by a bunch of people no longer in charge. Old stereotypes and prejudices die hard, and while the battle lines are drawn, Ravitch will have to help guide the proper pieces into position. New York City is depending on it.

Categories : Ravitch Commission
Comments (5)
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