The F train, the F train. What do about that the F train? That always seems to be the question, doesn’t it?

In Brooklyn, the train snakes a path from Coney Island up McDonald Ave. through the southern parts of Park Slope and north up Smith St. toward Manhattan. For much of that ride, unused express tracks taunt riders stuck on one of the city’s most crowded rush hour trains. In Queens, meanwhile, it runs nominally express but has been slowed by track work.

Today, though, we’re concerned with that stretch of Brooklyn that runs from Kensington and Windsor Terrace to Park Slope and through the Carroll Gardens/Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill. As Gersh Kuntzman reported yesterday in The Brooklyn Paper, State Senator Daniel Squadron has, at the urging of his fiancee and other constituents, urged the MTA to review performance along the F line. Writes Kuntzman:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has begun a full performance review of Brownstone Brooklyn’s underground lifeline after repeated complaints that the train’s name was actually the grade that most riders would give it. The “performance and infrastructure” review, which goes beyond the agency’s normal oversight of the Coney Island to Queens line, came after state Sen. Daniel Squadron cornered the MTA’s Albany-based lobbyist and demanded action.

“I have been getting increasing complaints about the F line from my constituents and, no less important, my fiancee,” Squadron told The Brooklyn Paper. “So I asked the MTA to do a full review, and they agreed.

“There was definitely a sense in March and April, judging from the e-mails to our office, that something was wrong — the delays were longer, the trains more overcrowded,” Squadron added. “When I brought it up to the MTA, they did a quick search that suggested, at first glance, that something was wrong.

While The Brooklyn Paper hasn’t yet heard back from the MTA about the cost of the review or the last time the line was reviewed, I have a suggestion and an observation that will address this problem. Taking a page from the F Express Plan — on hold due to work on the Culver Viaduct — the MTA could simply extend the V train out to Church Ave. or beyond.

Right now, the Culver Line isn’t close to being at capacity. It could easily support the V train running out to Church at rush hour, and as one person commenting on Gersh’s article notes, the MTA could probably even run the V along the A/C through Lower Manhattan to pick up Wall St. commuters bypassed by the F. In one felt swoop, the MTA would make travel easier while alleviating congestion on the Culver line through Brooklyn.

The second solution — an observation — is a call for those people impacted by this service to just wait. On July 5, the MTA will extend G train service south to Church Ave. While not ideal, those who cannot get on the F train due to congestion can ride the G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn and transfer to the A or C. It’s not nearly as convenient as extending the V, but it may serve the same function.

There you go. One problem; two solutions. Who needs a full study anyway?

Categories : Brooklyn
Comments (40)
  • Second Ave. business picking up good vibrations · Well, maybe not good vibrations, but vibrations nonetheless. According to The Post, shop owners along Second Ave. have found yet another aspect of the Second Ave. Subway construction project that irks them. This time, vibrations from the construction have shaken up the bricks in the surrounding buildings. Due to the dangers of falling bricks, the MTA has constructed sidewalk scaffolding, and owners say their businesses are suffering. The agency, however, says that the vibrations are not weak enough to loosen the bricks and that the buildings were structurally weak before the construction. And so it goes. · (7)


A model of the three-door articulated buses soon to arrive on New York City streets. (Click to enlarge)

Throughout debate over the MTA rescue plan, upstate Senators refused to budge on their anti-payroll tax stance. These state representatives did not want to raise taxes for what seemed to be a very New York City-centric purpose. Transit proponents argued that the entire state would benefit from a healthy MTA, and today’s news out of Plattsburgh, NY, a small city on Lake Champlain approximately 30 minutes from Canada, shows why.

New York City Transit has just put in an order with Nova Bus for 90 articulated buses featuring a low-floor system and three doors. Nova Bus, a Quebec-based subsidiary of Volvo, has recently opened a plant in Plattsburgh, and that plant will produce these 90 buses.

These new buses promise to be state-of-the-art vehicles. They are set to be 62 feet long and will featuring motion-controlled rear doors. According to Mobilizing the Region, this order for more buses comes after a successful trial in the Bronx, and the 90 new vehicles will deployed along the city’s latest bus-rapid transit routes. Delivery is set to begin during the first half of 2010.

As reports from up north show, the MTA is more than just the economic driver behind New York City’s success. Nova will employ 172 New Yorkers in Plattsburgh, and by keeping this equipment order in state, the MTA is spreading it tentacles well beyond its service area.

Categories : Buses
Comments (10)

schumer Sometimes, the Associated Press under-writes a story. Take, for example, this short one about Senator Chuck Schumer and the MTA.

In it, the AP explores how New York’s senior Senator would prefer to see the MTA implement wireless service aboard commuter rail trains sooner rather than later. It could be perhaps the most understated story in a while. Take a look:

Sen. Charles Schumer contends the commuter railroads serving New York City have been slow to implement wireless Internet service.

Schumer is calling on the MTA to follow through on plans he says have been in the works for months. He says other major mass transit systems across the United States already have on-board major wireless Internet service.

He says that puts the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad behind railroads in Texas, California and Utah.

The senator says adding wireless Internet would help improve productivity for commuters and the thousands of students who use the rails.

That’s the whole thing. My favorite part is how Schumer is contending that the MTA has “been slow to implement wireless Internet service.” Considering the state of the MTA’s various wireless campaigns, “slow” is a compliment. I generally opt for the less flattering “inept.”

The truth is that Schumer is 100 percent correct, but his critique extends well beyond the MTA’s reach. It’s true that railraods in Texas California and Utah may offer wireless service on board, but in our own backyard, Amtrak doesn’t even provide wireless service in its heavily-traveled Northeast Corridor.

This call, then, by our Senator strikes me as a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Through New Haven, Amtrak and Metro-North share rights-of-way. Schumer should work to ensure that the wireless service for the commuter rails can cover Amtrak. It may be infeasible. Perhaps the trains are equipped with different signal receivers. Perhaps what works at Metro-North and LIRR speeds doesn’t work at Amtrak and Acela speeds. It’s worth a shot though.

In response to Schumer’s calls, the MTA said it would be fielding requests for proposals on the project until September. The agency wants to gauge both interest and feasibility. Considering that airplanes now come equipped with wireless, our commuter rails should too.

Categories : MTA Technology
Comments (11)
  • New Metro-North cars fail stress test · Kawasaki is currently hard at work prepping an order of M-8 cars for Metro-North to replace the aging rolling stock that heads into Connecticut. The original order, placed in 2006, called for delivery of 210 cars beginning in 2010 at a cost of $713 million with an option for 90 more at $170 million. With delivery looming, a slight problem has emerged: They cars failed their first stress test. According to Christine Stuart of CT News Junkie, one of the M-8s “buckled ‘slightly'” when subjected to 800,000 pounds of force.

    Both Metro-North and Connecticut Department of Transportation officials did not express much concern over the failure and noted the results were fairly minor. Delivery of the cars will not believed, but officials are looking for an explanation as to the cause of the buckling. For more on the new rolling stock, check out Station Stops’ 2008 profile of the M-8’s. Apparently, these cars include power outlets for every seat. · (7)

Poor Staten Island. It is, by far, the most transit-neglected borough in the city. Once envisioned as a destination for a subway line spurring off the R in Brooklyn, the city’s least connected borough enjoys a slew of buses and one fare-less subway line that runs from the ferry terminal to Tottenville along the island’s south side.

Now, though, Staten Island’s borough representative to the MTA Board wants to increase transit offerings on the car-dependent island. Allen Cappelli told the Staten Island Advance’s Maura Yates over the weekend that the time is now for SI-based transit improvements. From the sound of it, the SI transit outlook may actually be a rosy one. Yates writes:

With Albany’s approval of a bailout package back in May that included a payroll tax and other revenue sources to help the MTA address its forecasted $1.2 billion budget deficit, the MTA board can now turn its attention back to moving forward with much-needed projects, including the borough’s proposed light rail system.

“I’d like to see us have rail access,” Cappelli said. “We’ve got to get cars off the streets. We’ve got to give people a real way to commute, because we’re not going to be able to handle the cars to a greater extent than what we’re doing now.”

With projections of population growth that will further tax the borough’s clogged road network over the next two decades, “We’ve got to plan this now, or 20 years from now, somebody will ask, ‘Why didn’t they do anything about this’?” Cappelli said. He said he hopes funding will be included in the MTA’s 20-year capital plan.

Cappelli has made progress on the bus front as well, with Staten Island receiving the first of the city’s brand new hybrid-electric local buses. The new buses will eventually account for more than half of the borough’s local bus fleet, he said.

Staten Island is ripe for transit experimentation. The borough could really benefit from a light rail system and from legitimate bus rapid transit plans. Ideally, of course, those BRT routes would connect into and through Brooklyn and Manhattan for faster commutes. The light rail would be an intra-borough mode of transit.

In the end, the MTA should probably look at reviving the Brooklyn-to-SI underground subway connection. While the project would be expensive and wouldn’t become a reality for decades, a subway to Staten Island would do wonders for the mobility of a part of the city often considered the forgotten borough.

Categories : Staten Island
Comments (33)

The daily weekday ridership for Metro-North is around 270,000. For the Long Island Rail Road, that figure clocks in at about 290,000. Meanwhile, in New York City last year, average daily subway ridership hit 5.2 million. So how would you expect funds from a New York State transit slush fund to be distributed? If you guessed “disproportionately favoring the suburbs,” congratulations. You’ve just won the Second Ave. Sagas Award for Ineptitude in Government.

According to a report in Sunday’s Daily News, state lawmakers have access to a $240 million transit slush fund. The fund — called the Customer Service Reserves — is supposed to spent on projects that could enhance, you guessed it, customer service. Somehow, though, around $190 million of this fund have gone to suburban-based projects while just $50 million has been invested into New York City Transit properties.

Of course, this story isn’t nearly as clear cut as that outrageous disproportionate dispersion of wealth makes it out to be. Allow me to quote Pete Donohue’s article:

The fund is part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital construction and maintenance program. Five-year spending plans are negotiated with the Legislature and governor’s office and need approval from representatives of the Senate, Assembly, governor’s office and mayor.

Between 1995 and August, approximately $195 million in reserves was assigned to the majority party – Republicans in the Senate, Democrats in the Assembly. Approximately $155 million has been spent or committed to transit projects through August.

Since just a few GOP senators represent city neighborhoods, the vast majority of Senate reserves has flowed to commuter rail projects in suburbs north and east of the city in counties like Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Putnam. About $40 million remains unspent.

Nearly $200 million in reserves was assigned to Assembly Democrats, who represent all but one Assembly district in the city. Approximately $40 million has gone to commuter rail projects, and another $45 million or so to subway upgrades – but more than half of the Assembly reserves remain unspent.

So, okay. Let’s reassess. The Senate and Assembly divide up a few hundred million based along party lines that ensures New York City Transit, with 91 percent of the MTA’s ridership, gets around 50 percent of the available funds. The suburban areas have enjoyed far more actual spending than the subways, and yet the subways need massive capital investments over the next few years and decades.

The assembly reps, meanwhile, claim that the money is unspent because, well, it’s hard to spend it. “It takes a while to decide how best this can have an impact … because of the limitations and how it can be used,” Sisa Moyo, a spokesperson for Sheldon Silver, said to Donohue. “We found it to be a slow-going process.”

News stories such as this and quotes such as Moyo’s make me want to slam my head against a wall. This is basically free money. It should be spent on projects, and the projects are out there. Invest it in a rehab of the 4th Ave. Culver Line stopped, shelved because of budgetary concerns. Buy some more trash cans for the perennially dirty subway stations. Further fund studies to replace the MetroCard with a contactless fare system.

For now, New Yorkers are used to a system that seems similar to an annoyance and not the convenience it should be all because the money isn’t there. When the money is there, it just sits there. All it takes to implement change and improvements is a little creativity and drive. Without it, the subway system just sits in neutral, underfunded, under-maintained and perennially in fiscal trouble.

Categories : MTA Economics
Comments (9)

The reviews are for Tony Scott’s remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and the film is receiving surprisingly good write-ups. While it doesn’t sound as though the new version has the quirky charm of the 1974 flick, Scott’s work is being praised as a good summer action movie with a solid lead cast. It’s on my to-watch list for the weekend.

While the new movie seemingly glorifies a subway hijacking and hearkens back to an era in which subway riders knew the rails were a dangerous place to be, these days, the New York City Subway are as safe as they’ve ever been. Over at the Daily Beast, Seth Michael Donsky remembers the trains as they used to be. He chatted with photography John F. Coon about Coon’s work in the subways of the 1980s. It was a far different time indeed, and the pictures from the accompanying slideshow are fascinating.

Now, onto the service advisories. I’ll pretty these up with the bullets later tonight. Remember to check at your local station for up-to-date information. These advisories are as the MTA sends them on Thursday and are subject to change.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 13 to 5 a.m. Sunday, June 14, uptown 1 and 2 trains skip 79th and 86th Streets due to station rehab work at 96th Street.

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 13, Manhattan-bound 6 trains run express from Pelham Bay Park to Parkchester due to station painting at Buhre Avenue, Middletown Road, Westchester Square, Zerega Avenue and Castle Hill Avenue.

From 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 13, Manhattan-bound 7 trains skip 111th, 103rd, 90th, 82nd, 74th, 69th, 52nd, 46th, 40th and 33rd Streets due to track panel installation at 74th Street and station painting at Junction Boulevard.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 13 to 5 a.m. Sunday, June 14, Manhattan-bound A trains run local from Euclid Avenue to Jay Street, then on the F to West 4th Street, then local to 168th Street due to the Chambers Street Signal Modernization project.

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday, June 13, Brooklyn-bound A trains run local from 168th Street to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts., then express to Utica Avenue, then local to Euclid Avenue due to the Chambers Street Signal Modernization project.

From 12:01 a.m. to midnight Saturday, June 13, Brooklyn-bound A trains run local from 168th Street to Euclid Avenue due to Chambers Street Signal Modernization project.

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, June 14, Brooklyn-bound A trains run local from 168th Street to Utica Avenue, then express to Broadway-Junction, then local to Euclid Avenue due to the Chambers Street Signal Modernization project and track cleaning.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 13, to 5 a.m. Sunday, June 14, there are no C trains running due to switch renewal south of West 4th Street. Customers should take the A instead.

From 11 p.m. Saturday, June 13 to 6 a.m. Sunday June 14, Bronx-bound D trains skip 155th, 167th, 170th, 174th-175th, and 182nd-183rd Sts. due to removal of old electrical and signal cables.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 13 to 5 a.m. Sunday, June 14, Manhattan-bound D trains run on the N from Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue to 36th Street (Brooklyn) due to installation of communications equipment between 9th Avenue and 36th Street.

From 12:01 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, June 13, Manhattan-bound D trains skip 182nd-183rd Sts. due to removal of old electrical and signal cables.

From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 13, Manhattan-bound F trains skip Ft. Hamilton Parkway, 15th Street-Prospect Park and 4th Avenue due to third rail work.

From 11:30 p.m. Friday, June 12 to 5 a.m. Monday, June 15, Manhattan-bound F trains run local from Forest Hills-71st Avenue to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue to due to track and roadbed replacement at Grand Avenue.

From 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday, June 13, from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday, June 14 and from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, June 15, Jamaica-bound F trains run local from Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue to Forest Hills-71st Avenue due to track and roadbed replacement at Grand Avenue.

From 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 12 to 5 a.m. Monday, June 15, there is no G train service between Forest Hills-71st Avenue and Court Square. Customers should take the E or R instead.

From 11:30 p.m. Friday, June 12 to 5 a.m. Sunday, June 14, free shuttle buses replace L trains between Lorimer Street and Myrtle Avenue due to track and roadbed replacement at Jefferson Street.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 13 to 5 a.m. Monday, June 15, Manhattan-bound Q trains skip Newkirk Avenue due to station rehab work.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 13 to 5 a.m. Monday, June 15, Manhattan-bound Q trains run express from Kings Highway to Prospect Park due to station rehab work at Newkirk Avenue.

Categories : Service Advisories
Comments (4)

In January 1968, the gleaming new R40 car made its New York City debut along the F line. These cars designed by Raymond Loewy became rail fan favorites. With their familiar front slants and large windows, the R40s provided straphangers with a clear view out the front or back of the trains. Today, though, the era of the R40s is over. Already, most of them have been replaced by R160s, and according to Rail Fan Window via a Subchat poster, the last R40 will roll off the line at around 8 p.m. tonight. The Transit Museum will receive a pair of cars, rumored to be 4280 and 4281, but for one final ride, catch it on the A.

Photo by Doug Grotjahn/

Categories : Rolling Stock
Comments (13)
  • A different take on the CBTC’d L trains · Earlier this week, amNew York’s Heather Haddon reported on some problems plaguing the CBTC tests on the L train. According to union workers who stand to lose their jobs if CBTC is deemed a success, now and then a train on autopilot overshoots the platform and, per Transit regulations, has to proceed to the next station.

    Today, the Daily News ran the other half of this labor/Transit war. Pete Donohue reports that the CBTC test is running smoothly. Transit has deployed ten of these trains along the BMT Canarsie Line, and Transit’s chief engineer says the CBTC trains have the tracks and red light system down pat. “There can be no human error,” she said.

    So what’s really going on here is a battle in the papers. Union leaders and members know that CBTC can cost jobs, and Transit officials know that CBTC can improve track capacity. The debate between technological efficiency and jobs has long raged in the workplace, and the MTA is just another arena for it. · (6)
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