West of the Hudson River lies an area of New York State far removed from New York City. Rockland and Orange Counties have far more in common with Northern Jersey and Pennsylvania than they do with the other, closer regions in the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District.
For years, those two districts have had a love-hate relationship with the rest of the state over the MTA. The station at the rural end of the Port Jervis line is over two hours away from Penn Station, and the rolling stock belongs to New Jersey Transit. On paper, Metro-North is responsible for the stations and the service, and as such, Rockland and Orange Counties contribute generously to the MTA.
In fact, these two counties carry more than their fair share of the tax burden. Some studies have reported that Rockland County pays $42 million more to the MTA than the service it receives is worth. Orange county carries a similar burden.
Since these two counties have some access to Metro-North and general MTA services, the payroll tax soon to be levied among business in the 12 MTA counties is heading to Rockland and Orange as well. County representatives are very unhappy about it, and politicians in both Rockland and Orange Counties want out of the MTA.
Duchess County officials are not too happy about it either. Duchess County receives more service than Rockland and Orange Counties and won’t be able to talk their way out of this one. “The passing of the payroll tax is absolutely unacceptable,” County Legislature Chairman Roger Higgins said. “It’s the talk of the town and I think representatives in Albany rally need to hear from us.”
East of the city, the general consensus sounds similar. Officials in Huntington on Long Island expressed their dismay with the taxation impact of the MTA rescue plan as well.
This is, in the end, a messy political issue, and the two counties’ endgames are questionable. Rockland officials say the payroll tax will cost the businesses in the county $18.5 million a year. They want something in return. In the past, more service has been a good enough carrot for those counties, but this time, they may want out.
It’s highly doubtful that anyone in Albany will heed their complaints. The MTA, after all, needs the money, and as long as the state refuses to implement sensible transit reform within New York City, the counties outside of it will carry a disproportionate tax burden.
For now, this is just another in a growing line of stories about the flawed rescue package. Eventually, these pleas won’t make headlines, but the dissent will sit there. Next time the legislature has to address transportation issues, these upstate counties won’t be willing to shoulder more burden, and this problem will merely grow and grow and grow.
Editor’s Note: Don’t forget about the 10 a.m. liveblog. I’ll be covering the MTA Board as those overseeing the transportation authority vote to rollback the service cuts and fare hikes. I’ll be taking reader questions then as well.
Live Blog alert: Monday at 10 a.m.· Tomorrow morning, the MTA Board will meet one more time with Dale Hemmerdinger as its chair to determine the new fare structure and to vote down the service cuts. In light of Albany’s finally passing the rescue bill, the authority will still raise fares but by a lesser amount. I’ll be live-blogging the meeting starting at 10 a.m. on Monday. I’ll also field reader questions in the live-blog software. We’ll have a grand old time.
Meanwhile, did you know that you can keep tabs on SAS through other means as well? I have a Twitter feed, and I try to find topics and news more creative than just links to new blog posts for the feed. You can also get a one-a-day e-mail with SAS updates. Click here to subscribe. · (0)
I just wrapped up an eight-hour take-home exam, and I have a backlog of short stories. To cover them and your weekend subway readings needs, I’ll do a little link-o-rama post.
- First up, we have some more analysis of Elliot Sander’s resignation. Crain’s New York says that New York Gov. David Paterson is going to have a tough time replacing Sander. As much as Paterson wants to make his own mark on the MTA, the consensus among transit experts and advocates is running against the governor. Nearly everyone agrees that he should have found a way to keep Sander around and that the upcoming replacement will pale in comparison to the outgoing transit expert.
- Elizabeth Benjamin notes that Sander’s ouster is part of an effort to overhaul New York State authorities. Sander is the first of what could be many dominoes lined up to fall.
- Streets blog wants President Obama’s transit experts to come in and rescue the MTA. The site’s commenters, many of whom are SAS regulars as well, agree.
- In a very thorough piece at Politcker NY, Jason Horowitz and Jimmy Vielkind go to town on the MTA bailout. The two writers slam David Paterson and, to a lesser extent, Mayor Bloomberg for giving into Carl Kruger and the Fare Hike Four.
- For a lighter take at something near and dear to our subway hearts, check out Gothamist’s interview with Dr. Zizmor. The famed subway dermatologist talks about why he appears so youthful in his ads and the joys of being recognized around the city.
On with the service advisories…
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, 1 trains skip 28th, 23rd, and 18th Streets due to removal of PATH underpass support steel for Port Authority improvements. Note: Overnight, downtown 1 trains run local from 34th to 14th Streets.
From 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 8 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, there are no 1 trains between 14th Street and South Ferry. 23 trains run local between 34th and Chambers Street due to removal of PATH underpass support steel for Port Authority. Free shuttle buses run between Chambers Street and South Ferry.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, 2 and 3 trains run local between 96th Street and Chambers Street due to a track dig out north of 50th Street.
Note: Overnight, 3 trains run local between 96th and 42nd Streets.
From 3:30 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 11 p.m. Sunday, May 12, free shuttle buses replace 3 trains between Utica Avenue and New Lots Avenue due to track panel installation south of Van Siclen Avenue and switch work south of Junius Street.
From 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday, May 9 and Sunday, May 10, Manhattan-bound 4 trains skip Bedford Park Blvd., Kingsbridge Road, Fordham Road and 183rd Street due to switch repair near Kingsbridge Road.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, there are no 5 trains between 149th and East 180th Streets due to track repairs between East 180th Street and Dyre Avenue. Customers may take the 2 instead. Shuttle trains run every 30 minutes between East 180th Street and Dyre Avenue.
From 4 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 10, Bronx-bound 6 trains run express from Hunts Point Avenue to Parkchester due to track panel installation between Morrison-Sound View Avenues and St. Lawrence Avenue.
From 4 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 10, the last stop for some Bronx-bound 6 trains is 3rd Avenue due to platform edge rehabilitation at Cypress Avenue, East 143rd Street, East 149th Street and Longwood Avenue stations.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9, to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, Bronx-bound 6 trains run express from 3rd Avenue to Hunts Point Avenue due to platform edge rehabilitation at Cypress Avenue, East 143rd Street, East 149th Street and Longwood Avenue stations.
From 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 8 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, free shuttle buses and shuttle trains replace A trains between Howard Beach-JFK Airport and the Rockaways due to track panel installation on the South Channel Bridge.
From 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 8 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, free shuttle buses replace A trains between 168th Street and 207th Street due to tunnel structure and lighting work. Customers may transfer between the Broadway or Ft. Washington Avenue shuttle buses and the A train at 168th Street.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Sunday, May 10, uptown A and C trains skip Spring, 23rd and 50th Streets due to the Chambers Street signal modernization project. Note: E trains are not running at these stations.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9, to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, there are no C trains running between 168th Street and 145th Street due to tunnel structure and lighting work. Customers should take the A instead.
From 6 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 10, the last stop for some Coney Island-bound D trains is Bay Parkway due to track repair near Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue.
From 5 a.m. to midnight, Saturday, May 9 and Sunday, May 10, the E runs on the F line between Roosevelt Avenue and 2nd Avenue due to installation of emergency lighting and tunnel security. In order to get to missed E stations, customers should take the E to West 4th Street and transfer to the A or C.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, E trains run on the R line between Queens Plaza and Prince Street due to installation of emergency lighting and tunnel security. In order to get to missed E stations, customers should take the E to Times Square-42nd Street and transfer to the A.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, N trains run local in both directions between 59th Street-4th Avenue and Pacific Street due to subway tunnel rehabilitation.
From 6 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 10, the last stop on some Coney Island-bound N trains is Kings Highway due to track repair near Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, Brooklyn-bound N and R trains are rerouted over the Manhattan Bridge between Canal Street and DeKalb Avenue due to electrical work in the Montague Tunnel. Customers may take the 4 at nearby stations.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, Manhattan-bound Q trains skip Newkirk Avenue due to station rehab work.
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 9 to 5 a.m. Monday, May 11, Manhattan-bound Q trains run express from Kings Highway to Prospect Park due to Brighton Line station rehabilitation.
From 6 a.m. Saturday, May 9, to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 10, Q trains run in two sections due to track repair near Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue:
- Between 57th Street and Brighton Beach and
- Between Brighton Beach and Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue, every 16 minutes.
Colorful stations from the past· In the mid-1970s, as a sort of a precursor to the current MTA Arts for Transit program, the city’s Public Arts Council along with the Municipal Arts Society and the Arts and Business Council asked a number of New York City-based designers to beautify four subway stations in colorful ways. At the Natural History Museum stop, make-believe prehistoric beasts were hung up on the walls. The Borough Hall stop along Brooklyn’s IRT lines featured a series of neon lights. A third, at the IND stop at 53rd and 5th Ave., featured bright stripes and freshly painted turnstiles.
Earlier this week, the design blog So Much Pileup dug up some great color photos of the IND station. A 1976 Times article about the program says Exxon funded the designs with four $5000 grants, and as a sign of the times, one of the stations’ displays was vandalized as workers were installing them. · (2)
The politics behind the change at the top· Toward the end of the work day yesteray, current MTA CEO and Executive Director Elliot Sander dropped a bombshell on us when he announced his resignation. While it sounds as though this move had been in the works for some time, the suddenness of it was a surprise. Today, William Neuman of The Times delved into the politics behind the move.
Sander, a transit policy wonk and a Spitzer nominee, sounds disappointed to be leaving the job, but he recognizes why Gov. David Paterson wants the power to appoint someone of his choosing. Considering the current state of the transit agency, Paterson has to make a big decision in the coming weeks and months. The man or woman he picks will have an immediate and long-term impact on the future of the transit agency, and I hope both Paterson and his eventual nominee are up for the job. · (3)
For a project with a price tag of $16 billion, a check for $79 million is but a drop in the bucket. Yet, every little bit help.
Yesterday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler announced that the Second Ave. subway would receive just that amount in stimulus dollars. The East Side Access project will receive over $200 million as part of the same grant.
“This significant sum of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars will comprise a critical portion of overall funding for these two essential New York transportation projects,” Rep. Nadler said in a statement. “I have proudly fought for funding for the Second Avenue Subway and the East Side Access project for years. These crucial infrastructure initiatives will greatly increase transportation efficiency, access and ridership in the region. This will not only benefit our environment and assuage traffic issues, but will spur job growth and economic development for all New Yorkers.”
I appreciate Nadler’s enthusiasm. I really do. However, $79.8 million — the exact amount of the grant — works out to about 0.5 percent of the overall current cost of the Second Ave. subway. I won’t look that gift horse in the mouth, but until the funds start to flow, I don’t expect more than just Phase I to materialize.
It’s been 80 years since the city first got wind of a plan to build the Second Ave. Subway. This latest iteration is growing slowly, and in seven years — give or take a couple — something will open up, better late than never.
In other stimulus news, the MTA released its list of shovel-ready projects (PDF) a few weeks ago. It’s a fairly in-the-box list of station rehabs, gap-fillers for Union Square and some minor technology upgrades. It’s too bad the authority couldn’t take those funds for some of the CBTC programs that should be installed or for a major project such as the Culver Viaduct rehabilitation.
Per an e-mail from the MTA, Gov. David Paterson has accepted Elliot Sander’s resignation as the transportation authority’s CEO and executive director. Sander had tendered his resignation to Paterson earlier this year once it became clear that any MTA funding package would join the chairman and CEO positions at the MTA.
Sander commenced his CEO-ship on January 1, 2007 and, through no fault of his own, has overseen some of the rockier financial moments in the MTA’s history. His resignation is effective May 22, 2009. In a statement e-mailed this afternoon, he said:
“It has been a great honor to lead the 70,000 hard-working men and women who run the world’s greatest public transportation system. I am tremendously proud of our accomplishments making the MTA a leaner, more efficient and effective organization. Each of the MTA’s agencies is performing at peak levels, the relationship with our employees is dramatically improved and we communicate more frequently with our customers. The integration of the MTA’s three bus companies, the merging of back office functions across 7 agencies and the introduction of line general managers on the subway system will save the MTA millions and improve the agency’s performance. New innovations like rider report cards, text message alerts and Select Bus Service have improved the customer experience.
There is more work to be done, but I leave confident knowing the MTA is headed in the right direction. I am grateful to Governor Paterson and Governor Spitzer for this wonderful opportunity. I wish Governor Paterson the best of luck in choosing a successor who will build on the progress the MTA has made over the past two and a half years.”
Under the new state-mandated leadership structure, the CEO and Chairman will be the leader, and he or she can appoint an executive director to help guide the seven-agency behemoth.
Much will be said about Sander’s rocky term in the upcoming days and weeks, but in the end, I believe he did as good a job as he could have done considering the circumstances.
The MTA Board has scheduled an emergency board meeting for Monday, May 11 at 10 a.m. to vote on a new fare structure. At the meeting, planned in response state-approved rescue package, the Board will vote to discard the planned service hikes and will establish the new fares.
amNew York speculated on the fare structure this morning. Heather Haddon writes:
As a result, straphangers would see base fares increase from $2 to $2.25 starting probably in July. Meanwhile, monthly MetroCards are reported to increase from $81 to $89, and the MTA will likely boost the bonus on pay-per-ride cards from 15 percent to 20 percent.
There is no word on the minimum amount required for the pay-per-ride discount yet. This raises the discounted pay-per-ride fare from $1.74 to $1.88. The new fares should be into effect in either late June or early July.
As part of the political give-and-take between the state legislature and the MTA, the leadership structure of the transit agency will soon undergo a change. Right now, Elliot Sander is the full-time CEO and executive director of the authority while Dale Hemmerdinger is the part-time, unpaid chairman of the board.
The new scheme is part of the State Senate’s over-the-top and largely unnecessary effort to draw more transparency out of one of the more transparent public-benefit corporations around. Instead of two men sharing power, only one person will occupy the full-time paid position of chairman and CEO. If this streamlined leader so choose, he or she may bring on an executive director, but that executive director will be subordinate to the chairman/CEO.
With this framework on the way, the speculatin’ has begun: Who will stay? Who will go? Who will replace whom?
Right now, the answers to these questions are unclear. In March, I reported on a story concerning the future of Elliot Sander. At the time, anonymous whisperings indicated that Sander would lose his job and that David Paterson will appoint one of his own to fill the top slot. Remember, Sander is an Eliot Spitzer appointee.
Today, the news looks a little different. As the Daily News reports, the legislature has just killed Hemmerdinger’s job. While the real estate developer was to be in charge until 2011, the legislature has given him 30 more days on the job.
While transit advocates hope that Sander and his policy wonk background stay on the job, Bobby Cuza reported today that Sander’s fate is unknown. “I think it’s really up to the governor to decide. This is a really important position in terms of the State of New York, and I really think it’s up to the governor,” Sander said to NY1.
I’d stick with Sander. He’s become the face of a beleaguered transit agency, and I think he’s done an admirable job steering the MTA through an unavoidable and unsolvable crisis. He has a vision for the future and could produce a sound transit policy for New York City. Soon enough, though, we’ll see what David Paterson, the only man whose vote counts, has to say.