In an effort to find a way to connect Metro-North lines with Manhattan’s West Side, the MTA is working with the Extell to plan a new station at the real estate company’s Riverside South development. The new property is a 75-acre development on the site of the former New York Central Railroad’s 60th St. yards, and a Metro-North stop with quick access to Grand Central could greatly enhance the area’s appeal.

The West Side Spirit, a community newspaper covering the Upper West Side, first reported on talks between Extell and the MTA last week. This development came about at the behest of City Council Member Gale Brewer who reached out to Howard Permut, the president of Metro-North.

At some point soon, Robert MacLagger, the acting V.P. for planning with the railroad agency, will meet with Brewer and the developments to discuss the potential for this project. “The next step is to conduct further analysis of this potential station location and others,” Permut said in a letter to the council member.

For her part, Brewer expressed her belief that adding this access point to an area devoid of subway routes would encourage people in this new development to take the train. “It’s positive. It was nice to get this letter,” Brewer said of her response from Metro-North. “I can’t think of a better way to add transportation and get people out of their car.”

Expanding Metro-North access is a very positive goal. The tracks run right through this development, and a station there would make the area more transit-accessible while encouraging potential drivers to eschew cars. To make this station stop work, though, the MTA would have to set low fares from 60th St. to Grand Central, and if this stop ever comes to pass, the agency should make inter-system transfers available for those continuing on via subway.

(Ed. Note: As Marc notes in the comments to this post, one of the benefits actually doesn’t require an adjusted fare. This station would allow Metro-North to run trains into Penn Station via the Amtrak lines. Once the LIRR shifts some operations to Grand Central following the completion of the LIRR East Side Access project, the track space at Penn Station would open up as well.)

I would also encourage a substantial fiscal contribution to any potential project from Extell. A stop on the Far West Side at 60th St. would greatly enhance the appeal and value of the new developments, and real estate companies that stand to benefit from city expenditures should contribute to those projects.

Categories : Metro-North
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For months, the New York State legislature has resisted efforts to save the MTA, and last week, the MTA Board approved a package of fare hikes and service cuts designed to eliminate a budget gap in excess of $1.2 billion.

But finally, with New Yorkers’ collective backs against the proverbial wall, the State Senate is on the verge of passing something that will save the MTA. According to reports from the weekend, a political stalemate may be on the verge of breaking as the Senate will soon unveil a rescue plan insiders believe to be adequate to stave off fare hikes and service cuts. Whether this plan will solve the MTA’s financial problems or simply postpone the need for a permanent solution to a future date remains to be seen.

No matter what happens, the legislature will have to act fast to ensure passage and implementation before the MTA is set to enact its own cost-saving measures in May. Glenn Blain and Pete Donohue had the details:

State legislative leaders said Friday they expect to soon have a plan sparing riders from jarring fare hikes and punishing service cuts. Revenue-raising measures under discussion don’t include tolling East and Harlem river bridges but Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) said all options remain on the table.

Either way, a final package wouldn’t let drivers off the hook completely, sources said. If not tolls, motorists would have to help plug the MTA’s massive budget gaps through higher vehicle registration fees or some other driving-related charge, sources said. The rest of the plan is expected to include two other key recommendations from a panel headed by…Ravitch: modest fare hikes and a payroll tax on businesses in the MTA region, sources said.

After they emerged from a closed-door meeting with Gov. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Smith said they expect to finish hashing out the details of the doomsday-derailing plan early in the week. “Based on the conversations we’ve had of late, I think it won’t be in the budget bill but I think we’ll be passing it around the same time,” Smith said.

As the weekend ticked on, nothing else leaked out, but Senators expressed their belief that a deal could be reached early this week. The quotes NY1 dragged up from the Senators are rather priceless too. “The Democratic conference was always committed to do something responsible to stop the fare hikes, to improve service, to not develop tolls which exacerbate the problems of the working class in this city,” Bronx Senator Pedro Espada Jr., said.

Said Ruben Diaz, Sr., one Senator who probably doesn’t ride the subways, “My conscience is telling me that we in the Senate are having the best package for everyone that rides the subway.”

I will wait to reserve judgment on the adequacy or effectiveness of this plan until the details are released. It sounds as though Comptroller William C. Thompson’s driver license fee plan may be back on the table.

As is always the case from Albany, the Senate will now end up claiming the fare hike/service cuts high ground. They can craft a media image as rescuers of the MTA and earn undeserved political points for a financial crisis of their own doing.

Obviously, this story is far from over, but I am optimistic that the MTA’s Doomsday budget will be avoided. For now.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
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As one of the worst weeks in New York City transportation history draws to a close, let’s look at the impact the fare hike and service cuts will have on the city’s economy. Charles Komanoff analyzed just that issue for Streetsblog this week.

He writes:

I estimate that the fare hikes and service cuts which begin June 1 will:

  • Add an average of 6 percent more waiting and travel time to bus and subway commutes; which will…
  • cause 40,000 more autos to pile into the Manhattan Central Business District each day; which will…
  • slow traffic by an average of 5 percent in the CBD and 1-2 percent across the City; costing…
  • drivers, truckers and bus riders $600 million in lost time annually within the CBD, and probably $1.5 billion or more citywide.

The one-two punch of higher fares and less frequent service can be expected to shrink subway use by around 8 percent and bus ridership by 6 percent. This is a calamity not only to our city’s vitality but for the MTA as well, since it cuts deeply into the very revenue these measures were supposed to generate. Indeed, the BTA model projects that the real gain in farebox revenues won’t even reach $500 million — well under half of the projected $1.2 billion deficit.

The key criteria by which New York City transportation policies are judged are driver expenses, rider expenses, driver travel times and rider travel times. The MTA and the legislature have managed to worsen three out of four — and, for good measure, have aggravated others, such as traffic pollution and mayhem. A stopped clock could hardly have done worse.

I wonder if the politicians feel that keeping the East River bridges free will be worth that cost.

On another level, I disagree with the rest of Komanoff’s post. He calls the Ravitch Plan “a stop-gap solution” “rife with inequalities” and explains how Manhattanites would have benefited from clearer streets, New Jersey residents wouldn’t pay any tolls and the payroll tax shouldn’t impact Duchess County as much as it does New York.

I disagree with the former, have no problem with the second issue simply because New Jersey residents pay a lot to get into the city and the money goes to the Port Authority and don’t believe exurban Duchess County should be reward. Maybe instituting a payroll tax that lines up with the percentage of people served by the MTA per county would be more equitable, but in the end, the Ravitch Plan was far better than any other realistic scenario on the table.

Now on to the service changes….


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, downtown 1 trains skip 96th Street due to station rehabilitation at 96th Street.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, 2 trains run in two sections (due to a track chip-out at President Street):

  • Between 241st Street and Crown Heights-Utica Avenue and
  • Between Franklin Avenue and Brooklyn College-Flatbush Avenue

Customers must transfer to the shuttle train at Franklin Avenue for stations along Nostrand Avenue to Flatbush Avenue. Note: In the early morning hours between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., trains run every 30 minutes between Franklin and Flatbush Avenues.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, uptown 2 and 3 trains run local from 72nd to 96th Streets due to station rehabilitation at 96th Street. Note: Overnight, uptown 3 trains run local from 42nd to 96th Streets.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, downtown 2 and 3 trains skip 96th Street and run local from 86th Street to Chambers Street due to station rehabilitation at 96th Street. Note: Overnight, downtown 3 trains run local from 96th to 42nd Streets.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, Brooklyn-bound 2, 3 and 4 trains run express from Atlantic Avenue to Crown Heights-Utica Avenue due to a track chip-out at President Street. A shuttle train will operate between Franklin Avenue and Brooklyn College-Flatbush Avenue.


From 12:01 a.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday, March 28, from 12:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday, March 29 and from 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, Brooklyn-bound 4 trains run local from Grand Central-42nd Street to Brooklyn Bridge due to rail installation.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 27 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, free shuttle buses replace 5 trains between Dyre Avenue and East 180th Street due to structural and steel track work.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 29, Manhattan-bound 6 trains run express from Pelham Bay Park to Parkchester due to track panel installation from Castle Hill Avenue to Parkchester.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 29, the last stop for some Bronx-bound 6 trains is 3rd Avenue-138th Street due to track panel installation from Castle Hill Avenue to Parkchester.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, Bronx-bound 6 trains run express from 3rd Avenue to Hunts Point Avenue due to platform edge rehabilitation at the Cypress Avenue, East 143rd Street, East 149th Street and Longwood Avenue stations.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 27 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, 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 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, there is no C train service. 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 station rehabilitation project.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, Manhattan-bound D trains skip 174th-175th, 170th, 167th, 161st, and 155th Streets due to signal work south of Tremont Avenue.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, Bronx-bound D trains run local from 59th Street to 145th Street due to the Jay Street rehabilitation project.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 27 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, free shuttle buses replace D trains between 205th Street and Bedford Park Blvd. due to track chip-out north of Bedford Park Blvd.


From 11:30 p.m. Friday, March 27 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, Manhattan-bound E and F trains run local from Forest Hills-71st Avenue to Roosevelt Avenue due to a track chip-out north of Grand Avenue.


From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, Jamaica-bound EF trains run local from Roosevelt Avenue to Forest Hills -71st Avenue due to a track chip-out north of Grand Avenue.


From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, downtown F trains skip 23rd and 14th Streets due to conduit and cable work south of 34th Street.


From 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 27 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30 (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 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., Saturday, March 28, J trains run in two sections (due to track cleaning):

  • Between Jamaica Center and Essex Street and
  • Between Essex and Chambers Streets


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 29, there are no N trains between Queensboro Plaza and Lexington Avenue-59th Street due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza. Customers may take the 7 instead.


From 5 a.m. to midnight Saturday, March 28 and from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 29, 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 456Q or R instead.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 29, N trains skip Prince, 8th, 23rd, and 28th Streets in both directions due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza. Customers may take the Q instead.


From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29, N trains are rerouted over the Manhattan Bridge between DeKalb Avenue and Canal Street in both directions due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza. Customers should take the Q instead.


From 4 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 29, Q trains run local on the R line between 57th Street-7th Avenue and DeKalb Avenue in both directions due to switch renewal at Queensboro Plaza.


From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, March 28 to 5 a.m. Monday, March 30, R trains are extended to the 179th Street F station due to a track chip-out north of Grand Avenue.

Categories : Service Advisories
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Every now and then, The Post’s’ in-your-face style of tabloid reporting comes up with a gem of a piece. This one — in which Brendan Scott and Tom Namako confronted the six anti-MTA State Senators over their lack of subway support — is just such a piece.

As Streetsblog noted earlier, four of the six senators who do not support the Ravitch Plan claimed to use the subway. One — Hiram Monserrate — couldn’t be reached for comment due to his legal troubles. The other? Well, take it away, Ruben Diaz, Sr.:

And one of the lawmakers who came up empty-handed, Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx), exploded when asked if he ever rides the transit system.

“Don’t ask me if I ride or don’t ride. It doesn’t mean anything,” said Diaz. “Who rides the subway doesn’t matter. You don’t listen to me. It doesn’t matter who rides the subway. I don’t care who rides the train or who doesn’t ride the train.

“Listen to what I’m saying,” he said on a continuing tirade. “English, English, English. I don’t care who rides the train who rides the train or not. Whoever rides the train or whenever they ride the train, I’m offering the best plan.”

That plan, one that he said would hit straphangers with only “a 4 percent” fare increase, was slammed by Gov. Paterson, the MTA and transit advocates as having bad math. It would actually carry a 17 percent fare increase, they said.

“I’m here representing a community,” Diaz said. “For the community I represent, I’m offering four things: No layoffs, no tolls, no cut of services, and a 4 percent increase of fare.”

Diaz’s response is typical. He can’t handle getting challenged on an obvious issue and just starts blubbering away about nothing related to the problem at hand. His constituents should be up in arms over this.

But while Diaz’s reaction makes for good headlines and pull quotes, Ruth Hassell-Thompson comes across even worse. “I blocked the plan because we have to be sure that what we’re paying for is what we’re really getting,” she said. “If the service isn’t improving, why the hell am I giving them more money?”

Why the hell are you giving them more money, Ruth? So the MTA can stay afloat. So the MTA can continue to provide the same level of service it currently provides. So the MTA doesn’t have to raise fares, cut service and fire employees to balance its books.

This reaction simply angers me. It’s stunningly out of touch with reality and represents a complete abrogation of Hassell-Thompson’s duty as an elected representative of New York City. If politicians can’t understand this — or, in the case of Hassell-Thompson, refuse to acknowledge the situation on the ground — there is no hope for the city.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
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  • MTA workers fear for their jobs · While transit advocates have focused on the fare hike aspect of the MTA’s Doomsday budget, employee cuts are another major part of the authority’s cost-savings efforts. According to MTA documents, around 1100 workers will find themselves out of their jobs. The cuts will hit station agents and bus drivers the hardest, and those with less than two years of service time are going to be the first to go.

    Both The Daily News and NY1 reported on aspects of this plan today, and while I don’t like it from a personal security point of view, MTA workers are known to, well, sleep on the job and otherwise not fulfill their duties. These cuts may just make the MTA workforce more efficient and responsible. · (8)

Following a week of bad news for the MTA, the agency’s financial future grew a little dimmer yesterday as Moody’s, the bond-rating agency, warned of an impending rating downgrade. If Moody’s enacts this downgrade, the MTA would be slammed with higher interest rates and would find it harder to borrow money or issue new bonds.

The Times’ William Neuman had more:

The warning applied to about $12 billion in what are known as Transportation Revenue bonds. The bonds are backed by the fares paid by bus, subway and commuter rail riders, as well as other sources, including taxes on real estate transactions, which have declined with the worsening economy.

The report cited the authority’s deepening financial crisis and the failure of the State Legislature to enact a rescue plan backed by Gov. David A. Paterson. In response to the lack of action in Albany, and to help close a $1.2 billion deficit, the authority’s board voted on Wednesday to move ahead with a steep increase in fares and tolls and deep cuts to service.

“In the absence of a long-term funding solution from the State Legislature,” the report said, further fare increases and service cuts were probable. Even so, the report said, the authority faces growing budget deficits in coming years. It warned that “stopgap measures will not stabilize the long-term fiscal health of the M.T.A.”

As a result, the report said, the authority’s financial projections “may not support” the current rating for its fare-backed bonds.

As Neuman notes, Moody’s warning is a direct result of Albany inaction, and MTA officials were quick to point out the relation. “It is making the very direct connection between the failure of Albany to act and the financial viability of the MTA,” CFO Gary Dellaverson said.

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but the point remains: Albany is not taking this MTA crisis seriously. Considering the very public and active statements of the MTA leaders, I’m not inclined to blame them for Albany inaction. Maybe it’s a nature of a legislative body with upstate representation attempting to legislate for New York. Maybe it’s a problem of out-of-touch politicians who don’t know their constituent needs. Maybe New York state really should split into two, as five State Senators recently suggested.

Whatever the cause, whatever the solution, as Albany delays, the MTA’s financial picture looks worse every day.

Categories : MTA Economics
Comments (4)
Mar
27

Thirty days hath Albany

By · Comments (4) ·

While New York sits in fear of fare hikes to come, straphangers can spy a slight glimmer of hope at the end of the fare hike tunnel. The MTA isn’t planning on preparing to implement the 23 percent fare hike and the massive service cuts approved this week until May. That still gives Albany until the end of April to act.

“We really have the month of April before people get impacted,” MTA CEO and Executive Director Elliot Sander said this week. “You could reverse some of these actions in May, but they will already start taking place in terms of hitting our customers.”

As the MTA gears up for the latest fare hike, Pete Donohue explained how Albany action could stave off the hikes before the end of April:

The higher subway and bus fares take effect May 31. Commuter train fare increases take effect on June 1 – but June passes go on sale in May. Most service cuts would be phased in between June and December.

With each passing day it becomes more expensive and difficult to halt or scale back the service cuts and hikes, officials said. Subway and bus fares aren’t changed with the simple push of a button, officials said.

New fare tables have to be compiled and then downloaded to every turnstile, token-booth computer, MetroCard vending machine and bus fare box in the bus and subway system, NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said. Staffers must go to thousands of individual pieces of equipment and verify data in advance of the May 31 fare-hike date, officials said.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign echoed Donohue’s report. “There are many paths elected officials can take, but only two possible futures,” Steven Higashide wrote. “In one, state elected officials get behind a comprehensive, long-term plan that addresses the MTA’s operating and capital budgets and allows for continued investment in the region’s transportation network. In the other, they pass a half-solution or do nothing at all, and the system steadily deteriorates.”

Hopefully, Albany will pick the former. But as time ticks on and nothing emerges from the State Senate, I grow less optimistic by the day.

Categories : Doomsday Budget
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While the ink has hardly dried on the MTA Board’s imprimatur to the fare hikes and service cuts, transit advocates are gearing up for another round of hikes. Unfortunately for transit-dependent New Yorkers, the MTA may now be on an annual hike plan to cover its ever-growing debt payments, and the next fare hike may come along as early as 2010.

Streetsblog had word of a statement from Gene Russianoff on the potential frequency of future hikes:

Without new financial help from Albany soon, the MTA says its current bad finances may mean another fare hike in 2010.

That would make it three years in a row for fare increases — March 2008, June 2009 and early 2010 — the worst record in the MTA’s 40-plus year history.

It demonstrates a trend of shifting the costs of operating transit from some beneficiaries of the subways and buses — such as motorists and businesses — onto riders. For example, the riders’ share of operating costs for the subways will go from 69% to an astonishing 84%, according to the MTA, if the just-approved fare increases are implemented.

Under the plan proposed by former MTA chairman Richard Ravitch, no new fare hike would occur before 2011.

Of course, all of this — absent general inflation-based fare hikes — could be avoided if Albany were to act. In one swoop, the State Senate could avoid extreme fare hikes and service cuts this year and any fare hike next year.

Maybe though instead of waiting for Malcolm Smith to get his ducks in a row, Sheldon Silver should, as the Post suggested today, pass a one-house bailout. Assembly action would force the State Senate’s hand. It could also create more of a press and voter uproar over Senate inaction.

Anyway, transit’s future in New York City is bleak. The MTA needs a few billion for its operating budget and has a $30 billion five-year capital plan in its pocket too. At a time when the economy needs transit, when the environment needs transit, when the city needs transit, we’re sitting here talking about the potential for a third fare hike in three years rather than true progressive solutions to something that shouldn’t be such a problem.

Categories : Fare Hikes
Comments (1)

Citing the need to “assure the kind of quality mass transit that our economy and our communities demand,” Assembly representative Richard Brodsky, State Senator Bill Perkins and 12 other assembly members have called on Gov. David Paterson to reform the MTA finances.

In a public letter to the governor (available here as a PDF), the two representatives, heads of their chambers’ respective Committees on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, want to see real financial reform from the beleaguered transit agency.

“The fundamental problems of transparency, accountability, Board responsibilities and functions, oversight and public trust have become slogans that we all speak, but have not yet enacted,” they wrote. “We write because we strongly believe this financial crisis is an opportunity to, at least, fundamentally reform the MTA.”

The problems, according to Perkins and Brodsky, start at the top. “We need to open up the operations of the MTA, to provide regular outside overisght, and to ensure that the MTA and its Board are required to fulfill their mission. While this sounds simple and obvious,” the letter says, “it has become clear to us that the MTA and its’ (sic) Boards have not been able to meet these standards.”

Brodsky and Perkins’ ideas are mostly sound and most tame, considering the rhetoric in the letter. They write:

1) Board Members of the MTA should be subject to a statutory fiduciary duty to the mission and purpose of the MTA, as set forth in existing statutes.

2) There should be created a MTA/Authority Accountability Office to oversee that fiduciary duty and MTA operations, to recommend to the Legislature effective reforms of debt, compensation, MWBE, property disposition and other issues, to inquire into MTA activities and resolve complaints, and to receive and publish MTA documents. This is modeled on the successful NYC Budget Office.

3) The MTA should be required to publish, in real time, its finances, policies, plans and decisions. The current system relies heavily on post-facto audits. These do a reasonable job in telling us what went wrong. They do little to stop mistakes. Real-time review by the public, the Legislature, and the Authority Accountability Office could prevent problems not just explain why they happened.

4) The Comptroller should be empowered, consistent with the constitutional duties of the Office, to review selected contracts issued by the MTA.

My concerns about this proposal though stem not from their aims or ideas but rather from their misguided critiques of recent MTA problems: “Recent events at the MTA including the 2 Broadway deal, the 7 Line extension, the failure to publicly acknowledge cash resources, the failure to seek state and city support before voting for fare increases, and the focus on non-essential matters such as EZ-Passes for Board Members, has left the public with little confidence in the MTA.

Those aren’t recent events at the MTA, as Brodsky and Perkins allege, but recent news coverage of the MTA. As Chris O’Leary noted here yesterday, the myths about the MTA’s finances are largely media-driven, and Brodsky and Perkins are doing nothing to end the misconceptions that have allowed the State Senate to stall on a rescue plan.

Item-by-item: The 7 line extension is fully funded by the city, and the MTA shouldn’t have been blamed for failing to cover cost overruns. The MTA didn’t fail to seek state and city support before voting for fare increases. Rather, the state and city failed to support the MTA and had nearly a year’s notice of impending financial doom. The focus on the EZ-Pass scandal made for some juicy tabloid coverage but had little to do with the actual operations of the MTA. If the public has no confidence in the MTA, it is because the MTA is losing the public relations battle.

Brodsky and Perkins could have gone after the MTA for legitimate reasons. They could have examined issues concerning budget transparency, union relations and a bloated bureaucratic management structure. Instead, they chose to focus on the same old non-issues that make for good headlines and have little to do with the ingrained problems plaguing the MTA.

The Senate and Assembly should have more financial oversight of the MTA but not until the legislatures have shown they know what to do with that responsibility. Nothing I’ve seen out of Albany over the last month lead to believe any state representative could handle that duty.

Categories : MTA Politics
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  • MTA officially shelves SAS third track · Nine months ago, I reported on a proposed MTA plan to save money on the Second Ave. Subway construction costs by cutting the planned third track at 72nd St. While the track had been drawn up to allow other trains to bypass stalled cars, the MTA has officially decided it is an unnecessary expense, and Capital Construction cut it this week to save money. The agency is calling the cut a a $90 million savings, but because redesigning the 72nd St. station will cost $25 million, the decision to sacrifice future flexibility for present savings will net the project $65 million. It hardly seems worth it.

    In talking about the cuts at yesterday’s MTA Board meeting, Michael Horodniceanu compared the revamped Second Ave. Subway design to a poorly made American car. “We’re getting a Chevy,” he said of the long-awaited line. (Audio here.) I hope the city doesn’t come to regret the need to skimp on construction of this important new line. · (10)
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