• Ravitch Commission hearing schedule announced · The Ravitch Commission, tasked with identifying ways to improve the MTA’s finances, has announced its upcoming hearing dates. Mobilizing the Region reports the dates as follows: Monday, Sept. 15 at NYU’s Kimmel Center; Monday, Sept. 22 in Mineola; and Wednesday, Sept. 24 in White Plains. I have class for much of the day on Mondays, but since I’m literally right next door, I’ll drop in to check out the afternoon session.

    However, while I can watch the hearings unfold, I won’t be able to chime in with my two cents. As amNew York notes today, people testifying in front of the commission will speak on invite only. The public will be able to contribute written statements only. According to the paper, more details about the hearing should be released today. · (0)

On Friday afternoon — long a favored time of the Bush Administration to drop bad news — came word that the federal Highway Trust Fund is going to run out of money before October. At first blush, it doesn’t seem as though this news would impact mass transportation in New York City, but, as with all things transit, the funds from one area impact the entire department. The mass transit infrastructure in New York City and throughout the nation could bear the brunt of this financial shortfall.

Times reporters David Stout and Matthew L. Wald illuminate the issue for us:

An important account in the federal Highway Trust Fund will run out of money this month, a situation that could hamper completion of road and bridge construction projects across the country, Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said on Friday.

Because the trust fund’s highway account is draining away, the Transportation Department will have to delay payments for projects, Ms. Peters said at a news conference. Since money from Washington typically pays 80 to 90 percent of the cost of federally aided road work, states with shaky finances may have to consider curtailing projects…

Another possible solution would be to transfer money to the highway account from the account that the trust fund maintains to finance mass transit. But lawmakers from large cities that rely on trust-fund aid for their transit systems could be expected to resist such a move.

Stout and Wald’s conclusion here is actually a total understatement and misrepresentation of the facts. As The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, the Bush Administration would prefer to take money from mass transit and move it into the highway fund. But Congress rightly and soundly rejected that effort.

In the end, though, this detail doesn’t impact the bigger picture. The Department of Transportation is facing a shortage of money due to rising gas prices, more fuel efficient vehicles and fewer miles traveled. These causes of the shortfall should be applauded, but mass transit — and the nation’s transportation network on the whole — will suffer. Congress and USDOT need to figure out a forward-looking solution to this problem. No longer can we as a society afford to rely on measures that contribute to our energy and environmental crises.

On a local level, this news has direct ramifications for the MTA and, in particular, its current big-ticket items. A significant amount of the funding for Phase I of the Second Ave. Subway comes from the federal Department of Transportation, and clearly, these plans are not high up on the list of priorities coming out of a Republican-run DOT. While we may see a changing of the guard over the next few months, roads will always come first on a national level.

As the Second Ave. Subway trudges its way toward a completion, eight decades after the plans were first announced, forces are conspiring against it. But the MTA, the city and the state can’t let another obstacle interfere with this progress. The subways should be okay; the MTA should get its money; but nothing is taken for granted along the Second Ave. Subway.

Comments (0)

Stay home

By · Comments (4) ·

This may be the worst weekend all year for service delays. Nearly every line has multiple route changes that go into effect tonight at 12:01 a.m. You’ll see stops skipped, lines rerouted, the whole shebang.

SubwayWeekender has the changes in a convenient map form. Me? Well, after last night’s ride home, I might just walk everywhere this weekend, Saturday’s rain be damned.

I wonder why New York City Transit has stopped releasing these service changes in press release form. Anyway, they’re all available in the Know Before You Go e-mails.

Downtown 1 and 2 trains skip 86 and 79 Sts
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Uptown 1 and 2 trains run express from Chambers to 34 Sts
Sep 6 – 7, 12:01 AM to 5 AM Sat and Sun

Brooklyn-bound 2, 3 and 4 trains skip Bergen St, Grand Army Plaza, and Eastern Pkwy
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Manhattan-bound A trains run local from Euclid Av to Broadway Junction, then express to Utica Av, trains resume local service to 125 St, then run express to 168 St
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Brooklyn-bound A trains run local from 168 to West 4 Sts, then on the F to Jay St, trains resume local service to Euclid Av
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

No C trains running
Take the A instead
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Bronx-bound D trains skip 170, 174-175, and 182-183 Sts
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Queens-bound E trains run local from Queens Plaza to Roosevelt Av
Sep 6 – 8, 12:30 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Manhattan-bound E trains run express from 71-Continental to Roosevelt Avs
Sep 6, 12:01 AM to 12 noon Saturday

Manhattan-bound E trains run local from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza
Sep 5 – Oct 6, 11:30 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon – I’m not sure why this e-mail said October, but that’s what it said.

Queens-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av
Sep 6 – 8, 12:30 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Queens-bound F trains run on the V from 47-50 Sts to Roosevelt Av
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Downtown F trains skip 23 and 14 Sts
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Manhattan-bound F trains run local from Roosevelt Av to 21 St-Queensbridge
Sep 5 – Oct 6, 11:30 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon – Again with the October

No G trains between 71-Continental Avs and Court Sq
Take the E or R instead
Sep 5 – 8, 8:30 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon

G trains run every 20 minutes between Court Sq and Smith-9 Sts
Sep 5 – 8, 11 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon

J trains run in two sections:

  1. Between Jamaica Center and Essex St
  2. Between Essex and Chambers Sts

Transfer at Essex St to continue your trip
Sep 6 – 8, 1 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

N and Q trains run on the R between DeKalb Av and Canal St
Sep 6 – 8, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon

Manhattan-bound R trains run express from 71-Continental to Roosevelt Avs
Sep 6, 12:01 AM to 12 noon Saturday

Categories : Service Advisories
Comments (4)

This may have been a tad bit extreme. (Photo courtesy of Reuters.)

New Yorkers often like to gripe about traveling around the city with a common refrain. “I coulda walked faster,” we’ll say about slow subway trips and sluggish cab rides through the congestion Big Apple. Tonight, I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that.

In an effort to get myself home from law school tonight, I had to travel from W. 4th St. back to Park Slope in Brooklyn. It was after midnight, and that spells trouble in the subways. My first mistake was getting on an F train. Those are running on the A. I tried to switch to a 4 at Fulton St., and while the train came pretty quickly, we pulled into Wall St. and sat and sat and sat and sat. Eventually, the conductor told us about some single-tracking through the Joralemon St. tunnel due to track work.

When we finally made it to Atlantic Ave., the train ran express instead of local and, thus, would have bypassed my stop. I switched to a 2, and ninety minutes after swiping through, I made it home. According to Google Maps’ handy new walking directions, I almost could have walked faster.

I was pretty irate when I got home. A lack of communication on the part of the MTA — surprise! — had me and the other disgruntled passengers guessing about which train was heading where. The conductor on the F didn’t know if the train would go to Coney Island or travel along the A. The conductor on the 4 couldn’t tell us much of anything for nearly 15 minutes. But, hey, at least we’re not in Argentina.

Yesterday, a group of Argentinian commuters set fire to a delayed train. Reuters reports:

Furious rail commuters in Argentina set fire to a train on Thursday in anger over delays during the morning rush hour. Television images showed black smoke and flames engulfing the train at the station of Merlo, in the western suburbs of the capital, Buenos Aires. At nearby Castelar, passengers hurled stones at the ticket office and blocked the rails.

“We understand that people get angry when the service is delayed or canceled, but they absolutely can’t attack a public service in this way,” Gustavo Gago, a spokesman for rail company TBA, told local television.

Many passengers said the delays, caused by a broken down train, had cost them a day’s work.

I’m sure New Yorkers on many occasions felt the urge to burn their delayed trains. But that doesn’t solve the problem; it just causes more delays.

Comments (8)
  • NYCT, NYPD in talks over bus-fare crackdowns · With their new $100 fare-beating fines in place, the MTA is set to make some waves. As soon as it can iron out a deal with the NYPD over the costs of a potential program, New York City Transit is set to begin a crackdown on bus fare-beaters. Numerous routes feature riders who feel entitled to enter through the back of the bus without paying a fare. These riders, when called out by bus drivers, often get belligerent and attack the drivers. A crackdown on this behavior would be most welcome. · (0)

Long has the MTA — and, in particularly, New York City Transit — borne the label of technophobe. While subway systems across the nation and globe have long enjoyed video information boards and digital communications systems, NYC Transit has yet to bring this technology to New York City’s straphanging masses.

Well, the wait is sorta, kinda, almost over. According to NY1, the MTA has unveiled digital notice boards along the L and 7 lines, those line-managed icons of experimentation. The story:

Transit officials are testing a new program to alert subway riders with digital announcement boards in the event of delays.

Straphangers at six stations on the 7 and L lines will see video screens inside token booths as part of a pilot program. For now, they are only broadcasting public service announcements, but officials say they will provide up-to-the-minute information on service disruptions.

The Station Agent Information Display program, or SAID, cost the MTA $30,000 so far.

Officials at the rail control center will be able to send messages to individual stations, or groups of stations using wireless technology.

As with everything new in the subways, this is part of a pilot program, and the line managers say that station agents will continue to use those useless and uninformative white boards that I always thought were hanging up in the station booths for decoration. Why else would they still feature messages from July 22, 2005 when the NYPD started randomly searching bags in the subway?

Of course, the typical caveats apply: These boards are only as useful as the information on them. Right now, as the video story on NY1’s recently redesigned Website shows, the boards are being utilized only for the same old MTA PSA’s we’ve all had drilled into our subconscious: If you see something, say something. Throw away your trash. Sign up for the e-mail alerts.

The first real test of these boards will come during an unexpected service delay. If these boards help passengers find out before entering the system that trains are delayed, if they help re-route lost, confused or stranded passengers, then we can label them a success and call for systemwide implementation. But until that day, they’re just fancy TV monitors that happen to hang in the booth in your nearest subway stop.

Categories : MTA Technology
Comments (9)
  • Replicating a subway stop as a bathroom · Way too many people tend to view subway stations as their personal bathrooms. Now, one Glaswegian artist has decided to make his own bathroom a subway stop. Inspired by a visit to New York City ten years, Travis the Trannyboi has converted his bathroom to resemble the DeKalb Ave. stop in Brooklyn. The artist says he likes the tiles as a bathroom aesthetic, and in a rationale to which New Yorkers can relate, he says that the unique look distracts from the tiny loo. You can read more about this odd bathroom and see pictures on the Wired Autopia blog. What this says about the subways I leave up to your imagination. · (2)

7th Ave. Tiles 2

The F’s Seventh Ave. stop in Brooklyn is just one of many stations in need of rehabilitation. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

Back in June, when the MTA announced $2.7 billion in capital construction costs, subway advocates around the city groaned. Among those cuts were plans to rehabilitate 19 stations in dire need of renovations, and it seemed like business as usual for the cash-starved MTA.

Well, look what happens in an election year. Patrick Arden of Metro New York reports today that the MTA has withdrawn the plans to cut $2.7 billion for its construction budget and may be amending and resubmitting the planned cuts. He reports:

The MTA withdrew a controversial plan to slash 15 percent from its current five-year capital program last week, just days before the proposal faced a state panel’s deadline.

“We were prepared to support the amendment,” said Long Island Republican John Flanagan, the state Senate’s rep on the MTA Capital Program Review Board. “But the Assembly had some major concerns.”

These concerns centered on $2.4 billion in cuts to city subway and bus programs, including the loss of rehabs to 19 stations. Overall, the $2.7 billion in MTA cuts were technically “deferred” into the next five-year capital program, yet funding for that plan remains uncertain. In shifting resources, the MTA had proposed several new projects to address subway flooding and overcrowding, altering subway vents and buying new cars. For now, those items are in limbo.

While Arden couldn’t get a hold of any Assembly members willing to dish, MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin told the reporter, “We expect to resubmit the amendment.”

To me, this seems like a classic case of legislative cold feet. Faced with an upcoming election and recent attention to the state legislature’s unwillingness to fund the MTA as it should, Assembly representatives are asking the beleaguered transit agency to cut back on the cuts. If I were a betting man, I’d say that some of the 19 stations scheduled for rehabilitation will get that overhaul, but the Smith/9th Sts. stop probably won’t get the extensive face lift it needs.

I’m sure in a few days or weeks — once we have a better sense of the Ravitch proposals — the MTA will resubmit their plans for budget cuts, and I’m sure the Assembly won’t like it one bit. But until state leaders are willing to fund the MTA, this cat-and-mouse budget game will continue ad nauseum. And some people say history doesn’t repeat itself.

Categories : MTA Economics
Comments (4)
  • MetroCards as art · My current 30-Day Unlimited MetroCard is hardly a work of act. On the back, it says “Si ves algo, di algo” and gives me the MTA’s standard anti-terrorism message in Spanish. But over the years, the MTA has released many special- and limited-edition MetroCards. As Vincent M. Mallozzi of The Times told us over the weekend, memorabilia buffs have been collecting and trading MetroCards for years. I love stories such as this one. It’s a reminder of the joys — and quirks — that can arise from something as simple as a MetroCard. · (1)
Page 415 of 500« First...413414415416417...Last »