MetroCard payments getting EZ-er

By · Published in 2007 · Comments (4) ·

While not the most exciting of news especially after Monday’s fun with condoms, now, subway riders won’t end up harming their naughty bits with the EasyPay XPress MetroCard, a balance replenishing system that works much like the EZ-Pass program.

Using super-advanced technology – no wait, basic computer technology – the MTA has finally figured out a way to tie your MetroCard into your bank account, reports The Daily News. So says the newspaper:

The EasyPay XPress MetroCard, which is good for two years, works like the popular EZPass system. When the card’s balance dips to $25, it’s replenished with a $50 infusion.

Although EasyPay XPress MetroCards were designed with express bus riders in mind, subway and local bus riders can also use them, officials said.

“Initiatives like EasyPay XPress are designed to make it as easy and convenient as possible for our customers to access MTA services,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director and CEO Elliot Sander said.

Except for those of us who have done the economics and prefer the unlimited options, never again will unsuspecting straphangers bang into the turnstile bar without noticing the Insufficient Fare sign light up. Instead, the MTA will just suck the money out of your bank account, $2 at a time.

Edit: One commenter asked if the pay-per-ride discount applies. It does. If you buy $20 worth of rides, you get a $24 MetroCard. Likewise, when the MTA charges your bank account $50, you get $60 on your MetroCard.

Old-school blue MetroCard picture courtesy of AMNY.com.

Categories : MetroCard
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Condoms a la NYC Subways

By · Published in 2007 · Comments (28) ·

With the Disney-fication of Times Square, the closing of the city’s numerous sex shops and the lower presence of prostitution, it was only a matter of time before safe sex became the agenda du jour of City Hall. While the rest of the country struggles with the idiocy of abstinence-only education, Mayor Bloomberg will soon unveil New York City condoms wrapped in the colors of the New York City subway lines, says The Post.

The condoms, produced by LifeStyles, will be wrapped in colored foil corresponding to one of the MTA’s distinct subway lines. “The condom packets will be modeled after the New York City subway system. Every foil will have a color,” said Carol Carozza, spokeswoman for Ansell, LifeStyle’s parent company, told The Post.

Now, while promoting safe sex is a noble venture, especially in the city that leads the nation in AIDS cases, I have to wonder just how closely tied in to the subway lines this promotion will be. And so I bring to you condom styles based on the subway lines.

The G Condom Condoms wrapped in the familiar lime green of the ever-unreliable G train are for the man in your life who takes a while. Generally, you have to wait a long time for the train to come, and when it does, it’s usually a short one.
The 6 Condom As the 6 was once again rated the best subway line in the city, by the Straphangers Campaign, the 6 condoms, wrapped in vibrant green, are for great sex. Ribbed for her pleasure, perhaps?
The 7 Condom Ah, the 7 train. In the immortal words of John Rocker, it’s home to “some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids.” But it’s also the dirtiest train in the city with just 55 percent of the cars passing the Straphangers’ cleanliness test. But 89 percent of the time, the 7 is on time. So I guess this one’s quick and dirty.
The Shuttle This one just goes back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.
The M Condom A lovely shade of brown, the M train condoms will mirror the Nassau Street Local. It doesn’t come to frequently; it’s pretty empty; and it breaks down a lot. Maybe it needs some Viagra?
The 1 Condom And last but not least, we get the 7th Ave. Local. It keeps itself clean with frequent, on-time service, but it’s tough to find a seat. It also stops everywhere. So this is the condom for the man with less-than-discriminating taste and an unsatiated appetite for sex.

Yes, the K train was a real subway line in New York. It ran on various routes in the city, most recently as the 8th Ave. Local. The last K train rode off into the sunset on December 10, 1988. Read more at Wikipedia.

Categories : MTA Absurdity
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Sander, new MTA CEO, to make first key appointment

By · Published in 2007 · Comments (1) ·

Elliot “Lee” Sander is a big player in the transportation scene in New York. A professor at NYU, Sander has a wealth of academic and professional experience under his belt. Most recently, he served on the TLC’s Board of Commissioners. But now, he faces a high-profile position as Governor Eliot Spitzer has tapped him as the MTA’s newest executive director and chief executive.

As Spitzer has long pushed for an overhaul at the MTA, from Chairman Peter Kalikow on down, Sander will play an important role in shaping the future of transportation and transportation policy in New York. He’ll get to flex his muscles nearly immediately as Lawrence G. Reuter, the president of New York City Transit, announced his resignation. He’ll leave to, coincidentally, join the engineering firm that designed New York City’s IRT line 122 years ago. It now falls on Sander’s shoulders to find a suitable replacement for the man in charge of the city’s buses and subways.

Under Reuter, the city’s transportation system experienced a massive growth in ridership. As The Times reported, “Annual subway ridership reached 1.45 billion trips in 2005, the highest total since 1953 and a 31 percent increase over 1996, when Mr. Reuter took over the agency. Annual bus ridership rose by 53 percent, to 736 million trips, in the same period.”

For us subway and transportation buffs, this is a Big Deal. It’s Spitzer’s and Sander’s chance to put a real stamp on the future of the subways. Will they pick a visionary who could guide New York City Transit in its efforts to land the funds and will to build the needed subway lines? Will they find someone who can adequately address the potential of terrorism and the subways? Can they find someone who will partake in Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC2030 plan to clean up and renovate every subway station in the next 23 years? I hope so.

In other Sander news, the new MTA director announced earlier this week that he would try to ride “many” of the subway lines so that he can understand his job. Um, well, that’s a relief. I sure hope the MTA is headed up by someone who might ride the subway now and then and actually understand what he’s supposed to be doing. Now, if only they’ll start talking about that Second Ave. subway.

Image courtesy of NYC.gov.

Categories : MTA Politics
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Six friends break subway record

By · Published in 2007 · Comments (4) ·

Friday was a record-breaking day for the New York City subway. Six friends, all grads of Regis High School, broke the record for fastest per-navigation of the New York City Subway on a single fare.

Headed by New York City transit buff Bill Amarosa, the group completed their Rapid Transit Challenge more than 90 minutes faster than the previous best. Here’s what New York 1 had to say:

“It was a unique experience it was definetely worth ten years of waiting for,” said Amarosa. “It is probably something I won’t do again in the immediate future; but it was great to spend a day on the subway with other New Yorkers, with my friends and classmates. It was just an awesome experience.”

“I was really proud because he was planning this for a long time and when he said he was actually going to do it, it was great, really great,” said Carol Amarosa, Bill’s mother. “He’s wanted to do it for 12 years.”

The group started out at 3:30 Thursday afternoon at the Rockaway Park station in Queens and they made it to the 241st Street station in the Bronx by 4 p.m. Friday.

By starting at Rockaway Park in Queens, the group of friends made sure to cover the hardest-to-reach stations first. They started on the outskirts of the New York City subway and made their way eastward (with some backtracking during the day).

The group included their 125 favorite photos from the day on their website. It will still be a while before the Guinness Book of World Records certifies this new run as the official world record.

Image from Rapid Transit Challenge.

Categories : MTA Absurdity
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Post: Bar ban presenting a potential conflict

By · Published in 2006 · Comments (1) ·

After a tragic accident on an LIRR train involving a drunk passenger, the MTA board announced in December that they might consider a ban on alcohol sales on MetroNorth and Long Islrand Rail Road trains. Clearly, commuters looking to take the edge off a busy day at work were none too thrilled about this news.

But all is not what it seems, as the New York Post reported on Tuesday. According to an exclusive report, the board member behind the drive to ban alcohol sales, Mitchell Pally, works for the law firm that represents many of the bars and restaurants in Penn Station. These bars and restaurants would clearly benefit from a ban of on-board alcohol sales on commuter trains.

Long Island Rail Road bartenders, who fear their jobs are on the line, say it was only after Mitchell Pally was hired three months ago to handle “government relations” at the Weber Law Group, a Melville-based firm, that talk of the prohibition began.
“We’ve all been wondering where this whole thing came from, and when we checked the company’s Web site, we thought we may have our answer,” said one LIRR bar-cart attendant, who asked not to be identified.

Other MTA board members say this conflict of interests certainly raises some eyebrows, and they’ll be looking into it before issuing any decision on an alcohol ban.

Categories : MTA Absurdity
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Image from Gothamist.

Gimme shelter, sang the Rolling Stones, and now New York City along with street furniture company Cemusa has obliged.

Alright, alright. Sorry for the cheesy lead. In all seriousness, yesterday, the City and Cemusa unveiled the first of what will be 3300 new bus shelters across the city. As you can see, these shelters are sleeker than the old ones and come equipped with whatever modern amenities one can cram into a bus station. As Gothamist notes, the bus shelters will feature the following:

  • Each bus shelter will include bench seating. The bench is vandal-resistant and designed to prevent reclining.
  • The bus shelters display the name of the bus stop in prominent letters that can be read by approaching passengers. An illuminated interior side panel will display customer service information such as bus route maps.
  • The design of the bus shelter ensures meaningful protection from the elements. Specifically designed to prevent any blind spots, the bus shelter provides excellent visibility for added security.
  • The components of each bus shelter are made from recyclable materials that are free from pollutants and will have minimal impact on the environment.

Sounds good. What else is in it for the City and Cemusa? Money, of course. From Mediaweek:

The shelter and all the new street furniture elements have a simple, contemporary design that blends into the streetscape of New York. In 2007, Cemusa will add more bus shelters, begin to replace City newsstands and build the public toilets.

To start the contract, Cemusa delivered the first $50 million cash payment to the City in June. Under the terms of the agreement, Cemusa will provide the City with $999 million cash and $398 million of in-kind services, including ad space on street furniture elements around the world, which will promote the City as a tourism destination.

So the City gets $999 million in cash and $398 million worth of ad space. Cemusa, on the other hand, gets to keep the rest of the ad revenue they derive from selling space on the bus shelters but must pay for the upkeep of these new shelters. I wonder if the glass is scratchiti-resistant.

After all, a vandal war is just a scratch away.

For more images, check out this (annoying) PDF file from CEMUSA. Why these can’t be JPEG files on site, I don’t know.

Categories : Buses
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Feds ride to the 2nd Ave. subway rescue

By · Published in 2006 · Comments (3) ·

So this blog’s title clearly refers to the oft-discussed and never-built 2nd Ave. subway line. This phantom subway line, in the planning stages since the Coolidge Administration, has seen some life over the last few years.

The MTA wants it built to alleviate the congestion on the East Side IRT. The state was hoping to use some federal money from the Sept. 11 relief efforts to improve transportation in the city. And the local politicos have long wanted this new subway line.

Well, now comes the news that the line – potentially New York’s own T line – is one step closer to a reality. As The New York Times reported on Monday, the feds are kicking in a few hundred million bucks for this project. The relevant information please:

After decades of planning and dreaming by officials, two major expansions of the city’s mass transit system took important steps forward yesterday, with the federal government promising to pay billions of dollars for a Long Island Rail Road connection to Grand Central Terminal and for a Second Avenue subway.

Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said final approval had been granted to allow $2.6 billion in federal funds to be spent on construction of the Long Island Rail Road link, which will give commuters on the railroad a direct ride to the east side of Manhattan. Speaking at a news conference in the main hall of Grand Central, she said it was the most money the federal government had ever committed to a mass transit project.

She said her department had also approved $693 million for the new subway on Second Avenue. In both cases, the federal money is only a portion of the total costs.

So what does this mean for the future of the subways? Well, for one, according to the article, the Second Ave. Subway funding is “some months short of such a binding commitment.” Peters will ask Congress to provide this money as a down payment, and you can bet the new Democratic-led Congress will be happy to pay back Senator Schumer for his work during the election season.

With the LIRR extension on tap, the Second Ave. subway becomes even more of a hot topic. With many more commuters going through Grand Central instead of Penn Station each day, the East Side IRT will become even more crowded than it already is (if that’s even possible). To alleviate the crush on the 4, 5 and 6, the Second Ave. subway must be built. The system on the East Side simply cannot take many more passengers.

For the first time in decades, it looks like we’ll actually have a Second Ave. subway. While the mantra around New York remains “I’ll believe it when I actually ride on it,” for the first time in a long while, the beginning stages of the multi-billion-dollar funding necessary for these projects to go forward is in place.

P.S. Sorry for the long delay between posts. Life interfered with blogging. But I’m back. So stick around.

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7 extension funding in place

By · Published in 2006 · Comments (0) ·

A few short days ago, it seemed as though the 7 line extension project might be scaled back. Well, not only were these cuts scrapped, but the funding for this capital construction project seems to be in place now as well, The New York Post reported today.

The city took its first practical step toward building a subway extension to the far West Side yesterday when investors gobbled up bonds totaling $2 billion for the project, clearing the way for construction to begin in late spring.

“This is definitely going ahead. The money has been raised and construction will begin,” Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff said of the extension of the No. 7 line to 11th Avenue and 34th Street, where will anchor a new business district.

These bond will be repaid by the taxes taken in by the nearly 24 million square feet of office space that should follow the two new stops on the 7 line.

For years, the far West Side in the area around the approaches to the Lincoln Tunnel has resembled a wasteland. Car dealerships and repair shops dot a landscape often choked with cars waiting to get into the tunnel. The bus, never a speedy choice, is the only public transportation option, and the nearest subway stops are at 8th Avenue.

But in a few years, the subways should reach to the far West Side as the 7, immortalized by John rocker, will soon stop at 41st St. and 11th Ave. and 34th St. and 11th Ave. The tracks themselves will extend down to 23rd and 11th, maybe portending a future stop.

With the 7, this area should immediately become more attractive to businesses and potential residents alike. The 7 offers a connection to the Times Square trains; the B, D, F and V at Bryant Park; and the Grand Central trains before heading into Queens. But I have to wonder if that Lincoln Tunnel and the traffic it breeds will be more of a factor than viable public transportation?

For more on the 7 line extension, check out all of the technical documents at the MTA’s Capital Construction Web site. This track image comes from the Scoping Document.

Categories : 7 Line Extension
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If you see an armrest, say something

By · Published in 2006 · Comments (2) ·

Today’s ridiculous MTA story comes to us courtesy of The New York Times. Armrests on LIRR’s and Metro-North’s M7 lines are destroying people’s pants!

Any way you cut it, $102,009.17 buys an awful lot of pants.

That is how much the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad have paid over the last four years to customers who have torn clothing on the notoriously fabric-snagging armrests in a line of cars known as the M7.

The payments range from $1,405.61 for the new Paul Stuart suit that a man ripped on Metro-North last year, to $10 or $20 for minor damage fixed by a tailor.

That’s right: armrests. These armrests, you see, are “are longer and narrower than those on older cars and can slide unobtrusively into a trouser pocket as a passenger sits down — and then snag as he settles into his seat or when he stands up to leave,” reports William Neuman.

This problem, The Times notes, is fairly widespread. Train riders nod knowingly when the tell-tale sound of a tear rings out amid the silence of the morning commute, and the MTA hasn’t been too quick to reimburse the full price of lost clothing. The officials opt instead for the sale price or a depreciated assessment of older pairs of pants and skirts.

So to solve this rather amusing problem that should have been focus-grouped out of existence before the M7s came on the tracks a few years ago, the MTA may invest $1-$2 million in an armrest replacement program. Ah, the luxury of a commuter rail.

For fun, what could we buy with the $102,009.17 that the MTA has given out so far:

  • 1342 30-day unlimited MetroCards.
  • 4250 7-day unlimited MetroCards.
  • 61,083 swipes with a pay-per-ride card (counting the free rides).
  • One fourth of a new bus.
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Brooklyn G extension may be temporary

By · Published in 2006 · Comments (3) ·

makeup.JPG Just six days ago, Brooklyn residents had much to celebrate with the news that the G would be making five more stops in the borough. Instead of stopping service on the cusp of the borough’s heavily populated souther half, the G will continue another five stops into Kensington along the IND Culver line. But today’s news may temper that recent announcement.

According to Newsday, those five stops (shown at left, courtesy of amNew York) may exist on the G line only because of construction scheduled for 2008. It seems that the turn-around at the Smith-9th Sts. stop will be undergoing some track work for a time. Thus, the G extension came about more because of necessity than demand.

Beginning in 2008, the G train, which normally stops at Smith and 9th Sts. will continue down the F tracks five more stops to Church Avenue. Rival “hip” neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Park Slope will now be connected with a one-seat ride.

But before riders can rejoice, New York City Transit warns that the service upgrade may be temporary. The G service could be cut again after 2009 once track upgrades near the Smith-9th Sts. stop are complete and trains can use it as a turn-around again.

The G has long been the target of subway and neighborhood activist groups. Since it’s the only direct subway link between Brooklyn and Queens, pols and community leaders in both boroughs have long called for longer trains, more frequent service and farther reaching service. In Queens, for example, the G runs to Forest Hills-71st Street only at rush hour.

With this latest news, it seems that last week’s celebrations may be short lived, but the city badly needs a reliable rail connector between two fast-growing boroughs. Maybe a successful experiment can change some minds.

Categories : Brooklyn
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