Shortly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a show of riding in on a white horse to rescue the Long Island Rail Road riders when no one else would, the MTA and its Long Island unions have brokered a deal ensuring labor peace. Word of the deal first leaked late Thursday morning through a statement issued by IBEW Local 589, the LIRR’s electricians union, and Cuomo brought together MTA Chair and CEO Tom Prendergast and United Transportation Union President Anthony Simon to announce the deal this afternoon.

During the press conference, details were sparse, and not until reporters asked did Cuomo unveil that the LIRR workers will get a deal markedly similar to that in the two Presidential Emergency Board decisions but with some key differences. “This is a compromise by both parties,” Cuomo stated. “Neither side gets everything they wanted to get.”

The degree to which Cuomo’s statement is an accurate reflection of the outcome can be debated for a while. The LIRR union workers will earn raises totaling 17 percent over 6.5 years after the MTA initially proposed no wage increases. As Cuomo and Prendergast repeatedly noted that these wage increases will have no affect on the MTA’s fare structure or capital plans, the money will come from the benefits pool (as well as from future hires who, by definition, are never represented in labor discussions). For the first time in LIRR history, employees will contribute to their health insurance costs while new employees will have, according to a subsequent release, “different wage progressions and pension plan contributions.” The unions will vote on this plan over the next month while the MTA Board members will receive a full assessment of its economic impact prior to their September meetings.

“The agreement we reached today with the assistance of Governor Cuomo is just what he advocated – a fair and reasonable contract that will enable the nation’s busiest commuter railroad to continue to serve the people of Long Island,” Prendergast said. “Both sides have compromised to reach an agreement that gives our employees the raises they deserve while also providing for the MTA’s long-term financial stability.”

Throughout the short press conference, Simon continued to note that “this was about the riders,” and he pressed that angle to a degree that seemed nearly insincere. Had this been about the riders, the MTA would have pushed for work rule reform, and the unions would have accepted it. Instead, under pressure from Cuomo, the MTA squandered again a chance to enact real labor reforms that would improve efficiency and cut down on unnecessary spending. Although 300,000 riders won’t have to experience the pain of a strike, this wasn’t really about the riders at all.

Meanwhile, a few blocks away from the press conference touting this deal, the MTA Reinvention Commission soldiered onward. It was hard not to think that the MTA had let a prime opportunity for reinvention slip through its fingers. Such are the costs of labor peace.

Categories : LIRR, Transit Labor
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The funny thing about labor discussions, disputes and negotiations is that they are nearly impossible to predict. It’s hard to separate theater and posturing from actually productive conversations and negotiations, and whatever’s happening with the LIRR unions is proving this point perfectly. A day ago, I would have said a strike was a near-certainty. Today, after some politicking from Albany and revived discussions, I’m hedging my bets. With just under three days until the MTA has to start paring back service, time is definitely of the essence.

After a few days of posturing in which the MTA went hard after the union and the union seemed to dig in for a strike, Andrew Cuomo, as expected, slowly started to step in. He issued a terse statement (and apparently had a chat with his people at the MTA as well). “The Long Island Rail Road is a critical transportation system for Long Island and New York City. We must do everything we can to prevent Long Islanders from being held hostage by a strike that would damage the regional economy and be highly disruptive for commuters,” he said. “Both the MTA and the LIRR unions need to put the interests of New Yorkers first by returning to the table today and working continuously to avoid a strike.”

Later that day, the MTA and LIRR unions pledged to talk, and the LIRR labor leaders have since dialed back the rhetoric. They’re no longer vowing a strike, but significant differences remain. Matt Flegenheimer summed up Wednesday’s goings-on:

Four days before a possible strike, the Long Island Rail Road and its unions resumed talks on Wednesday and pledged to continue informal discussions throughout the night — a conspicuous shift in tone after negotiations broke down earlier in the week. The sides were expected to remain in touch by phone and video conference on Wednesday evening and return for face-to-face meetings on Thursday morning.

The gathering came hours after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called on both sides to return to the negotiating table. Transportation experts have long expected Mr. Cuomo to intervene to head off a possible strike on the railroad, which handles about 300,000 rider trips on weekdays. He oversees the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the railroad. Less than an hour after Mr. Cuomo’s statement, the transportation authority said that it had asked its unions to resume negotiations.

Anthony Simon, the leader of the railroad’s largest labor group, said the unions “never wanted to leave the table.” Earlier in the week, Mr. Simon predicted that a strike was all but certain. On Wednesday, he was much more reserved. “Let’s leave the percentages off for now,” he said when asked about his past claim that the chances of a shutdown were 100 percent. “We don’t want to alarm the public anymore.”

It’s worth noting that the MTA’s offers to date have been generous, and I don’t believe the MTA should move from their position. According to materials the agency released after talks fell apart on Monday, the MTA has promised 17 percent raises in exchange for some health care contribution concessions. It’s unclear if badly needed pension and work-rule reforms are on the table, but so far, the MTA hasn’t shown a willingness to fight for much reform in a way that would overhaul the labor problems the agency currently faces.

I’m worried about Cuomo’s interference because the MTA almost needs the strike. In the short term, it would mean headaches for subway riders and major hassles for Long Island commutes (including reverse commuters), but in the long time, the MTA has to fix systematic problems with LIRR workrules, pensions and other benefit obligations. They won’t be able to do so if Gov. Cuomo is putting pressure on to settle before voters get upset. Such are the travails of labor relations during an election year. Can we look beyond the next three months?

Categories : LIRR, Transit Labor
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A few updates on some stories I’ve been following:

MTA Reinvention Commission kicks off meetings

Last week, I shared my thoughts on the MTA Reinvention Commission and the august body’s need to focus on overhauling how the MTA works and how the agency does business. Today, the group kicked off their first set of meetings. (You can follow along via webcast.)

So far, the panel has spent a lot of time talking about affordable housing, and I’m growing worried that their focus is wrong. Reinventing the MTA requires asking hard questions and proposing top-to-bottom solutions for streamlining procurement, cutting extremely high capital costs and improving agency operations. It’s not about using the MTA to advance city policy goals. The MTA, I would argue, already does more than anything else for affordable housing than any one agency in the city, and the early framing on policy goals rather than MTA problems bodes ill for this Commission’s future, especially when a largely unfunded $30 billion capital plan looms. Affordable housing, for instance, is an outcome of sound transit policy, and without reinvention such that subways do not cost over $2 billion per mile, the policy goals will remain elusive.

On the bright side, Dana Rubinstein spoke with the Commission’s heads, and they expect results. “I don’t think any of these very busy people, any of these very important and smart people, would be involved in this if they didn’t think that these recommendations would be carried out,” Ray La Hood said to Rubinstein. Hopefully, the recommendations are expansive enough.

amNY: Where is New York’s better bus terminal?

The Port Authority Bus Terminal is low-hanging fruit, but it pays to remember just how sorry a spot it is. In an editorial today, amNew York urges the Port Authority to redevelop the bus terminal. “Midtown Manhattan urgently needs a brand-new, world-class bus station,” and with air rights value at an all-time high, the money to realize this dream — $500 million to $1 billion depending upon the scope of the project — could materialize.

G train shutdown looms as ferry questions remain

When Greenpoint’s India St. ferry stop collapsed earlier this year, everyone in the know knew that city had around four months to fix the dock before the summer shutdown of the G train for Sandy-related repairs. Now, with 11 days to go before the five-week outage, the ferry stop is not yet open, and no one knows when repairs will be complete. Brooklyn politicians are demanding answers, but concrete details are not forthcoming. This is one spot sorely in need of its ferry service and soon.

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A short post with some links for your Monday morning leisure. Clearly, this is important if you work on Long Island, employ people who live on Long Island or otherwise commute in from areas of Queens and Brooklyn that are accessible to Long Islanders. Things could get messy next few week.

First up, there’s no new news to report after Friday’s announcement of contingency planning. The MTA and its Long Island unions have not reached an agreement, and the MTA continues to urge people to stay home, telecommute, take vacation or do whatever it takes to avoid traversing Long Island Rail Road routes if trains aren’t running. Obviously, that’s not practical for everyone, but absent the overnight invention of teleportation technology, it’s the best of a bad situation. It may not, however, come to this.

In The Post this weekend, Nicole Gelinas writes on how she is concerned that Andrew Cuomo will give in to the LIRR unions. Although he tried to punt the issue to Congress last week, the Congress declined to do much about it, and the ball is firmly in the MTA’s — and Gov. Cuomo’s — court. If he gives the order to give in, the MTA will oblige.

With contingency plans in place, Gelinas feels the MTA is in a position of strength. “In fact,” she writes, “the MTA should take advantage of any strike to cram down work-rule changes as the price for workers to be allowed back on the job. Cuomo will be tempted to prod the MTA into giving away the store, though — so that he can look like a fearless leader in avoiding a strike.” If he does that, taxpayers will be on the hook for over $730 million, and that is money likely to come out of any future capital plan.

The MTA meanwhile has laid its cards on the table. While attempting to reach a middle ground, the MTA has moved its offers numerous times while the unions haven’t. Now, MTA officials warn that any further concessions could impact fares or the so-called “state of good repair” programs. “When we say we can afford it within the current financial plan, we’re affording it at great sacrifice,” Newsday quoted MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast as stating. Union officials beg to differ and claim the MTA could afford these raises.

Finally, for more coverage, keep an eye on The LIRR Today. Patrick has all the news and info you need to know building up to a strike as well as plans in the event there is no Long Island Rail Road service one week from today. I’ll continue, as always, to follow this story.

Categories : LIRR
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Earlier on Friday, with a potential LIRR strike less than ten days away, the MTA unveiled its contingency planning. As you might expect, it relies, in part, on a wing and a prayer. The LIRR has approached numerous companies to ask that they allow employees to telecommute, but for many that’s a non-starter. Instead the MTA recommends everything from ferries (hooray) to taking vacation time. It’s not pretty, but there’s plenty of time left for the sides to come to terms prior to the strike.

Meanwhile, New York City denizens have this weekend’s service changes with which to contend. Here you go:

From 3:30 a.m. Saturday, July 12 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday, July 13, 2 trains are suspended between E 180 St and 149 St-Grand Concourse due to track panel installation south of Prospect Av, electrical work near 3Av-149 St, and overcoat painting south of Jackson Av. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service.

From 11:00 p.m. Saturday, July 12 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, July 13, and from 11:00 p.m. Sunday, July 13 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Crown Hts-Utica Av-bound 4 trains run local from 125 St to Grand Cantral-42 St due to CPM cable work south of 125 St.

From 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, July 12, and from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday, July 13, 5 trains are suspended between E 180 St and Bowling Green due to track panel installation south of Prospect Av, electrical work near 3Av-149 St, and overcoat painting south of Jackson Av. 4 trains make all 5 station stops between 149 St-Grand Concourse and Bowling Green. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 4:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Brooklyn Bridge-bound 6 trains run express from Pelham Bay Park to Parkchester due to CPM station rehabilitation work at Zerega Av and Buhre Av.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Times Sq-42 St bound 7 trains run express from Mets-Willets Point to 74 St-Broadway due to CBTC related work near Mets-Willets Point.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, A trains are suspended in both directions between 168 St and Inwood-207 St due to MOW track tie renewal near 181 St. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, 168 St-bound A trains are rerouted via the F from Jay St-MetroTech to W 4 St-Wash Sq, then run local to 59 St-Columbus Circle due to CPM electrical work north of Jay St-MetroTech.

From 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, C trains are suspended in both directions between 145 St and 168 St due to MOW track tie renewal near 181 St. Take the A train as a travel alternative. A trains run local between 145 St and 168 St.

From 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, 145 St-bound C trains are rerouted via the F line from Jay St-MetroTech to W 4 St-Wash Sq due to CPM electrical work north of Jay St-MetroTech.

From 6:45 a.m. Saturday, July 12 to 8:00 p.m. Sunday, July 13, Norwood- 205 St-bound D trains run express from Bay Pkwy to 9 Av due to CPM prep work for circuit breaker house north of 62 St.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Coney Island-bound D trains skip 182-183 Sts due to MOW track tie renewal south of Bedford Pk Blvd.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Jamaica Center-bound E trains run express from Canal St to 34 St-Penn Station due to CPM electrical work north of Jay St-MetroTech.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 12, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, E trains run local in Queens due to CPM signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Av and Kew Gardens-Union Tpke, and MOW track tie renewal at 65 St.

From 9:45 p.m. Friday, July 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, Jamaica-bound F trains are rerouted via the E line after 47-50 Streets to Jackson Hts-Roosevelt Av due to Second Avenue Subway construction work.

From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, July 12, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 14, F trains run local in Queens due to CPM signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Av and Kew Gardens-Union Tpke, and MOW track tie renewal at 65 St.

From 5:00 a.m. to 12 midnight, Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, G trains run every 20 minutes between Long Island City-Court Sq and Bedford-Nostrand Avs due to Hurricane Sandy recovery work in the Greenpoint Tube. The last stop for some G trains headed toward Long Island City-Court Sq is Bedford-Nostrand Avs.

From 6:30 a.m. to 12 midnight Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, R service is extended to Jamaica-179 St due to MOW Jamaica Yard lead switch reconstruction.

Categories : Service Advisories
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Whenever I hear about another task force or panel or committee charged with some grand objective, I raise a skeptical eyebrow or two in its direction and hope for the best. Over the years, we’ve seen All Star panels come and go in a variety of capacities, and although some lead to change, improvements are incremental, not revolutionary. The MTA has received its fair share of recommendations — often at the urging of Richard Ravitch – and New York State and its leaders have hesitantly embraced measures designed to improve the agency’s operations and its financial security. Still, a panel is a panel is a panel.

A few weeks ago, right before I left for vacation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA announced the MTA Reinvention Commission. This thing clearly has lofty goals. Reinventing the MTA is a monstrous task that would do wonders for the future of New York City but involves a fair of amount of Robert Moses-esque consolidation of power that no one seems willing to take on. It would require challenging, instead of caving, to antiquated and entrenched labor, construction and general operations malaise. It would be hard.

So who’s up for the challenge? The Reinvention Commission has a high-falutin’ title and some bold-faced names attached to it, but when you start to peak under the hood, it may just be an attempt to thoughtfully plan out $30 billion in capital expenditures. That’s not a bad goal, per se, but it’s not going to reinvent much of anything. Ultimately, per Gov. Cuomo and the MTA, the group will “consider changes in customer expectations, commuting trends and extreme weather patterns as it develops future Capital Plans, the multibillion-dollar five-year programs of MTA investments to renew, improve and expand the transportation network.” Reports and recommendations will follow public meetings, and the spectacle will seem very, very familiar.

“The MTA has made incredible strides in rebuilding the network that makes New York grow and thrive, but we can never be satisfied with what we have done so far,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said in announcing the commission. “As we prepare the next Capital Plan to guide investment for the next five years, as well as future five year plans, we want experts, stakeholders and customers to offer their thoughts on how to make those investments work for decades to come.”

As far as personnel, Ray LaHood and Jane Garvey are co-chairing this behemoth, and it reads as an international and local who’s who. Academics from New York and officials from Toronto and London will chime in; Enrique Peñalosa will join Denise Richardson and Gene Russianoff. Kathryn Wylde and Robert Yaro will sit at the table as well, and only Richard Ravitch himself didn’t seem to get an invite.

So as the public meetings begin next week at MTA HQ, we can see what’s in store for the reinvention of the MTA. The first questions seem highly practical to those paying attention, but they’ll generate rote answers from the public at large who can attend meetings that run from 5:30-8 p.m. during the week or 12-1 p.m. on a weekday.

What challenges do you think the MTA needs to focus on as it develops its capital plans over the next century? How will population growth impact service? How can we overcome institutional, inter-governmental and jurisdictional barriers? How does the MTA keep pace with technology? Energy efficiency? Innovation? How can the MTA pay for all of this? And how can the MTA do this all more quickly than it does today?

These are obvious questions with hard answers, and while I’m not one to cheerlead when yet another panel is announced, if these professionals can answer even one of these questions, we may be better off after than we are today. It’s a tall order for an agency tasked with carting 6 million people around the New York City area everyday. How can they do it better? Let me count the ways.

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As the dog days of summer descend upon us, the threat of an LIRR strike any time beginning in 11 days looms larger and larger. While the MTA brass and LIRR unions met on Tuesday, the sessions lasted only around four hours, and the MTA is looking not to Albany but to Washington for help.

It’s interesting to see the buck pass from Andrew Cuomo, up for reelection, to Congress, a deeply unpopular, highly partisan federal agency. As the LIRR is overseen by the feds though, Cuomo can punt. Whether voters will recognize this in November will depend upon the outcome. Earlier this week, though, while speaking with reporters, Cuomo, who was willing to take the credit for bridging Transit’s and the TWU’s labor impasse, effectively punted on the LIRR. WNYC offered up this transcript:

“It’s actually Congress that can end a strike and impose a settlement one way or the other,” Cuomo said on Monday. “So right now it seems that Congress is pivotal to what happens here, and from what I read in the newspapers it’s going to depend on what Congress intends to do and what they say they’re going to do. Congress can order them to go back, Congress can order a settlement, Congress can order mediation, Congress can order arbitration, Congress can do almost whatever they want, because they are in control of the resolution of the strike.

“The possibility of a strike causes so much anxiety I don’t even like to think about it. There is no good alternative to the LIRR on Long Island. The commute would be horrendous, however we do it. And they talk about contingency plans — we’ll have buses, we’ll have carpools — and you can do all of the above; it is still a miserable situation. So I have said to both parties: I truly hope it doesn’t get to that point. If it does get to that point, I hope Congress acts immediately to resolve it, and resolves it in a prudent way. But that they resolve it.”

Small comfort to the people of Long Island, but MTA CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast, clearly at the behest of his boss in Albany, has asked Congress to assist. He’s traveling to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to discuss the situation with lawmakers and sent a letter ahead of his arrival to Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi asking Congress to do something. He wrote:

I am writing to you to seek clarification on what role Congress intends to play in the event that 5,400 employees of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) walk off the job as early as Sunday, July 20th and paralyze the nation’s largest regional economy. Tomorrow I will be traveling to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress on the MTA’s position and request a clear answer on whether the United States Congress is prepared to take action if LIRR’s unions decide to stage a strike.

Over the past several months the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has made a number of attempts to settle a labor dispute with unions representing LIRR’s employees. As Chairman of the MTA, I strongly believe that a resolution can be reached in a fiscally responsible manner; unfortunately, the union’s leadership has taken the position that the MTA must meet its demands or it will strike, a threat they feel comfortable making because they assume Congress will stop their strike after a few days.

As you may know, the MTA’s negotiations with the LIRR’s unions are governed by the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA), which gives commuter railroad employees the right to strike, which is a right that no other public employee in the State of New York has. Once LIRR employees walk off the job, absent a settlement, it will require an act of Congress to bring these employees back to work. The MTA will continue to push for a resolution that does not overly burden our passengers; however, we believe that the union’s leadership has made a tactical decision that Congress will intervene on their behalf in the event of a strike. As a result, the union’s leadership has been unwilling to work constructively with the MTA to come to an agreement.

Prendergast has presented Congress with three options — prevent a strike, allow a strike and require settlement sometime later, or allow a strike and take no action — and wants to know which one will be the likely outcome. It’s a move designed to put pressure on Washington and gain clarity into a situation that will likely not be resolved without outside influence.

It’s hard to read the tea leaves right now, but Congress doesn’t do much passing of resolutions these days. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a strike, and to that end, it’s not clear how the region will be affected. It won’t be pretty, and one way or another we’ll find out soon enough how this story ends.

Categories : LIRR, Transit Labor
Comments (26)

Did’ja miss me? Sorry for the prolonged silence. I’ve been out of town for the past 10 days, visiting 12 breweries, kicking back for a bit and, well, getting engaged. It’s been a busy and exciting week and a half.

While I’ve been wrapped up in other things, since it’s summer, the transit news tends to slow down a bit. We know the Fulton St. Transit Center isn’t opening for a few more weeks, but what else have we missed? I’ll run down the big stories below and follow up as appropriate.

Help Point Starts to Spread

You may have noticed over the past few weeks that Help Point intercoms have started to appear in a variety of stations throughout the city. This is part of the MTA’s effort to expand security underground. The intercoms are now up on new platforms and stations across the four boroughs. Still, I have to wonder why this is a separate effort from the Transit Wireless roll-out. Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to speed up the wireless rollout rather than sink money on an entirely separate alert system?

Meanwhile, the MTA’s overall security efforts, which stemmed from the 2001 terrorist attacks, have been pushed back by a year or two. Eventually, the system will be secure, but it may not come before the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Meanwhile, Bill Bratton wants security cameras in every subway car.

Showtime Crackdown Continues

Speaking of Bratton, the NYPD has begun a crackdown of “Showtime!” dance troupes. As you know, I’m not fan of these subway acrobats. Generally, they’re annoying and pushy with the potential to hurt someone. That said, the NYPD is changing these kids with misdemeanors for their routines, and I am deeply ambivalent about it. I believe in the #WarOnShowtime, but misdemeanor arrests seems excessive. Plus, it’s now generally a worse crime to break down on the Q train than it is to kill someone with a car in New York City. That’s troubling to me.

Bus Countdown Clocks Coming Soon….At A Cost

Last week, a bunch of City Council members — but not all — announced an aggregate expenditure of $2.8 million to install bus countdown clocks at stations in their districts. As you’ll recall, the MTA won’t foot the bill for this technology, and advocates have pressured city pols to use discretionary funds for this purpose. It’s a noble effort, but one that leads, as I see it, to two kinds of people: those without countdown clocks and those with countdown clocks.

Considering how many people have smartphones and access to Bus Time via other cellular technology, Crain’s rightfully questioned the expenditure. To what better uses could we put this money? It’s worth a thought.

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Posting has been light lately as I’ve been quite busy at my day job. Plus, I’m on vacation for the next week and likely won’t be near a computer too often. Thanks for still checking in. I’ll try to cover, at various points, the looming LIRR strike, the MTA reinvention commission, plans to develop a food court at Grand Central and the air rights dealings happening above the future Moynihan Station.

For now, make sure you check out the latest episode of “The Next Stop Is…” You can find it here on iTunes or here as an MP3. Eric and I discussed last week’s power outage, the line review for the A/C trains, and the problems the MTA faces in finishing megaprojects.

Finally, this weekend’s service changes:

From 11:00 p.m. Saturday, June 28, to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, June 29, and from 11:00 p.m. Sunday, June 29, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Crown Hts-Utica Av-bound 4 trains run local between 125 St and Grand Cental-42 St due to CPM cable work south of 125 St.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, 5 trains are suspended in both directions between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E 180 St due to CPM signal modernization on the Dyre Avenue Line. Free shuttle buses operate between Eastchester-Dyre Avenue and E 180 St. Transfer between trains and shuttle buses at East 180 St.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27, to 4:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall-bound 6 trains run express from Pelham Bay Park to Parkchester due to station rehabilitation preparation at Buhre Av and Zerega Av.

From 2:00 a.m. Saturday, June 28, to 4:30 a.m. Sunday, June 29, 7 trains are suspended between Times Square-42 St and Queensboro Plaza in both directions due to CBTC related work and track panel installation south of Queensboro Plaza. EFNQS and free shuttle buses provide alternate service. Q service is extended to Astoria Ditmars Blvd on Saturday, June 28, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Shuttle buses operate between Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av and Queensboro Plaza making station stops at Queensboro Plaza, Queens Plaza, Court Square, Hunters Point Av and Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av.

From 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, June 28, the last stop on some 7 trains headed toward Queensboro Plaza will be 74 St-Broadway due to CBTC related work and track panel installation south of Queensboro Plaza.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd-bound A trains skip 111 St due to station rehabilitation work at 104 St. Use the Q112 bus as a travel alternative.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, A trains are suspended in both directions between 168 St and Inwood-207 St due to MOW track tie renewal near 181 St. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service.

From 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29, C trains are suspended in both directions between 145 St and 168 St due to MOW track tie renewal near 181 St. Take the A train as a travel alternative. A trains run local between 145 St and 168 St.

From 11:15 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Coney Island Stillwell Av-bound F trains are rerouted via the E line from Jackson Hts-Roosevelt Av to 5 Av/53 St due to Second Avenue Subway construction work.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Coney Island Stillwell Av-bound F trains skip Sutphin Blvd, Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd and 75 Av due to rail work south of Parsons Blvd.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, June 29, Manhattan-bound Q trains run express from Kings Hwy to Sheepshead Bay due to station rehabilitation work at Parkside Av, Beverly Rd, and Cortelyou Rd stations.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, June 27 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, June 30, Coney Island-Stillwell Av-bound Q trains run express from Kings Hwy to Sheepshead Bay, bypassing Avenue U and Neck Rd, due to track panel work at Brighton Beach.

From 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, June 28, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, June 29, Q trains are extended to Astoria Ditmars Blvd due to CBTC related work and track panel installation south of Queensboro Plaza on the 7 line.

(42 St Shuttle)
From 12:01 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29, the 42 St Shuttle operates overnight due to CBTC related work and track panel installation south of Queensboro Plaza on the 7 line.

Categories : Service Advisories
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The Fulton St. Transit Hub, seen here last February, will open eventually. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

With three months left in a seven-year project, you’d think that the company — or in this case, agency — managing the project would have a good handle on how much time would be needed for completion. You would think that by announcing very publicly an opening date, the agency would do all it could do to meet that opening date. You would think that yet another delay in a project that was once expected, far too optimistically, to be completed six or seven years ago for 50 percent less than its current budget would be cause for major concern. And perhaps, in some circles it is. But right now, it’s just business as usual.

During its board committee meetings earlier this week, the MTA let slip that the Fulton St. Transit Center will not have its official opening on Thursday as planned in March. Instead, as I speculated last week, the opening will be delayed another 60-90 days. As components to this project open, completion then will come by the end of September.

So what is holding up the project? It couldn’t be that, as with the 7 line, the MTA can’t get a bunch of elevators to work, right? These aren’t even incline elevators; these are your typical up-and-down escalators that are in every tall building and were invented in 1852. Well, lo and behold: If we consult the materials released after Monday’s meetings, one of the outstanding items concerns the elevators. Six elevators have yet to be tested. The MTA also needs to obtain its Code Compliance Certificate and wrap up testing of its fire alarms and communications systems.

In its short assessment of the state of this project, the MTA’s Independent Engineering Consultant doesn’t have much to add on a specific level. The project has simply not met the requirements needed to be permitted to open yet, and it is but one of many outstanding MTA projects facing this issue. As a result, the IEC has urged the MTA to conduct a coordinated review of its megaprojects to “ensure resources can support their current schedules.” Even a cursory review — showing a three-month delay at Fulton St. and at least a year-long delay for the 7 line — cast more than just a shadow of doubt over any other schedules. A review could help shed light on the MTA’s finish line problem.

So we’ll wait for the politicians to slap their backs over a project with a tortured history. It began as an idea with a quick timeline for build out and a $700 million shortly after 9/11, and it has turned into a $1.4 billion transit hub across the street from a $4 billion transit hub at a time when building up would have made more sense fiscally than building a three-story mall. The station is nicer; the ADA compliant elements were badly needed; and transferring throughout Lower Manhattan is easier. Stumbling to the finish though is in line with the rest of this project’s problems. After all, the MTA’s house ads promising the opening of the Dey St. Passageway back in 2012 still hang in subway cars throughout the city.

Categories : Fulton Street
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