The MTA's latest projections for the rollout of the fare-payment system that will replace the MetroCard.

The MTA’s latest projections for the rollout of the fare-payment system that will replace the MetroCard.

Now that the MTA Board committee materials officially recognize that the 7 line extension won’t open until at least the 2nd quarter of 2015 (something we knew last month), we can move onto another project that is oft- and again-delayed: the MetroCard replacement. According to the latest Capital Program Oversight Committee materials, the MTA’s next-gen fare payment system won’t be ready until 2020 if all goes according to plan. Systemwide rollout won’t wrap until 2022 under the current schedule.

I’ve often said that the MTA’s latest technological advances are always five years away. Through the right circumstances, we finally get to enjoy countdown clocks on the A Division trains and BusTime through the city, but it seems that the MTA keeps promising B Division countdown clocks in “3-5 years” and has been for longer than 3-5 years. The MetroCard replacement meanwhile has been five years away from nigh on five years now. And the clock is ticking.

With the current MetroCard technology, now well over 20 years, the MTA faces a sunset date. After or around 2019, the cost of maintain the current MetroCard infrastructure will spike as maintenance contracts expire and parts grow harder to find. Thus, there has been some urgency surrounding the 2019 deadline for the introduction of a new fare payment technology. Various stops and starts, driven, in part, by rapid turnover atop the MTA, have delayed the project, but as Michael DeVitto discussed at my Problem Solvers session last March, the MTA is on track to do, well, something within a few years. Now, however, the timeline is slipping.

According to the latest Board documents, the MTA is gearing up to pass a major milestone in its efforts to find a replacement for the MetroCard that can serve for the next few decades. The new solution has to be integrated and adaptable with a contact-less payment system and a new backend for payment processing. By the end of next month, the MTA expects to wrap the business requirements development contract and will issue an RFP in late winter. The MTA expects to award a contract in mid-2016, and a deployment timeline takes shape from there.

According to the MTA docs, system design will run for 13 months and back-end development for two years. Contactless readers will then be installed in buses and subways over the following 21 months before vending machines are outfitted throughout the system. Much like the MetroCard’s initial rollout, the MTA expects to bring the entire system online within three calendar years at a cost of $450 million. But we know how reliable those cost estimates have been in the past.

These are positive concrete steps, but the problem is that Transit has to keep the current MetroCard system up and running until system-wide rollout is complete. In essence, the agency has to run and maintain two systems — one three decades old and one brand new — at the same time, and since the new system is now scheduled to be online after 2019, the MTA’s costs are going to jump. In fact, an Indepdent Engineering Consultant notes that the budget “may not be adequate” when considering the costs of maintain the MetroCard system in a state of good repair beyond 2019 and through 2023.

So where exactly does this leave us? The MTA is still five years away from a replacement for the MetroCard, and it seems nearly definite that they’ll miss their own 2019 deadline by a considerable margin even if all goes according to plan. This is unfortunately a common theme with technological upgrades and a challenge the MTA faces in convincing politicians it deserves $32 billion to improve the system. They need to deliver something at some point, but five years away is a frustratingly shifting target that seems to remain perennially five years away.

Categories : MetroCard
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For many, we’re at the beginning of a three-day weekend, but for the subway system, it’s nearly business as usual. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the subways will operate on a weekday schedule with what Transit has termed “minor timing changes.” That means weekday-only trains, such as the B and the M to Forest Hills, will operate, but headways may be slightly longer. The Staten Island Railway will run on a normal schedule, and nearly all bus routes too will operate on a weekday schedule with slightly longer waits.

Meanwhile, we have weekend service changes. Here you go:

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, January 17 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19 4 service operates in two sections. To continue your trip, transfer at 125 St.

  • Between Woodlawn and 125 St.
  • Between 125 St and Utica Av/New Lots Av.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, Woodlawn-bound 4 trains skip 138 St-Grand Concourse.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, 5 service is suspended in both directions between E 180 St and Bowling Green. Take the 2 or 4 instead. 5 shuttle trains run all weekend between Eastchester-Dyre Av and E 180 St.

From 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, January 17, and from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, January 18, 6 trains run every 16 minutes between Parkchester and Pelham Bay Park. The last stop for some trains headed toward Pelham Bay Park is Parkchester. To continue your trip, transfer at Parkchester.

From 2:00 a.m. Saturday, January 17 to 4:30 a.m. Monday, January 19, 7 trains are suspended between Times Sq-42 St and Queensboro Plaza. Use EFNQ trains between Manhattan and Queens. Free shuttle buses make all stops between Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av and Queensboro Plaza. The 42 Street S shuttle operates overnight. Q service is extended to Ditmars Blvd from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 17, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 18.

From 2:00 a.m. Saturday, January 17 to 4:30 a.m. Monday, January 19, Flushing-Main St bound 7 trains run express from Queensboro Plaza to 74 St-Broadway.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 16 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, January 18, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, January 18 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, Queens-bound A trains run express from 59 St-Columbus Circle to Canal St.

From 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, January 17, and Sunday, January 18, Euclid Av-bound C trains run express from 59 St-Columbus Circle to Canal St. C trains run every 15 minutes. Allow additional travel time.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound D trains are rerouted via the N line from 36 St to Coney Island-Stillwell Av.

  • For Service To 9 Av, Fort Hamilton Pkwy, 50 St, 55 St, 71 St, 79 St, 18 Av, 20 Av, Bay Pkwy, 25 Av, and Bay 50 St, take the Coney Island-bound D to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or Coney Island-Stillwell Av and transfer to a Manhattan-bound D train.
  • For Service From these stations, take a Manhattan-bound D train to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or 36 St and transfer to a Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound D train.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, E trains are suspended in both directions between Jamaica Center Parsons-Archer and Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd. Free shuttle buses operate between Jamaica Center and Union Tpke, stopping at Sutphin Blvd-Archer Av, Jamaica-Van Wyck, and Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd. Transfer between E trains and free shuttle buses at Union Tpke or Briarwood-Van Wyck Blvd. For additional connections between Manhattan and Jamaica Center, consider the A and J via a transfer at Broadway Junction.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, World Trade Center-bound E trains run express in both directions between 34 St-Penn Station and Canal St.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, Jamaica-179 St bound F trains run express from Avenue X to Smith-9 Sts.

From 11:15 p.m. Friday, January 16, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound F trains are rerouted via the M line from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts/Rock Ctr.

From 9:45 p.m. Saturday January 17 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, January 18, F trains will not stop at Lexington Av/63 St. For service to/from this station, use the nearby Lexington Av/59 St N/Q/R/4/6 station instead. Please note that Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound F trains are rerouted via the M line from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 16 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, L trains are suspended in both directions between 8 Av and 14 St-Union Sq. L service operates normal between 14 St-Union Sq and Canarsie-Rockaway Pkwy. M14 buses provide alternate service.

From 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, January 17, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, January 18, Q service is extended to Astoria-Ditmars Blvd.

From 5:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday, January 17, and Sunday, January 18, Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Sheepshead Bay.

42 St Shuttle
From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, January 17, to 6:00 a.m. Monday, January 19, the 42 St S Shuttle operates overnight.

Categories : Service Advisories
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Years of trouble plaguing Washington, DC’s WMATA reached another crescendo earlier this week when one person died following a smoke incident aboard a yellow line train. Carol Glover succumbed to smoke inhalation after rescuers took over 40 minutes to reach a train stranded in the tunnel only a few hundred feet from L’Enfant Plaza, and over 80 other passengers were hospitalized. For an agency plagued with operations issues, safety concerns and very tight finances, it was yet another reminder of the WMATA’s precarious position.

According to preliminary reports out of DC and the NTSB, the incident involved an electrical malfunction inside the tunnel, and while firefighters responded, according to DC’s mayor, “within the time frames that are customary,” they waited to enter the tunnel. The delay proved deadly for Glover, and footage from the incident shows a dark and disabled train filled with smoke. It was a tragedy that creates its own bad press.

In the aftermath, coverage has focused on both short-term perceptions surrounding the WMATA and the long-term need to emphasize culture. Here’s Aaron Wiener on the former:

In an informal Washington Post poll yesterday, nearly half of respondents said they would reconsider how often they ride Metro. Variants of “I’m done with Metro” proliferated on Twitter. It’s a sensible enough position. Metro has a reputation for shoddy service and a history of not learning from its mistakes, including with this incident, apparently caused by an “electrical arcing event” of the sort that has routinely plagued the system of late. Why should we reward such a poorly run enterprise with our business, or place our lives in the hands of a system we can’t trust?

Understandable though it may be, this is exactly the wrong way to respond to the latest tragedy. If we really want to fix what’s broken with Metro, we should start riding it more, not less…

The fact is, if we want Metro to work better, we have to ride it more. Nearly 60 percent of Metro’s daily operational costs are funded by fares and other revenue. And that revenue is threatened. Ridership dropped slightly during the recession, then suddenly plummeted in the past two years, down to 2005 levels. There are a number of factors—more people are telecommuting or getting to work by bike or bus—but the effect is clear. Fewer riders means bigger fare hikes to cover costs, which in turn will likely mean fewer riders. It’s a vicious cycle we don’t want to get caught up in.

As Wiener explores, for some reason, ridership on the Metro has cratered over the past few years, and it’s now at 2005 levels. The WMATA is facing a multi-billion-dollar budget gap that makes the MTA’s fiscal difficulties look like pennies, and it can’t drum up consistent support for the politically schizophrenic Maryland and Virginia suburbs. It’s the MTA’s worst case scenario writ small.

Meanwhile, other commentators were quick to point out how much safer transit is than driving. That’s of no consolation to Ms. Glover’s family, but even as passengers grow weary of transit after high-profile incidents, these incidents gain headlines precisely because they are rare. Now, it’s easy to make the case that fatalities on rail systems are generally 100% unavoidable. This week’s wasn’t even caused by the rolling stock that the NTSB hates; it was electrical. But transit remains very safe:

In 39 years of service, the total number of passengers killed while riding on Metro rail cars is 12. Now compare that to the fatalities in cars, trucks and motorcycles in a single year — 145 deaths in 2013, in the District and the suburban counties that Metro serves…

A new, peer-reviewed academic study published in the Journal of Public Transportation casts light on the first point. It reports that the rate of passenger fatalities in cars and light trucks is 30 times as high as for travel by subway or light rail. It was based on data in the United States from 2000 to 2009.

Even with these numbers, without the culture of safety, passengers are not comforted by statistics. Metro needs to realize a new culture without enough fiscal or political support. Here, in New York, the MTA is working to do something similar, but they don’t have nearly the same track record of mistakes to overcome. If we aren’t careful, though, DC serves as a lesson. It’s New York’s dystopian transit future if no one takes care of the system.

Categories : WMATA
Comments (76)

I don’t mean to come across as overly cynically about the whole PATH train saga that’s unfolded since 11 p.m. on Saturday, December 26th. I have numerous friends in Jersey City and Hoboken who were very upset that Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo had even pondered cutting overnight service to Manhattan. But the announcement today by the New Jersey legislature that the Port Authority will not cut PATH service is being greeted as a grand victory when it is ultimately just the end of a political saga orchestrated by Christie and Cuomo to take attention away from the fact that they are against real and legislated reform at the Port Authority.

The big news came early on Wednesday morning when, after over two weeks of hand-wringing, the New Jersey Legislative Democrats announced victory. The Garden State’s Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto had secured assurances that PATH is “tabling indefinitely” any plans to scale back overnight PATH service. “Port Authority reform was never supposed to be about cutting vital rail services for hard-working residents,” Prieto, who represents Hudson and Bergen Counties, said in a statement. “This was a bad idea from the start and I’m glad to see it set aside. I thank Chairman Degnan for his cooperation and look forward to focusing on actual reform efforts.”

Since this morning, the coverage has been positively gloating, and for Jersey City residents, rightly so. But as numerous pieces claimed that the “plan to cut overnight PATH service” was now off the table, it seemed to be me to be a story that had overshadowed the news. As I’ve said before, the PATH cuts weren’t the story. The idea appeared as a three-paragraph entry in a massive report with various ideas to reform Port Authority. It wasn’t designed to be implemented, but it was designed to steal headlines. (That is, as I wrote, part of Christie’s M.O. in running a story.)

Some of the news pieces that stemmed from the New Jersey announcement noted how far-fetched the PATH cut proposal was. Larry Higgs spoke with numerous New Jersey transit advocates who all admitted the idea was dead in the water, and Port Authority officials essentially told Higgs as much. Matt Chaban in The Times noted how the PATH train idea distracts from the governors’ vetoes. That’s an important point too as it’s unclear if New Jersey or New York will try to override these vetoes to enact reforms at Port Authority with teeth. While Christie and Cuomo’s report may contain some good ideas, without legislation, the promises are empty ones.

Ultimately, though, the Port Authority sort of hedged even as the PATH cuts remain dead for now. In his letter announcing the withdrawal [pdf], PA Chairman John Degnan said that the PA has “tabled” the issue and would consult with local officials and the public before enacting any such cuts. It at least keeps the story alive and the door open for cuts at some point. Meanwhile, as the news cycle has ended with regards to PATH, Christie and Cuomo had turn their backs on real reform without further legislative action. While New Jersey residents certainly won, so too did politicians who had even more to lose from Port Authority reform.

Categories : PANYNJ
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After years of constant fare hikes, the straphanging public in New York seems immune to the looming increase set to descend upon the city in a few weeks. Instead of anger and protests, mass resignations rule the day, and the fare hike hearings last month were pro forma gatherings for the same old nothing. Still, the MTA has a decision to make, and according to reports, the agency may be leaning toward raising the base fare again while maintaining a pay-per-ride bonus.

The latest word comes from Rebecca Harshbarger of The Post. She reports that MTA Board members would prefer to maintain the incentive discount — a good idea if only for the psychology of it — while upping the base fare again by a quarter. In either fare hike scenario, the seven- and 30-day unlimited cards will increase to $31 and $116 respectively.

Harshbarger writes:

MTA officials are backing the hiking of the MetroCard’s base fare and increasing the bonuses on pay-per-ride cards in March– rather than keeping the fare the same and ditching the bonuses, the Post has learned. The MTA board will vote on fare and toll increase proposals next Thursday, but its members are overwhelmingly leaning towards raising the MetroCard from $2.50 to $2.75, sources said. To ease the pain, the hike will be accompanied with a 11 percent bonus if riders put $5.50 or more on their cards — an increase from the current 5 percent they would get.

The other proposal that had been under consideration was keeping the base fare the same, but eliminating the bonuses. Cards with bonuses are more popular among subway riders than single-ride tickets, which are used for less than 1 percent of trips and typically in stops with a lot of tourists…

“Only way we’ll know how the board votes is to attend next week’s board meeting,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

When I put the proposals to a vote in November, what is reportedly the MTA Board’s preferred option lost by around six percentage points. Still, I think this is the right way to go. It hurts to see the base fare increased for the second consecutive fare hike, but the pay-per-ride bonus is an important drive for transit ridership. It incentivizes bulk purchase which, in turn, incentivize more riders to use the system. Anyway, we’ll know for sure next week. Stay tuned.

Categories : Fare Hikes
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Think of it as the MTA’s version of Captain Planet. With their powers combined, can they convince Albany to act on the MTA’s 800-pound gorilla in the room — that unfunded $32 billion capital plan? That’s the question looming ahead of a Tuesday morning press conference that will see Jay Walder, Lee Sander and Peter Stangle share the stage. The three former MTA heads were originally set to appear with Richard Ravitch, but the guru of New York state politics has seemingly dropped out of the event.

The lobbying effort is the brainchild of the Empire State Transportation Alliance, and the three men will call upon Albany to fund the damn thing. “For nearly 40 years, the New York State Legislature has recognized that our transit system underpins our state and the $1.5 trillion economy of the New York metropolitan region. This year, a broad alliance of former MTA leaders and transit and environmental experts have come together to urge leaders in Albany to identify stable, dedicated revenue to support the plan,” ESTA staid in a statement. “Without sufficient funding to cover all five years of the plan, we will severely damage the MTA’s capacity to provide safe, reliable and modern transit service and put our region’s growth, vitality and quality of life at risk.”

For the MTA, a gathering of this magnitude — including the who’s who of contractor associations, environmental groups, rider advocacy organizations and union leaders — is a momentous occasion, but the agency would be hard pressed to talk much about it. The MTA leaders know that, as they run a state agency that operates at the whim of Gov. Cuomo, they can’t really lobby for something without the go-ahead from Cuomo’s office, and so far, Cuomo hasn’t waded into the fray over the capital plan. So why not have a bunch of former agency heads to do the dirty work?

It’s interesting to see Stengl, Sander and Walder take the reins here. Each are very well respected within the transportation community, but each had issues navigating the politics of the MTA. Stengl had troubles with the first Gov. Cuomo (but left after George Pataki won election) while Walder had issues with the second. Sander was bounced due, in part, to his lack of relationship with Gov. Paterson but had a vision for the agency. But leaving the MTA’s top job isn’t a sign of anything other than normalcy these days, and here they are.

I won’t be able to attend Tuesday’s press conference, but we will hear these leaders talk about “why funding the plan with new revenue is vital for the continued success of the greater metropolitan region.” New revenue, perhaps, is a code word for a push for the Move NY traffic pricing plan or another revenue-generating scheme that will require action from Albany. It’s getting harder to ignore the drum beat, and having former MTA heads free from the shackles of Albany and willing to talk will only boost the view that, sooner or later, the city will have to comes to terms with its transportation priorities and the way it plans to fund the next five, 10 or 15 years.

For what I can assume are reasons of history, the G train stop at the southern end of the Marcy Houses in Bed-Stuy is stilled called Myrtle-Willoughby Avenues. There’s no reason for the Willoughby part of the name to survive as the southern entrances to this station have been out of use for decades. Willoughby and Myrtle run parallel there, and it is, sadly, impossible to enter the station on Willoughby Ave. The name lives on though because it’s literally on the wall.

On Sunday, I went for a walk through parts of Brooklyn that have seen a lot of change in recent years. From the ramen restaurant on Vanderbilt Ave. on the edge of the Atlantic Yards Pacific Park development site to the upscale bread bakery at the corner of Bedford and Lexington Avenues, I strolled through neighborhoods that have seen ups and downs, have gone through social and political upheavals and are bound to evolve even more in the coming years. Twice, I walked past G train stations, and twice, I saw shuttered entrances. Had I kept walking a few more stops down the G train to Grand St. in Williamsburg, I would have one more entrance, closed since the 1990s.

I wish I had photographed the Willoughby entrances, but I didn’t think to snap a photo at street level and, mercifully, I had to wait only about 10 seconds for my G train to arrive. The photos on the Internet don’t do it much justice. You can see the now-deserted fare control areas on the Queens-bound platform. The photo of the street-level entrance on Wikipedia doesn’t do it much justice. The wood plans are looking much worse for the wear, and the staircase itself is jam-packed with trash. It’s a sorry sight indeed for a neighborhood that could use an additional subway access point.

I’ve discussed the closed entrances throughout the city and many of them are relics of another era, one where crime was rampant and declining ridership dictated that the MTA not use resources to keep auxiliary entrances open. In fact, at a certain point in time, the NYPD even asked the MTA to close high-crime areas — such as the passageway linking the Herald Square and Bryant Park stations underneath 6th Ave. — for the sake of public safety. Today, the fact that entrances along Queens Boulevard, in Park Slope and across the route of the G train remain closed seem more like stubbornness than policy.

We live after all in an age in which the MTA has engaged in a systematic elimination of station agents, when high entrance-exit turnstiles are the norm at various stations and where token booths live on in name and not function. Opening up closed entrances makes transit that much convenient as it reduces wait times and provides access points to areas that are a few blocks away.

A 2001 PCAC report once recommended reopening many secondary entrances not close to their stations’ primary entrances, but Transit has been slow to act. I’ve never had much success figuring out why. As the photo atop this post shows, some closed areas are used for storage, and although others would need repair and modernization work, this shouldn’t be cost-prohibitive. I’ve also been told that reopening old station entrances could trigger ADA requirements but haven’t received a definitive answer on whether that is indeed the case. It seems, in part, to be holding back the MTA at a few stations.

Spending money they don’t have on closed stations sadly won’t be a priority for the MTA right now. Yet, the presence of street-level structures reminds us that transit could be even more accessible than it is now, and the joy over the new L train entrance at Avenue A is indicative of the way New Yorkers crave access. Plus, Transit could right that nomenclature wrong. Call me silly, but shouldn’t he station that says Willoughby Ave. at least serve Willoughby Ave.?

Comments (45)

I’m calling this week a few hours early. Stay warm. Leave extra time for travel if you insist on going anywhere this weekend. As now, all of this work is planned as scheduled, but the MTA could choose to cancel some if the weather looks bad (though if this bone-chilling cold isn’t bad, only a blizzard can stop it now).

As an aside, this is a weekend where I wish the MTA still offered explanations of why these service changes are in place. Take a look at what the R is doing and try to figure out if it’s running via 63rd St. or simply not opening its doors at certain stations.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, South Ferry-bound 1 trains run express from 96 St to Times Sq-42 St. For service to 86 St, 79 St, 66 St, 59 St, and 50 St, take a South Ferry-bound 1 to 72 St or Times Sq-42 St and transfer to an uptown 1 or 2 local train. For service from these stations, take an uptown 1 or 2 train to 72 St or 96 St and transfer to a South Ferry-bound 1.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, January 11, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, January 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, Flatbush Av-Brooklyn College bound 2 trains run express from 96 St to Times Sq-42 St.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, January 11, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, January 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, 3 service is extended to/from 34 St-Penn Station.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, January 10 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, Woodlawn-bound 4 trains run local from Grand Central-42 St to 125 St.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, 5 service operates between Eastchester-Dyre Av and Bowling Green all weekend. 5 trains run local in Manhattan, replacing the 6.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, 6 trains are suspended in both directions between 125 St and Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall. Take the 5 instead. Transfer between 5 and 6 trains at 125 St.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, Pelham Bay Park-bound 6 trains run express from 3 Av-138 St to Hunts Point Av. To Brook Av, Cypress Av, E 143, E 149 St and Longwood Av take a Pelham Bay Park-bound 6 train to Hunts Point Av and transfer to a Manhattan-bound 6. From these stations, take a Manhattan-bound 6 train to 3 Av-138 St and transfer to a Pelham Bay Park-bound 6.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 4:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, 7 trains are suspended in both directions between Flushing-Main St and Mets-Willets Point. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, January 11, and from 11:45 p.m. Sunday, January 11 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, Queens-bound A trains run express from 59 St-Columbus Circle to Canal St.

From 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, January 10, and Sunday, January 11, Euclid Av-bound C trains run express from 59 St-Columbus Circle to Canal St. C trains run every 15 minutes. Allow additional travel time.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, World Trade Center-bound E trains run express from 34 St-Penn Station to Canal St. To 23 St and Spring St, take the World Trade Center-bound E to 14 St or Canal St and transfer to an uptown A local, C or E train. From these stations, take an uptown A, C or E to W 4 St-Wash Sq or 34 St-Penn Station and transfer to a World Trade Center-bound E.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, January 10 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, E trains run local in both directions between Queens Plaza and Forest Hills-71 Av.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, Jamaica-179 St bound F trains run express from W4 St-Wash Sq to 34 St-Herald Sq.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, January 10 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, F trains run local in both directions between 21 St-Queensbridge and Forest Hills-71 Av.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, N trains are suspended in both directions between Lexington Av-59 St and Queensboro Plaza. For service between Queens and Manhattan, take the 7. Transfer between trains at Times Sq-42 St and/or Queensboro Plaza.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, January 9 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, January 12, Q trains are suspended between 57 St-7 Av and Times Sq-42 St. Take the N or R instead.

From 5:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday, January 10, and Sunday, January 11, Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Sheepshead Bay.

From 5:15 a.m. to 12 midnight, Saturday, January 10 and Sunday, January 11 R trains skip 5 Av-59 St, Lexington Av-59 St, and Queens Plaza in both directions. E and F trains run local in Queens.

Categories : Service Advisories
Comments (27)

As long-time readers of Second Ave. Sagas know, I’m not exactly a fan of the GOP presidential aspirant who occasionally visits New Jersey these days to remind that he is indeed still the governor. Outside of any red-and-blue ideological concerns or the way he chooses to face down those who disagree with him, his support of transit has been abysmal. From canceling the ARC Tunnel to moving the money for transit to various road-widening and repair initiatives to his games with the Port Authority, I’m eagerly looking forward to someone sitting in Trenton who has a better mind for the way PATH and NJ Transit feed the symbiotic relationship between New Jersey and New York.

But despite my dislike of the Governor, I am impressed with his grasp of political machinations and press malleability. Throughout his years as Governor, Christie has made some decisions that should, by any stretch, thoroughly anger his constituents, and sometimes, they do. But the real political impact of his actions are often ignored for the sideshow of the better story. Weather the temporary storm to escape permanent damage.

Let’s take this PATH Train issue. It’s a shared problem with Gov. Cuomo, but Gov. Cuomo’s contempt for anyone who doesn’t drive one of his muscle cars has been out in the open for decades. It’s my strong belief that the hullabaloo over the Governor-endorsed report that mentions cutting overnight PATH service as a last resort is nothing but a smokescreen. In essence, reporters are barking up the wrong story because no one every planned or plans to cut overnight PATH service. But by leading with this one line in a 90-page report, the fact that Christie and Cuomo vetoed strong reform legislation for a report of recommendations is conveniently ignored.

It’s now been nearly two weeks since the Christmas Saturday Veto and still New Jersey commentators are struggling with the PATH move. Steve Strunsky for NJ Advance Media penned a long piece analyzing the “real reason” he feels Port Authority may target PATH. He explored political in-fighting between the Democratic mayors of New Jersey’s waterfront PATH communities and Christie; he pondered leverage over the unions; he opined on privatization or a transfer of PATH to NJ Transit (or maybe, as I think would make sense, the MTA). He didn’t mention PATH as a cover for a veto even though Port Authority commissioners have all but said as much. They won’t cut PATH service, but the media loves this story.

In a way, this is an echo of Christie’s most costly move for the long-term mobility of the region: the decision to axe the ARC Tunnel. Christie established his conservative bona fides by canceling the project despite the fact that his cost overrun projections were based on spurious data and that New Jersey likely could have worked out a deal with the feds and even New York to split overruns. But while Christie faced some criticism for the move, it was muted especially from New Jersey transit advocates who never supported the deep cavern alignment for the tunnel and wanted the Alt G version instead. So while Christie sometimes faces irate commuters on Twitter, he gets a pass, and editorial writers who try to tell the full story face a Sisyphean task.

Ironically — or perhaps intentionally — the Port Authority reform report that Christie signed endorsed a new Hudson River crossing which allowed for another round of hand-wringing over Christie’s duplicity. Again, though, the focus has been on the inconsistency of these statements rather than on the affect of Christie and Cuomo’s veto of the reform measures. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Finally, as a Giants fan, I’d be remiss not to mention the New Jersey governor’s love of the Cowboys. I don’t begrudge anyone their sports fandom; I went to high school with Upper West Siders who were Braves fans in the early 1990s and know a bunch of people who subject themselves to Mets and Knicks games on a regular basis. Christie happens to be a Cowboys fan, but so what? While the press focuses on how that may play in Pennsylvania or anywhere during an election cycle, news breaks that Christie may have accepted gifts in violation of New Jersey ethics laws and may have funneled work to companies associated with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. It doesn’t get nearly the same press because the fandom has dominated the conversation. Yet again, the wrong story for the wrong reasons takes away from the problem.

Now I’m sure some of you will accuse me of focusing on Christie’s negatives. From where I sit concerned with regional mobility, he hasn’t done much good, but except for the unfolding stories with Jones, these aren’t even scandals I’ve mentioned. They’re simply news stories covered from angles pushed subtly by the Governor that miss the big long-term picture. I ultimately have to tip my hat to the way he runs the conversation and pits allies against allies while burying bad news behind smokescreens. That’s a political force to be reckoned with, and his counterpart in New York has done the same thing a few times as well. Again, though, I’ll say it: The PATH train cuts aren’t the issue; the veto is. The ARC alignment wasn’t the issue; the argument for the cancellation was. Dig deeper.

Categories : ARC Tunnel, PANYNJ
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A few updates for you tonight, some concerning hot-button political issues of the day. You had to know it would be hard for the MTA to escape these.

Ironing out the challenges of cashless tolling

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly four years since the MTA introduced cashless tolling on the Henry Hudson Parkway, but here we are. While I had originally hoped this would do away with a major objection to congestion pricing, the MTA hasn’t yet expanded this long-running pilot beyond the bridge over the Spuyten Duyvil. Now we learn why.

In a piece illustrative of the zany deals the MTA has to strike with states to which it provides various services, Andrew Tangel explores how gaps in enforcement, particularly with respect to Connecticut drivers, is slowing the process. The MTA, you say, is barred by deals it has with Connecticut from sending collections agencies after drivers who do not pay bills they receive. Although the vast majority have E-ZPasses, Connecticut drivers owe the MTA half a million dollars.

Admittedly, this is small change for one river crossing, but it’s holding up implementation at more crowded spots such as the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Verrazano Bridge. “Until we have legislation in place, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to do it out at the larger facilities,” Don Spero, MTA Bridge & Tunnel CFO, said to The Journal.

The MTA is working to change these arrangements, but Board members are getting restless. “It’s stupid that we’re not doing this,” Staten Island’s Allen Cappelli said. “To have to sit there because you’re using antiquated equipment is insulting.” The pilot meanwhile has been a marked success as 99 percent of cars now travel across the bridge at speeds of 30 mph or more.

Transit and the NYPD slowdown

As the NYPD rank-and-file enter their third week of their unorganized-but-somehow-coordinated enforcement slowdown, transit riders seem to be shouldering the effects of the precipitous decline of “Broken Windows”-style police work. Crime isn’t up underground; in fact, subway crime — as with all city crime — is at a low. But while cops aren’t eying law-abiding New Yorkers these days, they’re also not pursuing those breaking the rules.

Vivian Yee of The Times has this:

Below ground, the slowdown has been even more profound.

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton urges officers to target minor offenses that could be preludes to more serious crimes. Last week, however, besides the lax enforcement of turnstile-jumping, a highly visible emblem of urban disorder, officers made only one arrest in the subway system in the category of “peddler/panhandler”; none for unsafe riding (down from 68 for the same period last year); none for narcotics (down from 23); and one for a knife or other cutting instrument (down from 18).

Drivers think they’ve died and gone to heaven as well as they can now park with impunity. These numbers, and the relative lack of anarchism I’ve seen in New York City lately, raise questions of what exactly constitutes the appropriate level of police work, but that’s part of a larger dialogue. As temperatures drop into the single digits this week, crime is at a low anyway. I’ll keep an eye on this story as it relates to transit riders.

MTA kills GCT ‘Die-In’ protests

It is, apparently, against MTA rules — wherever they may be posted — to lie down in Grand Central, but for the past month, the MTA has not enforced this regulation. As protesters have staged nightly “Die-Ins” to voice their displeasure with the Eric Garner Grand Jury decision, the MTA has not made a move to clear out those who choose to lie down. Now, according to The Journal, the MTA will enforce their rules, and the Die-Ins must stop.

The MTA says they’ve reassessed this decision when protestors started placing placards on the ground, but the protestors aren’t convinced. One way or another, I’m surprised at this decision as it seems to be another First Amendment beehive into which the MTA is sticking its hand. I’m no expert on right-to-assembly jurisprudence, but the MTA has lost nearly every free speech case it has faced recently. We’ll see if this goes anyway. On Tuesday, the protesters were still in Grand Central but fewer opted to lie down.

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