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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Later on Monday, the MTA Board’s committee meetings will meet to discuss the various business before the agency, and one of those meetings — for the Capital Program Oversight Committee — will get an update on the 7 line extension. Shockingly, the MTA isn’t quite right to announce a firm opening date for this project, and it may not be ready for passenger service until early 2015. Will we have hoverboards, flying cars and a Cubs World Series win or the one-stop 7 line extension first?

When we last heard of the delay, The Times explored some reasons for the elusive revenue start date, and this month’s Board materials shed further light on the problems. Notably, the project just isn’t finished. It’s now six months beyond when the MTA had planned to wrap the project, and the 34th Street Station is only 95% complete. Now, it’s true that the station can open prior to 100% completion, but the outstanding problems are significant.

Notably, the Finishes and Systems contract is only 89% completed, and this is the last contract required for completion prior to revenue service. This contract includes the elevators and escalators and the communications system — all of which won’t be tested until July — but the tunnel ventilation system hasn’t passed acceptance testing yet. The project had no contingency built in, and it’s starting to show.

According to the MTA materials, while the elevators have earned headlines, the ventilation fans are more problematic. The fans for certain sites failed factory acceptance, and the contractor is performing additional pre-tests to ensure that certain corrective measures work. Tests are supposed to begin again this month, but we won’t know for a few weeks how this part of the project is progressing. Without the fans, the MTA cannot begin servicing this station.

Meanwhile, the escalators and elevators at the 34th St. site remain an open question. Testing will begin again next month, and the contractors have agreed to speed up work on these elements of the project. This sounds well and good, but while the MTA is remaining vague on the completion date, their independent engineering consultants are now predicting revenue service by February 2015, a full 14 months after then-Mayor Bloomberg’s ceremonial ride back in December. The IEC notes that the MTA’s own December 2014 date relies on accelerated contractor schedules that the contractors haven’t been able to meet. Any slippage will push the opening date back further.

As I’ve noted before, these opening dates won’t matter in a few years once people are passing through this station on a regular basis, the 7 line won’t fulfill its potential until the Hudson Yards project is more fully realized. But the IEC also urges the MTA to consider how this failure to meet promised revenue service dates could impact other ongoing projects. For the Second Ave. Subway, the IEC urges the MTA to conduct a coordinated review to ensure resources can meet revenue service projections. It’s not clear if contractors can fulfill this aggressive schedule either.

So we wait, and the MTA shuffles its feet. It’s important to show to politicians who control purse strings that the MTA can deliver a functional project relatively on time. But right now, this 7 line extension remains a promise and not a reality.

Categories : 7 Line Extension
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As the end of the month — and a looming vacation nears — I haven’t had as much time to post lately as I usually do. Thanks for bearing with me these past few weeks. I have news on which we must catch up, and I’ll try to follow up with longer posts next week. Eric and I will be recording a new podcast this weekend, and we’ll touch on a few of these topics. The news is picking up.

First up, MTA Board appointments. As Albany wrapped up its legislative calendar with a flurry of activity this week, a variety of new MTA Board appointees made it through the approval process. NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg will join the Board. She’s not the first city DOT chief to join the MTA Board, per Times editor Dean Change. She’ll be joined by Iris Weinshall, a former DOT commission who is my neighbor, the wife of Senator Chuck Schumer and a notorious opponent of the Prospect Park West bike lane.

In operations news, the A and C trains are getting a full line review. Transit will conduct a top to bottom review of service along the 8th Ave. and Fulton St. lines as the Riders Alliance continues to win reviews for some of the city’s least reliable lines. I joked on Twitter that more frequent evening rush service to Brooklyn and newer rolling stock should do the trick, but we’ll see what the MTA uncovers in a few months.

Finally, I have some news on the 7 line extension and East Side Access. According to the latest MTA Board committee meeting materials, the 7 line may not open until early 2015, but the MTA is working hard to begin revenue service prior to the end of 2014. More on that on Monday, but clearly this is a mess. Meanwhile, the MTA has determined that they expect East Side Access to cost around $10.7 billion and be ready for passenger service before the end of 2022. I also expect flying cars and hover boards around then. Still no word on the definitive ribbon cutting for the Fulton St. Transit Center.

That’s lot of catch-up. Now the weekend service changes. Read More→

Categories : Service Advisories
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A bad look.

A bad look.

Updated (10:25 p.m.): A cryptic message recently appeared on the MTA’s website: “Due to a temporary power loss system wide, expect delays on all lines. Allow additional travel time.” It’s not exactly clear what subways, if any, are running or how this power loss is having an impact on service. I’ve reached out to the agency for more details, and here’s their statement:

Con Ed had a minor power outage that caused signal problems in the subway system. As a result, a number of trains pulled emergency brakes. Power was restored in less than 5 minutes, and there’s some residual delays from that. No injuries, no major delays, no stalled trains.

I can’t recall the last full-fledged power outage in the subway. Was it during the 2003 blackout? I did notice the lights in my office flicker at around the same time. Anyway, allow additional travel time, but it seems as though the problem is on its way to resolution as power was restored nearly 50 minutes ago at this point.

Categories : Service Advisories
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Soon, riders will pass through the Fulton St. Transit Center. For now, we have only renderings.

In late March, as part of a presentation to the its Board committees, the MTA announced an opening date of June 26 for the Fulton St. Transit Center. Years in the making and nearly 100 percent over its initial budget, the post-9/11 project — one of two massive retail/transit centers opening near Ground Zero — become the poster child for MTA construction mismanagement and the project Michael Horodniceanu vowed to deliver on time. Well, June 26th is eight days away, and the Fulton St. Transit Center’s opening date remains shrouded in mystery.

A few days ago, a few readers emailed me concerning the state of the Fulton St. hub. Since I’ve switched to the Brighton Line for my daily commute, I no longer pass through Fulton St. and haven’t had a chance to check out the project in some time. It’s clear that it will open soon, but just how soon is an open question. SAS readers have speculated that the project still has more than a week or two left, but the MTA can and has opened projects that are substantially complete with finishing work still required.

So yesterday, I asked the MTA if the Transit Center is going to open on June 26th — next Thursday — and received a non-committal answer. “The date,” I was told, “will be firmed up next week during committee meetings.” Now, that doesn’t mean the center won’t open a few days after the committee readings, but if I were a betting man, I’d probably take the over.

In the grand scheme of transit history, when the Fulton St. Transit Center opened will quickly become irrelevant. Five months after it opens, we won’t care that the MTA missed its initial promised date, and in five years or five decades, no one will remember. But this deadline bleed isn’t unique to Fulton St. After nearing completion, the South Ferry station opened a few months late, and the 7 line will be nearly a year late. All of these projects struggled to pass that finish line on time, and that’s a little bit of a problem as the MTA needs to retain its credibility to gain more funding. It’s the same problem that plagues staircase repairs, escalator installation and station rehabs. Now who thinks the Second Ave. Subway will start revenue service on time before the end of December 2016? Anyone want to place a bet?

Categories : Fulton Street
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Last weekend, after spending the afternoon at Kara Walker’s Domino’s Sugar Factory installation and grabbing dinner at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, I took the G train back to my end of Brooklyn. It was a pretty easy ride, made easier by the fact that we didn’t have to wait long at Greenpoint Avenue, but when we got off in Ft. Greene, I realized I had left my credit card at the restaurant. So I got to enjoy a bonus pair of G train rides.

The ride back to Greenpoint was frustrating. I was annoyed with myself for leaving my card at the restaurant, and to make matters worse, I caught the tail lights on the G departing Fulton St. as I made it to the platform. On schedule 12 minutes later, the next train showed up, and I had better luck on the way home. All told, it was a fine ride that could have been much, much worse.

The next day, G train service got a little bit more frequent. Based on increased off-peak and afternoon demand, the MTA decreased weekday headways from 10 minutes to eight minutes. This move will reduce wait times across the board and alleviate crowds during the P.M. rush. This measure came about after the MTA, at the urging of the Riders Alliance and Daniel Squadron, conducted a line review, and these folks were happy. “These improvements will help commutes on this important line,” Squadron said, “and hopefully make lives a little easier for the riders who depend on it.”

So the politicians like it. But if you thought this increased service would make G train riders happy, guess again. Based on the reaction on social media, G train riders used this news to complain even more about the early morning crowds and the so-called G train sprint. They demand full-length trains from the MTA — though full length trains for the size of those IND Crosstown platforms would be an utter waste of resources — and they bemoaned that the MTA still doesn’t care about G train riders.

On the one hand, as the G train is seemingly ignored throughout the city, its riders are the ones most vocal on Twitter and New York City blogs. It runs through some hip and hipster neighborhoods but also through some areas without density. It doesn’t have the ridership to warrant longer trains, and the concept of induced demand — for which I’ve argued in the past — does not have evidentiary backing strong enough to warrant the costs of added service.

On the other hand, people sometimes have to run for trains! I have to dash down a few staircases if my train is pulling in as I arrive at the station, and sometimes, I miss a train on the weekends that doesn’t run too frequently. It’s all part of not knowing where my train is at all times, but that’s an issue for B division lines without countdown clocks. What makes the G worse of course is the platform sprint, but unless the MTA starts closing extra entrances — such as India St. — the trains won’t line up with the nearest staircases. The crowding complaints are easier to ignore. Let’s see how G riders would handle a rush hour 6 train.

I’m tempted to say the rider complaints can thus be dismissed, but they should be heard out. In an ideal world, the MTA would have the money and resources to run full trains at peak hours to avoid sprints and placate costumers. But they can’t, and the demand isn’t there. When it is, though, riders should be front and center making their voices heard. Today, the added service — which generally runs on time and fairly regularly — will have to suffice.

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Remember all the way back to February when, after a rather boring Super Bowl, thousands of fans got to hang out in East Rutherford or Secaucus Junction waiting for New Jersey Transit to run enough trains to get them home? You’d think the regional rail operators around the city would have learned the lesson that, for marquee sports events at inconvenient locations, regularly scheduled commuter rail service isn’t quite good enough and even the so-called “event” service isn’t enough either.

So when Saturday’s Belmont Stakes rolled around with California Chrome drawing attention for his shot at the Triple Crown, how do you think the Long Island Rail Road handled the post-race crowds? If you said “poorly,” come on down because you’re the next contestant on “The Train Service Is Wrong.” Matt Flegenheimer reports:

For both the horse and the agency, Saturday could have gone better. After watching the colt tie for fourth in the Belmont Stakes, tens of thousands of Long Island Rail Road riders struggled to leave, standing in serpentine lines for hours, berating police officers over a lack of communication from transit and racing officials and, at one point, packing themselves so tightly atop a rickety pedestrian bridge that it had to be cleared for safety.

And so, just over four months after New Jersey Transit’s misadventures at the Super Bowl, the New York City area has been faced with the same vexing question: How has a region that prides itself on handling large crowds for major events — baseball games, political conventions, New Year’s Eve — been tripped up yet again?

The answer, officials and transportation experts said, is a combination of misguided estimates, inexperienced riders and a bit of bad luck, at least at the track. The railroad expected about 20,000 people to ride to the races and had publicized its service throughout the week. Nearly 36,000 took the train to the Belmont station, prompting the railroad to summon extra service for the post-race crush at the track’s typically little-used station.

To make matters worse, MTA officials and rider advocates noted after the fact that the people who rely more heavily on mass transit were the ones at Belmont, something that perhaps should have been a consideration before the event and not after. Still, though, one statement in The Times was worrisome. The Belmont station is season, and the station can fit only an eight-car train set. Thus, with 36,000 people waiting, the MTA can clear out only around 1200 per train. “Could we have gotten three and a half hours down to three hours if everything ran like clockwork? Maybe,” LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski said to Flegenheimer. “But you weren’t going to do any better than that.”

Coverage in The Journal took on a different slant still. The delays, LIRR officials told Yoni Bashan, were expected. “There wasn’t a single extra train that we could have run that we didn’t run,” an agency spokesman said.

Therein lies the problem. The MTA isn’t going to upgrade Belmont for one day a year, and, as both papers noted, these complaints never pop up for regular service after events at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field or the Barclays Center, venues located near subway lines. So this may just become the new normal at places that were built for auto traffic without reliable, regular mass transit. Belmont and the Meadowlands will still see many many drivers, but as train travel in the region becomes the norm, longer waits due to infrastructure deficiencies will continue to be a problem. Who’s looking forward for a solution?

Categories : LIRR
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The plan to rezone Midtown East has returned, and so too have these renderings of Grand Central.

In the waning days of the Bloomberg Administration, the ambitious plan to rezone Midtown East died an expected death. The lame-duck mayor wanted to push through his vision for a modern, revitalized and taller Midtown, but the City Council and various stakeholders were more interested in both not rushing and waiting out the next administration. Now, the Midtown East rezoning plan is back on the table, and with it, the call for transit improvements have returned as well.

The rezoning plan itself returned on a Friday a few weeks ago with little fanfare, mostly due to the timeline. Mayor Bill de Blasio has elongated the timeline, and while some work around Grand Central can begin soon, the full rezoning effort likely won’t wrap until mid-2016. Whether it needs to take that long is a question ripe for debate, but this is certainly the polar opposite of Bloomberg’s attempt to push through rezoning in three months.

The MTA, meanwhile, wants to be front and center during the discussion, and the longer timeline should benefit them. Andy Hawkins of Crain’s New York explored the agency’s view in a piece this week. He writes:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is eyeing big changes to subway stations within the footprint of the proposed midtown east rezoning, and will need a trainload of cash to make it happen…MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said improvements would be needed at Grand Central Terminal, including the Lexington Avenue line and the shuttle to Times Square, and the E and F train station at 53rd Street and 5th Avenue, in order to accommodate more office workers that will come after the rezoning.

At Grand Central, new staircases linking the mezzanine where the turnstiles are to the ground-level station are under consideration, as well as improved pedestrian paths and sight lines to get straphangers from the platform to the mezzanine more quickly, an MTA spokesman said. Currently the station’s signal system allows for 29 trains to pass through every hour, but because of congestion typically only 26 to 27 trains make it through. Relieving that congestion would allow 4,000 to 6,000 more passengers per hour to move through the station.

In the past, Mr. Prendergast said, the development process has forced the MTA to be reactive to new construction, making transit upgrades only after large buildings have been built. “We didn’t do as good a job—we collectively, the city and the MTA—of making sure we identified those and dealt with them,” he said. But midtown east has been different. The MTA has had “a fairly long dialogue” with the City Planning Commission and the Department of Transportation about its funding needs for the rezoning. Those needs will likely be reflected in the MTA’s next capital budget, which is due in September.

When Midtown East first entered our collective consciousness, the MTA estimated its needs at around $465 million. It will update those numbers in the fall, and odds are the price tags have increased. Some of the funding could come from the planned sale of the MTA’s headquarters at 347 Madison Ave. and the transfer of the air rights exist above that rather diminutive building.

Still missing from the MTA’s wishlist for Midtown East though are future phases of the Second Ave. Subway. It’s not the easiest sell because these phases are years away from construction, let alone completion, but it’s possible to argue that nothing is more important to a successful rezoning effort, especially east of Grand Central, than a full-length Second Ave. Subway. Despite these planned renovations along the East Side IRT, the 4, 5 and 6 can’t really handle that many more daily riders, and the Lexington Ave. line doesn’t do the same job of redistributing commuters along the East Side as the Broadway and 6th, 7th and 8th Ave. lines do through Midtown West.

I’m not going to hold my breath here. The MTA is angling for incremental improvements to existing infrastructure — which it needs — but the future for SAS seems up in the air. I’ve heard rumblings that the MTA will soon look to refresh the Environmental Impact Statement for Phase 2, but Midtown East implicates Phases 3 and 4. Will we see those in our lifetimes? Your guess is as good as mine.

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A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a bunch of transit-minded folk, and we were joking about Tom Prendergast’s tenure atop the MTA. He has been officially in charge for a year now, and based on recent history, that means it’s about time for him to step down, get booted out or decide to run for mayor. Of course, we were joking, and barring something out of left field, Prendergast will not be surrendering his CEO-ship any time soon. But that we could make light of the fact that the MTA has gone through nearly a chairman a year since late 2006 speaks volumes of the political upheaval affecting the agency.

Over the course of the year, Prendergast has presided over the good and the bad. The MTA’s budget remains fragile, and out-year projections will be altered by the fact that the net-zero goal ended up proving elusive. Fare hikes, though smaller, are still on the table every two years for the foreseeable future, but beginning yesterday with the M train and today with the G, subway service is being increased for the first time in years. Meanwhile, a new five-year capital plan looms with the immediate future for subsequent phases of the Second Ave. Subway in doubt, and safety problems abound for Metro-North and, to a lesser extent, the Long Island Rail Road. The latter railroad will face its own labor issues in the coming months.

As part of a big feature recognizing his first year on the job, Crain’s New York this week looks back on year one and looks forward to Prendergast’s year two. Andrew J. Hawkins summarizes:

It’s been a bumpy ride for Thomas Prendergast, head of the world’s largest transit system: three derailments, two labor negotiations, a power failure, employee and commuter fatalities, megaproject delays, a budget raid, and persistent aftereffects from Superstorm Sandy.

And Mr. Prendergast’s second year as chairman and chief executive of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority doesn’t look any easier. The MTA’s capital plan, which will outline the next five years of spending on the transit system’s massive infrastructure needs, is unfunded yet is due in September, around the same time that Long Island Rail Road workers plan to strike unless their contract is settled. Soon after, the federal government will render judgment on the MTA’s long list of resiliency needs post-Sandy. Fare increases are scheduled for 2015 and 2017, technology to replace the MetroCard is in the works, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered a long-term plan to harden and transform the entire system.

“I’ve been losing sleep for a while,” Mr. Prendergast admitted. “You realize you’re responsible for a function that carries millions of people a day.”

Prendergast talks about “transformational change,” and that could come in any area, from capital projects set to open to that elusive Metrocard replacement initiative to sustainable funding sources that need to be identified and realized. But as I think back on Prendergast’s last year in office, I think it’s not so much a busy year as it was the status quo. Although much of the focus has been on storm recovery of late, in the year two years prior, the MTA had to confront and fight off those storms. Before that, the agency’s finances tanked, and before that, capital projects were launched, delayed, overbudget and plagued with problems. If we go back a few more years, the TWU strike looms. It is never easy.

For his second year, Prendergast must seal the deal on a new $25-$30 billion capital plan that doesn’t include the same sexy projects as the past few. The MTA needs to perform a behind-the-scenes overhaul of nearly everything, but those don’t come with commemorative plaques and ribbon-cuttings. Preparing for another storm remains a priority as well.

So year one is in the books and year two will, finally, belong to the same MTA CEO and Chair. His term actually is set to expire in 2015, a legacy of the fact that so many people have come and gone since 2009 when the current six-year term began. How Prendergast does this year will determine if he gets another bite at the apple. The MTA sure could use that stability.

Categories : MTA
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