Archive for the tag ‘nycta’

The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round... Source: Lempkin / Flickr

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round… Source: Lempkin / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Last week, we discussed the MTA’s recent attempts to fix problems with the local bus system such as newly-designed routes that suffer from the same problems plaguing the rest of the system. An example is the B67 extension to the Navy Yard, which is circuitous and not conducive to transferring to other bus routes since it terminates short of Williamsburg Bridge Plaza. It misses vital bus connections and operates with extremely poor headways of 30 minutes. Yet, the MTA visualizes routes such as this as a partial solution to fixing gaps in the routing structure.

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Source: bebo2good1 / YouTube

Source: bebo2good1 / YouTube

THE COMMUTE: Last August, I critiqued the 23-page MTA planning outline, entitled “Looking Ahead.” Last week, the MTA released the full report — a 142-page “MTA Twenty-Year Capital Needs Assessment 2015-2034.” Most of my previous comments still apply. I will try not to repeat myself. Rather than summarize this document or critique it as others have already done, here and here, I will just mention where this ‘Needs Assessment’ is deficient.

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A portion of the ceiling crumbled onto the 18th Avenue N train platform this morning. Repairs for the station are not scheduled until October 2014. (Photo by Brian Hedden)

THE COMMUTE: I’m not talking about crime, but rather the other type of safety. Will the subway derail? Will a chunk of the ceiling fall on your head? Will the train fall off of an elevated bridge? Will the platform crumble because of inadequate supports? That type of safety.

If your first reaction is that the chance of something like that happening is slim to none, think again. After all, we rely on government to make sure the food and water we drink is safe and that the subways are safe, too. We do that through periodic inspections of infrastructure and equipment. But are these performed in an adequate and timely manner to ensure we are protected and problems fixed before they become life threatening?

We would like to think so.

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“This MTA budget not only lacks accountability, but is also most certainly not elementary, my dear Dr. Watson!” Source: The Gentleman Blog

THE COMMUTE: This can only happen in government. Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that he is making $358 million more available for the MTA in next year’s operating budget. The following week, the MTA announces it is deciding how to spend the new $40 million it will be receiving, while other analysts are claiming the amount is closer to $20 million. Just as the governor’s “new” money can disappear in only one week, so can the additional monies raised by a fare increase. Is it any wonder why transit riders and taxpayers are so frustrated?

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The D train rumbles over the Manhattan Bridge. Source: Wikipedia

THE COMMUTE: English is a funny language. If we don’t like someone we might say we don’t like them because they are “stubborn” and that’s bad. If we like them, we say that same person is “persistent” and that’s a good quality, when it’s really the same thing. Similarly, the MTA may want to get rid of a bus route because it’s “duplicative,” meaning a nearby route serves the same function and it is not necessary. If they want to retain two duplicative routes, then the routes are no longer considered “duplicative.” Then they are called “parallel.” In essence we still are talking about the same thing.

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Thomas F. Prendergast, new MTA chairman and former president of MTA New York City Transit (center) speaks to the press. Source: Patrick Cashin for the MTA / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: It was announced on Friday that, after 100 days without a permanent chairman, the former head of New York City Transit, Thomas Prendergast, who had been sharing the responsibilities with Fernando Ferrer, has been named the sole MTA Chairman and CEO. That is good news. We finally have someone who knows the system. We don’t have to give on-the-job training to a real estate mogul, someone whose primary credentials are finances (i.e. the past two chairmen), or a former transit head from another city. We all know that New York is not like any other major city and its transportation system and needs are unique. Continue Reading »

The Jackie Gleason Bus Depot. Photo by Erica Sherman

THE COMMUTE: Governor Andrew Cuomo, who I once said was “not a friend of public transit“ after he cut MTA funding, now has increased MTA funding by $358 million in the 2013/14 fiscal year budget. The question is what will the MTA do with this money? There are several alternatives. The MTA could:

  1. Return subway service crowding guidelines to what they were prior to the 2010 service cuts, thereby increasing subway service and reducing overcrowding.
  2. Restore all the 2010 bus service cuts. Some cuts may have been justified, but the MTA data presented at the time never conclusively proved that was the case. Routes with low ridership were eliminated, such as the B71 in Park Slope, when there were no suitable alternatives.
  3. Finally restructure the bus system to reflect land use changes made during the past 70 years. In many areas, needed bus route changes were never made because the MTA claimed they could not afford the added operational costs. Changes — such as the ones I mentioned here. I say “claimed,” because the MTA never considered increased revenue that would result from improved services, always assuming that additional service would not result in additional ridership or revenue.
  4. Provide new bus routes or extensions at minimal 30-minute service levels, attracting very new few riders.
  5. Provide managerial increases to managers who have not received a raise in five years and also not insist on a zero wage increase contract for the TWU.

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The mayoral candidates at last Friday’s debate. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: In Part 1 of this series, I reported on the candidates’ positions regarding major transit issues. In Part 2, I addressed financial issues. Now we will discuss safety, and sum up.

The first half of the conference addressed safety, both for transit employees as well as passengers. It is an issue that has been in the headlines recently and is a major concern for both parties.

The union implied that the number of passengers falling onto the tracks is increasing, stating that four people fell just during the past week. They did not mention their heavily criticized plan to slow down trains to make the subways safer. This issue was also not addressed further by the panelists.

Union officials mentioned that in 2010, there were the most service cuts ever, and also the most incidents of employee assaults. The question asked was: Is there a correlation between the 2010 service cuts and the rise in incidents of employee assaults?

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Attendees at the mayoral candidates forum. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: In Part 1, with the exception of safety and financing, I reported on the candidates’ positions regarding major transit issues. In this part, we will address financing.


The event was well-attended and the conference was run well, with time limits respected. There were some microphone issues, and the table was barely long enough to accommodate all seven panelists, with Thompson (seated at the far left) remarking about how little table he had.

Comptroller John Liu commented on bus schedules not being realistic.  Although traffic is probably considered in developing schedules, I agree that many schedules are unrealistic. Insufficient consideration is given to heavy passenger loadings and to wheelchairs, both of which delay buses.  If the schedule does not necessarily allow for it, a bus can lose up to 15 minutes or more on a single trip if more than one passenger in a wheelchair needs to be accommodated.

In response to the recent school bus driver strike, the moderator suggested that the MTA take over yellow school bus operations without any mention of the financial ramifications that it would cause. MTA workers are paid much more than school bus drivers and no revenue is obtained from the passengers, so such a move could be detrimental to the MTA’s finances without an increase in the city’s contribution to the MTA.

This was stated as a matter of fact — as something that just needs to be done. No candidate addressed that issue. There was little interaction between the panelists other than a slightly heated discussion between two participants regarding allowing non-medallion taxi street hails.

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The mayoral candidates (seated alphabetically by last name, right to left) at last Friday’s transit debate. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Last Friday I attended a discussion held at the City University of New York with mayoral hopefuls Sal Albanese, Tom Allon, Adolpho Carrion (Allon and Carrion are both seeking the Republican nomination), Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, and Bill Thompson all in attendance. Former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, also seeking the Republican nomination, was not in attendance. The big question is: Why? This article sheds some light why he was not present.

The candidates answered most of the questions rather than sideswiping the issues, as we all too often see in political debates. One exception was the very first question about groping attacks on women in which the candidates used their time to make their opening remarks instead. The other questions asked of the panel were:

  • Is there a correlation between the 2010 service cuts and the rise in incidents of employee assaults?
  • New York City currently funds mass transit with .2 percent of its budget. As mayor, would you increase that funding amount to one percent?
  • How would you reduce New York City’s carbon footprint?

There was a greater interest in improving and expanding bus service than subway service. Three candidates were in favor of building light rail and only Liu mentioned expanding the subway system in the long term. There was also much interest in ferries and the need to pay more attention to the outer boroughs.

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