Sunday, December 29, 2019

Transportation: 2019 Year In Review + 2010s Decade Review

There's lots of events that has transpired in 2019, I don't even know where to begin. In January, the B13, B48, B57, and B60 bus routes got transferred over to the Fresh Pond Bus Depot in exchange for the Q58 and the Captalpa Ave-branch of the B38 bus route to Grand Avenue. Picking up to the year before, the MTA continues to receive the 2018-2019 New Flyer XD40 Xcelsior buses, which replaced all of the Novabus RTSs. Other new buses this year that got delivered were the 2018-2019 Novabus LFS and LFSA Smartbuses that replaced older buses with the Detroit Engine 50 Series. I truly can say that 2019 was the final year for the late 90s to 2005 buses. The first type of buses to go were the New Flyer D60HFs, the city's first articulated buses. In order for these buses to go into retirement, new orders of the New Flyer XD60s and Novabus LFSAs (blue/gold scheme;+SBS wrapped) have to come into property and be assigned to various +SBS routes so the older LFSAs can be decommissioned from NYC Bus Rapid Transit duty and service local/limited-stop articulated routes. The 2002-2004 Orion VII 1st Gen Hybrid-Electric buses were the next ones to go. Queens Village and Manhattanville were the proud owners of these buses until retirement of this year. After retirement, the Queens Village Bus Depot recieved 64 of the new 2018-2019 LFSs, while Manhattanville, on the other hand, the first depot to retire their 2004-2005 Orion VII 1st Gen Hybrid-Electric buses, got loads of 2008-2009 Orion VII Next Gen Hybrid-Electric buses from various depots citywide as well as other depots to compensate for the retirement of the Novabus RTSs.

Speaking of the Novabus RTSs, in early April of this year, the New York Daily News broke out an asinine article about our childhood beasties and how it pollutes the air with its exhaust gases and it runs in the poorest neighborhood sections of Brooklyn. The news article forced the MTA's hand to retire those buses by May 10th. All throughout April, the MTA retired theses buses by the numbers as the days go by. By April 30th, the MTA had ended all watch duty for the remaining RTSs. On May 6th, the MTA opereated a 1999 Novabus RTS-06 #5241 On The M55 Bus Route to South Ferry. After arriving at South Ferry, the bus along with the now-preserved museum bus #5249 and a New Flyer XE40 Xcelsior charge in front of MTA Headquarters for viewing. It was magical to see those buses one last time. The retirement of the RTSs had created a shortage with various bus depots in the city; buses were shifted around to compensate for said shortage, especially the arrival of Next Gens to ENY Deopt, and the Next Gens from Kingsbridge, Gun Hill,and Yukon to Manhattanville. On September 1st, 2019, the MTA launched articulated bus service along the B38, Bx35, and Q12 routes to ease congestion and increase capacity. The Bx35 had artic buses from its home depot,West Farms so its all good. B38 and Q12 on the other hand, had to get the 2012 New Flyer XD60 Xcelsiors from the Bronx to make this route articulation possible. The agency has approved a $2.4M for the B46 +SBS route to operate articulated buses. In order to make this possible, bus stops along the route has to be redesigned and all of the 2017 XD60 NYCT-loaned buses from both LGA and JFK Depots will be going over to the Flatbush Bus Depot. JFK and LGA on the other hand, will recieve the 2019-2020 XD60 buses for the Q52/53 +SBS.

On January 4, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the L train shutdown would be modified. An alternate plan of weekend and late-night construction would be executed instead, therefore putting the M14 SBS plan on hold, which originally was supposed to start on 1/6/2019. New York City Transit still planned to have SBS along the corridor, and is working with the DOT on the plan. The preliminary plan was to convert both the M14A and M14D routes into SBS routes. On March 6, 2019, the NYCDOT met with elected officials and revealed plans to implement Select Bus Service on both the M14A and the M14D in June 2019, with an accelerated timeline to provide an alternative to L service. The implementation of bus lanes on the branches in the Lower East Side was to be implemented later on. Bus stops on each branch would be spaced out to speed up service. The M14A's terminal loop through Abingdon Square would be implemented on a 9-month trial due to difficulty of bus operations there, as well as complaints of buses laying over in the Abingdon Square area. If the terminal is eliminated during or after the trial, service would be extended to Tenth Avenue. Bus lanes would either make use of the busway layout intended for the Tunnel shutdown or would consist of standard bus lanes. In April 2019, a Select Bus Service line was expected to run along 14th Street to provide alternate service during the original L train shutdown plan. Service was expected to operate from Ninth Avenue to Avenue C, then turn north along Avenue C to 20th Street, where there would

be a ferry transfer.
 This route was to be another branch supplementing the existing M14A/D designation, but the existing lines would not be converted to Select Bus Service. To facilitate bus trips on the M14 corridor, the 14th Street busway would be implemented, turning parts of 14th Street into a bus-only street during rush hours. The Select Bus Service route was to be implemented by January 6, 2019, three months before the tunnel was set to shut down. It was to initially run with five stops in each direction between First Avenue/14th Street and 10th Avenue/14th Street. Local service on the M14A and M14D would be retained with minor modifications. One or two weeks before the tunnel would originally close, the M14 SBS was to be extended to Stuyvesant Cove. The M14A/D local and the M14 SBS would be able to serve a combined 84,000 passengers every hour, with a bus every two minutes during rush hours. During late night hours, the M14 SBS would be replaced by the L14 SBS route to the Bedford Avenue station in Brooklyn. Once the 14th Street Tunnel has re-opened, some version of M14 SBS service was to continue to operate. In April 2019, the busway was added back to the plan. SBS was later pushed back to July 1, 2019.Later, it was announced that the M14A/D routes themselves would be converted to SBS, replacing their former local versions. The M14A/D SBS routes were implemented on July 1, 2019. Both the M14A and M14D are based out of Michael J. Quill Bus Depot and are also both the 8th and 9th Manhattan bus lines (the MTA's 19th and 20th) to have Select Bus Service, respectively. However, due to a lawsuit, the busway was not implemented as scheduled, and after another delay that August, went into effect on October 3, 2019. The busway was so successful on its first day that M14 buses had to be slowed down in order to keep from running ahead of their posted schedules. During the (L) slowdown, the MTA provided free Williamsburg Link services; B91 (counter-clockwise) and B92 (clockwise), operating on weekends to provide alternate service during weekend work on the Canarsie Tunnels,from April 26th,2019 to June 8th, 2019. The two routes were discontinued due to low ridership. The following day on June 9th, 2019, the MTA created the B91A (a combo of both the B91 and B92). The route did no better either as it was discontinued on September 1, 2019, ending all Williamsburg Link service. Service in Williamsburg is provided by the B24, B62,and Q54 routes.

In early January 2019, NYCTA President Andy Byford ordered more newer R179 cars to be removed from passenger service and the temporary suspension of the delivery of further cars until Bombardier corrected all defects found within them. The issues have since been resolved, and deliveries recommenced in early February 2019. On May 10, 2019, it was found that there is a welding defect on the collision pillars of the R179, but not all trains on property at the time were pulled from service.By December 2019, 298 cars had been delivered. An audit by Comptroller Scott Stringer found that only 18 of the original 300 cars had been delivered within the contract's deadline. Not only that, the 5-car set R179s made their debut on the (A) line back on February 2019 and has been performing on the line very well. In the subway department of 2019, there were a total of 8-10 stations that got renovated. (5) Line service went to/from Burnside Av for the weekend, (M) Line went up to 145th St, Manhattan as an extra service on the West Side to compensate for the IRT 7th Avenue Line switch repair work north of 96th Street-Broadway. The Jamaica/Coney Island Swap is underway-R46s to CI; all R160s to Jamaica. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in January that thanks to a “new, innovative” design cooked up by engineering experts from Columbia and Cornell Universities, a full shutdown of the L train is no longer necessary. Instead, the Canarsie Tunnel, which connects Brooklyn and Manhattan along the L line, will be repaired in such a way that some subway service can continue to run on weekdays, with work happening on nights and weekends. Repairs are now estimated to take 15-18 months. On April 26th,2019, the slowdown began.On weekdays, L service will continue as normal starting at 5 a.m., with service “reducing”—with trains running every 20 minutes between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and every 10
minutes between Lorimer Street and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn—beginning at 8 p.m. (According to the MTA, L trains already run every 20 minutes between 1:30 and 5 a.m.) On weekends, those 20-minute headways between Manhattan and Brooklyn will be the norm around the clock, but trains will still run every 10 minutes between Williamsburg and Canarsie.  There will also be extended service on the G, M, and 7 trains on weeknights and weekends to pick up the slack from the slower-than-normal L. This will go on until the summer of 2020. The R142s, R142As, R160s, and R179s will be retrofitted with CBTC for various subway lines throughout the system that will be CBTC installed, as well as the arrival of the R262s (manufacturer yet to be determined).

Other events that happened this past year that has been splendid. Just this month, the New Flyer XE60 Xcelsior CHARGE, the city's first all-electric articulated bus, has made its debut on the M14A/D +SBS route. The LIRR made its debut of the Kawasaki M9 EMU, which will retire all of the M3s by at least 2021. In August, I took a visit to Fort Lauderdale, FL and saw mainly bus action in Broward County. The bus types that run down there are manufactured from Gillig, NABI, and New Flyer. The MTA, this year, has launched a bus network redesign plan for each borough. The Bronx was the first borough to get the network redesign plan, which will be launched in early 2020. Following suit are Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and local/limited/+SBS Staten Island routes. This is the spin-off from the success of the makeover of the Staten Island Express bus routes from 2018. Four units of 2018 New Flyer XDE40s were tested along various routes in Queens and Manhattan for the upcoming Hybrid-Electric bus orders. Lastly, the 4-car R179s has been delivered to the (C) and (J)/(Z) Lines, which completed the order. Also, tragedy struck the aircraft industry. Two Boeing 737 Max 8 Jets crashed in both Indonesia and Ethiopia, due to critical pilot computer error. The aircrafts have been grounded ever since.  

With 2019 coming to a close, this also means it's the end of the 2010s decade. We will take a walk down memory lane and take a look back at all the events transpired for transportation this past decade. In 2010, the MTA board, which consist of ex-chairman Jay Walder and ex-NYCT President Thomas Prendergast and others approved a massive service cut that crippled the entire city and Long Island as well as railroad commuters. The following year in 2011, Jay Walder resigned as MTA chairman due to backlash of the approved service cuts the year before. In the later half of 2011, the MTA and Nassau County executives got into a disagreement.The agency wanted more money from the county to keep running buses running in LI. Nassau executives denied that request, which ceased operations of the MTA Long Island Bus. The following year, MTA Long Island Bus became NICE (Nassau Inter County Express) was created by a private company named Vioella Transportation by Transdev.  In 2012, the MTA initiated the FASTRACK program, which shuts down various segments of a subway line weekdays from 10PM to 5AM the next morning to perform tunnel and track maintenance work. From 2010 to 2013, the MTA recieved brand new buses manufactured by Orion (ceased operation in 2012), Novabus and New Flyer, with 90 unit test pilots delivered from each manufacturer. The 100th Street bus depot was renamed into the Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot. In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy halted service overall for the city; destroying various subway lines and tunnels. The superstorm also caused the destruction of the new South Ferry station as well as the Rockaway Peninsula. All throughout this decade, bus routes that were affected by the 2010 cuts got restored as well, reroutes, detours, and extensions have occurred as well as the creation of new routes. In 2013, the old
South Ferry Loop was recommissioned. (A) service was affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, due to extreme damage to the IND Rockaway Line. Trains that normally traveled to Far Rockaway or Rockaway Park terminated at Howard Beach–JFK Airport. Service to the Rockaways resumed on May 30, 2013. The Far Rockaway part of the route was served by the temporary free (H) shuttle that ran between Far Rockaway and Beach 90th Street via the connecting track at Hammels Wye. Starting June 8, 2014, daytime weekend (M) service was extended to Essex Street as part of an $18 million funding project to improve subway service; late night service continues to terminate at Myrtle Avenue. As of 2016 the (M) is at 90% of New York City Transit's loading guidelines during the AM rush hour. Ridership on the (M) has been growing very rapidly since the 2010 service change, and this trend is expected to continue. In June 2016, peak train frequencies on the (M) route were increased, and it is expected that peak train frequencies would be raised again in the future. In May 2014, all trains began stopping at Alabama Avenue, presumably for the convenience of transit employees who work at the nearby East New York Yard and East New York Bus Depot. In July 2014, the MTA proposed that weekend (J) service be extended from Chambers Street to Broad Street. The service change went into effect on June 14, 2015, due to the Fulton Street Transit Center had been fully constructed and opened in November 2014.

In 2015, the MTA ordered a total of 414 buses both New Flyer XD40s and Novabus LFSs to replace all Orion Vs and mid-90s RTSs, just like the order of the 2011-2013 New Flyer C40LFs to replace the 1998-2000 counterparts and all CNG-powered Orion Vs. Starting in 2013 and onward, the MTA started the Fix and Fortify program; a program that repairs subway tunnels that were affected by Superstorm Sandy back in 2012. The Montegue, Greenpoint, 53rd, Jorelemon, Cranberry, and Clark Tubes. Currently, the MTA is performing work on the Canarsie Tubes, which started in April 2019 and won't be done until Summer of 2020. There's one more tube that is left to be constructed and that In 2016, the MTA reformed the bus fleet, bringing it to the 21st Century. WiFi, Charging Ports, and Blue/Gold Scheme is what the vehicles will have everytime a new bus arrives on property, phasing out the traditional blue and white scheme. Later that year, the (W) line made its return on November 6th, 2016, using its 2004-2010 routing. The (W) Line's return also sparked the (N) Line to run Broadway Express on weekdays, and the (Q) to temporarily terminate at 57th Street-7th Avenue, until January 2017. In 2017, the year starts off with the opening of the Second Avenue Subway, which sends the (Q), rush hour (N), and one-trip only (R) trains.From July 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018, reconstruction of two sections of the BMT Myrtle Avenue Line—the approaches to the line's junction with the BMT Jamaica Line and Fresh Pond Bridge over the Long Island Rail Road's Montauk Branch in Queens—required a reroute of (M) service. Trains to and from Manhattan and Queens, instead of going to Metropolitan Avenue, ran via the BMT Jamaica Line between Myrtle Avenue–Broadway and Broadway Junction at all times except late nights, when service was
suspended. A limited amount of rush hour trains ran between 71st Avenue in Queens and Second Avenue in Manhattan, replicating the V train's routing prior to its discontinuation in 2010. Three shuttle bus routes ran during reconstruction of the Fresh Pond Bridge: one between Myrtle Avenue–Broadway and Fresh Pond Road; the second between Myrtle–Broadway and Metropolitan Avenues, skipping the Fresh Pond Road station during the daytime hours; and the third between Flushing Avenue/Broadway and Middle Village–Metropolitan Avenue, stopping at Flushing and Wyckoff Avenues for a transfer to the BMT Canarsie Line at Jefferson Street. When the Fresh Pond Bridge project was completed on September 2, two six-car shuttle trains began operating between Metropolitan and Wyckoff Avenues at all times, running separately from each other on each of the two tracks; two additional six-car trains were stored in the Fresh Pond Yard in order to swap consists in and out of service. These shuttles, along with a shuttle bus route that provided service between Wyckoff Avenue and Broadway, ran until April 27, 2018. As a result of this, the (J/Z) Trains ran local between Broadway Junction and Marcy Avenue. In 2018, the MTA tested a Double Decker bus demo, which failed miserably. The agency received a total of 10 electric powered buses (5 from New Flyer XE40 and 5 from Proterra BE40 Catalyst), the city's first all-electric fleet, on lease until 2021, will be part of the all-electric fleet to run NYC by 2030. The city planned for months on the upcoming (L) train shutdown to happen in 2019. The New Flyer XN60, the city's first CNG-powered articulated bus and the New Flyer XE60, the city's first all-electric articulated vehicle.

Honorable mentions of this decade
-19 Bus Routes have been added to the New York City Bus Rapid Transit family in this decade.
-Metrocards prepares to be phased out by 2022 as OMNY (One Metro New York), where you can pay your debit/creditcard or phone.
-The overall start of the 2020-2024 Capital Plan program
-Vehicles with new technologies to help curb accidents 
-Buses with warning announcements prior to pulling out of a bus stop or turning
-Stations with countdown clocks; Subway system receiving WiFi
-R160s getting cuomozied with decorations and seat removals to help with overcrowding.
-LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central/MetroNorth's access to Penn Station via New Haven Line
-Bus Plan/Subway Moderization Programs. The entire subway system CBTC by the 2030s at the very least