Sunday, August 30, 2020

Free Bus Rides Comes To An End As Fare Payments Returns; Glass Windows Smashed Along The (7) Line; State Lawmakers Look On As MTA Officials Pleads For Funding

By N Miller


NEW YORK, NY- If you have been enjoying the free bus rides since March 20th, you better enjoy these last few days of free bus rides while you still can. Bus fares will be collected once again on Monday August 30th, which will end rear door boarding. All good things must come to an end, so get your OMNY readers, your coins and/or MetroCards ready before boarding the front door. Fare collections are back and you still have to wear your masks.

The recollection of fares for local buses alike is a step forward to get funding in for the agency to keep service running as well as to resume all current and upcoming projects, deliveries and procurements. The agency has acknowledged that the TA’s bus ridership and revenue indicated a loss of nearly $431 million, based on pre-pandemic ridership.  Front-door boarding is anticipated to add up to 40% more space on buses, which would enhance a commuter’s ability to socially distance. Barriers of chains and vinyl curtains that were in place amid the pandemic will be taken down to increase social distancing opportunities.

To increase separation between bus operators and drivers, the seat directly behind the bus operator will be blocked off and the white line on the bus floor, which passengers are advised to stay behind, will be further away from the bus operator. Polycarbonate sliders designed and assembled inside the MTA, and vinyl curtains to fully protect bus operators, continue to be installed on 4,800 local buses and are expected to be completed in the fall. MTA Transit has seen an increase in ridership as NYC continues to reopen. On August 14th, bus ridership reached more than 1.3 million riders, the highest ridership has been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're a transit employee, please be safe out there. We love and appreciate you, even though transit leadership can less of what happens to you. Also, the Jay Street Busway in Downtown Brooklyn will start on 08/31/2020. It will be between Tillary Street and Smith/Livingston Streets for buses from 7am to 7pm. Also, free overnight taxi rides for essential workers ends today.

In other news, this past Wednesday, the group that talks about the overall day to day working conditions in Transit known as the Progressive Action, held a candlelight vigil for Train Operator Hero Garrett Goble (who passed away in the late-March Harlem Subway fire) and the 131 employees who passed away from COVID-19 compilations. The Goble family was given a plaque in memory of Mr. G and a triangular folded American flag in a frame (this is normally given to families of first responders and military members who died on the line of duty). It was a special occasion to honor/pay respects to Mr. G and all the transit employees who kept this city moving during the height of the pandemic. There's still spots left to sign the petition to have Central Park North-110th Street to be renamed to Garrett Goble Way-110th Street, to commemorate and carry on the legacy left by him. Now, it was revealed by WABC 7 New York, that the serial arsonist that caused the deadly fire back in March has still NOT been caught yet, 5 months later. That is a huge slap to the grieving family's face and all of us who wants justice for Mr. G. This comes to show what type of city and state we live in and have to deal with.  The person who we all thought that did this, is not the one at all. He is still going down for what he did to the Computer Music Centre at a Columbia University subcampus. Police are looking for this suspect down below. If you know his whereabouts, please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). 

NEW YORK, NY- If crime in this city cannot get any worse, well it just did. There is a lunatic out there walking around about the subway system, smashing glass windows and doors on the #7 line as well as the #2 and #3 lines. It has gotten go rampant that the yards are running out supplies to replace the broken glass on the trains. This is just another day in Bill DeBozio’s New York City.

An overall total of 465 subway windows has been smashed since May. Transit workers have reported 31 separate instances of broken windows on the 7 train. Smashed windows have also turned up on the 2 and 3 trains, costing the agency $300,000 so far. Service along the #7 had to be decreased to keep up with the glass repairs on the trains. Broken glass on trains can be a major safety hazard as the glass can easily break into pieces mid-ride. The MTA and NYPD has joined forces have this vandal caught, arrested, and indicted once and for all. $12,500 (the usual $2,500 by NYPD & $10,000 added by the MTA). Police identified the alleged culprit as a male “with light complexion,” who was last seen in a white shirt. He remains at-large. If you have any information, please contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-(TIPS) 8477.

A suspect has been arrested for a string of vandalism of subway glass windows. 42-year old Joseph Martinez was arrested Friday night after being seen kicking out subway windows on the (A) train at 59th Street-Columbus Circle. He is charged with criminal mischief and was issued a desk appearance ticket and will be arraigned in November. Martinez works for a third-party subcontractor authorized by the MTA to clean the trains and was under the influence of drugs when he was committing his vandalism act. The object that was used to smash the glass was a lead pipe, a sledgehammer, and a baseball bat. Martinez’s paychecks should be used to replace the glass that he smashed.  

NEW YORK, NY – Things are looking very dire for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Years of financial mismanagement on top of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a financial strain for the agency. Lets not forget that the TA still has to pay $500,000 to families of employees who passed away to COVID-19 compilations. CEO/Chairman Patrick Foye has mentioned that there will be service cuts (much more than that of 2010), job layoffs, and an increase fare hike of 20%. I hope that the state and the U.S. Congress can come up with some sort of compromise that can save New York transportation.

The MTA will need $12 billion in operating funds for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021, according to agency leaders who testified Tuesday before a joint state Senate-Assembly hearing. MTA officials testified on not only the fiscal crisis they face but also the draconian impact it would have without additional financial help, such as service cuts, fare increases and capital projects being stalled. Despite a reported pending deficit of $16 billion by 2024, some legislators were skeptical that the losses from fares and tolls added up to the amounts the MTA says they will need replaced did not add up. 

Other budget reductions on the table include a $1 increase in bridge tolls and a 1 percent fare increase on top of already scheduled biannual fare and toll hikes as well as a wage freeze, accessibility cuts and the cancellation of maintenance and modernization efforts. State law requires the MTA pass a balanced budget at the end of each fiscal year, meaning the proposed cuts would go before the board in November or December, officials said.

Even as people try to get back to day-to-day life, they’re shunning crowds, which means shunning transit. The MTA’s ridership, after spiking in early summer, has stalled at a fraction of pre-pandemic trips. Last Wednesday, subway ridership was down 77 percent. Because of these figures, the MTA cannot borrow from traditional bond markets, at least not at an interest rate it wants to pay. Last week, it tried to borrow $451 million from traditional lenders (like banks), with a three-year repayment term, but lenders demanded an interest rate more than double the January rate. So the MTA went to the Fed, taking advantage of an emergency program. It’s only the second government borrower to do so, after the state of Illinois, which has long been broke. And the agency still had to pay 50 percent higher than January. A nightmare scenario is, three years from now, an MTA hobbling along with, say, 60 percent of pre-pandemic ridership. People with options have either left the city or stuck with bicycles within Manhattan and cars in the boroughs. The MTA doesn’t have resources to repair and maintain its infrastructure, and it has to slash service to repay its existing $46 billion in debt.

What do you guys think about all of these stories? Please comment down below.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

NYCT Celebrates 30 Years Of ADA Accessibility; Changes Come To The M35 & Q70-SBS Routes

*Originally for 07/30/2020. I was dealing with some private issues during that week, so, the stories will now be released.

By N Miller (Creator Of The Transportation Hub)

NEW YORK, NY - In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
elevators have been added to four new stations, as well as easy transfer to the M60-SBS to LaGuardia Airport. Ten elevators in total were added across these four stations (mentioned down below). The agency still calls on the U.S. Senate to provide $3.9B in emergency federal funding in 2020.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced the completion of four ADA-accessible stations coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The MTA marked the historic anniversary at an event at the newly upgraded Astoria Blvd subway station in Queens, where the installation of four elevators has recently been completed in addition to rebuilt elevated walkways, new benches, and finished platform stair enclosures. The MTA also announced the 86th St (R) Subway station in Brooklyn is set to become ADA accessible this week and the Bedford Av (L) Subway station in Brooklyn and 1st Av (L) Subway station in Manhattan are set to become ADA accessible in early August.

Astoria Blvd (N)(W) Subway Station
Work on the Astoria Blvd station, serving the (N)(W) lines and M60-SBS bus to LaGuardia Airport, began in June of 2018, with the station reopening last December after a nine-month closure. The completion of elevator work includes a pair of street-to-mezzanine elevators as well as two mezzanine-to-platform elevators. Additional accessibility features include new ADA platform boarding zones, rebuilt elevated walkways, new benches, finished platform stair enclosures, and eight rebuilt staircases; four from the street to the mezzanine and four from the mezzanine to the platforms.

Bedford Av and 1st Av (L) Subway Stations
As part of the broader Canarsie Tunnel Rehabilitation and (L) Subway Train Core Capacity Improvement project, workers made massive accessibility and circulation improvements for the 1st Av Station in Manhattan and Bedford Avenue Station in Brooklyn. Within the coming weeks, the 1st Av Station will be equipped with new street to platform elevators at the Avenue A entrances on both the north and south sides of 14th St. At Bedford Av Station, there are four newly constructed entrances and four existing stairs under rehabilitation. A new street to mezzanine elevator is being completed at the northeast corner of Bedford Avenue and N. 7th Street. The existing mezzanine at Bedford Avenue has been expanded to accommodate a new mezzanine to platform elevator.

86 St Station (Brooklyn)
The 86 St (R) Subway station under Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is being upgraded with two ADA compliant elevators, which will travel from the street to mezzanine, and from the mezzanine to the platform level. The station also received new mosaic bands and artwork. To aid bus customers transferring to the elevator, the east side of Fourth Avenue was rebuilt to include a sidewalk bulb-out, providing seamless travel to the elevator, increasing passenger waiting space and eliminating the need for buses to pull out of and into traffic. Transit officials are testing out five new maps in a display at 86th Street station in Brooklyn; including a subway diagram based off a controversial minimalist design from the 1970s. Also on display at three separate locations in the Bay Ridge station is a map that combines the subway and “Select Bus” routes, two different maps of the local neighborhood and a station blueprint for disabled straphangers.

This latest package of elevator installation work at stations around the system comes amid a backdrop of significant financial uncertainty surrounding the MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Plan. That plan included a historic, $5.2 billion commitment to expanding the number of accessible subway stations by more than 50% and ensuring that no customer would be more than two stations away from an accessible station. It remains on hold due to pandemic-induced budget shortfalls of an unprecedented magnitude. While celebrating progress on the Authority’s longstanding commitments to enhancing accessibility throughout the system, MTA officials urged the U.S. Senate to provide emergency funding.
NEW YORK, NY - If you are a passenger of the M35 and/or SBS-Q70 route, then your ride is going
to be whole new different. M35 will serve a new psychiatric center on Randal's/Ward's Island. The Q70-SBS is now fully articulated, operating along Woodside Ave in Queens heading towards the Woodside subway/LIRR stop. Both service changes overall costs $120,000 in total.

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) will be relocating its main entrance at the Kirby Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Randall’s/Wards Island and has requested that the M35 be rerouted to loop on to its property and serve a new stop that it will build. This new stop will be closer to the relocated 24-hour guard booth and will make the M35 a more convenient and more appealing option for customers by shortening the distance between the bus stop and the OMH entrance. Reroute the M35 to loop on to the OMH property and serve a newly built bus stop. A net annual cost of approximately $100,000 is expected and service to that hospital will commence in January 2021.

The LaGuardia Link Q70-SBS, which serves the transport hubs of Woodside, Jackson Heights, and Terminals B,C and D of LaGuardia Airport, has been seeing a spike in ridership. To accommodate the ridership increase, the route went from using 40 foot standards to 60 foot articulated buses. The Q70 shared its last stop and layover in Woodside with the Q53 SBS on southbound 61st Street north of Roosevelt Avenue. The Q53 also utilizes articulated buses. With the longer articulated buses for the Q70, the Q53 and Q70 would not be able to fit in the shared location. Working with the NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), a new last stop and layover was identified for the Q70 and planned for installation in early April 2020; however, with the rise of COVID-19 in March 2020, NYC DOT couldn’t conduct the work. In late May/early June 2020 NYC DOT got the opportunity to complete the installation of the bus stop and other supporting changes in time for the summer schedule change on June 28, 2020. To access the new last stop and layover, the travel path was revised. The new Woodside-bound routing goes as followed; off the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), left on Broadway, right on 75th St, right turn on Woodside Ave towards 61st St and end. Articulated service started on June 29th, 2020 as part of the summer service change. This change has a price of $20,000 annually. For full details, please refer to the July 2020 Bus and Transit Committee Meeting PDF File.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Major Switch Replacement Work Comes To The IRT Lexington Avenue Line To Improve Service Reliability

By N Miller (Creator Of The Transportation Hub)

NEW YORK, NY - If you are a regular passenger on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line during the overnight and weekends, your trip has been HALTED! New York City Transit (NYCT) will be replacing switches, tracks and conduct tunnel repairs on weeknights (9:30 pm to 5am the following morning) and weekends (9:30pm Friday to 5am Monday) for 35 days to reduce and improve reliability along the east side line. Please take note that switch and track replacement are taking place near 14th St-Union Square and Canal St/Lafayette St during rush hours, which has southbound (4) and (5) trains travel at slower speeds, running every 2.5 to 3 minutes instead of every 2 to 2.5 minutes. Also. some southbound (5) trains are running on the (2) line from 149th Street-Grand Concourse to Nevins Street. This project will start on August 10th and conclude at 5am on Monday, September 14th. Note that subway service is still suspended nightly from 1am to 5am.

The agency recently announced that crews will replace track switches and perform an array of other improvement projects on the (4), (5), and (6) lines beginning on August 10, which will lead to improved reliability and better service throughout the lines in Brooklyn, The Bronx and Manhattan. The work will require overnight and weekend suspension of the (4), (5), and (6) trains in Manhattan south of 42 St-Grand Central, and (4) & (5) trains in Brooklyn. August traditionally sees some of the lowest subway ridership of the year, minimizing the disruption of the work and impacting as few riders as possible. This gives a reminder of the same switch track replacement work that happened on the IRT West Side that impacted (1), (2), and (3) service in Manhattan last year August.

Replacing track switches at Union Square will allow the (4), (5), and (6) lines to move safely between the local and express tracks at that location while providing operational flexibility, reducing delays and improving reliability. The switches were last replaced more than 20 years ago, in 1989 and 1999. While this switch replacement work is happening, MTA Construction & Development and other departments from across NYC Transit will use the track access created by this work to also perform a multitude of other reliability improvement projects, including to replace track at Canal St and Borough Hall, perform rail grinding at multiple locations and repair structural components in the tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn. In order to maximize the efficiency of track access, MTA Construction & Development is also bundling an array of other capital improvement work on the Eastern Parkway section of the (4) and (5) lines, including water damage repair and prevention, concrete and rebar restoration and the relocation of light fixtures for better resiliency.

Since there's no IRT Lex Av service south of Grand Central-42nd St and all of Brooklyn, alternate service will be available. There's the (N)/(R) and (4)/(6) at Lexington Avenue-59th Street; (E) and (4)/(6) at Lexington Avenue-51st/53rd Streets; and lastly the (7)/42nd Street Shuttle and (4)/(6) trains at Grand Central. More service changes and alternates will be posted here:

·         The 42 St Shuttle and 7 train will provide connections between 4 5 6 trains terminating at Grand Central-42 St and continuing service to Brooklyn on 2 and 3 trains at 42 St-Times Square. The 42 St shuttle, which was temporarily suspended at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and kept suspended in order to accelerate progress on the 42nd St Connection Project, will be restored in order to help provide the alternate service for this project.
  • ·         4 trains will make local stops in Manhattan and 5 trains will not operate in Manhattan, with specific service varying each weekend. 4 service will operate between Woodlawn and Grand Central-42nd St, making local stops. 5 service will run solely in the Bronx between Dyre Avenue and East 180th Street. 6 service will only run between Pelham Bay Park and Grand Central-42nd St.
  • ·         2 and 3 trains will serve all 4 and 5 stations in Brooklyn. Customers traveling between the Bronx and Brooklyn should transfer to a 2 train at 149 St-Grand Concourse.
  • ·         You can take the N and/or R trains to Times Square in Manhattan or Atlantic Av-Barclays Center in Brooklyn to reconnect with the 2 and 3 trains for service to 4 and/or 5 train stations in Brooklyn.
  • ·         N trains will run via Lower Manhattan to provide additional service at stations near 4, 5, and 6 subway stations without service.
In other news, full LIRR, Metro-North, Bridges and Tunnels have been restored to full service after the passing of Tropical Storm Isaias. A new commuter coach bus, a 2020 Prevost Commuter Coach X3-45, operating on the Yonkers bus depot express routes and is currently in testing. If all goes well, 307 of these newbies will be on property (257 for MTA Bus; 50 for NYCT Bus). Two new overnight routes have made their debut the M99 (42nd St Pier to East NY-New Lots Ave) and the Bx99 (West Village to Woodlawn-Jerome Ave) to provide stranded overnight workers in areas where subways are mostly frequent during those times. A scoundrel is going around smashing subway car windows with a sledgehammer. I hope and pray that he gets caught and gets slapped with a hefty bill to get all the glass fixed. Please stay tuned for a special weekend post.