Thursday, November 26, 2020

New York City Transit Announces Work At The End Of The (E) Line In Queens Will Be Completed Two Weeks Ahead Of Schedule

 By N Miller 

QUEENS, NY- If you are an (E) train rider to/from Jamaica Center, then this is your happy moment. TA’s Construction & Development President Janno Lieber announced on Monday that the second phase of work to replace and install over 6,300 feet of track and over 9,800 feet of third rail at or near two stations at the end of the (E) line in Queens will be completed ahead of schedule and on budget. The project, originally expected to finish in mid-December, will now wrap up on Nov. 30. So, this means, full return of service at Sutphin Blvd and Jamaica Center stations.

The existing track had reached the end of its useful life and required complete replacement, which will lead to improved reliability and better service throughout the line in Queens and Manhattan. Since 2016, there have been 46 incidents between Jamaica-Van Wyck and Jamaica Center on the (E) line because of track conditions, resulting in 713 delayed trains. 

Lieber said this in a statement;

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the MTA had begun transforming the way we do construction and brought that new approach to what we did here on the (E) line in Southeast Queens. We are taking advantage of the low ridership during COVID to get more work done, and to complete it faster. And more projects than ever before are being completed ahead of schedule and on budget. But to keep making progress in rebuilding the system, we need help from the federal government.”

Senator Leroy Comrie said this in a statement;

"I thank the MTA for not only wrapping up this project ahead of schedule, but also for working with locally elected leaders and Southeast Queens transit riders to cross honor tickets and implement alternative service via temporary shuttle buses and the LIRR during construction. This experience demonstrates the MTA's ability to meet the demands of riders while completing necessary infrastructure repair and modernization projects.”

Council Member I. Daneek Miller said this in a statement;

“We are pleased that this important track replacement work is finishing ahead of schedule and transit riders can now resume their usual routines. Any suspension in service at a major transit thoroughfare such as this can be difficult, but thanks to the working partnership with the MTA, our local elected offices, and community partners, we are confident that riders had sufficient alternate transit options, including cross-honoring on the LIRR.”

Phase 1 of the project was completed ahead of schedule in October, which allowed for an acceleration of Phase 2 work and limited train service at Sutphin Blvd/Archer Av-JFK and Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer on Nov. 2. The MTA accelerated this project’s timeline from later in the 2020-24 Capital Program to take advantage of low airport travel and low general subway ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, minimizing the disruption of the work and impacting fewer riders.

In other news, if you are traveling this Thanksgiving weekend, please be safe and practice social distancing. The elevators at the 191st Street (1) subway station in Washington Heights-The Cloisters are fully renovated just two months ahead of schedule. In Bridges & Tunnels, the Robert F. Kennedy connection to the Harlem River Drive has now been open. Lastly, full wireless connectivity has been brought to the (L) line between Bedford Ave, Brooklyn and 1st Avenue, Manhattan. 

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Friday, November 20, 2020

MTA Outlines Massive Cuts To Service, Jobs, Revenue & Fare Hikes; Much Worse Than The 2010 Service Cuts

 By N Miller

NEW YORK- To my fellow commuters, we should be prepared for the worse if no funding comes our way. The MTA released its proposed 2021 budget and four-year financial plan amidst the worst financial crisis in agency history. The plan includes devastating service cuts, a drastic reduction in the agency’s workforce and a continued pause on the historic $51.5 billion Capital Plan. In the absence of $12 billion in federal aid. The MTA continues to face an unprecedented financial crisis. This pandemic has the potential to eclipse the Great Depression’s impact on transit revenue and ridership. The way how things are this will be far worse than the 2010 service cuts.

The MTA presented a worst-case 2021 spending plan at its November board meeting. There was no suggestion of additional federal emergency relief. At the same time, the agency is continuing its aggressive effort to secure $12 billion in federal funding. Should desperately needed federal relief arrive, the MTA will make any necessary budget adjustments during 2021. The November Plan includes favorable re-estimates from the July Plan as fare and toll revenues are projected to surpass the previous forecast by $319 million and non-labor expenses are projected to be lower by $295 million in 2020. Savings from vacancies attributable to an MTA-wide hiring freeze are expected to total $66 million. Debt service expense is forecast to be $31 million favorable in 2020, with savings through the remainder of the period covered by the four-year financial plan. Subsidies are slightly unfavorable through 2022, followed by improvements in 2023 and 2024. This brings the MTA’s projected deficits to $15.9 billion through 2024. The TA will be voting to enact on a new budget coming up next month.

The following reductions for each sub-agency could go as follow; Subway service reductions of up to 40%, which may result in reduced train frequency, suspension of service on some lines at certain times of day, and/or major weekend changes. The reduction in service may allow for a 35% subway fleet reduction, generating savings in maintenance, cleaning and inspection costs. There could a one-person train operation and an elimination of station agents. Bus service to decrease by 40% through elimination or consolidation of bus routes and reductions in frequency by up to 33% on the routes that remain.  Changes to routes would ensure that service is available within a half-mile of existing stops. These service reductions for NYCT will result in the elimination of nearly 8,300 positions (bus and subway combined).

Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North services may be downgraded by 50%, which may result in peak period train frequencies of every 20 to 30 minutes along busier line segments. It will be hourly at less busy line segments. Proposed reductions under consideration take into account the existence of nearby alternate service and maintaining adequate service for essential workers. Off-peak and weekend service may be hourly, reflecting current ridership levels while maintaining sufficient service to prevent crowding. The railroads’ service reductions would result in the elimination of a total of more than 900 positions.  

In other news, more incidents of crime in the subway system yet again. First, a female conductor gets punched in the face at the Prospect Avenue station in Brooklyn. She is currently recuperating at home and her attacker is on the loose. His face is blasted everywhere, so if you have information about who he is, give Crime Stoppers a call. Your call will be anonymous, as usual. A 36-year-old man was beaten and shoved onto the tracks at Bryant Park. An arrest has been made in that case. Worst of all, a woman was shoved onto subway tracks at Union Square station in Manhattan. She survived the ordeal. The stunning incident was caught on video. A suspect in that case was arrested at the scene. That happened yesterday. To all of my fellow New Yorkers, please be cautious out there. Especially the fact that we have to be “our brother’s keeper”.

Please enjoy this week's videos: 2016 NovaBus LFSA SmartBus #5439 & #5441 On The Bx1 LTD & Bx9 Bus Routes (Local Scheme) 2016 NovaBus LFS Artic #5439 (All Schemes-Through The Years)

Friday, November 13, 2020

NYCTA Announces New, Convenient Way for Access-a-Ride Customers To Request Taxi and Car Service Reimbursements

By N Miller

NEW YORK, NY - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced a new process for customers to submit their Access-A-Ride (AAR) taxi and car service receipts online. The optional procedure saves time and stamps – and potential trips to the post office or a mailbox for customers who prefer digital transactions to mailing forms and receipts. The new, online reimbursement process will help customers keep digital records of receipts and be able to take care of transactions from their phones or other electronic devices without worrying about holding on to paper receipts and having to purchase stamps or go to the mailbox. The implementation is another way the MTA is working to provide convenient ways for paratransit customers to receive services. All authorization reimbursement rules still apply.

In order to provide efficient service and enable expedient travel, customers may obtain authorization from the Paratransit Command Center to use a taxi or other for-hire-vehicle if a scheduled AAR vehicle is not available to pick up a customer within a reasonable period of time. NYC Transit will authorize the customer to do so and give the customer a taxi authorization number. NYC Transit will reimburse the customer for the cost of the taxicab or car service, as described below. All taxi reimbursements must be pre-authorized.

AAR customers who use an authorized taxicab or car service will continue to obtain a valid receipt completed by the driver with the trip date, fare, car number, and driver’s signature and name and number of car service; or a metered receipt for taxicab customers. Customers using an app-based service like Uber or Lyft, will submit the detailed electronic receipt. Separate trips will require separate digital forms with the authorization number for that trip. Dedicated white and blue Access-A-Ride (AAR) vehicles were given access to bus lanes May 2019. As the city adds more bus-only lanes, AAR customers will reap the travel time benefits of being able to use them.

Customers may continue to safely choose how to book their trips via online trip management, the MYmta smartphone app or by calling the Access-A-Ride call center at 1-877-337-2017. Live agents, automated messages, online communications, and customer emails will include updates for customers and reminders about riding safely during COVID. Posters and signage will also be present on paratransit vehicles. You can go online and submit their trip information and a copy of your receipt, by submitting a digital reimbursement request.

In other news, the Democrats retained the House of Representatives, but not before the GOP flipped nine seats. Current NY-11 Representative Max Rose (D) conceded to winner Nicole Malliotakis (R). She will take Rose's place come January. A Coney Island-bound R46 (N) Train got derailed on the 2nd car last week during the overnight hours. Service was affected all day until 2:50pm that day. An NYCT conductor was among four men who got busted in a Brooklyn gun trafficking takedown. Lastly, the MTA honors their employees who served in the Armed Forces on Veterans Day. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Metropolitan Transportation Authority To Start Frequent COVID-19 Testing For Its Employees (LATE POST)

By N Miller

*This was originally last week's post. My computer crashed. So here's last week's post for this week. Please enjoy.

NEW YORK, NY – Well, this is some news. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will be giving its employees testing for COVID-19. This is done due to a survey that was performed weeks ago by the New York University in conjunction with the Transit Workers Union (TWU). It states that 1 in 4 transit workers came in contact with the virus. The reason that they (the MTA) are doing this is because they want to mask up and deter the fact that had 153 employee deaths in their transit sub agency department and want to act like they had no idea where this virus come from. The TA is doing everything in their power for being lazy and complacent with the use of masks and supply of PPE’s by getting stations, trains, buses, and benches cleaned. We all know the
truth, MTA; you do not need to hide it.

The announcement was made back on October 27th. Thousands of employees will be tested on a weekly basis at a rotating set of workplaces, including train and bus depots, as well as at medical assessment and occupational health services centers. Not only death and despair took its toll on the transit workforce, but, all throughout spring and up to early summer, more than 10,000 employees called in sick due to exposure to the virus, which MTA leadership is downplaying. This caused services to be cancelled and longer wait times on various lines throughout the system. Testing will be RT-PCR and will take approximately five minutes for the nasal swab to be administered. The program is voluntary, but participation is strongly recommended. Turnaround time for results will be within 48 hours under normal circumstances and employees will receive their results in that timeframe. 

The MTA is partnering with BioReference Laboratories and Quest Diagnostics to perform testing. The initial phase of the program will include a goal of testing two thousand employees per week with priority focus on testing up to 15% of the frontline workforce. The COVID-19 Screening Program will begin at select field locations, MACs and OHS facilities and will be expanded to additional sites and scaled up in the coming weeks.  Employees must register to come into a MAC or OHS site if they are not already scheduled for a visit. Jon R. Cohen, M.D., Executive Chairman of BioReference Laboratories said this in a statement, “It is critically important to ensure that MTA employees are safe and healthy. A healthy workforce that is COVID-19 will help us continue to stop the spread of the virus and keep millions of New Yorkers safely moving forward." Employees experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately see their personal physician or get tested at a local test site. Testing information can also be found at the New York State Department of Health, or by calling the NYS COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065. 

In other news, the fate of the MTA’s funding is at the hands of this crazy 2020 Election. We are still waiting for $12B worth of funding from the House and the Senate. If you are a veteran, then do the TA got good news for you. Starting today, 50,000 commemorative MetroCards featuring a Veterans Day image will be available for customers beginning on Friday, Nov. 6. The cards will be available at select MetroCard vending machines in high ridership stations in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. A number of cards will also be available at MetroCard vending machines at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. The commemorative MetroCards, which were created by an in-house design team at New York City Transit, will also be given to each MTA agency’s Veterans Employee Resource Group to distribute at their Veterans Day events. The images on the cards will also be shown on digital display screens throughout the system. Lastly, to all of you out there, no matter which way the election goes, please be safe and be respectful to others.