Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The End........Or Is It?????????????

By The Hub

Good day everyone. To all of the viewers of the Hub Chronicles blog, it is within my deepest regard to announce that this will be the last post of this blog. Effective immediately, this is will be no more. I realized that people are annoyed with the fact that they have to read both the blogpost and listen to the podcast episode based on the same story. Plus, its much more stressful for me as a content creator because not only I have to make videos and other social media posts, and I also have to type and do voice recordings on the same topics, and it does not make sense. So from now on, the Hub Chronicles will be consolidated with the HubTalk podcast to become the HubTalk Chronicles podcast, it is blogging but for podcasting. The Hub will still discuss stories and the latest topics in NYC, Mass Transportation, and the World. So, to all those who supported this blog from the very beginning, I would like to say thank you. This is the end of the line (for this blog, of course). But its really not. The HubTalk Chronicles podcast will go into effect effective as this Thursday. For this year only, https://www.hubchronicles.com is available until 12/31/2021. After that, the URL will reverted back to https://transportationhub.blogspot.com. All the blogpost will still be here and available for reference. You can catch the HubTalk Chronicles on both Spotify and Anchor. I am working on trying to expand the HubTalk Chronicles to all podcast platforms (that may go into effect next year). Lastly, for all things Transportation Hub, follow the Hub on all social media platforms via AllMyLinks.

Thank You Everyone and I will see all of you at the next stop. 




Saturday, July 31, 2021

Take The (G) To The Sea-A Major Weekend Change Shake-Up That Will Transpire Next Month On The (C), (E), (F), & (G) Lines

By The Hub

Planned Service Changes for two weekends in August
Credit: MTA.info

NEW YORK, NY- If you are a weekend passenger on the (C), (E), (F), & (G) Lines, then you are in for a commute of a lifetime. MTA New York City Transit announced last week that service changes during a pair of August weekends on these lines mentioned above, which will bring “the G to the Sea” by extending the line more than 5 miles, to Coney Island. The train normally terminates at Church Av in Kensington, Brooklyn, since the line was extended there from Smith-9 Sts in June 2009 in planning of the Culver Line rehabilitation, later made permanent on July 16th, 2012 by then MTA Chairman/CEO, Joe Lhota.

The temporary service change will take place during the weekends of August 6-9 and 13-16 and is being made to support the final portion of critical post-Superstorm Sandy work to rehabilitate the tunnel the (F) train uses when traveling between Manhattan and Brooklyn. During these outages, crews will also install cables in the vicinity of Jay Street in order to support the ongoing signal modernization work between Church Avenue and Coney Island. In order to support customers, the MTA will provide several alternative service options. Transit has begun displaying posters and relevant service change information on digital screens throughout the impacted areas to inform customers of the changes. The agency will also send alerts to email or text message subscribers, and via social media.

The bulk of the tunnel work was completed during the spring after crews spent 17 weekends and dozens of weeknights working to install new tracks, signal equipment, communication cables and tunnel lighting. Workers also performed considerable upgrades to the East Broadway station in Manhattan, including nearly 12,000 square feet of platform renewal, 13,000 square feet of wall tile replacement, 1,360 feet of platform edge removal in addition to a range of leak mitigation work. The construction timeline on the Rutgers tube was the fastest of all the Sandy-related tube rehabilitation projects.

I know that I have not done an article for the month of July, but I do have news and events that did transpire for this month. Let us recap on what happened shall we? 

The Kawasaki R211As Credit: MTA.info

  • In late June, the first 5-car sets of the Kawasaki R211As (4060-4064) were delivered on a truck bed to the South Brooklyn Railyard in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. On July 1st, an unveiling ceremony was held. The R211As were sent to the Coney Island Yard through the South Brooklyn Railyard and the West End (D) Express line. Two weeks later, unit #s 4065-4069 were delivered. The future is here and it is now. The trains will go through rigorous testing and will be placed into service next summer.
  • Outgoing MTA Chairman/CEO Patrick J. Foye applauds the United States of Representatives for passing the INVEST In America Act, which will provide $109B in mass transportation funding nationwide. Foye said this in a statement: “The House of Representatives has taken an important first step toward new, once-in-a-generation levels of funding for public transportation. The $109 billion in the INVEST In America Act to fund transit agency state of good repair and expansion would help the MTA fund the historic $51.5 billion capital plan. But more needs to be done. Robust federal support is also needed for MTA's huge portfolio of projects to expand accessibility, modernize signal systems, finish the long-awaited expansion of the Second Avenue Subway to Harlem, build Penn Station Access and its four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx, and help transition the MTA bus fleet to zero emissions by 2040. Federal funds also should be made available to kickstart efforts to reconstruct existing Penn Station and expand Penn Station to increase capacity between New York and New Jersey in tandem with the Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project. We urge Congress to ensure this level of funding is at a minimum, preserved as both the House and Senate come to a final deal that will work for all transit agencies."


BRT Gate Cart 1273 & 2019 XE60 Xcelsior used
in the parade for the MTA employees on July 6th.
Credit: Marc A. Herman/MTA
  • On July 7th, New York City threw a parade of "Hometown Heroes" for the essential workers who really pulled through during the height of the pandemic. Among the parade the crowd were the MTA employees. A group of 70 MTA workers participated in the parade announced by city’s mayor on June 14, were featured in two MTA floats and on City Hall’s essential workers float. The heroes cruised down the Canyon of Heroes as New Yorkers thanked them for all the work they did to get the city to the other side of the pandemic. The parade followed the traditional ticker tape parade route, beginning in Battery Park, and slowly proceeding through the Canyon of Heroes, up Broadway, towards City Hall. The floats chosen for this parade should resonate with New Yorkers as they symbolize the past and future of transit. One float featured Car 1273 of the New York Transit Museum’s Vintage Fleet. Car 1273 has been through two world wars, and now two pandemics, and is proof that even at the lowest moments of this city and the country, the subway is there. The second float points towards the future, a zero-emissions bus that represents where transit is headed coming out of this pandemic, towards a cleaner future and one where mass transit must be at the center of it. The common theme in past, present and future is that through it all, transit workers will lead the way and keep New York City moving.

  • WiFi is now assessable through the Atlantic Avenue LIRR tunnel. Accessibility came available to two subway stations along the (Q) line; Avenue H in Midwood, Brooklyn and 57th St-7th Av in Midtown Manhattan.  The agency announces the future of accessibility on Roads and Rails on 31st Anniversary of the Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. You can read the full article here. LIRR continues process with the construction of the new Elmont station despite challenges displayed by COVID-19. LIRR now leads Global Car Technology on Google Maps. The agency held its 13th ‘Mask Force’ event, with MTA leaders, local elected officials, staff, and volunteers distributing thousands of free masks throughout the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and NYC Transit subway system. Since its inception, approximately 1,100 New Yorkers have volunteered for the MTA Mask Force, handing out more than 750,000 masks. The 175th St (A) station now lies a memorial for longtime transit accessibility advocate Edith Prentiss, who died in March at age 69. Prentiss, who used a wheelchair for the last 25 years of her life, was a daily transit rider and leading voice in the fight to ensure equality and accessibility for people with disabilities in New York City and throughout the transit system.

  • Lastly, a major change in MTA leadership. Patrick Foye steps down as MTA Chairman/CEO this past Thursday. He will become Interim President of Empire State Development. It was also Sarah Feinberg's last day as Interim NYCT President. Craig Ciapano, President of MTA Bus/VP of NYCT Bus, will take over as temporary NYCT President. Janno Lieber, President of Construction and Development, will take over as temporary MTA Chairman/CEO. At this moment, the changes of MTA's leadership is at hand on the state Senate floor. If approved, then Sarah Feinberg will be chairperson and Janno Lieber will be CEO of the board. Will this change happen? Only time will tell.  

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Brooklyn MTA Bus Crashes Into Three Story Home, Injuring 16 Others; Cuomo Appoints Sarah Feinberg To Be The Next MTA Chairperson Got Axed By State Senate

 A Southbound B49 Bus crashed into a brownstone building at Bedford Avenue & Lincoln Road. All involved in the accident are fine with mild injuries, non-life threatening. 

BROOKLYN, NY - Sixteen people were injured, none of them critically, after a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus crashed into a rowhouse in Brooklyn on Monday afternoon. The bus, traveling on the B49 route, slammed into a building at the corner of Lincoln Road and Bedford Avenue before 2 p.m. It smashed a hole in the first-floor fa├žade and bent a window pane on the second floor. The house, located in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens was still standing after the crash. Bricks were strewn about the sidewalk in front of the building, which has a doctor’s office on its garden level.

Now, this is the fourth bus accident that happened so far in New York City. In January, an articulated bus made a left turn three times the speed limit and ended up dangling on the overpass of the Washington Bridge in the Bronx. In April, a Bx11 bus collided with motorcycle and caught on fire.  Just three weeks ago, a car got into an accident with an MTA bus out in Staten Island. Craig Cipriano, the president of M.T.A. Bus, which operates the city’s buses, said that the driver, a 55-year-old man, had 13 years experience and no prior collisions. Recently, a surveillance video from the bus cameras shows the moments where the driver came out of his booth to change the route sign hit the red truck in front of him twice, swerved onto the road, hits a parked black pickup truck and ends up crashing into the three-story brownstone building. Here is the video down below, courtesy of CBS New York via YouTube:



Now, in that video, that driver looks like he is dizzy and disoriented, plus in complete and utter shock. The MTA and the Transit Union are at war of words; the TA is blaming the bus operator while the union is blaming the bus's mechanism. The bus is still lodged in the brownstone. Crews had to put up walls to keep people from messing with it. The owner is working with the Department of Buildings to shore up the structure so the bus can finally be removed.

UPDATE: The bus was pulled from the brownstone with no collapse of the building.


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Cuomo appoints Sarah Feinberg to be the next MTA Chairperson, the first female to ever hold the position. The plan was later killed in the state Senate out in Albany. 


                                 

NEW YORK, NY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday that the nomination of Sarah E. Feinberg as Board Chair and the appointment of Janno Lieber as the CEO of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Pat Foye, who has led the agency as President as well as Chairman and CEO for the past four years, will leave the agency July 30 and will step into a new role as Interim President and CEO of Empire State Development.  This would make Feinberg the first female MTA Board Chair and take the post after leading New York City Transit through the worst public health crisis in over a century. Lieber will serve as CEO effective July 30 after shaping the agency's historic $51.5 billion capital plan and driving the agency's robust construction efforts during the COVID crisis as President of MTA Construction & Development.  

Feinberg has served as Interim President of New York City Transit since March 2020, where she led the agency's 53,000-person workforce through the COVID crisis. During her time as Interim President, and recognizing the importance of riders returning to transit, Feinberg has relentlessly focused on ensuring service, safety and security for customers and transit workers. Throughout the pandemic, as other transit agencies scaled back service dramatically, NYC Transit maintained significant levels of subway and bus service.  She and NYC Transit also launched a groundbreaking cleaning and disinfecting campaign during COVID-19, implemented the nation's first mask mandate on public transit, and added additional security measures to the system including an aggressive security camera program.

Transit, under her watch, also launched the successful family liaison program, focused on caring for the families of MTA employees lost to COVID and the distribution of COVID family benefits. Under Feinberg's leadership, NYC Transit also launched a first-of-its-kind memorial honoring those lost colleagues, which drew national praise. Feinberg has also focused on the culture of transit in the New York Metropolitan region, launching a program with social media influencer NY Nico, which brought iconic voices to subway announcements.  

Lieber currently serves as President of MTA Construction & Development, an 1,800-person organization he built from the ground-up. Lieber oversaw the approval of the groundbreaking $51.5 billion 2020-2024 Capital Program. He successfully managed the on-time and on-budget completion of the L Train Tunnel Project, the Long Island Rail Road Double Track, the historic completion of 11 ADA stations in 2020, and the rehabilitation of the F-line Rutgers Tube in record time - the last of the Superstorm Sandy-damaged subway tunnels. His portfolio includes ongoing megaprojects like East Side Access, the $2.5 Billion LIRR Third Track project, Metro-North Penn Access (which will add four new stations in the East Bronx), Penn Station reconstruction and expansion, and Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway, which will extend the line through East and Central Harlem. He also helped spearhead the agency's successful efforts to secure $14 billion from the federal government in the face of the pandemic-induced financial crisis.

Prior to his work at MTA, Lieber served as President of World Trade Center Properties for 14 years where he managed the multi-billion-dollar development of Silverstein Properties' projects at the World Trade Center. Before that, Lieber headed public-private development at Lawrence Ruben Company, and, as a consultant, worked with clients such as Chicago Transit Authority, New Jersey Transit, and Penn Station Redevelopment Corp. - the agency then responsible for the Moynihan Train Hall project. During the Clinton Administration, Lieber served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Earlier in his career, Lieber practiced law at the New York firm of Patterson, Belknap Webb & Tyler and served as a transportation policy advisor in the office of New York City Mayor Ed Koch.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S A TWIST! A bill that would have split up the MTA’s top leadership post and made Sarah Feinberg the authority’s first female chair is dead in Albany, following opposition from lawmakers. The legislation, backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was introduced late Tuesday and would have split the MTA’s chair and CEO roles, with Feinberg selected as chairwoman and Janno Lieber, presently the MTA’s chief development officer, appointed CEO. State Senator Alexandria Biggati (D-Bronx) said this in a statement: “What we need is not to be like splitting roles in the MTA, I think we need a very strong person at the helm. We need somebody there who is not going to just be a figurehead. We need somebody who’s going to be a leader, because our MTA has been a problem for a while.”  The cancellation of this bill will show Cuomo that his bullying and power-tripping behavior will not be tolerated. 

You can listen to the full podcast episode on Anchor.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

MTA Experiences Security Breach As They Got Hacked Back In April

New York City's transit system was hacked in April. 3,700 employees and contractors to change their passwords and no data was hacked nor stolen.

NEW YORK, NY- Why, oh why? New York’s subway system was targeted by hackers with links to the Chinese government in April, according to a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) document reported on by The New York Times. Officials with the MTA said that on April 20, the FBI, Cybersecurity Infrastructure Agency (CISA) and the National Security Agency issued a joint alert that there was a zero-day vulnerability, which is a vulnerability no one was aware of and for which there were no patches. CISA issued recommendations for fixes and patches, which the MTA implemented by the morning of April 21. The MTA further said it engaged with IBM and Mandiant to perform a forensic audit.

Only three of the MTA’s 18 systems were impacted. No employee information was breached, and there is no impact to customers or contractors. Rafail Portnoy, the MTA’s chief technology officer, said in a statement, “Quickly and aggressively responded to this attack bringing on Mandiant, a leading cyber security firm, whose forensic audit found no evidence operational systems were impacted, no employee or customer information breached, no data loss and no changes to our vital systems. Importantly, the MTA’s existing multi-layered security systems worked as designed, preventing spread of the attack and we continue to strengthen these comprehensive systems and remain vigilant as cyber-attacks are a growing global threat.”

Hackers breached multiple agencies by exploiting vulnerabilities in products from IT company Invanti’s Pulse Connect Secure. CISA said at the time that it had been assisting compromised organizations since March 31. The hack itself was believed to have begun in June 2020 or earlier. Meat producing group JBS USA was forced to shut down operations after being targeted. The FBI has identified Russian-linked groups REvil and Sodinokibi as behind that hack. Colonial Pipeline was forced to halt 5,500 miles of pipeline last month after being targeted by criminal ransomware gang DarkSide.

Wow; just wow. So much cyber-security attacks in within a span of a month. Why is the United States getting cyber attacked by China and Russia? The Biden Administration better get to work and find those perpetrators who are responsible for breaching our security. This has everything to do with the former guy bowing down to foreign diplomats. Hopefully, everything gets situated this time around and things go well with better security and protection. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

MTA Commits To Deploy Zero Emissions, All-Electric Fleet By 2040

The MTA will transform their current NYC Bus fleet to zero emissions; all-electric starting in 2028 and will be completed by 2040.


NEW YORK, NY - Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials announced yesterday that the Authority will be increasing its procurement for electric buses this year from 45 to 60, a 33% increase, the latest step in the MTA’s ongoing mission to transform its 5,800 buses to a zero-emissions fleet by 2040.  The electric buses will operate out of each of the five boroughs with the first expected to hit the road in late 2022. The Authority already operates 25 all-electric buses, and the historic 2020-2024 MTA Capital Program includes $1.1 billion in funding to buy another 500 and build charging infrastructure at eight of the 28 depots where the MTA stores and maintains its bus fleet.  

This announcement comes as the MTA finalized a $39 million agreement with the New York Power Authority to install more than 50 overhead chargers to power new electric buses that will be coming next year to four MTA bus depots. Construction is expected to begin this fall at the Charleston, East New York, Grand Avenue and Kingsbridge depots. A charger replacement at the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza, considered an “on-route” charger because buses will draw charges while they are briefly parked between runs are a part of these efforts. The on-route chargers will provide enough charge during the drivers’ rest periods to keep the bus operating for two full shifts per day. The total project is expected to take about a year to complete.

In NYC, approximately 75% of MTA bus depots are located in low/moderate-income communities, and transit bus routes run disproportionately through these neighborhoods. Conversion to a zero-emissions fleet will help to significantly improve air quality and public health by reducing health outcomes like asthma. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced a new $73 billion plan back on May 4th, aimed at replacing the country’s mass transit buses with clean vehicles. The proposal seeks to replace the country’s 70,000 buses and 85,000 cutaway vehicles and transit vans, prioritizing funding for areas with the worst air quality first. The funds going elsewhere include $60 million toward a workforce training program and $500 million that would go to transit agencies to lessen the burden of retraining workers. A summary said the plan, called Clean Transit for America, will authorize the money for the procurement and deployment of zero-emission buses and infrastructure, including charging stations related to it.

Schumer said in a statement: “To reduce the carbon in our atmosphere and address the climate crisis, we must transform our transit system. The Clean Transit for America proposal will replace dirty, diesel-spewing buses, create new American jobs, help save the planet and protect public health, particularly in our country’s most vulnerable communities."

The MTA removes 17 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the air per year by providing public transit services as an alternative to personal vehicle use, and a zero-emissions bus fleet would further reduce New Yorkers’ carbon footprint. Zero-emissions propulsion technology also results in quieter operations in addition to the benefits of zero tail-pipe emissions, which make it ideal for operating vehicles in densely populated areas such as New York City. All-electric buses use an electric motor powered by a battery pack, and their propulsion systems recapture energy normally wasted in braking. Articulated buses, which are higher-capacity 60-foot-long buses used on Select Bus Service as well as on higher ridership routes, are ideal for electrification when used in densely populated urban areas where carbon emissions and traffic noise are public concerns.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Grand Central Terminal & New York's Pennsylvania Station Used As Public Vaccination Sites; NYCT Unveils Memorial Mural & Plaque At The Flatbush Junction Station In Honor Of Train Operator Garrett Goble

Grand Central Terminal & Penn Station Will Be Used As Extended Vaccination Sites Until Saturday, May 29th. Everyone Who Gets The One Dose Vaccine at MTA Sites is Eligible Receive a Free 7-Day MetroCard or 2 Round Trip LIRR or Metro-North Tickets.    

NEW YORK, NY - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced Saturday that its successful public vaccination program will be extended through Saturday, May 29 at Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, the program's most popular sites.  The program, first announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, has administered more than 10,000 vaccinations to date at locations throughout New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley since May 12. The program will continue to administer the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and has the capacity to serve up to 300 people per day on a walk-in, no-appointment basis.     

Anyone, New Yorker or tourist, is eligible to receive the vaccine at either of these locations. Individuals planning on being vaccinated are encouraged to allow for approximately 20 minutes of additional time in their commute to accommodate the vaccination process. Incentives to get vaccinated at the locations include a free 7-day MetroCard or free round-trip Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North ticket.

Digital messaging will run on more than 12,000 screens at MTA stations, onboard train cars, and buses to promote the site locations and hours of operation. Promotional content will be pushed to more than 3 million followers across MTA social media platforms. Wayfinding signage will be produced and posted at station pop-up locations to help ensure proper traffic flow.

The continuation of these sites comes as the MTA announced steadily increasing ridership on the New York City Subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, with 2,263,694 trips on the New York City Subway (including 4,434 on the Staten Island Railway), 1,155,249 on New York City Buses, 106,604 on the LIRR, and 82,738 Metro-North trips recorded on Thursday, May 20.    

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Veteran Train Operator, Tragically Perished in The Deadly Subway Fire Last March, Honored With A Memorial Mural & Plaque In His Honor


BROOKLYN, NY - MTA New York City Transit officials joined leaders of TWU Local 100 today for the unveiling of a memorial mural and plaque at the Flatbush Avenue-Brooklyn College subway station that honors the life and legacy of former Train Operator Garrett Goble. Goble, a Brooklyn native, six-year Transit veteran and father of two, was tragically killed while on duty last March. Crafted by the Brooklyn artist BK Foxx using acrylic paint and spray, the 8-feet by 5-feet seven-inch portrait of a smiling Goble will serve as a permanent addition to what was Goble's home station. His wife, Delilah, and mother, Vicki, were also on hand for the unveiling and offered remarks.

MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said this in a statement: “Nothing can reverse this unthinkable tragedy or bring back a hero whom we lost too soon. But we hope to provide a space with this memorial where New Yorkers can come and pay their respects to a true NYC hero, and remember and reflect on Mr. Goble’s life, his dedication and sacrifice.”

Delilah Goble, Garrett's wife, said this in a statement: “Garrett grew up coming to this station and I can think of no tribute more befitting of his legacy than this mural. The pain of losing him will never fully go away, but I take comfort in knowing that the thousands of New Yorkers who come through this station each and every day will be greeted by his smiling face. This is a beautiful memorial. Thank you to Sarah and everyone at New York City Transit for helping make this happen."

Tony Utano, President of Transport Workers Union Local 100 said this in a statement: “This is a wonderful tribute to Garrett. Thousands of people will see this mural every day, ensuring that his legacy lives on. His legacy is one of bravery, heroism, selflessness, and service. Garrett made sure his riders escaped to safety. He put his riders first. He saved lives that morning. Think about that. There are people walking this Earth today because of Garrett Goble. TWU Local 100 will never forget what Garrett did. We honor him today, and we honor him every day that we fight to make the transit system safer for workers and riders. We have gained ground. We have made progress. But the struggle continues. TWU Local 100 will fight on because no one should have to worry about their safety in our stations, on our trains and on our buses. That is our commitment. We will fight on with Garrett in mind, and in our hearts. And we will always be there for his family. Always.” 

Goble was operating a northbound (2) train at around 3 a.m. on March 27 when an arsonist set fire to a shopping cart, engulfing the train in flames near the 110 St station. More than a dozen customers were also injured in the blaze. In addition to his wife Delilah, Goble is survived by two children and his mother Vicki. We as real New Yorkers, will not stop until justice is served and that Mr. Goble and his family can finally have peace and comfort. 

 



Saturday, May 22, 2021

Around The Clock Subway Service Has Returned After A Year Of Overnight Closures

After more than a year of overnight shutdowns, 24/7 subway service resumed overnight in New York City.

New York City’s subways resumed 24/7 service early Monday morning, more than a year after Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted nightly shutdowns to facilitate COVID-19 cleaning. The nightly shutdowns initially ran from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., before being shaved down to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in February. The closures attracted the ire of transit advocates, who accused the MTA of leaving thousands of New Yorkers without a way home. The reopenings came after calls from Sen. Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) called for the 24/7 return.

The MTA will continue its pandemic policy of requiring riders exit trains at terminals in
order to allow for deep-cleaning and disinfecting. Subway ridership took a major dip in the early days of the pandemic. Statistics show subway service is still down more than 50 percent compared to pre-pandemic days, but subway turnstiles recorded more than 2 million swipes or taps earlier this month for the first time since the pandemic began.

MTA Chairman Patrick Foye unveiled the MTA's new campaign "take the train," aimed at getting ridership back up to pre-pandemic levels. In lieu of nightly cleanings during periods of overnight closures, MTA crews will quickly disinfect trains once they are unloaded at terminal stops before they're returned to service. He said this in a statement, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership and the hard work of New Yorkers, the resumption of 24-hour subway service and reopening of New York have been made possible. We owe our heroic frontline workforce a tremendous debt that will never be repaid in full. They kept this city moving when it needed them most, and will continue to be the heroes moving heroes.”  Well, how people forget about the horrible leadership of the Governor during the height of the pandemic. Let this article be a reminder to you all.

Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals on subways routinely exceeded 5.5 million. That figure fell by more than 90% to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips last April as the number of COVID-19 cases peaked in the New York City area. The low point of bus ridership was 278,067 on Sunday, April 12, 2020. Average weekday ridership in April 2020 was 463,763. MTA employees continued to provide service for the frontline healthcare professionals and other essential workers who needed to get to work during some of the most troubling days in New York City history.

The unprecedented cleaning regimen on subways, buses, paratransit and commuter rails will continue. Stations will be disinfected at least twice daily and rolling stock at least once daily. Since the May 6 closure a year ago the MTA has piloted disinfecting methods such as ultraviolet light, antimicrobial sprays which will allow the disinfecting to remain at high levels. Masks are still required while riding mass transit; mask compliance on subways and buses has been nearly universal with 98% compliance on subways and 99% on buses.



Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) leadership and frontline workers rang the New York Stock Exchange opening bell this past Monday, celebrating the return to 24-hour subway service. Also, NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg and MTA Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer Tuesday stood with prominent restaurateurs and the New York City Hospitality Alliance to celebrate the reopening of overnight subway service and full capacity for restaurants and bars. Lastly, the popular Music Under New York program will return to the subway system on June 4, more than 14 months since it suspended public performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and immediately on the heels of the return of 24/7 subway service and the broader reopening of New York City.

The MTA will also continue to protect its employees and customers with personal protective equipment. So far the Authority has acquired nearly 27 million masks to date. In addition to the over eight million masks available for customers, the Authority has also made available 750,000 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer. Additionally, the Authority has distributed to its workforce 18.7 million masks, 20.3 million pairs of gloves, 122,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 260,000 7-oz and 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer, 13.7 million individual sanitizing cleaning wipes, 277,000 gallons of cleaning solution and 18,000 face shields. In order to gain more ridership, the agency launches #TakeTheTrain, #TakeTheBus campaign encouraging New Yorkers to return to mass transit also has merchandise that you can all buy. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, & MetroNorth Ridership Reaches New Pandemic Records

The subway topped 2.2 million rides in one day, with buses topping 1.2 million rides.

Credit: MTA

NEW YORK, NY - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that the New York City Subway, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad all achieved pandemic ridership records on May 14, with 2,265,489 trips on the New York City subway, 104,885 on the Long Island Rail Road, and 85,684 on Metro-North Railroad that day. These figures mark the highest single-day ridership totals for those agencies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic for both commuter railroads and the subway system. Nearly 1.2 million customers rode the bus on May 14, with the 1,188,284 ridership total not far off from the pandemic high of 1,245,629 from May 6. Altogether, more than 3.4 million riders used New York City Transit’s subways and buses on Friday.

Here's my take on this; people need to stop being fearmongered and/or gaslighted by what they see or hear from others in regards to mass transit being a super-spreader for COVID-19. That is 100% false. Lets make one thing clear. At the beginning of the pandemic, the subways were unsafe to use during the pandemic due to the fact that everyone was ill prepared to combat this illness by wearing masks, proper CPC, and keeping clean & sanitized. After 132 MTA Transit employee deaths from this disease, they have shut down the subways during the overnight hours of 1 AM-5 AM (changed to 2 AM to 4 AM back on 02/15/2021). MTA may not be perfect or the best, but they do what they can to make up for what happened this past year on their watch. Now, if you can, ride the bus, ride the subways. The city is slowly reopening and we need to get back a sense of normalcy. 

The MTA has undertaken unprecedented cleaning and disinfecting protocols in the year since the pandemic began to ensure that the system is as safe as possible for its customers. The Authority has also rolled out robust public education campaigns and issued millions of masks to its customers. Mask usage in the system remains high, with more than 98% of customers wearing a mask when riding mass transit. The MTA also enhanced its Live Subway Map to allow riders to find vaccination sites throughout the city.

Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals routinely exceeded 5.5 million in the subway system. That figure fell by more than 90% to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips last April as the number of COVID-19 cases peaked in the New York City area. The low point of bus ridership was 278,000 on Sunday, April 12, 2020. Average weekday subway ridership in April 2020 was 463,763. MTA employees continued to provide service for the frontline healthcare professionals and other essential workers who needed to get to work during some of the most difficult days in New York City history. Stay tuned for the next post of the return of 24/7 subway service. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New York's MTA Offers COVID-19 Vaccination Shot For Free Rides

NEW YORK, NY - The Hub's message to all fellow New Yorkers, if you have not received your vaccine, now would be a good time to do so. Some Big Apple subways and LIRR and Metro-North stations have turned into pop-up COVID-19 vaccination sites last week in an effort to boost lagging immunizations. Those people receiving the vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot dose only — at a subway station will receive a free seven-day MetroCard pass, while Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North riders can expect two free one-way only trips. In my view, I favor the two-dose Pfizer vaccine but if you want to go J&J for free rides, then go for it. You get vaccinated and gain free rides so, it is a win-win.

Pop-Up Vaccination Site at Grand Central Terminal
Source: MTA

The New York City train stations where free walk-up vaccinations will be doled out Wednesday through Sunday are: Penn Station, 3 to 8 p.m.; Grand Central Terminal, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Broadway Junction, 3 to 8 p.m.; 179th Street in Jamaica, Queens, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and East 180th Street in The Bronx, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The LIRR’s Hempstead station and Metro-North’s Ossining stop will also be giving out the vaccines, both from 3 to 8 p.m. Up to 300 people a day can be vaccinated at each site. You can view the full information on this flyer.

The agency is partnering with the New York State Department of Health, SOMOS, Northwell Health, and Westchester Medical Center to launch vaccination pop-up stops inside 8 stations across New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. Vaccinations so far have helped drive down positivity rates and hospitalizations across New York State. The number of hospitalizations statewide was 2,016, the lowest since Nov. 15. The statewide seven-day average rate of positive test results announced by the state on Sunday. 1.45 percent, the lowest since Oct. 28.

1. Stop by the station You don’t need to make an appointment. Visit any of our pop-up sites at the times and locations listed above. 

2. Check in You’ll check in with the team on site and show your ID (this may include a government-issued ID, like an IDNYC, driver's license, passport, Permanent resident card, Certificate of Naturalization). If you have any questions or concerns, our partners will be there to help answer them. You can read more about the vaccine here. Team members will be there to help translate or connect you with translation services.

3. Get your vaccine  You’ll meet with the nurse or doctor who can answer any other questions you have. Then, they’ll give you your shot. 

4. Wait 15 minutes To make sure you’re ok, you’ll be asked by the medical team to wait 15 minutes.

5. Pick up your CDC vaccination card, free MetroCard or train ticket and Go. No second shot needed. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

New York State's Governor Reconstruction Alternatives for Iconic New Penn Station as Part of Empire Station Complex

By N Miller 

NEW YORK, NY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced this week new reconstruction options for transforming Penn Station-the nation's busiest transportation facility-into a world-class, 21st century transportation hub as part of the proposed Empire Station Complex. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT are working together to establish a framework that would unify the separate railroads' concourses into one state-of-the-art open, light-filled space through two fundamental approaches following a yearlong strategic re-envisioning process, supported by FXCollaborative and WSP.

The existing Penn Station served 600,000 passengers daily prior to the pandemic and is critical for sustaining rail service and connecting people to jobs throughout the Northeast region, yet much of the current station is substandard, overburdened and aesthetically unpleasant. The reconstruction of Penn Station will result in an interconnected, welcoming and modern station worthy of New York. This iconic project, in combination with the new tracks and platforms to be built as part of Penn Station Expansion, will be capable of accommodating the future volume of customers using both the existing Penn Station and the newly expanded facility. Ridership is expected to grow to 830,000 daily users in 2038, about 54 percent of whom will be MTA customers using LIRR, Metro-North and the subway, and 42 percent NJ TRANSIT customers, with the balance being Amtrak customers.

During the yearlong strategic re-envisioning, the MTA, NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak examined a number of options for the reconstruction of existing Penn and the result is two fundamental approaches. Key elements of the vision - under either alternative include; increasing concourse space to reduce congestion and handle future growth, unifying station operations such as ticketing, waiting areas, and cleaning services for all railroads, adding more stairs, escalators and elevators to spread riders along the narrow platforms, resulting in a total of 30 new ways to reach platforms, and providing full accessibility in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and introducing new retail opportunities.   

Two-Level Alternative

The first approach would transform Penn Station by leveraging the existing configuration's two-level boarding configuration while improving existing Penn's layout, creating a central atrium, and repurposing some of Amtrak's space for NJ Transit's commuters and operations. This alternative can be combined with a grand new entrance on Eighth Avenue and the light-filled West Train Hall in the space currently occupied by Madison Square Garden's 5,600-seat Hulu Theater by purchasing the theater from MSG, increasing sightlines and better movement throughout the train hall. The two-level alternative could also incorporate new vertical access points to platforms, significantly widened concourses throughout, and new entrances at sidewalk level along Eighth Avenue.

Single-Level Alternative

This approach transforms Penn Station into an open, single-level concourse, eliminating all low ceiling heights and simplifying entry and exit routes from trains and the street level while also creating new large circulation areas bigger than the Great Hall of Grand Central Terminal. This alternative would remove 40 percent of the upper level so that all the public concourses could be two or three stories high, resulting in a more open, airy space throughout the station with better sightlines and more direct access to both tracks and platforms, and to station entrances/exits. It would also feature a spacious, light-filled mid-block Train Hall with prominent new entrances on 33rd and 31st Streets near Seventh Avenue. The hall would bring in natural light with a new multi-story atrium built in the former taxiway between Madison Square Garden and 2 Penn Plaza, which has been closed for security since Sept. 11, 2001. This alternative moves MSG loading off 33rd Street, allowing 33rd Street to become a pedestrian-oriented shared street - greatly improving the streetscape.  The single-level alternative could also be combined with a grand new entrance on Eighth Avenue and the light-filled West Train Hall in the space currently occupied by Madison Square Garden's 5,600-seat Hulu Theater by purchasing the theater from MSG.  

Next Steps 

The transformation of the existing Penn Station represents the latest milestone in the Governor's 2020 State of the State proposal to create the new Empire Station Complex. On December 30, Governor Cuomo announced the long-awaited grand opening of the Moynihan Train Hall, the first step in realizing that vision. Following the Biden Administration's roll-out of the American Jobs Plan, Governor Cuomo, the MTA, Amtrak and NJ Transit will continue to work with the New York Congressional delegation and other state and federal partners to secure funding for the Gateway Program and the related Penn Station reconstruction and expansion projects. When an alternative is selected, the MTA, Amtrak and NJ Transit will work with federal partners on an Environmental Impact Statement for Penn Expansion, together with other federally-required processes, all in concert with ongoing public review.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

LIRR to Test Electric Railcars on Oyster Bay Branch; LIRR Conductor Reunites Customer With $107K Worth of Missing Jewelry Left on Train

By N Miller

OYSTER BAY, NY-MTA Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng on April 19th that the LIRR has entered into an agreement with Alstom to test batteries that could enable electric railcars to travel on the railroad’s diesel branches. Upon successful completion of an eight-month initial analysis, technicians will retrofit a two car-long electric train to operate on battery power without passengers on the Oyster Bay Branch. While on electric portions of the route, the train would run on third rail power and charge the batteries, then switch to battery power for the unelectrified segment between East Williston and Oyster Bay. If successful, the LIRR would ultimately be able to carry passengers directly between Oyster Bay and the railroad’s terminals in New York City without the need for a transfer, and that technology could expand to the rest of the railroad’s diesel branches.

As part of the initial assessment, technicians will investigate whether and where recharging stations might need to be built along the route and along other branches. Recharging would take place in yards when trains are out of service, and, if necessary while in-service, during existing station stops that would not be delayed by recharging. The Oyster Bay Branch was chosen as the pilot branch due to its short, 13-mile trip.  Other non-electrified branches would be tested in the future, as well as the feasibility of the battery technology and the ability to retrofit existing trains.

This appears to be the first test of battery-powered commuter rail cars in North America, and if successful could be deployed anywhere diesel commuter trains operate on the LIRR or Metro-North Railroad. If batteries succeed on the LIRR as they have for light rail in Europe and Asia, the use of battery-powered railcars promises over the long term eliminate the need for transfers to a separate diesel fleet to reach the railroad’s expansive unelectrified regions extending 160 miles from East Williston to Oyster Bay, Huntington to Port Jefferson, Babylon to Montauk and Ronkonkoma to Greenport. Battery-electric cars could open the possibility that in years and decades ahead, the railroad could entirely replace the noisy, carbon-emitting diesel fleet with quiet, reliable, zero-emission electric cars offering seamless transfer-free travel across the railroad.

In the near term, conversion of a fraction of the railroad’s 836-car “M7” electric fleet to operate with battery power on even just one of the railroad’s unelectrified branches would allow the LIRR to consolidate its diesel fleet on remaining unelectrified branches, enhancing the frequency of diesel service there and lengthening trains. In recent years, the LIRR has seen such a surge in seasonal demand for diesel service that it has had to lease additional cars from Maryland’s MARC train system.

Work on the program, being conducted with Alstom, will begin within the next month. In the first phase, expected to last eight months, technicians will evaluate specifications for batteries and where they could be placed aboard M7 cars. They will study the physical characteristics of the Oyster Bay Branch and the Port Jefferson Branch including hills and distances between stations and evaluate sites for recharging stations. Following this initial stage, technicians would operate prototype cars on the Oyster Bay Branch initially with no passengers. The outcome of these tests will enable railroad officials to evaluate the number of electric cars that could be retrofitted with batteries and when and which trains in passenger service could be converted to battery-electric cars. Alstom this year acquired Bombardier Transportation, which designed and built the M7 fleet and whose engineers are intimately familiar with all systems and workings of the cars.

The battery train test is the latest in a series of moves the railroad has made in the last three years to reconceptualize how it serves the public. Last year the LIRR became the first railroad in the world to show customers the number of passengers on board each train car via app. This year the railroad brought the technology to screens at station platforms that allow customers to move down the platform before boarding to find a car with more seats. To enhance safety, the LIRR unveiled the first-in-the-nation program to install flexible delineators and reflective pavement markings at all its railroad crossings and partner with Waze to alert motorists they are approaching a railroad crossing. As a result, the number of instances of motorists errantly turning onto tracks has virtually been eliminated, and the measures are being adopted across the country.

In 2019, the LIRR partnered with private industry to harness lasers to fight wet leaves that collect on the rails in autumn, causing delays and wheel damage that results in shorter trains. The same year the railroad created the LIRR Care program giving customers with mobility limitations the ability to prearrange personal assistance from staff members when boarding and/or exiting a LIRR train. The LIRR originated in the 1830s powered by coal-fired steam engines before major segments were electrified generally between 1900 and the early 1930s; for the rest of the railroad, the steam engines were replaced by diesels gradually between 1926 and 1955. The Oyster Bay Branch was electrified as far as East Williston in 1934. Plans for extending the branch’s electrification fizzled amid the Great Depression and World War II and remained on hold after the war as officials perceived that household transportation needs were increasingly being met by the automobile.

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PENN STATION-A gem of a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) conductor was commended today for discovering and turning in a tray of $107,000 worth of engagement rings, some with embedded diamonds, left behind by a jeweler on his way to Port Washington Thursday evening, April 22. Assistant Conductor Jonathan Yellowday, a Murray Hill, Queens resident, was working on the 6:11 p.m. train from Penn Station to Port Washington when he found the case of jewelry in a plastic bag. The rings belong to jeweler Ed Eleasian who has an office in Midtown Manhattan. He was on his way home and didn’t realize he had left behind the tray of trinkets.  

Conductor Yellowday couldn’t believe what he had discovered and knew that he needed to get the items to the MTA police as soon as possible. “I got on the next train going back to Penn, turned it in, and the rest is history,” he said. 

Eleasian and his wife took the LIRR into Penn Station Friday afternoon to retrieve the items at the MTA PD District 4 office in Penn Station. The grateful jeweler was met by LIRR President Phil Eng, Conductor Yellowday, and MTA Board Member and Vice General Chairman of the Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation Union (SMART) Vincent Tessitore where President Eng presented Yellowday with a commendation for his swift and thoughtful actions.  

President Eng said in commending the conductor, “Not only did you find and return these 36 rings, but just think about the happiness of 36 couples down the road that will be joined together in happiness, and they’ll have a story to tell. So, thank you for your heroic actions and saving the day for 36 future couples. I understand the value of these diamond rings, but everything found and returned to the customer is immensely important to them. You treated this just as you should have and it’s another proud day for us at the railroad.”   

Conductor Yellowday, who has been at Long Island Railroad for seven years, has seen many lost items during his tenure, but nothing close to the value of this find. After receiving a heartfelt hug from Eleasian today, Conductor Yellowday said, “I could only imagine what you were going through yesterday when you realized that you didn’t have your jewelry. You know when you get on the 6:11 you’re in good hands.” 

This is such a feel good story. Also, this past weekend was the 187th Anniversary of the launch of MTA's Long Island Rail Road. In other news, after the being in service for nearly two months, the B98v and Q98v shuttle vaccine routes are now discontinued. It was done due to low ridership. People are using subway, other various bus routes, and rideshare services. 

 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

New York City Subways Has Made Signifcant Speed Improvements During Height Of The Pandemic; Service Changes Coming To The Weekend (D) Service In April

R142A (6) Train

MTA New York City Transit last month unveiled a series of encouraging updates about the success of its ongoing efforts to safely speed up trains throughout the system, including the installation of 919 new digital timers on grade time signals, 270 civil speed increases across the system over the past two years, and a reduction in time trains spend holding at station platforms. The work builds on recommendations made in the “MTA NYCT Subway Speed and Capacity Review, Phase 2 Report," which was commissioned as part of the Speed and Safety Task Force launched by the Governor Of New York on July 2019.

Aging and faulty grade time signals and excessive time spent holding at station platforms were among the biggest factors that led to slower train speeds and comparatively poor on-time performance in the subway system prior to the creation of a dedicated SPEED Team in 2018. Despite the pandemic, New York City Transit remained focused on safely increasing speeds and achieved several key accomplishments in 2020 which are expected to result in reduced running times for customers as they return to the system.

Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg said this in a statement: "We've continued to identify root causes for slower speeds, and we've continued to move rapidly to fix grade time signals that were defective and to increase speeds where it’s safe to do so. But make no mistake, this is not the end. We will continue to inspect the system so that as new speed-related challenges emerge, we are prepared to address them promptly. We can't return to an era when these things weren't being effectively monitored – that's not fair to our customers or our train operators, who need to be confident they can travel at the maximum safe speeds possible when moving our millions of customers. My thanks to train and speed safety task force chair Jane Garvey, TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano, former FRA Chief Safety Officer Bob Lauby, and the men and women of NYC Transit for helping us to accomplish these goals."

Members of the dedicated SPEED Team have continued to work closely with employees in several divisions within the Department of Subways to check on the reliability of grade time signals so that train operators are able to move customers at the maximum safe speed possible throughout the system. The dedicated unit has also traveled the system to identify parts of the system where previous speed limits can be safely increased.  Many locations had speeds doubled or increased significantly. Some examples include changing the northbound curve entering City Hall (BMT Broadway) from 6 m.p.h. to 15 m.p.h., changing the southbound speed limit at President Street (IRT Nostrand Av) from 15 to 35 m.p.h., changing the speeds on the express tracks on Queens Blvd. from 35 to 50 m.p.h. at multiple locations, and removing the 25 m.p.h. limit on the IND Concourse express line in the Bronx, allowing for speeds about 40 m.p.h. near Fordham Rd and Kingsbridge Rd. STV’s Phase Two report delivered in Dec. 2020 verified that an increased speed on curves – labeled as ‘v6’ to denote a normal increased operating speed or “Comfort Level Speed” – is both safe and comfortable for customers (based on comprehensive testing and a balanced sample of riders). The report also estimates that running times could be reduced by a median of five minutes and 30 seconds on lines if grade time signals are working correctly and train operators drive the full speed limit and offers a set of recommendations for sustaining and continuing the progress on speeds that we have achieved to date.

Over the decades, car design and track geometry have improved, allowing cars to maintain stability and safe operation at higher speeds, but the speed limits were not always changed to reflect these advancements in safety and comfort. Meanwhile, timer signals continued to be installed throughout the subway system, with an uptick after two fatal crashes in the 1990s; one at Union Square on the Lexington Avenue Line and one on the Williamsburg Bridge on the Jamaica Line. Eventually, the number of timer signals grew to approximately 2,000 system-wide.  Over time, a number of these signals became overly restrictive. Over time, both safety measures, which have been extremely effective at their intended goal of preventing accidents, had the unintended consequence of slowing some trips and causing delays by forcing trains to go much slower than allowed.

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Not In Service R68A signed as a (C) train. Credit: csouth28

In other news, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that inspection of the Manhattan Bridge by the NYS Department of Transportation, as well as track maintenance work by NYC Transit personnel, will require the complete closure of the tracks used by the (B) and (D) trains between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and changes to subway service for two weekends in April.

On the weekends of April 16-19 and April 23-26 beginning at 11:30 p.m. Friday until 2 a.m*. Monday, trains will run in Brooklyn only, between Coney Island-Stillwell Av and Atlantic Av-Barclays Center.  trains will not run in the Bronx and Manhattan. (C) trains will replace (D) trains in the Bronx and Manhattan between 205 St and 59 St-Columbus Circle. Overnights and early mornings when the (C) does not operate, (D) Shuttle trains will operate between 205 St in the Bronx and 145 St in Manhattan.  Additionally, free shuttle buses will make all stops between W 4 St and Grand St in Manhattan. For full information, please visit the MTA website for full details.

This year marks one year that two MTA Transit employees passed away from COVID-19; one bus operator and one subway conductor. Last Saturday, March 27th, will also mark one year of the passing of Train Operator Garrett Goble from the heinous subway fire that has also injured 16 others. Mr. Goble will always be remembered as a hero. Here is Interim NYCT President Sarah Feinberg's statement: "This has been a year of intense grief and heartbreak for the New York City Transit family. In addition to the losses caused by COVID-19, we continue to mourn our beloved colleague Garrett Goble, who was senselessly murdered one year ago. We will never forget Garrett’s service or heroism. He showed New York City and the world what it means to be a public servant. Garrett was also a loving father, husband and son, a cherished friend and a kind and generous colleague. We look forward to joining with Garrett’s family to continue to honor his service, sacrifice and legacy with a permanent art memorial, which will be unveiled and installed later this spring at the Flatbush Junction subway terminus.” Please stay tuned for a podcast remembrance episode later this week. 



 

 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

New Flyer Industries Unveil Three New Xcelsior Models: The Esquess, AV Xcelsior, & CHARGE NG

By N Miller

 

New Flyer CHARGE NG

New Flyer Industries of North America, a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., unveiled its Xcelsior CHARGE NG, the newest iteration of its Xcelsior platform that was originally introduced in 2009. The company states that it applied the best of zero-emission design, performance, research and ingenuity” in the development of battery-electric Xcelsior CHARGE NG. Earlier this year, New Flyer released its first-ever Autonomous Vehicle, the AV. Since the MTA of New York plans to convert to all-electric fleet, starting in 2028 and going all the way to 2040, they should really start looking into these bus models.

Chris Stoddart, president, New Flyer and MCI, said this in a statement: “The Xcelsior CHARGE NG harnesses the best technology on the market. It includes a streamlined design that reduces maintenance, increases energy density and improves energy recovery while significantly reducing weight – offering a lighter, more energy efficient and longer-range electric bus. As EV demand continues to build, so too has our innovation. With better manufacturability, higher energy recovery, fewer parts and improved system durability, our Xcelsior CHARGE NG is a high-performance bus that is more sustainable and easier to maintain.”

The Xcelsior CHARGE NG will be available in 35-foot, 40-foot and 60-foot models with total passenger capacity of up to 88. The bus is capable of on-route charging or plug-in charging. New Flyer explains the new bus has a trio of notable advancements, including a new generation of batteries that extend range up to 13 percent. The batteries utilize an active liquid cooling system to maintain temperature and are also better insulated, lending optimal temperature maintenance, prolonged battery life and greater power efficiency.

The new generation of batteries are housed in packaging developed by New Flyer to be lighter weight and easier to maintain. New Flyer has reduced the number of service parts from 250 to 50, which is a 90 percent reduction. The battery enclosure is also waterproof and protected from dust intrusion. The third advancement is the inclusion of the Siemens ELFA 3 traction system, which New Flyer says delivers up to 90 percent energy recovery and weighs 69 percent less than ELFA 2, allowing greater passenger capacity and lending more efficient design through compact inverters and embedded drive controllers.

New Flyer AV Xcelsior

New Flyer Esquess

Jennifer McNeill, vice president of Public Sector Sales and Marketing said this in a statement: “Millions of people count on us every day, whether for reaching their destinations or expecting the highest quality from our technology. This is why, alongside vehicle technology advancements, we have evolved our manufacturing and field services processes to ensure a safe, reliable, scalable approach to be ready for tomorrow’s growing electric bus demand today. In turn, we also enhanced training for our teams and those of transit agencies across North America; enabling EV adoption while supporting continuous workforce development to drive the new mobility era.” This is the third product launch for NFI Group since late January 2021 and follows the release of the group’s first fully operational heavy-duty automated transit bus, the Xcelsior AV, and the launch of the Equess CHARGE from ARBOC Specialty Vehicles.

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Rising Fare Payment System, OMNY, Reaches 339,000 Taps; Highest Record Since Readers' Installment Since May 2019

By N Miller

OMNY Reader Demonstrator From May 2019

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced last week that its OMNY fare payment system has now recorded more than 50 million taps. There are currently more than 15,000 OMNY readers at all 472 subway stations, on all 5,800 buses and at Staten Island Railway stations. Customers can use OMNY to pay their fares by a simple tap of their contactless credit card or mobile device. On an average weekday, the MTA receives 307,000 OMNY taps. Seventy-nine percent of those are at subway stations and the other 21% are on buses. The highest one-day tap total since OMNY was launched in May 2019 came on March 5, with 339,000 taps.

Beginning this year, customers will be able to purchase the OMNY card – a contactless fare card – at retail locations throughout the region. OMNY will also begin expanding fare options in 2021 with the introduction of reduced fares for senior customers and riders with disabilities and the integration with paratransit services. The card will eventually be available at vending machines in stations as well. Improvements to the digital experience are also set to debut this year, including a refresh of the OMNY website and the launch of the OMNY mobile app. These efforts will give customers additional flexibility and choice in where, when and how their fare is paid.

Al Putre, MTA OMNY Fare Payment Program Executive Director said this in a statement: “The OMNY team was able to complete the installation of readers at all subway stations and on all buses, and it is clearly paying off. Using OMNY is super convenient and easy, just Tap and Go, no waiting on lines or mis-swipes and it’s only going to get better with the introduction of more fare options and the OMNY card later this year.”

Down below is a brief history of the MTA fare payment system and the introduction of OMNY:

• The MetroCard was first tested in the system in 1993, debuting to the larger public in January 1994. All turnstiles were MetroCard-enabled by May 1997 and all buses began accepting it by the end of 1995. Tokens were sold until April 2003 and acceptance was discontinued that May in subway stations and that December on buses.

• OMNY readers accept contactless cards from companies such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, as well as digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and others.

• Following the completion of OMNY installation at all subway turnstiles and on buses, the MTA will gradually introduce all remaining fare options and programs, including reduced fares for seniors and customers with disabilities, student fares, and more.

• In 2021, the MTA will introduce an OMNY card at retail locations throughout the New York region.

• Also in 2021, the MTA will begin to install new vending machines at locations throughout the system.

• Only after OMNY is fully available everywhere MetroCard is today, expected in 2023, will the MTA say goodbye to the MetroCard.

• Purchasing fare with cash will remain an option. Additional info about OMNY is available at https://OMNY.info.


Monday, March 15, 2021

Subway Ridership Hits Highest Single Day Total Since Start of Pandemic; LIRR President Phil Eng Speaks On Rightsized & Adjusted Services

By N Miller


NEW YORK, NY - MTA New York City Transit officials announced this past Friday that more subway trips were recorded yesterday than on any other single day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March. The 1,863,962 paid trips on Thursday surpassed the previous post-pandemic high of 1,857,822 trips on October 15th. The increase in ridership comes on the heels of news that the recently-passed federal stimulus package includes some $6 billion in MTA funding. That money will help allow transit workers to continue providing quality service as more customers return to mass transit in the weeks and months ahead. Approximately 1.13 million additional daily trips were recorded on MTA/NYCT buses, taking the total number of daily trips systemwide to just under 3 million for the day.

Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg said this in a statement: "We are thrilled to see so many New Yorkers returning to the system after the most challenging year in New York City Transit history. Make no mistake: we still have a long way to go, but the progress we've made in bringing riders back is significant. We will continue to do everything in our power to get New Yorkers to vaccination sites and we are hopeful that more and more of our customers will return to the system in the weeks and months to come.”

Prior to the pandemic, average weekday ridership totals routinely exceeded five million in the subway system. That figure fell by more than 90 percent to a low of roughly 300,000 daily trips last April as the number of COVID-19 cases reached their apex in the New York City area. Daily bus trips at that time were down close to 75 percent from pre-pandemic figures and fell to approximately 600,000. Despite the immense reduction in daily ridership, New York City Transit workers continued to provide service for the frontline healthcare professionals and other essential workers who needed to get to work during some of the bleakest days in New York City history.

The MTA has undertaken unprecedented cleaning and disinfecting protocols in the year since the pandemic began to ensure the system as as safe as possible for its customers. The Authority has also rolled out robust public education campaigns and issued millions of masks to its customers. Mask compliance in the system remains high, with more than 95 percent of customers wearing a mask when riding mass transit. These COVID-related measures will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. The MTA also rolled out special bus routes to help customers in Queens and Brooklyn get to vaccination sites more easily and unveiled updates to the subway map that allow riders to find the nearest vaccination site throughout the city.

This past week, the Long Island Rail Road has cut some trips from its schedule, causing some rush hour trains to be congested. LIRR President Phil Eng said this in a statement back on Monday March 8th: “In December 2020, the LIRR announced we would move service levels closer to current ridership and provide 75% of service for the current 24% of customers who are riding. The service change, which took effect this morning, was part of that previously announced effort. During this morning’s rush, there were sporadic and isolated incidents of crowding on a few trains in the morning rush and we are prepared to add service during the p.m. rush as well as tomorrow morning to immediately address this issue. As always, we will continue to monitor ridership and make adjustments as necessary whether that is lengthening trains or adding additional service. We are grateful to Senate Majority Leader Schumer for his leadership in securing an additional $6.5 billion in federal funding for the MTA in the American Rescue Plan, which will allow us to avoid the drastic cuts to LIRR service that were being contemplated. Those cuts are completely separate from this rightsizing effort. The LIRR’s capacity tracking feature is available for all customers to track capacity in real-time on the LIRR TrainTime app. We thank our customers for their patience.” 

Due to the crowded trains from earlier this week, LIRR has decided to reverse the AM Rush Hour trip cuts and LIRR President Phil Eng said this in statement: "We heard our customers' concerns about our new schedule loud and clear. As a result, we will restore our previous timetable on March 29. In the meantime, we will continue to strategically add additional trains and lengthen trains to meet evolving ridership levels. We continue to monitor seating availability with unprecedented clarity thanks to new technology. As declining COVID-19 cases and increased deployment of the vaccine allow New York to fully reopen, customers should expect to see more riders returning to trains every day, and we look forward to it."

Source: MTA’s Daily Press Releases