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

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

New ADA Accessibility Arrives At The Manhattan-Bound Platforms Of The Court Square-23rd Street (E) & (M) Station

By N Miller

New Manhattan-bound elevator at Court Sq-23 St (E)(M) Station
Credit: Marc A. Herman/NYCT

QUEENS, NY-The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced back on that the Manhattan-bound side of the Court Sq-23 St (E)(M) subway station in Long Island City, Queens, is now accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), with plans to make the Queens-bound side accessible as part of the 2020-2024 MTA Capital Plan. The recently completed accessible entrance is adjacent to and built by the developers of the new Skyline Tower residential skyscraper at 23-15 44 Dr. The upgrades include a new elevator, ramp, gate for wheelchair access and additional low turnstiles to make the platform served by Manhattan-bound (E) and (M) trains fully accessible and to improve passenger flow.

The Manhattan-bound accessibility project was completed through the MTA’s Transit-Oriented Development Program and the MTA External Partner Program, in which the MTA works with developers, architects and contractors to enhance the MTA system when property is being developed near MTA facilities. With MTA guidance and oversight, the improvements were built and financed by developers United Construction & Development Group, FSA Capital and Risland US Holdings LLC. The agency is adding the new accessibility information for the station to print and digital assets over the coming days. 

The Court Square complex is comprised of two other stations in addition to the Court Sq-23 St (E)(M) Station (IND Queens Blvd Line): one serving the IRT Flushing (7) line which is fully accessible, and one serving the IND Crosstown (G) line. In 2011, the station complex expanded with a transfer linking all the lines. The transfer area has two escalators, three elevators that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a transfer stairway between the (G) and (7) mezzanines and a stairway connecting the Court Square (7) station's mezzanine with the northeast corner of Jackson Avenue and 23 St. A passageway connects the (G) line with the (E)(M) lines. A future developer-built elevator will connect the Manhattan-bound (E)(M) platform to the rest of the station complex.

Louis Yu, Project General Manager at Risland US Holdings LLC, said this in a statement: “Skyline Tower’s ownership group is excited to see the expansion of the Court Sq-23 St subway station open to Long Island City locals and visitors alike. The Court Square neighborhood will greatly benefit from the newly-accessible subway station, and future Skyline Tower residents will enjoy even easier access to and from Manhattan.”

Quemuel Arroyo, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer, said this in a statement: “This is a great example of how the MTA is harnessing the private sector to assist in the rollout of full systemwide accessibility. I like this a lot. I want to see more projects like this.”

Janno Lieber, President of MTA Construction & Development, said this in a statement: “Last year, despite COVID, we added 11 stations to the list of accessible stations, tying the all-time record for the most ADA completions in a single year. And we are keeping that progress going here in Long Island City, Queens where we leveraged private developer investments to add a new elevator and further expand accessibility. This is a good model for how we can increase accessibility, which is why we have been working with the City on a zoning plan to apply this tool more widely.”

The MTA remains confident that they will get all ADA Accessible projects done throughout the 2020-2024 Capital Plan program, thanks to $8 billion in federal aid secured by the New York congressional delegation led by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, further emergency federal aid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. MTA Chairman/CEO Patrick J. Foye gave this statement, praising Congress for the Senate passing of the American Rescue Plan (not to mention politics, but with ZERO GOP support of course): “This is a great day for all Americans, mass transit customers and our heroic employees. We are grateful that the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan which includes more than $6 billion in federal funding for the MTA. This funding is crucial as we work to bring back ridership and recover from the pandemic. Critically, it will also further offset COVID’s impact and help protect against devastating service cuts and layoffs in the years ahead where we still face deficits. We have said all along that this is a national crisis that requires a national solution. A strong MTA is essential to New York and the nation’s rebound, and we’re eager to help get the economy back on track and carry the region forward as we have all along. Thank you to President Biden for your vision, along with Senate Majority Leader Schumer for your unwavering leadership, and the tireless hard work and support of Speaker Pelosi and the bipartisan New York delegation. We look forward to the House's swift passage of this plan and President Biden signing it into law."

Monday, February 22, 2021

New York's MTA Seeking Companies Interested In Creating Accessibility For The 14th Street-6th/7th Avenue Subway Stop In Manhattan

 

Credit: Jose Martinez/The City

MTA Construction & Development (Capital Construction) announced this past Tuesday that it is seeking qualified design-build teams to bring accessibility to a complex of three interconnected stations on 14th Street in Manhattan. These stations are the 6 Av (BMT 14th St-Canarsie Line), 14 St (IND Sixth Avenue Line) and 14 St (IRT Seventh Avenue Line). The teams will install elevators and make other improvements to ensure full vertical accessibility in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Once again, this is all part the plan to have 66 more stations ADA accessible in the 2020-2024 Capital Plan program.

MTA Board Member and Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Victor Calise said this in a statement: “I am pleased to see the MTA’s continued commitment to increasing accessibility throughout the subway system. These design-build contracts will help ensure that all New Yorkers and visitors to the city, including individuals with disabilities, can access our transit system, and I look forward to continuing to work with MTA leadership to accelerate the pace of projects until we reach systemwide accessibility for all.”

Quemuel Arroyo, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer said this in a statement: “Ensuring every New Yorker has access to our transit system is an absolute necessity. All of us at the MTA continue to work toward a completely accessible system and am looking forward to working with members of the community throughout this project.”

Janno Lieber, president of MTA Construction & Development said this in a statement: “Despite the difficult financial situation the MTA is facing, accessibility remains a priority. Both the design-build process and bundling stations reflect Construction & Development’s commitment to completing projects faster and at a lower cost than ever before.”

This project requires a separate long-term elevator maintenance contract to provide for long-term reliable maintenance of the new elevators, including repairs of certain issues resulting from installation and manufacture. State of good repair work will also be performed at the 8 Av and 14 St complex, where the (A)(C)(E) intersects with the (L), and along the entire Manhattan segment of the (L) Line. These design-build contracts will be awarded to the companies whose proposals offer the best value to the MTA based on an evaluation of qualitative factors as well as cost and schedule.

In other news, Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the subway hours to 2am. So there will be a 22-hour service operation. The closures will be from 2am to 4am. The subways will resume service at 4am and the B99, M99, and Bx99 routes will continue to operate. Monday (Today), February 22nd will be the start of the new changes. New York City Nightlife, Cultural Centers and Sports Facilities will have their customers and get business back up and running via the new extended hours. The agency continues to face $8B deficit through 2024 from drastically reduced revenue and increased expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The board adopts toll increase to take effect in April and resident discount programs are preserved. Even though with improving financial results, the TA avoided potential service cuts in 2021 and 2022, but 2023 and 2024 remains in question without future federal aid. Lastly, MTA NYCT Interim President appeared on ABC7’s Up Close With Bill Ritter. In this interview transcript, she blames the media for the low ridership due to the media spreading the pretense that public transport spreads around COVID-19.

Monday, February 15, 2021

(A) Line Serial Killer Rigoberto Lopez Apprehended For This Past Weekend's Deadly Subway Stabbings


R179 (A) Train at Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue, the southern
end of the (A) line.

This weekend, a serial killer was loose in the subway system of New York City, both underground and above. The suspected “A-Train Ripper” is a 21-year-old homeless man from Brooklyn who confessed to the weekend subway slash spree and has previously been busted at least four times, including for allegedly assaulting a cop and his own father, law-enforcement. Rigoberto Lopez, who lives in a shelter in Boerum Hill and has battled mental-health issues, was charged with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree attempted murder over his latest alleged crime; the random fatal knifings of a man and woman and the slashing of two other guys.

The suspect was nabbed Saturday while still covered in blood and with the alleged murder weapon. Lopez has four previous arrests; let us review them, shall we? In November 2019, he was charged with hitting an NYPD cop, and in October 2019, he was busted with violating a protective order his father had against him, one month after he allegedly struck his dad with a stick. Just only last October, he was caught with having cocaine on his person while police were answering a call about an emotionally disturbed person.

Rigoberto Lopez, the serial killer

Lopez’s murder spree was nearly 24 hours along the (A) subway line between Inwood-207th Street, Manhattan and Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue in Queens. The bloody spree began around 11:30 a.m. Friday when police found a 67-year-old man injured with stab wounds on a southbound A train platform at the 181st Street station in Washington Heights in Manhattan. Twelve hours later, a 57-year-old homeless man was found stabbed to death aboard an A train at the Mott Avenue station in Far Rockaway, Queens. About two hours later, a 44-year-old homeless woman, identified by police sources and her family as Claudine Roberts, was found fatally slashed in a pool of blood on an A train at the Inwood-207th Street station in Manhattan. Around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, a 43-year-old man was also found randomly stabbed and wounded on a train at West 181st Street in Manhattan.

The crime was so horrific that 500 police officers are now patrolling the underground subway system. I guess defending the police does not sound like a bad idea now does it? Now, we can all sit here and pretend how this, this, and that all started, but we all know who is to blame for this killing spree. Look at who is sitting in the Gracie Mansion in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and look who is up in Albany, New York. They are the ones that you should express your rage and anger in regards to this issue at hand; allowing criminals to be loose, back out on the streets without being processed, booked, and no bail set. Disgusting, truly disgusting and if you think that stuff like this is okay, then you have problems. 

In other news, the TA has rejected the ideal for subway shove-preventing doors on the platforms due to it being “expensive”. Transit officials have been exploring platform doors for the better part of the last decade. In 2018, the agency nixed plans to test barriers at some Lower Manhattan stations. They were originally to be tested at various stations along the (L) line, dating back to 2008. The features are used at various subway systems around the world. It seriously would not hurt the MTA to just give this a try. LIRR adds Mets-Willets Point to their regular stop lineup for those who are getting their vaccinations at CitiField. Fienberg and Foye faced backlash for the bench removals at the 23rd St (6th Avenue) stop in Chelsea, Manhattan to deter homeless people. Iconic voices like Michael Kay, Michael Rappaport, Awkafina, and so many others have joined forces to inform the public subway riders the importance of mask wearing. 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Bedford Avenue Entrance To Nostrand Avenue Station (IND Fulton Street) Reopens After Three Decades; Quemuel Arroyo Becomes The First-All Accessibility Chief Officer

 

Bedford Ave entrance to Nostrand Ave station in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Credit: Marc Herman/NYCT 

On Thursday, the MTA New York City Transit reopened the Bedford Avenue entrances to the Nostrand Avenue (A)(C) train stations in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. That entrances were closed due to high-rise in crime back in 1991 and has been closed for three decades. This comes just nearly one year after the announcement. The entrances provide a quicker path to trains for pedestrians coming from west of the station, facilitate the station’s connection to northbound B44 Select Bus Service and local bus service, reduce crowding as trains depart from the station, and provide a free in-station transfer between the northbound and southbound platforms. The entrances, at the northeast corner and southeast corner of Bedford Av and Fulton St, are more than 1,000 feet, or nearly a quarter mile, to the west of the entrances at the corner of Fulton St and Nostrand Av.

Inside the station, workers scraped and repainted surfaces, repaired and replaced tile, rehabilitated stairways and installed new LED lighting, OMNY-enabled turnstiles and security features such as Help Point intercoms and cameras. On the sidewalk level, workers installed sidewalk entrances in accordance with current New York City Transit design standards. The tunnels also provide shelter from storms, snow and rain. The project cost approximately $2 million. Of that total, approximately $1 million came from MTA New York City Transit, $750,000 was provided by former Assembly Member Wright and $250,000 was provided by former Senator Montgomery. All work was performed by New York City Transit staff.

Former Senator Velmanette Montgomery said this in a statement: “I am so pleased and greatly appreciate the work by MTA NYC Transit forces to get this work done in such a short time and in such difficult circumstances. This is a huge win for the Bedford-Stuyvesant community.

Assembly Member Stefani L. Zinerman also said this in a statement: “I am excited about the reopening of the Bedford Avenue entrances to the Nostrand Av (A) and (C) Subway Lines. This additional access point to the trains in my District will help to alleviate congestion, support social distancing and offer a timely and comfortable commute. I want to thank my predecessor, Tremaine Wright, for her hard work and forethought in ensuring the needs of the community were addressed by supporting the opening of this station. Transportation is the lifeblood of our city and we need a safe and efficient MTA to ensure the needs of all commuters.

The Bedford Avenue entrance to the Nostrand Avenue station along Fulton Street in Brooklyn is a very nice addition to the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood. It connects to the B25, B49, and the northbound B44 Local and B44 +SBS. Whenever trains run express in either direction, you do not have to use your MetroCard to enter the station on the opposite side of the platform where trains are making all stops. You can use the east side of the station to enter either side of the platform. It is a win-win for the neighborhood and the (A)/(C) customers at Nostrand Avenue. Thank you, Andy Byford

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Quemuel Arroyo

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced back on Thursday the appointment of Quemuel Arroyo as the Authority's first all-agency Chief Accessibility Officer. Arroyo, who starts work in his new role, will have primary responsibility for all matters pertaining to accessibility and will report directly to MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye. The appointment advances the MTA's commitment to increasing access and ensuring the system meets the needs of all riders, including those with disabilities. In addition to fashioning Authority-wide policy and initiatives in the accessibility space, Arroyo will serve as a key point of contact for the region's diverse community of disability rights advocates. Arroyo previously served in a similar capacity at the New York City Department of Transportation and most recently was Interim President and Global Head of Community for GetCharged Inc, overseeing strategic partnerships and government relations.

Here is a background story on Quemell Arroyo. He spent five years at the New York City Department of Transportation as Chief Accessibility Specialist and ADA Coordinator/Disability Service Facilitator. In these roles, he established the agency’s strategic plan on accessibility policy while representing NYCDOT on all matters of accessibility locally and internationally, including speaking at the United Nations and Chairing an International Summit on Sustainable & Accessible Transport at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Most recently, Arroyo served as Interim President & Global Head of Community for GetCharged Inc, overseeing government relations and strategic partnerships.

Born in the Dominican Republic, Arroyo immigrated to New York in 1997. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree in Management and Leadership from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Policy. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban Design & Architecture Studies from New York University. Arroyo currently serves as a Board Member for New York City Outward Bound and previously served on the Board of NYU’s Alumni Association. The Authority has, in recent years, launched the most ambitious set of capital goals in its history with respect to expanding the number of ADA accessible stations and Arroyo will support MTA Construction & Development in advancing and completing these critical projects. Arroyo also plans to take on initiatives that assist those with cognitive, visual or hearing disabilities and to improve the ways in which the MTA communicates to customers with disabilities. In this role, he will serve as a vital conduit between the MTA board, its leadership, the disability community and the public.

Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo said this in a statement: "I'm eager to begin my work at the MTA. I am a New Yorker and this is an opportunity of a lifetime. Over the last few years, New York City Transit has made huge strides in assisting riders with disabilities. I look forward to building on the great work already being done and also to expanding the way we think about accessibility so that we can incorporate the commuter railroads into more of our initiatives as well. 'Accessibility' encompasses many areas of our operations and means different things to different people. Part of my job will be reshaping the way in which we conceive of accessibility as a public authority and working closely with the public to broaden our impact across the region."

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Transportation Committee said this in a statement: “I’m proud of Quemuel Arroyo, who served as the former Chief Accessibility Specialist for the New York City Department of Transportation and now will serve as the new first Chief Accessibility Officer for the MTA. In my role of Chair of the Transportation Committee I have worked closely with Arroyo and it brings me great joy to know he will be taking on this role. I am confident he will serve and advocate on behalf of the over one million New Yorkers that experience some kind of disability. Having previously worked with the DOT and now with the MTA I am confident that our goal remains the same: to continue expanding the accessibility of our transportation system for all New Yorkers.”

In his new role, Arroyo will place a strong emphasis on deploying technology solutions that can be utilized by both New York City Transit and the commuter railroads. He'll also work to expand public awareness around what constitutes a disability and the various ways in which different disabilities can impact transit riders. A representative of the disabled to inform the public about disability and oversee elevator construction for subway and commuter railroad stations. Arroyo will perform well at his post. But before all of that can come into order, we still need funding that is needed to complete these projects. The MTA of New York joined multiple transit/transportation agencies across the USA to ask for $39.8B worth of funding from Congress to keep service running. Lastly, Pete Buttigieg becomes the new US Secretary Of Transportation and Hank Guttman becomes the new NYC Department Of Transportation Comissioner. 



Saturday, January 23, 2021

Main Street Busway In Queens Downtown Flushing Is Now In Full Swing

 By N Miller

A Northbound Q44 +SBS heading towards the Bronx Zoo
approaching Main St/38th-39th Avenues in the heart of
Flushing, Queens.

Just after seven months after the city first announced it, the Main Street Busway in Flushing, Queens has now come into fruition. It has taken a court case and months of pushback, but it was still done. The busway rolled out this past Tuesday. Cars are not allowed between Main Street/Northern Blvd and Stanford Avenue & Main Street/Kissena Blvd. So, this gives the buses and delivery trucks all of the priority along the corridor. Main Street & Roosevelt Avenue is the largest subway-to-bus transfer in the country. Flushing is served by the Q12, Q13, Q15, Q15A, Q16, Q17/LTD, Q19, Q20A/B, Q25/LTD, Q26, Q27/LTD, Q28, Q34, Q44-SBS, Q48, Q50LTD, Q58/LTD, Q65/LTD, Q66, & N20G. The current busways in effect as well are the 14th St (Manhattan), Fulton Mall (Brooklyn), and Jay Street (Brooklyn).

Main Street appeared nearly desolate Tuesday morning without the typical passenger car traffic. Bicyclists took advantage of the extra road space and bus operators were able to pull up to their pickup spots without skirting around parallel-parked cars. NYPD officers acted as crossing guards stationed at several points where the busway began (streets that are mentioned in the 1st paragraph) in order to direct drivers away from the prohibited area. Some drivers were unaware of the changes despite new signage placed throughout the Downtown Flushing area and changed their path, while others bypassed the guards and traveled illegally down Main Street.

Other vehicles traveled down blocks between the major entry ways to access Main Street where crossing guards were not stationed. The DOT had announced with the launch that drivers would still be able to access every block via side streets but generally must make the next right turn. The DOT didn’t say whether it will provide additional traffic enforcement to counter the vehicles that sneak into the now-prohibited area. Bus lane cameras, however, will be installed in the coming weeks. For the first 60 days of the camera installation, drivers who incorrectly travel in the bus lanes will be issued a warning letter. After the two-month interim period, vehicles that continue to defy the new rules will be fined.

The new busway pilot along Main Street in Flushing will:

·         Provide better access to the terminus of the 7 train, as well as to New York Presbyterian Queens Booth Memorial Medical Center

·         Help businesses by improving truck loading and unloading, with no parking loss

·         Clarify regulations for local vehicles

·         Allow for emergency vehicle access on the corridor with less congestion.

We will keep a sharp eye out on the progress of the Main Street Busway. In other news, the city approves a plan to have Union Square Park renovated and have space expansion. More busways will be coming to 5th Ave (Manhattan), West 181st Street (Manhattan), & Jamaica Avenue (Queens). The R211s photos have been leaked all over the internet and the MTA states that the R211As (the first 10-car set) will arrive on property on April 2021 (nine months later than what is expected).

 

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Bus Operator In Horrific Bronx Bus Crash Denies Claims Of Drug Test Refusal; Naked Underground Mayhem Ends In Death; MTA's Proposed Fare Hikes Put On Hold

By N Miller

Bus Operator Everton Beccan showing signs of injuries he sustained
in the accident; 2017 New Flyer XN60 #1020 dangling on the University
Avenue overpass. Credit: New York Post/Google Images

BRONX, NY – On Thursday 01/14/2021 at 11pm, a 2017 New Flyer XN60 Xcelsior CNG Articulated Bus Unit #1020 was in operation along the Bx35 bus route heading towards the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The driver was driving along University Avenue. He tried to turn left onto a ramp to the George Washington Bridge, but instead, sped through guard rails, sending the accordion bus over the edge of an overpass above the Cross Bronx Expressway, leaving the bus dangling. Damage to the bus was done on the windshield, the front frame, and accordion section of the bus.


The driver of that bus was Everton Beccan, an 11-year veteran. He and all seven of his passengers were all injured as a result of that crash. Everyone made it out ok from that scary experience. Everton sustained a wired shut jaw, a swollen face, neck, and knee injuries in the crash. He denied claims that he rejected to take a drug test. Everton passed an alcohol breathalyzer test at the scene, but was uncooperative when the MTA asked him for a urine sample. Due to his refusal, he got suspended, without pay, further an investigation.

A union rep said on Saturday that Beacon submitted his urine sample at the hospital Friday morning around 10 a.m., and a blood test was taken at 4 a.m. that day. TWU Vice-President Richie Davis said they “have no idea” why the MTA would allegedly lie about Beccan. I noticed while reading this story and writing about it, there is a little back-and-forth banter going on between the MTA and its black employees. He said that he provided a urine and blood sample while TA officials said he rejected to offer his sample, which is mandated by both the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) and the MTA. Beccan claims that he is drug-free and also has a clean driving record.  We will know the truth about that when we cross that bridge.

The driver on Saturday also denied accelerating through the turn. The Bx35 bus was going between 17 and 26 mph at the time of the crash, officials said; the appropriate speed is between 3 and 4 mph, according to the agency. Beccan said he eased off the gas pedal as he was making the turn, but the bus accelerated instead. The union will investigate the cause of the crash, using the vehicle’s black box. For those of you who don’t know, a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs, without any knowledge of its internal workings. We will keep our eyes open on this story when any developments come through. 

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Malik Jackson, the naked attacker, scuffling with a straphanger
on the Central Park North-110th Street platform. Credit: NY Daily
News/Google Images

MANHATTAN, NY -  A naked maniac shoved a man off of a Harlem subway platform Saturday, but then also jumped down and zapped himself to death on the third rail during a crazed, on-the-tracks scuffle with a good Samaritan. There are a lot of mentally ill, unhinged running around New York City. ThriveNYC is an abject failure in keeping mentally-ill adults in check. It’s just another day in NYC where the mayor does NOTHING to contain the crazies running around this city. The following story contains violence, nudity and graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.

The unhinged and unclothed man had been wandering through the (2) & (3) station stop at 110th Street/Lenox Avenue (Central Park North) when he pushed the man, a stranger, at around 3:40 p.m. The same station where the subway fire occurred back on March 27th, 2020. A brave fellow straphanger jumped down to the track bed to help. The brave man is a retired United States Army and had a scuffle with the naked attacker, who has serious mental issues. The mother of the naked attacker states that his son was a nice caring person who was off his medication.

The naked attacker was named Malik Jackson (aged 34). He scuffled with two people of the subway tracks and then made contact with the third rail. Jackson was instantly killed. A northbound (3) train was arriving into the station was the train operator hit the brakes on time after being waived by straphangers to stop the train. Tyler Hornell (age 55), a disabled Army veteran and Harlem resident, was praised as a good Samaritan. He said that he was traumatized by the whole experience, as well as everyone else on that platform who endured witness to the naked melee.

All victims were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where they made a quick and speedy recovery. Due to the graphic content of this incident, I will NOT be putting the full video here on this blog page. This is the video (via Twitter) where Jackson was lying on the tracks near to the third rail, dead (VIEWER DESCRETION IS ADVISED). The entity of the IRT Lenox Avenue line is the most troubling, problematic subway line in the system. Within a year, there was arsons, pushings, and stabbings that transpired in some of the stations. Police will be needed underground, especially at the 110th, 116th, 125th, 135th, and 145th Street stations. 

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MTA ridership and traffic between March and December 2020. Credit: MTA


NEW YORK, NY – The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York has decided to postpone their proposed fare hikes for several months because “people are suffering”. Wow, I never knew that the MTA ever cared so much for the financial well-being of this state. It was not too long ago that the agency was imposing these fare hikes if they do not the relief funding from Congress. All hope now lies with the incoming administration, whom the MTA hopes for another $8B to save service.


The MTA had mulled a number of proposals, including a fare hike on single rides from $2.75 to $3.00, increasing the price of weekly and monthly MetroCards, and either keeping the purchase of a new MetroCard at $1 or increase the fee to up to $3.00. In December, the MTA held eight public hearings and received 2,100 public comments about the possible hike. Even before the pandemic, the MTA had been projecting budget shortfalls for years, given hundreds of projects in progress. The MTA board passed a fare hike in 2019 that eliminated savings for weekly and monthly MetroCards, while keeping the $2.75 base in place.

Subway ridership plummeted at in March 2020, when the pandemic first started. When New York State went under a strict lockdown, many businesses have shifted to remote work or describing their in-person staff. Subway ridership has fallen by 90%. Over the summer, the MTA lost approximately $200 million in revenue each week. With the election of President-elect Joe Biden, the MTA had been holding out hope for federal aid. Last month, a federal stimulus package gave the agency $4.5 billion to balance its 2021 budget and avoid mass layoffs and radical reductions in service.

MTA Chairman/CEO Patrick Foye, said this in a statement: "Buoyed by President-elect Biden, incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the MTA also has hope for $8 billion in additional pandemic relief and continued federal investment in mass transit in 2021 and beyond. For these reasons, the MTA has decided to postpone the planned fare increase for several months. We plan to move forward with a discussion and vote on recommended toll changes in February."

I pray that we as a state, who rely on this agency to get us from point A to point B, get the funding that is so desperately needed. Knowing the MTA's history, they have a bad track record when it comes to finance. In other news, an MTA MetroNorth employee has been arrested at White Plains home for his role in the Capitol Hill riots, which resulted in death. I will give my thoughts about that on Hub Talk this weekend.

 

Monday, January 18, 2021

NYCT Completes ADA Elevator Installation At The Gun Hill Road (Seymour Avenue) Station In The Bronx; MTA's Heroic Frontline Workers Received COVID-19 Vaccinations

 By N Miller

Elevators At The Gun Hill Rd (Seymour Av) Stop in Baychester/
Co-Op City, The Bronx in full operation. Credit: Bronx.com

BRONX, NY – The Gun Hill Road (Seymour Avenue) station stop on the (5) subway line in the Baychester section of the Bronx is now ADA accessible. The station became the final of eleven stations to become fully ADA accessible in the last calendar year alone after the completion of the project adding two new elevators in the last week of December. At least eight additional stations are set to undergo ADA-related improvements this year. In addition to installing the elevators, crews made a range of other improvements to the Gun Hill Rd station, including the construction of ADA-compliant platforms and a new ADA-compliant station booth.

In addition to the installation of the new ADA-compliant elevators, station booth and platforms, crews expanded the control house above the tracks by 26 feet and modified platform canopies to accommodate the new elevator shafts. The project team also upgraded the station’s communications systems and made a range of mechanical and electrical improvements as well. A small amount of remaining work aimed primarily at the station entrance canopy and doors is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said this in a statement: “One of the ways to nurture a robust economy, especially as we try to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, is focusing on our borough's infrastructure system. The upgrades made at the Gun Hill Road Station on IRT Dyre Avenue Line are key, particularly in helping our most vulnerable communities get the same access to public transportation as the rest of us. A thriving city like ours requires upgrades on all forms of transportation, and the ADA improvements made in the Gun Hill Road Station is a step in the right direction.”

State Senator Jamaal Bailey said this in a statement: “I would like to thank New York City Transit for their state of the art upgrades on the Gun Hill station on the (5) line. This station is a vital and busy transit hub that serves the densely populated communities of Co-Op City and Baychester, full of essential workers, families and seniors who deserve accessibility and adequate transportation. The ADA accessibility and improved safety measures are necessary and crucial at this station. The upgrades made at the Gun Hill Station will benefit riders for years to come, and I am excited for the community to reap the benefits.”

Council Member Kevin Riley said this in a statement: “The long awaited upgrades to the Gun Hill Road (5) Subway Station is essential to the residents of District 12. Our district is a transportation dessert and a part of the revitalization of our community starts with upgrades that make transportation more accessible to all residents. I would like to thank New York City Transit for their hard work on this project, and I look forward to working with them on more projects in the 12th City Council District.”

I like how Transit, alongside with the ADA, have decided to have elevators installed after renovating the station. It completes the project and allow for more accessibility for all the residence of Baychester and Co-Op City. Gun Hill Rd is the eleventh station to become ADA accessible in the beginning of 2020. There were 7 stations that became ADA accessible in 2020. Eight more station accessibility projects will begin this year.  

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MTA Employee Marc Rapalo receives the COVID-19 vaccine
at Jacob K. Javits Center back on 01/13/2021. Credit: Marc Herman/NYCT

NEW YORK, NY – After being the lifeline and working horses during the heights of this pandemic, New York MTA employees began to receive their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Jacob Javits Convention Center back on Wednesday 01/13/2020. This is all part of the group that includes people ages 65 and older, teachers/education workers, first responders, public safety workers, and public transit workers. More than 126 employees received vaccinations on the first day, with plans to vaccinate thousands more in the coming weeks.

MTA employees are included in priority group 1b of the vaccine’s eligibility. The Javits Center is one of three state-run vaccination sites that began opening across the state today in an effort to expedite the vaccination rate, including the Westchester County Center and New York State Fair Expo Center. The Authority plans to roll out an MTA vaccination program in the coming weeks to vaccinate as many members of its workforce as quickly as possible. From the onset of the pandemic the Authority has been at the forefront of protective efforts for employees, with nation and industry-leading efforts including free and convenient screenings at work sites throughout the service region, free access to COVID-19 testing at partnering health care facilities, the deployment of a first-in-the-nation temperature brigade, the installation of plexiglass and vinyl barriers on buses and in select work locations, testing of cutting-edge technologies to clean and disinfect, as well as providing free and convenient flu shots to thousands of workers to date.

Patrick Warren, MTA Chief Safety & Security Officer said this in a statement: “This vaccine is our best shot at ending this pandemic once and for all. Health experts assure that the vaccine is safe and effective. I am grateful that our workforce, who showed up for work day in and day out at the height of the pandemic, is being prioritized in the vaccine rollout and this time showing up to get their shot. We applaud Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health for their leadership, and look forward to working together to vaccinate the frontline heroes of this pandemic.”

I have a problem with this statement. Cuomo deserves no credit for absolutely nothing. Remember that he was the one who created all of this chaos by driving away Andy Byford from his post as NYCT President because he was jealous of the work that he was doing to improve the reliability of New York City Transit. He is the reason why Interim NYCT President Sarah Feinberg is here. She has not done much ever since Cuomo gave her that position. I honestly do not want everything that Andy Byford has planned to go to waste. If Andy Byford was still here, he would've implemented the overnight closures of the subways the same week everything else was shutting down. I  do agree that this vaccine along with social distancing practices are key to ending this pandemic once and for all. I will leave it at that.

The vaccination program being planned is yet another example of the MTA’s commitment to undertaking important and pioneering initiatives to protect its workforce. The MTA has distributed more than 13 million masks, more than 16 million pairs of gloves, 98,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, close to 11 million individual sanitizing wipes, 235,000 gallons of cleaning solution and more than 16,000 face shields to its workforce since the beginning of the pandemic. If we all know what happened during the pandemic were 153 transit employees passed away from this disease, you would know that the previous statement is a flat-out lie. You can read all about it in this post that was written back in April of 2020.

Please stay tuned for the next post, which will appear on Inauguration Day (01/20/2021). Thank You.