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. 

  


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The New Moynihan Train Hall Brings Elegance To New York's Pennsylvania Station

By N Miller

ATTENTION!: This story was supposed launched on the first full week of 2021, but I was having laptop issues that needed to get resolved. Hope you enjoy the first article of 2021.

Inside the new Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall. Credit: Amtrak


 NEW YORK, NY - New Year, New Time. A very special hello to all of the viewers new and old and welcome to the very first post of the Hub Chronicles. On New Years Day 2021, the Daniel Patrick Mohoynian Train Hal, located on Eighth Avenue between West 31st & 33rd Street in Midtown Manhattan opened to the public. The steps of the hall give me vibes of the American Museum Of Natural History or Toronto’s Union Street Station. This is such a nice way to kick off the new year in style.

Moynihan Train Hall, as it is called, named after the late Senator, opened back on January 1st. It is part of a $1.6 billion project that will include elaborate lounges, restaurants and passageways to Penn Station. The new facility serves LIRR, MTA and Amtrak passengers, easing crowding and offering a pleasant ambiance. The 486,000-square-foot development increases the total concourse space at the largely underground Pennsylvania Station, which is New York's main inter-city interchange and the busiest station in the Western Hemisphere, by 50 per cent.

The majestic train hall was created by SOM (also known as Skidmore, Owings, and Merill). They are one of the largest architecture studios in the USA. Some of their best work includes the construction of the National Museum of the United States Army in Virginia, FBI technology building in West Virginia and a courthouse in Los Angeles with pleated glass walls. Built alongside the original station, the post office building stands directly above the railroad tracks. The Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall now provides access to nine platforms that are used by the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak. It is arranged around a light-filled atrium, which was the post office's original sorting room and had been enclosed since the second world war.

In addition to the open concourse, Moynihan Train Hall has a new retro-style waiting area for ticketed passengers as well as an attached bathroom. The upper floor also features the Metropolitan Lounge, which premium travelers can access, much like an exclusive airport lounge. A food hall is also scheduled to open in the fall of 2021, with outlets of New York City mainstays like Magnolia Bakery, H&H Bagels, and Jacob’s Pickles. Three new site-specific art pieces, commissioned by Empire State Development in partnership with the Public Art Fund, are also on display. Elmgreen & Dragset’s “The Hive” features 91 inverted skyscrapers on the ceiling of the 31st Street mid-block entrance; Kehinde Wiley’s “Go,” located at the 33rd Street entrance, is hand-painted with Black New Yorkers breakdancing in the sky and Stan Douglas’ “Penn Station’s Half Century” has nine panels depicting iconic moments at the train station and is located in the ticketed waiting room.

The new Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall is beautiful both inside and out. I am on the process of upgrading my equipment so expect a hot tour down the line. In other news, Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D) defeated Incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the Geogia Senate Runoff race. The results of the race gives Democrats control of the Senate. So, for all those who are hopeful and wants funding for the MTA to come through, we just might get it with a new administration coming in on January 20th. Once again, this the brand new Hub Chronicles and Happy New Year to all of the readers. I will see all of you at the next stop.