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


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.