Sunday, March 21, 2021

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

By N Miller



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

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."