Thursday, May 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, May 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 20, 2021

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

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

Credit: MTA

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 1, 2021

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

By N Miller 

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

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

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

Two-Level Alternative

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

Single-Level Alternative

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

Next Steps 

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