MTA Allegedly Uses Secret Cleanup Crews

Last Friday the MTA lost a case against Manuel Reyes who was allegedly suffered disabling injuries due to an accident on a Queens bus back in 2007. However the verdict of the case is not what is sending shockwaves through the transit world, it is the allegation that the MTA has secret cleanup crews to cover up accident scenes. Susan Edelman of the New York Post has more:

The MTA has mobile crash squads around the city that swoop down on the scenes of bus collisions — and orchestrate cover-ups, a lawyer charges.

“It’s all about damage control,” said attorney Michael Gunzburg, who represents an injured bus rider. No less than 10 MTA investigators descended on the crash site where his client was hurt — several arriving even before ambulances.

An army of MTA supervisors in every borough — at least five in Queens alone — are given cars and assigned to pounce when bus accidents happen, according to court testimony. They do measurements, interview witnesses, take photographs and write reports for risk management and claims.

Queens MTA worker Victor Santiago told a court last week he’s dashed to hundreds of bus accidents — “one or two a day or more” — now mostly “high-profile” crashes.

In his case, Gunzburg argued, the MTA either failed to gather evidence or hid it.

“They come in and try to cover up the accident,” he told a Queens civil court last week. “This is how they handle all accidents.”

The jury agreed. On Friday, it found the MTA and bus driver Dameion Soman 100 percent negligent in the 2007 crash on Parsons Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway service road. It allegedly caused disabling injuries to passenger Manuel Reyes, 43, a former cabby and father of two.

Gunzburg cited the MTA’s missing or faulty evidence. Among the examples:

  • No MTA photos showed where the bus stopped after the crash. Reyes testified it careened across two southbound lanes. But an MTA diagram suggests it stayed in the northbound lanes, and photos show it in different spots. “They moved the bus,” Gunzburg said.
  • MTA investigators took statements from all or most of 14 bus passengers, including five at the hospital, but produced only Reyes’ statement.
  • Santiago testified a colleague downloaded a “black box”-like device, which records the bus’ speed and braking, but that information wasn’t provided.

“There were 10 [MTA responders] there. What happened to all their work product?” Gunzburg said after the verdict.

Click here for the complete report.

This is some extremely troubling information if true. While I have personally heard some stories about this, I could never confirm with 100% certainty. However the testimony during this case seems pretty damning. I find this alleged behavior to be 100% reprehensible & anyone who would partake in such actions should be criminally prosecuted for fraud.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Workers File Grievance

The job of a MTA employee especially those who work underground can be very tough & sometimes downright brutal & toxic. I personally know many such workers personally over the years who have complained to me about the conditions. So when I saw an exclusive report by Nicole Johnson of Pix11, it came as no surprise to hear its content:

Some MTA employees say they literally can’t get a break while working their shifts. With a lack of bathrooms and lunch breaks, their patience is running short.

Train operator Kim McLaurin and her colleagues — conductor Tramell Thompson and train operator Trevor Logan — told PIX11 in an exclusive interview that their working conditions are unbearable.

“There are no accommodations for pregnant women down there imagine what happens when you have to use the bathroom,” McLaurin, who’s spent nine years working as a train operator, said.

Thompson filed a grievance on behalf of a pregnant employee he said was denied a bathroom break.

Click here for the full report including the exclusive sit down interview.

As I mentioned earlier, the content of this report came as no surprise to me. I have been hearing of such complaints for years from subway workers & similar issues with bus drivers as well.

Growing up in a family that has worked for the MTA, I have seen first hand how employees are looked at as nothing more than a number or as pieces of meat with no regards for their overall well being. Sadly I can’t say the union has always had the backs of their fellow man as a number of higher ups tended to be more concerned with their pockets & stroke versus being the best representative they could be. Hopefully this will change in the near future even though if past history is any indicator, employees still have a ways to go!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Metro North Makes Lower Harlem Line Improvements

Yesterday afternoon, the MTA Metro-North announced its plans to make improvements on the Lower Harlem Line on July 22 & 23. Here are the details:

MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that to ensure the on-going reliability and safety of the Harlem and New Haven Lines, crews will perform critical work on the Bronx Drainage project, installing a series of drain pipes, inlets and connections to city sewers.

The drainage facilities are installed both beneath and outside the tracks between Melrose and Tremont, which requires removing one of the tracks from service for this crucial work.

As a result of this infrastructure improvement work, northbound trains will not be able to stop at the Melrose platform between 6 a.m., Saturday, July 22, and 5 a.m., Monday, July 24.  During this time, Metro-North will provide substitute buses from Melrose to Tremont, where passengers may board northbound trains to their Bronx, Westchester and Dutchess destinations. Buses will depart Melrose approximately 15 minutes earlier than scheduled trains. Regularly scheduled northbound train service will resume at Melrose at 5 a.m. on Monday, July 24.

To Melrose, Saturday, July 22 – Sunday, July 23

Customers traveling from Grand Central Terminal and Harlem-125th Street to Melrose will take the train to Tremont and then switch to a southbound train back to Melrose. The connecting train to Melrose will board on the “Inbound to Grand Central Terminal” platform at Tremont, requiring passengers to walk from the “Outbound to White Plains/Wassaic” platform, up to the street and to the staircase leading to the “Inbound to Grand Central Terminal” platform.

*Note: Passengers on the trains scheduled to arrive at Tremont at 11:58 p.m. and 1:37 a.m. will transfer to a bus for the return to Melrose.

Service details are below:

http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/MelroseBusing071117.pdf

From Melrose, Saturday, July 22 – Sunday, July 23

Customers traveling from Melrose station to Westchester, Bronx or Dutchess stations will take a bus to the Tremont station for continuing northbound service.  The buses will operate approximately 15 minutes earlier than scheduled trains.

*Note: southbound service at the Melrose station will be unaffected by this service change. Customers may continue to board their southbound train on the inbound platform to Grand Central Terminal.

Service details are below:

http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/MelroseBusing071117.pdf 

Make sure to check out the MTA’s website for any potential last minute changes.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Metro North Makes Upper Harlem Line Improvements

Yesterday afternoon, the MTA Metro-North Railroad announced its plans to make Upper Harlem Line improvements between July 20 & 23. Here are the details:

MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that to ensure the on-going reliability and safety of the Harlem Line, Metro-North crews will perform critical work on the Upper Harlem Line from Thursday, July 20 to Sunday, July 23.

Metro-North crews will make extensive improvements to the Line, including renewing the River Road grade crossing in Pawling, replacing the crossing surface, rails and ties. Crews will also remove and rebuild masonry at a culvert north of the Appalachian Trail station; this work will improve drainage in the area to reduce the risk of flooding. Elsewhere along the tracks, crews will cut brush and weld rail joints.

To accommodate this track work, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 20, buses will substitute for select trains in each direction between Southeast and Wassaic on the Harlem Line.  Buses will operate 15 – 30 minutes earlier than scheduled trains.  After 10 p.m. on Friday, July 21, buses will replace trains at all stations between Wassaic and Southeast. Normal train service will resume with the first scheduled trains of Monday, July 24.

Service details are below:

Southbound: Thursday, July 20

From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., buses will substitute for four trains that normally depart from Wassaic at 10:28 a.m., 12:28 p.m., 2:18 p.m., and 4:18 p.m. to Southeast, making all scheduled stops at the following stations: Tenmile River, Dover Plains, Harlem Valley-Wingdale, Pawling and Patterson. Bus service will operate 15 – 30 minutes earlier than normally scheduled train times. Buses will connect with regularly scheduled trains at Southeast for continuing service to Grand Central Terminal.

For a bus and train schedule, customers should visit:

http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/Wassaic_7_20_21.pdf

Northbound: Thursday, July 20:

For the four trains to Wassaic that depart Grand Central Terminal at 7:53 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 11:47 a.m., and 1:47 p.m., buses will substitute for trains from Southeast to Wassaic, making all scheduled stops at the following stations: Patterson, Pawling, Harlem Valley-Wingdale, Dover Plains, Tenmile River and Wassaic. Customers should allow up to 30 minutes in additional travel time, depending on the destination station.

For a bus and train schedule, customers should visit:

http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/Wassaic_7_20_21.pdf

Southbound: Friday, July 21, Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23

Starting with the usual 11:28 p.m. departure from Wassaic on Friday, July 21, and for all departures on Saturday and Sunday, July 22-23, buses will replace trains from Wassaic to Southeast, making stops at the following stations: Tenmile River, Dover Plains, Harlem Valley-Wingdale, Pawling and Patterson. Bus service will operate 15 – 30 minutes earlier than normally scheduled train times.

For a bus and train schedule, customers should visit:

http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/Wassaic_7_20_21.pdf

http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/Wassaic_7_22_23.pdf

Northbound:  Friday, July 21, Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23

Starting with the 8:52 p.m. departure from Grand Central on Friday, July 21 and for all departures on Saturday and Sunday, July 22-23, trains from Grand Central to Southeast will connect with bus service at Southeast. Buses will make each train’s stops at: Patterson, Pawling, Harlem Valley-Wingdale, Dover Plains, Tenmile River and Wassaic. Customers should allow up to 30 minutes in additional travel time, depending on the destination station.

For a bus and train schedule, customers should visit:

http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/Wassaic_7_20_21.pdf

http://web.mta.info/mnr/pdf/Wassaic_7_22_23.pdf

Make sure to check out their website for any last minute changes.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Track Fire Causes Chaos

The start of a new work week was not routine for thousands of NYC Subway riders during the morning rush on Monday. A track fire in the tunnels between 145th & 135th Street caused chaos & massive delays for riders on the A train, B train, C train & D train as service was forced to be suspended. Things were just as bad as thousands flocked to the 1 train which caused chaos as well. Here is more via a Daily News report:

Thirty feet of train track trash caused the latest city subway disaster: a smoky blaze that trapped hundreds of panicked commuters on airless trains, kept thousands more stuffed in sweltering stations and forced the MTA to admit it must clean up its mess.

A pile of “extensive debris” in a tunnel along the subway tracks between 145th and 135th Sts. in Harlem caused the Monday morning chaos, sources told the Daily News.

Sparks ignited the fire that created the “smoke condition” a B train operator reported as he moved south at 7:18 a.m.

Moments later, NYC Transit’s rail control ordered trains between 145th and 135 Sts. to turn off their air conditioning — which would suck the smoke into cars — and the A, B, C and D lines in Harlem ground to a halt.

By the time service was restored at 9:34 a.m., nine straphangers were at local hospitals suffering minor injuries — and MTA Chairman & CEO Joe Lhota found himself trying to pacify frustrated commuters. Again.

Click here for the complete report.

I spoke to numerous people throughout the day who shared their horrible commuting experiences having to deal with the chaos resulting from the track fire. As one would expect, all of them pointed the blame at the MTA for a lack of upkeep.

However I pointed out that the finger should not solely be pointed at the agency if at all. While they could do more to deal with upkeep, the one fact remains constant & that is if passengers did not throw their trash on the track, we would not be having track fires caused by debris.

In reality this fire is just a microcosm of a transit infrastructure that is slowly falling apart before our very eyes.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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