Overnight Q Service To Become Local

Broadway line local station riders have good news coming to them as of this December. MTA NYC Transit has announced that Q Train trains will now run local in Manhattan during the overnight hours. Here is more:

MTA New York City Transit today announced that beginning in December 2014, Q trains will make all local stops in Manhattan late nights between midnight and 6:30 a.m. Q train service currently operates with express service in Manhattan during the late night time period, bypassing customers at Prince St, 8 St-NYU, 23 St, 28 St, and 49 St. During this time period, these stations are currently served only by the N train, but with Q trains running local, customers at these stations will see wait times decrease from an average 10- minute wait to a 5-minute wait.

In examining MetroCard data from October 2012, New York City Transit’s Operations Planning Division determined that by shifting service on the Q to local tracks overnight, customers at the local stations would see reduced travel times of over six minutes on average. Customers at other (express stop) stations would see average increased travel times of about one minute. In the aggregate, running the Q local would save about 6,000 customer travel minutes each night.

On a typical night, operating the Q local would lengthen the trips of approximately 1,700 customers, but this would be off-set by the reduced wait times for about 1,300 customers at local stations, especially intra-Manhattan riders going to or from local stations, who would experience twice the frequency, from an average 10- minute wait to a 5-minute wait, as they could ride either an N or a Q.

“We are constantly analyzing service and ridership trends in order to provide the best service possible to all of our customers at all hours,” said New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “As we saw increased ridership at local stations along the Broadway Line, it simply made sense to provide these customers with more service.”

In recent years, the areas served by local stations have seen higher than average increases in late night activity. This has been reflected in MetroCard data from 2008 to 2012 that showed overnight MetroCard entries at local stations grew by 28 percent while entries at express stations grew by 12 percent. If this trend continues the benefits of an overnight Q local will only grow in the near future.

Another benefit of a Q local: Currently, some Q line customers headed to Brooklyn walk to express stations to avoid making a transfer even if their origin is closer to local stations. In those cases, running local service might lengthen their train time, but would shorten their walking time. In addition, Brooklyn customers going to or from local stations would no longer need to transfer between N and Q trains.

In the past, overnight 2 and 4 service in Manhattan was converted from express service to local service. These changes resulted in a total net travel time savings for customers on the Lexington and 7 Av lines.

This service change does not require MTA Board approval and when implemented, will cost $73,000 annually.

I feel this is long overdue as the local stations see decent ridership during the late night hours. From what I have noticed, most Q trains are ghost towns during the overnight hours in Manhattan due to running express. This should change all of that pretty instantly.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Senator Blumenthal Safety Blunder

The Metro-North has been taking a beating from all angles for quite sometime. Whether it is the agency’s failed maintenance or the deadliest accident in the agency’s history.

Unfortunately the beating continued this past week when Democratic Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal demanded accountability after learning the agency racked up $552,000 stemming from 139 violations in the last 10 years.

The senator’s biggest message was on how the agency needed to improve its safety accountability which is what makes this past Friday’s incident hilarious.

Mr. Blumenthal was holding a press conference at the Milford Metro-North station when he almost got blown off the platform along with his easel & chart. Check out the video by clicking here.

While his message is right in terms of the agency needed to make major safety accountability changes, I can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous he comes off in the video in what was almost a historic pot calling the kettle black moment.

Do not preach safety & proceed to stand in the clearly marked caution area not only with your body but an easel as well! Who sets up these photo ops & does not use common sense when doing so? The answer: Senator Blumenthal’s people.

In my best Cris Carter or Keyshawn Johnson voice, C’MON MAN!

xoxo Transit Blogger

xoxo Transit Blogger

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DNA Swab Kits Coming To The MTA

One of the perks for bus drivers in the newly agreed contract between the MTA & TWU Local 100 is that they will be receiving DNA Swab Kits to deal with the issue of spat on drivers. Michael Gartland of the New York Post has more:

The MTA is about to get a little more CSI.

City bus drivers will soon be armed with DNA swabs to gather evidence in the all-too-common event of an unhinged passenger spitting on them.

Transit workers catch a loogie 14 times a month, the MTA estimated in 2011.

The swab kits will be distributed to drivers once a new contract between the MTA and Transport Workers Union Local 100 is finalized, union sources confirmed. They’ll include swabs, a rinse and a sealed container to store an assailant’s saliva sample.

“I’m overjoyed that the MTA finally put this into effect,” said Frank Austin, the TWU’s safety director for bus drivers. “We’ve been working on this for two contracts, about seven years.”

Swab kits have been given to drivers in Boston and England and have led to arrests there. In Boston, swabs cost $200 a pop.

After a sample is submitted, police run it against a DNA database for a match.

An MTA spokeswoman declined to comment on the cost of the program, noting the contract was not yet finalized.

But two MTA subdivisions — the MTA Bus Company and NYC Transit — operate a total of 5,701 buses, each of which would be outfitted with a swab kit. At a potential cost of $200 per kit, the overall cost to the city could reach $1.1 million.

“It’s going to cut down on people spitting on us, especially if people get arrested and it ends up in the newspaper,” said Thomas McNally, a TWU safety inspector.

Click here for the complete report.

As someone who grew up with a dad who drove a bus for NYC Transit, I have heard many stories about drivers being spat on. We can agree that this is one of the biggest ways to disrespect someone.

I completely support this measure as any lowlife who spits on a driver deserves to be caught & punished to the fullest extent of the law.

To those who might say it is a waste, think about how you would feel being spat on. Plus considering the amount of the money the agency spends on things, this is a drop in the bucket.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR & Unions Prepare Final Contract Offers

While agreeing to a deal with the TWU Local 100 cleared a big hurdle for the MTA, it is far from being out of the woods. For the past few months, many have been following the strife between the agency & LIRR unions which have been threatening a July strike for sometime if a deal was not reached.

The two side are preparing final contract offers which are to be put out today. Newsday Transit Reporter Alfonso A. Castillo has more:

The MTA and the unions representing nearly 6,000 Long Island Rail Road workers will begin laying out their final offers in a four-year-long contract dispute Monday.

The White House-appointed Presidential Emergency Board No. 245 will convene in Manhattan at noon to hear from LIRR labor leaders and Metropolitan Transportation Authority negotiators. Without a resolution, LIRR unions could go on strike as early as July.

After reaching a tentative agreement with the Transport Workers Union last week for raises totaling 8 percent over five years, MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said TWU contracts typically establish a pattern that the agency expects its other unions, including those at the LIRR, to follow.

An LIRR union source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he expects the railroad labor groups will stick to their guns in pursuing the more lucrative terms of the first presidential board. Because the subway workers’ contract has not yet been ratified by the MTA board, the TWU board or union members, it will carry little weight with the federal mediators, the source said.

Click here for the complete report.

I am keeping a close eye on this as a strike will have major ramifications for our region considering the importance of the LIRR. The deal struck between the MTA & TWU Local 100 will probably prove to be a sticking point as workers on the island are sure to demand much higher increases.

Personally I feel that a lot of the workers for the LIRR make an impressive salary at current levels considering the workplace rules they have as compared to their NYC counterparts. I would not be against an increase but not at the levels some are talking about.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Denying More Access A Ride Claims

Sunday’s New York Post featured a story about how the MTA is denying more Access-A-Ride claims. To be more specific, the agency denied 13% of applicants in 2013 which is nearly double the rate from 5 years ago. Stephen M. Joseph and Michael Gartland of the New York Post have more:

The MTA denied 13 percent of Access-A-Ride applicants in 2013 — almost 7,000 New Yorkers — more than double the denial rate from five years ago.

And it’s no coincidence the agency began enforcing stricter eligibility requirements for disabled riders at the same time its overall $12 billion budget shrank $900 million in 2010.

“When we slashed the budget, everything took a hit,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said. “Para-transit took a hit too . . . We started enforcing medical eligibility more strictly. Our medical professionals were reminded of the existing rules and criteria.”

Other changes included re-assessing eligibility on a trip-by-trip basis and steering participants to subways and buses.

The crackdown is not sitting well with rejected applicants.

“What’s the sense in having Access-A-Ride if they keep you from getting it?” said Rita Gibson, 65, who claims to suffer from a herniated disc and uses a walker to get around.

Click here for the complete report.

I admit that a big part of me feels this sensational journalism which would be nothing new considering the source. I have covered the Access-A-Ride fraud issues that were running rampant in the past.

While the article makes no mention of fraud, I would not be surprised if some of the denied requests fell under that category. This is a program which no matter how you slice it is a money pit for the agency. The services are warranted but better policing needs to be put in place. If only a different company could run it & leave the MTA to handle the many other responsibilities it has.

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