Metro North Adds Real Time Car Info

One of the best features the MTA ever introduced in their LIRR TrainTime app was the real time car seat information displaying the percentage of seats available/taken in a car. Now the agency is introducing it on the Metro-North’s New Haven Line. Here is more information about it via the press release they sent me:

MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that New Haven Line customers can now see the amount of space available on each car of an approaching train by looking at digital signs on platforms five minutes before a train arrives or by using the Metro-North Train Time app at any time. The feature is designed to help customers find cars with the most available seats on a train before boarding. The technology was launched on the Harlem and Hudson Lines in November 2020.

“I am excited that many more Metro-North customers are now able to use this technology,” said Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi. “As riders continue to return to Metro-North, this makes it even easier to plan your ride. I want to thank all of the hardworking MTA employees for their work on this transformative project.”

The capacity tracking feature was rolled out by car fleet. It became available in November 2020 for most trains operating on electric portions of the Harlem Line and Hudson Line – trains composed of the newer “M7” railcars. Crews continue to work to bring capacity tracking technology to the diesel sections of the lines and to older “M3” electric rail cars.

Customers who already have the app installed will receive an automatic update with the new feature.

The project was completed by Metro-North in-house staff.

Since its inception in 2013, the free mobile app, which is available from Google Play and the AppStore, has provided real-time status and schedule information to customers via their smartphones, along with destination, track assignment and real-time position of the next 12 trains at a given station. Features also include service alerts, fare information, ADA accessibility, parking availability and connecting services. The app is also translated into six languages — English, Spanish, Chinese, Yiddish, Portuguese and Italian.

Highlights of the Metro-North Train Time app include:

  • New, refreshed interface with detailed results
  • Real-time capacity tracking to enhance social distancing
  • Real-time train location updated every three seconds
  • Closed car notifications
  • Ability to bookmark favorite trips
  • Easier access to eTix
  • Six available languages — English, Spanish, Chinese, Yiddish, Portuguese and Italian

For more information about the Metro-North Train Time app, visit http://web.mta.info/mnr/html/traintimeapp.htm

This is great albeit long overdue for Metro-North riders. Hopefully the agency will bring it to all lines within the system in a short period of time.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Waterbury Branch Substitute Bus Service

The Waterbury Branch of the Metro-North Railroad will have buses replace trains starting June 1st & lasting for nearly 2 months due to infrastructure work. Here are more details courtesy of the press release I received:

MTA Metro-North Railroad is reminding Waterbury Branch customers that starting on June 1 Waterbury train service will be replaced by bus service to accommodate infrastructure improvements on the branch. Train service is expected to be restored by Sunday, Aug. 29. With ridership still reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this work can be accomplished while minimizing inconveniences to customers in the future.

The improvement work taking place includes railroad crossing improvements, the replacement of  track ties and track curves, completion of passing sidings and track resurfacing along the branch to ensure smoother rides. The work, a priority of the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), is part of the $116 million capital improvement project which, when completed, will enable more reliable Waterbury Branch service. In order to accommodate this work bus service will be provided as an additional travel option for customers affected.

This work builds on the successful 2020 program that accelerated construction of the new Waterbury Branch signal system and passing sidings. This year the construction program includes completion of the new passing sidings, at-grade crossing improvements, continuation of tie replacement and track upgrades, and completion of the signal system.

By getting this work done now we will be ready for the post-Labor Day return of riders,” said Catherine Rinaldi, President of Metro-North Railroad. “CTDOT is a great partner and I know that once they complete this project our Waterbury customers will appreciate the smoother ride and reliable service.”

“The Connecticut Department of Transportation has continued to move forward, step by step, to modernize and improve the Waterbury Branch to bolster efficiency, safety, and the overall customer experience,” said Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti. “These upgrades will help support additional rail service on the line in the future, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our fantastic customers as we enter the final phases of work activity.”

The initial phase of the work is taking place overnights between May 10-28. During that time, buses are replacing the last train from Waterbury and last two Waterbury-bound trains departing from Grand Central Terminal (GCT) and Bridgeport on weeknights.

Customers can access full bus schedule here.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Worker Assaulted In Harlem

Subway crime is up in a major way throughout the entire subway system. Sadly MTA workers are not spared from the violence. Such was the case early Sunday morning at the 148th St-Harlem station when a MTA worker was punched in the face after telling someone to get off the train. Sam Raskin of the New York Post has more:

A man punched an MTA worker at a Harlem subway station after a verbal dispute early Sunday morning, police said.

The maintenance worker told a rider to get off the train and was socked in the face by the assailant about 1:10 a.m. at the 148th Street No. 3 subway station, according to police. The employee, a 40-year-old man, was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries, cops said.

The attacker, who did not have a weapon, wore a black mask and grey pants, and fled from the Lenox Terminal station in an unknown direction, according to police.

Click here for the complete report.

I hope the lowlife responsible is caught although I sadly believe he won’t. I wish complete safety for all the MTA workers out there!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Ex-MTA Czar Leaked Confidential Information

The leaking or confidential information especially on the higher levels of agencies, corporations, governments, etc… are common. So it comes as no surprise to find out that an ex-MTA czar was leaking confidential information. The leaker in this case was former czar Alex Elegudin who violated ethic rules when giving advance notice to a contractor that their bid was going to fail. David Meyer of the New York Post has more:

The former accessibility czar for New York City’s subways and buses quit last year after he violated ethics rules by giving an MTA contractor advance notice that its bid was going to be rejected — while firing off emails to transit officials imploring them to reconsider, the agency’s inspector general revealed Thursday.

Alex Elegudin leaked the impending decision on Curb Mobility’s bid to operate taxis for disabled New Yorkers to a company exec, Jason Gross, in August 2020 — at the same time the contract selection committee met to make its final call, informing him that Curb’s bid was too expensive, IG Carolyn Pokorny said.

Gross proceeded to call his designated contact on the committee, claiming he’d accidentally submitted incorrect price figures.

Click here for the complete story.

As I said it comes as no surprise that the agency dealt with leaks as it is bound to happen. What is unfortunate is how Alex weaseled his way out the door before being properly dealt with.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Metro-North To Penn Station Project Update

Earlier today, the MTA announced more details on their Metro North to Penn Station project which includes the building of 4 new stations in the Bronx. Here is more via the press release they sent me:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it has published the Environmental Assessment for its Metro-North Penn Station Access Project, which will bring Metro-North service to the west side commuter hub and add four new stations in the Bronx. The publication begins a 45-day period for public comment. As part of this comment period, the public will be able to review project documents online and in-person at sites in the Bronx, including the Morris Park Community Association and the Bronx Jewish Community Council. A virtual public meeting on the project will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, June 15 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The project will bring local MTA rail service to the rail line currently used by Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor for the first time and will significantly reduce travel times for East Bronx residents. The commute from Parkchester to Penn Station, currently up to 60 minutes, will be cut to as little as 20 minutes. The commute from Hunts Point to Penn Station, currently up to 45 minutes, will be cut to as little as 16 minutes. In addition to quicker access to Midtown Manhattan, East Bronx residents will now have access to job and leisure destinations that were previously difficult to reach in Westchester and Connecticut.

As part of the project, four new Metro-North stations will be built at Hunts Point, Parkchester/Van Nest, Morris Park and Co-op City.

“Additional mass transit capacity is always a plus for the environment,” said Janno Lieber, President of MTA Construction & Development. “With this project we also have the additional environmental benefit of rebuilding an existing rail facility to provide more service for more people rather than building a whole new line from scratch.”

“To be able to expand to another part of the Bronx and to help our customers more easily reach the west side of Manhattan and other employment destinations in the region is a major development and incredibly exciting for us,” said Catherine Rinaldi, President of Metro-North Railroad. “This project will give the East Bronx and all of our customers better transit options which translates to more economic and social opportunities for all.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the resumption of the Penn Station Access Project on May 13. The project had been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic which put the Authority’s historic 2020-2024 Capital Plan mostly on hold. The reopened process will result in the selection of a firm to design and build the four new Metro-North Railroad stations and make track upgrades in the Bronx, and bring Metro-North to the East Bronx. The MTA had identified three consortia qualified to bid for the project in February 2020, three weeks before COVID-19 arrived in New York.

The project is one of numerous efforts to make Metro-North service more attractive and useful in the Bronx. Metro-North doubled off-peak and weekend service at Melrose and Tremont in 2017 and doubled service between Manhattan and Fordham in 2019. The last Metro-North station to be newly built was also in the Bronx, at Yankees-E. 153rd Street in 2009.

Metro-North Penn Access riders from the Bronx and the New Haven Line will arrive at a Penn Station that will ultimately be transformed from the confines long familiar to Long Island Rail Road riders. The spacious new Moynihan Train Hall and a new entrance at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue opened earlier this year. Work is now underway to nearly double the width and increase the height of the 33rd Street corridor that is the central spine of the Long Island Rail Road concourse.

The construction of the four new Bronx Metro-North stations comes at the same time the MTA is working to transform Penn Station into a world-class, 21st-century transportation hub by doubling the width and increasing the height of the 33rd Street corridor at Penn Station. The transformation of Penn Station will unite the passenger spaces of the MTA, NJ Transit and Amtrak into one larger, simplified space, bring in natural light from outside the station, and further improve passenger flow to and from trains within the station.

Read the Penn Station Access Environmental Assessment, comment on the project and see meeting details at https://pennstationaccess.info

Truth be told, while I do see the value this project has to the region, it is not something I would be pushing for to happen as fast as possible. Our transit structure is in a terrible state & money should be spent fixing that up first along with the creation of more pressing subway related projects.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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