MTA Releases Their 2011 Agenda

This is a post I meant to write on Friday but I went out to party with 2 of my best friends so I had no time. Anyhow…..

Friday’s are usually a day where you have to pay extra attention to the news as stories seem to slip through the cracks & do not generate the buzz they should. I feel this story fits that bill as the MTA released their 2011 agenda. Let me start it off with the press release I received about it:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today released a comprehensive agenda for 2011 that carries forward the work begun last year under the agency’s report entitled “Making Every Dollar Count.” The 2011 agenda continues a fundamental re-shaping of the MTA that includes cost-cutting that will result in cumulative savings of $3.8 billion by 2014, customer service improvements begun last year such as countdown clocks and implementation of systemic changes, including all-electronic tolling.

“It’s a new year, but our focus remains unchanged,” said MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder. “We will make every dollar count. We will continue to cut costs to create a more efficient MTA. We will continue to improve service for our customers. We brought change to the MTA in 2010, and we’re going to build on that success in 2011.”

In pursuing the goals of last year’s agenda, the MTA identified $525 million in annual savings through an emergency overhaul of the way the MTA does business – helping to limit the impact of the economic downturn on the MTA’s customers. And despite historic budget austerity, the agency delivered a number of long-promised benefits to customers: activation of countdown clocks at more than 100 subway stations; bringing security cameras online; overhauling the MTA website; and demonstrating the promise of bus service through a series of travel innovations that have significantly increase bus speeds.

Here is a sample of the 24 page report:

Consolidate back office functions

In January 2011, the MTA opened its new Business Service Center—streamlining operations for MTA agencies in Human Resources, Finance, and other back office functions. Savings from the Center will exceed $25 million annually by 2014.

Cut unnecessary overtime:

In 2009, we began a crackdown on unnecessary overtime that will save the MTA $70 million annually—a 13 percent reduction in overtime spending. At the same time, we’ve maintained the overtime that is critically important to deal with snow removal, emergency situations, safety inspections, and other high-priority areas.

Reduce office space costs:

We will finally rationalize the MTA’s use of office space, currently scattered inefficiently across a series of headquarters facilities. We will maximize the benefit of the office space we need and sell off properties we don’t to support investment in our transit network. Overall, we will reduce the space we occupy by 15 percent.

Better Bus Service:

First, you will know when your bus is coming. You will be able to check your cell phone or your computer to see where your bus is, so you can get to the bus stop
when you need to.

Next, when your bus arrives, you will board quickly by using a smart card to tap and go in milliseconds. This will speed up the boarding process at each and every stop and make your overall trip much faster.

And finally, your bus-only lane really will be a bus-only lane — cameras positioned along the route will see to it.

Countdown clocks reach more than 200 stations in 2011:

More than 200 stations will have working countdown clocks by the end of the year—in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens— including the very first countdown clocks on the #7 Line. We’ll also be
bringing displays to more stations on the lettered lines, targeting stations on the Queens Boulevard Line.

New displays show systemwide status:

In 2010, we introduced electronic signs that display the real-time status of the entire subway system before you pay your fare, so you can make the best travel decisions possible. The new signs are currently active at Grand Central Station, Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street, QueensBoro Plaza, and Main Street Terminal on the #7 Line.

In 2011, we will be bringing these displays to 34th Street-Penn Station, Willets Point, Woodside-61st Street and other key hubs across the subway system.

Real-time railroad information spreads across the region:

In 2010 we unveiled two new services that allow customers to check the realtime status of their train on a cell phone or computer—Long Island Rail Road’s CooCoo and Metro-North’s TrainTime.

In 2011, the real-time information revolution grows:

Real-time service status for every station is now available on our website, and in 2011 electronic signs at 50 different Metro-North stations will display the same real-time information.

Metro-North will join the LIRR in using CooCoo to provide real-time schedule information to customers via cell phone.

Electronic signs displaying real-time train arrival information will be installed at 14 more LIRR stations, bringing the total number of stations with these signs to 121. We are developing ways
to make the system more effective during major service disruptions.

Connect riders with high-tech Help Points:

Help Points—new, 21st century high-tech intercoms—provide riders with a direct connection to service information and emergency services. They are easily visible, connected through Ethernet technology for clear communications, and will dramatically expand the number of places where customers can get help in each subway station.

In 2011, we will test them at two stations on the #6 line, with approximately ten Help Points located all around each station. Systemwide implementation is planned for 2012.

Complete camera activation:

In 2010, we turned around the longdelayed installation of security cameras, with more than 3,700 working by the end of the year. We went even further, connecting cameras at key hubs directly to the
NYPD’s command center, allowing for 24/7 monitoring. In 2011, we will complete a program that introduced interactive cameras to secure key hubs around the region, increasing the total number of cameras to more than 4,200.

If It’s Broke, Fix It:

Gaping holes in platform canopies, deteriorating platform edges, or stairs that are literally crumbling … these problems are simply unacceptable. That’s why in 2010 we implemented a new strategy to keep stations in good condition. Instead of waiting for full-station rehabilitations, we are now fixing issues on a component basis and putting an end to battered stations.

Using the results of a system-wide survey of more than 14,500 station components, we are now fixing the components most in need of repair first—making better use of capital dollars through targeted repairs. Last year, we successfully awarded component repairs at dozens of stations, including projects like:

• Stair replacements at 36 sets of stairs at stations on the A, J, and Z lines in Queens;

• Platform edge replacements at 12 platform edges on the M Line and eight platform edges on the #2, 3, 4, 5 lines in Brooklyn; and

• Canopy replacements at 10 canopies on the #1 Line in Manhattan and the Bronx.

It seems simple, and it is. When something is broken, we’re fixing it—delivering improvements to customers on a timeframe New Yorkers demand.

Completing Projects in 2011:

• We will replace 40-year-old cars on Metro-North’s New Haven Line with 21st century M-8 cars, improving reliability and service quality while adding seats.

• A new underground transfer between the 45th Road/Courthouse Square #7 station and the Court Square G station will accommodate rapid growth in Long Island City.

• In an award winning construction effort, we are replacing the last of 189 steel spans on the LIRR Atlantic Viaduct, which serves customers travelling between Brooklyn and Jamaica.

• We will make dozens of investments to keep our trains running safely and reliably, including: $16 million for signal control modifications; $23 million to replace signal stop cables; and nearly $300 million to
replace 11 miles of mainline track and 225 miles of track surfacing.

• We will complete the rehabilitation of the Queens approach at the Throgs Neck Bridge, replacing more than 140,000 square feet of roadway deck on the 49-year-old bridge.

$2 billion in savings and counting:

Last year, we found better ways to deliver our investments, saving $2 billion in the process. In 2011, we will continue to closely review our Capital Program to identify further cost savings.

Funding the Capital Program:

Our Capital Program is funded through 2011, but there is a $10 billion gap in the program’s final three years. This year, we will work to fill this gap in two basic ways. First, we will build on past successes with new cost-cutting efficiencies. Second, we will work with our funding partners to find creative ways to fund the remaining gap.

Click here to read the complete .pdf report.

The report was a good read as it shows a continuation of the agenda set out from day 1 by MTA Chairman Jay Walder to run a more cost effective & efficient MTA. The overall question I have is will the agency deliver the goods?

Throughout his tenure, the MTA has taken some positive steps to curb costs all across the board from cutting and/or eliminating redundant service to cutting back on wasteful spending in the management/office level of operations.

However with the positive comes the negative which in my opinion curbs what they are trying to do. Whether it was the addition of 2 bus lines to basically replace 1, or bus maintenance costs being too expensive.

Unfortunately even if the MTA were to clean up their act, they do not control their own destiny. While their Capital Program goals are aimed at helping ease the commuting lives of many, where will the money come from to implement it? The program will be up for review in Albany this year & all the rage coming from there is the massive budget cuts that need to happen to save our state from bankruptcy.

The MTA is promising a lot but if things continue as they are in Albany, don’t count on those promises being delivered. This unfortunately is life for the MTA when it comes to dealing with Albany. We can only hope that Albany understands the importance of our transportation network & does right by it. I for one will not hold my breath considering their track record. We shall see….

xoxo Transit Blogger

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• We will replace 40-year-old cars on Metro-North’s New Haven Line with 21st century M-8 cars, improving reliability and service quality while adding seats.

Oh yeah? the M8s have fewer seats per car than the M2s. How are they going to add seats?

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