NYC Transit To Purchase New Subway Cars

The MTA is continuing to invest in the future of the NYC Subway with the announcement that they approved the purchase of 535 state-of-the-art, next-generation R211 subway cars for use on the “B Division,” which are the lettered routes, as well as the Staten Island Railway. Here is more via the press release I was sent:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board voted today to approve the purchase of 535 state-of-the-art, next-generation R211 subway cars for use on the “B Division,” which are the lettered routes, as well as the Staten Island Railway. The funding for this project will be provided by the Federal Transit Administration. The MTA Board voted to award the contract totaling $1.4 billion to Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc.  The contract includes options for up to 1,077 additional cars, for a total acquisition of up to 1,612 cars at a cost of $3.7 billion, pending future Board approval.

For the initial, base contract, Kawasaki will design and deliver 440 new closed-end cars for the B Division, 75 closed-end cars for Staten Island Railway, and 20 innovative open gangway cars as part of a pilot program to MTA New York City Transit. The R211 cars feature 58-inch wide door openings, which are eight inches wider than standard doors on existing cars.

The expanded doors are designed to reduce delays and speed up train movement by speeding boarding and reducing the amount of time trains sit in stations. Cars delivered to the B Division will be compatible with an advanced signaling system known as Communications-Based Train Control, enabling New York City Transit to deliver more frequent and reliable service by operating trains more closely together.

“It is imperative that we provide a first-in-class subway car that can live up to the rigor and expectations of New Yorkers,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “As part of our commitment to modernize the subway system, we have expanded and accelerated this contract to provide more reliable, more comfortable train cars that are easier to board and exit and provide more useful real-time information to riders.”

Some of the R211 cars will feature an “open gangway” pilot program located at the ends of the cars. This open design allows riders to move freely between cars to reduce crowding and distribute passenger loads more evenly throughout the train. All of the cars also include digital displays that will provide real-time, location-specific information about service and stations, new grab rails including double-poles, and brighter and clearer lighting, signage, and safety graphics.

MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim said: “The R211s will be a welcome addition to New York City Transit’s next-generation fleet. As both the R160 and R188 subway cars produced by Kawasaki have proven to be some of the most reliable in their class, we look forward to working with Kawasaki on the production of these cars.”

NYC Transit President Andy Byford said: “Bold, aggressive initiatives like the Subway Action Plan and this acquisition of hundreds of new subway cars are critical in our multi-faceted approach to improving subway service.  I’m excited about the delivery of these cars and all of the other improvements that are underway as we work to stabilize and modernize the system.”

In December 2017, New York City Transit presented prototypes of the new R211 designs at 34St – Hudson Yards to seek customer feedback, as well as introduce the future of the New York City subway to the public. MTA staff was on-hand and on social media as customers helped further refine the design.

Delivery of new cars for testing will begin in 2020. The base contract for the new R211 cars was awarded after a competitive procurement process involving bidders from around the world, and includes the delivery of the 535 new cars, as well as spare parts, special tools, diagnostic test equipment, technical documentation, and training.

The cars will be built and tested in Kawasaki facilities in Yonkers, NY and Lincoln, NE.  This is the first New York City Transit contract to stipulate that proposers must submit detailed plans for the creation and retention of U.S. jobs through the inclusion of a “U.S. Employment Plan.”  Kawasaki, along with its subcontractors, has committed to provide approximately 470 U.S. jobs for the base award with a total estimated value of $125 million.  If both options are exercised, the total potential value of U.S. jobs from this contract is estimated to be $270 million.

NY Jobs to Move America Deputy Director Linda Nguyen said: “JMA congratulates Governor Cuomo and MTA staff on leading the country with the most robust adoption of the U.S. Employment Plan program in the nation. We expect commitments to include a plan to create good manufacturing jobs and hiring U.S. workers.”

I am excited that the agency continues to invest towards a better ride for riders. Hopefully these cars get delivered on time & trouble free. In the mean time, the agency needs to continue to fix the infrastructure. New cars won’t mean a thing if they can’t run to their capabilities due to failing infrastructure.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Head Joseph Lhota Makes Statement

When it comes to financing the MTA, the agency is always at odds with our elected officials whether it be those in Albany or those in New York City. MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota currently is sending his anger towards NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio with this statement:

We know the mayor has always been more comfortable with political rhetoric rather than governing, but his mistruths about the MTA and his disregard for the riders is growing. Here are the facts:

Under the law, the City is required to fund the capital needs of NYC Transit Authority. The law goes back to 1953, and was reiterated in 1981. He should read the law. It is also clear, however, that the City is fully protected as it has sole approval of the NYCTA Capital Plan above $5 million. The City owns NYCTA, it pays for whatever capital improvements it approves and the MTA manages it. The Fix NYC report details this analysis.

However, despite the law, the State has committed a record $8.6 billion – triple the city’s contribution – to the capital program. This year the State fully funds its $429 million share – 50% – of the Subway Action Plan.

In spite of the state’s record investments and as a diversion to their own lack of funding, New York City continues to allege the state diverted $456 million of State aid intended for the MTA since 2011. The allegation is blatantly false. Every dollar of that funding went to the MTA.

Of the $456 million cited by the City, $235 million went to pay debt service on MTA bonds, $169 million was allocated for direct Capital Aid to the MTA (which freed up MTA operating resources), and $30 million went to the MTA in additional operating aid. The final $22 million was savings to the MTA by eliminating capital projects dictated by the legislature but paid for anyway in MTA State funding.

But the issue the City raises is just a distraction. The City does not want to fix or fund to fix the MTA.

The Mayor has been consistent and repeated his political mantra for months: “the State owes $456 million and I want a millionaire’s tax.”

The City refuses to fund the Emergency Action Plan on a 50/50 basis which is equitable and only fair.

The City says it is opposed to the “value added” MTA financing proposal using property tax revenue. That is their prerogative. The value added proposal is subject to their approval anyway so there is no issue. If they don’t want to do it, then they shouldn’t do it. It is ironic that the greatest mayoral improvement in the City in recent years was Mayor Bloomberg’s West Side subway line funded precisely with property taxes, but it’s up to the City.

With no help from the City, Con Edison has done extensive work for months to upgrade the old failing electrical system in the subway. It is a major cause of delays and service disruptions – as proved by the millions of dollars of new equipment they are installing.

The millionaire’s tax is a great sound bite for the political world but is a nonstarter in the real world. It has been a legislative nonstarter since the Mayor’s first month in office when he proposed it for Pre K, which the Governor funded for the City, when the millionaire’s tax died a quick death. Obviously, for him facts don’t matter.

Again, this is all a diversion. The City claims no financial responsibility for the subway system that it owns and polices and is the lifeblood of the City’s economy.

The Mayor’s answer is simple – and he should just say it – he doesn’t want to fund the subways and help riders. So be it.

I side with Mr. Lhota here as NYC has long looked for any excuse to not properly fund the MTA. Instead the clown de Blasio looks for any chance to throw out his idiotic rhetoric & talking points that talk to the misinformed. When you confront him with facts, the topic gets dropped instantly. NYC residents deserve what they get for letting this clown get another term he clearly did not deserve.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Plans To Reopen Subway Entrances

The number of days to the inevitable L Train shutdown are getting shorter & shorter. As they do, riders & local officials continue to question how the MTA is going to handle it.

One idea being highly suggested is to reopen subway entrances at a number of stations that will see an increase in service. This idea is something that NYC Councilman Rafael Espinal mentioned in a letter he penned to the agency earlier this month. Vincent Barone of AMNY has more:

When the L train shutdown hits Brooklyn, most displaced riders are expected to flock to other subway lines. However, elected officials and experts are questioning whether already packed stations can accommodate larger crowds.

There are more than a dozen closed stairways and entrances to stations on or around the L line in Williamsburg, as well as entrance points farther east in Brooklyn — many of which were shut down decades ago because of security issues, when ridership was lower and crime was higher, or as a way to save money by staffing fewer station agents.

With the L shutdown approaching, and after huge growth in surrounding neighborhoods, some of those access points should be reopened to ease the crush of commuters and improve service, experts and elected officials say.

The MTA plans to tackle some of them.

As part of its larger service plan for the 2019 shutdown, which will shutter L service to and through Manhattan, the MTA plans to boost service on nearby lines and reopen several long-closed entrances to Brooklyn stations that are expected to see upticks in ridership: the Metropolitan Avenue and Hewes Avenue stations.

About 225,000 commuters rely on the L each day to get between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Moving that many people on other lines will require more reopenings, according to Councilman Rafael Espinal, who represents neighborhoods including Bushwick, Brownsville and East New York. He’s penned a letter to the MTA, dated Jan. 8, requesting that it also reopen several more closed entrances, including the Halsey Street L station and Gates Avenue, Kosciuszko Street and Chauncey Street stations of the J, M and Z lines.

“This will help cut down travel time for New Yorkers walking to the train station and make sure the entrances aren’t over crowded with the new demand and new density we’re seeing in Bushwick and East New York while also improving the overall quality of live in the neighborhoods,” Espinal said. “We will see L train riders walk from the L train stations over to the J in the outer parts of the borough. This is way for all riders to be treated the same along the J line.”

Shams Tarek, an MTA spokesman, said that in total the agency expects to reopen or expand more than 24 station staircases, though exact details on those plans are unclear. He said the agency will be refining and tweaking its plan in the coming weeks and will consider feedback from upcoming public meetings.

“The MTA is committed to making sure that customers are able to move as easily as possible during the Canarsie Tunnel repairs,” Tarek said in a statement. “Public input from those and other meetings will help inform the final details of the mitigation plans that go into effect in 2019.”

Click here for the complete report.

I am glad the agency is already going to implement such an idea as it makes complete sense to do so considering the guaranteed increase that will come to the G Train J Train M Train Z Train lines during the shutdown. Hopefully after it is all said & done, they will continue to keep these entrances open as it would make the access to riders much easier.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Riders Demand Better Service On B24

Riders on the B24 are not happy with the MTA as they say service on their line is not living up to what is advertised. News12 Brooklyn has more in this report:

Commuters in Canarsie say the B24 bus never runs on schedule and are demanding the MTA do better.

Riders say buses park in lots instead of picking up more riders. They say other buses go out of service and just drive through and out of the lot entirely.

The MTA website says the B24 bus runs every four to 20 minutes. Riders say the wait is rarely that short and that they sometimes wait an hour to get where they need to go.

Click here for the complete report.

I watched the video report for this story & I can’t say I am surprised at the complaints lodged. I know a number of people who ride that line & they have expressed frustration with the service provided. I can say from first hand experience, I have seen many B24’s just park there & leave passengers waiting past the time they should or just leave them there altogether. Once in a blue moon, it could just be a random issue that crept up but when it is a regular occurrence, it clearly is a problem that needs to be addressed.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Head Lhota Blasts LIRR

2018 has been very rough for MTA Long Island Rail Road commuters as the agency has seen service crumble throughout the system. Almost every day this year has seen service suspended on at least one branch during rush hour. This is not the kind of service that is acceptable by any means especially when you are forced to pay ridiculous prices for said service.

MTA Chairman Joe Lhota has been watching the chaos & mayhem unfold at the LIRR & he came down hard saying “the status quo absolutely cannot continue” and that he is “not happy” and will do something about it. Alfonso A. Castillo of Newsday has more:

MTA chairman Joe Lhota is promising to take corrective steps to address the recent spate of LIRR service meltdowns that have plagued the commutes of tens of thousands of Long Islanders — including, potentially, a shake-up in LIRR personnel.

Incensed LIRR riders have been sounding off on social media about what they say has been an abysmal beginning to 2018 — and to Amtrak’s latest infrastructure renewal project at Penn Station.

On Friday, Lhota said he, too, is “not happy” and plans to do something about it.

“The status quo absolutely cannot continue,” said Lhota, adding that he is “looking at the organization” as he considers ways to improve the LIRR’s recent poor performance.

“Evaluation and re-evaluation of staff is always high on my priority list, and I’m doing that now within the Long Island Rail Road,” Lhota added, while declining to speak in detail of what a staff reshuffling would look like.

Unplanned delays and cancellations, uncomfortable conditions on trains and at stations, and inaccurate service-information updates have marred nearly every rush hour over the last two weeks. During the time, the LIRR has suspended service on one or more branches at least 17 times — about as many suspensions as in November and December combined.

Statistics on LIRR’s performance so far in January, as compiled by islirrontime.com—an independent organization that aggregates data provided by the MTA. The LIRR has not released official on-time performance figures for December or January.

January, as of Friday:

— 199 trains canceled or terminated early

— 1,002 trains late

All of December 2017:

— 229 trains canceled or terminated early

— 1,916 trains late

All of November 2017:

— 142 trains canceled or terminated early

— 1,544 trains late

Unplanned LIRR service suspensions on all or part of one or more branches

January, as of Friday:

— 17

December 2017

— 10

November 2017

— 8

Click here for the complete report.

As someone who resides on Long Island, I know all too well how horrible & overpriced the LIRR is. The nightmares you hear & read about are the norm for riders who are forced to pay a high premium for very substandard service. Something needs to be done as the typical delays & overcrowding is unacceptable for what we are forced to pay.

How bad is it usually? I have heard from people who were so frustrated that they rather deal with the traffic on the LIE during rush hour versus dealing with the zoo that is the railroad. Now let that sink in……

xoxo Transit Blogger

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