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.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA & TWU Local 100 Reach Deal

A few days ago, the Transport Workers Union Local 100 reached a deal with the MTA, its longtime nemesis. Here is more on the deal courtesy of Greg Mocker of Pix 11:

After 2 years of intense negotiations (and work without a contract), The MTA and The Transport Workers Union have reached an agreement.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the deal which includes back pay and raises and does not negatively impact the agency’s budget. At the Governor’s New York City Office Thursday afternoon, MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast and Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelson joined the Governor.

“The transit system is the lifeblood of New York City, and the MTA employees are the ones that make the system work,” Governor Cuomo said. “They showed their dedication time and time again during Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath, working in difficult conditions to get the system up and running in record time. The resolution of this contract dispute is fair to transit workers, fiscally responsible for the MTA, and will have no impact on fares. I thank President John Samuelsen, who fights tenaciously for his members but also cares deeply about the system and its ridership, and Tom Prendergast whose lifelong dedication to the transit system made him the ideal leader of the MTA.”

The panel could not put an exact dollar figure on the 5-year deal for 34,000 bus and subway employees.

Here are some of the details released in a statement from Governor Cuomo’s office:

Under the terms of the agreement, TWU workers would receive increases within the 2% cap that Governor Cuomo has achieved with state labor contracts (1% increase in each of the first 2 years, beginning with 2012, and 2% increases in the last 3 years). Employees would pay an increased share of health care costs – increasing from 1.5% to 2% percent of the employee’s salary – but would receive important new benefits including paid maternity/paternity leave, coverage of health care for surviving spouses of deceased TWU retirees, and improvements to dental and optical benefits.

The contract will have no impact on MTA fares and will be accommodated within revisions to the MTA financial plan.

Fare increases in 2015 and 2017 have always been included as part of the agency’s financial plan.

The Straphangers Campaign issued a statement reminding riders the MTA had earlier suggested a contract could lead to higher fare increases. The transit advocacy group congratulated the MTA, TWU Local 100 and Governor Cuomo.

“The devil is always in the details,” advised the statement. “So like many others, we reserve final judgement until we study the management-labor contract.”

Click here for the entire report.

On one hand I am happy that the workers received a deserved increase in pay. However on the flip side, I like many others in the transit world would like to know the full numbers behind the agreement.

From the outset, it seems the TWU won this battle as the main sticking points the MTA were looking for do not seem to be part of the deal.
I can’t help but shake the feeling that the timing of this deal smells like an Albany game to not ruffle feathers for upcoming elections.

For an agency not flush with cash, where exactly are the increases going to come from as thin air is not available at this time…..

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Service Diversions 04-18-14

Get a head start on your weekend plans as I have just updated the Service Diversions through all of next week.

Make sure to follow @TransitBlogger on Twitter by clicking the button in the sidebar as I am using it more often. Also if you are into indie music make sure to follow @IndMusicReview & @SurgeFM!

Have a safe & wonderful weekend.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Metro-North To Begin Substation Upgrade

Starting this weekend, the Metro-North Railroad will begin a substation upgrade in Mount Vernon. Here is more:

MTA Metro-North Railroad, beginning this weekend, will upgrade the power supply for the New Haven Line at its Mount Vernon East substation to provide additional redundancy and increase capacity.

The railroad is replacing four, 35-year-old transformers with two new ones that will ensure reliability to handle additional power loads and allow electricity generated by the brakes of the railroad’s new fleet of M-8 rail cars to be fed back into the power grid.

In order to accommodate this installation and minimize the risk of service disruption, Metro-North, Con Edison and the New York Power Authority (“NYPA”) developed a contingency plan to assure continued power service to the Mount Vernon substation and submitted it to the New York State Department of Public Service (“DPS”) for an independent, third party review and approval.

The plan draws upon work already completed in the overall improvement of the power supply to the New Haven Line. One new transformer was installed at Mount Vernon last fall and is adequate to serve the power needs of the line. The second new transformer is being installed this weekend and connecting it will take about a month.

Last month, a similar upgrade was completed, doubling of capacity at the Cos Cob West substation. It is now possible to deliver power to the New York segment of the New Haven Line through an upgraded tie system at the Harrison and Rye switching substations. These upgrades will serve as a third supply source in the unlikely event that power is lost at the Mount Vernon Substation during installation of the east transformer.

“The contingency plan is sound and is backed by this new Harrison tie system,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “Replacing this old substation is an important step in improving power supply to the New Haven Line overall.”

While these improvements reduce the possibility of a full power outage, if that did occur, it will take up to two hours to activate the tie. However, once the tie is activated, Metro-North will be able to operate regular train service through the area with some delays possible. Customers will be kept informed should that occur.

Metro-North hired the New York Power Authority to design and replace the existing substation, including a new breaker house at Pelham, new 27 kilovolt feeders, new switchgear at New Rochelle, and a new power supply station for the signal system at the same location.

The Con Edison power supply into the substation is 138 kilovolts, which the transformers step down to 27 kilovolts in order to feed the overhead catenary wires that supply electricity to the trains.

The substation sits in a large yard surrounded by a chain link fence that will be replaced with a more secure wall as part of the $51 million project.

When completed, the project will enable Metro-North to use the regenerative braking technology on its newest rail cars, the M-8s, to feed power back into the catenary system each time the cars go into braking mode. This excess electricity reduces Metro-North’s overall power demand. To take advantage of this potential power savings, the existing controls and metering at the Mount Vernon East substation also will be reconfigured.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Buses Replace Midday Port Jeff Trains

Next Tuesday & Wednesday, Port Jefferson line riders will have buses replace some midday trains due to rail inspections. Here are the complete details:

The Long Island Rail Road will perform mid-day track inspections between Huntington and Port Jefferson on Tuesday, April 22, and Wednesday, April 23. Crews will use an advanced Sperry rail car that can detect metal fatigue and faults beneath the surface of the steel rails. Defects that are found will be corrected immediately by a crew of LIRR track maintenance workers. The Sperry Rail Car is used twice a year to inspect approximately 500 miles of LIRR track.

As crews perform the inspections and any repairs, buses will substitute for eight mid-day trains on Tuesday, April 22, and six mid-day trains on Wednesday, April 23. About 740 passengers will be affected each day. Details on the alternate service follow.

Eastbound:

Customers traveling to Greenlawn, Northport, Kings Park, Smithtown, St. James, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson should board their normal trains and will transfer to buses at Huntington. Customers will arrive at their destinations up to 26 minutes later than normal.

On Tuesday, April 22, buses will substitute for four eastbound trains that normally depart Huntington at 10:24 a.m., 11:52 a.m., 1:24 p.m. and 2:52 p.m. On Wednesday, April 23, buses will substitute for three eastbound trains that normally depart Huntington at 10:24 a.m., 11:52 a.m. and 1:24 p.m.

Westbound:

Customers traveling from Port Jefferson, Stony Brook, St. James, Smithtown, Kings Park, Northport and Greenlawn will board buses that will travel to Hicksville for connecting westbound trains. Local bus service will also be provided between Port Jefferson and Syosset.

Customers will board buses up to 17 minutes later than their normal train departure time, and should anticipate up to an additional 35 minutes travel time (depending on destination). A special timetable offering bus departure times and train connections will be available at mta.info/lirr.

On Tuesday, April 22, buses will substitute for four westbound trains that normally depart Port Jefferson at 10:10 a.m., 11:36 a.m., 1:10 p.m. and 2:37 p.m. On Wednesday, April 23, buses will substitute for three westbound trains that normally depart Port Jefferson at 10:10 a.m., 11:36 a.m. and 1:10 p.m.

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