MTA Chairman/CEO Lhota Resigns

Fridays can sometimes be a slow news day but that was not the case in the transit world as he were hit with a bombshell. MTA CEO & Chairman Jospeh Lhota resigned from his posts effective immediately days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo won a third term.

Sudden departures are nothing new for Lhota who stepped down at the end of 2012 after helping the agency through Hurricane Sandy to run for mayor of New York City.

During his second stint at the agency, his biggest accomplishments were getting more than $800M into the agency for repair work & new hires. However all was not well as he recently was receiving harsh criticism from watchdogs for having multiple jobs including sitting on the board at MSG which could be seen as  a huge conflict of interest.

Soon after his departure, the MTA sent me this letter to share:

The following letter was sent this morning from MTA leadership to all MTA staff:

MTA Family-
After working with you to save the transit system following Superstorm Sandy and returning for a second tour as Chairman, Joe Lhota is leaving the MTA today. We are extremely grateful for the steady leadership he provided during his tenure. Joe launched the Subway Action Plan,  reinvigorated the MTA and set us on the path to success. His focus on delivering better daily service for our customers and prioritizing cost containment and procurement reform initiatives and working to create long-term sustainable funding sources were the hallmarks of his time leading the board.
While Joe may be departing – our relentless focus on our customers remains unchanged.
Thanks to your hard work, the MTA is well-positioned for a renaissance. New Yorkers recognize the value of reinvestment in our transit infrastructure and the groundwork has been laid for a long-overdue renewal. At the same time, at each of your agencies and at MTA Headquarters we are finding new and innovative ways to do our jobs and deliver results for the region. That work goes on and our commitment to support you is steadfast.
Every day you help millions of people get to work, school, and anywhere else they want or need to go. You may not realize it but you are the engine that makes the entire New York metropolitan region run. So thank you for all that you do now and what we will all accomplish together in the future.
Fernando Ferrer, Acting Chairman MTA
Veronique Hakim, Managing Director
Pat Foye, President
Janno Lieber, Chief Development Officer
Bob Foran, Chief Financial Officer
Now here is a statement from Gov. Cuomo & now former MTA CEO & Chairman Joseph Lhota:

Statement from Governor Cuomo:

“Joe Lhota has dedicated decades of his life to public service culminating in two tours of duty at the helm of the MTA. He stabilized the subway system, appointed a new leadership structure to completely overhaul the MTA, and led with a steady hand during some of the agency’s most challenging moments. In short, Joe demonstrated time and again why he was the right person for the job. I am deeply grateful for his service to the State of New York.

“In accordance with MTA bylaws, Vice Chair Fernando Ferrer will serve as Acting Chair while we prepare to name a permanent replacement for when the Senate returns in January.”

Statement from Joseph Lhota:

“I want to take this opportunity to thank Governor Cuomo for the trust and support he has given me. His non-stop drive, enormous energy and vision are re-creating a better and stronger MTA. The Governor understands the over-arching importance of mass transit for the people and the economy of New York. His commitment and robust support to enhance and modernize the MTA into an integrated 21st century transportation system is unmatched and unwavering.

“In late spring 2017, following a well-documented period of rapid deterioration of transit services, I volunteered to become MTA chairman with the sole purpose of halting the decline of service and stabilizing the system for my fellow New Yorkers.

“The Subway Action Plan was developed in my first month at the MTA and it has successfully arrested the subway’s decline. The plan has produced a 34.8% decline in major subway incidents causing delays (a comparison of 9/2017 to 9/2018). In September 2018 the number of total train delays fell to the lowest point since February 2016. There is still a long way to go to achieve the performance that New Yorkers demand and deserve. The proposed Fast Forward plan provides the roadmap for modernizing the entire system.

“When I agreed to return to the MTA it was with the understanding that I would maintain my private sector positions and delegate day-to-day responsibility to a new team. Accordingly, I created the Office of the Chairman for the purpose of managing the MTA. This office includes the managing director, president, chief development officer and chief financial officer. In addition, during my tenure I have appointed new leadership at the operating agencies by selecting new presidents at NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, a new general counsel and a new MTA chief safety officer. Together, they work every second of every day to further stabilize and enhance the MTA for the benefit of all New Yorkers.

“Finally, anyone who knows me will have a keen understanding of the appreciation and admiration that I have for the men and women of the MTA. Every day, they enable 9+ million New Yorkers to safely get to work, go to school, meet dates, have doctor’s appointments and get home via anyone of the MTA’s assets. Next time you see a subway, bus, railroad or bridge/tunnel worker, please thank them for their service.”

As of now, Fernando Ferrer will once again take over until a new leader is in place which begs to question, who wants to take this job considering how unpopular the position is?

One thing that is definitely needed is the best person for the job regardless of their gender or race unlike the completely asinine virtue signaling from some who want to force feed their agenda on what the hire should be. Hopefully the decision will be made without the consideration of the virtue signaling & clueless clowns out there who clearly rather push their agenda over the needs of the agency.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Amtrak Stalling MTA West Side Plan

The MTA has many major plans it would like to implement to its commuter railroad services. With the Long Island Railroad, it is East Side Access to provide service to Grand Central Station. For the Metro-North, it is the ability to send riders to Penn Station.

While the LIRR project is rolling along, the Metro-North’s is not & the MTA blames the ridiculous demands of Amtrak as it tries to stall such service being introduced. Thomas C. Zambito of the Rockland/Westchester Journal News has more:

Amtrak’s 11th-hour demands have stalled plans for a rail project that would deliver Metro-North commuters to Manhattan’s West Side for the first time and open a new path to jobs in Westchester County, a top-ranking Metropolitan Transportation Authority official says.

Negotiations between Amtrak, the government-run passenger rail, and the MTA have broken down in recent months, delaying by at least six months the opening of bids for design of the Penn Station Access Project, according to Janno Lieber, the chief development officer for the MTA, Metro-North’s parent agency.

“The MTA is going to build this,” Lieber said in his first interview on the subject. “The MTA is going to pay for it. Amtrak is getting a new railroad … They’re getting all this for free and we need a commitment that they will allow us not just to build them a new railroad but to operate on that once we’re done.”

A few highlights of the MTA’s plan:

  • After New Rochelle, New Haven Line trains would split, with some taking the existing route to Grand Central and others taking a new route along the Hell Gate Line to Penn Station.
  • Six Sound Shore towns — New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye, Port Chester and Harrison — would be able to access the route to Penn Station.
  • Four new stations would be built in the Bronx in Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester and Hunts Point.
  • The project would come online in the years after the East Side of Manhattan is opened to Long Island Rail Road trains, which currently use Penn Station as their Manhattan hub.

Amtrak owns much of the property on which the project will be built, including the Hell Gate right of way, which the railroad currently uses to get into and out of Penn Station. The same approach would be used to deliver New Haven Line trains to Penn Station.

And that’s where much of the tension between the two sides has been centered.

Amtrak wants to collect access fees for use of the Hell Gate, in addition to what the MTA has already agreed to pay as part of a federally-mandated cost-sharing deal, Lieber said.

And the MTA balked at Amtrak’s recent demand that the authority pay for the bulk of the cost to replace the Pelham Bay Bridge, a 111-year-old Amtrak-owned span that crosses the Hutchinson River in the Bronx.

Click here for the complete report.

Leave it to Amtrak to be a cause of trouble for a transportation project in & around the tri-state area. The agency can never seem to do anything right as one blunder after another has led to issues. Quite honestly, their control of Penn Station needed to be revoked ages ago as it would drastically improve things at how the station would operate whether it be the current one or its new home which will eventually come.

As far as this project goes, Amtrak has some nerve to demand the fees & the bulk of a bridge repair to be paid by the MTA. However the inept leadership at Amtrak never ceases to amaze me with their decision making process. All we can do is hope that a fair deal can be done so this project can get off the ground & start getting closer to becoming a reality.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA To Dismantle Cell Tower

Cell phone towers are always a hot button issue in residential neighborhoods as many do not want them near their homes in fear of future health issues based on history & studies from all over the world.

So it came as no surprise when some in the Westchester County town of Tarrytown opposed the installation of a 15-story MTA Police Department cell tower near a children’s playground. The agency has announced it will dismantle the tower in the very near future. Here is more via a report by David McKay Wilson of the Rockland/Westchester Journal News:

The 15-story MTA Police Department cell tower, which went up next to a Tarrytown playground for low-income kids in mid-September, will come down.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan made the announcement Tuesday night, as more than dozen Tarrytown residents planned to testify Wednesday morning at the MTA Board of Directors meeting in Manhattan about the inappropriate erection of the communications monopole in their neighborhood.

The announcement came 33 days after a Tax Watch investigation found that the MTA had erected the 150-foot tower just 30 feet from a playground and less than 100 feet from apartments in the Franklin Courts housing development by the Tarrytown Metro-North station.

The apartments are operated by the Tarrytown Municipal Housing Authority. The MTA is exempt from local zoning, which would had prohibited erecting that tower within 150 feet of a residence or recreation facility.

“The MTA has committed to removing the monopole from the Tarrytown Train Station site and relocating its essential law enforcement communications equipment,” Donovan said.

The MTA has yet to make final the new location for the communications equipment. But it was certain the 150-foot monopole by the playground would be coming down, Donovan said. No date has yet been set to dismantle it.

“We have worked with our partners at the Thruway Authority and the State Police to identify alternate sites, and we are confident we will be able to find one that can be activated by March,” Donovan said. “That means we do not expect to put the Tarrytown Train Station tower into service and will be able to dismantle it.”

Tarrytown residents and officials hailed the MTA’s announcement.

“That’s incredible – on the night before we had so many speakers lined up for the MTA meeting,” said Dan Hanover, a Park Avenue homeowner who spearheaded the campaign. “That’s amazing good news.”

State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, the Senate Democratic leader, thanked the MTA for hearing the voice of Tarrytown’s residents.

“I thank the MTA for listening to my constituents and respecting our concerns,” she said. “And I especially want to applaud this local community which stayed strong, stood up for our local quality of life, and fought to get results.”

Click here for the complete report.

I am glad to see that community outpouring helped get an issue resolved with the MTA. Hopefully the agency can find a location that suits their needs so all sides involved can be satisfied by the end results.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Announces Additional Subway Service

L Train  train riders continue to talk about the impending shutdown that will wreck havoc on the commutes of many who depend on the line. However as we know, the work is critical & needs to be done to hopefully prevent issues in the future from major storms.

Yesterday afternoon, MTA NYC Transit announced new details of additional subway service that will start when the shutdown begins including the addition of over 1000 roundtrips. Here are more details via the press release sent to me by the MTA:

MTA New York City Transit today announced new details about the additional subway service that will run during the 15-month-long  tunnel reconstruction project, including more than 1,000 additional roundtrips per week across seven lines to accommodate  riders traveling between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

“The  tunnel reconstruction project will be the most impactful Superstorm Sandy-repair work we will undertake and as such, we must ensure we have viable, reliable alternatives particularly on the subways where we can accommodate the largest number of riders,” said NYCT President Andy Byford. “We will be adding more than a thousand roundtrips each week and pushing our resources to capacity , which is also why you’re seeing so much preventative maintenance and repair work on all these lines already – we are making these lines as reliable as possible for these new service levels starting in 2019.”

NYC Transit expects to accommodate  riders through five of its 11 primary East River crossings, which will result in service additions on subway lines that use those tunnels or bridges as well as the G line, which connects Brooklyn riders to many cross-river lines. Altogether, NYC Transit will add 198 roundtrips each weekday and 94 weekend roundtrips on seven subway lines, pushing fleet, signal and track capacity to existing limits where feasible. This number includes the increased service on the 7 line which was previously announced in September 2018.  In order to help ensure these new levels of service are as reliable as possible, including  service which will run throughout all of Brooklyn during the reconstruction project, extensive preventative maintenance and repair work is happening on all of these lines this year, mostly during nights and weekends when ridership is at its lowest.

The alternate subway service changes during the  tunnel reconstruction project will be implemented in April 2019, along with the enhanced bus and ferry service as developed in close collaboration with NYCDOT and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The subway service changes announced today are as follows:



Subway Line Changes
66 additional roundtrips;

Some peak trips extend to 18 Av;

Some peak trips run between Court Sq-23 St and Bedford-Nostrand Avs

62 additional roundtrips;

Increased peak-hour service;

Overnight service extends to 96 St-2 Av

16 additional roundtrips;

Trains make all stops between Bway Junction and Marcy Av;

Peak-hour skip-stop service between Jamaica Center and Bway Junction only

26 additional roundtrips
12 additional roundtrips
2 additional roundtrips
A maximum of 3 fewer  roundtrips to accommodate more peak-hour  service between Queens and Manhattan;

Queens Blvd line customers will see a net increase in train frequency;

Brooklyn  customers traveling to Manhattan during AM peak hours and Manhattan  customers traveling to Brooklyn during PM peak hours will not be affected

14 additional roundtrips
88 fewer roundtrips;

Service will run at all Brooklyn stations but not in Manhattan



Subway Line Changes
26 additional Saturday roundtrips;

31 additional Sunday roundtrips;

Weekend service extends to 96 St-2 Av

16 additional Saturday roundtrips;

8 additional Sunday roundtrips

2 additional Saturday roundtrips;

6 additional Sunday roundtrips

1 additional Saturday roundtrip;

2 additional Sunday roundtrips

1 additional Saturday roundtrip;

1 additional Sunday roundtrip

90 fewer Saturday roundtrips;

53 fewer Sunday roundtrips;

Service will run at all Brooklyn stations but not in Manhattan



The  tunnel – also known as the Canarsie Tunnel – was one of nine underwater tunnels that flooded during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, all of which required extensive rehabilitation and repair. The tunnel, which houses the under-river subway tracks for the line between Manhattan and Brooklyn, was flooded with enough water to fill 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools and suffered extensive damage to tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls throughout a 7,100-foot-long flooded section of both tubes. Bench walls throughout those sections must be rehabilitated to protect the structural integrity of the tubes. While short-term repairs enabled NYC Transit to safely restore  service after Sandy, long-term repairs are needed to run  service without major failures.

NYC Transit began public outreach on the  tunnel reconstruction project in 2016, with more than 100 public workshops, neighborhood town halls and meetings with community boards, elected officials, the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to plan the project and proposed service mitigation, and to solicit public feedback on how best to accommodate approximately 225,000 riders who currently take the train between Manhattan and Brooklyn and the 50,000 riders who take the  in Manhattan.

The result of the extensive public outreach was a comprehensive package of temporary service alternatives that include:

  • Additional subway service on seven lines
  • Five new high-frequency Select Bus Service routes
  • A new peak-hour limited-stop bus route between Canarsie and Crown Heights
  • Increased service on existing bus routes that link  customers to alternative subway routes
  • A new ferry service between Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Stuyvesant Cove at East 20th Street and Avenue C in Manhattan

NYC Transit continues to solicit feedback and plans to make adjustments to the alternate service plans if needed.

In addition to rebuilding the  tunnel, NYC Transit also plans to make improvements at several  stations as well as other stations that will be used by  customers seeking alternative service.

Information on the Train Tunnel repairs, the alternate service changes and the station improvement projects are available at

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Metro-North Unveils ‘Way Ahead’ Plan

Yesterday, the MTA Metro-North Railroad announced a new initiative named “Way Ahead” which serves as a roadmap for the agency to enhance & upgrade many facets of the system. Here is more on the announcement via the press release the agency sent me:

MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced Way Ahead, a roadmap for the railroad’s future that details actions to enhance safety, service, infrastructure, communications, and transform customers’ day-to-day commuting experience. Way Ahead is a proactive response to Metro-North’s growing ridership, changing demographics and the evolving needs of customers.


Way Ahead lays the foundation for the continued growth and vitality of the railroad. Since Metro-North was formed in 1983, ridership has boomed from just over 41 million customers a year, primarily to and from “9-to-5” jobs in New York City, to an all-time high of 86.5 million customers in 2017. In addition to higher ridership numbers, with reverse commuting and customers taking trips at all hours of the day and night, the system is being used much differently than it was back in the early days of Metro-North.


At the same time as Metro-North’s customer expectations are evolving and our ridership patterns are changing, the ability of our aging infrastructure to adapt to those changes is increasingly strained. Some of the rail in Grand Central Terminal is more than one hundred years old. The Park Avenue Viaduct – which carries 98 percent of Metro-North’s customers – was constructed in 1893.  Way Ahead tackles ways to renew infrastructure so that Metro-North can meet our customers’ desire for better service.


At today’s Metro-North, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our customers and employees, and safety drives all Way Ahead actions. Since 2013, Metro-North has significantly upgraded its infrastructure, reinvigorated its cyclical track maintenance program, and bought new technology to help identify track defects. Metro-North invested heavily in its Safety Department and developed programs like confidential close call reporting and sleep apnea screening to foster a strong safety culture among our employees. Way Ahead builds upon this momentum with new safety initiatives.


Through Way Ahead, Metro-North will enhance the day-to-day experience of commuting for our customers, including making improvements to how the railroad communicates with its customers in every way possible –  social media, on the train, on platforms, and through other avenues, like the new Mymta app.  The railroad will more rigorously maintain its stations and platforms, making them cleaner, more inviting, and generally more pleasant to be on, improving the daily commute.


Way Ahead is our roadmap to continue to provide the best possible service to our customers,” said Catherine Rinaldi, Metro-North President.  “Its vision is clear, to set the standard for safety, reliability and innovation in the delivery of excellent customer service. Guided by our past experiences, we look forward to developing an even stronger Metro-North for the future.”


Highlights of Way Ahead:            


  • Expand TRACKS, Mero-North’s award-winning free community outreach program designed to educate and promote rail safety.
  • Enhance grade crossings. Metro-North will complete its upgrade of Grade Crossing Flashers to LEDs to provide better visibility and its aggressive Grade Crossing surface replacement program.
  • Improve emergency signs and lighting in the Park Avenue Tunnel and Grand Central Terminal’s track and platform areas.
  • Accelerate the installation of security cameras and Help Points at 10 priority stations.
  • Continue to improve and expand the safety training programs that Metro-North provides to its employees.

Customer Service

  • Improve the customer experience in Grand Central Terminal in the evenings and on weekends by creating new Grand Central Terminal customer advocates.
  • Revitalize Metro-North’s aging locomotive-hauled fleet by replacing seats and floors in more than 100 coaches.
  • Improve the track clean-up program and work with local governments and community groups to clean more areas around stations and along tracks.
  • Bring major station improvements to White Plains, Riverdale, Crestwood, Port Chester, and Harlem-125th Street.
  • Improve accessibility by installing new ADA elevators and ramps at key outlying stations.
  • Continue our industry-leading energy efficiency practices.


  • Bring new, real-time digital train information displays to Grand Central Terminal, including a new, state-of-the-art “Big Board” and new signs at each of the departure gates.
  • Add even more digital signs, on an expedited basis, throughout Grand Central Terminal.
  • Accelerate delivery of real-time train information to displays at an additional 21 stations.
  • Improve and upgrade the information given to train crews via their hand-held ticket machines, so crews are better able to communicate information to customers during service disruptions.
  • Replace the antiquated public-address system in Grand Central Terminal and at outlying stations with a new state-of-the-art system.
  • Improve cell coverage and connectivity along Metro-North tracks by working with cell carriers.
  • Install ADA-compliant signs on platforms in Grand Central Terminal and at North End Access locations.


  • Continue the aggressive progress toward completing the installation of Positive Train Control across the railroad’s territory.
  • Take delivery of 66 new M8 rail cars to accommodate increased ridership.
  • Begin replacing our locomotive fleet to improve service reliability in Metro-North’s diesel territory.
  • Double the budget for trimming and removing trees that can fall onto tracks.
  • Replace 1,200 power transmission poles on the Upper Harlem Line.
  • Complete a one-billion-dollar investment in the Harmon train car maintenance facility.
  • Continue aggressive improvements to the track infrastructure.
  • Complete the replacement of Metro-North’s overhead power system.
  • Complete work to fix and fortify the railroad’s power and communication infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy
  • Replace deteriorated platforms with heated platforms for a safe and reliable ride.
  • Develop a SMARTRACK program, through which Metro-North will undertake critical infrastructure work by strategically shutting down continuous segments of track, giving multiple work groups uninterrupted access to maintain and improve the system.

For a look at the complete Way Ahead plan, please visit:

The plan looks good on paper but as is usual with the agency, the elephant in the room remains on how will these initiatives be funded? The agency struggles to get proper funding as it is to just maintain the system much less undertake such big plans. Hopefully the city & state will find a way to help properly fund the agency moving forward with sensible solutions that do not revolve around congestion pricing.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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