Metro North To Make Improvements At 5 Stations

Catching up on some transit news from the past few days, the MTA Metro-North Railroad announced it will be making improvements at 5 stations. Here are more details courtesy of the press release I received:

MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board has approved a $91.5 million design-build contract to the firm Halmar International to make state-of-the-art enhancements to Metro-North Railroad’s White Plains, Harlem-125th Street, Crestwood, Port Chester and Riverdale stations. Construction gets underway in early 2018.  This Enhanced Stations Initiative sets the standard for similar improvements to other Metro-North stations in the future.

The Enhanced Stations Initiative, which includes some elements of state of good repair and enhancements, will result in stations that are safer, cleaner, brighter and easier to navigate.

The general scope of the work includes new signage, platforms, energy efficient LED lighting, benches with USB chargers, station dashboards and totems to provide convenient access to information, improvements to customer restrooms, not to mention Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. Upgrades at White Plains include improved station entrances, as well as new interior wall panels, floor tiles, ceiling tiles and fixtures.

At the direction of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Metro-North issued a design-build contract to expedite the project. Design-build contracts call for a team of designers and contractors to be responsible for both designing and building an entire project in order to ensure that coordination is seamless, and that work is completed in the shortest possible time frame.  The project is funded by MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program.

For the station enhancement project, the MTA worked with consultants Grimshaw Architects to study and revise existing design guidelines for stations and facilities, bringing world class standards to Metro-North stations. These revised guidelines will establish a new look for Metro-North stations, influencing station design long after improvements to White Plains, Harlem-125th Street, Crestwood, Port Chester and Riverdale are complete.

Safety is a top priority at the MTA, and as part of the station enhancement project, Metro-North upgraded its electrical and communications system, adding closed-circuit security cameras inside and outside the stations.

Bringing more beauty to the commute, MTA Arts and Design has issued an open call for artists to create site specific installations at White Plains, Harlem 125th Street, Crestwood and Port Chester.  Dennis Oppenheim’s low-relief, brightly painted metal sculpture in the shape of four houses was installed at the Riverdale station in 2006.

“The Enhanced Stations Initiative raises the bar for station aesthetics, safety and amenities,” said Cathy Rinaldi, Acting President of Metro-North. “Customers can anticipate a better environment at our stations, and all with minimal disruption to their commute. These improvements bring the stations into the 21st century and help enhance the quality of life of the communities they serve.”

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Chairman Clashes With State Senator

Long time readers know how much I hate political grandstanding. Tri-state area riders know full well how much of that goes on with elected officials who seem to always care about mass transit funding & issues when it gives them a chance to earn political brownie points.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota is another one who is not fond of the game as he lashed out at State Senator Michael Gianaris who recently tried to score brownie points by acting like he gives a damn about mass transit. Kenneth Lovett of the New York Daily News has more:

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota Monday shot back at a top legislative Democrat who called on Gov. Cuomo to not accept a new state budget that doesn’t include a new long-term funding stream for the cash-strapped transit agency.

“It’s nice that Sen. (Michael) Gianaris has seen the light,” Lhota said of the deputy Democratic minority leader from Queens. “The current problems at the MTA are due to a lack of investment going back decades.”

The Daily News reported Monday that Gianaris organized a letter from the Senate Democrats telling Cuomo that finding a way to better fund the MTA should be a top priority in the coming budget discussions.

“Hopefully, he and other legislators finally understand that they need to produce for their constituents rather than continuing their political posturing through press releases,” Lhota said. “The MTA has a new slogan for the legislature: ‘See Something, Do Something.’”

Gianaris shot back that “it should tell New Yorkers all they need to know about Joe Lhota’s stewardship of the MTA that he chooses to attack a letter that simply calls for the MTA to be fully funded.”

“Isn’t his job to make sure that actually happens?” Gianaris added. “One would think he should just say ‘thank you’ and work on achieving that goal instead of lobbing nonsensical attacks in furtherance of a political agenda.”

Click here for the complete report.

I loved the comment from Joseph Lhota as it truly showcased the game that these officials play every single chance they get when it comes to the issues of the MTA & transportation in our region. I still wonder if I will ever see a properly developed & funded transportation infrastructure & system in my lifetime……

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Amtrak Derailment In Washington State

The lead engine and wreckage of an Amtrak train sit in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 after the Monday morning derailment south of Dupont. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Sadly another rail tragedy has struck our country as an Amtrak derailment in Washington state has claimed the life of at least 6 people as of this entry. The derailment occurred on Amtrak train number 501 which was on its inaugural run of a new service between Seattle & Portland that used a recently constructed bypass track that was setup to speed up the trip time of the commute.

Kirk Johnson, Richard Perez Pena & Niraj Chokshi of the New York Times has more in this report:

A passenger train on a newly opened high-speed Amtrak route jumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma on Monday, slamming rail cars into a busy highway, killing at least six people and injuring more than 75 others, officials said.

The derailment of Amtrak Train No. 501, making the inaugural run of a new service from Seattle to Portland, dropped a 132-ton locomotive in the southbound lanes of the Northwest’s busiest travel corridor. Two passenger coaches also fell partly in the traffic lanes, and two other coaches were left dangling off the bridge, one of them wedged against a tractor-trailer. On the highway below lay five crumpled cars and two semi-trucks, and huge chunks of concrete that were ripped away from the damaged overpass.

All 12 of the train’s coaches and one of its two engines derailed. The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched an investigative team to the scene

Click here for the complete report.

I am sending my sincerest condolences to the friends & families of the victims who lost their lives. I also send the same regards to those who suffered injuries as the result of the derailment.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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New Law Shines Light On MTA Finances

Gov. Cuomo recently signed a new law that will require the MTA to post its financial plans online for public review before the agency can call its board for a vote. While I appreciate the transparency of the measure, it does reek of the pot calling the kettle black considering the games his administration has partaken in when it comes to their handling of finances. Actually that goes for pretty much every administration & elected officials in Albany.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Wants To Offer More Free Transfers

In a story that can only make you sit there & ask why did it take you so long to think of that, the MTA wants to offer riders more free transfers when service gets interrupted. Andrew Siff of NBC New York has more:

Transit officials tell News 4 New York that the MTA wants riders to be able to switch from one subway line to another, or from one bus to another, without having to pay again, by getting paper tickets handed out by staff when they exit a route with service problems.

For planned service changes, the MTA hopes to encode MetroCards with data to allow additional free transfers.

Click here for the complete story.

I could not stop laughing for a minute when I first saw the story. It is almost 2018, why would the MTA now just think of such an idea? This is such a common sense idea on all fronts, it should have been automatically set up without a second thought. This doubles for the Metrocard aspect of it but then the agency has always been multiple steps behind in the common sense & technological departments.

The best part of this is when the idea gets approved, the agency will probably issue a press release that includes quotes showering praise on what is a common sense & pragmatic solution.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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