Metro-North Announces Port Jervis Open House

Earlier this afternoon, the MTA Metro-North Railroad announced an open house for proposed Port Jervis line infrastructure improvements. Here are more details via the press release I received:

MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that it will hold an Open House in Goshen, N.Y., on February 15 to share details on a proposal for capital improvements that will enable enhanced train service on the Port Jervis Line.

The Open House will be held at the Harness Racing Museum, 240 Main Street in Goshen, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Metro-North staff will be available to explain Metro-North’s proposal and answer questions. Staff will make presentations at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Each presentation will be followed by an opportunity for dialogue between the public and railroad officials, who will be seeking input on the proposal.

After an extensive study to find ways to improve transit mobility and accessibility between Orange County and New York City, Metro-North identified locations along the Port Jervis Line to build passing sidings for trains as well as a new train yard mid-way along the line, and details of those proposed investments will be the subject of the Open House.

The Port Jervis Line is primarily a single track railroad for 65 miles in New York State between Sloatsburg and Port Jervis. This means it operates primarily as a “one-way street,” with limited opportunity for trains to pass each other along the Line. The line’s sole passenger train yard is located in Port Jervis, 95 miles from the Hoboken Terminal in New Jersey, meaning Metro-North has no available yard between these points for storing and servicing trains. These constraints limit the number of trains Metro-North can operate during the peak, off-peak and reverse peak periods.

The Port Jervis Line currently carries 10 trains to Hoboken between 3:50 a.m. and 1 p.m., but just two trains are able to operate in the reverse direction during this time. After 1 p.m., the reverse dynamic is in place, with 11 Orange County-bound trains operating between 1 p.m. and 3:10 a.m. and just three trains operating in the reverse direction. The addition of a mid-point yard and passing sidings is envisioned to allow for more frequent peak and off-peak service, and will also introduce reverse commute service.

The capital improvements are expected to allow Orange and Rockland County residents to further benefit from longer term capital projects, such as a future trans-Hudson crossing, which could provide the opportunity for a future one-seat ride to New York City and improved transit connections to Stewart Airport.

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Service Diversions 01-26-17

I have just updated the Service Diversions for the upcoming weekend through the end of next week.

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

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MTA Approves Lowest Fare Hikes Since 2009

Just a short time ago, the MTA Board wrapped up their meeting. The biggest highlight from it was the approval of the lowest fare & toll increases since 2009 which include keeping the $2.75 base fare flat. Here are more details via the press release I just received:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today voted to keep the base fare flat for another two years in approving the lowest fare and toll increase since 2009, when the MTA committed to a biennial schedule for regular increases.

The plan approved today increased fares and tolls over the next two years by 4 percent – or less than 2 percent annually and less than the rate of inflation. The MTA was able to hold the necessary increases below inflation as a result of the agency’s continued discipline in keeping costs down. The new fares, which take effect March 19, will allow the MTA to continue to provide safe and reliable service.

“The MTA is focused on keeping our fares affordable for low-income riders and frequent riders, and on how we can keep necessary scheduled increases as small and as predictable as possible,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said. “Keeping fares and tolls down was possible because of the continued operational efficiencies and ways we have reduced costs while adding service and capacity along our busiest corridors, most recently with the opening of the new Second Avenue subway.”

The MTA Board approved increases that keep the base fare for subways and buses at $2.75 and to keep a pay-per-ride bonus, making the effective fare with the bonus $2.62.

The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is heavily used by lower-income and frequent riders, will increase by only a dollar to $32; the 30-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard will increase from $116.50 to $121. Both of these options were the same under the two proposals presented to the MTA Board.
The Single Ride Ticket remains at $3. The cash fare for Express Buses remains at $6.50, making the effective fare with the bonus $6.19.

The majority of Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad customers will see weekly and monthly passes increase 3.75% or less, with rises to monthly tickets capped at $15. Intermediate monthly and weekly ticket increases are also capped at 3.75%. Some one-way fares will have larger increases only because fares must occur in 25-cent increments. For these one-way fares, any increase greater than 6 percent would be not more than 50 cents per ride; West of Hudson customers will see a 2% increase in fares; City Ticket remains unchanged at $4.25.

Tolls will rise less than 25 cents for cars crossing MTA Bridges and Tunnels facilities and using a New York Customer Service Center (NYCSC) E-ZPass, 73% of total crossings. Customers who pay with cash, Tolls by Mail or a non-NYCSC E-ZPass will see increases of 6.3% to 9.1%. This proposal is consistent with the MTA policy to increase the price differential between cash and E-ZPass to encourage E-ZPass use, which is the least expensive way to collect and pay tolls.

Click here for a .pdf of the fare & toll table.

I am pleasantly surprised that the MTA was able to keep the increases down from what we usually see. Credit must be giving to the agency on this as if it was not for their continued cost-cutting ways, this smaller increase would not have happened.

This is not to say they don’t have a lot more to do in properly reigning in costs, but I can’t deny they have made decent progress. Hopefully they will continue with the discipline & that can be combined with better government funding as well. Only time will tell if this will happen though.

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LIRR & Metro-North Break Ridership Records

A short time ago, the MTA hype machine was out in full force by sending out a presser about both the Long Island Rail Road & Metro-North Railroad breaking ridership records. Here are the details from the said presser:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroads are seeing record ridership numbers, with LIRR carrying 89.3 million customers in 2016, a 1.9% increase over last year and the highest ridership since 1949. Metro-North Railroad carried approximately 86.5 million in 2016, the highest ridership in Metro-North’s history.

The LIRR’s growth continues recent trends in which the LIRR has registered a 1.97% average growth per year over the past 5 years. The railroad’s ridership has grown 10.2% over five years, from 81.0 million in 2011. Metro-North’s ridership for 2016 surpasses the previous record of 86.3 million, set last year. Metro-North’s total ridership has more than doubled since the railroad was founded in 1983.

The ridership figures come at a time when Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed a major capacity increase to the LIRR by expanding the Main Line from two tracks to three between Floral Park and Hicksville and as the LIRR is building a second track from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma. Governor Cuomo has also announced the re-envisioning of Penn Station, which is expected to host Metro-North New Haven Line service, via four new stations in the Bronx to be built in the coming years.

“The ridership figures underscore the importance of the LIRR and Metro-North capacity expansion projects that are underway or proposed,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast.

Changing Economic Patterns Point to Further Growth for LIRR

Underlying economic and demographic trends portend ridership growth continuing into the future, as a generation now entering the workforce shows a greater reliance on the railroad than older generations. A detailed demographic and travel analysis of LIRR customers shows an increasing reliance on the LIRR on the part of younger generations, and the beginnings of a reverse-travel market segment that the MTA expects would be expanded if Governor Cuomo’s proposed Main Line Expansion project is built as expected.

The study showed that millennials, defined as those born between 1981 and 1997, have lower levels of access to automobiles than older New Yorkers, and are more likely to reach their local station by walking, bus, or being dropped off by others.

“Our data reinforces what we’ve seen elsewhere that millennials are more likely to opt for the railroad as matter of choice, and to embrace a lifestyle built around downtown activities and living than previous generations,” said William Wheeler, MTA Director of Planning. “We know that habits that are developed early in one’s adult life tend to stick with them through their entire working lives. So the trend bodes well as a long-term positive for LIRR ridership.”

The survey of LIRR customers found that for weekday travel via LIRR, 65% of trips were made to Manhattan for work, 14% were for westbound work travel elsewhere, 9% were for non-work travel to Manhattan, and 11% were for eastbound travel for work or non-work.

“These results will be very valuable to the railroad as we make decisions regarding service planning, capital program expenditures and marketing in the years ahead,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “There is an intrinsic demand for reverse-peak travel to the Island that today is very difficult for the LIRR to accommodate as a two-track railroad. This data shows that if and when the Main Line is expanded to a third track, our reverse-commute service would fill an immediate unmet need.”

Ridership Records on Metro-North’s Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines

All three of Metro-North’s East of Hudson Lines surpassed records. The Harlem Line and the Hudson Line beat last year’s record by over 125,000 each, with 27.7 on the Harlem Line and 16.6 million rides on the Hudson Line. The New Haven Line, Metro-North’s busiest, had another exceptional year, with 40.5 million annual rides, surpassing last’s year’s record by approximately 20,000.

East of Hudson ridership numbers are strong for both customers commuting to and from work and non-commuters. Annual commutation ridership is 0.6% above 2015. Non-commutation ridership for 2016 remains consistent with 2015’s increase of 2.3%

West of Hudson annual ridership, which was negatively impacted by September’s Hoboken Terminal train accident, dipped to 1.7 million, down 61,368 from last year.

More customers took advantage of Metro-North’s connecting services in 2016. Combined ridership on the Railroad’s three connecting services – the Hudson Rail Link, Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry and the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry – grew by about 577,000, up 3.8% from 2015. Ridership increased by 10.8% on the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry, by 4.3% on the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry, and by 1.5% on the Hudson Rail Link.

“We’ve worked diligently to improve service for our customers by providing more frequent train service and enhancing service reliability, and we’ve accomplished these goals while maintaining the highest safety standards,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We’ve delivered technological advancements that make service even more convenient, including eTix and the expanding availability of real-time information. We’re pleased and grateful that customers are responding to our efforts. But this record isn’t an end point for Metro-North, and we’ll continue to strive to improve service for our customers.”

I honestly wonder if the agency also broke records for the amount of delays passengers faced (especially on the LIRR). Of course if they did (which would come as no surprise to myself & thousands upon thousands of others), I am sure that would be kept confidential. Look at the bright side, fares will go up soon enough & we can get even less while paying more, hooray!!!!!

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MTA Announces 1st Q 2017 FASTRACK Schedule

MTA NYC Transit has just announced the FASTRACK schedule for the 1st Q of 2017. Here are the details:

MTA New York City Transit’s FASTRACK program returns with the first FASTRACK of the year along the 4, 5, 6 lines between Midtown Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn for two weeks.

For four consecutive weeknights from Monday, January 23, to early Friday morning, January 27, and for four weeknights from Monday, January 30 to Friday, February 3, 4, 5, 6 trains will not run between Grand Central-42 St and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr. 4 trains will run local between Woodlawn and Grand Central-42 St. Overnight 3 service is extended to Brooklyn, and makes all 4 line station stops between Borough Hall and New Lots Av. 5 service in Manhattan will end early each night. 6 service will operate between Pelham Bay Park and Grand Central-42 St.

Travel alternatives:

• For service to/from Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn, use the R & W before 11:30 p.m. and the N & R after 11:30 p.m.
• Transfer between N, R, W & 4 & 6 trains at Lexington Av-59 St.
• Transfer between N, Q, R, W, 7 and 2, 3 and S trains at Times Sq-42 St. The 42 St S Shuttle will operate overnight.
• Transfer between D, N, Q, R and 2 & 3 trains at Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr.

FASTRACK has been designed around the careful determination that there is adequate alternate means of transportation, including enhanced services along some bus lines during work periods. Alternative transportation options will be detailed in announcements and posters on trains, in stations and on selected buses; brochures will be available in both English and Spanish. Information on this FASTRACK is available on the web at http://web.mta.info/nyct/service/fastrack_456.htm

Wynton Habersham, Senior Vice President for the Department of Subways said “FASTRACK has proven to have a significant impact on decreasing delays, both in terms of consolidating maintenance forces in a concentrated area and in terms of proactive maintenance that improves service delivery.”
FASTRACK was introduced in January 2012, devoting four straight weeknights to perform maintenance work in tunnels, stations and on tracks, completely suspending service within a given line segment for a seven-hour period between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m..

This gives free access to the system, allowing an army of maintenance workers to perform dozens of tasks repairing and replacing components that are vital to providing safe and reliable train service without the concern of having to “clear up” to allow trains to pass. FASTRACK efforts have been highly successful in providing a safer work environment for employees and improved station conditions for customers.

During our previous FASTRACK along this portion of the 4, 5, 6 in February 2016, subway service was suspended along the Lexington Avenue Line between Grand Central-42 St and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr each night while NYC Transit employees performed a range of cleaning and maintenance tasks of station and tunnel infrastructure, signal equipment, and track and third rail components.

Track workers scraped and cleaned 27,120 feet of track. Replaced 55 rails, 1,717 track plates, 10 tie blocks, 1,773 friction pads, and cleaned 7,010 feet of track under and around the third rail. Infrastructure crews cleaned 2,050 feet of “No Clearance” signs, removed 229 gallons of silt, cleaned 1,473 feet of drains, performed pump plant maintenance, changed 232 tunnel light bulbs, and replaced 130 handrails.

At stations, workers repaired 228 feet of rubbing board at the platform’s edge, scraped 36,170 square feet of paintable station surfaces and painted 102,625 square feet of station surfaces, including 86 columns, and 58 stairway safety features. Station lighting improvements included changing 501 station light bulbs and cleaning 195 fixtures. Signal crews serviced 11 switches and 87 signals. In the area of electronic maintenance, workers serviced 66 CCTV cameras and 62 CCTV monitors including 3 CCTV lenses. This only represents a portion of the work that is completed during FASTRACK.

During the first quarter of 2017, FASTRACK projects are scheduled for:

• January 23 to 27, and January 30 to February 3 on the 4, 5, 6 Lines between Manhattan and Brooklyn. No 4, 5, 6 trains between Grand Central-42 St and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr in both directions.

• February 6 to 10, and February 13 to 17 on the B, D, F, M Lines in Manhattan.B, D, F, M trains will not stop at 14 St, 23 St, 34 St, 42 St, 47-50 Sts, and 57 St.

• February 27 to March 3, and March 6 to March 10 on the B, D lines in the Bronx. No D trains between Norwood-205 St and 161 St-Yankee Stadium in both directions. B service will end early each weeknight.

• April 3 to 7, and April 10 to 14 on the L. No L trains between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction.

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