S.I. Railway Thanksgiving 2018 Service Info

Here is the official Thanksgiving 2018 service plan information for the MTA Staten Island Railway:

Staten Island Railway customers looking to get a head start on the Thanksgiving Day holiday will be able to catch earlier afternoon express train service on Wednesday, November 21, with MTA Staten Island Railway’s Early Departure Getaway schedule. Extra SIR trains will be added earlier in the afternoon beginning at 2:30 p.m. from the St. George Ferry Terminal. There will be one express train and one local train awaiting every boat until 7:50 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day, SIR will operate on a Saturday schedule.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Second Avenue Subway Reaches Milestone

For all intents & purposes, the first phase of the MTA’s Second Avenue Subway has been a success.  Ridership continues to grow while helping ease the crowding issues that were happening along the Lexington Avenue lines.

Yesterday afternoon, the MTA announced that it had reached a major milestone for phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway which calls for it to be extended north to 125th Street. Here are more details via the press release the agency sent me:

Nov. 19, 2018 (New York, NY) – The MTA announced today that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) for Phase II of the Second Avenue Subway project, based on review of the Supplemental Environmental Assessment prepared for the project.

This phase of the project will extend the Q Train train line from its current terminus at 96th Street and Second Avenue, north to 125th Street, then west to Lexington and Park Avenues, where it will connect with the 4 Train, 5 Train, and 6 Train trains and the Metro-North Railroad. Three new stations will be built at 106th Street and Second Avenue, 116th Street and Second Avenue, and 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. Tail tracks, where trains will be stored prior to heading back south, will continue west just past Lenox Avenue.

“This is an important milestone that puts us a step closer to providing a long-overdue subway to serve the people of East Harlem,” said MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber. “With the environmental approval in place, we can move into a new phase in the effort to secure Federal funding for this important project.   It’s urgent to build Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 so East Harlem can begin to receive the same benefits Phase 1 has delivered for the Upper East Side.”

“Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway is a transportation option that has been long overdue for the residents and businesses of East Harlem,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “I am delighted that the project is gaining momentum thanks to our collective efforts at the city, state, and federal levels.  I will continue my push in Congress to call for the continuation of support to expand the Second Avenue Subway to secure equitable transportation and accessibility for the residents of East Harlem once and for all.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said: “This finding is a major step forward toward making Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway a reality,” “Phase 2 will make it much easier to commute to and from East Harlem, and to access Metro North and the LaGuardia bus at 125th Street.  We have already seen the extraordinary success of Phase 1, and the MTA must move forward as quickly as possible to build the full-length Second Avenue Subway up to 125th Street and then down to lower Manhattan.”

“For residents of East Harlem, Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway will bring much-needed relief from overcrowded trains and lack of access to the Lexington Avenue line,” said Senator José M. Serrano. “The community has been eagerly anticipating this transportation option, and the FTA’s finding is an important step toward ensuring that those who live and work in the area can benefit from the new line as soon as possible.”

“The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway provided many lessons in partnering with the surrounding community to assure the viability of existing businesses and the quality of life of residents that will be most affected. Today’s finding from the FTA is a positive step forward to ensuring that Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway will receive federal funding. While as a community we will have major disruptions throughout its construction, the Second Avenue Subway will bring transit equity to East Harlem and provide much-needed congestion relief to the 4 Train, 5 Train, and 6 Train lines,” said Assemblymember Robert J. Rodriguez. “We will continue our push to make sure that Phase 2 is included in the MTA’s next capital plan and is funded to its completion.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said: “The FTA’s Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), released today, isn’t quite true—it doesn’t mention the positive impacts. Increased city and regional transit access, shortened commutes, and reduced overcrowding on the Lexington Ave Line are all reasons why the Phase II extension of the Second Avenue Subway into East Harlem will have a tremendously positive and significant impact.”

“I am thrilled the MTA will be moving into Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway expansion, which will increase transportation options for East Harlem residents and broaden their access to educational and employment opportunities,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “I look forward to working alongside my community, the MTA, and all other stakeholders to ensure key community needs are addressed in the rollout of this phase.”

“East Harlem has been in a transit desert for far too long,” Council Member Bill Perkins. “The Second Avenue Subway extension to 125th Street and Lexington Avenue is not a convenience for our residents – it is a necessity. I call on the Federal Government to provide their share of the funding necessary to get this project underway.”

The FONSI was issued after an extensive update of the original Environmental Impact Statement prepared in 2004. The finding means that changes to the design of the project since that time were found to have no additional significant adverse impact on the environment in the construction area.

In connection with the Supplemental Environmental Assessment, the MTA conducted a robust public outreach program, which included numerous meetings with and presentations to Community Boards 11 and 10, elected officials, business and residential groups and other major stakeholders. A 30-day public comment period was conducted, during which the MTA accepted comments on the Assessment and held a meeting on July 31st, where the public had the opportunity to present comments verbally. The public comment period and meeting were advertised in six local newspapers, including Spanish language publications. Responses to all comments are contained in the FONSI.

Phase II of the project will provide a number of benefits for the East Harlem community, much of which sits in a “transit desert” with few public transportation choices. The new service will also stimulate the local economy, create thousands of jobs, cut commute time by up to 20 minutes a day, and further reduce crowding on the Lexington Avenue line. Phase I of the Second Avenue Subway, which began service on January 1, 2017, reduced crowding at parallel stations on the 4 Train, 5 Train, and 6 Train trains by up to 40 percent during the morning rush hour.

The milestone is pretty significant for the much needed completion of the project. Let us hope the agency will be able to get it done in a timely manner as the sooner the better.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR Angers Some Bellerose Residents

Some residents that reside on a block in Bellerose Queens are upset at the LIRR for chopping down trees on transit property behind their homes. The residents are especially miffed as they feel it not only takes away their barrier to the noise & wind, it also devalues their properties. Cristian Benavides of Pix 11 has more:

Families along Superior Road by the Bellerose train station for the Long Island Rail Road are angry that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had trees cut from behind their backyards.

“I’m enraged,” said Paul Quinn. “The value of the properties must’ve gone down $40-50 thousand.”

In a letter, the MTA told residents that they needed to manage the vegetation along the train tracks.

The letter says they would “identify and remove” overgrown trees, but families say the crews sent by the MTA just arbitrarily cut everything down- with seemingly no rhyme or reason.

“I said I want some evidence of the species you’re removing because the letter says specific species the man told me we were just told to take everything,” said Janet Schebendach. “There’s nothing to block the sun, there’s nothing to block the wind nothing to block the noise.”

The families say they are exploring legal remedies since they feel their homes have devalued due to the MTA cutting down the trees.

Click here for the complete report.

While I understand the complaints of the residents, I don’t feel they have much of a case considering the trees cut were on transit property & not of the homeowners.

The safety & well being of the rail road trumps their personal desire to have trees to help insulate noise or block views. If these things were such concerns, they should not have purchased homes right next to railroad tracks. This is typical NIMBY action at work.

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Uber Price Gouges During Snow Storm

Every storm these days gets a catchy nickname on social media. The one that surprisingly walloped the tri-state area on Thursday was pegged “Snovember”. While the name is cute & catchy, the chaos that it caused the evening commute was anything but that.

While many meterologists were wrong about the forecast (shout out to Byron Miranda of Pix11 who was not), the end result ended up being many agencies throughout the tri-state area who were inadequately prepared. However this post will not focus on that but instead the classless actions of Uber.

One of the biggest commuter nightmares Thursday evening centered around Port Authority Bus Terminal where thousands upon thousands were stranded by not enough buses or drivers being around. Riders were urged to seek alternative methods & many considered an Uber ride home.

The thoughts of taking a warm & comfortable ride home were dashed for many though when the agency engaged in pure price gouging. Many riders were saying rides from Manhattan to nearby locations in New Jersey were running near or over $200.

I heard from numerous people through text & direct messages on Twitter about their horror stories of prices being 3x – 10x more than usual during the chaotic commute home on Thursday. One person shared how what is normally a  7 minute drive at most & runs about $6-10, they were offering prices of over $70.

I called out the agency on Twitter (@TransitBlogger) with this tweet:

Absolutely disgusting that you are price gouging people trying to get home in this storm. Charging $200 to get out of Manhattan to go to NJ is inexcusable!

They responded with a 100% spin aka PR response:

Here to explain! Dynamic pricing takes effect when a lot of people in the same area are requesting rides at the same time. This means that rides will be more expensive. Adjusting the price attracts more driver-partners to an area so everyone can get a ride.

I responded with:

I know about that but let us be honest, it is price gouging no matter how you try to spin it. $200 is inexcusable. Even the $100 another user mentioned from 161st to Hell’s Kitchen is inexcusable.

Now I was not surprised by their silence after my last response as they had no legitimate argument. I know they are notorious for price gouging even on regular days as I have experienced it first hand on multiple occasions which is why I passed up on using them in those instances.

They can try & spin it with their technical term of “dynamic pricing” but anyone with a clear conscious knows they were wrong for doing that in the middle of an unexpected bigger storm. What if it was an emergency, would they do the same thing? Knowing them, probably so as they have shown that the mighty dollar trumps doing what is right.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR Opens 3 Renewed Station Buildings

Earlier today, the MTA Long Island Rail Road announced that it will be opening 3 renewed station buildings. The buildings will be located at the Brentwood, Deer Park  & Northport stations. Here are more details via the press release the agency sent me:

Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Long Island Rail Road officials today announced the opening of the first phase of three newly renovated railroad station buildings – at Brentwood, Deer Park, and Northport — bringing modernized touches to improve the customer experience for more than 11,000 daily weekday riders.

These three stations are part of more than 100 projects that are slated to transform the railroad, part of an unprecedented $6.6 billion state investment. View a comprehensive list of these transformative efforts, from LIRR Expansion Project (“Third Track”), to Moynihan Train Hall, and the recently completed Double Track Project, at aModernLI.com.

“The LIRR is working hard to deliver better and more reliable service, but — as demonstrated by these station improvements — we’re also paying attention to every aspect of the customer experience,” said MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber. “These upgrades were built and put in service in less than a year, which illustrates how the MTA is delivering projects  faster and at a lower cost than in the past.”

“Ensuring a great customer experience is at the center of everything we do at the LIRR. Customers deserve to have upgraded facilities when they use our system — and these station renovations are giving them just that,” LIRR President Phillip Eng said. “We’re excited to continue our modernization efforts to truly make the LIRR the 21st century system it can be.”

Artwork was commissioned that references each community and enhances the architecture and beauty of these stations at Brentwood and Deer Park. Details on the artists and their respective works of art can be found below.

Brentwood and Deer Park Stations

Brentwood and Deer Park station houses, both located along the Ronkonkoma Branch, were fully renovated and upgraded with a host of customer-facing improvements. Platform improvement construction continues at both stations. Brentwood serves about 2,900 daily weekday customers, while Deer Park serves approximately 6,200 daily weekday customers.

Finished upgrades include:

  • Improved ADA accessibility: a new ADA-compliant bathroom at each location.
  • New architectural finishes: New terrazzo flooring, bronze storefronts, wood ceilings and exterior brick decorative walls, a new information wall, signage and stamped concrete sidewalks.
  • Customer-focused amenities: new benches, USB charging stations, technology counters, digital information screens, and bicycle racks.
  • Energy efficiency: new LED lighting.

Further upgrades to come:

  • Improved ADA Accessibility: ADA-compliant ramps to be complete by end of year.
  • Staying connected: Free public Wi-Fi; USB charging stations can also be found throughout the station and along the platforms by end of this year.
  • Getting information: Digital information display totems, as well as new speakers for more clearly audible announcements by end of this year.
  • Safety: New CCTV Cameras, railings, benches, and refreshed pedestrian overpasses by end of this year.
  • Customer comfort: Customers at these stations will be able to take shelter from inclement weather under new structures built on the platforms by Q2 2019, as well as new trash receptacles.

Northport Station

LIRR’s Northport Station, on the Port Jefferson Branch, was built in 1927 and currently serves approximately 2,335 customers each weekday. The station building’s renovation incorporated historical restoration, to preserve the station’s history while providing modernized features and upgrades.

Finished upgrades include:

  • Improved ADA accessibility: Renovated current ADA-compliant bathroom, added a second ADA-compilant bathroom.
  • Complete renovation of the station building’s interior and exterior.
  • Customer-focused amenities: New benches, improved wayfinding signage, Wi-Fi, and LCD display screens.
  • Paver rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement.

Further upgrades to come:

  • MTA Arts & Design permanent artwork.
  • Better information: Electronic information display totem.

Art installation details:

At Brentwood:

ARMANDO MARIÑO

The Guardian Angel, 2018

Laminated glass

Fabricated by Tom Patti Studio

Armando Mariño’s artwork The Guardian Angel is inspired by the historic development of Brentwood and its present as a community. Featuring richly colored flowers from the country of origin of many of Brentwood’s residents, such as Mexican Dahlias, Peruvian qantu, and Salvadorean Flor de Izote, as well as native flowers of Long Island. A guardian owl representing Brentwood’s idyllic past protects the garden.  Mariño feels the art serves as a metaphor for cultures living harmoniously, and he used bright, alluring colors and brushwork as an invitation to “discover the beauty of life that needs to be preserved… [flowers] always come back after a hard winter like a reminder that there is always hope for a better future.”

At Deer Park:

WILLIAM LOW

Deer Park Dahlias, 2018

Laminated glass

Fabricated by Tom Patti Studio

William Low is a painter and illustrator based in Huntington, Long Island. His scene of vibrantly colored dahlias in a pastoral field for Deer Park station creates a contemplative space in the station waiting room. The large scale flowers shift the viewer’s perspective, providing an experience of childlike wonder at the natural world.

The artwork is derived from the local area’s botanic legacy: Central Park was first landscaped with ornamental trees and shrubs that had been grown in Deer Park, and the town was well known for annual dahlia festivals. The area is still a floral site, with several wholesale nurseries near to the station. Deer Park Dahlias acknowledges this specific, but not widely known, aspect of the community.

Low’s signature style uses classic painting techniques to depict city and nature scenes with shimmering sunlight and evocative color. Drawing from real life observations, his work conveys personal experience as shared memory. He has won numerous awards including four Silver medals from the Society of Illustrators, and has illustrated several beloved children’s books. He is currently the principal in Cobalt Illustration Studios, and is a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

xoxo Transit Blogger

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