HaltTheHike.org Reopens

Lost in the shuffle of all the transit news was the official relaunch of the HaltTheHike.org website. The website is run by The Straphangers Campaign & The Working Families Party. The purpose of the site is to encourage riders to send e-mails through their form to both Mayor Bloomberg & Gov. Patterson urging why a fare hike should not take place this year. I urge everyone who reads this blog to stop by & send in your message today!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Responds To NYC Transit Riders Council Report

Just a short while ago I received an e-mail from the MTA with a press release answering the report from the New York City Transit Riders Council. Here is the press release which should be on the MTA’s site later today:

The effort to maintain MTA New York City Transit’s 468 stations in a clean condition and a state-of-good repair is challenging, ongoing and one of our top priorities. While stations have suffered over the years from insufficient funding, we are taking two immediate steps to improve conditions given our current resources.

First, as part of our pilot Line General Manager Program on the 7 and L lines, we are analyzing the level of resources necessary to improve conditions and the most efficient way to get the job done. We appreciate the report’s finding that the stations included in the pilot rank among the best in the survey, and we hope to expand this strategy to other lines in the system soon with internal resources.

In addition, we are changing the way that we rehabilitate stations. Instead of waiting until a station is due for a full rehabilitation to fix all of its problems, we have included a $71 million fund in our proposed Capital Plan Amendment to address specific problem areas incrementally.

Of course, while the task of improving and maintaining station infrastructure is ours, riders can contribute to system cleanliness by properly disposing of litter. We thank the NYC Transit Riders Council for their study and sharing our interest in improving conditions for NYC Transit customers. As suggested, we will review the incorporation of additional criteria into our Passenger Environment Survey (PES), and we do agree that it would serve as a valuable management tool.

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New York City Transit Riders Council Says Subway Stations In Disrepair

NYC Transit President Howard Roberts Jr. must have read or known what would be in the New York City Transit Riders Council report ahead of time. As I blogged about yesterday, Mr. Roberts acknowledged in an interview with the New York Post, that less than 25% of stations are in acceptable condition. He also acknowledged that the agency was an “unbelievably long distance” from bringing the rest up to par. The NYCTRC report clearly echos his sentiments about the conditions straphangers currently have to deal with.

Before I get into details from the report, let me share a sample of the press release that preceded the report:

The New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) today released the results of its survey of the conditions of fifty subway stations from the riders’ perspective. The survey was undertaken by the members of the Council as a follow up to two similar surveys that were conducted in 1994 and 2004 to assess the conditions of subway stations from the passenger’s perspective.

The Council members surveyed stations in each of the four boroughs that have subways and recorded observations regarding 34 indicators. These indicators addressed areas of concern such as litter, working telephones, exposed wires, conditions of walls, ceilings, and the condition of stairs and handrails. The most common indicators where stations received failing grades include the presence of exposed wiring, the cleanliness and condition of station ceilings, the presence of tactile warning strips indicating platform edges, water leakage on ceilings, water leakage on walls, and cleanliness and condition of station walls.

The Council found that nearly one half of the stations examined are critically in need of repairs to station infrastructure and improvements to station maintenance. In light of recent concern about the ability of the MTA to undertake necessary capital improvements and the deferral of work in a number of stations that is planned for the current Capital Program, this finding is of particular concern.

Click here for the complete press release. Please note the report is in .pdf format.

I would like to first start off with the complete rankings of the 50 stations which were a part of this study. The rankings will list the stations from worst to best condition according to the metrics used by the NYCTRC.

01. Beach 90th St (A,S)

02. 149th St-Grand Concourse (4)

03. 138th St-Grand Concourse (4,5)

04. Jay St/Borough Hall (A,C,F)

05. 103rd St (6)

06. 157th St (1)

07. 179th St-Jamaica (F)

08. 46th St (G,R,V)

09. 50th St (1)

10. Nassau Avenue (G)

11. Steinway St (G,R,V)

12. 28th St (1)

13. Beach 98th St (A,S)

14. Greenpoint Avenue (G)

15. Morris Park (5)

16. Park Place (S)

17. Church Avenue (F)

18. Ozone Park-Lefferts (A)

19. Bergen St (F,G)

20. Court St-Borough Hall (M.N.R)

21. Kingston-Throop Avenues (C)

22. 63rd Drive-Rego Park (G,R,V)

23. 75th St (J,Z)

24. 111th St (A)

25. Astor Place (6)

26. Knickerbocker Avenue (M)

27. 42nd St-Times Square (1,2,3)

28. Forest Avenue (M)

29. 170th St (B.D)

30. Fort Hamilton Parkway (D,M)

31. 116th St (B,C)

32.Canal St (1)

33. High St-Brooklyn Bridge (A,C)

34. 71st St (D.M)

35. Grant Avenue (A)

36. Christopher St-Sheridan (1)

37. Wall St (4.5)

38. 14th St-Union Square (4,5,6)

39. 50th St (C,E)

40. DeKalb Avenue (L)

41. Bay Ridge Avenue (R)

42. Avenue P (F)

43. Halsey St (J)

44. 225th St (2.5)

45. Wakefield-241st St (2)

46. Avenue X (F)

47. Franklin St (1)

48. Burnside Avenue (4)

49. Prospect Avenue (2,5)

50. Sutter Avenue (L)

Here is a sample of the report:

Stations were divided into three distinct areas to facilitate the survey process: Entrances, Control Areas and Platforms. The station areas are defined as follows:

Entrance: The area leading from the street-level entrance (including the signs and railings at the entrance) to the opposite end of the entrance stairs. For those station houses located at street level, only the entrance doors and any area in front of the doors that appeared to be NYC Transit property were evaluated.

Control Area: The area from the entrance stairs (or entrance doors) up to and including the turnstiles. The paid side of the control area (that part of the control area which can be entered only by paying a fare) was not evaluated, with the exception of seating in off-hour waiting areas, if applicable.

Platform: The passenger platform adjacent to the tracks. The ceiling over the tracks and the platform floors were evaluated as part of the platform area. Each station was evaluated using 34 station condition indicators. Of the 34 indicators, 14 are also measured by NYC Transit’s Passenger Environment Survey (PES).

The State of New York must increase its support of MTA operations so that maintenance and repairs of stations in New York City are not problematic. A steady, predictable source of revenue is needed so that stations are not left to deteriorate as a result of deferred maintenance. There should never have to be a choice between adequate service and decent station infrastructure.

The City of New York must start contributing to the capital improvement of stations in those areas where it seeks to improve economic development. These stations function as “gateways” to places such as the South Bronx and downtown Brooklyn and should be seen as an integral part of the neighborhood fabric. The City of New York’s support should not stop at the entrance to the subway, but should extend into the station and join with NYC Transit in a mutually beneficial effort to create a positive subway experience for users.

Station impact fees should be levied on new development or substantial redevelopment projects within a quarter-mile of a subway station. These fees could be charged at the building permit stage based on some measure such as construction value, square footage or number of units. The presence of a subway station within walking distance adds great value to any development and increases the use of this transportation service; as such, new development and redevelopment should share in the care and maintenance of this important asset of the community.

Click here to read the complete report. Please note the report is in .pdf format.

I have a lot to say about this report but I can not do so at this time. I have some business matters that need to be addressed. I will try to have my breakdown of the report up later tonight.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR Gap Issue Rears Its Ugly Head Again

The station gap issue that has been tormenting the Long Island Rail Road for almost 2 years now once again rears its ugly head. I had just finished talking about them in the previous entry especially relating to big gaps that I’ve seen. I had linked to an older entry I made about the huge gaps in the Syosset station. Wouldn’t you know, the very next story I came across on Newsday’s website was about a gap incident that occurred in the Syosset station. The story will be in today’s edition of the paper & here is the piece written by Steve Ritea:

An unidentified 63-year-old man suffered minor injuries after he tripped in a gap at the Syosset Long Island Rail Road station yesterday, a railroad spokesman said.

The man suffered lacerations to his right knee and complained of pain in his left knee after the incident, which occurred while he was boarding an eastbound train at 10:48 a.m. that had left Penn Station at 9:46 a.m. An LIRR crew member waited with him until an ambulance arrived, the spokesman said.

The man was taken to Syosset-North Shore Hospital, treated for minor injuries and released. A June report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said there were 214 claims filed last year for gap-related injuries suffered on the LIRR, but attributed the large number to increased awareness.

The railroad said it is planning to spend $46 million by 2012 on gap-shrinking techniques that include shifting platforms, installing metal plates at the base of train car doors and attaching boards to platforms.

Let us first wish the 63 year old man well. I know the debate will once again start between those who feel the gaps are not a serious issue & those who feel it is. I say to those on the side of feeling it is not an issue, you can’t keep saying that common sense would have prevented these incidents. I find it next to impossible for every single incident could have been avoided if common sense was used. The LIRR needs the potential funding to help fix these gaps as soon as possible!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR Gap Fixes May Get Funding From U.S. Rail Safety Act

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has been facing a growing gap problem over the last few years. The issue really came to the forefront when Minnesota teen Natalie Smead died after falling into a gap & being run over by another LIRR train. As we later found out, alcohol & her disobedient actions of ignoring the call to stay still until played a big role in her death.

Newsday has been by far & away the main media outlet to rally for the LIRR to address the gap issues which are prevalent at many of their stations. With this outcry for repairs has come a battle between some who feel the paper sensationalized the issue as the gaps have been there for decades. They feel basic common sense of watching where you walk is the right plan of action. While others feel it is a legitimate safety concern which should be addressed by spending millions to fix each gap.

If you happen to be on the side of wanting the gapes fixed, you will be happy to know that a federal grant program could help fund such fixes. Steve Ritea of the aforementioned Newsday filed this report:

A federal grant program that could help the Long Island Rail Road fund part of its $46-million effort to close dangerous gaps at some station platforms is headed to President George W. Bush for final approval.

The program, part of the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007, allows freight and passenger railroads nationwide to compete for $7.5 million aimed at funding safety improvements annually through 2013, said a spokesman for Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the program.

The wide-ranging $1.1 billion package, approved by the Senate late Friday night after passing the House in the spring, also includes new standards for rail safety and tougher fines for violations by freight rail companies.

Click here to read the complete report.

I can see some aspects of the points raised by those who support the common sense approach. I’ve ridden the Long Island Rail Road for years & have never once come close to slipping or falling into the gap in any shape or form. However I can see the other side of it as to why it should be fixed. While I have had no incidents to speak of, I can see how others might have. Some of the gaps I’ve seen are quite large in size where it would be easy for someone to take a bad step & get caught if not fall in the gap.

Lets hope the “W” does the right thing & approves this act. Any money used to fix a major issue while not coming out of the MTA’s pockets is a win-win situation for everyone.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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