MTA Orders 850 New Buses

The MTA issued a press release stating that they were ordering 850 new buses manufactured by DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America. The 850 new low-floor Hybrid Electric buses will be delivered by the end of 2009. The order comes from a 389 bus option order from 2005. The remaining 461 buses come from a modification that was added to the order. Here is the entire press release courtesy of the MTA:

Maintaining a sharp focus on clean-air technology, fuel efficiency and an increased demand for service, MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus will take delivery of 850 new low-floor Hybrid Electric buses by the end of 2009. The buses, manufactured by DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America, will be sourced from a 389-vehicle purchase option on a 2005 order and a modification to that order for an additional 461 buses, subject to approval by the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“The MTA’s transportation network makes the entire region sustainable and we are committed to making the system itself a sustainable model,” said Elliot G. Sander, Executive Director & CEO of the MTA. “Along with the sustainable commission that we launched this fall, the continuing purchase of environmentally-friendly vehicles illustrates this commitment.”

The MTA and NYC Transit have been pioneers in the development of Hybrid bus technology, with experience going back more than a decade. The technology boasts lower exhaust emissions and improved fuel economy over standard buses. Bus customers also benefit from the low-floor design of the Hybrid Electrics, of which, NYC Transit currently operates the largest Hybrid fleet in the world, with 548 buses in service.

The base contract for 500 bus order for NYC Transit (216) and MTA Bus (284) was approved by the MTA Board in September of 2005. There is a 389-bus option to that contract, of which 284 buses will be assigned to NYC Transit and 105 to MTA Bus. The 461 buses from the new order will all serve NYC Transit routes.

The combined order will provide 745 new buses for NYC Transit and 105 for sister agency, MTA Bus. They will be delivered in time to serve a growing ridership and the increased equipment needs which will be generated by Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

“Added to our present fleet of clean-fuel buses, the new Hybrids will reinforce NYC Transit’s commitment to developing and operating the cleanest and most efficient equipment available,” said MTA NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. “Additionally, the ability of being able to expand our fleet will help us to increase capacity as we look forward to the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit.”

During the years between 1995 and 2006, NYC Transit completely changed New Yorkers’ views of buses, eliminating visible tailpipe emissions (smoking buses) and significantly cleaning the exhaust profile. While the hybrids are the most technologically advanced, NYC Transit has employed several other innovations to improve air quality, including ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, particulate filters and cleaner-burning diesel engines.

The bottom line is really impressive: from 1995 to 2006, diesel PM emissions dropped 97% and NOx emissions dropped 58%, on a per-bus basis. More than 90% of the reductions were due to the accelerated retirement and replacement of the oldest, dirtiest engines.

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This is great news for riders throughout the city. I am glad the MTA is stepping up to the plate to not only make changes that benefit riders but help clean up the earth. Good job MTA!

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Dale Hemmerdinger Editorial

Today’s New York Daily News had an editorial piece about the new MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger. The editorial was titled “Chip In, Dale”. I thought the editorial was worth sharing with my readers. Here is the full editorial by an unnamed individual:

New York’s subway and bus riders have a new man at the top. Real estate mogul Dale Hemmerdinger has taken over as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and he admits he has a lot to learn.

We’re happy to help him out.

Lesson No. 1 for Mr. Hemmerdinger: You owe first allegiance to your passengers. Make their lives easier with speedy, reliable transit at reasonable prices, and you’ll be a hero.

Lesson No. 2 for Mr. Hemmerdinger: You owe first allegiance to your passengers. Perform as a yes-man for the governor who appointed you, Eliot Spitzer, and legislative leaders, and you’ll be chalked up as a flunky.

Lesson No. 3 for Mr. Hemmerdinger: You owe first allegiance to your passengers. Your predecessors Dick Ravitch and Peter Kalikow had the guts to battle political patrons.

Ravitch earned New York’s eternal gratitude for rescuing the subways from near-death in the 1980s and for, finally, squeezing funding for transit out of Albany. One episode is particularly relevant right now.

In 1980, facing deficits, Ravitch raised the fare from 50 cents to 60 cents. A dime hike, quaint today, was huge then. Even so, Ravitch succeeded only in buying time.

When the summer of 1981 rolled around, the MTA was still in trouble. Getting precious little help from Albany or City Hall, Ravitch proposed another fare hike, this time a 15-cent jolt to 75 cents. But he also called on the Legislature to enact a package of taxes dedicated to the MTA, including a levy on oil companies’ gross receipts, a sales tax and new property taxes.

Albany balked. But Ravitch didn’t. He said he would push through the 75-cent fare and that he would then okay another jump, to $1, in two weeks unless Albany approved the taxes. The public rallied and the Legislature caved.

Money flowed in – enough to rebuild the system and hold the fare reasonably steady. So successful were Ravitch’s taxes that governors, legislators and mayors cut their traditional MTA funding. A bad move.

Which bring us to today, Mr. Hemmerdinger. Your CEO Lee Sander has proposed a fare hike without fighting for state funds. Another bad move.

The hike should be delayed at least until April to let members of the Assembly, led by Richard Brodsky, battle for aid as the state budget is negotiated. They need help. Will you rise to the occasion, Mr. Hemmerdinger?

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The Hemmerdinger Will Come To Be Afterall….


New MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger; photo courtesy of AMNY/ Lane Johnson / June 26, 2007

Almost two months ago I asked “Will The Hemmerdinger Era Ever Come To Be?.” I can now answer that question with a resounding yes. The State Senate confirmed Mr. Hemmerdinger four months after Gov. Spitzer nominated him for the position.

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MTA Approves $1.4 Billion 7 Train Extension!


Flushing-Main St. bound 7 train approaching Junction Blvd; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

This is according to William Neuman of the New York Times City Room blog who broke the story a little over an hour ago. The MTA board approved the $1.4 billion dollar contract to dig the tunnels for an extension of the 7 train. The current plan is to have the extension run to the Jacob Javits Convention Center with one new station being the terminal at 34th Street & 11th Avenue.

The board was expected to approve the extension all along even though one board member voted against the contract. The lone person to bid against the contract was co MTA Vice Chairman Andrew M. Saul. Here is a comment he made expressing his disapproval of the bid: “I can’t, for me as a fiduciary here, sit here and go ahead and approve a contract for over $1.1 billion of state money, or city money, or both, without having competitive bids.”

He also had issues with the current plan scrapping calls for a 10th Avenue station on 42nd Street. His last concern was the fear that the project would have cost overruns that could prevent money from being used for other major projects such as the Second Avenue Subway. As it stands now the city is footing the bill up to $2.1 billion. The city & MTA have not reached an agreement on who would be responsible if the overall cost was to go over $2.1 billion dollars. MTA CEO Elliot G. Sander says the issue will be taken up when new contracts are issued for further work on the project. This is scheduled to happen in two years.

As I noted the other day, Mr. Saul was not the only person to have concerns about the project. Andrew Albert of the NYC Transit Riders Council had this to say to NY1′s Bobby Cuza: “More exists now around the 10th Avenue station than around the Javits Center station. Are we saying that conventioneers are more important than our own residents? I hope we’re not saying that.”

It is sad to see that only one board member was thinking correctly about this extension. I personally do not support it due to the 7 train bursting at the seams as it is. If the MTA can handle these issues, create the more needed 10th Ave. station while not having it cost them much money if any at all, I would then support the project. However this is the MTA so I do not expect these issues to be taken care off properly initially if at all.

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Riders Welcome New Long Island Railroad Service

Yesterday was a historic day for the Long Island Railroad as the day marked the agency’s first new rail service since the 1964 World’s Fair shuttle. The new service is in response to traffic congestion during the construction work on County Road 39. The service will operate weekdays from October 23, 2007 through May 22, 2008.

The expanded service dubbed the “East End Shuttle” will feature three additional eastbound, weekday trains from Speonk with two terminating in Montauk and one in East Hampton. There will also be three additional westbound, weekday trains with two originating from Montauk and one from East Hampton which will terminate at Speonk. Here is a quick fare breakdown for the “East End Shuttle”:

  1. $2.25 uniform intra-zone fare for travel between Speonk and Montauk
  2. $1.00 uniform intra-zone fare for travel between Speonk & Montauk for the seniors & disabled riders
  3. Weekly pass will cost $20
  4. Monthly pas will cost $66

The cost of the service is estimated to run $84,000 a month. The costs included in the estimate include fuel, cleaning, maintenance, & crew. According to the LIRR, they are working with the government to help fund the additional operating expenses that would be incurred with this enhanced service.

The Long Island Railroad along with local politicians & residents are thrilled with the new service. Here are some comments from all sides:

Long Island Railroad President Helena Williams – “In response to community requests, the LIRR is nearly doubling its service to East End communities during the coming months. We are pleased to be partnering with local East End communities, elected officials and Suffolk County to help mitigate traffic congestion during the construction work on County Road 39. I am proud that the LIRR has been able to work with community leaders on this initiative.”

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. – “South Fork community leaders have long envisioned improved rail and bus service as a means of reducing traffic congestion on the South Fork. The current CR 39 construction project has provided us with an opportunity to request increased rail service.

I am indebted to the foresight of new LIRR President Helena Williams. Her willingness to think ‘outside the box’ has allowed our residents to have a real alternative to the traffic gridlock that is inevitable during the CR 39 project over the next 7-8 months. It could also prove to be the catalyst to future mass transit initiatives on the East End. I urge all my constituents to consider the train to meet their commuting needs from now until Memorial Day.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy – “We are happy to be a partner in this bi-partisan, multi-leveled approach to solving a very real problem to our mutual constituents and customers. I would also like to thank new LIRR President Helena Williams for adopting a ‘can-do’ rather than a ‘can’t-do’ attitude.”

24 year old Manorville resident Linda LaRosa – “I’ve been working here for three years, and each year it [traffic] seems to get worse. Usually when you get to work, everybody is grumpy from the commute.”

65 year old East Moriches resident Don Sevigny – “It’s a mild excitement not jubilation. It’s another way of getting to work at East Hampton High School.”

I have to hand it to the Long Island Railroad for being proactive in creating better inter island service for commuters. Lets hope that this temporary project turns into permanent improvements to intra island service!

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