Here We Go Again

Over the last month or so, the MTA has found its name in the spotlight for one piece of bad press after another. Just when you think this vicious cycle has slowed down, out comes the news of 60 MTA Bridge & Tunnel employees who receive employee cars with gas included as a perk. Alison Gendar and Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has the story:

Despite a fiscal crisis that could trigger another round of fare and toll hikes, dozens of top-level MTA staffers not only get free E-ZPasses – they get gassed-up authority cars to boot.

The free riders – 60 strong – work for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bridge and tunnel division as executives, engineers and supervisors. At least 37 make more than $100,000 a year, payroll records show.

Staffers are not supposed to use the late-model sedans for personal use other than commuting between their offices and home, according to MTA Bridges and Tunnels, which said the cars were doled out in case of emergencies.

The MTA division pays to maintain and fuel the cars, mostly Ford Crown Victorias, Ford Tauruses and Chevrolet Impalas, according to agency records.

“There is no reason people making good salaries can’t drive to work and then take a pool car to where they need to go,” said one bridge and tunnel worker who drives his own car to work, referring to MTA Bridges and Tunnels’ fleet of 40 cars that staffers not assigned cars can request for official business during working hours.

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Church Avenue F Station Now ADA Compliant

MTA officials at the Church Avenue F Station
MTA officials at the Church Avenue F Train station showcasing the newly installed elevators.

Earlier today the MTA’s New York City Transit division issued a press release to announce the grand opening of elevators at the Church Avenue station on the F Train. The installation of these elevators now makes the station the 66th one out of 468 to be ADA Compliant. Here is the press release:

New York City Transit customers with disabilities will now be able to take advantage of three new elevators at the Church Avenue F station. The elevators connect the street with the platform level on both platforms at the station, used by more than 9,000 customers on an average weekday. In addition, closed-circuit televisions and talk-back systems have been installed in the elevators, which will go into service following this ribbon cutting ceremony attended by MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot G. Sander, MTA NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr., Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, New York State Assemblyman Jim F. Brennan, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, New York City Councilman Bill DeBlasio, New York State Senator Eric L. Adams and community officials.

The completion of this project brings the number of accessible stations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to 66 as NYC Transit continues to invest heavily in the installation and maintenance of elevators so that the subway system can be accessible to as many people as possible.

“Improving service for all our customers is one of the MTA’s top priorities,” said Elliot G. Sander, Executive Director and CEO of the MTA. “With the support and partnership of the region’s elected officials, all New Yorkers can benefit from transportation improvements large and small, from new elevators at a neighborhood station to mega projects that keep our region internationally competitive and environmentally sustainable.”

The station also received repair and modification of platform edge strips, the fare control area, lighting and handrails, all contributing to increased accessibility. The installation of Braille/Tactile signage and TTY public telephones was also included in the more than $15 million project. The project also included the renovation of the station’s two public bathrooms, which are now accessible to persons with disabilities.

“The subway system is an asset that should benefit everyone. Unfortunately, because the vast majority of the system was built without elevator access, many New Yorkers find it difficult or impossible to access this fast and efficient means of transportation. However, with every station we make accessible, more and more New Yorkers will be able to enjoy the system travel on their own schedule,” said NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. “Opening these elevators in effect opens up the City,” added Roberts.

While making the Church Avenue F station an ADA key station has always been a part of NYC Transit’s plan, Assemblyman Brennan’s allocation of $500,000 of capital funding significantly accelerated the timing of this project. The improvements at this station are particularly meaningful for the 100 legally blind persons who regularly use this station to and from their jobs at the New York City Industries for the Blind’s workshop, located nearby.

The new elevators are included in NYC Transit’s lift-net monitoring system so that technicians will be informed immediately in the event of an elevator breakdown, ensuring faster response and repair.

In 2007, sixteen ADA elevators were installed in six stations city wide. So far this year, eight ADA elevators have been opened in four stations and nine more are planned for completion in three additional stations. These accessibility improvements were funded through the MTA Capital Plan. Since 2000, including planned investments through 2009, NYC Transit will have spent $130 million on ADA-related investments at 10 key stations in Brooklyn.

As a reminder, NYC Transit operates the largest accessible bus fleet in the world, with 4,500 vehicles being equipped with either lifts or a combination of low floors and ramps. Additionally, more than 300,000 trips are provided by NYC Transit’s Access-A-Ride Paratransit service each month.

I look forward to the day when all 468 stations are ADA Compliant as that is something that should have been done by now!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Increased Fare Evasion Penalty Begins Today

Towards the end of June, I wrote about the MTA board approving an increase to the fine one would pay if they are caught for fare evasion. The fine is now $100, up from the previous amount of $60. This past Thursday the New York City Transit division of the MTA issued a press release about the increase:

The penalty for fare evasion is increasing from $60 to $100. The increase, the first in 20 years, was unanimously approved by the full MTA Board at its June 25, 2008 meeting. The increased fine will go into effect for fare evasion summonses issued on Monday, July 7th, 2008.

Attached is a “Fare Evasion Will Cost You” poster, versions of which will be posted in subway stations and on board buses city-wide.

For more information on this and other penalties in our Rules of Conduct, customers can log on to our website at www.mta.info.

Fare Evasion Poster

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Express Bus Rider Report Card Results

I have to admit I did not do the express bus rider report card any justice in terms of coverage & for that I do apologize. I meant to post about the results on July 4th as I was writing the other entries but I got sidetracked. Anyhow lets get down to business by starting out with the press release issued by the MTA discussing the results:

With an eye toward replicating the information-gathering process that turned out to be so successful with the Subway Rider Report Card, MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus solicited the views of express bus customers in order to learn what aspects of their service they’d like to see improved.

Using the Express Bus Rider Report Card to evaluate everything about their daily commute from bus announcements to schedule adherence to seat availability per trip, riders who rely on MTA Bus and NYC Transit’s express bus service were asked to assign a lettered grade to 20 different service attributes.

The Express Bus Rider Report Card was distributed to riders during the week of November 13th, 2007. In total, 10,301 riders responded: 9,015 by mail and 1,286 via the internet. When the votes were tallied, riders gave the network of express bus routes an overall C grade.

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Select Bus Service Gets The Job Done

Last week I wrote a couple of entries (1 & 2) discussing the Select Bus Service that debuted on the Bx12. While some had a knee jerk reaction to the service, others have raved about its initial success. 5 days ago the associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Veronica Vanterpool shared her first hand experience of the new service which shaved a nice chunk of time off her commute. Here is a small sample of her entry:

Yesterday morning, I rode to our Manhattan office aboard the newly launched Bx12 Select Bus Service. As a Bronx resident, I was eager to see how the three-day-old system was working and how bus riders were responding to the change. I boarded at the Bay Plaza Shopping Mall in Co-op City and got off at the last stop, 207th and Broadway.

As to be expected with any change in service, many riders were initially confused by the ticket machines. However, once instructed to insert their Metrocards–by either the helpful bus driver or the customer representatives dispatched to each of the bus shelters along the route–their apprehension eased away as a proof-of-payment ticket came out about a second later.

To read her entire entry, click here.

Veronica is spot on with her analysis of the time savings increasing in the future when familiarity kicks in & most importantly with a vigilant enforcement of bus lanes. I seriously hope that the enforcement of these bus lanes is not a short lived public display of getting the job done p.r. style. If it is, look for select bus service to crash into a wall head first at 100mph!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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