Finally, They Break Down The Walls Of Jericho…. (Ok so maybe not Jericho)


Not the 42nd Street Shuttle but a Shuttle train nonetheless! Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

The MTA must be ecstatic that they finally broke down the walls of Jericho, (ok maybe not) in terms of the overall grade for a line in their “2007 Rider Report Cards”. Unfortunately the MTA might have to not get too ecstatic about the grade as the first overall grade to reach any sort of B grade status was not a full line but instead a shuttle. The bread winner so far goes to the 42nd Street Shuttle which finished with an overall grade of a B-. Now lets breakdown the entire report card:

Top 10 priorities that 42nd Street train riders’ would like to see improvement on:

01. Adequate room on board at rush hour
02. Reasonable wait times for trains
03. Cleanliness of stations
04. Station announcements that are easy to hear
05. Minimal delays during trips
06. Train announcements that are easy to hear
07. Comfortable temperature in subway cars
08. Sense of security on trains
09. Station announcements that are informative
10. Sense of security in stations

Now here is the entire order of 42nd Street train riders’ priorities:

01. Adequate room on board at rush hour
02. Reasonable wait times for trains
03. Cleanliness of stations
04. Station announcements that are easy to hear
05. Minimal delays during trips
06. Train announcements that are easy to hear
07. Comfortable temperature in subway cars
08. Sense of security on trains
08. Station announcements that are informative
10. Sense of security in stations
11. Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel
12. Cleanliness of subway cars
13. Ease of use of subway turnstiles
14. Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines
15. Signs in stations that help riders find their way
16. Working elevators and escalators in stations
17. Lack of scratchitti in subway cars
18. Train announcements that are informative
19. Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way
20. Lack of graffiti in stations
21. Lack of graffiti in subway cars

Now here is the graded breakdown of all 21 categories:

Minimal delays during trips B
Reasonable wait times for trains B
Adequate room on board at rush hour C
Sense of security in stations B-
Sense of security on trains B-
Working elevators and escalators in stations C+
Signs in stations that help riders find their way C+
Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way C+
Cleanliness of stations C
Cleanliness of subway cars B-
Station announcements that are easy to hear C
Station announcements that are informative C
Train announcements that are easy to hear C
Train announcements that are informative C+
Lack of graffiti in stations B
Lack of graffiti in subway cars B
Lack of scratchitti in subway cars B
Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel C+
Comfortable temperature in subway cars B-
Ease of use of subway turnstiles B
Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines B-

I find this report card either downright comical or worried that we have people severely lacking common sense filling them in. I want to first tackle the desire to have adequate room on board during rush hour. Yes, I will be the first to admit the cars on the shuttle look like a can of sardines. However the shuttle is 1 stop long, I think dealing with a crush load for 1 stop between Times Square & Grand Central is more than doable for straphangers.

Also another angle to look at with this being their biggest priority is the fact they are implying that there needs to be more Shuttle trains in service. Now this is where I wish these people would think before voting. The shuttle service only has 3 tracks at its disposal & during rush hour all 3 tracks are in use. Considering there is only one stop on the shuttle with 3 tracks available, how many trains can you expect to run? The Shuttle is clearly running at the highest possible capacity so nothing can be done here. Lets use some common sense people!

The next one is reasonable wait times for trains. Seriously how long does one on average wait for a shuttle train. I can’t recall ever waiting more than 2-4 minutes in my life for that shuttle at either end. I don’t think this request is valid as the shuttle can only run so fast & it does a pretty good job as it is.

The next priority is cleanliness of stations. Lets see the shuttle only serves the 2 busiest stops in the entire system which the MTA spends a lot of time cleaning up all the time. Can you eat food off the floor, not a chance but you won’t be able to do that at any station. These two stations are kept up pretty well especially being seen as symbols of our entire system although false ones as us veteran straphangers know.

As far as delays go, you are going one stop, how many delays could you possibly face? I start to wonder if these voters are mad because it doesn’t take 1 minute to load in, pull out & arrive at the other end & depart! Seriously where do they come up with these things?

The only upside to all of this or downside depending on how you look at it, is that only 380 people submitted rider report cards for the shuttle. Now this is a ridiculous low number considering the millions who use it every year. However on the flip side this tells us that we did not have many lacking common sense. Take your pick on what side of the line you are on……..

xoxo Transit Blogger

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What A Nightmare Commute!

Today’s edition of AMNY has an exclusive story on the nightmare commute of airport worker Miguel Diaz. The paper feels his daily commute qualifies him to be called an “AMNY Extreme Commuter”. After reading his story, I can’t disagree with the paper’s designation for him.

Mr. Diaz’s commute starts in Williamsburg at the Marcy Avenue stop on the J, M, & Z lines. He takes the J or Z to Broadway Junction where he transfers to the A train to Howard Beach. When he arrives at Howard Beach, he hops on AirTrain to Terminal 4 at JFK Airport. Unfortunately his commute does not end there as he works in Hanger 81 which is only a short distance from Terminal 4. The problem for him & others who work there is the fact that there is no pedestrian access to the hanger. So when he & others arrive at Terminal 4, they must catch the Q3 to take them to the hanger.

The problems tend to start for Mr. Diaz & others when they get off from work during the overnight hours. At that time of night, the Q3 runs only once an hour. So sometimes he & others have to wait an hour just to get on a bus to take them to the trains to get them home. For someone like Mr. Diaz this is a nightmare as it takes about an hour for him just to get to Terminal 4 alone!

I seriously think the MTA needs to do something about this problem. While I know not everyone can get perfect service to suit their needs, something can be done to fix an obvious problem for a lot of airport workers. They should not have to endure commutes like this where a simple ride to a train station could save 45+ minutes off their commute due to poor scheduling. Hopefully the MTA will do what’s right here although that is always a dicey proposition.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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The Answer Is Probably Yes….

The question you might ask is are the fare hearings a waste of time. This question was posed in an article written by AMNY’s Marlene Naanes in today’s paper. Here is the entire article courtesy of AMNY:

Misha Jemison says she is the face of the fare hike.

A Lehman College sophomore who works two jobs to make ends meet, Jemison says that the $76 she pays for a monthly MetroCard already stretches her budget thin. “When you add money to our fares you are hurting the middle class, the students,” she told board members at one of the eight Metropolitan Transportation Authority public hearings held on the fare hike. “We are the face of the fare hike.”

Despite riders’ testimony of the hardships of a fare increase, so far, only two board members have told amNewYork that they will vote against the hike when the board meets in December. Five of the board members did not return calls. And of the remaining nine, one declined to comment, while the other eight said that the public’s opposition hasn’t cemented their vote one way or the other.

Like Jemison, dozens of straphangers also have spoken out against the proposed increase during the public comment process that wrapped up this weekend with a forum. State and federal law requires the MTA to hold hearings for fare hikes, and the meetings are intended to offer a sounding board for riders. The comments, in turn, are supposed to impact board members’ decision making process.

“We need to be mindful of their concerns,” Dale Hemmerdinger, the new MTA board chairman, said of the public testimony. “It strikes a chord with anybody who hears them.”

Nevertheless, when asked by amNewYork about his vote, Hemmerdinger said he’s undecided. He said he is waiting for more information about the MTA budget and developments that could impact it.

The MTA has said that it needs to increase fares to deal with the billions of dollars in deficits it is facing in the next four years.

“There is more than the public hearings that go into the decision making process,” said board member, Barry Feinstein, who also is undecided about the increase. History has shown that public hearings only have been able to stop one out of eight proposed MTA fare hikes since 1981, said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney with the Straphangers Campaign.

But it’s often not a complete loss, he said, as ideas that reduce the sting of a fare increase typically surface as a result of the hearings. Russianoff pointed out that a 14-day discounted pass the MTA introduced with this year’s proposed hike was floated at hearings in the past.

Riders who turned out for the public hearings said they realized their testimony will likely not sway the board against the hike but they felt it was important to have their say.

“I told my co-workers about it [the public hearing] and they said it was like spitting in the wind, ” said Sahre Davis, a receptionist and community college student from Greenpoint who also testified at a hearing. “I’d rather spit because I know it will land somewhere.”

amNewYork polled MTA board members on how they will vote on the proposed fare increase.

Dale Hemmerdinger, Chairman; Undecided.

David Mack, Vice Chairman; Undecided.

Andrew Saul, Vice Chairman; Did not respond.

John Banks III; Undecided.

Donald Cecil; Did not respond.

Barry Feinstein; Undecided.

Jeffrey Kay; Refused to comment.

Mark Lebow; Did not respond.

Mark Page; Undecided.

Mitchell Pally; Against the hike.

Francis Powers; Undecided.

Norman Seabrook; Against the hike.

Nancy Shevell; Undecided.

Nov. 28: The MTA will present an updated financial plan to the board with possible changes to the fare increase proposal.

Dec. 19: The board votes on the MTA’s final plan.

Early 2008: If approved, a fare hike takes effect.

I happen to agree with Misha Jemison when she says she is the face of the proposed fare hike. The majority of riders will seriously be hurt with this fare hike. The cost of living is already so high & it is sure out pacing salaries so the saying every dollar counts has never rang more true. Unfortunately for riders like Misha Jemison, the MTA has the attitude of too bad it has to be done even though we have surplus money & refuse to fight for the money we rightfully deserve from each level of the government! As I have said in the past, “It Sucks To Be You Now Doesn’t It“!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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On Display: Plans For The Hudson Rail Yards

Last month, I wrote about the MTA seeking & receiving bid proposals for the rights to develop the Hudson Rail Yards. The 26 acre land is highly sought after real estate where plans call for turning the area into a huge waterfront destination filled with everything from businesses to residences mixed in with shopping for everyone.

Yesterday the MTA issued a press release stating the 5 proposals will be on public display in the form of an exhibit. The exhibit will take place between the hours of 8 a.m. & 8 p.m. every day from today November 19th until December 3rd. The only day the exhibit will be closed is on Thanksgiving Day. The exhibit is located at 335 Madison Avenue which is a storefront that can be accessed at the corner of 43rd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.

Here is the entire press release courtesy of the MTA:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced the opening of a public exhibition of the proposals the agency has received for development of its rail yards on Manhattan’s Far West Side. The exhibit will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday, November 19 through Monday, December 3, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day.

The exhibit will be held at 335 Madison Avenue, a storefront that can be accessed at the corner of 43rd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.

“We are very excited to be able to present these proposals to the public for their review and feedback,” said Elliot G. Sander, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the MTA. “We are committed to incorporating public input into the selection process as we look for a proposal that will provide critical funding for our capital plan and tremendous benefit to the city.”

The exhibit, which is located directly across the street from Grand Central Terminal, features models and other presentation materials prepared by each of the five development teams: Brookfield Properties Developer LLC; Extell Development Company; Hudson Center East LLC and Hudson Center West LLC (A Joint Venture of Vornado Realty Trust and The Durst Organization, Inc.); The Related Companies; and TS West Side Holding, LLC (A Joint Venture of Tishman Speyer and Morgan Stanley). Comments will be accepted via comment card at the exhibit beginning on Monday, and online in the near future.

The input will help inform the selection process. The proposals are now being reviewed by a selection committee with a majority of its members appointed by MTA and with two representatives from Hudson Yards Development Corporation. The recommended proposal(s) for each yard will then go to the MTA Board for consideration in the first quarter of 2008.

The Newsday also has an article about the exhibit. Here is the full article courtesy of Newsday:


Read the rest of this entry »

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MTA Public Engagement Workshop

As many know this past Saturday, the MTA held a public engagement workshop on fares & tolls. I had wanted to attend the event but a scheduled engagement coupled with the fact that I had next to no energy prevented me from going. However fellow transit blogger Benjamin Kabak of “Second Avenue Sagas” attended. I highly suggest everyone read his entry about attending the workshop as it is a good read. Click here to read his report.

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