MTA CEO Elliot Sander Says The Fare Hike Can Not Wait!

MTA CEO Elliot Sander
MTA Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer Elliot G. Sander; Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon Inquirer

These feelings were shared by Mr. Sander after today’s MTA board meeting. Mr. Sander said that any sort of delay in a fare hike would only cost the MTA more money in the end. He also went on to say: “The reality is the MTA is in need of great financial sums from Albany over the next two calendar years. For us to bank on this when the overall funding need is fares and tolls plus this aide, it…puts at risk the system we have worked so hard to build, to rebuild.”

Mr. Sander shared these feelings even after Westchester Democrat Assemblyman Richard Brodsky presented the board with a letter from 46 members of his chamber. The letter urged the MTA to postpone the fare hike vote until April 15, 2008 when lawmakers would take up the state budget. Mr. Brodsky also went on to say: “All we’re asking you to do is ask us to give you money. We’ll try. There are no guarantees…But working cooperatively, I believe that additional moneys can be found to save the fare.”

However Mr. Sander would have none of it as he said postponing the fare hike vote until April 15th, 2008 would cost the MTA $100 million dollars in revenue it desperately needs. MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin reiterated that a December vote was needed due to fare hikes needing a few months to be prepared for their roll out after approval. The possible fare hikes are expected to be implemented between late February & April of next year.

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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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