MTA Names New Capital Construction Company President

Earlier this week I received a press release from the MTA to announce the hiring of a new Capital Construction Company President. Here is that press release:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that Michael Horodniceanu had been appointed President of the MTA Capital Construction Company, effective today. Dr. Horodniceanu succeeds Mysore Nagaraja, who served from the founding of MTA Capital Construction in 2003 through the end of January. Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim had served as Acting President since Mr. Nagaraja’s departure.

Dr. Horodniceanu was the CEO of The Urbitran Group between 1980 and 1986, and again from 1990 until this month. Urbitran, which was acquired by DMJM Harris/AECOM this month, was a New York City-based engineering firm. Under his leadership, the company extended its reach beyond its core expertise of transportation planning into architectural, engineering, planning and construction management services; it grew from a firm employing 70 people with revenues of $6.5 million in 1990 into a 200-person multidisciplinary organization with annual revenues exceeding $36 million.

Between 1986 and 1990, Dr. Horodniceanu served as Traffic Commissioner for the City of New York, overseeing a $4 billion capital construction program and managing the largest parking system in the United States with more than 75,000 spaces.

“Michael has the experience and vision to lead the MTA Capital Construction Company at a time when the need for our transportation megaprojects is clear,” said Elliot G. Sander, the Executive Director and CEO of the MTA. “Our Blue-Ribbon Panel on Construction Excellence looked at how to complete construction projects on time and within budget during a time of rising commodity prices, local labor shortages and a weak dollar. Michael’s extensive experience, vision and innovative outlook will enable us to implement the ideas the panel generated. He will take over from the very capable Ronnie Hakim, who did a terrific job leading the agency through this period of transition.”

“I am pleased and honored to be joining the MTA at a time when attention is focused more than ever on the importance of mass transit infrastructure,” Dr. Horodniceanu said. “Challenging times will demand innovative solutions, and I look forward to working with the excellent team at Capital Construction to get the job done.”

Dr. Horodniceanu earned a Ph.D. in Transportation Planning & Engineering from Polytechnic University of New York, a Master’s in Engineering Management from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from the Israel Institute of Technology. He serves on the boards of the New York Transit Museum, Polytechnic Institute of New York’s Department of Civil Engineering, and the Community Service Society of New York.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Kew Gardens Union Turnpike Station Now ADA Compliant

Station sign at the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike station in Queens
Station sign at the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike station in Queens. Resized photo courtesy of EyeOnTransit.com

A few days ago the MTA issued a press release to highlight the 67th station out of 468 in the NYC Subway to become ADA Compliant. The 67th station is the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike stop on the NYC Subway E Train & NYC Subway F Train. Here are the details:

MTA NYC Transit announces the opening of three new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) elevators at the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike station bringing the number of ADA accessible stations to 67. With the completion of this project, Transit has met its commitment to have 67 accessible stations available for use by 2010 two years early. On hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony were MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot G. Sander, MTA NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr., Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and several local elected officials.

“We are proud to be two years ahead of the schedule that we had set in 1994 to create 67 stations that are accessible to everyone, said Elliot G. Sander, MTA Executive Director and CEO. “This is the third ribbon-cutting ceremony that we have held in the last month. It is a pleasure to be able to complete so many important projects thanks to the strong support of elected officials throughout the region.”

The street elevator headhouse is located on the southeast corner of Union Turnpike and Kew Gardens Road, just south of Queens Boulevard. Now customers with disabilities can take advantage of the new elevators: one providing access between the street and the mezzanine level and two connecting the mezzanine and platforms.

The Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike station is the fifth busiest station in Queens with an average weekday ridership count of 27,658 as of March 2008. Originally opened in December 1936, the station is a major transfer point to bus lines providing access to destinations such as JFK International Airport, North Shore/Long Island Jewish Hospital Medical Center, St. John’s University, numerous parks and other educational facilities.

The $13.9 million station renovation project which began in July 2006 also included other improvements including: accessible station booth windows, handrails, graphics, public telephones, platform warning strips and the minimization of platform edge gaps. So far, this year, 11 ADA elevators have been opened in six stations. Three more elevators are planned for completion at additional one station later this year. These accessibility improvements were funded through the MTA Capital Plan.

“We want to operate a first-class subway system for everyone and each station that we are able to bring into compliance with the ADA brings us closer to that goal,” said NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. “From my initial days as president of NYC Transit, it has been one of my goals to make substantial improvements in system accessibility.”

As with other ADA elevators in the system, these new elevators have been equipped with closed-circuit televisions and talk-back intercom systems which will allow users to communicate directly with the station agent’s booth and Station Command in case of an emergency. In addition, these elevators are included in NYC Transit’s lift-net monitoring system that alerts technicians immediately should the elevator should breakdown. With real time information, repairs crews can be dispatched sooner, ensuring a much faster response to incidents and the subsequent repairs.

In addition to Borough President Helen Marshall, attendees included State Senator Shirley L. Huntley, Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Assembly Member Nettie Mayersohn, Council Member Melinda Katz and Council Member James Gennaro.

As I said earlier this 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!”

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Buses To Replace Trains On Port Washington Line This Weekend

Later today the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) division of the MTA will post a press release on their site about weekend changes on the Port Washington line. Here are the details:

Track and drainage work being performed between Great Neck and Port Washington on the MTA Long Island Rail Road’s Port Washington Branch will mean no train service between Great Neck and Port Washington this weekend, August 2-3. Buses will be substituted for trains between 12:49 AM, Saturday and 12:30 AM Sunday.

Eastbound:

Customers traveling to Manhasset, Plandome and Port Washington Stations will board buses or vans at Great Neck to complete their trips. Customers should anticipate increased travel time of up to 25 minutes.

Westbound:
Customers traveling from Port Washington, Plandome and Manhasset Stations will board buses or vans at their stations and transfer to trains at Great Neck to complete their trips. Customers should anticipate increased travel time of up to 30 minutes. The 11:40 PM, 1:40 AM and 3:40 AM buses and vans on Saturday and Sunday and the 12:40 AM bus on Sunday will depart 25 minutes earlier than the regularly scheduled train time.

August 16-17:

August 16-17 is the final weekend of this track program. A substitute bus program as described above will also be in effect.

Customers should pick up a copy of the special Port Washington Branch track work timetable at their stations or at all terminals. For additional information, customers may contact the LIRR’s 24-hour Travel Information Center in Nassau County at 516-822-LIRR, or in New York City at 718-217-LIRR. The Travel Information Center’s TDD telephone number for the hearing impaired is 718-558-3022. Customers may also consult the LIRR’s website at www.mta.info

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Straphangers Release 2008 Subway Report Card

Once again that time of year is here where the Straphangers Campaign releases their annual subway report card. This was the second report released on Tuesday which I mentioned in my previous thread. Now if you recall last year, the 1 train was rated the best line in the system. Unfortunately for the 1 Train train & its legion of fans (if such exist), they were unsuccessful in defending their crown. The winner & the new Straphangers Subway Report Card Champion is the L Train train!

Here are a few samples from the Straphangers’ report:

The best subway line in the city is the L with a MetroCard Rating of $1.40. The L ranked highest because it performs best in the system on two measures—regularity of service and announcements—and well above average on three other measures: frequency of scheduled service, delays caused by mechanical breakdowns and the percentage of dirty cars. The line did not get a higher rating because it performed well below average on: a chance of getting a seat during rush hour. The L runs between 14th Street/Eighth Avenue in Manhattan and Canarsie in Brooklyn. The previous top-rated line—the 1—dropped to a fourth-place tie.

The W was ranked the worst subway line, with a MetroCard Rating of 70 cents. The W line has a low level of scheduled service and performs below average on four other measures: regularity of service, car breakdowns, car cleanliness and announcements. The W did not receive a lower rating because it performed above average on: a chance of getting a seat during rush hour. The W line operates between Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan and Astoria, Queens. In last year’s survey, the W tied for the worst line with the C.

Breakdowns: Cars on the Q had the best record on delays caused by car mechanical failures: once every 342,711 miles. Cars on the G line had the worst, experiencing breakdown delays more than five times as often: once every 67,044 miles.

Regularity of service: The L and the J/Z lines had the greatest regularity of service, arriving within two to four minutes of its scheduled interval 92% of the time. The most irregular line is the 4, which performed with regularity only 78% of the time.

Now here is a listing of the lines in Metrocard value from best (L) to worst (W):

    L: $1.40
    7: $1.30
    Q: $1.25
    1: $1.20
    6: $1.20
    5: $1.15
    J&Z: $1.15
    A: $1.10
    2: $1.05
    3: $1.05
    4: $1.05
    N: $1.05
    D: $1.00
    E: $1.00
    F: $1.00
    R: $1.00
    V: $0.90
    B: $0.80
    C: $0.80
    M: $0.75
    W: $0.70

Click here to view the summary report.

Click here to view the complete report in .pdf format.

Now before you start e-mailing me asking why I forgot to include the G’s Metrocard rating in the list, please know I did not forget. The report did not give a rating to the G due to not having access to reliable crowding data for the line. Should I be surprised that the forgotten stepchild would be left out of something even if it was bad? I feel sorry for those who depend on the most severely unappreciated line in the system. However let me not go there right now….

Just like last year, I am calling bullshit on this line being rated the best. The line obviously scored well due to using a newer fleet of cars & having service run pretty frequently. However did they ask the majority of L riders if they would agree with their findings? Many L riders I know constantly complain about gaps in service at the most random times. When trains do arrive, they are usually packed like sardines & provide a very uncomfortable ride from “Point A” to “Point B”.

While I am not expecting perfect conditions every time I or anyone else ride the L (or any line for that matter), it would be nice to not be packed in like sardines for a majority of our rides. I do not ride the L on a daily basis but I do ride it often. The majority of times I ride the L, I find myself either having a long wait for unknown reasons or deal with a packed train. Quite frankly it feels like I deal with both fronts on the majority of my rides. This is not a line I would consider to be tops in the system.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we find the W Train which rated as the worst line in the system on the report cards. I feel sorry for the line as it along with all the other lines is unfairly graded with such an unscientific manor. One of the main concerns with the report is how they rate the W with the worst performance of a stand-alone line yet in reality it never is an actual stand-alone line. I support the campaign’s effort but If they won’t accurately gauge lines as how they really are, what is the point to undertaking this entire process?

In the end no matter how accurate you consider the report, one thing is for sure. The system needs major improvements across the board & it is up to the riders, politicians, & MTA itself to make sure we do all we can get to bring our transit infrastructure up to the standards we all deserve.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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New Report Highlights What I & Others Already Knew

The string of bad publicity for the MTA continues as two separate reports came out detailing either service or system condition issues. In this entry I will talk about the first report which focused on system conditions. The report was co-sponsored by State Assemblyman Dov Hikind & Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

The report’s initial idea came about to two incidents with the first coming in January involving a 14 year old boy who fell onto the tracks at a Kings Highway station in Brooklyn after part of the platform beneath him collapsed. The second incident occurred at a MTA meeting in February when NYC Transit President Howard Roberts responded to Mr. Hikind’s concerns. Mr. Hikind did not care for the response which led to the birth of the idea for this report.

I have read the entire 9 page report & I must say the results are not surprising although they are disturbing. Here is a small sample of different parts of the report:

Of the ninety-one stations inspected, fifty-seven of them (63% overall) had conditions that represented a significant safety hazard for riders. The conditions documented at stations included cracks in the platform, loose rubbing boards, cracked stairwells, gaps between subway doors and platform, missing sections of platform edge, loose ceiling panels, raised metal and wood plates, eroding cement and other hazardous conditions.

Stations that scored the worst safety ratings were in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. In Brooklyn, the Avenue J, Avenue M and Kings Highway stations of the B and Q Line were given failing grades due to the conditions of the platforms on both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bound sides. The Avenue J station was also given a failing grade in cleanliness category due to the prevalence of full garbage bags on the platform on multiple inspection dates.

In Manhattan, at the 57th Street station of the F line, surveyors encountered widespread erosion throughout the station. The platform edges throughout the station on both the uptown and downtown sides were cracked, not properly connected and in terrible condition overall. Surveyors witnessed a number of homeless individuals sleeping on the mezzanine level as well. The West 4th station of the B/D/F/V lines was also ranked lowest due to similar platform conditions including a segment of rubbing board that was detached from the platform edge and was liable to crack at any time.

In Manhattan, at the 57th Street station of the F line, surveyors encountered widespread erosion throughout the station. The platform edges throughout the station on both the uptown and downtown sides were cracked, not properly connected and in terrible condition overall. Surveyors witnessed a number of homeless individuals sleeping on the mezzanine level as well. The West 4th station of the B/D/F/V lines was also ranked lowest due to similar platform conditions including a segment of rubbing board that was detached from the platform edge and was liable to crack at any time.

Click here to view the entire report.

As I said the results are not surprising yet disturbing at the same time. This is the current state of our system & I don’t want to hear about finances being the only reason for it being this way. When times were going great, where was the MTA in fixing these issues? They as usual only patched up stations here & there instead of properly maintaining each one as if they were as important as the stop before or after it.

This is the system we will most likely be paying even more for starting in 2009. I wonder if doubling the fare is still seen as a good idea…..

xoxo Transit Blogger

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