NYC Para Transit Drivers Officially On Strike

5 days ago, I wrote about the possibility of NYC Para Transit drivers going on strike on Monday if both sides did not return to the bargaining table. Unfortunately Monday is here & the drivers are officially on strike. Here is a brief article about the strike courtesy of 1010 Wins:

A union representing 1,500 drivers for the disabled and chronically ill went on strike Monday.

The companies they work for serve nearly half of the passengers who cannot use mass transit for health or physical reasons.

Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for the managers, confirmed the strike began after midnight. The union could not immediately be reached for comment.

A union representing 1,500 drivers for the disabled and chronically ill said a strike was all but certain Monday after management refused to meet for round-the-clock negotiations.

The Para Transit Drivers and Mechanics of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181-1061 rejected a contract offer in the fall. Since then, the union said, management has turned down requests to resume talks.

“Rather than commit to collective bargaining, the bus companies have deliberately brought us to the picket line,” said Tommy Mullins, a union vice president and trustee of the local.

The private bus companies claim an internal union struggle is behind the walkout threat.

Yesterday the MTA issued a statement on the possibility of a strike on behalf of their NYC Transit division. Here is their statement:

NYC Transit is aware that Amalgamated Transport Union Local 1181-1061 has threatened to call for a job action or strike against four Access-A-Ride carriers on Monday, December 10, 2007. Those carriers are: Atlantic Paratrans, Inc.; Maggies Paratransit Corp. ; Mv Transportation, Inc., and; Transit Facility Mgmt Corp.

These carriers, under contract with MTA New York City Transit provide approximately 50 % of Paratransit daily scheduled services. However, this is a private labor dispute between the ATU and the carriers. NYC Transit is not a party to these negotiations.

Access-A-Ride will continue to schedule trips for users of the service who rely on these contractors. However, this is subject to change as we determine the availability of drivers and vehicles and other delays that could arise in the event of a job action.

If there is a job action against these providers, NYC Transit will reassign affected subscription trips, especially medically essential trips (i.e. dialysis treatment, chemotherapy, etc.). NYC Transit also has contingency plans to utilize supplemental service provided by private ambulette carriers. Where possible, the Paratransit Command Center will rely on additional vehicles and drivers provided by other Access-A-Ride providers.

This added capacity will also be used to address customers whose return trip is affected by any job action. Paratransit will also respond to customer inquiries and authorize taxi or vouchers for car service to those affected customers who call to make alternate arrangements. But customers will only be allowed to book next day trips in advance.

Lets hope this issue is resolved as quickly as possible where both sides are satisfied. The disabled riders need every bit of service this provides even if it is sub par in many ways.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Rider Report Card Briefs

NY1 has posted a few brief notes on the “Rider Report Card” results for the , , & Staten Island Railway. I continue to wait for the MTA to post the full results for the R, & V as I have seen links to them for a good 3-4 days now. However the links continue to open a “Page Not Found” page. As of now, here is what we know about the results.

The R & V both finished with an overall grade of C-. They also both earned a D for station & train announcements. As far as the Staten Island Railway goes, it earned an overall grade of C+. The highest grade earned was a B for minimal delays. The lowest grade was a C- which it earned in 3 categories. The three categories were station announcements, train announcements, & graffiti in cars. The top 3 priorities were adequate room on board during rush hour, a sense of security in stations, & trains arriving/departing on time. As usual, you can expect a full breakdown of the grades along with my analysis when the results are posted.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Names The Initial General Managers….

Continuing with news on the big transit story of the last 24 hours, the MTA announced the initial general managers for the 7 & L lines as part of their testing of a new management reorganization. The two men named as initial general managers are Greg Lombardi & Lou Brassica. Mr. Lombardi will be using the wisdom gained in his 28 years of experience to lead the charge for the L train.  Meanwhile Mr. Brassica will be using the wisdom he gained in his 26 years of experience in leading the 7 train.

The two men officially start their new post on Monday but are already starting to get to work. They both will be visiting each station along their respective lines to hear suggestions & complaints. They will also be using the results of their respective report cards (7 train & L train) to help them learn what needs to be done to ensure the satisfaction of their ridership.

Personally I hope the promised communication option of reaching the general managers directly via the MTA website starting next week is a reality & not a sham. I like many others will hopefully have our voices heard when he offer suggestions via the website. I know as of now the responses are typically automatically generated which serves no purposes. Lets hope that the change on paper is what will actually take place in reality.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Looks To Shakeup The NYC Subway With Reorganization….

By now I am sure you have all heard about the MTA’s plan to shakeup management of the NYC Subway by undergoing massive reorganization. When I first heard about the news, I wanted to write an entry. However I thought it would best if I gave it some thought before commenting. So with the thinking process mixed in with other things needing attention, I am now getting down to writing my feelings on the idea. In case you missed it, here is the cliff notes version of the plan. The MTA is looking to give each subway line their own boss who would be in charge of everything from track repair to the cleanliness & everything in between.

I will be honest, I thought this was a horrible idea when I first heard it. I immediately asked myself why is the MTA looking to add another layer of bureaucracy to what is already a huge mess from management ranks to the very top. However when I sat down & thought about it, I realized this idea could possibly work although some legitimate roadblocks are in the way of this actually doing so.

On one side of the coin, a plan such as this is essentially eliminating several layers of management that are not needed. This move now puts all of the leadership responsibilities on individuals who actually do the operating as opposed to someone just being what I like to call a “Title Only” employee. I can guarantee you one thing many “Title Only” employees who line the walls at locations on Broadway, Jay St., & Livingston St. are worried & as they should be!

Clean stations & trains which were 2 big issues in most of the “Rider Report Cards” should see an improvement under such a management style. One would think so considering that one person is in charge of 468 stations under the current way of doing things. Seriously why do you think it takes forever to get something done! One person responsible for the overall state of all stations is why we have the disaster we have today. When you think of it in that prospective along with the reality of this individual not really answering to anyone, it is to be expected that the overall situation would reek of chaos.

NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts Jr is used to this sort of management style. He helped the agency implement a similar plan back in the 1980’s for the agency’s bus operations. During the 1980’s, managers were hired to run each borough individually. So we can at least know that this sort of plan is not foreign to the powers that be within the MTA.

However all is not peachy in regards to this plan. Now lets look at the potential downfalls of this plan. For starters while competition can bring out the best in people, the same can be said for it bringing out the worst in people. Unlike buses, implementing this sort of management style faces major hurdles with subways.

Lets look at a possible issue with timeliness as this will be a major category for assessing the performance of lines. Right now as we know it, many connections are made between lines at different points in the system. What happens when a manager does not want to jeopardize his line’ schedule by waiting for a connecting train which is now a competitor of softs?

Unfortunately this is not the only issue that can throw a wrench into these plans. By putting managers in charge of individual lines, what happens in locations such as the 59th St M.T., DeKalb, Murphy, E. 180th St….. when decisions have to be made as to which line gets priority? Do you see how this could turn into some unneeded drama as people fight for their line since the bar has been raised to a competitive level? I don’t know if things will turn into a live WWE PPV, but the possibility is definitely there for some heated drama!

One has to seriously wonder if such a plan can possibly work for what is by far the most complexed subway system in the world. Lets use the DeKalb complex as an example. Who exactly would have the final say on what line would have priority in the case of a delay considering multiple lines pass through? We will have individual line managers who will stick up for their line & rightfully so especially if this new structure has incentives attached to it. This kind of potential drama which is guaranteed to come to fruition at some point will lead to infighting about how “Person A” caused “Person B’s” line to be delayed. See where this is going……

Now lets look at the possibility of timeliness issues that I previously mentioned. The first two lines to start this new structure will be the 7 & L. These lines are what I call the ultimate “softball” choices as both lines share no trackage, signals or tower with any other line. So in theory these lines avoid the drama I outlined could & probably will come of such a structure. However this does not mean everything is in the clear.

While the 7 & L are loners, they do have scheduling setup in mind to match ridership demands for transfers to other lines at key stops in the system. The 7 has the key transfer to the N & W at Queensboro Plaza & the L has the A, J, & Z at Broadway Junction but more so the J & Z. What happens when you have the MTA encouraging self sufficiency which can lead to poor communications between so called “competing” operations? Well one can only imagine that riders would suffer under such circumstances as they are the ones who depend on these key connections & poor communication especially during high headway periods are not good for anyone involved.

All of this might seem like I am looking to automatically shoot down the hopes of the new brass to better our system. However I am not doing this as I like millions of others want to see the vision of the new brass lead us to a system we can be proud to use daily while going about our lives. Unfortunately when one looks towards the future, they must also objectively look at what can hold us back from reaching everyone’s desired goal of the best transportation system possible!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Proof The NYPD Has Nothing Better To Do!

I am sure by now you have all heard of the operation being run by the NYPD called “Operation Lucky Bag”. The purpose of this operation is to catch people who would steal goods such as cell phones, an Ipod, or wallets after they were dropped by an innocent straphanger. The operation starts when an undercover officer drops a cell phone, Ipod, or wallet in a subway station. When someone picks up the item, cops pounce on the unsuspecting person. When they pounce on the unsuspecting person, they frisk the individual, demand ID, & run a criminal background check.

The New York Daily News featured a story on photographer Carlos Alayo. Mr. Alayo was a victim of “Operation Lucky Bag” as he was frisked, forced to show id & had a criminal background check run because he picked up a wallet he found on a platform at the Grand Central station. Mr. Alayo felt & was treated like a criminal for being a good Samaritan. His face turned colors as tons of rush hour straphangers watched the situation unfold. He was eventually released after his background check came back just fine.

Now can someone tell me what the hell is the point to this operation? How does the genius behind this idea sleep at night knowing they are now making good Samaritans think twice about doing what is right? How do they feel knowing they are wasting resources on a pointless operation? Unfortunately they & the rest of the NYPD seem to sleep fine as they consider this operation a success so far. They are proud of the fact that 100 people have been detained during this operation & 58 had rap sheets.

Are you kidding me? This is the reason why they think it is a success? Have these clowns ever heard of probability? Pick a random sample of 100 people from anywhere & some are bound to have some sort of rap sheet. Why do they need an idiotic operation such as this to tell them that? This operation accomplishes nothing productive unless they had having more people hate them as a goal! Seriously ths has to be one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard or seen executed & that is saying something! I hope Mr. Alayo & any of the other 42 who were wrongfully detained sue the pants off the NYPD as they would deserve it!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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