Service Diversions 08-08

I have just updated the service diversions page with the latest scheduled diversions for this weekend plus next week (and beyond in some cases). Don’t forget to check in for any changes to the page. I also suggest printing out a copy of the page to use while riding the system.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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$210 Million Grant Approved For LIRR East Side Access Project

Earlier today New York Senators Charles Schumer & Hillary Clinton announced the official approval of funding for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) East Side Access project. The funding will come in the form of a $210 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Steve Ritea of Newsday filed this brief report:

Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced $210 million in federal funding for East Side Access, the $7.2-billion project to link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal by 2015.

Although the funds — received through a grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation — were already anticipated, their final approval is nonetheless welcome news as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wrestles with a fiscal crisis that forced the agency to delay a slew of other, smaller capital projects last month.

“East Side Access is a crucial mass transit project for New York City, and this funding means less crowded subways and buses, more convenient routes and less wear and tear on our rails and roads,” Schumer said.

“This is a wise investment in New York’s infrastructure that will improve transportation services for many New Yorkers and Long Islanders who are feeling the strain of the daily commute,” Clinton added.

The project, which still needs about $3 billion in funds, recently reached a milestone when one of the tunnels the LIRR needs between Queens and Grand Central was completed.

Also Thursday, Schumer announced the Federal Transit Administration has awarded $490,000 for upgrades at Long Island Bus, which serves Nassau County.

I am excited to see the federal government help fund our transit infrastructure. Sorry I can’t be more excited about it though as I’m not a big supporter of the East Side Access Project in terms of it being completed before more significant projects. I am happy to see Long Island Bus get some funds as that division could use a complete overhaul to be able to provide the service it should for Long Island residents.

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MTA Looking Into Station Sponsorships Again

The MTA is looking under every rock to find ways to bring more money in. Last month I wrote about their plan of looking to ads to add financial muscle. Today’s edition of AMNY features an article by transportation writer Matthew Sweeney which talks about the idea of selling station sponsorships to companies. Here is a brief sample of his article:

Imagine Mickey Mouse greeting passengers as they step onto the platform at a “Disney Times Square” station or “CitiStation” beneath Citigroup Center at 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue.”

In the midst of a financial crisis, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is looking at corporate sponsorship of subway stations to help fill its massive budget gap.

“We’re looking to see what more we can do to raise revenue through station advertising,” MTA CEO Elliot Sander told amNewYork.

Sponsorship, little more than a sketch on paper at this point, could become the most visible component of the agency’s aggressive push to increase advertising revenue, which currently brings in a little more than $100 million a year.

Click here for the entire article.

I support this idea of sponsoring stations. The kind of revenue this could bring in if done right would be huge for the MTA. Major companies would not pass up an opportunity to target a subway system that moves millions of people around daily.

Outside of the money factor, I feel this would be a great way to help fund the complete cleanup & repair of stations throughout the system. Do you really think Disney for instance would spend millions on advertising & have their station look like utter garbage? I sure don’t think so.

As far as overdoing it is concerned, I don’t think that applies in this case. Riders see advertisements every single day so what would be different about this? It is not like the MTA will allow a company to turn a station into an amusement park. Riders should seriously look at the bigger picture instead of worrying about such inconsequential things. As far as Playboy is concerned, do you really think the MTA would allow them to advertise? People should think before saying something so stupid. Lets hope the MTA does not blow this golden opportunity to rake in the dough.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Gov Patterson Flexes His Veto Muscle

If you happen to keep up with Long Island politics, you would have heard about the battle over building a truck-rail yard in Brentwood. The proposed truck-rail yard is to be built on part of the property where the former Pilgrim State Hospital currently sits.

Gov. Patterson has supported this project as he sees it as a viable way to help decrease the reliance on trucks & the traffic they bring to the island. The bill he vetoed would have killed any plans for such a facility as it called for the property to be added to the Oak Brush Plains Preserve. Elizabeth Moore of Newsday has more on this story with the report she filed earlier today:

Gov. David A. Paterson has vetoed a bill that would have killed plans for a truck-rail yard on part of the former Pilgrim State Hospital property in Brentwood by adding the land to the Oak Brush Plains Preserve instead.

Paterson says he believes environmental reviews should continue on the proposed Long Island Truck/Rail Intermodal, or LITRIM, which would reduce truck traffic by 156,000 truck trips per year by shifting more freight to the rail lines. That would reduce carbon emissions by 3,448 tons, since trains use less fuel than trucks, he said.

“Enacting this bill would end this process and forever block the only opportunity to build LITRIM at Pilgrim, a project that may have enormous benefits for the residents of Long Island in improving congestion and air quality,” the governor wrote in his veto message, delivered to lawmakers Thursday.

Click here to read the entire article.

The battle over this project comes from your typical neighborhood residents crying about any sort of development. The mentality in many of the suburbs in the tri-state area is of the selfish kind. Once they find a neighborhood to call their own, damn to anyone who attempts to bring in anything that could help the overall population of a region. It is all about what it does or does not do for their desires. Yet one could safely bet that many of these same people are of the green mentality & wanting to help the environment. Well if that is the case, why go against a project that would clearly help out the environment? They can’t have it both ways….

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MTA #3333 Service Is Fading Into Oblivion

Millions of straphangers depend on the NYC Subway to get them from “Point A” to “Point B”. Sometimes service diversions throw a wrench into the best laid plans. The MTA for years has provided immediate access to straphangers in case of such an occurrence through their 3333 service. The service which is only accessible from Verizon payphones inside subway stations. Unfortunately in an age of cellphones, Blackberries, PDA’s, etc…. this vital service has started the ultimate nosedive into oblivion. AMNY Transit Reporter Matthew Sweeney has more in this report:

Known to few, often forgotten, and slowly making its way toward the technological dustbin is the subway payphone #3333 service.

Dialing #-3-3-3-3 brings up a free recording of scheduled transit service changes.

Introduced in 2001, and once heavily advertised, the service is still available at some 4,000 payphones maintained by Verizon, transit officials said.

Currently, riders continue to count largely on signs and announcements, which can sometimes be confusing, to say the least. Few remember #3333.

Click here for the complete report.

It is sad that more people are not taking advantage of this free service. There is no reason as to why the service gets such a small amount of calls when millions of people use the subway. One would think that even in a world with such advanced technology, riders wound find use out of such a service. It is fine to carry a Treo (like myself), Blackberry, Sidekick, etc… but when you are underground & get no signal, they are virtually worthless.

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