MTA To Reduce The Proposed Fare Increase

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Q Train Idling @ 21st St.-Queensbridge during a G.O. earlier this year. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Sorry for being late with this entry but I was swamped all day yesterday. Anyhow by now I am sure you have all heard or read the news that the MTA has announced that they will not be raising the $2.00 base fare on buses & subways. The announcement comes after Gov. Spitzer called for the MTA to not go through with raising the base fares. Let me start by sharing the press release that was issued by the MTA yesterday:

MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot G. Sander and Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger today committed to giving straphangers and commuters a break and reducing the amount of the proposed fare and toll increase at a press conference with Governor Eliot Spitzer. The announcement was prompted by feedback from public hearings and the arrival of updated budget forecasts, which added $220 million to the MTA’s year-end balance.

Governor Spitzer expressed his support for the responsible long-term fiscal planning in the MTA’s financial plan, but also urged the MTA to ease the burden on its riders. The MTA committed to revising its fare proposal to hold the $2.00 base fare for subway and bus riders and return the full $220 million to MTA customers over a two year period.

“The MTA’s long-term fiscal picture remains difficult, but right now riders are facing tough financial times and I am pleased that the MTA has agreed to reduce the increase,” Governor Spitzer said.

The MTA announced year-end projections $220 million above the figures projected in July, when the agency’s preliminary financial plan was released. The additional $220 million was derived from the following sources:

Farebox revenue: $60 million due to an approximately one percent increase in anticipated ridership

Real estate taxes: $60 million higher than expected

Underspending: $60 million saved

Debt service costs: $40 million saved

The MTA announced that it would reduce its proposed 6.5 percent fare and toll increase to return the entire $220 million to riders over the next two years, shared proportionately across the MTA’s operating agencies. The reduction will allow the MTA to hold the base fare for subway and bus riders at $2.00.

“The MTA is grateful to Governor Spitzer for his commitment to funding public transit and our four-year financial plan,” Sander said. “We are glad that revenues came in high enough to allow us to limit the fare increase and still address $6 billion in deficits over the next four years.”

MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger joined the Governor and Sander in the announcement, and pledged to work with the Board to reach a conclusion in December.

“When I was confirmed I said I would listen to the public and review the numbers and I am thrilled that we are able to give something back,” Hemmerdinger said. “I believe this is a compromise that helps our customers without compromising our fiduciary responsibility, and I look forward to discussing it further with my fellow Board members.”

Continue reading for my opinion on this latest twist in the fare hike saga


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Second Avenue Subway Gets Guaranteed Federal Funding

Yesterday the MTA issued a press release announcing the guarantee of $1.3 billion dollars in federal funds to help build the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway. The news comes as a formality instead of breaking news since this allotment of funds was first brought up in September. However here is the full press release in all its glory courtesy of the MTA:

Governor Eliot Spitzer today joined James Simpson, Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, in announcing an agreement that guarantees $1.3 billion in federal funding for the construction of the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway. The first phase of the subway project will run along Second Avenue north from 63rd Street to 105th Street, creating three ADA-accessible stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets.

The line will relieve overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue subway line (4, 5 and 6 trains) and is projected to carry 213,000 riders daily. At first, the line will be served by the Q train, which will continue to Coney Island, Brooklyn, via the Broadway express and Brighton Beach local lines.


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Sorry B, Straphangers Will C You Later…


Bedford Park Blvd. bound B train speeding by Neck Rd. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

***BREAKING NEWS***

The MTA has had one of their subway lines earn an average or just below average grade in their respective 2007 Rider Report Card. Please work with me here folks as one can only say the same thing in so many ways. As with many of its peers, today’s culprit is considered average or just below average. Today’s culprit which happens to be the B train, earned a C- for its overall grade. Now lets get straight to the full breakdown.

Top 10 priorities that null train riders’ would like to see improvement on:

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

Now here is the entire order of null train riders’ priorities:

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

Now here is the graded breakdown of all 21 categories:

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

I will be the first to admit the B is not a line I ride often. However based on my experiences riding the line over the years, I feel this report card is pretty accurate. When I have ridden the B the train seems to always have at least one snag that seems to take forever. I’ve noticed this usually takes place in either midtown or as it is going over the Manhattan Bridge.

I also have noticed that for as nice of an express run the B provides along the Brighton Line, the Q is much more consistent. I would always see people get off to catch the express but we would usually always beat them as the B took more than 2-4 minutes to show up. So the express advantage definitely tends to be negated when comparing it to the local Q train.

The only shock to me in regards to this report card is the placement of station announcements at #10. I happen to agree with Benjamin Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas a 100% in regards to the quality of the announcements & its rank on the list. I would have thought this would have been in the top 5 at most as far as priorities are concerned. I suggest you check out Benjamin’s breakdown of the B’s “Rider Report Card” since he has much more experience with the line especially being a daily rider. He brings up excellent points as to why it will be hard if not impossible to improve parts of B service.

I will end this by saying the number of responses received was quite low. I guess I am not as surprised especially considering this is a part time line.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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More Of The Same……


3 train pulling into the New Lots Avenue terminal. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Continuing with the theme of barely being at or below average, another subway line has graded out with a C or C-. This time the culprit is the 2 train’s West Side Express partner, the 3 train. The 3 finished with an overall grade of a C- which was a notch below its partner which is fitting considering it is treated as being a notch below priority wise to the 2. Now it is time for the full breakdown of the 3′s 2007 Rider Report Card.

Top 10 priorities that null train riders’ would like to see improvement on:

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

Now here is the entire order of null train riders’ priorities:

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

Now here is the graded breakdown of all 21 categories:

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

Like with the 2 train Rider Report Card, I feel riders were quite accurate with their grading for the 3 train. I see the 3 train as the stepchild of all the express trains on the West Side especially when comparing it to its 7th Avenue partner the 2 train. I tend to notice at least a 2-1 ratio of 2′ trains to 3′ trains which is scary considering how long the wait times can be for the 2.

The one positive I can say about the 3 is that of the 2 7th Avenue express routes, you would be more likely to get a seat on the 3. The problem is though with such a ratio of 2′ trains to 3′ trains, the wait for a non-guaranteed seat takes out any advantage one might have in using the 3. I also have a beef with the idea of running the 3 as a shuttle during the overnight hours & forcing residents to rely on a bus to go anywhere from 10-13 blocks. However I will leave that debate for another time.

As far as the number of responses go, it was another low turnout which I have come to expect. The final tally was 1,705 which is pitiful if you ask me. I guess it could be worse, the tally could have been 380 like the 42nd Street Shuttle!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Running Out Of Ways To Say This….


241st/Wakefield bound 2 train entering Simpson St. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

I am running out of clever ways to say that enter any line here ____ is at or below average according to their 2007 Rider Report Card. Today’s usual suspect is the 2 train which finished with an overall grade of a C for its rider report card. As usual here is the full breakdown.

Top 10 priorities that null train riders’ would like to see improvement on:

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

Now here is the entire order of null train riders’ priorities:

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

Now here is the graded breakdown of all 21 categories:

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

I must commend the straphangers on this report card. I think they were quite accurate in grading this line. I personally try & avoid the 2 at all costs. The wait time for the 2 especially during rush hour is quite sub par. Lets not get started with out uncomfortable this line can be unless you getting on at a stop near the beginning of each line. If you are riding it in the other stretches, good luck getting a seat at just about any time of the day! If anything I feel the line deserved a F in the top 3 priority categories.

I only have two issues with this report card. The first as usual is the low number of report cards submitted to the MTA especially for such a highly used line. My other complaint is the incorrect grading of train announcements. The 2 exclusively runs R142′s & as we know the sound quality of those announcements are excellent. I wonder if the people voting incorrectly are the same who are so wrapped up in their own world that they don’t hear announcements. This is not the fault of the MTA. I am a firm believer in giving people credit when it is deserved. When it comes to train cars with high quality announcements, any line running R142′s, R143′s, or R160′s deserve a high grade.

As far as responses go, the number received was in line with what I expected which is complete disappointment. The total number of responses was 4,028 which the MTA called outstanding. I call that pathetic as you could count that many people in under 30 minutes on 2 trains. I really hope next year will bring better results.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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