Community Board Opposes Part Of MTA’s Flood Prevention Plan

As we all know by now, especially those depending on the Queens Blvd corridor, the MTA’s kryptonite is rain. Heavy rains have been the MTA’s biggest opponent when it comes to operating their subway service. The worst defeat came last year during the August storm that saw flooding render the subway system useless in all 4 boroughs.

Since that storm, the MTA has been working on ways to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. Some of these ways were discussed when they released a storm report last September to then New York Governor Elliot Spitzer. One of the suggestions in the report was the following:

One of the most promising tools to fight sidewalk vent gratings/station entrance issues is street
furniture designed to raise vent heights to prevent water inflow.

This very idea has caused some uproar amongst members of Community Board 1 who feel such a plan is too much for what they feel is a rare occurrence. NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza has more in this report:

It was the kind of deluge that’s so rare, it’s known as a 100-year storm – and for something that has happened so infrequently, some say one of the MTA’s solutions makes no sense.

“The proposed solution to a 100-year flood risk is a permanent solution, so we’re going to have to live with it for the 99 and 3/4 years that we don’t have floods,” said Roger Byrom of Community Board 1.

That permanent solution is new street furniture that elevates the sidewalk grates, preventing water from cascading down into the system. The design also features benches and bike racks. In the next week or so, a prototype will be installed on West Broadway, with many more to follow.

But the local community board says the MTA should have a better response plan for heavy rains, instead of installing permanent structures they say will crowd the sidewalks and detract from a historic district. Then again, those 100 year storms aren’t so rare anymore.

Click here for the complete text & video for this report.

I can honestly see their point about the furniture taking up valuable room on sidewalks. Lets face it sidewalks throughout the city especially in Manhattan are usually crowded with what is currently on them much less permanent fixtures as this. However my main concern is preventing any sort of a repeat of what happened last August. Even if a storm of that nature is not happening, constant leaking of rain onto the tracks & tunnel is something that needs to be taken care of.

Before I pass complete judgment on the permanent structures, I would like to see them physically in person to determine how much of a hindrance it would truly be. In the end it really needs to be about system conditions over actual looks.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR Service Alert

LIRR service on the Far Rockaway branch is suspended in both directions between Valley Stream & Far Rockaway. The suspension of service is due to a taxi that caught fire on the tracks west of Hewlett. Expect delays to last through the rest of the rush hour.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Buses To Replace Trains On The Ronkonkoma Line

I just received word about buses replacing trains on the Ronkonkoma line this upcoming Saturday. The press release which should be made public later today states:

The MTA Long Island Rail Road will provide bus service in place of trains on the Ronkonkoma Branch during overnight/early-morning hours (12:45 AM to 6:30 AM) on Saturday, September 20, while rail inspections are conducted. Four eastbound and four westbound trains operating through the overnight will be canceled between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma. To minimize inconvenience to our customers, buses will be provided for passengers to complete their trips.

In performing track inspection, LIRR track maintenance crews will utilize a vehicle fitted with ultrasonic technology and electro-magnetic induction test equipment. This bright yellow vehicle, the Sperry Rail Car, is designed to detect internal rail defects otherwise not readily visible to the eye. Track maintenance workers will immediately correct any defects uncovered.

To ensure that our rails are properly maintained, the Sperry Rail Car is used biannually to inspect approximately 500 miles of LIRR track.

Saturday, September 20 – Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma:

The Sperry Rail Car will be conducting rail tests between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma between 12:45 AM and 6:30 AM.

Eastbound:

Customers on the 12:23 AM, 1:19 AM, 2:46 AM and 4:41 AM trains from Penn Station to Ronkonkoma will transfer to buses at Hicksville for stations Wyandanch through Ronkonkoma. Bethpage and Farmingdale customers will remain on the train to their stations.

Westbound:

Customers on the 12:47 AM, 2:16 AM, 3:48 AM and 5:43 AM trains from Ronkonkoma will board buses at stations Ronkonkoma through Wyandanch and transfer to trains at Hicksville to complete their trips. Customers utilizing Bethpage and Farmingdale stations will board normally scheduled trains.

During this testing, customers should anticipate up to 25 minutes additional travel time.

Well if I’m coming home on the LIRR Friday night/Saturday morning, I will be sure to take the Babylon line instead. Who feels like dealing with shuttle bus service when you are exhausted & want to get home! Just for the record, I am not complaining about this work as it is necessary. I’m just saying how I feel sometimes when I just want to get home & hate having to take the LIRR as it is.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Withdraws Plans For 2.7 Billion Capital Program Cuts

This past June the MTA announced plans to cut 2.7 billion dollars from the current five year capital program. The cuts which were criticized by many riders & transit advocates were going to postpone such things as upgrades to subway tunnels & signals along with 19 station rehabs. However out of nowhere the MTA has withdrew the controversial cuts (for now) & here with the story that will appear in today’s Metro New York is Patrick Arden:

The MTA withdrew a controversial plan to slash 15 percent from its current five-year capital program last week, just days before the proposal faced a state panel’s deadline.

“We were prepared to support the amendment,” said Long Island Republican John Flanagan, the state Senate’s rep on the MTA Capital Program Review Board.

“But the Assembly had some major concerns.”

These concerns centered on $2.4 billion in cuts to city subway and bus programs, including the loss of rehabs to 19 stations. Overall, the $2.7 billion in MTA cuts were technically “deferred” into the next five-year capital program, yet funding for that plan remains uncertain.

Click here for the complete article.

Many of you probably think I am excited at this news. However I am not as I smell a rat. If you really analyze the situation, you will see what is truly going on here. The MTA clearly withdrew the plans not because they all of a sudden found the money for their plans or felt the riders did not deserve to suffer. They withdrew the plans because they knew damn well the Assembly would not approve them.

So you ask yourself why would I be upset at that? I’ll tell you why, it is because the Assembly is not doing it for the benefit of the riders. They would not approve the cuts due to their own selfish needs. The agenda is as clear as a picture perfect blue sky. Speaking as an Assemblyman or Assemblywoman, elections are coming up soon & we don’t want to upset our constituents. Lets pull the wool over their eyes once again by making it seem like we are serving their best interests when we clearly are not. This is nothing but your typical political game of “Lets look good for our own good” which plays out in every level of politics.

Instead of getting to the task at hand which should be finding ways to legitimately fund the system it has financially neglected for years, it puts a P.R. band-aid over a huge flesh wound in the hopes we won’t notice. I hate to break it to you but transit advocates, bloggers, & such are not fooled. If you don’t want to help fund our transit system, we will vote in people who will! Don’t believe me, just watch come election time!

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Will Obama/Biden White House Really Help Amtrak

Ever since Barack Obama tapped Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his vice presidential nominee, much has been made of how Amtrak would benefit from an Obama/Biden White House. The general point being how it has been heavily publicized that Joe uses Amtrak to commute daily to & from Washington D.C. The main point stems from his voting record which has shown strong support for funding the much maligned rail road agency.

However an article in yesterday’s Washington Post questions whether an Obama/Biden White House means automatic help for Amtrak. Here is a sample of Ben Pershing’s article:

By now, it’s nearly impossible to have missed the fact that Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), the Democratic vice presidential nominee, is such a homebody and regular guy that he rides Amtrak between Washington and Delaware every day when Congress is in session.

But Biden isn’t just one of the passenger rail system’s most famous commuters — he is also one of its biggest supporters in the Senate.

“He’s right up there,” said David Johnson, deputy director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. “I’d say in the top five [in the Senate] for sure. I can definitely say he’s the biggest user.”

Click here for the complete article

I am concerned at the mindset of many who feel such a ticket would mean automatic help for Amtrak. The agency which in my & many others opinion continues to be run in the ground should not get more funding until it commits to running itself properly. The agency clearly should shape their routes based on what the passengers actually need & desire instead of wasting money & resources on routes that clearly have a lack of ridership & overall purpose.

My other concern is the lack of talk about how this duo would help fund our transit infrastructure across the country. During Obama’s nomination acceptance speech, I heard about investing in new roads & making cars more affordable. I did not hear a single point of showing a need to invest in our transit systems which would make our country a better place if invested in. The coming months should be quite telling as to how serious this duo is in really helping America improve which strong transit systems would be a vital part of.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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