J Train Service Alert

The MTA has just posted a service alert regarding train service alert. The service alert states:

In addition, due to debris on the track at the 121st Street Station, there is no Jamaica Center-bound trains between the 111th Street Station and the Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer Station.

Please expect delays in train service at this time.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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C & E Train Service Alert

The MTA has posted a service alert regarding & train service. The service alert states:

Due to a police investigation at the Canal Street Station, Euclid Avenue-bound trains and World Trade Center-bound trains are running on the express track between the 42nd Street-Port Authority Station and the Canal Street Station.

Please expect delays in a, and train service at this time.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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You Can’t Be Serious!

I was browsing the Daily News website & spotted an article from transit reporter Pete Donohue which should be in this morning’s paper. The article’s content angered me as it couldn’t be real, could it? The article discussed the approval of a $10,000 raise to MTA CEO & Executive Director Elliot Sander. The raise will bring his total salary package to $350,000 a year. Here is the full article courtesy of the Daily News:

The MTA’s finances have been tanking – and straphangers may get hit with another round of fare hikes – but that didn’t stop Authority CEO Elliot Sander from snagging a raise.

Hired to the tune of $340,000 just 18 months ago, Sander last month received a $10,000 boost to his economic package, which includes a base salary and other benefits, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority confirmed Monday.

Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger authorized the approximately 3% increase, which is retroactive to January, the MTA said.

“You’re kidding,” said an incredulous Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. “It’s a mistake. I think he’s a great head of the MTA, but you don’t raise salaries in the middle of talk about a fare hike. … The message it sends is not a good one amid tough times for the riding public.”

Hemmerdinger released a statement defending the move.

“I approved a 3% increase for the executive director/CEO, equal to increases earned by the management that reports to him,” Hemmerdinger said. “Lee is still paid less than the heads of smaller transit agencies in Washington and Los Angeles, and far less than what he would earn in the private sector.”

Nonunion MTA managers and executives received a 3% raise in April.

Sander last week told a state Assembly committee that the MTA’s projected 2009 operating budget deficit could be in the $500 to $700 million range. Unless the state and city provide additional subsidies, the MTA, which raised fares and tolls in March, would have to impose another set of hikes next year, Sander said. The MTA is legally required to have a balanced budget.

The deficit is expanding because of the sliding economy, resulting in a huge drop in revenues the MTA gets from taxes on certain real estate transactions in the region. In addition, its fuel costs have soared and payments on billions of dollars in debt are sky-high.

The MTA’s next five-year capital plan will likely be in the $29billion range and have a funding gap of as much as $20 billion, Sander has said.

A former city transportation commissioner, Sander was a vice president with an international transportation firm when former Gov. Elliot Spitzer picked him for the top MTA administrative post. His original contract granted an annual salary of $265,000, an annual housing allowance of $60,000 and $15,000 in deferred compensation toward a retirement package.

The MTA declined to specify how the parts of that package changed but said the value increase was $10,000.

I agree 100% with Gene Russianoff. I think Elliot has been doing a good job trying to fix the years of abuse that went on at the MTA. However even with saying that, there is such a thing as the right time & wrong time to do things. It is quite obvious that the timing of this raise falls in the wrong time category. I think it is absolutely pathetic that you can cry poverty in one hand & dish out cash in another. While the amount is not big, it is clearly the principle of it.

One of the main goals Elliot had was to earn back the belief of the riding public in the MTA. How can he really expect the timing of this to help that cause? In a time where every dollar counts for the cash strapped agency, I think raises are the last thing any of them should be worrying about. Lets focus on the bigger picture of getting the cash you so desperately need to fund current & future projects along with system upkeep.

As far as Mr. Hemmerdinger goes, he really should put a sock in it. I can not stand when someone tries to compare an apple to an orange to help justify their decision. If you really have to think about why you made the choice you did, it most likely was the wrong one. What someone gets paid at an unrelated transit agency has nothing to do with the bigger picture which is the mess you are currently in. Instead of making the rich richer, how about lacing up your boots & get to fixing the mess known as your finances!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Could Job Vacancies Stall Major Projects?

If you ask The Federal Transit Administration, they will tell you yes. This is according to what was writing in a report from April. Pete Donohue of the Daily News wrote an article about this report & here it is courtesy of the Daily News:

The Federal Transit Administration is concerned that major MTA construction projects could be mucked up because the authority hasn’t filled high-level management positions, the Daily News has learned.

“Several key positions,” including Capital Construction president, “continue to be filled on a temporary basis and other key positions are still vacant,” FTA monitors wrote in an April report in a section titled Major Issues/Problems.

Later in the report, which focuses on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s extension of the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal, the feds observe that an MTA-hired consultant “continues to stress the importance for [the MTA] to fill these positions as soon as possible to properly manage a project of this magnitude.”

Completion dates for the LIRR extension have been pushed back several times and are now pegged by the MTA at February 2015. The final price tag has risen by more than $1 billion to $8.4 billion.

The FTA report doesn’t blame changes to the original schedule or budget on a lack of leadership.

The agency has said that construction costs for transit projects nationwide have increased by nearly 40% in recent years in part because of a worldwide building boom.

The report makes clear that the federal government is closely watching the MTA’s so-called mega projects and expects the MTA to quickly address issues that arise.

MTA Capital Construction Co. President Mysore Nagaraja left the MTA for private practice Dec. 31 after delaying his departure for several months.

“The FTA knows and is satisfied that a new president will be named shortly,” the MTA said in response to a Daily News question.

A high-ranking MTA executive has been serving as acting president.

Another position discussed in the April federal report is the LIRR extension project’s “program executive,” the highest post on the project. The senior-vice president with that role resigned in April 2005. His replacement started work on Monday, the MTA said.

So raise your hands if you are surprised to hear that the East Side Access project is not only going to be late but over budget! I am looking around the room & see no hands up. I must say I am shocked at seeing no hands up! (Hey maestro, cue the super sarcastic music please!)

xoxo Transit Blogger

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A Very Useful Commuting Tool

I just stumbled upon a very useful commuting tool thanks to Steve Ritea of Newsday. He has an article that will appear in today’s edition of Newsday which talks about CleverCommute.com . Here is his article courtesy of Newsday:

Feb. 12, the evening rush: A stalled Long Island Rail Road train in Valley Stream and an engine that struck a car near Wyandanch already meant a nightmare commute.

Then the LIRR’s Web server went down, and things went from bad to worse, with e-mail alerts cut off to most of the 22,100 commuters who rely on them.

Except for those in the know about Clever Commute.

“On the 4:37 to Wantagh,” one commuter wrote to others on the Babylon branch that night. “Stuck in Valley Stream indefinitely with disabled train stuck in the crossover tracks.”

That night, commuters filled in for each other when the LIRR failed them, thanks to a free, user-based alert service created by Port Washington native Josh Crandall.

It started with Crandall, 43, gathering e-mail addresses from friends to alert one another any time there were delays.

His list grew so large that in the spring of 2007, he created a Web site, clevercommute.com.

Today LIRR customers make up about 25 percent of his users.

Maureen Michaels of Huntington, vice chairwoman of the LIRR Commuter’s Council and a Clever Commute devotee, said Crandall’s service frequently beats the LIRR’s system.

“Repeatedly, they have been out in front, way ahead of the railroad, on getting you information sooner,” she said.

As I said, I just stumbled across this website today due to Steve’s article. I definitely plan on signing up as having access to good system condition information right at your fingertips is something that can not be passed up!

xoxo  Transit Blogger

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