Bloomberg Says WTC Hub Plans Must Be Scaled Back

In today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, you can find a very strong editorial on the proposed World Trade Center Hub by Mayor Bloomberg. Lets get straight to his words on the project he feels must be scaled back as it is too complicated to build:

The eyes of the world will again turn to Lower Manhattan this week as we mark the seventh anniversary of September 11, and as we remember all those we lost on that tragic day. Aerial views of the World Trade Center site will show steel beams that are finally swinging into place as part of the construction of the Freedom Tower and 9/11 museum and memorial.

Progress on the redevelopment of the World Trade Center has been frustratingly slow, owing in large part to a multilayered governance structure that has undermined accountability from the get-go. The city does not own or control the site, but we do control the streets around it. For those who widen their gaze, the rebirth of Lower Manhattan is impossible to miss.

For decades before 9/11, Lower Manhattan was a financial capital but not much of a neighborhood, with most shops closing their doors after 5 p.m. and on weekends. In 2002, we laid out a vision of a new Lower Manhattan that is both a global financial capital and a 24/7 residential community.

Click here for the complete editorial.

This might ruffle the feathers of some out there but I can’t deny how I feel. The World Trade Center transportation hub & area around Ground Zero are long overdue in terms of being built. Tomorrow marks the 7th anniversary of the terror attacks that forever changed the landscape of our country & possibly world. I find absolutely no justified reason as to why these projects have not been completed.

If a college professor wanted to have a lesson about how politics & the greed of some can undermine a whole process, this would be the perfect story to use. There are clearly too many palms looking to get greased which leads to the endless squabble we currently endure. The biggest culprit in all of this is the actual memorial itself. I’m sure I will get flack for that comment but I feel it is the absolute truth.

The memorial seems to have a choke hold on every single aspect of development. While I can understand the family’s need for a memorial, their relentless desire to have things their way in terms of a memorial has led to one delay after another. I’m sorry but while I feel sorry for the victims of the attack, I don’t feel they & their families desires should supersede the needs of the area & NYC as a whole.

Some argue that the transportation hub should be a marvel of art that will have people talking from here to Dubai. However others like myself realize that the functions the hub would provide are the real concern as compared to the overall cosmetics. We are not saying we want a hub that looks like complete garbage but we don’t need it to be this amazing piece of structure that gets the world talking. There is a time & place for cosmetics to reign supreme but a transportation hub is not one of them.

We clearly need to rid the overall development of Lower Manhattan of people who will just continue to deter from the work that should have been done yesterday. I should take a vote as to what project will be completed first, Ground Zero & the surrounding areas or the Second Avenue Subway.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Unveils New Anti-Terrorism Advertisements

Just a short while ago the MTA unveiled their new anti-terrorism advertisements. The new ads are an update to the award winning “See Something, Say Something” campaign. The press release to talk about them should be up later today but here are the details now (including a link to the new ads):

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today unveiled its newest round of print, television and poster advertisements intended to remind customers to remain alert while using MTA services. An update of the MTA’s award-winning “See Something, Say Something” security awareness campaign, the new material will be seen on television beginning immediately and in print in two weeks.

Building on the success of earlier ads produced under the widely-recognized campaign, this new round uses stark and minimalist images that reflect the seriousness of the message. The ads show images of unattended packages in transit facilities with passengers busily walking back and forth but apparently not reacting to its presence.

“The security of our customers is our paramount concern,” said Elliot G. Sander, the Executive Director and CEO of the MTA. “These new ads remind our customers not to be complacent about what they see around them. They also reinforce the important role our customers play in ensuring the safety of transit users throughout the entire MTA system.”

The campaign, designed by Korey, Kay & Partners, includes three separate 15-second television spots as well as in system and print ads.

Since its introduction, the trademarked “If You See Something, Say Something” tagline has been licensed by the MTA to 37 domestic and international transportation providers and government agencies for use in their own anti-terrorism campaigns.

View advertisements here: mta.info/mta/security.html

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Bus Detours Due To 9/11 Memorial Service

As everyone knows by now, tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that forever changed the world. Every year there is a memorial service in downtown Manhattan for the victims of the September 11th attacks. Due to this memorial service, some bus routes will have to be detoured. The MTA will post the press release with details later today but I have them for you now:

On Thursday morning, September 11, 2008, there will be a Memorial Service for victims of 9/11 in downtown Manhattan. Buses that usually travel along Trinity Place between Battery Place and Church Street and on Church Street between Liberty and Vesey Streets will be affected from 12:01 a.m. through the day until the ceremonies have ended.

The Manhattan-bound X27, X28 and X29 buses will travel via the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, turn right on West street, right on Warren Street and left on Church Street. The M1, M5 and M6 buses will make stops on West Street at Carlisle Street and Murray Street. No other stops will be made until the buses are back on the regular routes.

East-bound BM1, BM2, BM3, BM4, QM1, QM1A, QM11, QM25 and the north-bound BxM18 will have the following changes: The Greenwich Street at Morris Street bus stop will be made on West Street at Carlisle Street. The Park Place at Church Street bus stop, the Church Street at Cortlandt Street bus stop and the Church Street at Dey Street bus stop will be made on West Street at Murray Street.

West-bound BM1, BM2, BM3, BM4, QM1, QM1A , QM11, and QM24 will have the following changes: The Greenwich Street at Morris Street bus stop will be made on West Street at Carlisle Street. The Church Street at Cortlandt Street bus stop and the Church Street at Dey Street bus stop will be made on West Street at Murray Street.

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NYC Transit EasyPayXPress MetroCard

Soon the MTA will post a press release to talk about their EasyPayXpress Metrocard which automatically refills itself. Here are the details of that press release:

The last lazy days of summer have given way to a return to the hectic pace of work, school, after-school activities, sports and studying. While it’s going to take a few weeks for parents and students to get used to the new “old” routine, commuters can still ‘take it easy’ when it comes to purchasing their fares for local and express bus and subway service by enrolling in MTA New York City Transit’s EasyPayXpress MetroCard program.

EasyPayXpress MetroCard is a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard that automatically refills itself. Originally designed with express bus customers in mind, EasyPayXpress MetroCards are proving popular among riders who use the subway and local buses. Enrollment in EasyPayXpress has grown steadily in 2008, from slightly more than 4,400 at the beginning of the year, to more than 10,500 and counting, with most of that growth occurring since March. While the majority of trips taken with EasyPayXpress MetroCard are express bus trips, riders’ use of the card for exclusively local subway and bus trips has grown significantly.

“Last year at this time, only 14-percent of EasyPayXpress accounts were exclusively local bus and subway trips. That number has tripled this year, to where 46-percent of EasyPayXpress accounts are exclusively local,” said Paul J. Fleuranges, Vice President of Corporate Communications for NYC Transit. “That shows us that our customers have become increasingly familiar with linked programs, which in the case of EasyPayXpress is a more convenient and user-friendly way to pay for their fares.”

With EasyPayXpress, riders can scratch those recurring MetroCard purchases off their to-do list for two years; signing up is simple and convenient. Customers simply link a debit or credit card to their EasyPayXpress MetroCard account, so they never run out of rides.

When riders go the Easy Way with EasyPayXpress:

• No more waiting in line at vending machines or station booths.

• No more worrying about leftover balances on pay-per-ride cards; it never runs out of rides.

• No loss to the customer if the card is lost or stolen.

• No more multiple card purchases—customers sign up once and never think about it again.

• Account balances can be viewed online at any time.

When customers apply online for the card, NYC Transit will charge $40 to their credit or debit card in order to fill the EasyPayXpress MetroCard account. Plus, they’ll receive the 15% bonus, so the card starts off with $46 in value. The EasyPayXpress MetroCard works like any other Pay-Per-Ride card, except users never have to worry about running out of rides. When the card balance reaches $30, it triggers an automatic $40 refill.

Customers can apply for EasyPayXpress MetroCard by visiting www.mta.info. Once they link the EasyPayXpress account to a credit or debit card, they can begin using the card as soon as it arrives in the mail. Easy Pay. It’s the Easy Way.

I have not tried this new service but it seems promising. My only complaint would be the amount that triggers an automatic refill. I feel the current trigger balance price of $30 is quite high. I feel a better amount to trigger the automatic refill would be in the $10-$20 range.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Federal Government Is Getting Serious On Mass Transit Financing

One of the rallying cries from this blog & many others like it is for all levels of government to get serious with financing mass transit throughout the country. Today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal looks into this as the U.S. Senate looks to increase funds for mass transit through the “Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008“. Christopher Conkey of the Wall Street Journal has more on this issue in his report:

Momentum is building in Congress to increase funding for public transportation as transit agencies struggle to accommodate increased demand from Americans seeking to escape high gas prices.

The Senate banking committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to examine how the government can strengthen mass-transit options as a way to reduce dependence on imported oil. Meanwhile, House and Senate leaders debating a new energy bill are considering a range of incentives and new funding for transit agencies.

On Monday, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said a measure that would provide as much as $2 billion in grants and other funding for public transportation appears likely to be included in energy legislation that could be voted on next week. The House has already approved a bill that would provide an additional $1.7 billion to transit agencies over two years. If Congress fails to pass a new energy package this month before adjourning for its election-season recess, a transit-funding boost could still be included in an end-of-session budget resolution.

The legislative push comes as high gas prices are spurring Americans to drive less and use public transportation more. Data being released Tuesday by the American Public Transportation Association show the number of riders on mass-transit systems is growing at an accelerating clip. After rising 2.5% in 2007 from 2006, public-transportation use increased 3.4% in the first quarter of 2008 from the same period a year earlier, and 5.2% in the April-to-June period.

The increased demand is straining many transit agencies, which are already coping with higher prices for fuel, steel and other commodities.

Click here for the complete report.

As I’ve stated previously, it is refreshing to see the government take a serious interest in helping fund mass transit. This for me goes beyond my region as I understand how vital mass transit is regardless of what state you reside in. This country is filled with too much pro auto agendas spearheaded by people with the clueless belief that most people have no interest in mass transit. However if these agenda ridden fools would take a second to actually understand a basic concept, they would see how flawed their logic is. How can anyone expect people to be interested in taking mass transit if you don’t give them the option to do so. You can’t ride what does not exist.

When you think about it, it is quite sad to see that it took ridiculously high gas prices for mass transit to possibly get the funding it deserves. However I’m at the point that I & many other mass transit advocates will take any victory we can regardless of how we got it.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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