MTA & Commuter Advocates Have A Transit Wish List

9 days ago Marlene Naanes of AMNY wrote an article about the MTA & other transit advocates having a wish list as the deadline approaches for the submission of the 5 year capital plan to the state. Here is the article courtesy of AMNY:

As New York barrels into 2008, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and transit advocates are pressing for rail improvements they hope will make commuters’ lives easier for years to come.

Their post-holiday wish lists include:

Adding a 10-mile-long third track to the Long Island Rail Road’s Main Line between Queens Village and Hicksville to hasten the ride.

Replacing the old subway signal system with computer-based communication technology, which has been installed on the L line. This will improve speed, say advocates.

Running trains into the future Moynihan Station, Penn Station’s replacement, to allow Metro-North riders to commute to the West Side without changing trains.

Extending the No. 7 train line west to a station at 10th Avenue and 41st Street.

Speeding up train station face-lifts.

Replacing aging buses.

Continuing funding of mega projects such as the Second Avenue subway line and the Fulton Street Transit Center.

“We’d love to have enough to do another phase of the Second Avenue subway,” said MTA board member Andrew Albert. “We’d love for Fulton Street Transit Center to be more than a shrunken head.”

With their eyes on a March 31 deadline to submit a five-year capital plan to the state, the MTA and the advocates are pressing local, state and federal officials for the money to fund these projects.

“We wanted to begin speaking early in the process about the order of magnitude of the investment in transportation that will be needed in the five years if New York’s economy is to remain competitive with those of other world cities like London, Shanghai and a host of others” said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan.

MTA officials are looking to surpass the current plan, which totals about $21 billion, by about $5 to $10 billion to keep the system in the best possible shape to accommodate the area’s booming population. State officials said it is too soon to say how much funding it might approve sometime this year.

While you are at it, I suggest checking out the comments left for the article which can be found by clicking here. After reading the first comment from Castile, NY resident James, I felt the need to respond. I can’t stand the typical idiotic ranting from upstate residents who continue to look down on New York City (NYC) considering we are the hand that feeds it.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Speaking Of Records, The LIRR Sets One As Well

LIRR train entering Woodside;  Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

In my previous entry, I discussed the ridership record set by the Metro-North in 2007. Not to be left out in the cold, the MTA announced that the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) set one as well. Unlike their commuter counterpart, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) set its record in the on time performance category. Here is a brief article about the record courtesy of Newsday:

Despite nearly daily reports of delayed and cancelled trains, Long Island Rail Road officials said Monday that 2007 was a modern-day record-setting year for on-time performance on the commuter railroad.

Officials said 94.07 percent of all LIRR trains arrived on-time in 2007. The previous best on-time performance was 94.04 percent in 2002.

The mark was an increase of about 3/4 of one percent over the performance in 2006.

Records have been kept since 1979.

New railroad president Helena Williams, in a prepared release, called the results a “hard-won accomplishment.”

In that statement, Williams said: “We know that our customers want service reliability. They expect to arrive at their destination safely and on time.”

It should be noted that LIRR officials consider a train to be “on-time” if it is no more than five minutes and 59 seconds late.

The announcement came on the same morning when so-called “equipment problems” caused a more than 90-minute delay for passengers on the 6:48 a.m. train from Huntington to Hunterspoint Avenue when it broke down near Queens Village. That caused the cancellation of another train — and more than 60-minute delays to at least four trains on the railroad’s Main Line west of Jamaica.

Officials could not detail what the “equipment problems” were that caused the massive delays on Monday.

Now here is the press release issued by the MTA in regards to the record set by the Long Island Railroad (LIRR):

The MTA Long Island Rail Road capped off 2007 with an On-Time Performance (OTP) of 94.07% – an almost 1 percentage point improvement over 2006. The prior year’s OTP was 93.30%.

At 94.07%, 2007’s OTP is the best since modern record keeping started in 1979.

The previous best OTP of 94.04% was achieved in 2002. The LIRR reached the 94.07% milestone in 2007 while operating almost 5% more trains (244,565) annually than in 2002 (233,301).

“This hard-won accomplishment is the result of a focused, team effort by all LIRR employees,” said LIRR President Helena Williams. “We know that our customers want service reliability. They expect to arrive at their destination safely and on time. I want to commend LIRR employees for delivering on that goal.

“We’re moving in the right direction, and we are committed to achieving even better performance in the future,” Williams added, “which is why we are moving ahead with plans for a Third Track. The LIRR needs a ‘Third Track’ to maintain on-time performance gains in the future and to be ready for the coming of East Side Access, when the LIRR will connect to Grand Central Terminal and our customers will be able to reach the East Side of Manhattan in a one-seat ride.”

The LIRR achieved two other significant milestones in 2007. Annual AM Peak on time performance reached 94.28% (previous record, 93.79%) and annual Off Peak on time performance reached 94.64% (previous, 94.41%). The Railroad implemented its current methodology of determining on-time performance in 1979. That year, the LIRR posted an OTP of 83.42%, and commenced an upwards climb through the decades – reaching 91.62% by 1987, rising to 93.68% in 1992, and hitting 94.04% in 2002, the previous record.

I have to admit this record comes as a surprise to me. I say this because the Newsday was right on the money when it mentioned that you got used to seeing daily reports about trains being delayed or cancelled. While I don’t ride the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) as much as I used to, I know many who do. I would usually hear from them almost daily about some sort of delay or cancellation. They would either be screwed by the delay or cancellation or asked if I had heard about it so I could blog about it for my readers. Either way when the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) was discussed, it was not usually in the best light.

I assume the agency used a funny way of determining on time arrivals & departures which includes a buffer a few minutes behind what is posted for customers. Quite frankly I don’t see how one can sit there & say something is on time when the data provided to customers shows otherwise. If they or any agency wants to really be 100% factual about their on time record, they should base their results exclusively to the time posted on their public schedules. Anything outside of that is & will never be 100% factual.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Metro-North Sets Ridership Record

Metro-North train about to pass through Melrose station; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

12 days ago the MTA released a press release about the Metro-North setting a ridership record in 2007. The record was set due to ridership exceeding 80 million customers for the first time in the railroad’s 25 year history. Here is the full press release courtesy of the MTA:

MTA Metro-North Railroad ridership exceeded 80 million customers in 2007 for the first time in the railroad’s 25-year history, based on preliminary analysis of December ticket sales.

In fact, ridership has almost doubled from 41.3 million in 1983, the year Metro-North was created from the faltering Conrail passenger service.

This phenomenal growth has been attained within a service territory virtually unchanged with the exception of one, six-mile Harlem Line extension to Wassaic in 2000.

“The employees of Metro-North work hard to provide safe, convenient and reliable service 365 days a year,” said Metro-North president Peter A. Cannito. “And people are voting with their feet. We are excited by our continued growth and will continue to strive to provide the best train service in America.”

Total rail ridership in 2007, excluding connecting services, was 80.1 million, a 4.3% increase from 2006. But when ridership on the three connecting services managed by Metro-North is factored in, ridership was 80.7 million.

Ridership on the Hudson RailLink bus and the two cross-Hudson ferries, Haverstraw-Ossining and Newburgh-Beacon, totaled 0.6 million. Such connecting services are included in national statistics reportable to the Federal Transit Administration.

In fact, connecting services are just one of many markets actively developed by the railroad, including off-peak, weekend, nights, intermediate trips between stations not including Grand Central and the reverse commute, which makes it possible for people living in Manhattan and the Bronx to take the train to work in new suburban destinations such as White Plains, Stamford and Greenwich.

In addition to more frequent service, one factor that has contributed to Metro-North’s growth has been reliability.

In 2007, the railroad achieved a systemwide on-time performance of 97.7%, only one-tenth of a percent off 2006’s record-setting pace (97.8%), but two-tenths of a percent above goal (97.5%). Reliability remained high while operating 2% more weekday trains, and 1% more weekend trains, or 729 trains.

During the AM peak, 96.3% of trains operated on time, while 98.2% of PM peak trains did. For the AM reverse peak, the on-time performance was 96.9%. Weekday off-peak trains operated on time 98% of the time, while weekend service achieved the best on-time performance of any category Metro-North tracks, 98.1%.

By line, overall on-time performance was as follows: Hudson, 98.4%, Harlem, 98.1% and New Haven, 97.7%.

To be honest I am not much of a Metro-North rider. However when I have ridden the trains or seen them pass by, I noticed that the crowds are usually at a higher number regardless of the time of day. So I can definitely believe they set a ridership record based on the small samples I have experienced in some way. I hope the Metro-North continues to improve in 2008 & beyond for all the riders who depend on it.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Corporate Shilling Shenanigan Comes To An End!

For over a year riders of the , , , & got used to hearing the conductor plug the tourist attraction “Top Of The Rock” when the train approached & stopped at the 47-50 Streets-RockfellerCenter station. If you ever wondered whose idea this was, you only have one person to thank & that is former MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow. According to Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News, the announcement was a direct order from the top which was a favor Mr. Kalikow did as a courtesy for one of the building’s owners.

As you might have noticed, the announcement no longer includes the free plug to the tourist attraction. If you were wondering why, it is because subway managers instructed crews to stop giving the free plug. This came about after Mr. Kalikow was no longer the MTA Chairman. Here is the full article talking about this corporate shilling shenanigan courtesy of the New York Daily News:

Subway conductors no longer are being forced to plug a tourist attraction at Rockefeller Center.

More than a year ago, conductors were given a written directive to mention the Top of the Rock observatory when arriving at the 47th-50th St./Rockefeller Center station on the B, D, F and V lines.

The plug – unpopular with train crews – came about because developer Peter Kalikow, then Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman, wanted to extend a “courtesy” to one of the building’s owners, authority officials said after the announcements began in 2006. In late November, not long after Kalikow left the post, subway managers told conductors to stop shilling for the tourist site.

“We applaud the new administration for rectifying this,” said Curtis Tate, a vice president with the Transport Workers Union, which represents conductors and train operators.

“We didn’t think it was appropriate. We pass a lot of landmarks and popular places, and we don’t advertise them or call them out. We don’t announce ‘Joe’s Pizzeria,’ this place or that place.”

Conductors, who are supposed to follow scripted announcements, called the directive unprecedented.

An MTA spokesman in 2006 said that one of the principals at the real estate firm Tishman Speyer initially asked if the entire station could be called Top of the Rock. Kalikow rejected that but offered a compromise, the spokesman said.

To ensure compliance, subway supervisors were even posted in the station to observe conductors.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said transit managers are reviewing the policy guiding conductor announcements.

“We want to ensure that the information we provide to our customers is informative and useful without being intrusive,” he said.

Personally I feel that is absolutely disgusting to force conductors to shill for a buddy of a MTA bigwig. This schilling accomplishes nothing but free advertising for a buddy while potential advertising money is being stolen from within. Shenanigans like this are a prime example of what the MTA was like under Kalikow’s watch. While it is wrong to say that nothing was accomplished during his reign, one can not deny that it was filled with many asinine decisions. The theft of advertising money is a decision that clearly falls under the “asinine” category. Good riddance Kalikow, you are not missed!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Horrific Crash Kills 2 & Hurts 2

13 days ago a horrific crash occurred at the intersection of Hillside Avenue & 168th Place. The accident which involved a car & a MTA Long Island Bus killed 2 people while hurting 2 others. Here is an article about the accident courtesy of Newsday:

NEW YORK – A Queens Village man, driving the car he received just days ago as a Christmas present, was killed along with his passenger when the car collided with a bus early Sunday morning.

Christopher Boyd, 23, and his passenger, 25-year-old Eric Richmond of Queens, were returning home from a Brooklyn birthday party in Boyd’s 1992 Ford Thunderbird. Boyd was driving east on Hillside Avenue at about 4:15 a.m. when the vehicle lost control, police said.

The Thunderbird swung sideways into the path of an N6 Long Island Bus driving west on Hillside Avenue at 168th Place, police said. A police spokesman said Boyd’s vehicle might have been speeding at the time of the incident.

Both Boyd and Richmond were pronounced dead at the scene. The 39-year-old bus driver and one of his passengers, a 24-year-old man, suffered minor injuries and were taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica. The driver has since been released, said Aaron Donovan, an MTA spokesman. Donovan could not say how long the driver has been working for the MTA.

According to motor-vehicle records, Boyd had a valid license at the time of the crash. His license was suspended after he failed to pay a fine, but it was reinstated in 2005, according to the records.

Reached at her Maine home, Boyd’s stepmother, Wendi Boyd, described him as a “bright young man” who “loved life.”

“He loved sports, basketball,” said Boyd. “He was an expert swimmer.”

She said her stepson, whom she had raised since he was 4 years old, moved from Maine to New York after he graduated high school so he could pursue training as an automotive mechanic.

The car he and Richmond were riding in, Wendi Boyd said, was a Christmas gift for him from her and his father, Glenn Boyd.

“He was so happy with the car,” she said through tears. “We just picked it out because he’s been wanting a car and we figured he’s been doing so well and working and it was going to be something good for him to have.”

In Queens, Yvette Richmond remembered her son as a faithful young man who – like Boyd – aspired to become an automotive mechanic and was an avid collector of Matchbox toy cars.

“He liked cars from the day he was born,” the grieving mother said of Eric Richmond. “He always had a car in his hand.”

Richmond said her son also was a born-again Christian who spent every Sunday with his family at Good Tidings Gospel Chapel in Brooklyn.

Lloyd Allwood, an elder at the church, said Eric Richmond was a former Marine who proudly attended the church in his uniform while on leave.

The young man was popular with the church’s young people, Allwood said, and was planning on attending a camp retreat in February with them.

“He had a lot of friends come here this morning, and most of the young people were crying,” Allwood said.

Yvette Richmond said her the two men knew each other for years, and described the pair as “very good friends.”

The two had attended a birthday party for Eric Richmond’s nephew in Brooklyn before they were killed, she said.

Yvette Richmond said she wasn’t told anything more about the collision.

“They were on their way home,” she said sadly.

My condolences to the family & friends of the 2 people who died. I also wish nothing but the best for the bus driver & his passenger who was hurt in the accident.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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