Service Diversions 10-18

I have just updated the service diversions page with the latest scheduled diversions for this weekend & next week (and beyond in some cases). Don’t forget to check in for any changes to the page. I also suggest printing out a copy of the page to use while riding the system. Have a safe & wonderful weekend!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Buses Replacing Trains On The Montauk Branch

The Long Island Railroad just sent out a press release via e-mail which should hit their site shortly. The press release announces that buses will be replacing trains on the Montauk Branch for two weekends due to the “Babylon Interlocking Project”. Here are the complete details:

Buses will replace trains along the Babylon and Montauk branches over the weekends of October 25-26 and November 1-2 so that MTA Long Island Rail Road can install new signals and switches at Babylon Interlocking.

Over the weekend of October 25-26 buses will replace trains between Babylon and Patchogue. Partial busing will be necessary between Patchogue and Speonk. On the second weekend, November 1-2, a partial busing plan will again be in effect.

“The track work is an important part of our plan to modernize the signal system with state of the art technology and add switching flexibility within the Babylon train yard,” said LIRR President Helena E. Williams.

Montauk customers should expect travel time delays of up to 63 minutes the first weekend and up to 46 minutes on the second weekend.

Customers are urged to pick up the special Montauk Branch timetables detailing schedule changes during the Babylon Interlocking work. They are available at Penn Station, Jamaica and stations along the Babylon and Montauk Branches. Here are the highlights:

EASTBOUND SERVICE CHANGES WEEKEND OCT. 25th – OCT. 26th :

• Trains will depart Penn Station 4 to 7 minutes earlier than their normal times, in order to make bus connections at Babylon. Travel time will increase by up to 63 minutes.

• All eastbound train service between Babylon and Patchogue will be replaced by buses and busing will replace some trains between Patchogue and Speonk from 12:01 AM on Saturday, October 25 until 1:30 AM on Monday, October 27, 2008 to allow workers to perform final testing and a cutover of new signals at Babylon Interlocking. During this time, grade crossings at New Highway in Farmingdale and Railroad Ave. in Sayville will be replaced.

• Customers traveling to Bay Shore through Patchogue will board buses at Babylon for their stations.

• Customers traveling to Bellport, Mastic-Shirley and Speonk will have either train or bus service depending on the time of day.

• Customers traveling to Bellport through Montauk will have bus service between Babylon and Patchogue where they will board trains for service to these stations.

WESTBOUND SERVICE CHANGES WEEKEND OCT. 25th – OCT. 26th:

• Buses are scheduled up to 21 minutes later than normal service. Customers will experience up to 60 minutes additional travel time.

• Customers departing from stations Patchogue through Bay Shore will board buses at their stations to Babylon for transfer to train service.

• Customers departing from Speonk, Mastic-Shirley and Bellport will be served by buses from those stations to Babylon.

• Customers departing from stations Montauk through Bellport will board trains at their stations for service to Patchogue. There they will board buses bound for Babylon and transfer at Babylon to trains for service to western terminals.

On the second weekend of work, two main tracks between Babylon and Sayville will be out of service from 12:01 AM Saturday, November 1 until 11:59 PM on Sunday, November 2, 2008. Buses will replace some trains and others will operate on revised schedules. During this time, workers will install a new switch and surface other switches at Babylon Interlocking. In addition, grade crossing renewal work at Railroad Ave. in Sayville will be completed.

EASTBOUND SERVICE ON NOV. 1st – NOV. 2nd

• Buses replace six eastbound trains on Saturday and five on Sunday.

• Customers will have bus service from Babylon to stations Bay Shore through Speonk. This service operates up to 36 minutes later than regular train time and results in up to 18 minutes longer travel time.

WESTBOUND SERVICE ON NOV.1st – NOV. 2nd

• Buses replace six westbound trains on Saturday and five on Sunday.

• Customers from Speonk through Bay Shore will board buses at their stations for travel to Babylon where they will board trains. These customers will experience up to 46 minutes increased travel time.

For additional travel information, customers can contact the LIRR’s 24-hour Travel Information Center in Suffolk County at 631-231-LIRR, in Nassau County at 516-822-LIRR or in New York City at 718-217-LIRR. The Travel Information Center’s TDD telephone number for the hearing impaired is 718-558-3022. Customers can also consult the LIRR’s website at www.mta.info.

Don’t forget to pick up the special timetables related to this project. I will make sure to alert friends of mine who depend on the Montauk Branch.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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NYCT To Distribute Rider Reports Cards On The 5 Next Week

Dyre Ave bound 5 train leaving the Morris Park station.Dyre Avenue bound 5 train leaving the Morris Park station; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Starting next week (Monday & Tuesday) & one day in the week after (10/28), MTA’s New York City Transit will distribute “Rider Report Cards” along the 5 Train. The line will be looking to improve on its overall grade of a C- from last year. Here is the official press release that was sent out to the media within the last 20 minutes:

In our continuing effort to solicit feedback from our customers, MTA New York City Transit is again distributing Rider Report Cards throughout the system. Riders on the 5 are next in line of NYC Transit’s over five million daily subway customers asked to rate the progress of their line since the initial round of report cards was distributed in July 2007.

The report cards are being distributed to riders during the morning rush hours on Monday and Tuesday, October 20th and 21st, and on Tuesday, October 28th. The cards will be handed out at several different stations along the line each day over the three days. Grades will be used to identify rider preferences and to gauge how much improvement customers along the 5 line have noticed since last year’s report card.

Again, the Rider Report Card will ask subway riders to grade 21 specific areas of service from an A (Excellent) to an F (Unsatisfactory). Among the areas riders will grade include: car and station cleanliness, safety, security, quality of announcements, and the courtesy and helpfulness of front line customer service staff. Riders will also assign an overall grade for 5 line service. From this list of 21 service attributes, riders are also going to be asked to rank the top three improvements they would like to see made to this line.

The Rider Report Card is once again being distributed in a mailer format, designed to be returned at no cost to the rider. Customers will also have the option of completing the survey on-line, on the MTA website at www.mta.info, where it will be available in 3 languages: English, Spanish and Chinese. From the time the survey begins, riders will have two weeks to mail in their response or to complete the survey online.

Rider Report Card results are posted on line for riders to review once they have been tabulated.

Report cards are being distributed between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. at each station. The schedule for distribution of Rider Report Cards along the 5 line is as follows:

• Monday, October 20th – Brooklyn College-Flatbush Avenue, Newkirk Avenue, Beverly Road, Church Avenue, Winthrop Street, Sterling Street and President Street.

• Tuesday, October 21st – 3rd Avenue-149th Street, Jackson Avenue, Prospect Avenue, Intervale Avenue, Simpson Street, Freeman Street, 174th Street, West Farms Square-East Tremont Avenue, East 180th Street, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Gun Hill Road, Baychester Avenue and Eastchester-Dyre Avenue.

• Tuesday, October 28th – Bronx Park East, Pelham Parkway (White Plains Road), Allerton Avenue, Burke Avenue, Gun Hill Road (White Plains Road), 219th Street, 225th Street, 233rd Street and Nereid Avenue.

I urge all of you to go out & fill out a rider report card for the 5 Train if you happen to depend on the line in some way.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Continues With Its Ambitious Advertising Plan

Over the last few months, I have covered the MTA’s ambitious advertising plan to turn its bus & subway real estate into a major revenue source. The plan had been kicked into high gear at the beginning of this month when they unveiled the first fully wrapped shuttle train. One of the major ideas that been discussed throughout was the idea of having ads displayed on tunnel walls as trains went by. They would display like a storybook going from frame to frame. Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times looks more into this specific plan in a report she filed a couple of days ago:

The New York City transit system is adding a new site for advertisements: the interior of subway tunnels.

Starting next spring with the 42nd Street-Times Square shuttle, passengers will see advertising outside the windows as the train travels between stations. The messages will look rather like jumpy 15-second TV ads.

The tunnel advertising is part of an ambitious Metropolitan Transportation Authority plan to convert much of its real estate into advertising space. In addition to the tunnel ads, it will sell space on turnstiles, digital screens inside stations, projections against subway station walls, and panels on the outside of subway cars.

And the authority wants revenue to help it cover its projected $900 million budget shortfall next year.

“In light of the fiscal difficulties that the M.T.A.’s facing, we have set out to basically look under every rock for ways that we can cut costs and raise revenue,” said Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman for the authority.

Click here for the complete report.

As I’ve said in the past, while it is not exciting me to see the subway potentially filled with even more ads, I can live with it. The MTA needs any solid & dependable source of income it can get & if that means a bump up in advertisements, so be it. My personal preference is nowhere near as important as the agency getting the money it needs to help upkeep & grow our transit infrastructure.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Scales Back Bond Issue

Two days ago I wrote about how the MTA turned to former NYC Mayor Ed Koch who pitched the idea of buying MTA Bonds. Now after realizing the conditions of the bond market, it realized that their goal would not be attainable. This has led them to scale back on their bond issue by $300 million. WNYC has more in this brief report:

The turmoil in the bond market has forced the MTA to rethink a half-billion dollar bond issue.

The transit agency delayed selling the bonds for two days because of weak demand. This morning, it got into the market, but reduced the amount it wanted to borrow to $200 million.

The bond’s high-yielding interest rate — up to 6.5 percent — will force the transit agency to devote more of its budget to financing costs, but it’s too early to say how much. The MTA’s Gary Dellaverson says he assesses the market every day to determine when to put the other $300 million worth of bonds on sale.

DELLAVERSON: If it were to be a long-term condition, it would be something of great concern because MTA relies heavily on the bond market to finance its capital projects.

The MTA borrows several billion dollars a year through the bond market. Today’s issue is not pegged to any one project, but will provide general support to the capital program, which calls for station renovations, new train cars and mega-projects like the Second Avenue subway.

The scaling back of this bond issue comes as no surprise to me. The chances of the MTA reaching their target goal was slim to none considering the global financial crisis engulfing everyone. Putting that aside though, one can only hope that the issuing of the remaining $300 million in bonds is not delayed for a prolonged period of time. As if it is, that will seriously bring up the potential of construction delays on a number of big ticket projects. This is the last thing that our transit infrastructure can afford to have happen.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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