Can Mayor Bloomberg Stop The Fare Hike?

According to an article in this past Thursday’s Daily News, he can. Here is the article courtesy of the New York Daily News as a part of their “Halt The Hike” campaign:

Mayor Bloomberg could halt the hike.

With just three weeks to go before the MTA board votes on fare and toll increases, the balance of power could shift to City Hall from Albany, sources told the Daily News.

The mayor controls four of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board’s 14 votes, but has not said where he stands.

“The mayor seems to be undecided, so it would make sense for the governor and MTA to start courting the mayor and his board members,” a source close to City Hall said.

Three voting board members, Andrew Saul, Mitchell Pally and Norman Seabrook, are against the hike. If joined by Bloomberg’s bloc, fare and toll hikes would be just one vote shy of being derailed.

“It comes down to the mayor,” board member Barry Feinstein said. Just yesterday, mayoral reps told Feinstein they hadn’t yet made a decision. “That means they are still gathering information.”

Several members have not taken a firm stand and appear to be in play. The board vote is scheduled for Dec. 19. “I think the mayor hasn’t been convinced that this needs to be done at this time,” Seabrook said.

Whether the MTA is being as efficient as possible will be a key factor in the mayor’s decision process, the mayor has repeatedly said. Gov. Spitzer and his top transit chief, MTA CEO Elliot Sander, last week announced a modified fare-hike plan. The $2 base subway-bus fare would remain stable through 2009.

About $360 million would be raised over the next two years by higher prices for multiride MetroCards and Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tickets. Tolls on the MTA’s nine bridges and tunnels would also rise, but numbers have yet to be hashed out.

The MTA will end this year with a surplus greater than $500million and can balance next year’s budget without fare and toll hikes, according to MTA officials and budget plans.

Sander said increases are necessary because the authority expects large deficits in 2009 and subsequent years.

There are 16 voting positions on the board. One seat is vacant, and the members representing Orange, Dutchess and Rockland counties share one vote.

Spitzer has six representatives, but five were chosen or reappointed by former Gov. George Pataki: Saul, Seabrook, Feinstein, Francis Powers and Nancy Shevell, who’s been in the headlines for dating Beatle Paul McCartney.

Shevell, Powers, David Mack, Donald Cecil and Susan Metzger have not taken a stand.

Spitzer installed MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger earlier this year, and he would cast a second tie-breaking vote. The mayor’s representatives are John Banks, a Con Edison vice president; Mark Lebow, partner of a law firm; Jeff Kay, Bloomberg’s director of operations, and Mark Page, the city budget director.

At this point I like many others expect some sort of a fare hike to go through. Seriously I would fully support a fare hike if the MTA fully disclosed their financial books & fully explained with proof why they need a fare hike. If they could do this, get the money they deserve from the government, & still needed cash legitimately, I would support the hike.  We all know that something as to give as all these major projects like the 7 Line Extension, East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway, etc… are not going to get done for free. If anyone can get to the bottom of this, I think Mayor Bloomberg can. Hopefully he will get the job done & have his representatives vote for what is the needed choice.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Honor Heroic Couple

Last month I wrote about an amazing heroic couple who saved a 63 year woman from being crushed by an oncoming Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train. Well the heroic couple is back in the news as the MTA honored Anthony LoCicero (Franklin Square Fire Chief) & his wife Randi (NYPD Officer) at a board meeting last Wednesday. Here is an article about the MTA honoring the heroic couple courtesy of Newsday:

Praising the heroism of two off-duty first responders who “jumped into action” and risked their own lives, the head of the MTA credited the couple and a quick-thinking civilian yesterday for saving a Queens woman from certain death at a Mineola grade crossing earlier this month.

Franklin Square Fire Chief Anthony LoCicero and his wife Randi, a New York City police officer, were singled out along with Commack resident Jennifer Freiermuth.

“It is an honor to present you three heroes with these three tokens of our recognition,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Elliot Sander said, giving plaques and certificates to the trio at a board meeting in Manhattan.

Freiermuth said she called 911 and flagged the couple down inside their vehicle when she noticed a car stuck on the tracks at the Roslyn Road grade crossing on Nov. 8.

A Floral Park woman, 63, had turned onto the tracks, thinking she was driving onto a street.

Within what Anthony LoCicero said was just nine seconds, they radioed for help, ran to the tracks and pulled the woman from her Buick just before it was demolished by an oncoming westbound train – the 4:46 p.m. from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station.

“If they weren’t there, I don’t know what would have happened,” Freiermuth said.

The LoCiceros, who have been invited to ceremonies honoring them at Islanders and Knicks games, said they’re a bit taken aback by all the attention.

“I’m a low-key person,” Anthony LoCicero said. “I really don’t like to be in the spotlight.”

“It’s overwhelming,” his wife added.

Freiermuth said the LoCiceros deserve the attention. She added that she’s surprised – and a bit disheartened – that no one else there that night made efforts to get help for the woman on the tracks.

“I don’t feel like a hero,” she said. “I feel like that’s something anyone should have done.”

The car’s license plate is registered to Patricia Rech, 63, of Floral Park. She has not been available for comment since the incident and efforts to reach her yesterday were not successful.

I am glad that the couple got honored for their heroics. It takes special people willing to risk their lives to save another life. I do have one question though, is Patricia still mad that they did not rescue her pocketbook?

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Think An Underground Reservoir Can Help

Last Tuesday, the New York Daily News featured a story on how the MTA is considering building an underground reservoir. The agency is considering the project in hopes it will help deal with severe flooding which is prone to happening & causing delays on all the Queens Boulevard lines. Here is the article courtesy of the New York Daily News:

Stung by catastrophic subway flooding, the MTA Monday said it may build an underground reservoir in Queens to relieve the seemingly never-ending problem.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority may buy land near the flood-prone Parsons Blvd. subway station on the F line to build holding tanks to store water diverted from the tubes.

“To be honest, when it rains, I take the express bus – it’s a mess down here,” said Margaret Bonair, 45, of Cambria Heights. “It’s about time they did something about the water.”

“Whenever it rains, it’s guaranteed I’m late to work,” added Patrick Goin of Queens, who works in Greenwich Village.

The reservoir idea could be a major step to relieve chronic flooding in the low-lying area, which can cause a domino effect throughout the subway system.

Even though the F train runs through the Parsons Blvd. station, delays on that line can affect the E, R and V trains that run along Queens Blvd. as well.

All those lines were severely affected by the disastrous floods that virtually shut down the subway system on Aug. 8.

MTA spokesman Paul Fleuranges said engineers are still examining several different approaches to easing the flood woes citywide.

The idea was revealed on a day when heavy downpours caused scattered morning rush-hour delays across the system.

Hours after the rain stopped, huge puddles of water collected near the entrance to the Parsons Blvd. station. A dozen bus lines converge on the busy station, making it a major transit hub for southeastern Queens.

“If it’s raining, I don’t even take the train,” said Lavern Moore, 40, a teacher who’s been using the station for 10 years. “You’re asking for trouble.”

The water-storage plan is still in its early stages, and the agency must try to negotiate to buy the land from the owners of two car lots that occupy the site.

I think any idea that could possibly fix the entire problem or most of it in regards to flooding should be looked into. I feel bad for riders who depend on the E, F, G, R, & V along Queens Boulevard when it rains. It has come to the point that any sort of significant rain must strike fear in their hearts since their lines are sure to be delayed or shut down in some way. This is one of the big reasons I do not want to live along those lines in Queens although for the most part the areas are decent to live in. I do wonder is part of the problem out of the MTA’s control. If so, shouldn’t the city foot the bill?

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Stay Tuned

I had a list of entries I had planned to write for the blog. I was able to write out most of them but I must get some rest before taking care of some business. Look for a few more entries later today including ones about the MTA’s attempt to deal with flooding along the Queens Blvd lines as well as the heroes who were honored by the MTA.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Proposal Might Mean Cuts In Service & Loss Of Job Positionings

This morning the New York Times is running a story about a MTA savings proposal that will result in service cuts in bus service for a number of major holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s. The proposal also calls for the elimination of all elevator operator positions in 5 stations in Upper Manhattan. Here is the entire article courtesy of the New York Times:

Straphangers could be forgiven if they see something Grinchlike about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this holiday season.

The authority’s board will vote on a proposed fare increase on Dec. 19. And just five days later, on Christmas Eve, a little-noticed proposal to reduce bus service on holidays could take effect.

Budget documents released this week show that the authority is planning to reduce the number of buses operating on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

“I guess we’re getting the coal in our stocking,” said Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group.

The service change will save an average of $250,000 per day, amounting to $1.8 million a year. It is part of a series of budget cuts that includes removing all elevator operators from five subway stations in Upper Manhattan. The number of operators staffing the elevators has been a contentious issue in the past amid worries about crime and safety. Because the stations are deep underground, all passengers must use the elevators.

The board will vote on the proposed cuts the same day it takes up the fare increase, which would raise the cost of subway and bus rides. The $2 base fare would not go up, but unlimited ride MetroCards would.

The holiday service change would take effect immediately. The removal of the elevator operators would occur next year, but officials did not give a date.

Three of the days scheduled for cuts — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day — already have limited service but would apparently have further reductions. Others, including Martin Luther King’s Birthday, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, have operated under normal weekday service schedules in the past.

“I think on certain holidays it may be justified, but the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone is out shopping and out and about, it isn’t justified,” said Andrew Albert, a member of the authority’s board who represents transit riders. It was not clear from the documents how many buses would be taken off the streets. The budget said the authority would provide an “intermediate level of service, sufficient to meet ridership demands.”

Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said the changes should not be viewed as cuts at all.

“It’s not a service cut,” he said. “It’s matching service with the number of riders we have.”

Barry Feinstein, the chairman of the transit committee of the authority’s board, said that although the changes would cause some riders to wait longer for buses, service would be sufficient to avoid overcrowding.

Asked about starting the cuts within days of voting on a fare increase, he said, “Any money we save now will save us more money later on.”

The bus schedule changes are noteworthy because the authority’s new administration, which took over this year, has been adamant about not cutting service at a time of growing ridership.

The move also contrasts with an effort in 2005, when the authority encouraged holiday ridership with a special MetroCard discount program.

Both the bus and elevator changes were quietly inserted into a revised budget hundreds of pages long. It said the elevator operators would be removed from five stations with deep platforms that can be reached only by elevator: 191st Street, 181st Street and 168th Street on the No. 1 line and 190th Street and 181st Street on the A line.

The elevators at those stations were once run with operators stationed inside, but the authority removed many of them in 2004. Many subway riders protested, and the authority agreed to keep one elevator in each station staffed at all times.

Mr. Feinstein said removing the elevator operators had not resulted in an increase in crime.

But some straphangers said removing them altogether would make them feel less safe.

“It’s good to have someone have an eye on things if anything fishy happens,” said Andrew Thompson, 41, a Washington Heights resident.

I will briefly say that at first glance this does not sound like a good idea. The thought of cutting some service on a few of those holidays does not sound pretty. However before I fully establish my position on the issue, I would like to dome some research into what the actual cuts would be. As far as the elevator operator jobs are concerned, I can see the points of both sides in what has always been a lively debate between the two points of view.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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