Ravitch Commission Hearings Scheduled

Daily readers of this blog know all about the Ravitch Commission & the task it faces in coming up with recommended strategies to fund MTA capital projects and operating needs over the next ten years. For those who are unfamiliar with the commission, click here to read my initial entry on it.

On Thursday evening the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s “Mobilizing The Region” blog broke the news of Ravitch Commission hearings being scheduled. Here are the complete details:

Monday, September 15th
Eisner-Lubin Auditorium, NYU Kimmel Center
60 Washington Square South
Session 1: 10am-12:30pm
Session 2: 1:30pm – 5pm

Monday, September 22nd
Ceremonial Chambers, Nassau County Executive Building
1550 Franklin Ave, 2nd Floor

Wednesday, September 24th
Westchester County Center
198 Central Ave
White Plains

Testimony is by invitation only. Public comment can be sent in writing to Ravitch Commission, 633 Third Ave, 38th floor, New York, NY 10017.

I don’t agree with the testimony being by invitation only. I really would love to hear their logic on this decision. I will look into whether or not you can attend the hearings just to observe.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Is V.P. Canidate Sarah Palin A Transit Advocate?

The question got posted after an article in Tuesday’s Washington Post. The article which mainly focuses on earmarks the V.P. candidate secured while being the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Here is a sample of the article by Paul Kane of the Washington Post:

laska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group.

There was $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project — all intended to benefit Palin’s town, Wasilla, located about 45 miles north of Anchorage.

Click here for the complete article.

I wonder if Sarah is really a transit advocate or were these typical deals setup to line the pockets of connected contractors. I am curious to find out if she really believes in needing a solid transit infrastructure or is she your typical politician saying one thing & doing another. Transit infrastructures across the country need to see action not more lip service.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Staten Island Railway Looks To Close Walking Loophole

Have you ever wondered why some Staten Island commuters have nice legs? Maybe you thought it was their dedication to a lower body workout that helped carve out that nice shape or attention to detail. If you thought that, you were most likely wrong. The most likely answer is the dedicated percentage of commuters who use the famous “S.I. Railway Walking Loophole” to avoid paying the $2 fare. The railway only collects the $2 fare from passengers boarding & exiting at the St. George Terminal. The loophole to avoid paying is to get off one station prior at Tompkinsville & walk to the terminal a .5 mile away.

Unfortunately the loophole might be getting closed very soon if the railway has its way. With more on that story, I turn your attention to 2 different reports. The original report comes from The Staten Island Advance:

The hike just got longer for Staten Island Railway passengers who get off at Tompkinsville to avoid paying the $2 fare: The gate leading to Victory Boulevard was closed after yesterday morning’s rush hour and folks were shunted to the more-distant Hannah Street gate.

And there’s more bad news: Their free ride is going the way of the steam locomotive.

The city has begun construction of a new, wider platform and station house, which will contain turnstiles and MetroCard vending machines. The five turnstiles, which are expected to go into operation next spring, will require that passengers swipe their MetroCards to enter or leave the station.

At that point, the eight-minute, fare-saving walk between Tompkinsville and the St. George Ferry Terminal will become obsolete.

The turnstiles will be monitored by closed-circuit televisions observed by MTA police, and passengers can expect targeted enforcement of the new fare system from day one, said Railway President John Gaul.

St. George is currently the only station where fares are collected since conductors were phased out in 1997.

Click here for the complete report.

Now onto the second report by Jake Mooney of the New York Times’ City Room Blog:

In these tight economic times, with transportation costs rising, how far will people go to save a few dollars on their commute? For the last 11 years, on Staten Island, the answer appears to be about half a mile — the distance some riders of the local commuter train walk every day to avoid the system’s $2 fare.

By this time next year, we’ll know if they are willing to trek six-tenths of a mile on top of that.

Within a few years, it may become even harder for riders on the Staten Island Railway to get a free ride.

The situation, reported in The Times in 2004, is this: For reasons that are somewhat complex, the only station on the railway where fares are collected — for people getting both on and off trains — is St. George, at the ferry terminal at the island’s northern tip.

Riders who don’t want to pay, then, can get off the train a stop early, at Tompkinsville, and walk the half-mile to the ferry in about 10 minutes, free of charge.

Click here for the complete report.

I suggest you check out the reader feedback to the New York Times piece which has started an interesting debate of free public transportation versus the current pay model.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Service Diversions 09-05

I have just updated the service diversions page with the latest scheduled diversions for this weekend plus 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 & try to stay dry!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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NYC Transit & MTA Bus To Test New Double-Decker Bus

I just received a press release a short time ago announcing a press/photo opportunity by NYC Transit & MTA Bus to test a new double decker bus in customer service. Here are the complete details:

MTA NYC Transit and MTA Bus introduce new double-decker bus into passenger service for a 35-day test. The bus combines the efficiency of high-capacity with a low-floor entry and exit.

WHO: Elliot G. Sander, MTA Executive Director/CEO and Joseph Smith, MTA Bus President/SVP of Buses, MTA NYC Transit.

WHAT: MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus introduce new double-decker bus into passenger service for a 35-day test.

WHEN: Monday, September 8, 2008 at 11 a.m.

WHERE: 26th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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