MTA Looks To Shakeup The NYC Subway With Reorganization….

By now I am sure you have all heard about the MTA’s plan to shakeup management of the NYC Subway by undergoing massive reorganization. When I first heard about the news, I wanted to write an entry. However I thought it would best if I gave it some thought before commenting. So with the thinking process mixed in with other things needing attention, I am now getting down to writing my feelings on the idea. In case you missed it, here is the cliff notes version of the plan. The MTA is looking to give each subway line their own boss who would be in charge of everything from track repair to the cleanliness & everything in between.

I will be honest, I thought this was a horrible idea when I first heard it. I immediately asked myself why is the MTA looking to add another layer of bureaucracy to what is already a huge mess from management ranks to the very top. However when I sat down & thought about it, I realized this idea could possibly work although some legitimate roadblocks are in the way of this actually doing so.

On one side of the coin, a plan such as this is essentially eliminating several layers of management that are not needed. This move now puts all of the leadership responsibilities on individuals who actually do the operating as opposed to someone just being what I like to call a “Title Only” employee. I can guarantee you one thing many “Title Only” employees who line the walls at locations on Broadway, Jay St., & Livingston St. are worried & as they should be!

Clean stations & trains which were 2 big issues in most of the “Rider Report Cards” should see an improvement under such a management style. One would think so considering that one person is in charge of 468 stations under the current way of doing things. Seriously why do you think it takes forever to get something done! One person responsible for the overall state of all stations is why we have the disaster we have today. When you think of it in that prospective along with the reality of this individual not really answering to anyone, it is to be expected that the overall situation would reek of chaos.

NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts Jr is used to this sort of management style. He helped the agency implement a similar plan back in the 1980’s for the agency’s bus operations. During the 1980’s, managers were hired to run each borough individually. So we can at least know that this sort of plan is not foreign to the powers that be within the MTA.

However all is not peachy in regards to this plan. Now lets look at the potential downfalls of this plan. For starters while competition can bring out the best in people, the same can be said for it bringing out the worst in people. Unlike buses, implementing this sort of management style faces major hurdles with subways.

Lets look at a possible issue with timeliness as this will be a major category for assessing the performance of lines. Right now as we know it, many connections are made between lines at different points in the system. What happens when a manager does not want to jeopardize his line’ schedule by waiting for a connecting train which is now a competitor of softs?

Unfortunately this is not the only issue that can throw a wrench into these plans. By putting managers in charge of individual lines, what happens in locations such as the 59th St M.T., DeKalb, Murphy, E. 180th St….. when decisions have to be made as to which line gets priority? Do you see how this could turn into some unneeded drama as people fight for their line since the bar has been raised to a competitive level? I don’t know if things will turn into a live WWE PPV, but the possibility is definitely there for some heated drama!

One has to seriously wonder if such a plan can possibly work for what is by far the most complexed subway system in the world. Lets use the DeKalb complex as an example. Who exactly would have the final say on what line would have priority in the case of a delay considering multiple lines pass through? We will have individual line managers who will stick up for their line & rightfully so especially if this new structure has incentives attached to it. This kind of potential drama which is guaranteed to come to fruition at some point will lead to infighting about how “Person A” caused “Person B’s” line to be delayed. See where this is going……

Now lets look at the possibility of timeliness issues that I previously mentioned. The first two lines to start this new structure will be the 7 & L. These lines are what I call the ultimate “softball” choices as both lines share no trackage, signals or tower with any other line. So in theory these lines avoid the drama I outlined could & probably will come of such a structure. However this does not mean everything is in the clear.

While the 7 & L are loners, they do have scheduling setup in mind to match ridership demands for transfers to other lines at key stops in the system. The 7 has the key transfer to the N & W at Queensboro Plaza & the L has the A, J, & Z at Broadway Junction but more so the J & Z. What happens when you have the MTA encouraging self sufficiency which can lead to poor communications between so called “competing” operations? Well one can only imagine that riders would suffer under such circumstances as they are the ones who depend on these key connections & poor communication especially during high headway periods are not good for anyone involved.

All of this might seem like I am looking to automatically shoot down the hopes of the new brass to better our system. However I am not doing this as I like millions of others want to see the vision of the new brass lead us to a system we can be proud to use daily while going about our lives. Unfortunately when one looks towards the future, they must also objectively look at what can hold us back from reaching everyone’s desired goal of the best transportation system possible!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Proof The NYPD Has Nothing Better To Do!

I am sure by now you have all heard of the operation being run by the NYPD called “Operation Lucky Bag”. The purpose of this operation is to catch people who would steal goods such as cell phones, an Ipod, or wallets after they were dropped by an innocent straphanger. The operation starts when an undercover officer drops a cell phone, Ipod, or wallet in a subway station. When someone picks up the item, cops pounce on the unsuspecting person. When they pounce on the unsuspecting person, they frisk the individual, demand ID, & run a criminal background check.

The New York Daily News featured a story on photographer Carlos Alayo. Mr. Alayo was a victim of “Operation Lucky Bag” as he was frisked, forced to show id & had a criminal background check run because he picked up a wallet he found on a platform at the Grand Central station. Mr. Alayo felt & was treated like a criminal for being a good Samaritan. His face turned colors as tons of rush hour straphangers watched the situation unfold. He was eventually released after his background check came back just fine.

Now can someone tell me what the hell is the point to this operation? How does the genius behind this idea sleep at night knowing they are now making good Samaritans think twice about doing what is right? How do they feel knowing they are wasting resources on a pointless operation? Unfortunately they & the rest of the NYPD seem to sleep fine as they consider this operation a success so far. They are proud of the fact that 100 people have been detained during this operation & 58 had rap sheets.

Are you kidding me? This is the reason why they think it is a success? Have these clowns ever heard of probability? Pick a random sample of 100 people from anywhere & some are bound to have some sort of rap sheet. Why do they need an idiotic operation such as this to tell them that? This operation accomplishes nothing productive unless they had having more people hate them as a goal! Seriously ths has to be one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard or seen executed & that is saying something! I hope Mr. Alayo & any of the other 42 who were wrongfully detained sue the pants off the NYPD as they would deserve it!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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C- Over Here, Come Get Your C-!

Jamaica/179th St. bound F train approaching the Ditmas Ave. station. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

It is sometime after 5 am so I felt the newspaper delivery boy headline would work. If you don’t like it, sue me! Now that I have gotten that out of the way, lets get down to business. To no one’s surprise another subway line scored a C- in its 2007 “Rider Report Card”. Today’s culprit is the F which brings riders on a long journey from Jamaica/179th Street to Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue. Now lets go straight the full breakdown of the results along with my analysis.

Top 10 priorities that train riders’ would like to see improvement on:

01. Reasonable wait times for trains
02. Adequate room on board at rush hour
03. Minimal delays during trips
04. Station announcements that are easy to hear
05. Train announcements that are easy to hear
06. Cleanliness of stations
07. Cleanliness of subway cars
08. Sense of security in stations
09. Station announcements that are informative
10. Sense of security on trains

Now here is the entire order of train riders’ priorities:

01. Reasonable wait times for trains
02. Adequate room on board at rush hour
03. Minimal delays during trips
04. Station announcements that are easy to hear
05. Train announcements that are easy to hear
06. Cleanliness of stations
07. Cleanliness of subway cars
08. Sense of security in stations
09. Station announcements that are informative
10. Sense of security on trains
11. Working elevators and escalators in stations
12. Comfortable temperature in subway cars
13. Train announcements that are informative
14. Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel
15. Lack of scratchitti in subway cars
16. Ease of use of subway turnstiles
17. Signs in stations that help riders find their way
18. Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way
19. Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines
20. Lack of graffiti in subway cars
21. Lack of graffiti in stations

Now here is the graded breakdown of all 21 categories:

Minimal delays during trips C-
Reasonable wait times for trains C-
Adequate room on board at rush hour D
Sense of security in stations C
Sense of security on trains C
Working elevators and escalators in stations C-
Signs in stations that help riders find their way C
Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way C
Cleanliness of stations D+
Cleanliness of subway cars C-
Station announcements that are easy to hear D
Station announcements that are informative D
Train announcements that are easy to hear D
Train announcements that are informative D+
Lack of graffiti in stations C+
Lack of graffiti in subway cars C+
Lack of scratchitti in subway cars C-
Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel C
Comfortable temperature in subway cars C
Ease of use of subway turnstiles B-
Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines B-

I think this report card was graded quite accurately. The F is a line I frequent quite often whether it is for railfanning purposes or traveling to the Lower East Side to go hang out or catch (if not both) my friends perform. I happen to have filled out a report card for the F online & my top 3 priorities matched the overall results.

In my experiences, wait times for the F train are hit or miss. If things are going good, I will arrive just as a F is pulling into the station, starting to approach the station, or arrives within 1-2 minutes. However when things are not going good which seem to be the majority of the time, I am just missing the F train & waiting for a good 10-15 minutes before the next one arrives.

As far as having adequate room on board, this is a problem way beyond just rush hour. I have taken the F at all times of the day & night & I rarely get a seat. I only tend to get a seat on the F if I am getting on at or near the beginning of the line on either end. Unfortunately most times I am not railfanning so I am getting on the train somewhere along its long route.

The delays for me tend to happen when I am riding the F in Queens. The express run can be great but most times it is slowed down by train traffic ahead of it. I understand that the line shares track space with the E for the better part of the day but I feel like the traffic is definitely from the E. I say this as it seems to be long gaps between F trains at times. The best time for the express in my experiences is late at night when the F can spread its wings on the express tracks. However this does not come as a surprise since the E is relegated to the role of a local to service Queens Boulevard all by itself which is a problem in of itself if you ask me.

For the most part I think all of the categories were graded fairly as it is hard to argue with any of the results. As usual though the F did get the free B grade of some sort for the availability of Metrocard vending machines (MVM). As far as improvements are concerned, I think riders are going to be disappointed by what I have to say however it must be said. I wouldn’t expect the F to improve on this grade for a few years. If anything the grade might deteriorate due to all the services changes riders will be faced with it in the near future due to the necessary repairs on the Gowanus Viaduct.

However to be fair, I think the riders should give the MTA some slack as the intention seems to be there to improve service along with adding the G & V to the mix in big ways. I also would like to say it was nice to see the 10,000 barrier mark be broken as far as report cards received by the MTA. The barrier was beyond broken as a whopping 13,101 sent in your report cards in whether by mail or online. While the number is low compared to how many depend on the line, this is a huge improvement from the previous response totals!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Disturbing Yet Not Surprising Video…..

Last night I happened to have my television on CW11 so I caught the first couple of stories on the 10pm newscast. Normally I am watching My9 news at 10pm but I did not get the chance to turn the channel. One of the first stories in the newscast was about the beating on the A train that was caught on video & posted on You Tube that was brought to light by The Smoking Gun.

First off I found the video disturbing although not surprising. As I said in my analysis of the C train “Rider Report Card”, I find that the A like the C tends to have extremely shady individuals riding it especially in Brooklyn.  So this was no surprise to see that the incident took place on one of the 8th Avenue lines. These kind of antics are nothing new on the subway & further illustrate why one must be prepared for anything every split second.

I am amazed at the restraint this man showed while being attacked. I do not condone hitting women but in cases of self defense, all bets are off especially with complete strangers. One has no idea if they have a weapon such as a box cutter, knife, or even worse a gun! If I was in his shoes, I would have struck back. I am quite confident the encounter would not have lasted long considering I am a pretty strong guy. Some might scream about how a man should never hit a woman, well you know what, these are not women! Real women do not go around looking for fights for no good reason! These women although they don’t deserve the label, clearly showed they want to act like men so let them get their ass kicked like men!

On a related note, it is quite pathetic when people use incidents like this to bring out their racial prejudices. I was reading a brief article about this video on the website for the Newsday. I noticed that the article contained a number of comments & unfortunately most seemed to be written by idiots playing games or bringing up their racial prejudices.

Lets see we have people pretending to be Rev. Al Sharpton, Bernie Goetz, & Charles Bronson. If that was not enough, we get idiotic statements such as “Who can possibly see this and not conclude that blacks are animals. They are worthless monkeys.” Thankfully at least 2 replies of the 17 that are there don’t show complete ignorance. Here is the link to read the comments.

I would like to end this by urging all of my readers to practice common sense & prepare yourself for anything while riding buses & subways. I wish all of you safe travel at all times!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Criticized For Its Plan To Cut Emergency Workers

3 days ago, I wrote about the MTA’s plan to eliminate an evacuation program along with approximately 100 emergency workers. As I & others expected, critics have come out panning the MTA’s plans. Yesterday, Manhattan Democrat Assemblyman Micah Kellner joined The Disabled Riders Coalition & the Straphangers Campaign in decrying the plan as they feel station personnel is needed for disabled riders when panic bars on emergency exits are broken.

As I stated in the entry linked above, I do agree with the MTA looking to cut this plan. However I will say I have some concern about the broken panic bar issue for disabled riders. I have noticed an increase in those panic bars being broken over the last 6 months. I feel that the main culprit is the continued misuse of emergency exits by lazy straphangers who are so desperate to save 5 seconds, that they use the exit instead of the turnstiles.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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