MTA Text Alerts Coming To A Screen Near You

So the MTA is finally catching up with the times & providing real time text alerts in the case of emergency service disruptions. The steam picked up to implement this technology after the horrific flooding that practically shut the entire subway system down almost a year ago. Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has the story:

If you get an e-mail or text message from the MTA this fall, it’s nothing to LOL about.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority expects to start sending alerts to commuters’ cellphones and computers with details about unplanned service problems in September, the Daily News has learned.

The notices will help riders alter their routines to avoid floods and other incidents that cause delays, or warn them away from a crippled system altogether, officials said.

The need for a communications upgrade was highlighted during the Aug. 8, 2007, deluge that flooded subway tracks, forcing the authority to cut electricity and halt trains.

Many riders, unaware of the severity of the widespread service disruptions, continued to their local stations and became ensnared in delays and line shutdowns.

“Communications with the public when you have this type of catastrophe is essential,” MTA CEO Elliot Sander said.

Efforts to improve communications began before last summer but intensified after the Aug. 8 storm, Sander said.

Riders will be able to sign up for the free service on the MTA’s Web site – www.mta.nyc.ny.us.

They can tailor their alerts by focusing on the routes they take most often, MTA deputy executive director Christopher Boylan said.

The authority has retained an outside firm to distribute the texts and e-mails, Boylan said. The distributor will be able to send more than 1 million missives within five minutes, he said.

NYC Transit doesn’t e-mail or text riders about unplanned service disruptions.

Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road do send alerts but at times have trouble getting the information out in a timely manner. The MTA moves about 8.5 million riders a day.

I don’t know if I should focus on the positive that the implementation of this technology is almost here or the negative on how the MTA is as usual behind the times. I will look at it from both perspectives. Lets first look at the good which is that the millions of riders who depend on our system will have access to the best information possible in case of an emergency service disruption. This can only be seen as a good thing. Lets hope the ridership takes full advantage of such a service as it is only there to help us all in the long run.

However I must call into question why it took the MTA so long to implement technology that has been used by so many for an extended period of time. While they can say it was on the agenda all along, it should not have taken our system nearly being rendered completely useless to implement such technology. With that being said, there is no excuse for it taking about a year if not a little bit over that in the end to get this to the riding public. I always tell people it is better to be proactive than reactive. The MTA should seriously take those words to heart in all facets of their operations.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Subway Groping Editorial

4 days ago I wrote an entry about an article that appeared in the New York Post about the MTA choosing not go through with their anti-groping advertising campaign. I personally felt the MTA was wrong in choosing not to go through with the ad campaign. A day later an editorial by Emily May & Sam Carter appeared in the New York Daily News. Here is their editorial:

When the city wants to cut down on littering in the subways, we launch an anti-littering ad campaign. Domestic violence, an anti-domestic violence ad campaign. Panhandling, check. Heck, even tree-killing beetles get their own ad space.

But subway gropers and flashers? Fuhgeddaboudit.

This week, news broke that the MTA’s quiet preparation of an anti-groping subway ad campaign was put to a halt by MTA officials, even after they had developed mockups. The campaign was planned in response to a recent study by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer on sexual assault in the subway system – which found that 63% of respondents said they’d been harassed, and 10% said they’d been sexually assaulted.

The numbers are staggering, but we bet even these figures understate the facts. We and the thousands of New Yorkers we work with have experienced this epidemic firsthand – and we’re just plain sick of it.

That’s why in 2005 we started Holla Back NYC (hollabacknyc.com), a movement to fight back against street harassment – by snapping photos of the perpetrators and posting them online. We understand that raising awareness and making perpetrators think twice are the best ways to bite the hands that grope us.

The MTA doesn’t get it. Their supposed reason for calling off the ad campaign? They’re reportedly afraid it might actually encourage more lewd behavior. As though a creep is going to decide to grope a woman only after he reads a subway advertisement.

They’re right about one thing: A campaign is likely to lead to an increase in harassment reports. But that’s a good thing.

In Boston, where trains and buses are adorned with posters shouting “Rub against me and I’ll expose you,” and “Flash someone and you’ll be exposed,” the number of reported groping incidents jumped from a reported 17 in June last year to 38 this year.

Chief Paul MacMillan of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority understood why: “We’ve brought attention to the fact that this is not acceptable behavior … and people are now reporting it more.”

Someone at the MTA seems worried about exposing the dirty underbelly of the city’s transportation network. They’d rather ignore it – and hope that it’ll go away. That’s a little like hoping the rats on the tracks will vanish if we avert our eyes every time they rear their beady little eyes.

Subway ads will work. First and most importantly, they will formalize the idea that subway groping is unacceptable. That will lead New York City women, like their Boston counterparts, to feel comfortable in calling out lewd pervs on their behavior. A likely rise in the number of incidents reported will be something to celebrate – because it’ll mean a rise in the number of men caught in the act.

On our Web site, we encourage women to “hollaback” to supposed “compliments” – or the all-too-common act of a rub or a grope – by taking pictures of their harassers and submitting them to our site, along with a short story.

When the site launched, it hit a nerve. Street harassment, we discovered, was just one piece of a much longer spectrum violence against women. As with more serious forms of assault and rape, women are often scared to speak up about their experiences.

Submissions to our site demonstrated the sad truth that women often blame themselves – because piggish behavior is so widely accepted. To make matters worse, those who stand up for themselves are often treated with hostility by the authorities.

Recently, Holla Back NYC has been flooded by stories related to assault, groping and public masturbation. In one devastatingly illustrative story, a woman wrote about being assaulted on a train. She did what was right and went to the authorities. Their response: get a gun.

That’s a reminder that greater public awareness on the subways alone will not be enough. It needs to go hand in hand with better police training and an additional public awareness campaign on the sidewalks of our city to address the scourge of mistreatment of women and its consequences.

But for starters, let’s get these ads off the drawing boards and into our daily commutes. If we have room for subway poetry and Dr. Zizmor, surely we can find space on our trains to take a stand against street harassment.

May and Carter are co-founders of Holla Back NYC.

Their last paragraph showcased the correct point of view beautifully. I could not have said it better myself.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Service Diversions Updated 07/18 (Revised)

The service diversions have been updated with the latest scheduled diversions for the coming weekend & following week. The scheduled diversions for the 1 Train train has been posted.

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MTA Arts For Transit Honored In Brooklyn

The MTA has just issued a press release highlighting an award received as part of its Arts For Transit Program. Here are the details:

Artwork in a Canarsie subway station received an Award at the 8th Annual Building Brooklyn Awards presentation, recently announced by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. The Awards are based on completed construction and renovation projects that enrich Brooklyn’s neighborhood and economy. MTA Arts for Transit and artist Michael Ingui received one of seventeen such awards.

Through MTA Arts for Transit’s Permanent Art Program, Michael Ingui designed Crescendo, bright, colorful glass panels, which are installed along the windows of the stairs within the new East 105th Street station, L line. Inspired by the architectural design and structure of the station, the artist created bold, sweeping black lines set within a fresh fields of green and blue colors. The work accentuates the geometry and directional quality of the station, emphasizing its structural elements. Just like the trains and passengers that travel by them every day, the lines reference continuous motion. To view the project, access our website at www.mta.info/mta/aft.

This year’s judges chose projects that represent some of Brooklyn best in design, architecture, creativity and sustainability according to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
An independent, nine-member panel of Brooklyn-based architects, planners, economic development experts and city officials selected the winning projects. Projects were judged on a list of criteria, including overall aesthetic and design, positive economic impact, improving the quality of life, providing critical neighborhood services and amenities, demonstrating a commitment to quality design and pre-existing architectural character, and demonstrating an aesthetic sensitivity to the surrounding community.

Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts for Transit said, “The project is an excellent example of the positive effect of artwork that complements the space and structure of a station while improving the daily transit experience for MTA customers.”

The Brooklyn-based Ingui, who is a practicing architect as well as artist, strove to capture the energy and create a harmonious, unified look for the newly renovated transit facility. In creating the work, he said, “It is my hope that the artwork will not only be enjoyed but will provide passengers with associations of the artistic qualities and elements of the station structures.”

Ingui worked with fabricator Franz Mayer of Munich and New York, to translate and fabricate the design into the glass medium using painting, laminating, sandblasting and other techniques. Ingui was selected for his proposal for the East 105th Street project from approximately 200 artists’ submissions.

Through MTA Arts for Transit’s Permanent Art Program, over 200 site specific artworks have been installed within station facilities. The Canarsie project at E. 105th Street on the L Line was commissioned along with other noteworthy art projects at New Lots Avenue, Sutter Avenue, and Livonia Avenue, which collectively have invigorated the rehabilitated transit stations at these locations, bringing color and brightness to the communities served.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Upcoming 1 Train Service Suspension

Normally the MTA does not issue a standalone press release for a service diversion or suspension. So when they do, it must be considered major & that it is. This upcoming weekend, 1 Train service will be suspended in both directions between the 137th Street & 215th Street stations. Here are the complete details:

MTA NYC Transit announced today that due to necessary cable installation, survey and track work along the 1 Line, service will be suspended between 137th Street and 215th Street between 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 19 and 5 a.m. Monday, July 21. Customers are encouraged to take the A train as an alternative, where possible. In addition, free shuttle buses will be operating on two branches between 137th and 215th Streets: one via Broadway, Nagle Avenue and 10th Avenue to 215th Street and the other via Broadway and St. Nicholas Avenue to 191st Street. Buses will depart from their terminals every 1- 3 minutes.

Because trains will terminate at stations that are not ADA accessible, southbound 1 customers using wheelchairs who originate at 231st Street can board an Access-A-Ride vehicle to take them to the nearest accessible station at 135th Street-Lenox Avenue 23.

Northbound 1 customers in wheelchairs will be directed to switch to the 2 or 3 at 72nd Street or 96th Street and ride to 135th Street-Lenox Avenue 23 for paratransit service to the 231st Street 1 station. There is no charge for this service. Transit employees will be on hand at both stations from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. to provide assistance. For assistance at other times, customers in wheelchairs may call Access-A-Ride directly at 718-393-4338. Customers do not have to be Access-A-Ride members in order to ride.

To make the most of this suspension, Transit employees will be working on three projects. The major project will be the installation of antenna communication cables between 168th and Dyckman Streets. We will also be doing survey work at the Dyckman Station prior to station rehabilitation and our Maintenance of Way staff will be doing track and structural maintenance work on the elevated structure between Dyckman and 215th Streets.

For further information, customers may call NYC Transit’s Travel Information Center at 718 330 1234 or log on to www.mta.info for weekend service diversions.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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