MTA & NYPD Team Up To Crack Down On Fare Evaders

We all know this familiar scene, a bus pulls into a stop with a ton of would be passengers. Many grow impatient & board through the back of the bus & blend in with the crowd avoiding paying a fare. If it is not that scene, it will be someone being bold & entering through the front & ignoring any & all requests to pay the fare. Either way you slice it, fare evasion is a problem that plagues bus routes throughout NYC.

The MTA recently took steps to punish fare evaders when along with the introduction of Select Bus Service also introduced stiffer fines for fare evasion by raising each fine to $100 from the previous amount of $60. Now the agency hopes to do even more to curb fare evasion by teaming up with the NYPD to crack down on fare evaders. NY1 has more with this report:

Transit and police officials said Wednesday that they will begin cracking down on those who try to beat the bus fare, after a new study identifies where it occurs the most.

New York City Transit officials said that they are targeting the approximately 130,000 riders each week who get on the bus without paying fares – costing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority millions of dollars each year.

Transit officials say they have identified the routes and stops where the most freeloaders are getting on. The worst is the B46 in Brooklyn, where an estimated 4,000 people beat the fare each week.

Click here for the complete text along with video of this report.

I am glad to see the MTA attempting to do something which has been long overdue, cracking down on fare evaders. I feel most sorry for the bus drivers who are stuck between a rock & a hard place. If they choose to confront the fare evader, they are not following policy & risk getting attacked (more on that in the next entry) or being hated by riders for threatening to go out of service.

The other side of the coin is no better as they look like pushovers if they let it slide. When it comes to the reaction, it depends on who the driver is. I notice that the veteran drivers let it slide as they are of the belief I want to drive, stay out of harm’s way & go home to fight another day. A younger driver might be more brass & fight for that fare. Either way it is truly a no win proposition for the driver. I seriously hope the MTA & NYPD really stick with this potential partnership to crack down on fare evaders. While jail seems like a stretch since they are overcrowded as it is, some sort of swift punishment is in order especially for repeat offenders.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR To Provide Extra Service For Rescheduled Mets Game

Let me first apologize for not getting this news out to you sooner. I received a press release from the LIRR a few hours before it was posted on their site. The release was to announce extra LIRR service for the rescheduled Mets game this Sunday. Here are the details:

The MTA Long Island Rail Road will provide additional train service to Shea Stadium this Sunday evening, September 7, for the Mets re-scheduled 8:05 PM game start, against the Phillies. The game had originally been scheduled for a 1:10 PM start but was moved to accommodate an ESPN broadcast.

Train service to Shea Stadium is available on eastbound Port Washington Branch trains from Penn Station and westbound trains from Great Neck and Port Washington. The train ride is just 18 minutes from Penn Station to Shea Stadium. For those traveling on the LIRR from Long Island, the Stadium is just six minutes from Woodside, 16-17 minutes from Great Neck and 27 minutes from Port Washington.

Following is Sunday’s Shea Stadium train schedule for the Mets game:

Port Washington Branch:

Eastbound: Trains leaving Penn Station at 4:49 PM, 5:19 PM, 5:49 PM, 5:53 PM,
6:19 PM, 6:49 PM, 6:53 PM, 7:19 PM, 7:49 PM, 8:19 PM, 8:49 PM, 9:19 PM, 9:49 PM,
10:19 PM, 10:49 PM, 11:19 PM, 12:19 AM and 1:19 AM.

Westbound: Trains leaving Port Washington at 4:40 PM, 5:10 PM, 5:40 PM, 6:10 PM, 6:40 PM, 6:58 PM (from Great Neck), 7:10 PM, 7:32 PM, 7:40 PM, 8:10 PM, 8:40 PM, 9:10 PM, 9:40 PM, 10:10 PM, 10:40 PM, 11:40 PM, 12:40 AM and 1:39 AM.

The following Main Line trains will have added Woodside stops for this game:

Eastbound: 11:30 PM, 12:14 AM, 12:50 AM and 1:11 AM trains from Penn Station.
Westbound: 4:01 PM from Huntington, 4:26 PM from Long Beach, 5:01 PM from Huntington, 5:26 PM from Long Beach, 6:01 PM from Huntington, 6:25 PM from Babylon and 6:26 PM from Long Beach.

Fans traveling from branches other than Port Washington can reach Shea Stadium by taking a regularly scheduled train to Woodside Station, then changing to an eastbound Port Washington Branch train. Since Shea Stadium is located in Zone 1, tickets to that zone from outlying stations are valid to Shea. However, passengers must retain their ticket stubs and inform ticket collectors of their intention to travel to Shea Stadium. Customers must hold onto their tickets, which will be collected at the Shea station after they disembark. CityTicket is not valid to Shea Stadium Station.

The Railroad’s special Family Fare is a great way for future big leaguers to see their favorite team. Children, ages 5 through 11, can ride for only 75-cents each when tickets are purchased at a ticket office or from a ticket machine, during off-peak hours, when accompanied by an adult paying the regular off-peak fare. Parents with monthly or weekly tickets just pay for the children. Up to four children can travel with each parent (or guardian, 18 or older) at this special rate. The Family Fare is $1 per child if purchased on-board a train. For travel during peak hours, the child fare is one-half the regular one-way fare. Children under 5 ride for free at all times.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Implements Digital Notice Boards

The MTA has never been known to be ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing new technology in & around the system. This has not changed although their new implementation could go a long way towards changing that. NY1 first broke the news about the MTA implementing digital notice boards at six stations on the 7 & L lines. Here is their report:

Transit officials are testing a new program to alert subway riders with digital announcement boards in the event of delays.

Straphangers at six stations on the 7 and L lines will see video screens inside token booths as part of a pilot program.

For now, they are only broadcasting public service announcements, but officials say they will provide up-to-the-minute information on service disruptions.

The Station Agent Information Display program, or SAID, cost the MTA $30,000 so far.

Officials at the rail control center will be able to send messages to individual stations, or groups of stations using wireless technology.

“This SAID program is a way to provide better-quality, more timely information to our customers,” said 7 Line Deputy General Manager John Hoban. “It helps our agents to be more involved in the dissemination of information in the stations. And it takes the place of an old tried-and-true technology, which is that grease board behind the agent.”

White boards will remain in the booths for now as a backup.

If the program is deemed a success, it could be expanded elsewhere in the transit system.

I am going to take a wait & see approach before giving the thumbs up or down to these new boards. At the moment as the report stated, they will only deliver PSA’s (public service announcements) that we have either seen or heard thousands of times already. The real test will be when their is some sort of a service diversion or outage due to something unforeseen. Personally I feel they should post service diversions so people know exactly what is happening before they swipe their Metrocard.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Typical MTA Employee Bullying

For people who are either employed or know someone who is by the MTA could tell you how the agency tends to look for the slightest reason to bully or terminate their employees. So to no one’s surprise comes the story of a subway conductor who is being forced to choose between using the restroom out of a necessity versus keeping his job. NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza has the story:

For subway conductor James Mitchell, it all started on a downtown R train some nine years ago. He says he needed to use the bathroom, so he held the train at the City Hall station, and used the facilities in a dispatcher’s office.

He said it took no more than four minutes, but he soon had two disciplinary claims filed against him – neither one for the brief stop.

“The Transit Authority cannot discipline an employee for using the bathroom, so what they do, they manufacture a rule violation,” said Mitchell.

While those charges were dropped, it was not the end of his trouble. Mitchell was diagnosed with irritable bowl syndrome, and over the past nine years, he’s stopped his train several times to use the bathroom.

Click here for the complete text & video report.

This comes as no surprise to me considering who we are dealing with here. I’ve seen it first hand how the MTA likes to try & drum up charges against their employees in an attempt to bully or terminate them. I can recall a number of incidents involving my father who is an almost 30 year veteran of driving buses for the MTA. From what I notice, they tend to give more trouble to veterans than others with less seniority. I feel this comes from the agency’s attempt to hire younger workers who will take the abuse as compared to veteran’s who know their rights.

While I can understand a case being made for riders not having to wait for a restroom visit, I will side with human nature. Does one really think that Mr. Mitchell wants to cause even a slight delay because of his need to use the restroom? The answer is obviously no & if he could control it he would but sometimes that decision is out of our hands. I feel his lawyer makes an excellent point as your typical rider shenanigans like door holding will lead to more delays than a rare bathroom visit.

Stories like this just further hammer home why I am glad I did not follow in my father & grandfather’s footsteps in working as a bus driver or for the MTA overall.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Community Board Opposes Part Of MTA’s Flood Prevention Plan

As we all know by now, especially those depending on the Queens Blvd corridor, the MTA’s kryptonite is rain. Heavy rains have been the MTA’s biggest opponent when it comes to operating their subway service. The worst defeat came last year during the August storm that saw flooding render the subway system useless in all 4 boroughs.

Since that storm, the MTA has been working on ways to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. Some of these ways were discussed when they released a storm report last September to then New York Governor Elliot Spitzer. One of the suggestions in the report was the following:

One of the most promising tools to fight sidewalk vent gratings/station entrance issues is street
furniture designed to raise vent heights to prevent water inflow.

This very idea has caused some uproar amongst members of Community Board 1 who feel such a plan is too much for what they feel is a rare occurrence. NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza has more in this report:

It was the kind of deluge that’s so rare, it’s known as a 100-year storm – and for something that has happened so infrequently, some say one of the MTA’s solutions makes no sense.

“The proposed solution to a 100-year flood risk is a permanent solution, so we’re going to have to live with it for the 99 and 3/4 years that we don’t have floods,” said Roger Byrom of Community Board 1.

That permanent solution is new street furniture that elevates the sidewalk grates, preventing water from cascading down into the system. The design also features benches and bike racks. In the next week or so, a prototype will be installed on West Broadway, with many more to follow.

But the local community board says the MTA should have a better response plan for heavy rains, instead of installing permanent structures they say will crowd the sidewalks and detract from a historic district. Then again, those 100 year storms aren’t so rare anymore.

Click here for the complete text & video for this report.

I can honestly see their point about the furniture taking up valuable room on sidewalks. Lets face it sidewalks throughout the city especially in Manhattan are usually crowded with what is currently on them much less permanent fixtures as this. However my main concern is preventing any sort of a repeat of what happened last August. Even if a storm of that nature is not happening, constant leaking of rain onto the tracks & tunnel is something that needs to be taken care of.

Before I pass complete judgment on the permanent structures, I would like to see them physically in person to determine how much of a hindrance it would truly be. In the end it really needs to be about system conditions over actual looks.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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