LIRR To Spend Millions To Fix The Bottleneck

What bottleneck am I talking about? The Jamaica bottleneck! The bottleneck includes the Jamaica station & the tracks entering & exiting the station. The Jamaica station is the Long Island Railroad’s second busiest station after Penn Station. The station serves 10 of the agency’s 11 branches. However it is woefully lacking a proper structure to handle the service it receives.

The basic layout to the Jamaica Station has not changed since it was built in 1913. Trains entering & leaving the station have to slow down to as much as 15mph while moving from one track to another. The current setup worries the Long Island Railroad as it might cause issues with their plans to send trains to Grand Central as part of the East Side Access plan.

The setup also frustrates many commuters & these facts have not been lost on Long Island Railroad President Helena Williams. She had this to say; “It’s the throat, and that’s the problem – the throat is too narrow. The level of frustration we get from our customers in regard to that slow crawl through Jamaica is something we need to address.”

The Long Island Rail Road Commuter’s Council Chairman Gerard Bringmann had this to say:

Ten of our 11 branches run through Jamaica, yet it’s a bottleneck. Even though it’s the hub, it’s a bottleneck and really slows things down.”

The agency’s plan includes the following:

  1. Seek company submissions for a two year study to come up with ideas to fix the Jamaica bottleneck at an approximate cost of $7.2 million dollars
  2. Start a design phase that would last 18 months & cost approximately $15 – $30 million dollars
  3. Construction costs that could total anywhere from $200 – $350 million dollars & be complete by 2014

A Queens resident who posts on The Rider Diaries had this to say about the report:

Great. bring even MORE construction to downtown Queens. not that WE benefit from it or anything. But i suppose it helps for all those ppl working on the east side? cuts out that transfer from the E/V to the 6 (while the 6 does come often enough during rush hour, to wait for a train for one stop to GCT – obnoxious)

I support anything that will get rid of the annoying crawling that occurs entering & leaving that station. I’ve been on many trains that took over 10 minutes to get in & out of that station. When you usually go through Jamaica, you swear that an extra 20 minutes was added on to your commute. The crawling is truly that bad! 2014 can’t come soon enough for commuters!

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7 & L Train To Get More Service

The MTA recently announced the official plans for increasing service on the 7 & L train respectively. The plans date back to the promises made by the MTA in relation to the rider report card results for the 7 & L. The MTA said the changes will be implemented by mid December. Here is the complete list of changes by line.

7 Train:

  1. 25 minutes added to the morning rush hour time period. The new period will be 7:10 a.m. – 9:05 a.m
  2. Flushing bound train wait times cut to 4-5 minutes from the current 5-6 minutes between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
  3. 2 extra Manhattan bound rush hour trains added to the schedule for a total of 17 rush hour trains
  4. 2 extra Manhattan bound trains added to the schedule just after rush hour between 9:30 a.m & 10:30 a.m.

L Train:

  1. Run trains every 6 (instead of 8 ) minutes between 10:30 a.m. & 3:00 p.m. Monday – Friday
  2. Run trains every 5-10 minutes (instead of 6-12) between 8:00 p.m. & 12:00 a.m. Monday – Friday
  3. Run trains every 5 minutes between 9:00 a.m. & 7:00 p.m. (6-15 minutes at other times) Saturdays
  4. Run trains every 6 minutes between 12:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m. Sundays

Unfortunately riders on other lines may not be as lucky in terms of service increases. According to NYC Transit President Howard Roberts; “We’ve heard a similar message from riders on other lines, and while we’re looking at what we can do to alleviate congestion, I can’t promise we’ll be able to add service on other line.”

I can only imagine the outcry we will hear from straphangers on other lines if that is the case.

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Lawmakers Give The MTA A Piece Of Their Mind…

This past Tuesday a city-state coalition took to the steps of City Hall to announce their “Stop The Fare Hike Campaign”. The coalition includes 22 Democrats from the New York State Assembly along with such groups as:

  1. Disabled Riders Coalition,
  2. New York City Environmental Justice Alliance,
  3. The Straphangers Campaign
  4. Transportation Alternatives,
  5. Tri-State Transportation Campaign
  6. Vision Long Island

The coalition feels the MTA should hold off on the fare hike until at least April 15, 2008. They feel that the proposal should be taken off the agency’s 2008 budget vote which takes place in December. The politicians feel they can get the MTA its deserved portion of state funds if it was given the chance to do so.

Westchester Democrat Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said “We have to be persuasive with our colleagues, the Senate, with the governor, and get the money down here to save the fare.” He also went on to say “Fare increases are a last resort. After 12 years of neglect under the Pataki administration, we want to work with the M.T.A., the city and state governments to change the failed policies of the past.”

The coalition sent the MTA a letter which contained these comments among other things: “There are many strong reasons for increasing government aid to the M.T.A. There has been no permanent new state operating aid to M.T.A. New York City Transit in at least a dozen years.” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin responded to the letter by issuing this statement:

“The four-year financial plan that we proposed in July is designed to fill $6 billion in projected deficits while increasing service to meet rapidly growing demand. To fill these gaps, the plan relies on more than $2 billion in new state aid, including almost $400 million next year, and a cost-of-living increase in fares and tolls. Failure to receive either the anticipated state aid or the fare increase will require a more drastic increase and unacceptable service cuts starting in 2009.”

The sad part for the riders who are going to suffer is how the MTA did not even approach Albany looking for funds. The agency was so used to being stonewalled by the Pataki regime which shelled out MTA funds to non MTA projects mainly in upstate New York that they expected more of the same. According to Mr. Brodsky “Every other time there’s been a fare increase the MTA has gone to Albany and said I’m going to raise the fare unless you give us the money. That didn’t happen this time. I think that was a mistake.”

One of the 22 lawmakers to sign the letter was New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson. If you remember, he released a report on how state funds would prevent the need of a fare hike. He was at it again in terms of loudly voicing his opposition to a fare hike. Here are his latest powerful comments on the issue:

We are here today because riders deserve a subway, bus, and rail system that is the best in the world. As New Yorkers, it seems that every day we hear about yet another increase, rising costs that make it more difficult to make ends meet, to put food on the table, and to get to work and home each day. Before New Yorkers are asked to dip into their pockets and pocketbooks, we are asking the MTA to not rush ahead prematurely. The wisest approach is to give our state legislators time to enact legislation that will finally give New York City Transit its fair share of funding, so that any fare increase down the road does not disproportionately affect our area.

Before the MTA plans for higher fares and tolls and the next phase of its capital program, the State and the City must provide additional funding to New York City Transit that it is rightly owed. The extra cost to New York City and New York State would be recognition of the importance of mass transit as an economic engine and supports the larger goal of encouraging New Yorkers to rely more on public transportation. If the State and City step up their commitments to New York City Transit and the economy remains relatively strong, I believe that any fare and toll increases can be delayed for some time.

I am already in an annoyed mood but this has just furthered that annoyance. How can the MTA expect to get their deserved portion if they do not go after it? Considering the state’s recent track record on screwing the agency with funds, you would think the MTA would came out at their doorstep to get their money before it magically disappeared into undeserving hands. But wait why would I or anyone else expect the MTA to use common sense & do such a thing. I mean this is the same agency that somehow goes from having a huge surplus to crying poverty about not being able to survive. This is the same agency that has mismanaged money like it is going out of style since the beginning!

I really hope that the new regime at the MTA will seriously considering working with our politicians to acquire every last dollar humanly possible. By doing so we would all come out winners. The politicians will look good in the public eye for doing something useful for a majority of its constituents while the MTA would look good for being open minded & doing the right thing. Lastly riders would win because we could save the money we work so hard for so that we can survive in this expensive city!

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Speaking Of Cleanup…..

Residents of The Forester located at Queens Blvd. & 75th Ave. have grown increasingly frustrated with the MTA. Their building which is located near an entrance to the 75th Ave. station on the E & F has been the site of unpleasant odors according to residents. The odors are coming from idling trucks & chemicals used by the MTA to clean station floors, stairways, & walls.

Residents such as 70 year old Ronald Spector have stated “I’ve smelled that in the street, like rotten gas.” According to 52 year old Alison Jaret, she has been forced to use towels to block the outside air & smell from entering her 10th floor apartment. She has filed numerous complaints with the MTA in August. The MTA responded to her complaints by stating their crews are in compliance with all air & pollution laws. She has since enlisted the help of Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio to help deal with the problem.

The main complaint of Ms. Jaret is the parking locations chosen by the MTA. MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker promised the agency would alternate the crew’s parking location. The MTA’s vice president for government and community relations voiced the same promised the same thing when he said the crew would “find an alternate parking site & be mindful of neighbors’ concerns.” in a letter that was addressed to Mr. Gulluscio.

Unfortunately the promises have been broken as Ms. Jaret said the MTA has increased its presence to two trucks in the same parking areas. MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker once again had this to say:  “I’m sure the fumes are not hazardous, but we’ll look into it and see what they can do.” Considering how the MTA has not followed through on their promise, I would caution residents to expect any changes unless you increase your complaints!

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MTA To Hire More Cleaners

The MTA’s NYC Transit division announced their intention to hire 350 subway cleaners as part of their $7.6 million “Customer Satisfaction” program. The workers assignments will include cleaning trash inside stations as well as inside subway cars & on the tracks itself.

The program is being launched as riders continue to give poor grades to subway lines during the current 2007 Rider Report Card period. According to NYC Transit spokesman Howard Roberts, 250 of the cleaners have already been hired. The remaining 100 will be hired soon. When the plan fully kicks in, NYC Transit will see an 11% increase in cleaner manpower compared to two years ago.

Here are some comments in relation to the “Customer Satisfaction” program:

28 year old Manhattan resident Jacki O’Brien – “It’s a good idea because … the trains are filthy.”

60 year old Manhattan resident Boris Shapiro – “Please help us, it stinks in the elevators.”

Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint – “For too long we had too few cleaners, and riders saw the results. The hiring of more cleaners is a step in the right direction for cleaner trains, cleaner platforms and better service for riders.”

I think the 16 year old high school student Alexis Tripp said it best when they suggested that straphangers stop dirtying the system! I agree with Alexis 100% as a lot of the problems inside the stations & tracks are caused by straphangers. The MTA could hire people until they are blue in the face, if we as the riding public do not do our part, the system will always be dirty!

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