MTA Hearing In Farmingdale Has Low Attendance

I guess Long Islanders missed the memo or maybe Long Island Railroad Commuter Council member Maureen Michaels was right when she said “Maybe they’re delayed by the trains” in reference to the abysmal turnout at yesterday’s MTA hearing in Farmingdale on the proposed fare hike. According to the Newsday, approximately only 40 Long Island residents were present for the hearing which featured less than a dozen speakers from the riding public. Here is the entire article about the hearing courtesy of Newsday:

While hearings on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposed fare increases have drawn hundreds in the city, some going until late in the evening, the only hearing scheduled on Long Island stood in stark contrast Wednesday night, with about 40 attendants and fewer than a dozen speakers.

After a brief introduction at Farmingdale State College, no speakers came to the microphone when MTA Deputy Executive Director Chris Boylan read off the first few names of residents who had signed up to give comments prior to the event.

“Maybe they’re delayed by the trains,” quipped Maureen Michaels, a member of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council.

Forty-five minutes into the hearing, Boylan took a 15-minute break to see whether any additional speakers arrived.

After the break, he read four more names. None had arrived. And they recessed again. But Boylan, who has attended other such hearings on Long Island throughout the years, said he was not surprised by the lesser turnout, given the greater population density in the city.

Still, a smaller crowd did not arrive with any less vitriol over the proposed fare hikes.

“I think this rate increase is outrageous,” said Kent Reiter, 62, of Garden City. Noting the proposed third track project, which officials say would increase capacity on the LIRR’s main line, he added: “You’ll be glad to build a third track through my backyard at a terrible expense to everyone … The fare hike is just another sign of a system gone wrong.”

Paul Askedall, 47, of Farmingdale, arrived in a tuxedo, making the point that fares will soon only be affordable to the upper class: “This is the only type of clothes you want people to wear … I and my parents have trouble making ends meet.”

But assuming a certain air of inevitability to the increase, he added: “You’re all going to do what you want. This is a charade.”

None of the MTA board members in attendance nor LIRR President Helena Williams responded to any of the comments.

The proposed increases call for raising Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North fares by an average of 6.5 percent. In the city, the $2 base subway and bus fare would rise by a quarter.

“The cost of living on Long Island is high; you’re going to make it higher,” said State Sen. Carl Marcellino.

State Assemb. David McDonough urged the MTA to delay its expected December vote on a fare hike until April, when the legislature votes on a state budget, in hopes that they can allocate enough money to offset the need for an increase.

MTA chairman Elliot Sander has said the agency is already asking the state for $1.5 billion during the next two years to finance operations and various projects. Expecting Albany to produce an additional $300 million a year to stave off an increase is not realistic, he said.

I can’t say that I am surprised by the lack of turnout for the Long Island hearing. I assumed in advance that the hearings held in the suburbs would have the least amount of turnout. I feel this reflects on the attitude of who can & can’t afford the big blow this fare hike will inflict on drivers & riders alike.

I applaud Mr. Askedall for the creative way he chose to make his statement. Mr. Askedall you get my kudos of the week for sure. Hmm, maybe I’m on to something, the Transit Blogger “Kudos Of The Week” award! I like it!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Marvin Franklin’s Art Lives On….

While death brings a lot of pain & emotions, sometimes positives will rise from the ashes & give a ray of light that will beam on forever. This is definitely the case when it comes to Marvin Franklin. Marvin Franklin was one of two track workers who lost their life in a span of 5 days this past April in two separate incidents after being hit by a subway train.

Marvin Franklin was a dedicated track worker whose life long dream was to retire & open an art gallery that would raise money for the homeless. Unfortunately he died before his dream could come true. However in a fitting tribute to a well loved man, his work will be shown in two exhibitions starting this Friday. The exhibitions will serve as a tribute to him while posthumously raising money for those in need.

The first exhibition of Marvin’s work will be on display at the art space known as Gallery 1199. Gallery 1199 is located inside the midtown headquarters of Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union. The exhibition runs from this Friday until December 7th.

The second exhibition of Marvin’s work will be on display at the New York Transit Museum. The second exhibition will be co-sponsored by the Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union & New York Transit Museum. The second exhibition will run from December 18th until March 30th, 2008. All proceeds & donations will support the New York Transit Museum’s “Orphans & Widows” fund.

I urge everyone to attend any of the exhibitions or make a donation if not both. I will do my best to do both before all is said & done. RIP Marvin Franklin…..

xoxo Transit Blogger

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M Train Accident @ Chambers Street

Chambers Street station on the J, M, & Z; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

This morning, the Chambers Street station on the J, M, & Z lines was the scene of an ugly accident involving an M train. The incident occurred at approximately 10:55 a.m. after the M train dropped off passengers. According to the MTA press release, the train which was approaching the relay position struck the bumper block outside of the station. Here is the full press release:

At approximately 10:55 a.m., a southbound M train approaching the relay (turn around) position struck the bumper block outside of the Chambers Street station. The train, which runs between Lower Manhattan and Middle Village, Queens, was in between runs and had discharged all customers at Chambers Street. Due to the collision, the train operator was briefly trapped in the cab of the first car. He was subsequently removed to St. Vincent’s Hospital. The train did not derail; however, there is significant damage to the first two cars and somewhat lighter damage to another four. The cause of this incident is under investigation. There was no effect to service.

Unfortunately posters at the popular transit forum Subchat turned the thread about the incident into a debate about why details such as pictures of such events should or should not be posted. A transit worker was taken to a hospital due to the accident & will definitely face intense questioning from the MTA about this. Instead of focusing on his condition, possible causes to the accident, & what trouble he might face from the MTA, the thread harps on unnecessary details about proper protocol for handling information about such incidents….

So sad but yet so typical………

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Some Passengers Injured Due To A Shaking PATH Train

My sister was nice enough to inform me of a story for the blog. She e-mailed me this afternoon after she read an article about an incident involving a PATH train that caused some injuries. According to an article on 1010 Wins, a PATH train was switching tracks shortly before 2 p.m. when the conductor stopped the train because they noticed it was shaking. The incident which occurred as the train was approaching the Journal Square station caused some passengers to suffer bumps & bruises. More on this story as it becomes available…….

P.S. Don’t they mean the train operator stopped the train? I doubt the conductor did….

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Seeks Proposals For Their Alert System

Last month I wrote about the storm report the MTA submitted to Gov. Spitzer in regards to the August 8th system that sent the transit system into a state of mass chaos. In the report one of the solutions the MTA planned to implement was a service alert system that would provide e-mail and text messaging service alerts to its customers. In regards to those plans, the MTA is now seeking proposals from companies who would be interested in helping the agency create such a system since their current system can not handle the volume of subscribers expected for the service.

Here is the full press release:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority today announced the release of a competitive procurement for an e-Alert system that will provide timely and consistent e-mail and text messaging service alerts to its customers. The MTA is seeking the services of an external firm to provide a common platform for an all-agency service alert system that can be used by operations staff and public information officers at MTA operating agencies to notify customers of any events that might disrupt their normal travel. The agency is hoping to begin providing the service to customers by the spring of 2008.

The proposed system would send text messages or e-mails to customers’ designated e-mail accounts, cell phones, PDAs and other similar communications devices – in as close to real-time as possible. Such messages would include notification of planned service disruptions such as scheduled track work that might result in weekend delays or alternate train routing, as well as unplanned disruptions resulting from fires, storms, flooding or other emergency conditions.

The new email and text messaging service was recommended in the MTA’s report responding to the August 8 storm that flooded parts of the transportation network. It is also consistent with work done by the MTA’s Customer Service Initiative earlier this year as one of MTA Executive Director and CEO Lee Sander’s primary priorities.

“Better customer communication has been high on my priority list since I came to the MTA earlier this year,” said Elliot G. Sander, MTA Executive Director and CEO. “The flooding on August 8 made it clear that timely text and email alerts are necessary, and I am confident we can find a third-party provider with the processing power to carry this out. It will no doubt be the largest such customer service alert system in the nation.”

Over time, the MTA anticipates up to one million subscribers to this service, a number which cannot be handled with in-house technology. Currently, such large amounts of e-mail would require many distributed servers and would take hours to send out. As the delivery of such information can be critical in times of emergency or major service disruptions, the proposed system must be capable of delivering vast numbers of messages in a very short time.

This system will also serve the purpose of integrating several separate MTA operating agency-specific systems to allow MTA customers to do one-stop registration for any number of MTA services.

One has to wonder why it took the MTA all these years & storms later to come up with such a solution. When they initially created their in-house system, why didn’t they think to create one that could handle a huge volume of subscribers? I mean it is not like they didn’t know they have millions of riders who use their system daily! This is just another example of MTA incompetence over the last decade! Lets hope the new regime can bring the agency back from the depths of incompetence it currently resides in!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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