Metro-North Increases Service For Independence Day

Metro-North train departing the Harlem-125th Street station.
Metro-North train departing the Harlem-125th Street station. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

The Metro-North has issued a press release about the planned service increase for the Independence Day holiday. Here are the details courtesy of the MTA:

This year, Independence Day is more than just a day. It’s a holiday weekend, now that July 4th is on a Friday.

And MTA Metro-North Railroad is providing extra service for early getaways and for people coming into New York to watch the fireworks spectacular.

There will be many additional customers using Metro-North trains from Grand Central on Thursday, July 3. And these additional customers as well as the every day customers are expected to leave earlier than usual.

In fact, during the 12 noon through 4 p.m. time frame when 12,000 customers climb aboard trains departing Grand Central, those numbers are expected to triple to 36,000 on Thursday, July 3rd.

In order to accommodate everyone’s getaway needs, Metro-North will be providing 6 additional Hudson Line departures from 1:45 p.m. through 5:59 p.m.; 5 additional Harlem Line departures from 1:45 p.m. through 6:10 p.m.; and 10 New Haven Line departures from 1:04 p.m. through 5:59 p.m.

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Subway Delays Up 44%

If you poll a thousand straphangers & asked if they felt subway delays were up, I would bet at least 80% of people would say yes. If they did, they would be 100% correct as subway delays are up 44% according to the latest statistics from New York City Transit. Clemente Lisi of the New York Post has more details:

If it feels like you’ve been waiting longer for the subway, it’s because you have.

Train delays have shot up a whopping 44 percent, with track work – and straphangers holding doors – the leading causes, according to new NYC Transit statistics.

There were 15,158 trains thrown off their schedules during April, the last month for which figures were available.

That compares to 10,559 in the same month last year.

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Speaking Of Subway Floods

Within the last hour, I just wrote an entry about an amendment that the MTA drafted which would include projects aimed at stopping floods in & around subway stations. One of my complaints was not seeing any mention of this work being done along the Queens Boulevard corridor. Maybe they have work planned for the corridor but to not have it in the list of stations mentioned in the article is alarming to me.

Anyhow the point of this entry is to commend the New York Post which had an article talking about the “caveman” (Geico anyone?) like actions executed so far. Here is the story from Angela Montefinise:

The subway system is fighting a battle against flooding – using tarps and buckets.

Almost a year after massive floods crippled the subway system and left millions of riders stranded, New York City Transit is employing a low-rent solution to keep water off the tracks in Queens. Whenever the forecast calls for rain, workers rush to flood-prone areas and roll blue tarp over sidewalk subway grates.

Six cement-filled buckets keep each tarp in place. Short poles protruding from each bucket allow yellow “construction area” tape to be wound around the whole set-up.

Some elected officials from Queens were hoping for something a little more sophisticated.

“Stopping floods with tarps and rocks is something a caveman would do,” groused City Councilman Eric Gioia.

“The only thing that could be worse is when we get the bill from the engineers who came up with this.”

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall is also concerned.

“What if there’s a fire on the line, where does the smoke go?” said her spokesman, Dan Andrews.

“If the gratings can be arbitrarily covered up, then why are they there in the first place?”

NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said the temporary solution was “low-tech” but “effective” while more permanent solutions are in the works.

“But those take time to design,” he added.

Since the Aug. 8 flooding, NYC Transit has installed Doppler radar in its control center for more accurate forecasts and cleaned its drains and grates more often.

I can’t believe they are using tarps held down by cement filled pails. While Eric Gioia can sometimes be a little out there with his quotes, he is spot on with this one. While I understand that the MTA is working on a more professional plan to address the issue, is this the best idea they could come up with? Queens Borough President Helen Marshall also brought up an excellent point in wondering what would happen during the case of a fire. Lets hope that we never have to find out!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Knee Jerk Reaction To Debut Of Select Bus Service

Yesterday marked the debut of Select Bus Service on the Bx12. The goal of the service is to cut travel time by up to 20% by implementing such measures as letting passengers pay before boarding, allowing entrance to the bus via the front & back doors, dedicated bus lanes, traffic signal priority, & more.

All of these things sound great but as one would expect, the first day displayed some kinks. Unfortunately there are people already saying this won’t work. Jenny Merkin of the New York Daily News has the story:

Many Bronx bus riders were baffled Sunday by a new pay-before-boarding pilot program designed to speed up trips.

“This is not a good system,” said Anna Rivera, 53, of the Bronx, who accidentally wound up paying twice before boarding the Bx12 at Fordham Plaza on the first day of the Select Bus Service.

The new system will get its biggest test during Monday’s morning and evening rush.

Machines set up at stops along the route let commuters pay with a MetroCard or cash. Riders must carry receipts, to be checked at random, or face $60 fines.

Riders can board at the front or back, and there are signal controls that delay lights to allow buses to pass – a plan designed to cut travel time by up to 20%.

How ridiculous can people be in saying the program won’t work after only running for less then a day? This is is what’s wrong nowadays with our ridership. They want a better commute in terms of improved service, cleanliness, etc…. yet when the MTA attempts to facilitate these requests, they come down on them. The riding public needs to stop with the knee jerk reactions due to a problem they might have encountered.

I would love to hear from anyone who tested out the new service yesterday.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Wants To Upgrade Communications At 44 Subway Stations

Lately the MTA has had one piece of negative publicity after another. However Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has a positive piece about the MTA’s plan to upgrade communications in 44 subway stations. Here is his report:

Despite the dark clouds hanging over the MTA, there’s some good news for straphangers – including public address systems coming to dozens of subway stations that, incredibly, don’t have them.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s draft amendment to its current five-year capital program includes funds to upgrade communications in 44 subway stations, repair some of the worst station stairwells and platforms, and seal up the most flood-prone subway tunnels.

The new projects and benefits to riders were overshadowed last week by the announcement that the MTA is proposing to slash $2.7 billion worth of projects, including 19 complete station rehabilitations, because of budget shortfalls.

“Normally, in a situation where we’re having to take projects out of the five-year-capital program, we would not propose additional projects unless they were absolutely vital,” NYC Transit President Howard Roberts told the Daily News. “Flood mitigation, station public address systems and the stations’ component program all qualify.”

The capital program amendment, which needs to be approved by the MTA board and an Albany oversight panel, allocates $47 million to install public address systems in about half of the 87 stations that lack such basic communications systems.

The MTA has been blasted in the past for failing to give good information to riders during emergencies. NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said the agency has not yet decided which of the 87 stations will be wired first, and which will be tackled during the capital program that starts in 2010.

After the August 2007 flood that crippled most of the subway system, transit managers identified the most flood-prone locations. The capital plan amendment allocates $90 million for projects that include altering sidewalk vents and stairways to prevent water from cascading into the system below.

Nearly 30 trouble spots are being targeted, including the Borough Hall area and Eastern Parkway, and the hubs at Hoyt-Schemerhorn, Fulton St., Pacific St., Union St. and Nevins St..

I am curious to see the list of stations that will receive the communication upgrades. Knowing the MTA like I do, most of the stations will be in Manhattan/stronger economic areas. I will even venture that none of the stations on the G Train will be receiving any of the upgrades.

As far as the flood spots being targeted, I must say I am a little shocked at the choices. I am not saying those locations don’t need work but I can think of some other spots which need it. I know the area in & around the Central Park North-110th Street station on the 2 Train & 3 Train have received work but flooding is still an issue there when it rains. I also feel they need to do major work along the whole Queens Boulevard corridor as when a storm hits, those lines are usually the first to fall into total chaos.

I wonder how straphangers feel about these projects being considered vital while others were the victim of recent cuts. I would feel offended if I was a regular user of one of the stations that had their scheduled rehabilitation cut. In the end lets hope the MTA Board & oversight panel in Albany approve the amendment.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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