Paratransit Costs The MTA Millions Each Year

As we all know the MTA has severe budget issues. We also know that the agency has never been a model for financial responsibility. Bruce Golding of the New York Post looks into the agency’s budget issues caused by the mismanagement of paratransit services. Here is his the brief report:

The MTA spends $63 per ride on disabled passengers in a mismanaged system that wastes at least $30 million a year, critics charge.

Paying taxi fares for disabled passengers who don’t use wheelchairs would have been cheaper – and shaved a quick $13 million off the bill in 2006, according to the Independent Budget Office.

The city’s federally mandated Access-a-Ride program is the most expensive in the nation – $19 more per ride than Chica go’s and $34 more than LA’s.

The expense is pegged at $316 million next year – 3 per cent of the $11.2 billion budget – and is projected to more than double to $518 million by 2012.

City taxpayers will also shell out nearly $70 million in subsi dies in 2009.

The agency admits in its new budget that the federally man dated door-to-door program is costing an extra $9 million to $10 million a year because of “lower-than-anticipated pro ductivity.”

City Councilman John Liu (D- Queens) whose Transportation Committee issued a scathing report on Access-a-Ride earlier this year, blamed much of the problem on inept dispatching of its nearly 2,000 vans and cars.

“It’s hard to imagine that with tighter management they couldn’t shave off about $20-or-$30 million off the top,” he said.

Tom Charles, vice president of paratransit for the MTA, said that most of the problems were due to booming demand for service and that new contracts with six more outside companies would boost efficiency by balancing out short and long trips.

Charles said rider surveys showed 80 percent satisfaction with Access-a-Ride.

I understand the importance of providing adequate transportation operations for the disabled. However with the financial burden the agency faces, I would support ways to cut costs while still providing adequate service. If paying for taxi fares would help the MTA save money, they should do it if legally possible.

As far as the federal government is concerned, if they can mandate the spending on this service, they should also be able to help fund the system for non-disabled riders. When you look at the facts, our transportation infrastructure is depended on by millions who are not disabled so they should not be overlooked.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Complaints Lead To Construction Delays On The Second Avenue Subway

As everyone knows the Second Avenue Subway, arguably the most important transit construction problem in the entire tri-state area, is behind schedule. It has been behind schedule for so many years, I’ve lost count. Well we can now add some more time to it as complaints from local residents & officials have led the MTA to look at alternative station entrances on 72nd & 86th Streets. Patrick Gallahue of the New York Post has the brief report:

The MTA is going to study alternatives to station entrances for the Second Avenue Subway after Upper East Siders battled over a mid block gateway on 72nd Street.

Residents complained, and several even sued, to stop the agency from opening large entrances on their residential street, arguing that it would eat up sidewalk space between First and Second avenues.

The MTA said it would now study alternatives for the 72nd Street entrance.

“Midblock entrances are not common in residential areas and will have a significant impact on pedestrian walking patterns, traffic flow and emergency vehicle access to their buildings,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan).

Just great, more delays because of selfish residents & officials scoring brownie points by catering to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to anyone where to live. I’m just sick of this mentality by many who live within the 5 boroughs to interfere with legitimate projects because it does not cater to their suburban desires. They want the luxuries afforded to living in most suburb areas such as tons of space while having the convenience of being in New York City. Sorry you can’t have your cake & eat it too! If you want a certain lifestyle, stop moving to Manhattan of all boroughs especially on a major corridor!

The MTA should not cater to the selfish as they are not & never will be more important than the millions who would benefit from the Second Avenue Subway being completed. The most screwed up thing is you can pretty much guarantee a good percentage of the complainers will at some time or another use the service. Pathetic………

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Riding The Subway To Support Breastfeeding Rights

While browsing the New York Times City Room blog for the first time in a few days, I spotted a story about a subway ride to support breastfeeding rights. Here is a small sample of Sewell Chan’s article:

Today is the start of World Breastfeeding Week, and partly to mark the occasion, about 30 women nursing infants rode the A train from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia in Washington Heights to Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. There, they exited the subway and joined a rally at Restoration Plaza.

But the women were not taking part in the annual subway ride, held since 2004, merely to demonstrate their right to breastfeed in public. (Since 1994, it has been legal for women to breastfeed anywhere in public — “irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother’s breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding” — under the state’s Civil Rights Law.)

Click here for the entire article.

Let me state for the record that I have absolutely no problem with women breastfeeding in public. I feel it is their given right to make sure their child is nourished to their satisfaction & I nor anyone else should have the right to dictate when such an action takes place.

After reading the article, I decided to check out the responses. I was not the least bit surprised to find at least one person spew utter nonsense about how breastfeeding in public is wrong. Check out what I feel is a typical close minded response by a poster named “Barbara”:

For pete’s sake, keep that kind of thing out of my face. I do not want to see this anywhere in public. Keep it at home PLEASE! Having a baby comes with lots of sacrifices. This is one of them.

So let me get this straight, a new mother should stay out of public until her child no longer needs to be breastfed? So it would be just fine to have the mother & child become hermits & unproductive citizens. While you are at, why not take them out back & euthanize them. Seriously what kind of idiot would suggest such an idea? If seeing a legal & natural activity gets you that upset, maybe you should stay inside your home. Lets see you “sacrifice” something Barbara!

For the most part, the responses supported a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. However someone named “Ed” posted an interesting comment:

breastfeeding in public is not in any way offensive but why on earth a woman would choose to nourish her child in the stink and filth of a subway car is beyond comprehension.

Two responses down we had “Dan Stackhouse” see what Ed’s point was when he stated:

Another good point here by Ed (#27), and I’d extend it to wonder why any mother would want to subject an infant to the incredibly loud, dirty, crowded, and infectious-germ-laden subway system at all. Wouldn’t the bus be better until their immune systems and inner ears are more robust?

My response to Ed is a rational woman does not want to breastfeed in public much less the subway if it was completely in their control. Unfortunately when a child is & is not hungry is something that not even the most prepared mother could control.

As far as Dan is concerned, what makes the bus any cleaner than the subway? I highly doubt a bus is much cleaner than a subway car if it even is cleaner. For all we know it could be much dirtier. With that aside, I ask why should a mother have to commute out of her way just to avoid breastfeeding on the “dirty” subway? They shouldn’t & as I said if they could make it that they would never have to breastfeed in the subway, they would in an instant.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Capital Constuction President Discusses The Fulton Transit Center

As you know by now, the MTA recently appointed a new Capital Construction President. One of his first promises was in his words an “elegant” Fulton Transit Center. He shared his views with the New York Daily News. Here is the report from Pete Donohue:

The MTA’s new construction chief is committed to building a glass-walled Fulton Transit Center in lower Manhattan that maintains many “elegant” characteristics of earlier plans.

“We are going to make sure the project is delivered,” Capital Construction Co. President Michael Horodniceanu told the Daily News. “It will be aboveground. It will be transparent. The same elegant look will exist.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority startled business leaders and elected officials earlier this year by saying it couldn’t afford the glass-domed entrance building that was to rise above the subway complex at Broadway and Fulton St. because of soaring construction costs.

A new completion date hasn’t been set for the hub project that emerged in the post-9/11 revitalization of lower Manhattan.

Horodniceanu, who last week took the post vacated by Mysore Nagaraja, suggested the dome itself may not make the cut. But the final version will feature skylights allowing light to filter down to the main mezzanine, he said. He also wants to increase the amount of retail space, previously set at 24,500 square feet.

“This is, after all, one of the most important things that we’ve done from a transportation point of view, from a hub point of view, in many years,” he said.

That’s encouraging to Elizabeth Berger, head of the Downtown Alliance for New York. “What is really important is we get on with it and the MTA builds what they said they would build – an above-grade, iconic transportation center with retail – and that they build it now,” she said.

The Transit Center’s budget is set at $1.2 billion. The MTA has about $900 million for it, mostly in federal funds. Horodniceanu said he’s looking to make cost-cutting design changes, but that won’t fill the gap, officials concede.

The MTA has indicated there is still much uncertainty.

“We …are working with our funding partners to identify sufficient funding for an aboveground structure that would satisfy the commitments made to the community,” an MTA statement said.

I sincerely hope he is serious about getting this project completed. As I’ve stated in the past, this is a sorely needed project & would do wonders for the millions of riders it would serve each year. At this point I just want it built as the functionality of it is more important than its looks.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Most Subway Cars Are Well Air Conditioned

E Train
Resized photo courtesy of EyeOnTransit.com

Picture it, Sicily 1923, a young peasant girl…… oops sorry I was having a Golden Girls moment there (I still love that show & by the way R.I.P. Estelle Getty!). Now that I am back with all you, I do want you to picture something, it is the summer & the temperature outside is a sweltering 95 degrees outside & almost 110 degrees on the platform. You are fanning yourself as if any little air you can muster will help beat the heat. As you stare down into the tunnel, you see the lights of an oncoming train. You keep staring thinking your eyes will bring it to the platform faster. It finally arrives & you feel saved from the world’s worst opponent, the heat! The question is are you really saved? If you go by statistics from the MTA’s NYC Transit, you are!

In today’s edition of the New York Daily News, Pete Donohue w/Kamelia Angelova will have a report about the NYC Transit report that gives high marks for the air conditioning in NYC Subway cars. Here is a brief sample of his report:

Baby, it’s cool down there – except on the E train.

Subway riders on the E line have the highest chance of getting stuck on a sweltering subway car because of faulty air conditioning, NYC Transit statistics reveal.

An impressive 97.3% of all subway cars were adequately chilled by NYC Transit’s standards when checked by transit workers in June and July, according to agency data.

The number of cars without air conditioning was cut virtually in half from 5.2% last summer to 2.7% this year.

But just 83% of E-line cars were 78 degrees or cooler.

Click here to read the entire report.

Here is the entire list with their car passing percentage:

I am going to test my sister later today when I speak to her. I’m going to ask if she could guess which line had the lowest passing grade for air conditioned cars. I strongly believe she will accurately guess the E train. For years she has rode the line when she was not driving her car & during the summer she would complain about the air condition in the line’s cars. Either she would complain about it not working properly or even worse not working at all. I can’t wait to hear that tone of disgust in her voice when we discuss this report. Good times, well not for her.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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