LIRR To Part Ways With The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board

If the writer of this editorial had their way, the Long Island Rail Road would part ways with the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. The call for such an action stems from the ongoing scandal which has led investigations into how over 90% of retired LIRR employees qualified for disability benefits from the board. Here is the editorial which appeared in Newsday yesterday:

New York’s federal representatives are moving swiftly to remove the rubber stamp from the hands of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, which for years has approved disability benefits for nearly everyone who applied – including more than 90 percent of Long Island Rail Road retirees. The reforms announced last week are a good start.

Officials must now turn their attention to the much more difficult task of removing the LIRR from the federal system altogether. As a commuter rail line, the LIRR is a bad fit in a federal system set up for freight transportation. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has said that he will discuss such a move with others on the committee.

Click here for the complete editorial.

While I can understand the author’s frustration with such a corrupt system, I don’t see this relationship ending anytime soon. The chances of the federal government moving the largest railroad agency in the country to Social Security is slim to none. This would open the floodgates for every other agency to attempt to do the same & too many people have a vested interest in things staying status quo. Put it this way, you will see pigs fly or hell freeze over before such a move takes place.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Turns To Koch To Help Stimulate Bond Sales

It is no secret that the credit & financial markets are suffering as part of a global financial crisis. Companies of all types are struggling to keep afloat during these tough times. The MTA is no different as it tries to raise some money through the sale of tax-exempt bonds. While the attempt to sell these is not shocking, the way they decided to pitch them is. William Neuman of the New York Times has more in this report:

With the credit markets suffering as a result of the global financial crisis, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has taken the unusual step of appealing directly to its riders for help in raising cash — but not, in this case, with a fare increase. The authority began running radio ads over the weekend, with former Mayor Edward I. Koch promoting the sale of tax-exempt bonds that it uses to finance its large-scale projects.

The authority typically sells its bonds to large institutional investors; the appeal to the general public is unusual and intended to generate greater demand for its bonds at a time when the credit markets have been badly shaken. The ads tell interested buyers to contact their broker or financial adviser or to go to the authority’s Web site,, where a prominent link will take them to the bond sale prospectus.

Click here to read the complete article & to be able to listen to the ad featuring Ed Koch.

I wonder if the pitch to a different type of purchaser will work for the agency. At a time where every dollar earned can help, it doesn’t hurt to try.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA & TWU Local 100 Potentially Near A Deal

December 20th-22nd, 2005 are 3 days that many tri-state area residents would like to forget. For those living under a rock, those 3 days featured a transit strike by Transport Workers Union Local 100 employees which pretty much killed the use of mass transit throughout the city. Years later the TWU Local 100 is back in the news but not in a bad way. According to a report over the weekend by New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue, the MTA & TWU Local 100 are potentially near a deal involving bus drivers & mechanics working for MTA Bus Company:

Top MTA and transit union officials have been holding secret negotiations to hammer out a contract months ahead of schedule – and without the usual rancor, the Daily News has learned.

In a potential sign that a tentative deal is not far off, sources said the sides were close to an agreement on raises for bus drivers and mechanics working at the MTA Bus Co., a division of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Resolving wage and other issues concerning workers in the MTA Bus Co. division has been portrayed as a major hurdle that needed to be overcome before a pact encompassing the entire bus and subway workforce could be reached.

Click here for the complete report.

While there was no talk of strikes, it is nice to see both sides being proactive in hammering out a new contract in advance. Why chance any sort of hostility or war if you don’t have to do so.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Service Diversions 10/10

I have just updated the service diversions page with the latest scheduled diversions for this weekend & next week (and beyond in some cases). Don’t forget to check in for any changes to the page. I also suggest printing out a copy of the page to use while riding the system. Have a safe & wonderful weekend!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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NYCT To Distribute Rider Reports Cards On The 4 Next Week

Woodlawn bound 4 train approaching the 161st Street-Yankee Stadium stationWoodlawn bound 4 train approaching the 161st Street-Yankee Stadium station. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit.

In a press release that should hit their site soon, MTA’s New York City Transit division announces that the 4 Train will be the next line to be graded by riders. The agency will distribute “Rider Report Cards” to passengers starting next week & will do so for a total of 4 days. Here are the full details:

In our continuing effort to solicit feedback from our customers, MTA New York City Transit is again distributing Rider Report Cards throughout the system. Riders on the 4 are next in line of NYC Transit’s over five million daily subway riders asked to rate the progress of their line since the initial round of report cards was distributed in July 2007.

The report cards are being distributed to riders during the morning rush hours from Tuesday, October 14th through Friday, October 17th. The cards will be handed out at several different stations along the line each day over the four-day period. Grades will be used to identify rider preferences and to gauge how much improvement customers along the 4 line have noticed since last year’s report card.

Again, the Rider Report Card will ask subway riders to grade 21 specific areas of service from an A (Excellent) to an F (Unsatisfactory). Among the areas riders will grade include: car and station cleanliness, safety, security, quality of announcements, and the courtesy and helpfulness of front line customer service staff. Riders will also assign an overall grade for 4 line service. From this list of 21 service attributes, riders are also going to be asked to rank the top three improvements they would like to see made to this line.

The Rider Report Card is once again being distributed in a mailer format, designed to be returned at no cost to the rider. Customers will also have the option of completing the survey on-line, on the MTA website at, where it will be available in 3 languages: English, Spanish and Chinese. From the time the survey begins, riders will have two weeks to mail in their response or to complete the survey online.

Rider Report Card results are posted on line for riders to review once they have been tabulated.

Report cards are being distributed between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. at each station. The schedule for distribution of Rider Report Cards along the 4 line is as follows:

• Tuesday, October 14th – Crown Heights-Utica Avenue, Franklin Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Nevins Street, and Borough Hall.

• Wednesday, October 15th – Bowling Green, Wall Street, 59th Street, 86th Street, and 125th Street.

• Thursday, October 16th – 138th Street-Grand Concourse, 149th Street, Grand Concourse, 161st Street-Yankee Stadium, 167th Street, and 170th Street.

• Friday, October 17th – Mt. Eden Avenue, 176th Street, Burnside Avenue, 183rd Street, Fordham Road, Kingsbridge Road, Bedford Park Blvd.-Lehman College, Mosholu Parkway, and Woodlawn.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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