MTA Staffers Continue To Lose Perks

Over the last few months it has been the same stories in the news when it comes to the MTA. The biggest story by far has been the sorry state of finances at the agency & how they are looking at any & every way to cut costs. So to no one’s surprise, news has come out that the MTA has ordered 59 staffers to return take-home cars as part of cost cutting initiatives. New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue has more in this report:

At least 59 MTA staffers are being stripped of their take-home cars in a series of cost-cutting moves underway at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Daily News has learned.

“In addition to cutting 6% of costs over four years, we’ve taken immediate steps to tighten our belts and will continue to pursue a host of cost-cutting initiatives,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.

Several senior staffers at one MTA division – including a six-figure vice president – already have had to return authority-owned sedans they had been granted to use on-duty and for their commutes.

The Daily News reported this summer that 60 Bridges and Tunnels workers were given take-home cars.

Other authority divisions are working on similar recalls. Each has at least determined how many employees will have to give up take-home cars, the MTA said.

Facing huge operating budget gaps in 2009 and beyond, MTA CEO Elliot Sander last year directed agency heads to cut expenses by 1.5% a year for four consecutive years.

In July, Sander directed agency presidents to find additional savings through such actions as delaying planned hirings by two months, canceling most out-of-town travel and slashing the total mileage racked up by all vehicles not used for passengers.

Click here for the complete report.

I don’t have much to say besides the obvious. I support this move as any extra money that can legitimately be saved while not hurting infrastructure or service should be implemented immediately.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Sharp Eyed Motorman Saves The Day

There are many thankless jobs in NYC that do not get the recognition they deserve. One of those jobs happens to be a motorman for the MTA’s NYC Subway. The job is held my thousands who have thousands of lives in their hand every single day with the sole purpose of getting them from “Point A” to “Point B”. While these workers enjoy their job, they try to avoid the nightmare scenario that can play out at a moment’s notice & at any place. The scenario is of running over someone on the tracks, a scenario that can haunt them for the rest of their lives & sadly has done just that to many.

Most times when a motorman sees someone on the trackbed, it is usually next to impossible to stop the train in time to prevent the person from getting run over. When they do run over them, the result is usually a body bag coming into play as we had another number to the tally. Thankfully this past Friday we did not add another number to the tally & it is all due to a sharp eyed motorman who stopped his train on time to spare another man’s life. James Queally and Jonathan Lemire of the New York Daily News have the happy story:

Subway motorman Eugene Hart did two things when he spotted a man on the tracks Friday morning.

He slammed on the brakes. And he started to pray.

“It seemed like I had a chance not to hit him,” Hart told the Daily News. “I kept saying, ‘Please don’t, please don’t.'”

His prayer was answered.

The 370-ton train came to a screeching halt just a few feet short of where diabetic straphanger William Meyer had collapsed onto the tracks at the Herald Square station.

Peering down from his cab in the front car, Hart couldn’t tell that at first.

Seconds felt like hours as he tried to determine whether the well-dressed man wound up under his downtown V train.

“I’m searching the train…I’m searching the tracks,” said Hart, who has been an MTA motorman for 20 years. “I see the blood, but I don’t see the guy.”

Click here for the complete story.

Let me take this moment to congratulate MTA Motormen Eugene Hart for his quick thinking & reflexes that helped save Mr. Meyer’s life. Transit Blogger salutes you!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Gap Incidents Could Be Reported To The Federal Government

Gap incidents have been a nightmare for the Long Island Rail Road for many years. The nightmare’s intensity picked up in 2006 after the death of 18 year old Natalie Smead at the Woodside LIRR station. The Newsday launched an investigation into gap incidents after her death & have continued to follow the issue closely all this time. So no surprise they were the first to share the news of a possible change in federal policy. If a proposal takes effect, all 21 commuter railroads in the U.S. would have to report gap accidents to the Federal Railroad Administration. Jennifer Maloney has more in this report:

Commuter railroads across the country would have to report accidents in the gap — the space between the train and the station platform — to the Federal Railroad Administration under a proposed rule released Tuesday.

The proposal, which could be adopted next year and is in a public comment period until Nov. 10, would allow the railroad administration to monitor gap injuries and take steps to reduce them, the agency said.

A Newsday investigation spurred by the 2006 death of Natalie Smead, 18, at the Woodside Long Island Rail Road station found that the LIRR, its parent agency, and state and federal oversight officials had done little to address a problem that had injured hundreds of riders. Smead slipped through a gap, crawled under a platform and was struck by an oncoming train.

Although the railroad administration requires the country’s 21 commuter railroads to report bee stings and spider bites, it has never tracked accidents in which passengers slip into the gap.

Click here for the entire report.

I applaud Newsday for continuing their excellent work in tracking the progress of gap accidents & measures being taken to prevent them. However with that out of the way, I must ask the question. How can the federal government require commuter railroads to report bee stings & spider bites but not gap accidents? Call me crazy but wouldn’t common sense say that gap accidents are a more serious issue that could take away lives as compared to a bee sting or spider bite? I am absolutely floored at how ridiculous that sounds when I reread it. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as the government has made a career out of ridiculous actions.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Service Diversions 09-12

I have just updated the service diversions page with the latest scheduled diversions for this weekend plus 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 & try to stay dry!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Buses To Replace Some Midday LIRR Trains East Of Ronkonkoma

Earlier this afternoon the Long Island Rail Road sent a press release to announce that buses will replace some midday trains east of Ronkonkoma. The substitution is due to the agency’s track rehabilitation and renewal project which in this case has them upgrading switches at the Riverhead station. Here is the press release which the MTA will release to the public later today or tomorrow:

As part of its track rehabilitation and renewal project, the MTA Long Island Rail Road will be upgrading the switches at Riverhead Station during the weeks of September 15 and September 22, which will affect midday service on the Ronkonkoma Branch. During the switch renewal work, the LIRR will provide bus service in place of some trains during the midday on the Ronkonkoma Branch, east of Ronkonkoma, on Monday, September 15 through Thursday September 18 and again on Monday September 22 and Tuesday September 23.

Monday through Thursday, September 15 thru 18, 2008
Switch renewal work will take place at Riverhead Station, between Ronkonkoma and Greenport. Passengers on two eastbound and two westbound trains will be affected.

Eastbound
Customers on the 9:02 AM train from Ronkonkoma to Greenport and the 1:42 PM train from Ronkonkoma to Riverhead will board buses at Ronkonkoma to complete their trips.
Westbound
Customers on the 11:12 AM train from Greenport to Ronkonkoma and the 3:19 PM train from Riverhead to Ronkonkoma will board buses at their stations and transfer to trains at Ronkonkoma to complete their trips.

Customers should expect increased travel time of up to 25 minutes.

Monday and Tuesday, September 22 and 23, 2008
Remaining switch renewal work will take place at Riverhead Station, between Ronkonkoma and Greenport. Passengers on one eastbound and one westbound train will be affected.

Eastbound
Customers on the 9:02 AM train from Ronkonkoma to Greenport will board buses at Ronkonkoma to complete their trips.

Westbound
Customers on the 11:12 AM train from Greenport to Ronkonkoma will board buses at their stations and transfer to trains at Ronkonkoma to complete their trips.

Customers should expect increased travel time of up to 25 minutes

xoxo Transit Blogger

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