Imagine Rush Hour Trains With No Seats

Sounds far fetched & fantasy like right? If you answered yes, you answered incorrectly. The big news over the weekend in the world of local transportation was the MTA’s plan to eliminate seats in 4 out of 10 cars on a train as part of a pilot program. Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has the story:

It will be standing room only – literally – when NYC Transit runs some subway cars without any seats, hoping to squeeze more riders inside.

The agency is planning a pilot program featuring a train with flipup seats in four of 10 cars.

The flipup seats will be locked in the up position during rush hours, meaning everyone inside the car will have to stand, the Daily News has learned.

“Each car will be able to carry more people,” NYC Transit President Howard Roberts said of the no-sitting strategy. “It means more capacity. It gives the ability to pick up more people, and have fewer people left on the platform waiting for the next train.”

After rush hours, workers will unlock the flipup seats for riders to use, Roberts said.

Click here to read the full story.

This is a ridiculous idea which causes more harm than good. On paper it sounds nice to approximately squeeze in up to 18% more riders on a single train. However realistically do you think this number will even be reached. We already know how protective straphangers are with any little space they have. Do you really think they will welcome even more people into an already packed subway car? I don’t think so. A plan like this will only lead to more delays as people try desperately to squeeze into the train.

Just think for a moment how most straphangers already sit on top of one another when seats are available. Take this away & all they will do is stand on top of each other. How is this supposed to be a good idea again? We can also factor in people wanting to bring in more packages or strollers fully open as they think extra space is there for the taking. Once again this does not improve our riding experience, it makes it even worse.

What is comical is how you know there will be riders defending this idea as being great. I ask them what about the elderly or disable who ride. How is this not a safety hazard for them? What about the people who get on at or around the beginning of the line? I guess for those who don’t have that luxury, they could care less as they usually have to stand. I’m sure we’ll have your typical selfish riders who are thrilled at others being inconvenienced. I am not surprised at this as for too long people who are fortunate to board at prime stops for seating are looked down as if they are wrong for having seats. I’m sure somewhere I’ll hear or read how this should benefit more riders & is more important the so called “need for seats” for others. Save it….

The real issue here is once again our transit infrastructure is to blame for such ridiculous ideas as this being implemented. If we did not have to deal with an aging signal system, more trains could be run to help deal with the already crowded subway. Instead of putting all their attention on what they should, we as riders have to put up with idiotic stop-gap measures. Plugging a hole in a pipe with a piece of gum is never a good idea as eventually you will have to do what you needed to do all along, change the pipe.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Editorial On LIRR Third Rail Project

Last month I wrote about the LIRR Third Rail project & how important it was to the overall transit infrastructure of Long Island. In Friday’s edition of Newsday, Jeffrey M. Zupan of the Regional Plan Association discussed the importance of the project in an editorial. Here is a small sample of it:

The recent announcement by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that it is seeking fare increases for next year has grabbed most of the headlines, but there’s another worrisome transit development for Long Islanders. The Long Island Rail Road announced last month that it’s considering deferring the construction of a third track on its main line between Queens Village and Hicksville. Both an underfunded MTA capital program and the opposition of adjacent property owners may derail the project.

But deferment of this project would be a setback for every Long Islander, as it would provide much-needed rail service within Long Island, give Island employers access to a vast new workforce from New York City, and give many additional Long Island residents and workers an alternative to $4.50-a-gallon gas.

The LIRR has long been a sleeping giant, unable to fully serve the Island because of the constraints imposed by the limited two-track, 11 1/2 mile stretch of its main line. This bottleneck is necessarily programmed to serve its major market into Manhattan, so it can’t serve other markets well.

Click here to read the complete editorial.

I agree with just about all the points made by Jeffery in his editorial. The only part I am not completely sold on is the tie in with the East Side Access project. While I understand it is considered a major project, I just do not personally feel it is as important as this third rail project. The third rail project would clearly benefit many more riders than East Side Access would. If one gets done, the other should be done at the same time. If the funding is not there to complete both simultaneously, I say complete the third rail project first.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Service Diversions 08-01

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.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Future LIRR Service Diversions

Earlier this afternoon I received a press release from the LIRR about a major service diversion coming up this month. The diversion will have buses replace trains between Mineola & Jamaica on 5 LIRR branches due to work on the Queens Interlocking Project. Here are the complete details:

Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams today reminded customers who use the LIRR’s Main Line branches that buses would replace train service between Mineola and Jamaica on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24, 2008.

The 48-hour shutdown is necessary to allow LIRR workers to complete a major signal upgrade as the Queens Interlocking Switch & Signal Improvement Project nears completion. The service suspension will affect customers on the Huntington/Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma, Hempstead and Oyster Bay Branches.

“This is the final phase of an important project that would have not been possible without the cooperation of customers all summer long,” said Williams. “We have tried very hard to minimize the impact, but on the August 23-24 weekend it is particularly important for LIRR customers to be aware of what’s happening. We want everyone who plans to ride the Railroad that weekend to be ready to adjust their travel plans accordingly.”

Customers are urged to pick up special weekend timetables for their branch and plan for 30-45 minutes of additional travel time. In addition to the shutdown between Mineola and Jamaica, other trains will be rerouted, connection times will change and schedules for most branches will be altered. To avoid lengthy delays, weekend travelers should make their way to the South Shore and use the Babylon, Far Rockaway, Long Beach, Montauk and West Hempstead Branches.

The Queens Interlocking project is a $60,4 million modernization program bringing state-of-the-art technology to an important LIRR switching point (between Queens Village and Bellerose) where the busy Main Line and Hempstead Branch merge. Work began on Monday, June 16 and is scheduled for completion on Monday, September 1.

Workers have been replacing the current signal system with microprocessor technology and reconfiguring the track to include high-speed crossover switches.

“This project will benefit our customers by providing a smoother and faster ride over the crossovers, and a reduction in maintenance-related track outages at a heavily traveled section of the Railroad,” said Williams.

Here is summary of the service changes planned:

Ronkonkoma Branch:

• During early morning hours, westbound Ronkonkoma branch customers will transfer at Mineola for bus service to Jamaica where they will transfer back to trains for the remainder of their trip. Eastbound Ronkonkoma branch customers during the early morning hours will transfer at Jamaica for bus service to Mineola where they will transfer back to train service for the remainder of their trip.

• Between the hours of 7:00 AM and 12:00 AM, customers traveling on the Ronkonkoma branch will have direct service to and from Penn Station using Dual Mode engines re-routed using the Central branch and Babylon branch to and from western terminals for all stations except Bethpage.
Bethpage customers will travel by bus to Hicksville and transfer to train service to Mineola. Customers will continue their trip by bus to Jamaica and transfer back to train service for western terminals.

East of Ronkonkoma Service:

Buses will replace trains for stations Medford, Yaphank, Riverhead, Mattituck, Southold and Greenport.

Huntington/Port Jefferson Branch:

Eastbound trains will operate to Jamaica where customers will transfer for buses to Mineola. Customers will transfer back to train service at Mineola for the remainder of their trip. Westbound customers will transfer at Mineola for bus service to Jamaica where they will transfer back to train service for western terminals. Port Jefferson branch stations will be serviced on two-hour intervals throughout the weekend program.

Oyster Bay Branch:

Eastbound Oyster Bay customers will transfer at Jamaica for bus service to Mineola where they will transfer back to train service for all stations on the Oyster Bay branch. Westbound Oyster Bay trains will terminate at Mineola where customers will transfer to buses to Jamaica. Customers will transfer back to train service at Jamaica for western terminals.

Hempstead Branch:

There will be no train service for Hempstead branch customers between Jamaica and Hempstead. Eastbound customers will transfer to buses at Jamaica for stations Hollis through Hempstead. Westbound customers will board buses at their stations for service to Jamaica where they will transfer to train service for western terminals.

For additional travel information, customers can contact the LIRR’s 24-hour Travel Information Center in Suffolk County at 631-231-LIRR, in Nassau County at 516-822-LIRR or in New York City at 718-217-LIRR. The Travel Information Center’s TDD telephone number for the hearing impaired is 718-558-3022. Customers can also consult the LIRR’s website at www.mta.info.

I would advise printing out this entry for future use. However I will post a reminder as the dates draw closer.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Website Adds 9 Language Translation Services

Earlier today I received a press release talking about the MTA’s website adding translation services for 9 new languages. Here are the complete details:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it had upgraded its website translation service, adding nine new languages to the list of 14 that were already available, and featuring a new pop-up window that allows users to suggest better translations. The new languages are Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Polish and Romanian. The MTA’s web pages continue to be available in Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.

The change comes as part of the MTA’s switch to Google Translations, which will result in improvements to the way web users get translations. The new service will allow users to see the original English text as they read and suggest improvements to the translations.

The new translation service is accessed via left-hand navigation panel of all MTA web pages. To get a translation, simply click on the drop-down menu that says “Select Language” and 23 foreign languages appear. The number of languages available is expected to grow as Google expands its service. The drop-down menu replaces the 14 icons of national flags that formerly appeared at the bottom of MTA web pages.

“This improved translation service furthers the MTA’s goals of breaking down boundaries and improving customer service while at the same time reducing our expenses,” said Elliot G. Sander, the Executive Director and CEO of the MTA. “Our website now more accurately reflects the wide variety of languages spoken by our customers, and it will help more visitors to understand our system before they arrive.”

Google Translations is a service provided to any Website free of charge. The MTA does not pay a fee to include it in its web pages.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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