Port Authority Makes A Questionable Hire

The Port Authority has been known to make their share of questionable decisions. Their most recent qualifies as another one as they hired a former MTA Executive who was fined for taking illegal gifts. This comes on the heels of the Port Authority’s General Inspector recommended he not be hired. Tom Topousis of the New York Post has the story:

A former MTA executive who was fined $10,000 for taking gifts from a contractor doing business with the agency has landed a consulting job at the Port Authority to provide engineering advice at the World Trade Center, The Post has learned.

Joseph Siano, formerly a vice president of MTA Capital Construction, was retained as a consultant this month by the PA after that agency’s inspector general recommended he should not be hired, a source said.

Siano resigned from the MTA in April 2005 after the state Ethics Commission determined he inappropriately accepted a $2,500 ticket to a fund-raiser and $350 in golf and dinner expenses from construction firm DMJM.

The firm has several contracts with the MTA, including design of the Second Avenue subway line, which Siano oversaw.

A PA spokesman said Siano is being paid $115 an hour in consulting fees. A statement from the PA insisted “the highest safety, integrity and ethical standards are in place at the World Trade Center site.”

Siano “will have an arms-length relationship with DMJM,” the statement continued.

DMJM is under contract with the PA to design the WTC transit hub.

You see these are types of decisions made by agencies that showcase why they do not do what is best for the overall picture. Why would you even consider hiring someone who was fined for taking illegal gifts, much less when they will have some sort of working relationship with the company that provided them in the first place? This smells like a back room deal which are never good in the long run.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Federal Government Won’t Bail Out The MTA

As you probably have heard by now, the much hyped Fulton Transit Center is behind schedule & over budget. If the MTA was wishing the federal government would bail them out with this project, they better go back to the wishing well & try again. New York Daily News Transit Reporter Pete Donohue has the story:

The Federal Transit Administration won’t bail out the MTA’s troubled Fulton St. subway hub with an infusion of more money, a top Bush administration official said.

“Absolutely not. That’s capped out,” federal transit Administrator James Simpson said Tuesday when asked if the FTA would increase its commitment for the Fulton Transit Center.

An MTA-FTA funding agreement commits the feds to $819 million. Another $40 million is set aside in reserve funds. Plans call for overhauling the existing Fulton/Broadway/Nassau St. subway complex and creating a grand, domed entrance building with retail space.

In January, MTA officials said they were short $1 billion for expansion projects because of rising costs.

The MTA said work on the underground parts of the project – including a new walkway connecting 11 subway lines downtown – would continue, but it couldn’t afford the above-ground components.

“We are continuing make great progress on underground work …,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.

One has to seriously wonder if this project will ever be done. The MTA is supposedly $1 billion+ over budget for the project. They can’t make up their mind on what the outside design should look like, & their overall financial picture is as bleak as it has been in ages. This sorely needed project better have 9 lives times maybe 1000 as it will need each & every one of them.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Opens New Entrance At Columbus Circle

The MTA has opened a new entrance at the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station on the A Train, A Train, A Train, A Train, & A Train lines. The new entrance located at 60th Street & Broadway is part of the ongoing 42-month $108 million station rehabilitation project. Here is the press release:

The 59th Street-Columbus Circle ABCD1 subway station, a major mid-town stop on Manhattan’s west side, is undergoing a 42-month $108 million station rehabilitation. As part of this on-going project, MTA NYC Transit is opening a new entrance on the northwest corner of 60th Street and Broadway. Executive Director and CEO of the MTA, Elliot G. Sander, NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. and local elected officials were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony today. The opening coincides with the closing of the Broadway Island control area for renovation, scheduled to reopen in May 2009.

The new 60th Street control area cost $14 million and was carved out of solid rock made up of the well-known Manhattan schist while a vast array of street utilities were suspended from the decking beams. Those utilities included 20-inch and 32-inch city water lines, a 20-inch Con Ed steam line as well as numerous smaller electric, gas and fiber optic lines. The entrance, which includes two new street-to-platform level staircases and a MetroCard Vending Machine, was newly constructed under concrete decking, which minimized the disruption to street traffic on southbound Broadway.

“Funding for transportation is a scarce commodity, but we are doing everything we can with the resources we have available to improve the experience our customers have with us,” said Elliot G. Sander, the Executive Director and CEO of the MTA. “Whether it is a much needed new subway entrance or the initiation of Select Bus Service, we are committed to improving customer service.”

“This station rehabilitation project and particularly this new entrance are examples of the difficulties NYC Transit faces when upgrading what is an aging system,” said NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. “Despite the complexities of the construction, we have delivered to the customers who use this station a new, modern entrance which will provide additional egress capacity for the more than 69-thousand people who use the station daily.”

With the addition of the two new staircases and control area, customers will have better access to the station, particularly to the southbound 1 platform. When the Broadway Island reopens next year, there will be an additional staircase south of the current stair. Customers will then have three new points of entry from Broadway.

The full 59th Street-Columbus Avenue project will see the rehabilitation of the 8th Avenue ABCD and the Broadway/Seventh Avenue 1 parts of the station, installation of a new street elevator on the west side of Central Park West and other ADA-compliant amenities and will renovate employee facilities at the complex. Also included are upgrades to the communications, lighting and electrical systems. Artwork by the late Sol LeWitt will be installed. Restoration of the complex is in accordance with historic preservation guidelines, as required.

I am not sure why they felt a need to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony. While it is a new entrance, it is still just an entrance. The ribbon cutting ceremony should take place when they actually complete the work at that station which is a total nightmare to straphangers who have to navigate it. The end to the nightmare would be a real cause for celebration in my book!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Steps Up Select Bus Service Fare Enforcement

The MTA plans on step up fare payment enforcement on the Bx12’s Select Bus Service route. Pete Donohue & Tayanika Samuels of the New York Daily News has the story:

No more playing nice.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority soon will stop giving warnings to riders who board Select Bus Service buses in upper Manhattan and the Bronx without paying beforehand; transit agents will be giving out fare-beating tickets, officials said Wednesday.

The tickets carry a fine, recently boosted from $60 to $100. The enforcement will begin later this week or early next week, transit officials said.

The speeded-up bus service on the BX12 – which crosses the central Bronx from Inwood, upper Manhattan, and ends in Co-Op City – was launched June 29. It features a preboarding payment system with riders getting receipts from bus-stop machines instead of forking over coins or dipping their MetroCards into readers at the front of buses. If successful, the tactic could spread throughout the city.

The goal of the joint MTA and city Transportation Department plan is to quicken trips by shortening the time it takes for riders to board and exit buses.

Transit workers have been focusing on helping riders get used to the new payment system, but now some are gearing up to shift to the enforcement mode, officials said.

That didn’t sit well yesterday with some riders along the route, where there was still a fair amount of confusion on where and how to pay.

“Electricity’s high. Rent is high. Everything is increasing,” lamented Nadya Medina, 54, a home health aide. “Now, they want to fine you $100 to take the bus. It’s not fair.”

Riders gave different opinions on whether the bus service, which features fewer stops than limited-stop or local service, has quickened their trips.

“It’s much faster,” Ironei Ogando, 33, said.

The trip from 10th Ave. and 207 St. in Inwood, Manhattan, to her neighborhood on the Grand Concourse normally takes 10 minutes, she said. It’s now taking five minutes, she said. And what previously was a one-hour journey to Bay Plaza now takes 30 minutes, Ogando said.

But Yoany Guzman, 27, a clerical worker, has not enjoyed the same experience.

“This is a complete waste of time,” she said. “You get stuck in the same traffic.”

I am glad to hear that they are stepping up the fare payment enforcement. It is absolutely ridiculous that people still do not understand how the system works. It has been a few weeks already & from the accounts I have received, it is not that hard to figure out. Lets not also forget the MTA has been promoting this service in advance of its June 29th debut. There is no excuse as to why anyone should be boarding without having payed first.

Individuals like Nadya Medina need to stop complaining about a legitimate penalty. If someone skips a fare, it is fair for them to pay a $100 fine. What does she think is fair? Maybe we should give them a slap on the wrist & make them promise not to do it again. I definitely do not agree with someone who left a comment on the article. Einnor111 said:

Another dumb idea from the MTA that will slow down service instead of speeding it up. Confusion and poor information on the workings of this grand plan will only prove another mistake that the fare riding public will end up paying for in time and money

Once again where was this person when the MTA had all the information posted on their website. Let us not forget they advertised in the Daily News (Bronx Edition) about the service in advance. The word was definitely out there so his/her comments are way off base in this situation.

I think i1ahbanyrkuh put it nicely when they said:

OK. This doesn’t sound like science, rocket or otherwise. Technology is progressive. It moves forward. People have to learn to move forward along with technology or they will be left behind. This is a brilliant idea and it will work if everyone gets “on board” with the program. Of all places, New York, you should know better. Step lively!

Lets hope the MTA sticks with the enforcement at all times as it is the only choice to make.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Outhinks Themselves

Three days ago, New York Post Transit Reporter Patrick Gallahue had an exclusive report about the MTA outhinking themselves when it came to an ad campaign they have been working on. The ads were part of their anti-groping campaign which was to bring public awareness to the never ending issue of sick individuals groping or molesting women in the subway. Here his is report courtesy of the New York Post:

City transit officials have prepared a campaign to combat deviants who grope or molest women on the subway – but have been sitting on it because of fears the ads could actually encourage sickos.

The New York City Transit campaign was set into motion after a study last year by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer found that 10 percent of women surveyed reported having been sexually abused in the subway and 63 percent claimed to have been sexually harassed.

Stringer recommended a publicawareness campaign, which NYC Transit quietly prepared. The agency made it as far as developing mock-ups, which never went to print.

Sources said the agency held off on launching the campaign out of fear it could actually provoke deviant behavior.

That move has baffled some, including Oraia Reid of RightRides, an anti-harassment organization that offers free, late-night rides home to women. “What evidence is there that a public-education campaign would provoke offenders to act or would increase the chance of crimes occurring?” Reid said.

“A comprehensive educational campaign with the full support of the MTA and the NYPD behind it would indeed help make our subways safer by informing subway riders that sexual harassment and assault is a reality [and] by letting perverts and offenders know that they are going to be held accountable for their crimes.”

Just last Thursday, a man was arrested for allegedly grinding up against a woman on a No. 4 subway car. Anthony Sum, 33 – who records show has been convicted of forcible touching on at least two occasions – was arrested and charged with persistent sexual abuse, officials said.

Anti-groping campaigns have been launched in cities such as Boston, where trains and buses are adorned with posters bearing such slogans as “Rub against me and I’ll expose you,” and “Flash someone and you’ll be exposed.”

The number of reported groping incidents there did rise with the campaign, officials said. Boston police said there were 38 incidents reported through June of this year compared with 17 during the same period last year – but attributed the rise to increased reporting.

“I would speculate that we’ve brought attention to the fact that this is not acceptable behavior to the MBTA, and people are now reporting it more,” said Chief Paul MacMillan of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. A spokesman for NYC Transit would say only that it consults with the Police Department on “matters of safety and security.”

I would love to know what the MTA is thinking with this decision. What makes them think that putting up ads will increase the amount of groping/molesting incidents? If anything, the fact you are not bringing public awareness to the issue will only make these predators think no one is paying attention to their acts.

So if they are going to use this logic, they might as well post no ads to raise public awareness to the many other issues facing subway riders such as litter, terrorism efforts, etc…. as the same principal could apply. Now most of us would realize that it would not apply but unfortunately we do not make the decisions at the MTA.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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