MTA Proposal Might Mean Cuts In Service & Loss Of Job Positionings

This morning the New York Times is running a story about a MTA savings proposal that will result in service cuts in bus service for a number of major holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s. The proposal also calls for the elimination of all elevator operator positions in 5 stations in Upper Manhattan. Here is the entire article courtesy of the New York Times:

Straphangers could be forgiven if they see something Grinchlike about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this holiday season.

The authority’s board will vote on a proposed fare increase on Dec. 19. And just five days later, on Christmas Eve, a little-noticed proposal to reduce bus service on holidays could take effect.

Budget documents released this week show that the authority is planning to reduce the number of buses operating on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

“I guess we’re getting the coal in our stocking,” said Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group.

The service change will save an average of $250,000 per day, amounting to $1.8 million a year. It is part of a series of budget cuts that includes removing all elevator operators from five subway stations in Upper Manhattan. The number of operators staffing the elevators has been a contentious issue in the past amid worries about crime and safety. Because the stations are deep underground, all passengers must use the elevators.

The board will vote on the proposed cuts the same day it takes up the fare increase, which would raise the cost of subway and bus rides. The $2 base fare would not go up, but unlimited ride MetroCards would.

The holiday service change would take effect immediately. The removal of the elevator operators would occur next year, but officials did not give a date.

Three of the days scheduled for cuts — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day — already have limited service but would apparently have further reductions. Others, including Martin Luther King’s Birthday, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, have operated under normal weekday service schedules in the past.

“I think on certain holidays it may be justified, but the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone is out shopping and out and about, it isn’t justified,” said Andrew Albert, a member of the authority’s board who represents transit riders. It was not clear from the documents how many buses would be taken off the streets. The budget said the authority would provide an “intermediate level of service, sufficient to meet ridership demands.”

Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said the changes should not be viewed as cuts at all.

“It’s not a service cut,” he said. “It’s matching service with the number of riders we have.”

Barry Feinstein, the chairman of the transit committee of the authority’s board, said that although the changes would cause some riders to wait longer for buses, service would be sufficient to avoid overcrowding.

Asked about starting the cuts within days of voting on a fare increase, he said, “Any money we save now will save us more money later on.”

The bus schedule changes are noteworthy because the authority’s new administration, which took over this year, has been adamant about not cutting service at a time of growing ridership.

The move also contrasts with an effort in 2005, when the authority encouraged holiday ridership with a special MetroCard discount program.

Both the bus and elevator changes were quietly inserted into a revised budget hundreds of pages long. It said the elevator operators would be removed from five stations with deep platforms that can be reached only by elevator: 191st Street, 181st Street and 168th Street on the No. 1 line and 190th Street and 181st Street on the A line.

The elevators at those stations were once run with operators stationed inside, but the authority removed many of them in 2004. Many subway riders protested, and the authority agreed to keep one elevator in each station staffed at all times.

Mr. Feinstein said removing the elevator operators had not resulted in an increase in crime.

But some straphangers said removing them altogether would make them feel less safe.

“It’s good to have someone have an eye on things if anything fishy happens,” said Andrew Thompson, 41, a Washington Heights resident.

I will briefly say that at first glance this does not sound like a good idea. The thought of cutting some service on a few of those holidays does not sound pretty. However before I fully establish my position on the issue, I would like to dome some research into what the actual cuts would be. As far as the elevator operator jobs are concerned, I can see the points of both sides in what has always been a lively debate between the two points of view.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Mets Express To Return Next Season

Shea Stadium
Sign at the Willets Point-Shea Stadium station; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Yesterday the MTA made an announcement that will have many New York Mets fans smiling from ear to ear. At the City Council Transportation Committee hearing, New York City Transit Senior Director of Operations Analysis Larry Gould had plenty to say about the “Mets Express” that served as an experiment last year after weeknight home games. Here is what he said:

The express, most people would say it has been a success. I mean, we learned some things, as to how exactly when to start it, relative to the end of a game and such. But about 70 or 80 percent of the customers chose the express. And so the odds are that experiment will continue.”

He also went on to say that the MTA will consider adding weekend express service after games. However amidst all of this great news, Flushing Democrat City Councilman John Liu, who happens to be the chairman of the Transportation Committee, chimed in with a request. He requested the MTA look into adding express service for patrons of the U.S. Open. He stated, “I would just encourage you to take a look at the Mets experience. It’s not that difficult to make the leap to the U.S. Open matches.” Mr. Gould said the MTA would look into the option.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Gives The Gift Of The “Nostalgia Train” This Holiday Season

The MTA is obviously in a giving mood this holiday season. Why do you ask? Well simply because they are giving straphangers, especially railfans like myself the gift of the”Nostalgia Train” as a gift this holiday season. The MTA will run the “Nostalgia Train” on the between the hours of 10 am & 5 pm every Sunday from December 2nd to December 30th.

I am excited for this event as I the railfan that I am have never taken a ride on or photographed a vintage train. This is an event I will definitely not miss out on. I do not have the exact Sunday I will attempt to chase this train down. One thing I can tell you is expect to see an entry right here on Transit Blogger about my adventure. Also be on the lookout for a “Chronicle Of Time” & photographs from the day which will be featured on Eye On Transit. I can’t wait!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Friends Of Moynihan Station Unveil Principles

This past Wednesday the Friends Of Moynihan Station, a coalition which consist of citizens and civic leaders convened by Regional Plan Association unveiled their principles for the highly anticipated Moynihan Station. Here is a brief sample of the principles announced:

* Put the Public Interest First: Give the public a strong voice in the planning process of the station and district. Ensure that the design of the train halls reflects the fact that they are primarily public spaces, not compromised by an excessive presence of either retail or Madison Square Garden. Maintain public ownership of the station.

* Create a Great New Train Station: The new Moynihan Station should be a grand work of civic architecture that is both beautiful and functional as a transportation hub – with large public spaces, natural light and dramatically improved public circulation and safety features.

* Protect the Historic Farley Post Office Building: Rehabilitate the Farley building in a way that qualifies the project for federal historic preservation tax credits.

* Build a Great Moynihan Station District: The district should knit together Midtown with the Far West Side, be a global model for climate-friendly development, and respect the scale of its surroundings.

For the full press release click here. For the entire list of principles click here.

This project has been on my mind the last week or so. In the coming days I hope to have time to write an entry on my full feelings about this project.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Restoration Of Rockaway Stations To Begin Next Summer

Great news for residents of the Rockaway peninsula. Starting next summer the MTA will restore every single station on the peninsula except for Beach 116th Street which is already under renovation. The news was featured in an article in last Friday’s The Wave, the local newspaper for the Rockaways. I would like to thank Subchat poster “NEPONSIT2006″ for sharing the article courtesy of The Wave:

Rockaway Train Stations To Get Overhaul
MTA Allocates $142 Million For Renovations
By Miriam Rosenberg

http://www.rockawave.com/news/2007/1123/Community/062.html

Platform canopies, like this one on the Beach 105 Street platform, will be replaced as part of the renovations being made along the Rockaway line.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority has confirmed that it will begin a $141.8 million restoration of the Rockaway subway line beginning next summer.

The renovation is part of the agency’s 2008 fiscal budget.

“Every single station on the peninsula – Rockaway Beach and Far Rockaway – will be rehabilitated, with the exception of Beach 116 [which is already undergoing renovation],” said Aaron Donovan, a spokesperson for the MTA.

The following are among the restorations that will be made on the Rockaway line, starting in July 2008.

The Mott Avenue station will be made compliant with the Americans with Disability Act by installing an elevator and putting up Braille directional signage. Modifications to the platforms will be made to reduce the gap at the ADA boarding areas.

From the Beach 25 Street to Beach 105 Street stations, the work will include repairing or replacing corroded stairs and columns and rehabilitating the mezzanine and track drainage systems. At all stations, all spalling [breaking or splitting] concrete and delaminating steel will be repaired. New lighting systems will be installed and additional ADA work will be done along the Rockaway line. New platform canopies will be installed at the Beach 90, 98 and 105 Street stations.

Rusted, corroded stairs all along the line will be replaced or rehabilitated.

In June, State Senator Malcolm Smith was the first to announce the upcoming renovations at a meeting at Arverne By The Sea.

“They are going to fix up every single station along the ‘A’ line,” said Smith, who added that he and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer were able to push the restoration through.

No timetable has been set for the upcoming work.

“There is no tentative date for completion,” said the MTA’s Donovan. He also could not answer what service interruptions, if any, would be caused by the renovations.

The nine stations along the Rockaway route are at least 51 years old. Four stations – Beach 90, Beach 98, Beach 105 and Beach 116 Streets, connect Rockaway Park with Broad Channel. Mott Avenue, along with Beach 25, Beach 36, Beach 44, Beach 60 and Beach 67 Streets join those areas to the mainland.

Columns along the line are scheduled for repairs.

Elevated train service to Rockaway Park and Wavecrest began on June 28, 1956. On January 16, 1958, the subway line was extended to include the Mott Avenue station in Far Rockaway.

As an October 5 photo essay in The Wave showed, the elevated train line in Rockaway is in desperate need of repair, with rusted, decaying stairs, chunks of concrete missing from the trestles and other deficiencies that make the line a disaster waiting to happen.

Idefinitely think this is great news for residents of The Rockaways who for years were forgotten about by the MTA if you ask me. The area is ripe for development & is filled with tons of potential. The subway service should match what the full potential of the area is. I see this has a great step in that direction. You can check out the long thread on Subchat about the planned renovations by clicking here.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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