MTA #3333 Service Is Fading Into Oblivion

Millions of straphangers depend on the NYC Subway to get them from “Point A” to “Point B”. Sometimes service diversions throw a wrench into the best laid plans. The MTA for years has provided immediate access to straphangers in case of such an occurrence through their 3333 service. The service which is only accessible from Verizon payphones inside subway stations. Unfortunately in an age of cellphones, Blackberries, PDA’s, etc…. this vital service has started the ultimate nosedive into oblivion. AMNY Transit Reporter Matthew Sweeney has more in this report:

Known to few, often forgotten, and slowly making its way toward the technological dustbin is the subway payphone #3333 service.

Dialing #-3-3-3-3 brings up a free recording of scheduled transit service changes.

Introduced in 2001, and once heavily advertised, the service is still available at some 4,000 payphones maintained by Verizon, transit officials said.

Currently, riders continue to count largely on signs and announcements, which can sometimes be confusing, to say the least. Few remember #3333.

Click here for the complete report.

It is sad that more people are not taking advantage of this free service. There is no reason as to why the service gets such a small amount of calls when millions of people use the subway. One would think that even in a world with such advanced technology, riders wound find use out of such a service. It is fine to carry a Treo (like myself), Blackberry, Sidekick, etc… but when you are underground & get no signal, they are virtually worthless.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Has A Groping Change Of Heart

In the middle of last month, I wrote about the MTA outhinking themselves when they decided against going through with their anti-groping advertising campaign. Patrick Gallahue of the New York Post brought the original exclusive story to us all has once again got exclusive news on the MTA’s change of heart. Here is the brief report from Patrick:

New York City Transit is finally moving against perverts who use crowded trains as an opportunity to grope women.

Weeks ago, The Post exclusively reported that agency officials were holding back on an ad campaign against sicko straphangers out of internal fears that it could actually provoke the deviants. But the agency has now opted to roll out the campaign next month.

The posters read, “Sexual harassment is a crime in the subway, too – a crowded train is no excuse for an improper touch. Don’t stand for it or feel ashamed, or be afraid to speak up. Report it to an MTA employee or police officer.”

The first 2,000 posters will be distributed throughout the system and should remain up for at least three months to “assess its impact,” said NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges.

The campaign was sparked by a report last year by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer that found 10 percent of women surveyed claimed to have been sexually abused and 63 percent reported having been sexually harassed.

I am glad the agency had a change of heart although I question what took them so long. The main reason given for not going through with the campaign was the fear of copycats or encouraging perverts to take their chances. They now want to “assess their impact” which is pretty much saying they still have fears of copycats. The right attitude is to just say the safety of our passengers is & will always me more important than the chance of idiotic perverts being encourage by ads calling them out.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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MetroCard Vending Machine Trouble Deja Vu

Riders at the 47-50 Streets-Rockefeller Center & 49th Street N and R stations must have been feeling like yesterday was a case of deja vu. Once again customers who wanted to purchase or refill their MetroCards with their credit or debit card were unable to do so. Peter Cox of the New York Post filed this brief report:

Riders ran into trouble yet again yesterday using their credit and debit cards at two major subway stations, but officials said that the snafus were not related to major breakdowns in the system last week.

From 6 to 8 a.m., MetroCard machines were cash-only at the 47-50 Streets-Rockefeller Center station and the 49th Street N and R station, workers said.

It appears that there were problems in the connection between the local stations and the central system, officials said.

“It unfortunately happens,” a spokesman said. “It is an inconvenience, but it was not a systematic failure.”

But straphangers must have been suffering flashbacks after last week’s debacle left thousands of riders running for the ATM. A problem in processing charges caused system-wide disruptions in credit and debit charges, including some cases where people were charged without receiving their fare cards.

The glitch was fixed and all the money refunded, New York City Transit said.

On the bright side, the issues were contained to only two albeit frequently busy stations. However the consistent malfunction of the machines to process credit or debit card purchases is totally unacceptable. The MTA really needs to get together with the company in charge of processing the transactions & figure out what the problem is. If they need to temporarily shut down the ability to use credit or debit cards to purchase fares so be it. I would rather have a temporary shutdown to iron out the difficulties than a consistent breakdown which could occur at any unannounced moment.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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My Thoughts On The New York City Transit Riders Council Report

Yesterday afternoon I wrote about the New York City Transit Riders Council report which stated subway stations are in a state of disrepair. I had promised to come back later with my thoughts on the report so here I am.

Let me first take the time to thank everyone who was involved in collecting the data which led to the 61 page report. I am sure you worked quite hard to provide a report to the best of your abilities. However my kudos must end there. Yesterday afternoon, I made a post on my favorite transit message board, the Straphangers Campaigns’ Rider Diaries. I linked to the entry I made providing some details as to what was in the report. In a short amount of time, I saw 2 replies from well known members of the community “Lex Express” & “Gotham Bus Co.”. I felt their replies made short but excellent points. However even with saying that, I want to break the report down through my eyes.

In my opinion the report contained some good points. I like how they have more metrics to base their findings on. I feel with many transit reports, there tends to be a strong focus in certain areas while lacking in others which are just as important to the overall product. It is like a study judging stations on what only the platforms look like & not even factoring in what the outside of the station & mezzanine levels look like. I do find it alarming that the NYC Transit’s Passenger Environment Study only contains 14 of the metrics used by the NYCTRC. I find it hard to believe that there could be 20 metrics that are not considered vital enough for NYC Transit to include in their report.

I also agree with many of the strategies listed for helping raise the funds needed to fix stations. The points of getting more funding from the city & state go without saying. The idea I strongly agreed with is the creation of “Station Impact Fees”. The council is completely on the money when they say developers reap the benefits of having their property within walking distance to the subway. Look at how that one selling point has helped in the dramatic gentrification’s of neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Bushwick, etc…. This is something that should seriously be looked into.

When it comes to the “Water Task Force”, I am not as sold on that idea. I understand that water damage is a major cause of the current state of subway stations. However do we really need to create yet another task force to find out why such damage is occurring? They already know why the problems occur & instead should focus all their time on solutions. I do agree with holding the city responsible for any damage caused by their actions. However them owning up to it is a completely different story.

The idea of holding property owners financially responsible for any sort of water damage is an excellent idea. It is about time all building owners take full responsibility for their properties instead of focusing on the money they make from them. The main point is if the city is to hold them responsible, they must strictly enforce & collect any money for repairs. The last thing we need is the MTA having to find a way to fund repairs needed because of the actions of others.

I do admit the Adopt-A-Highway type strategy would be a nice one to see implemented in subway stations. While some highways in the tri-state area don’t always keep up with the program, most do & the areas have shown a legitimate improvement in appearance. The only concern I can see with adopting such a program is the strong possibility of financial classes determining the appearance of stations.

In higher income areas, businesses would most likely be able to afford higher quality cleanup options. Now take the same program to lower income neighborhoods & you might have businesses not be able to afford the same cleanup options. The last thing we need is a further line being drawn between station conditions depending on the financial clout of a neighborhood.

Some of the other suggestions including an improvement to service alerts, tactile warning strips, amount of trash receptacles, etc…. are basic common sense initiatives that the MTA should be implementing without the urging from a report.

Now I want to get to my issues with the report. As I mentioned before, the comments posted in my thread on Riders Diaries bring up excellent points. It is hard to disagree with what was said. However I want to address what I feel is the real problem with this report. Yes, most subway stations are in a state of disrepair. It does not take a genius to figure this out. However if you are going to do a study on such conditions, it should be done in a comprehensive manner.

There is absolutely no excuse for every station that is currently open to not have been inspected for the report. How can you release a report which I & many others I assure you know is completely inaccurate. There is absolutely no way that the Beach 90th Street station is in the worst condition. If the council would have done complete inspections, they would realize that this station would not even be in the top 10 in the system. Before you say, well they are saying it is the worst out of the 50 they did inspect. I understand that, but even that I call into question. I’ve frequented many of the stations on the list & I’d choose a number of them over Beach 90th.

I just took a look over the 50 stations inspected to make sure I did not miss anything. I ask who in their right mind does not include some of the worst conditioned stations in their inspection plans. Where was the inspection of such eyesores such as:

Chambers Street (J.M,Z)

East 143rd Street-St. Mary’s Street (6)

Bowery (J,M,Z)

Any & I mean any of the stops along the Sea Beach corridor (N)

21st Street-Van Alst (G)

Fordham Rd (B, D)

Mosholu Parkway (4)

Smith-9th Street (F, G)

4th Avenue-9th Street (D, F, M, N, R)


I’ve been doing transit photography for over 4 years & have seen the true state of disrepair at stations. The stations I listed above are just the tip of the iceberg as far as ones that should have been inspected if all were not going to be.

When you are giving out F’s for ceiling conditions at stations such as 103rd Street (6), Kingston-Throop Avenues (C), Morris Park (5) etc…. you are truly disregarding the true facts. Have you seen the ceilings at:

East 143rd Street-St. Mary’s Street (6):

East 143rd Street-St. Mary's station on the 6

East 143rd Street-St. Mary's station on the 6

Fordham Rd (B,D):

Fordham Rd station on the B & D

are just examples. I could be here all day & night if I would go through my original transit photos from the pre-DigitalSLR days which I no longer have online (yes, Eye On Transit would have many more photos if I included those days). You get the point, don’t trumpet your report if you are not willing to go through all the stations or at worst the most notorious ones.

I could illustrate this same point with station walls:

East 143rd Street-St. Mary’s Street (6):

East 143rd Street-St. Mary's station on the 6

Fordham Rd (B,D):

Fordham Rd station on the B & D

West 4th Street (A,C,E):

West 4th Street station on the A, C, & E.

& on & on……

Foul Odor… hello…….. 51st Street-Lexington Avenue anyone??????

I’ll stop for now as I feel I made my point. If you are going to do a report, either go the full distance (the 100% correct way to go) or at least pick the best stations to help illustrate your point. I’ll have to give the overall report a grade of a C-. The initiatives received an A+ from me as I’m definitely for some thinking out of the box to help with funding. However the lack of legitimate stations used to illustrate their points helped earn that area a big fat F. Lets hope in the end some of the funding initiatives are at least explored in a serious manner as we the riding public deserve that much don’t we?

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Lost in the shuffle of all the transit news was the official relaunch of the website. The website is run by The Straphangers Campaign & The Working Families Party. The purpose of the site is to encourage riders to send e-mails through their form to both Mayor Bloomberg & Gov. Patterson urging why a fare hike should not take place this year. I urge everyone who reads this blog to stop by & send in your message today!

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