Subway Stabbing Victim Blames MTA

Yesterday afternoon I wrote an entry about a 51 year old woman who was stabbed at the 169th St. station on the F train. The victim we now know as Paula Jean Baptiste of Elmont, New York is thankful for 3 straphangers who helped her & the police lead to the arrest of 32 year old Hollis resident Matthew Corchado. However she is not extending her thanks to the MTA as she feels they are partially responsible for the attack taking place.

We now have details as to what exactly transpired during the attack. Mr. Corchado approached Paula at approximately 3:30 p.m. He told her that “You dropped something.”. She was suspicious of the claim but decided to take a peak anyway. When she saw nothing there, she said “No, I dropped nothing.” After she said this, he lunged at her & first stabbed her in the head. He followed that up by stabbing her in the shoulder. According to Paula, “He tried to kill me to get my bag.” She thought she would pass out but found it in her to fight him off. She went on to say; “I got strength and fought him. I screamed very hard and he let go.”

As she stood on the front steps of her home describing the attack, she offered praise to the two women who helped her after the altercation. She also wanted to thank the man who followed the suspect down the platform. However her next set of words were for the MTA & police who she feels fail to provide a sense of security inside the station. She feels more vigilance would have prevented the attack. She also offered this quote; “If there were police, then it would prevent it because he would be scared.”

As one would expect, this was not Mr. Corchado’s first run in with the law. His arrest for this attack was his third in the last 3 months. He was arrested 2 months ago for hitting a woman in the back of the head in Jamaica. 3 weeks after that, he was arrested for violating an order of protection set up for the woman who he hit in Jamaica. He went to a Queens Public Library where the victim was carrying a 4 inch pocket knife. He is currently being charged with attempted murder, attempted robbery, assault and criminal possession of a weapon for the attack on Paula Jean Baptiste.

The first question that jumps out at me is why was this guy walking our streets freely? Seriously if the signs weren’t there to tell you that he belongs behind bars, I don’t know if they will ever arrive!

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New York Daily News Launces “Halt The Hike” Campaign

I was sitting around finishing up my dinner from Wednesday night. As I was doing this, I decided to flip through Wednesday’s edition of the New York Daily News again. When I flipped through it, I came across an article written by their transit beat reporter Pete Donohue. The article shares the paper’s feeling on the proposed fare hike that seems to be a certainty come the first quarter of 2008 & how it is launching a “Halt The Hike” campaign in hopes of changing the MTA’s mind. Here is the entire article:

The MTA is looking at a year-end budget surplus of more than $400 million.

Seven million daily subway and bus riders and hundreds of thousands of suburban rail commuters have been hit with two hefty fare hikes since 2003.

Gov. Spitzer has repeatedly said fare and toll increases should be a “last resort,” and a growing number of state legislators are dead set against squeezing riders for more money.

Yet the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to begin imposing a new series of fare and toll hikes in February.

Many straphangers and lawmakers want at least to delay any increases – and the Daily News agrees. That’s why The News today is launching a “Halt the Hike” campaign. Its goal: Slam the brakes on the rush to hike the fares.

Some other way must be found to raise the money – one that doesn’t pick the pockets of straphangers.

Transit experts and fiscal watchdogs agree the MTA is facing a fiscal crisis after years of inadequate funding by state and local governments.

A growing chorus in the state Legislature is urging MTA CEO Elliot Sander and the MTA board to delay fare and toll increases until April 15, said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester). That would allow Albany to find more money for the MTA during state budget talks.

“April 15 gives us time to move government to the role it ought to be in – as the institution that keeps the fare affordable,” he said.

Brodsky said he’ll be at the MTA board meeting today to make the case.

The MTA’s preliminary 2008 budget envisions raising an additional $262 million next year through higher fares for subways, buses and commuter trains operated by the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North. Drivers using MTA bridges and tunnels also would pay more.

“Surely Gov. Spitzer and state legislators can shift priorities to fill the MTA’s gap, which is about two-tenths of 1% of the state’s $121 billion budget,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. “After nearly a dozen years in the cold, it’s high time for the state to come up with a permanent and recurring [funding] source.”

With debt service and pension costs rising, the MTA says it’s facing a $1.4 billion deficit in 2009. And it only gets worse, the agency says.

“Despite $6 billion in deficits over the next four years, we’ve proposed a financial plan that invests in the future and actually increases service to meet growing demand,” said MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin. “That requires both an enormous lift from Albany and cost-of-living increases from our customers.”

Soffin said delaying the increases would mean $100 million in lost revenue.

Transit advocates note the MTA expects to end this year with a $317 million surplus, and that doesn’t include recent data that show real estate tax revenues $60 million higher than previously forecast, fare and toll revenues up $49 million and health expenses down $25 million.

There are also other unused funds, including $350 million the MTA has set aside to prepurchase fuel and to pay pension liabilities this year, plus $50 million NYC Transit set aside for a stalled painting program.

“We should not raise fares until all options are exhausted, and that includes aid from the state,” said state Sen. John Sabini (D-Queens), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee. “It would be good if we got some leadership from the governor on this, and I think he’s prepared to give some.”

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I strongly agree with the position that the paper is taking. Unfortunately as right as they & many others are about the fare hike needing to be put on hold, I don’t see the MTA postponing it in any shape or form. The upcoming public hearings are nothing but a formality…..

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MTA CEO Elliot Sander Says The Fare Hike Can Not Wait!

MTA CEO Elliot Sander
MTA Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer Elliot G. Sander; Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon Inquirer

These feelings were shared by Mr. Sander after today’s MTA board meeting. Mr. Sander said that any sort of delay in a fare hike would only cost the MTA more money in the end. He also went on to say: “The reality is the MTA is in need of great financial sums from Albany over the next two calendar years. For us to bank on this when the overall funding need is fares and tolls plus this aide, it…puts at risk the system we have worked so hard to build, to rebuild.”

Mr. Sander shared these feelings even after Westchester Democrat Assemblyman Richard Brodsky presented the board with a letter from 46 members of his chamber. The letter urged the MTA to postpone the fare hike vote until April 15, 2008 when lawmakers would take up the state budget. Mr. Brodsky also went on to say: “All we’re asking you to do is ask us to give you money. We’ll try. There are no guarantees…But working cooperatively, I believe that additional moneys can be found to save the fare.”

However Mr. Sander would have none of it as he said postponing the fare hike vote until April 15th, 2008 would cost the MTA $100 million dollars in revenue it desperately needs. MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin reiterated that a December vote was needed due to fare hikes needing a few months to be prepared for their roll out after approval. The possible fare hikes are expected to be implemented between late February & April of next year.

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MTA Orders 850 New Buses

The MTA issued a press release stating that they were ordering 850 new buses manufactured by DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America. The 850 new low-floor Hybrid Electric buses will be delivered by the end of 2009. The order comes from a 389 bus option order from 2005. The remaining 461 buses come from a modification that was added to the order. Here is the entire press release courtesy of the MTA:

Maintaining a sharp focus on clean-air technology, fuel efficiency and an increased demand for service, MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus will take delivery of 850 new low-floor Hybrid Electric buses by the end of 2009. The buses, manufactured by DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America, will be sourced from a 389-vehicle purchase option on a 2005 order and a modification to that order for an additional 461 buses, subject to approval by the Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“The MTA’s transportation network makes the entire region sustainable and we are committed to making the system itself a sustainable model,” said Elliot G. Sander, Executive Director & CEO of the MTA. “Along with the sustainable commission that we launched this fall, the continuing purchase of environmentally-friendly vehicles illustrates this commitment.”

The MTA and NYC Transit have been pioneers in the development of Hybrid bus technology, with experience going back more than a decade. The technology boasts lower exhaust emissions and improved fuel economy over standard buses. Bus customers also benefit from the low-floor design of the Hybrid Electrics, of which, NYC Transit currently operates the largest Hybrid fleet in the world, with 548 buses in service.

The base contract for 500 bus order for NYC Transit (216) and MTA Bus (284) was approved by the MTA Board in September of 2005. There is a 389-bus option to that contract, of which 284 buses will be assigned to NYC Transit and 105 to MTA Bus. The 461 buses from the new order will all serve NYC Transit routes.

The combined order will provide 745 new buses for NYC Transit and 105 for sister agency, MTA Bus. They will be delivered in time to serve a growing ridership and the increased equipment needs which will be generated by Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

“Added to our present fleet of clean-fuel buses, the new Hybrids will reinforce NYC Transit’s commitment to developing and operating the cleanest and most efficient equipment available,” said MTA NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. “Additionally, the ability of being able to expand our fleet will help us to increase capacity as we look forward to the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit.”

During the years between 1995 and 2006, NYC Transit completely changed New Yorkers’ views of buses, eliminating visible tailpipe emissions (smoking buses) and significantly cleaning the exhaust profile. While the hybrids are the most technologically advanced, NYC Transit has employed several other innovations to improve air quality, including ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, particulate filters and cleaner-burning diesel engines.

The bottom line is really impressive: from 1995 to 2006, diesel PM emissions dropped 97% and NOx emissions dropped 58%, on a per-bus basis. More than 90% of the reductions were due to the accelerated retirement and replacement of the oldest, dirtiest engines.

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This is great news for riders throughout the city. I am glad the MTA is stepping up to the plate to not only make changes that benefit riders but help clean up the earth. Good job MTA!

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Dale Hemmerdinger Editorial

Today’s New York Daily News had an editorial piece about the new MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger. The editorial was titled “Chip In, Dale”. I thought the editorial was worth sharing with my readers. Here is the full editorial by an unnamed individual:

New York’s subway and bus riders have a new man at the top. Real estate mogul Dale Hemmerdinger has taken over as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and he admits he has a lot to learn.

We’re happy to help him out.

Lesson No. 1 for Mr. Hemmerdinger: You owe first allegiance to your passengers. Make their lives easier with speedy, reliable transit at reasonable prices, and you’ll be a hero.

Lesson No. 2 for Mr. Hemmerdinger: You owe first allegiance to your passengers. Perform as a yes-man for the governor who appointed you, Eliot Spitzer, and legislative leaders, and you’ll be chalked up as a flunky.

Lesson No. 3 for Mr. Hemmerdinger: You owe first allegiance to your passengers. Your predecessors Dick Ravitch and Peter Kalikow had the guts to battle political patrons.

Ravitch earned New York’s eternal gratitude for rescuing the subways from near-death in the 1980s and for, finally, squeezing funding for transit out of Albany. One episode is particularly relevant right now.

In 1980, facing deficits, Ravitch raised the fare from 50 cents to 60 cents. A dime hike, quaint today, was huge then. Even so, Ravitch succeeded only in buying time.

When the summer of 1981 rolled around, the MTA was still in trouble. Getting precious little help from Albany or City Hall, Ravitch proposed another fare hike, this time a 15-cent jolt to 75 cents. But he also called on the Legislature to enact a package of taxes dedicated to the MTA, including a levy on oil companies’ gross receipts, a sales tax and new property taxes.

Albany balked. But Ravitch didn’t. He said he would push through the 75-cent fare and that he would then okay another jump, to $1, in two weeks unless Albany approved the taxes. The public rallied and the Legislature caved.

Money flowed in – enough to rebuild the system and hold the fare reasonably steady. So successful were Ravitch’s taxes that governors, legislators and mayors cut their traditional MTA funding. A bad move.

Which bring us to today, Mr. Hemmerdinger. Your CEO Lee Sander has proposed a fare hike without fighting for state funds. Another bad move.

The hike should be delayed at least until April to let members of the Assembly, led by Richard Brodsky, battle for aid as the state budget is negotiated. They need help. Will you rise to the occasion, Mr. Hemmerdinger?

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