Driver Killed By LIRR Train In Brentwood

The average evening commute on the MTA Long Island Rail Road is usually a nightmare for riders as they tend to know to expect some sort of issue to creep up.

However last night it went beyond the nightmare stage for riders on the Ronkonkoma line who saw service suspended in both directions between Farmingdale & Ronkonkoma after Gilma G. Pabon, 66, of Holtsville was killed when she went around a lowered crossing gate around 8 pm just outside of the Brentwood station.

For those who follow me on Twitter (click here to do so) know that my plans were ruined because of the accident. I actually was heading to the city to see some friends perform while covering them for my music site IndieMusicReview.

I made it to the station to catch the 7:58 out of Ronkonkoma when just as we were going to depart, an announcement came on about train traffic ahead of us. I figured it was due to some Ronkonkoma-bound train running late. However a few minutes later they mentioned a vehicle being struck & I knew this was not going to be good for our chances of departing.

I decided to stick it out for a bit but not long thereafter, the conductor came on & was refreshingly honest in saying that she did not see us leaving anytime soon.

Just by looking at the time, I knew I had no option of going to another line to catch a train that would get me into the city with enough time to make the show. So I decided to get off the train and as I was walking, the announcement came on that service was suspended in both directions.

So I ended up staying on the island and could not help but think that a transit related disaster once again involved the LIRR which to us regulars sadly comes as no surprise.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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System-Wide Underground Cell & Wifi Starts Today

The MTA is still behind the technology curve in a major way when it comes to providing for its customers. However the agency continues to try & catch up. Their latest attempt is by revealing system-wide celluar & wifi service in all of its underground subway stations.

Here are some more details via a presser from the MTA & Gov. Cuomo:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that cell phone coverage in underground subway stations will be available a full year ahead of schedule, with all four carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, present across underground stations as of Monday, January 9th. In addition, Wi-Fi has been installed in underground stations a full two years ahead of schedule. The MTA’s early delivery was in response to the Governor’s directive at the beginning of 2016 to accelerate the project.

Today’s announcement represents another important step in the Governor’s ongoing campaign to modernize the MTA, and comes shortly after he presided over the on-time opening of the new Second Avenue Subway, which includes three new, state-of-the-art stations, as well as a new entrance at the existing Lexington and 63rd Street Station.

“By bringing Wi-Fi and cell service underground ahead of schedule, we are reimagining our subway stations to meet the needs of the next generation,” Governor Cuomo said. “This will better connect New Yorkers who are on-the-go and build on our vision to reimagine the country’s busiest transportation network for the future. I thank all of our partners.”

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said, “With the on-time opening of the Second Avenue Subway, we already had a lot to celebrate. And now, after working closely with the Governor’s office and our partners at all four major carriers, we’ve been able to fulfill Governor Cuomo’s mandate to dramatically increase connectivity at underground stations, delivering cell service from the major carriers a year early, while at the same time giving our customers Wi-Fi two years ahead of the deadline. Connectivity is a big deal for our customers, and we’re thrilled to be delivering these vital services so far ahead of schedule.”

Transit Wireless has a long term agreement with the MTA to design, build, operate and maintain cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in the underground subway stations. The company has invested well over $300 million into this infrastructure project and is sharing revenues derived through the network’s services with the MTA. The project was being built at no cost to taxpayers or subway riders.

MTA Partnership with Transit Wireless

Transit Wireless has a 27-year partnership agreement with the MTA to design, build, operate and maintain cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in the underground subway stations. The company is investing well over $300 million into this infrastructure project and is sharing revenues derived through the services with the MTA. The project is being built at no cost to taxpayers or subway customers.

Within this project, MTA and Transit Wireless are working together on the deployment of specific communications technologies to enhance public safety, including a dedicated 4.9 GHz public safety broadband network and the highly visible Help Point Intercoms. These instant communication kiosks offer immediate access to E911 assistance and information with the touch of a button. To date, Transit Wireless has built the infrastructure for more than 3,000 Help Point Intercoms in 175 underground MTA stations. This network now provides thousands of MTA employees, contractors, and first responders connected capability as never before.

Underground Connectivity

Almost every underground station has already been completed and the final station, Clark Street on the 2, 3 line in Brooklyn, will go live on Monday, January 9. Four stations which are either under renovation (South Ferry) or about to start a renovation (Prospect Ave., 53rd Street and Bay Ridge) will come online immediately upon conclusion of their renovation. The construction of the wireless, Wi-Fi and public safety network began in 2011 with the connection of six underground stations in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and was slated for completion in 2018. However, at the direction of Governor Cuomo, the process was accelerated, with Wi-Fi connectivity in underground stations scheduled for the end of 2016, almost two years ahead of the original schedule.

New York City Transit President Veronique Hakim said, “As of Monday our customers can text or call from our underground stations, staying in touch with their families, keeping up with work, and staying connected. That’s a major step forward for the MTA, and for our customers, and we thank the Governor and the major carriers for moving this project along at such a rapid pace.”

William A. Bayne, Jr., CEO of Transit Wireless said, “To accomplish such a complex endeavor, it took almost unprecedented cooperation between Government agencies, public companies, and private companies to make it happen. Specifically, teams from the MTA/NYCT, the Governor’s office, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and several NYC agencies joined forces to expedite these critical communication services nearly two years early. It has been an exciting challenge to build a modern technology infrastructure within a subway system that is over 100 years old, on behalf of the Transit Wireless organization, we are proud be part of such a unique accomplishment.

Marissa Shorenstein, New York State president of AT&T said, “When the MTA and Governor Cuomo came to AT&T back in 2011 with the idea of providing free, 24/7 wireless service to subway riders, we were thrilled to immediately sign on – and we were one of the first two wireless carriers to do so. Since then, we have watched as demand for this service has grown, which is why it is so exciting to see it fully implemented in every underground station in New York City today. AT&T looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the MTA on using the latest technological tools to improve the lives of New Yorkers.”

Mark Walker, Sprint Regional Vice President, Network said, “Providing wireless consumers with end-to-end network coverage while traveling through the city’s underground subway stations every day is part of Sprint’s commitment to our customers in New York. Provisioning this type of uninterrupted wireless service throughout 281 underground stations so quickly is both a huge accomplishment and investment that will significantly benefit the public.”

Tom Ellefson, Senior Vice President of Engineering at T-Mobile said, “New Yorkers spend a lot of time on the subway and we’re delighted that T-Mobile customers are now connected with America’s fastest LTE network in underground subway stations. We’re excited to complete this major project ahead of schedule to benefit our customers.”

Leecia Eve, Verizon Wireless, Vice President, State Government Affairs said, “Providing wireless service in subway stations is just one example of our continuous efforts to provide our customers with New York City and the Tri-State Area’s #1 Network. We continue to lead the industry with network enhancements like LTE Advanced, which provides 50% faster peak speeds to our customers here in New York and in over 460 markets around the country, covering 90% of the population.”

Project Facts

Over the course of the project, Transit Wireless and its partners achieved several noteworthy accomplishments:

• 120 miles of fiber optic cables (transporting signals between stations and base station hotels data centers)
• Five large base station hotels (aggregating all communication signals, then connecting into wireless carrier and NYCT networks)
• Installed 4,000 antenna connection points
• Mounted 5,000 Wi-Fi access points
• More than 3,000 Help Point terminals
• $300 million + invested at no risk to taxpayers
• Nearly two years ahead of licensed schedule

About Transit Wireless and Transit Wireless WiFi™

Transit Wireless was formed to meet the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) requirement to develop a shared wireless infrastructure within 279 underground stations of the New York City subway to provide commercial services for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless customers. The company designed, built, financed and will operate and maintain a highly resilient wireless network supporting consumer connectivity, business connectivity, transit and public safety communications needs by operating on all primary licensed cellular bands, public unlicensed bands and the 4.9GHz public safety band.

Transit Wireless launched the Transit Wireless WiFi™ network within the underground subway stations, an initiative that has been recognized by the Wireless Broadband Alliance as the “Best Wi-Fi Deployment to Connect the Unconnected in an Urban Environment.” Transit Wireless’ quality management system is ISO 9001:2008 certified by American Global Standards, LLC. Transit Wireless is a BAI Communications company, part of a global enterprise that designs, builds and operates highly accessible communications networks for customers across Australia, Asia and North America. For further information about Transit Wireless go to: http://www.transitwireless.com.

While the service will not be available in between stations, it is a step in the right direction. I find it will be especially helpful during the overnight hours when you have 20 minute schedule intervals between trains. It should definitely help pass the time and perhaps even help with safety in being able to be in touch with someone while waiting alone.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Nightmare Commute This Morning

Thousands of rider had a nightmare commute this morning to begin the work week as delays occurred on 8 lines due to frozen pipes causing water to spill on to the tracks at the W. 4th St.-Washington Square station.

I spoke with a few friends this morning who expressed how many stations had people literally pinned against each other due to the overcrowding. Unfortunately delays like these are prone to happen during such cold weather. Thankfully order has been restored and the evening commute should be normal.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR Accident & Service Update

As you most likely know by now, the MTA Long Island Rail Road had an accident earlier this morning when a Far Rockaway train derailed at Atlantic Terminal. Here is the latest accident & service update:

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast provided media with an update on this morning’s LIRR derailment at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn.

At approximately 8:15 a.m., LIRR Train No. 2817, scheduled to depart from Far Rockaway at 7:18 a.m. and due into Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn, at 8:11 a.m., made contact with the bumping block at Track 6 at Atlantic Terminal. The train was six cars long and carrying approximately 430 passengers. As a result of the impact, the lead wheel assembly derailed as did one additional axle. There were a number of customers injured; none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The cause of the incident is under investigation. The MTA has been in contact with the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board is en route.

Atlantic Terminal has six tracks and three platforms. There have been no delays this morning as result of the incident, and no delays are expected during p.m. rush hour service.

Below is a rush transcript of a press conference held this morning at the site by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast.

————————
Audio is available here.

A rush transcript is available below:

Chairman Prendergast: A rundown of the facts as we know them. We had a far Rockaway train entering the Brooklyn terminal, Atlantic terminal this morning. As the train approached the bumping block, went up and over the bumping block, the lead truck was derailed, and one other axel was derailed. We had a number of people injured on the train. They’re all being transported to hospitals or released. The facts of the matter as we have them right now. The incident is it is still under investigation, as we always say. We need to make sure we determine what happened, and why it happened, so the matter is still under investigation.

Governor Cuomo: As you heard from the chairman, from the appearance of the accident. The train came in and hit the so called bumping block, the block at the far end, and went by it for a few feet. First concern is the people who were on the train. There were a number of minor injuries.

We believe the worst injury at this time that we’ve heard of is a possible broken leg. So that one we are monitoring at this time in terms of injuries. A broken leg is not good, but we been through situations where we’ve had worse. We’ll keep an eye on that. What happened with the operator? We don’t know and obviously there will be an investigation to find out exactly what happened and why the operator didn’t stop the train before it hit the bumping block. But that’s where we are at this time.

The response to the accident was fantastic and I want to thank all the first responders. The MTA, the NYPD, the Fire Department — they really did a great job of getting on site. Most of the injuries were people who just walked and left the train. That’s why the number of people who are injured is hard to pinpoint because most of the people just walked off the train they were minor injuries.

Basically what happened is they were standing getting ready to get off the train, the train has a sudden stop, they’re not prepared for a sudden stop. They get knocked around, banged around, they hurt an arm they hurt a leg et cetera and that’s what we’re referring to as a minor injury and that’s why that number is hard to pinpoint. The most significant injury is a possible broken leg — that’s a woman who is being transported to the hospital and we’ll see how that goes during the course of the day.

Reporter: Any indication of the speed of the train?

Chairman Prendergast: It’s too early to tell. Obviously the train is supposed to stop short of the bumping block. It did not do that. So that’s one of the things we’ll look at. It’s one of the factors that we will look at in the investigation.

Reporter: Is there any damage done to the station?

Chairman Prendergast: There’s some damage done to some partition panels. The bumping block, obviously. Things of that nature. We should be OK for the afternoon rush hour. We expect to have normal service out of here, because we have five tracks. And we do not anticipate any delays for this afternoon’s rush hour.

Reporter: Tom, as a general matter… the Hoboken incident a few weeks ago, is there anything infrastructure wise that’s contributing to the increase in derailments? Or is this something that just happens occasionally?

Chairman Prendergast: It’s too early to tell. And we really need to let the investigation lead us to where we need to be. But obviously the train’s supposed to stop short of the bumping block.

Reporter: Has anyone been able to interview the train operator?

Chairman Prendergast: They’re being held and they will be interviewed as part of the — the locomotive engineer, the conductor and the brakeman will all be interviewed.

Governor Cuomo: In terms of the infrastructure, as the Chairman said, it’s fairly simple. The track ends in the terminal. There’s a bumping block at the end of the terminal. The train has to stop before it hits the bumping block. And the bumping block is just there as a precaution. Hoboken was a much worse situation. I was in Hoboken. And obviously it was worse, not just in terms injuries, we had a loss of life in Hoboken. But there was extensive damage in Hoboken and that train was coming in much faster, did much more damage, hurt many more people. This is minor compared to what happened in Hoboken. But the same question-why did the operator not stop the train before it hit the block?

Reporter: Are there any safeguards on the train to keep it from hitting the bumping block, or do you rely on the operator to hit the brakes before you get there?

Chairman Prendergast: Once you’re at that point and you’re at that speed it’s primarily the locomotive engineer’s responsibility to control the train. There’s a signal system that controls it coming in at limited speeds. But when you’re getting to the end it’s the locomotive engineer’s responsibility. And the train’s brakes have to work. All those things have to be looked at in the investigation.

Reporter: Is the NTSB investigating this? Is the NTSB going to be investigating this accident?

Chairman Prendergast: We haven’t heard from them yet, but the FRA administration was notified.

Reporter: What speed was the train supposed to be going before it hits that block?

Tom Prendergast: I don’t know the exact speed. But there’s a book of rules speed. Probably less than 15 or 10 miles an hour. … These are standard rules that railroads live by.

Reporter: Cameras? Inward facing cameras?

Tom Prendergast: We’re installing them, but I don’t know if the entire fleet has them. I don’t know if this car had them.

Reporter: When did the train leave?

Tom Prendergast: I don’t know the interval because the Far Rockaway train comes in from Far Rockaway and into Atlantic Yards.

Reporter: How many cars derailed?

Tom Prendergast: One truck and one axel. That is all that derailed.

Governor Cuomo: Derailment is actually somewhat of a misnomer here. It’s not that it derailed. The train hit the bumping block and when it hit the bumping block, the bumping block basically knocked it off the tracks, so it wasn’t a derailment. It was a train that didn’t stop when it was supposed to, hit the bumping block at a fairly low rate of speed.

The Chairman is obviously correct – we don’t know what the rate of speed is, but it was a fairly low rate of speed. It hit the block, and it was actually the bottom assembly, the truck assembly came off when it hit the block, so it wasn’t really a derailment. There are accidents that happen, right? This is a very large system, you are operating literally hundreds and hundreds of trains every morning with thousands and thousands of people. Accidents happen.

We have been through a number of them over the past few years. Many of them frankly, we were not this lucky. This is a relatively minor accident, luckily. And we’ll check on the woman who we think may have had a broken leg on her, we wish her the best and we will check on her later.

But as all things considered, this is a relatively minor accident and as the Chairman said, service will be up and running this afternoon, which is a good thing. And again, I can’t tell you how extraordinary the first responders are. And the MTA police, the MTA responders, the New York Police Department, the FDNY, they really did a magnificent job. And all New Yorkers owe them a debt of gratitude. Thank you very much.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Merry Christmas!!!!

I would like to wish each & every single reader of Transit Blogger a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! I hope you have an amazing day with whomever you are spending the day with!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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