R Train Tunnel Might Reopen Sooner

For quite some time now, R Train riders in Lower Manhattan & Downtown Brooklyn have been affected by the closure of the tunnel between the 2 boroughs due to Hurricane Sandy repair work.

However some good news might finally be on the horizon as according to the MTA, the work might reopen due to work being completed ahead of schedule. Pete Donohue of the NY Daily News has more:

The R train tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn may open a bit sooner than scheduled, a transit official said Monday.

The project is now “on schedule to meet or beat the October deadline,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Adam Lisberg said Monday.

Click here for the complete story.

This would be a huge relief as the tunnel closing has made it quite inconvenient to travel in Lower Manhattan & Downtown Brooklyn for many riders. I know it has done so for me when I needed to travel to certain establishments for business purposes.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Metro North Completes Work Ahead Of Schedule

A feel good story for the much maligned Metro-North as earlier today they announced that the Cos Cob switching complex work project was completed 4 months ahead of schedule. Here are the details:

Metro-North Railroad employees have successfully rebuilt a switching control house in Cos Cob, Connecticut. The restoration, completed four months ahead of an initial, already expedited schedule, means that a nine-mile section of the New Haven Line’s tracks between Port Chester, N.Y., and Stamford, Conn., is fully operational for the first time since May 10, when a fire destroyed the previous control house.

The restored control house allows train dispatchers to switch trains from one track to another by moving small segments of rail in a complex of switches. Metro-North was able to dramatically speed up the control house restoration by taking equipment that had already been built and was ready for installation at another complex that had a switch layout that was virtually identical. The equipment that was repurposed uses the most modern technology, reducing the amount of complicated wiring that had been damaged in the May 10 fire.

Rebuilding a new control house would normally take 18 months of design, fabrication, installation and testing. Initially, Metro-North had expected to expedite that by using a retired switching complex. The railroad ultimately expedited it further by repurposing the modern complex.

The final component of the restoration – shifting control from a temporary emergency wayside control house back to Metro-North’s Operations Control Center in New York City – took place this past weekend, Sept. 6 & 7.

“I commend all of the employees who have been involved in the effort to work around the loss of our control house and rebuilt it using an innovative approach,” said Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti. “From the employees stationed by the wayside operating switches manually, to those who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to restore OCC control of the switches, to those who conceived of and implemented this thoughtful and expedited approach, restoring full control took a safe, coordinated team effort with the involvement of many divisions of the railroad.”

Connecticut DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker said: “This is great news for New Haven Line commuters. Metro-North is to be commended on a very creative solution to a complex problem. In addition, getting the job done ahead of time gives us more operating flexibility and improves reliability on the busiest train line in the country.”

As a result of the May 10 fire and the resulting loss of the ability to switch trains from one track to the next, Metro-North forces initially had to lock switches into place through a procedure known as blocking and spiking. Two tracks were locked into hosting westbound trains only and two were locked into eastbound service.

Because trains normally use three of the New Haven Line’s four tracks to travel in the peak direction during rush hours, a two-track bottleneck had created the potential for congestion-related rush hour delays.

In late May, Metro-North workers installed an emergency manual panel at Cos Cob that allowed limited switching capability by a signal maintainer who had to be stationed at the site at all times and in continuous communication with the Operations Control Center. This enabled Metro-North to make three of the four tracks available in each rush hour’s peak direction, easing congestion.

However, the ability to switch trains from one track to another remained limited. In the event of any operational problems that could have arisen in the area, train workers would have had manually switch trains from one track to another, a cumbersome process taking up to 20 minutes to perform.

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CooCoo Cancels Texting Service

4 1/2 years ago the Long Island Railroad entered into a pilot partnership with text messaging company CooCoo to provide travel information such as scheduled & plans to cell phones. Shortly thereafter the Metro-North joined in as well.

However the times have changed with many riders using smart devices to use real time apps. With that in mind, CooCoo has decided to end the text messaging service as of September 26. Here is more via the MTA:

Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road riders who request train schedules, real-time track assignments and train status updates via text message to 266266 are being advised to switch to smartphone apps as an alternative.

CooCoo, a company that provides text messaging service free of charge to LIRR and Metro-North customers, is ending the service on Friday, September 26. The company is moving away from the text messaging business and shifting to the development of real-time scheduling and fare payment apps for public transportation riders around the country.

“Due to the changing nature of technology and the rising cost of SMS, CooCoo will focus on providing this service to transit riders through mobile applications,” said CooCoo’s Co-Founder, Ryan Thompson.

LIRR and Metro-North riders who use smartphones can continue to get the same information previously available through text messaging by downloading the MTA’s official Train Time apps for Android and iPhone, or by accessing the apps through the web. LIRR Train Time and Metro-North Train Time apps are free, user-friendly, and have been praised for easy functionality by many users. The apps show when the next trains are due at your station, whether each train is running on time, and which track each one is slated to use.

The apps have been downloaded more than 200,000 times since they debuted in December 2013.

I never got to try CooCoo as I always used some form of an app or accessed the site directly from my device. I doubt the service will be missed.

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Service Diversions 09-05-14

Get a head start on your weekend travel plans as I have just updated the Service Diversions through all of next week.

Make sure to follow @TransitBlogger on Twitter by clicking the button in the sidebar as I am using it more often. Also if you are into indie music make sure to follow @IndMusicReview & @SurgeFM!

Have a great weekend!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Bedbug Scare On B44

Once again those pesky bedbugs are making an appearance in the transit news world. This time they decided to use their free transfer & hop the B44 in Brooklyn where an alleged sighting led to passengers fleeing the bus. Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has more:

THE “B” IN B44 stood for bedbugs — or at least a host of passengers thought it did, and hightailed it off the bus following an alleged sighting.

A B44 bus was taken out of service on Monday after a rider spotted what were believed to be bedbugs crawling on another passenger as that person was boarding, according to a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman.

“Customers all ran off the bus,” a transit source said on Wednesday.

The bus was sent back to the depot so it could be “treated” by the MTA’s pest-control contractor, but no bedbugs were found in the vehicle, said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. He could not say where the Brooklyn bus was along the route, which runs between Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay, when the frenzy struck.

Click here for the complete story.

This is becoming such a big issue now that I expect many more sightings to happen & lead to buses & trains being taken out of service. What can really be done about this problem though? The MTA can only do so much as it is the riders who are bringing these things into the system.

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