Service Diversions 01-26-17

I have just updated the Service Diversions for the upcoming weekend through the end of next week.

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MTA Approves Lowest Fare Hikes Since 2009

Just a short time ago, the MTA Board wrapped up their meeting. The biggest highlight from it was the approval of the lowest fare & toll increases since 2009 which include keeping the $2.75 base fare flat. Here are more details via the press release I just received:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today voted to keep the base fare flat for another two years in approving the lowest fare and toll increase since 2009, when the MTA committed to a biennial schedule for regular increases.

The plan approved today increased fares and tolls over the next two years by 4 percent – or less than 2 percent annually and less than the rate of inflation. The MTA was able to hold the necessary increases below inflation as a result of the agency’s continued discipline in keeping costs down. The new fares, which take effect March 19, will allow the MTA to continue to provide safe and reliable service.

“The MTA is focused on keeping our fares affordable for low-income riders and frequent riders, and on how we can keep necessary scheduled increases as small and as predictable as possible,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said. “Keeping fares and tolls down was possible because of the continued operational efficiencies and ways we have reduced costs while adding service and capacity along our busiest corridors, most recently with the opening of the new Second Avenue subway.”

The MTA Board approved increases that keep the base fare for subways and buses at $2.75 and to keep a pay-per-ride bonus, making the effective fare with the bonus $2.62.

The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is heavily used by lower-income and frequent riders, will increase by only a dollar to $32; the 30-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard will increase from $116.50 to $121. Both of these options were the same under the two proposals presented to the MTA Board.
The Single Ride Ticket remains at $3. The cash fare for Express Buses remains at $6.50, making the effective fare with the bonus $6.19.

The majority of Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad customers will see weekly and monthly passes increase 3.75% or less, with rises to monthly tickets capped at $15. Intermediate monthly and weekly ticket increases are also capped at 3.75%. Some one-way fares will have larger increases only because fares must occur in 25-cent increments. For these one-way fares, any increase greater than 6 percent would be not more than 50 cents per ride; West of Hudson customers will see a 2% increase in fares; City Ticket remains unchanged at $4.25.

Tolls will rise less than 25 cents for cars crossing MTA Bridges and Tunnels facilities and using a New York Customer Service Center (NYCSC) E-ZPass, 73% of total crossings. Customers who pay with cash, Tolls by Mail or a non-NYCSC E-ZPass will see increases of 6.3% to 9.1%. This proposal is consistent with the MTA policy to increase the price differential between cash and E-ZPass to encourage E-ZPass use, which is the least expensive way to collect and pay tolls.

Click here for a .pdf of the fare & toll table.

I am pleasantly surprised that the MTA was able to keep the increases down from what we usually see. Credit must be giving to the agency on this as if it was not for their continued cost-cutting ways, this smaller increase would not have happened.

This is not to say they don’t have a lot more to do in properly reigning in costs, but I can’t deny they have made decent progress. Hopefully they will continue with the discipline & that can be combined with better government funding as well. Only time will tell if this will happen though.

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LIRR & Metro-North Break Ridership Records

A short time ago, the MTA hype machine was out in full force by sending out a presser about both the Long Island Rail Road & Metro-North Railroad breaking ridership records. Here are the details from the said presser:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroads are seeing record ridership numbers, with LIRR carrying 89.3 million customers in 2016, a 1.9% increase over last year and the highest ridership since 1949. Metro-North Railroad carried approximately 86.5 million in 2016, the highest ridership in Metro-North’s history.

The LIRR’s growth continues recent trends in which the LIRR has registered a 1.97% average growth per year over the past 5 years. The railroad’s ridership has grown 10.2% over five years, from 81.0 million in 2011. Metro-North’s ridership for 2016 surpasses the previous record of 86.3 million, set last year. Metro-North’s total ridership has more than doubled since the railroad was founded in 1983.

The ridership figures come at a time when Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed a major capacity increase to the LIRR by expanding the Main Line from two tracks to three between Floral Park and Hicksville and as the LIRR is building a second track from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma. Governor Cuomo has also announced the re-envisioning of Penn Station, which is expected to host Metro-North New Haven Line service, via four new stations in the Bronx to be built in the coming years.

“The ridership figures underscore the importance of the LIRR and Metro-North capacity expansion projects that are underway or proposed,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast.

Changing Economic Patterns Point to Further Growth for LIRR

Underlying economic and demographic trends portend ridership growth continuing into the future, as a generation now entering the workforce shows a greater reliance on the railroad than older generations. A detailed demographic and travel analysis of LIRR customers shows an increasing reliance on the LIRR on the part of younger generations, and the beginnings of a reverse-travel market segment that the MTA expects would be expanded if Governor Cuomo’s proposed Main Line Expansion project is built as expected.

The study showed that millennials, defined as those born between 1981 and 1997, have lower levels of access to automobiles than older New Yorkers, and are more likely to reach their local station by walking, bus, or being dropped off by others.

“Our data reinforces what we’ve seen elsewhere that millennials are more likely to opt for the railroad as matter of choice, and to embrace a lifestyle built around downtown activities and living than previous generations,” said William Wheeler, MTA Director of Planning. “We know that habits that are developed early in one’s adult life tend to stick with them through their entire working lives. So the trend bodes well as a long-term positive for LIRR ridership.”

The survey of LIRR customers found that for weekday travel via LIRR, 65% of trips were made to Manhattan for work, 14% were for westbound work travel elsewhere, 9% were for non-work travel to Manhattan, and 11% were for eastbound travel for work or non-work.

“These results will be very valuable to the railroad as we make decisions regarding service planning, capital program expenditures and marketing in the years ahead,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “There is an intrinsic demand for reverse-peak travel to the Island that today is very difficult for the LIRR to accommodate as a two-track railroad. This data shows that if and when the Main Line is expanded to a third track, our reverse-commute service would fill an immediate unmet need.”

Ridership Records on Metro-North’s Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines

All three of Metro-North’s East of Hudson Lines surpassed records. The Harlem Line and the Hudson Line beat last year’s record by over 125,000 each, with 27.7 on the Harlem Line and 16.6 million rides on the Hudson Line. The New Haven Line, Metro-North’s busiest, had another exceptional year, with 40.5 million annual rides, surpassing last’s year’s record by approximately 20,000.

East of Hudson ridership numbers are strong for both customers commuting to and from work and non-commuters. Annual commutation ridership is 0.6% above 2015. Non-commutation ridership for 2016 remains consistent with 2015’s increase of 2.3%

West of Hudson annual ridership, which was negatively impacted by September’s Hoboken Terminal train accident, dipped to 1.7 million, down 61,368 from last year.

More customers took advantage of Metro-North’s connecting services in 2016. Combined ridership on the Railroad’s three connecting services – the Hudson Rail Link, Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry and the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry – grew by about 577,000, up 3.8% from 2015. Ridership increased by 10.8% on the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry, by 4.3% on the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry, and by 1.5% on the Hudson Rail Link.

“We’ve worked diligently to improve service for our customers by providing more frequent train service and enhancing service reliability, and we’ve accomplished these goals while maintaining the highest safety standards,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We’ve delivered technological advancements that make service even more convenient, including eTix and the expanding availability of real-time information. We’re pleased and grateful that customers are responding to our efforts. But this record isn’t an end point for Metro-North, and we’ll continue to strive to improve service for our customers.”

I honestly wonder if the agency also broke records for the amount of delays passengers faced (especially on the LIRR). Of course if they did (which would come as no surprise to myself & thousands upon thousands of others), I am sure that would be kept confidential. Look at the bright side, fares will go up soon enough & we can get even less while paying more, hooray!!!!!

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MTA Announces 1st Q 2017 FASTRACK Schedule

MTA NYC Transit has just announced the FASTRACK schedule for the 1st Q of 2017. Here are the details:

MTA New York City Transit’s FASTRACK program returns with the first FASTRACK of the year along the 4, 5, 6 lines between Midtown Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn for two weeks.

For four consecutive weeknights from Monday, January 23, to early Friday morning, January 27, and for four weeknights from Monday, January 30 to Friday, February 3, 4, 5, 6 trains will not run between Grand Central-42 St and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr. 4 trains will run local between Woodlawn and Grand Central-42 St. Overnight 3 service is extended to Brooklyn, and makes all 4 line station stops between Borough Hall and New Lots Av. 5 service in Manhattan will end early each night. 6 service will operate between Pelham Bay Park and Grand Central-42 St.

Travel alternatives:

• For service to/from Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn, use the R & W before 11:30 p.m. and the N & R after 11:30 p.m.
• Transfer between N, R, W & 4 & 6 trains at Lexington Av-59 St.
• Transfer between N, Q, R, W, 7 and 2, 3 and S trains at Times Sq-42 St. The 42 St S Shuttle will operate overnight.
• Transfer between D, N, Q, R and 2 & 3 trains at Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr.

FASTRACK has been designed around the careful determination that there is adequate alternate means of transportation, including enhanced services along some bus lines during work periods. Alternative transportation options will be detailed in announcements and posters on trains, in stations and on selected buses; brochures will be available in both English and Spanish. Information on this FASTRACK is available on the web at

Wynton Habersham, Senior Vice President for the Department of Subways said “FASTRACK has proven to have a significant impact on decreasing delays, both in terms of consolidating maintenance forces in a concentrated area and in terms of proactive maintenance that improves service delivery.”
FASTRACK was introduced in January 2012, devoting four straight weeknights to perform maintenance work in tunnels, stations and on tracks, completely suspending service within a given line segment for a seven-hour period between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m..

This gives free access to the system, allowing an army of maintenance workers to perform dozens of tasks repairing and replacing components that are vital to providing safe and reliable train service without the concern of having to “clear up” to allow trains to pass. FASTRACK efforts have been highly successful in providing a safer work environment for employees and improved station conditions for customers.

During our previous FASTRACK along this portion of the 4, 5, 6 in February 2016, subway service was suspended along the Lexington Avenue Line between Grand Central-42 St and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr each night while NYC Transit employees performed a range of cleaning and maintenance tasks of station and tunnel infrastructure, signal equipment, and track and third rail components.

Track workers scraped and cleaned 27,120 feet of track. Replaced 55 rails, 1,717 track plates, 10 tie blocks, 1,773 friction pads, and cleaned 7,010 feet of track under and around the third rail. Infrastructure crews cleaned 2,050 feet of “No Clearance” signs, removed 229 gallons of silt, cleaned 1,473 feet of drains, performed pump plant maintenance, changed 232 tunnel light bulbs, and replaced 130 handrails.

At stations, workers repaired 228 feet of rubbing board at the platform’s edge, scraped 36,170 square feet of paintable station surfaces and painted 102,625 square feet of station surfaces, including 86 columns, and 58 stairway safety features. Station lighting improvements included changing 501 station light bulbs and cleaning 195 fixtures. Signal crews serviced 11 switches and 87 signals. In the area of electronic maintenance, workers serviced 66 CCTV cameras and 62 CCTV monitors including 3 CCTV lenses. This only represents a portion of the work that is completed during FASTRACK.

During the first quarter of 2017, FASTRACK projects are scheduled for:

• January 23 to 27, and January 30 to February 3 on the 4, 5, 6 Lines between Manhattan and Brooklyn. No 4, 5, 6 trains between Grand Central-42 St and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr in both directions.

• February 6 to 10, and February 13 to 17 on the B, D, F, M Lines in Manhattan.B, D, F, M trains will not stop at 14 St, 23 St, 34 St, 42 St, 47-50 Sts, and 57 St.

• February 27 to March 3, and March 6 to March 10 on the B, D lines in the Bronx. No D trains between Norwood-205 St and 161 St-Yankee Stadium in both directions. B service will end early each weeknight.

• April 3 to 7, and April 10 to 14 on the L. No L trains between Lorimer St and Broadway Junction.

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MTA To Open New SI Railway Station

Tomorrow, the MTA will be opening the first station ever built by the agency since the former private railroad was incorporated in 1971. Here are more details on the opening of the Arthur Kill Station:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced the upcoming opening of the new Arthur Kill station, the first new Staten Island Railway (SIR) station built by the MTA since the private rail line was incorporated into the MTA network in 1971, which opens Saturday morning.

The Arthur Kill station and its new parking lot, located on Arthur Kill Road between Lion Street and Barnard Avenue in the Tottenville area, replaces the Nassau and Atlantic SIR stations that will be demolished. The Nassau station primarily served the Nassau Smelting factory, which closed in the 1980s. The two older stations were small, with short platforms that did not adequately accommodate the railway’s modern fleet.

The MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program includes $386 million of investments and improvements to Staten Island Railway. They include replacement of the car fleet and three new power substations to increase supply to the line, allowing for service flexibility and reliability. Capital investments also include rolling out countdown clocks at all SIR stations, track replacement, radio system enhancements, and station repairs.

More than 16,000 customers ride the Staten Island Railway on an average weekday, which has 29 miles of tracks linking 22 communities on the borough, from the southern shore in Tottenville to the northern terminus at St. George that connects to the Staten Island Ferry.

“The new Arthur Kill station offers more transportation options to Staten Island residents by giving motorists the choice to leave the driving to us and take Staten Island Railway,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “This station reinforces the Governor’s commitment to all parts of our transportation network. We know our customers here want more choices, and we are working hard to improve their options.”

The new station is compliant with the American Disabilities Act and serves as a park-and-ride stop for customers who can leave their vehicles in a new 150-spot parking lot across the street or as a transfer point for connections to the S78 bus route. The station platforms accommodate SIR’s fleet of four-car trains and allow boarding at all doors, as compared to single-door boarding at the Nassau and Atlantic stations. In addition to the new parking lot, the Arthur Kill station has customer amenities such as benches, surveillance cameras, Customer Assistance Intercoms, and bicycle racks.

“This new station has been a long time coming but it well worth the wait,” NYC Transit President Ronnie Hakim said. “The new station allows us to move Staten Island transportation another step into the future along with other major projects like the rehabilitation of the St. George Terminal, the recent reopening of the improved Grasmere station, new rail cars and bringing real-time train arrival information to all stations.”

The station’s design maintains the historic feel of the neighborhood yet incorporates the color scheme and architecture of the Staten Island Railway. The overall design emphasizes use of resilient materials and simple structural forms. The northbound and southbound platforms are connected by an overhead structure that is accessible via platform staircases and ramps and both towers of the structure and the connecting overpass are covered by canopies and enclosed with windscreens, providing shade and protection from inclement weather. New LED fixtures provide brighter and environmentally friendly lighting to supplement natural lighting through transparent windscreens.

The artwork in the windscreens at the top of both towers and in the overpass was designed by artist Jenna Lucente and commissioned by MTA Arts & Design. “Tottenville Sun, Tottenville Sky,” consists of 28 large-scale laminated glass panels featuring a mix of wildlife and landscape scenes that are unique to the area’s geography and community.

The towers’ glass panels are laminated blue with foreground images of indigenous wildlife and framed with an intricate design that pays homage to neighborhood architecture. The background of each panel features a landscape, either natural or urban, of the neighborhood. These narrative scenes include the southern shoreline of Staten Island, the Outerbridge Crossing and historic area buildings. The blue color represents the sky and the evening commute. The glass panels that line the overpass form four sets of triptychs laminated in yellow, which represents sunlight and the morning commute. One set forms a view of the Outerbridge Crossing from Arthur Kill Road with egrets in the foreground; another features the historic Conference House. Altogether, the panels represent the past, present and future of Tottenville and all that call it home.

“Staten Island’s first new train station in two decades deserves a delightful piece of art that elevates it beyond a station stop, and Jenna’s artwork is a thoughtful interpretation of the area’s natural beauty and a study of its historic significance, ” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts & Design. “A commuter waiting for his train can look up at the towers or the overpass, and depending on the time or the angle of the sun, see something that he may not have seen the day or an hour before. Each scene in each panel is a reminder of the nature around us and also what we are capable of creating.”

Designing the station artwork was particularly poignant for Lucente, an artist and educator who grew up in the Castleton Corners section of Staten Island. Lucente earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Syracuse University (N.Y.) and a master of fine arts degree from Queens College, City University of New York. She was born in Brooklyn and currently lives in Delaware.

“Staten Island will always be home to me, and the artwork at the new Arthur Kill Station has great personal significance. My understanding, interpretation and connection with Staten Island will always be here through this artwork. It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to share this vision with the public, and my fellow Staten Islanders,” Lucente said.

In preparation for the station, New York City Transit relocated eastbound and westbound stops on the S78 bus route to locations directly in front of the station and the parking lot, allowing for quicker and better access for transferring customers. New bus pullouts at the curbs were also created for easier and safer loading.

Funding for the $27.4 million project was provided in the 2010-2014 MTA Capital Program. Lessons learned after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 resulted in design changes to improve storm resiliency that added to the construction timeline. Resiliency-related infrastructure enhancements include raising and improving the tracks, storm-proofing storage facilities and the electrical distribution and communications systems, and installing a heavier-duty drain system with underground detention tanks and perforated drain pipes for controlling water runoff and limiting soil displacement. The landscaping included native plants such as grasses, trees and shrubs, and permeable features to reduce storm runoff. Fencing, concrete curbs and gravel berms were installed to control soil erosion.

Congressman Dan Donovan: “The new Arthur Kill station will positively impact Staten Islanders who live and work in the area. Quicker and better access to the SIR is important to our community, especially since thousands of people rely on our railway system every day. Projects like this are why I fought proposed cuts to federal NYC mass transit funding.”

Borough President James Oddo: “We welcome any and all improvements to our public transportation network. I am pleased that this brand new, state of the art, and modern facility is opening to better serve South Shore residents. The Staten Island Railway is a lifeline for many Staten Islanders to get to work and school, and those commuters will have a better experience with the opening of the new station.”

State Senator Andrew Lanza: “The long-awaited opening of the Arthur Kill Railway station is great news for Staten Island Railway customers. The new station is sorely needed and will finally offer local residents and visitors the kind of services and amenities that they deserve. I thank Governor Cuomo and MTA Chairman Prendergast for this investment in Staten Island’s transportation infrastructure.”

NYC Councilman Joseph Borelli: “This is an exciting announcement that I’m glad to be a part of. Commuters in the Richmond Valley-Tottenville-Charleston area have been waiting a long time for a replacement for the old Nassau and Atlantic SIR stations, which makes this especially gratifying. I appreciate the efforts of the Staten Island Railway and I look forward to the remainder of the nearly $400 million in capital investments in the SIR that are slated to go online over the next several years.”

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