The Straphanger Singer…..

No, I did not run into “The Straphanger Singer” again. For those who do not know who “The Straphanger Singer” is, please visit this entry for all the important information.

I finally got around to uploading some of the audio recordings I made of him singing. Thankfully my mp3 player has a built in microphone or you would not be able to marvel in such an amazing talent! So here are 2 mp3’s for your listening pleasure!

Unknown Song


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Question Of The Week 08/29/07 – 09/02/07

With Eye On Transit relaunching today, this marks the return of the “Question Of The Week”. This week’s question centers around the MTA wanting to impose a fare hike on straphangers. So when you are done here, cast your vote on the issue. You can reach the voting area by clicking here. Voting is open until 11:59 on Sunday September 2, 2007. After you are done voting, feel free & leave any comments here.

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Gov. Spitzer Says Not So Fast…..

Well he didn’t actually say that but you get the point. In today’s AMNY, the front page headline is about Gov. Spitzer challenging state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s report on the MTA’s proposed fare hike. One of Gov. Spitzer’s comments included “So simply saying, Aha! We got congestion pricing, therefore, no fare increase: bad logic, bad facts”

Here is the full article courtesy of AMNY:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer challenged a report by the state comptroller that argues the MTA hasn’t done enough to save commuters from a fare hike.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told the MTA to hold off on a fare hike decision until next year, when the agency could net more money from the state and a possible congestion-pricing plan.

Even though congestion pricing could net $350 million in federal funds, the governor said it’s not “meaningful” enough to cover the operating, capital and deficit costs the MTA is facing in coming years.

“So simply saying, Aha! We got congestion pricing, therefore, no fare increase: bad logic, bad facts,” Spitzer said in a statement. He did say whether he supports or would fight a hike.

According to DiNapoli, the MTA has not done enough to hit up the state and other funding sources before tapping into commuters’ wallets.

“We’re really calling on the MTA to put commuters first,” DiNapoli said.

Spitzer and DiNapoli have a complicated past. Spitzer fought the Legislature on appointing DiNapoli as comptroller, calling him “thoroughly and totally unqualified.”

The MTA’s board will vote on the proposed hike in December, just before Spitzer releases a state budget that could hold more money for mass transit, DiNapoli’s report said. The comptroller said he believes the state wants to “step up to the plate.

The MTA could also trim down internal costs beyond the 1.5 percent its currently planning on cutting, DiNapoli said. Last year, the MTA came up short on plans to reduce administrative costs, the report said.

Last month the MTA proposed fare increases for both 2008 and 2010, although it’s uncertain how much higher fares would go.

But the first increase is expected to net an additional 6.5 percent for the agency in fare and toll revenues. While the MTA is expected to end this year with a $300 million surplus, the agency said yesterday it will face $6 billion in deficits the next four years. The authority is continuing to look at how it could streamline operations, a spokesman said.

When the MTA proposed the fare increase, the agency already factored in a significant increase in funding from the state and the city. A fare increase is part of a financial plan that keeps service on track as well as funds projects that help the system respond to the city’s growing population, spokesman said.

“Deferring the proposed 2008 fare and toll increase will only lead to more drastic increases and unacceptable service cuts in 2009,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.

While I think the straphangers will get the screw job with the fare hike, the battles up until judgment day should prove to be quite interesting.

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Fare Hike Saviors?

First, we had the New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. strongly appose the MTA’s proposed fare hike. Now we have a second strong opposition of it coming from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. Napoli. Here is a press release courtesy of Mr. Napoli:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) should hold off on its fare hike plans until after the City and the State have fully considered the recommendations of the recently established congestion pricing commission and the MTA’s proposed five-year capital program, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a report released today. The MTA has proposed raising fares and tolls in early 2008 and again in 2010 to help address sizeable looming budget gaps.

“The MTA should put New York’s commuters first,” DiNapoli said. “Before the MTA asks for more money from straphangers, it should develop a coordinated strategy with the State and City to balance its operating budget and to finance the next five-year capital program.

“The MTA has taken some good first steps to develop a long-term plan for its future fiscal health. But talk of a fare hike is premature. The City is trying to reduce congestion and encourage greater use of mass transit. Any fare increase should be the last piece of a comprehensive plan, not the first.”

The DiNapoli report shows that the MTA does not need a fare hike to balance its 2008 budget. The MTA forecasts a 2008 cash balance of $323 million. In addition, the MTA’s financial plan includes $516 million in reserves, and another $781 million that the MTA and the State plan to use for purposes other than balancing the budget.

However, under the MTA’s current timeline, the authority board would vote on a fare and toll hike this December. The MTA has proposed raising fares and tolls by 6.5 percent in 2008 in an effort to balance its budget in 2009 and another 5 percent in 2010 as part of its plan to index fares to inflation and to implement adjustments every other year. The MTA board vote would occur shortly before the Governor releases an Executive Budget that could include unanticipated new resources for mass transit, and before the State Legislature considers in March the recommendations of the congestion pricing commission, which also could result in new resources for mass transit, the DiNapoli report indicates.

“The MTA needs a commitment from its traditional financing partners so it can balance its operating budget and finance needed capital improvements while keeping mass transit affordable to commuters,” DiNapoli said, noting that the MTA will be unable to guarantee that future fare increases will be limited to inflation if it does not receive more assistance from its partners.

The DiNapoli report also shows:

  • Although the MTA’s July Plan forecasts a record year-end cash balance of $960 million for 2007, it expects budget gaps to grow to nearly $2.1 billion by 2011 from $965 million in 2008;
  • Authority spending is projected to exceed the level projected by the MTA two years ago by an average of about $435 million during each of calendar years 2007 through 2009;
  • The MTA saved only $12.3 million from management actions planned for 2006, which is just 41 percent of its target savings;
  • The MTA will need $18.8 billion to maintain the existing mass transit system and additional funds to continue key expansion projects;
  • Debt service — which is expected to grow to $2 billion by 2011 from $1.3 billion in 2006 — and health insurance costs will grow to account for nearly half of the 2011 budget gap; and,
  • The MTA plan to narrow the out-year gaps assumes it will receive more than $600 million annually in new governmental aid beginning in 2010. If these or other anticipated resources do not materialize, the MTA will face budget gaps that exceed $1 billion beginning in 2010. Closing a gap of this magnitude would require fare and toll increases of 20 percent on top of the MTA’s proposal to raise fares and tolls by 11.5 percent by 2010.
  • The report also notes that ridership on subways, buses, and commuter rails has reached the highest level in decades, increasing by 2.5 percent in 2006, and is projected to rise by an additional 1.6 percent this year.

    I am impressed with 2 high ranking officials speaking out against a ridiculous proposal. Lets hope for our sake these opinions are based on facts & not PR moves to get face time!

    If you are interested in reading the entire report from Mr. Napoli, click here.

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    Subway Supervisor Had A Role In Transit Worker Death

    A recent investigation has led to the demotion of superintendent Lloyd London. His demotion comes as the result of his actions which investigators feel led to the death of track worker Marvin Franklin. If you do not recall the tragic death, you can read about it here. Here is a story about the investigation courtesy of the NY Times:

    The superintendent who investigators said was partly responsible for the death of a subway track worker has been demoted and will be assigned to a job as a cleaner, a person with knowledge of the disciplinary action said yesterday.

    The superintendent, Lloyd London, was in charge of a small group of workers at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station in Downtown Brooklyn on April 29, when a G train struck and killed Marvin Franklin, 55, a veteran track worker.

    Mr. Franklin and another worker, Jeff Hill, were carrying a heavy piece of equipment across the tracks when the G train suddenly appeared around a curve. The train also struck Mr. Hill, who survived with injuries.

    A board of inquiry impaneled by New York City Transit found that Mr. London had “the greatest culpability” for the accident.

    The investigation found that Mr. London had told the workers that he would act as a flagman and watch for oncoming trains, but then failed to do so.

    In carrying the equipment across the active tracks, the workers were breaking several safety rules, and the investigation found that Mr. London should have ordered Mr. Franklin and Mr. Hill to take a safer route.

    Mr. London denied saying that he would act as a flagman, but the investigators said his account was contradicted by the testimony of other witnesses.

    According to a person with access to documents relating to Mr. London’s disciplinary proceeding, Mr. London agreed on Thursday to be reassigned to a job as a cleaner, rather than be fired.

    The action also barred him from ever holding a “safety-sensitive” job at the agency, including working on the tracks or operating a train.

    Mr. London had been a track worker for several years before receiving training as a supervisor in May 2006. He had been a supervisor for less than a year at the time the accident occurred.

    A spokesman for Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents Mr. London, said union officials would not comment on his case.

    A spokesman for New York City Transit could not be reached last night.

    The most pathetic thing is how Mr. London can sit there & deny what he said. A life was lost but instead of seeing that, he worries about covering his own ass. In my opinion, the man should be fired as he clearly is not mature enough to accept responsibility for his actions!

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