Question Of The Week

I have posted a new “Question Of The Week” on Eye On Transit. When you get to the homepage, select Q.O.T.W from the “Poll” dropdown menu.

This week’s question focuses on the pending taxi strike by the Taxi Workers Alliance. So please get your vote in as the poll closes on September 9th at 11:59 p.m. EST. Due to EOT not opening at the start of last week, I have also extended the deadline for last week’s Q.O.T.W. in regards to the proposed fare hike.

So what are you waiting for? Finish reading Transit Blogger & head on over to Eye On Transit!

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London: It’s Your Turn….

I’m sure many remember the torture that was commuting in & around NYC when the transit strike occurred.  Well Londoners are now experiencing what we went through. Unfortunately for them, their experience will be arguably more painful.

As of 6pm British Standard Time, 2300 maintenance workers employed by Metronet went on strike. Metronet is the bankrupt public-private partnership which runs 9 of the 12 underground lines in London. With no workers available, Transport For London shut the 9 lines down. They will remain inactive until Friday morning. Here is more information courtesy of the NY Times:

LONDON, Sept. 3 — London’s subway network virtually shut down at the height of the rush hour this evening when 2,300 maintenance workers walked off their jobs in what they said would be a three-day strike over pensions and security.

Transportation officials then closed nine subway lines, the bulk of the system. They said it was too dangerous to keep the network going without the workers, who are responsible for maintaining and repairing tracks, signals, trains and the like. Just three lines — the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, which are maintained by workers who belong to another union — were operating tonight.

Commuters across London left work early in a rush to make it home before 6 p.m. local time, when the strike began. Commuters arriving later found that their stations were locked or — in those stations still operating — that signs had been put up explaining that most of the lines had ceased to operate.

Transport for London, the local agency that runs the subway system, predicted that the strike would cause “massive disruptions for millions of Londoners” and urged passengers to seek “alternative routes” — a difficult proposition in a city as large, sprawling and choked with road traffic as London.

The maintenance workers say that if their demands are not met, they will remain off work for three days, and strike again for another three-day stretch next week.

Adding to the general feeling of annoyance, the mayor, Ken Livingstone, said that motorists driving into central London during business hours would still have to pay the congestion charge of £8 a day, or more than $16, during the strike.

The strike has its roots in the debacle of Metronet, the company hired to carry out a more than $34 billion, 30-year program to refurbish and modernize the old and rundown Underground system. But the cost has been spinning out of control: one estimate said that the program would be more than $4 billion over budget by 2010.

Metronet — part of a partnership that uses private-sector money to finance public projects — declared bankruptcy in July, saying it could not raise the money it needed, and went into receivership, known here as administration.

Transport for London, which is paying for the refurbishment program for the time being, maintains that mismanagement allowed costs to run out of control.

The striking workers, who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, are Metronet employees and are seeking job and pension security despite the demise of the company.

“We said from the start that our members were not prepared to pay for the collapse of Metronet and with their jobs and pensions, and that remains the bottom line,” Bob Crow, general secretary of the union, said in a statement.

Transport for London said that it had gone as far as it could in giving the workers what they wanted. “The administrator and Metronet have made clear that there will be no job cuts, no transfers and that pensions will be fully protected while the company is in administration,” a spokesman said, on the customary condition of anonymity.

But a spokesman for the union said the Metronet administrator’s offer was not good enough. “The period of administration could last a couple of months or a couple of years,” the spokesman said in an interview. “We haven’t had the unequivocal guarantees we’re seeking.”

Another union with 500 maintenance workers involved in the dispute, Unite, said it was satisfied with the Metronet administrator’s offer and had decided not to go on strike. A statement from Brian Harris, the union’s regional officer, also said, “We have received assurances on our members’ pensions now and into the future.”

The scary part about all of this is the possibility of yet another 3 day strike next week! I thought the strike of 2005 was bad, that strike might have nothing on this one if things stay status quo!

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New Ferry Service

Starting today, a new ferry service run by New York Water Taxi takes to the water. The commuter ferry will provide service between Rockland County & Lower Manhattan. The ferry will start from the pier at Haverstraw Village & make stops in Yonkers, The World Financial Center, & end at Pier 11, near Wall St.

The ferry service will make 2 runs in the morning to NYC with the first leaving Haverstraw at 6:15 a.m. The second ferry leaves 55 minutes later at 7:05 a.m. The ferry service will make two evening runs to Haverstraw with the first ferry departing Pier 11 at 5:30 p.m. The second ferry will depart Pier 11 at 6:30 p.m.

The schedule indicates it will take 45 minutes to reach Yonkers, 90 minutes to the World Financial center, & 102 minutes to Pier 11. Tickets prices (Haverstraw – Lower Manhattan) are $15: one way, $130: 10 trip book, & $450: 40 trip book. There is a promotion offering 1 free week of commuting. Check out their website for more details.

The plan for this service is to attract commuters who are tired of driving to a bus or Metro North station to get to lower Manhattan. My question is with such prices, are they really saving any money with this service? What about the commuters who don’t live anywhere near Haverstraw but live within Rockland? What about the length of the commute? 102 minutes seems like a long time on a ferry. I can only imagine how much slower the service will be when the weather gets bad, that is if service even runs!

So many question that have me wondering how much of a success this new service will be. Only time will tell…..

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Teen Shot To Death In Astoria

Broadway train station in Astoria
(resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Labor Day is supposed to be a day for people to enjoy that one last summer memory or rest from what was a great weekend. Unfortunately neither scenario played out for 19 year old Jose Sierra. 19 year old Jose Sierra was shot to death at the Broadway train station in Astoria. Here is a quick article about the incident courtesy of NY1:

September 03, 2007

Police are searching for suspects in the shooting death of a teenager at a Queens subway station early Monday morning.

The shooting happened just after 1 a.m. near the MetroCard booth at the Broadway station on the N line in Astoria.

Police say Jose Sierra, 19, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene.

Police are looking for four or five men that were seen running away from the scene. As of Monday night, no arrests had been made.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Here is another quick article about the story courtesy of 1010 Wins:

NEW YORK (AP) — A 19-year-old man was shot to death early Monday while standing inside a Queens subway station, police said.

Police responded to the elevated Broadway stop on the N line in Astoria after a report of shots fired at 1:15 a.m. They arrived to find Jose Sierra, 19, of the Bronx mortally wounded from a gunshot wound to the head, police said.

There was no apparent motive in the slaying. Police said a group of up to five men were seen fleeing the scene after the shooting, although no arrests were made and the investigation into the Labor Day killing was continuing.

I would like to offer my condolences to the family & friends of Jose Sierra. I also hope the people responsible for this horrific crime are brought to justice!

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7 Train: Your Grade Is In!

The report card has been filled out & the overall grade was not that good. While the 7 train didn’t fail, the riders felt it barely passed! According to the MTA, they received 16,000 responses out of the 88,000 report cards they handed out. At first glance, the returns seem low. However if you think about it, an 18% response rate is pretty impressive. I feel it shows that commuters want their voices heard in regards to transit issues. Here are the top 10 categories that straphangers want to see improvement from:

    1. Adequate room on board at rush hour
    2. Minimal delays during trips
    3. Reasonable wait times for trains
    4. Train announcements that are easy to hear
    5. Station announcements that are easy to hear
    6. Cleanliness of stations
    7. Working elevators and escalators in stations
    8. Sense of security on trains
    9. Cleanliness of subway cars
    10. Sense of security in stations

Here is the graded breakdown for all 21 categories on the report card:

    Minimal delays during trips C-
    Reasonable wait times for trains C
    Adequate room on board at rush hour D
    Sense of security in stations C
    Sense of security on trains C
    Working elevators and escalators in stations C-
    Signs in stations that help riders find their way C+
    Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way C
    Cleanliness of stations C-
    Cleanliness of subway cars C-
    Station announcements that are easy to hear D+
    Station announcements that are informative D+
    Train announcements that are easy to hear D+
    Train announcements that are informative D+
    Lack of graffiti in stations C+
    Lack of graffiti in subway cars C+
    Lack of scratchitti in subway cars C-
    Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel C
    Comfortable temperature in subway cars C
    Ease of use of subway turnstiles C+
    Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines B-

Based on these results, it shows that most straphangers are thinking along the same wavelength. This is of no surprise to people like myself who blog about our transit system. I am not one to defend the MTA blindly but I feel I must in regards to one of the top 3 complaints.

My defense of the MTA mainly focuses on item #3: “Reasonable wait times for trains”. I call bullshit on this complaint. While I do not ride the 7 daily, I have ridden it enough to know how that line operates. I also know many who ride it daily. I can’t recall ever hearing regular complaints about wait times, especially during rush hour. Every line has unforeseen delays but if you base it on regular service, 7 riders have it good.

During the rush hour I have seen trains come literally within 30 seconds of each other. This has been a scene that I have scene for quite sometime. Even during non rush hour periods, I’ve noticed the trains usually come within a few minutes. I really don’t see the justification in the majority of riders complaining about wait times. What do they want, a train coming every 5 seconds? This isn’t possible & even if it was, we all know they would shift their complaint to the trips being slow!

Overall I think the report cards serve some sort of purpose. If improvements can be made based on complaints, it only benefits the straphangers. However if this is going to be a success, I feel these complaints should be as legitimate as possible!

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