This morning the New York Times is running a story about a MTA savings proposal that will result in service cuts in bus service for a number of major holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s. The proposal also calls for the elimination of all elevator operator positions in 5 stations in Upper Manhattan. Here is the entire article courtesy of the New York Times:
Straphangers could be forgiven if they see something Grinchlike about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this holiday season.
The authority’s board will vote on a proposed fare increase on Dec. 19. And just five days later, on Christmas Eve, a little-noticed proposal to reduce bus service on holidays could take effect.
Budget documents released this week show that the authority is planning to reduce the number of buses operating on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
“I guess we’re getting the coal in our stocking,” said Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group.
The service change will save an average of $250,000 per day, amounting to $1.8 million a year. It is part of a series of budget cuts that includes removing all elevator operators from five subway stations in Upper Manhattan. The number of operators staffing the elevators has been a contentious issue in the past amid worries about crime and safety. Because the stations are deep underground, all passengers must use the elevators.
The board will vote on the proposed cuts the same day it takes up the fare increase, which would raise the cost of subway and bus rides. The $2 base fare would not go up, but unlimited ride MetroCards would.
The holiday service change would take effect immediately. The removal of the elevator operators would occur next year, but officials did not give a date.
Three of the days scheduled for cuts — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day — already have limited service but would apparently have further reductions. Others, including Martin Luther King’s Birthday, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, have operated under normal weekday service schedules in the past.
“I think on certain holidays it may be justified, but the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone is out shopping and out and about, it isn’t justified,” said Andrew Albert, a member of the authority’s board who represents transit riders. It was not clear from the documents how many buses would be taken off the streets. The budget said the authority would provide an “intermediate level of service, sufficient to meet ridership demands.”
Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said the changes should not be viewed as cuts at all.
“It’s not a service cut,” he said. “It’s matching service with the number of riders we have.”
Barry Feinstein, the chairman of the transit committee of the authority’s board, said that although the changes would cause some riders to wait longer for buses, service would be sufficient to avoid overcrowding.
Asked about starting the cuts within days of voting on a fare increase, he said, “Any money we save now will save us more money later on.”
The bus schedule changes are noteworthy because the authority’s new administration, which took over this year, has been adamant about not cutting service at a time of growing ridership.
The move also contrasts with an effort in 2005, when the authority encouraged holiday ridership with a special MetroCard discount program.
Both the bus and elevator changes were quietly inserted into a revised budget hundreds of pages long. It said the elevator operators would be removed from five stations with deep platforms that can be reached only by elevator: 191st Street, 181st Street and 168th Street on the No. 1 line and 190th Street and 181st Street on the A line.
The elevators at those stations were once run with operators stationed inside, but the authority removed many of them in 2004. Many subway riders protested, and the authority agreed to keep one elevator in each station staffed at all times.
Mr. Feinstein said removing the elevator operators had not resulted in an increase in crime.
But some straphangers said removing them altogether would make them feel less safe.
“It’s good to have someone have an eye on things if anything fishy happens,” said Andrew Thompson, 41, a Washington Heights resident.
I will briefly say that at first glance this does not sound like a good idea. The thought of cutting some service on a few of those holidays does not sound pretty. However before I fully establish my position on the issue, I would like to dome some research into what the actual cuts would be. As far as the elevator operator jobs are concerned, I can see the points of both sides in what has always been a lively debate between the two points of view.
xoxo Transit Blogger