1 Trains At all times until summer 2012, 1 trains bypass the downtown platform at Dyckman Street due to station rehabilitation. Customers wishing to travel downtown are advised to take the uptown 1 train from Dyckman Street to 207th Street and use a free MetroCard transfer to the downtown side.
2 Trains From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, December 11, uptown 2 trains run express from 3rd Avenue-149th Street to East 180th Street due to rail and plate replacement at Simpson Street.
5 Trains From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, December 11, uptown 5 trains run express from 3rd Avenue-149thStreet to East 180th Street due to rail and plate replacement at Simpson Street.
7 Trains From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, December 10 and Sunday, December 11, Flushing-bound 7 trains skip 33rd Street, 40th Street, 46th Street, 52nd Street and 69th Street due to installation of cable trays and brackets.
D Trains From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, December 10 to 5 a.m. Monday, December 12, Bronx-bound D trains operate via the N line from Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue to 36th Street due to station and line structure rehabilitation from 71st Street to Bay 50th Street. (Repeats next week.)
F, G Trains At all times until spring 20 12, F and G trains skip Smith-9th Sts. in both directions due to station rehabilitation. Customers may use the B61 for connections between Smith-9th Sts. station and 4th Avenue-9thStreet station, where F, G and R trains are available. Customers may also use the B57 bus for connections between Smith-9th Sts. station and Carroll Street station, where F and G trains are available.
At all times until spring 2012, Brooklyn-bound F and Church Avenue-bound G trains skip 15th Street-Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Parkway due to Culver Viaduct rehabilitation. To get to these stations take the Brooklyn-bound F to Church Avenue and transfer to a Manhattan-bound F or Queens-bound G. Leaving these stations, customer should take a Manhattan-bound F or a Queens-bound G to 7th Avenue and transfer to a Brooklyn-bound F.
J Trains From 4 a.m. Saturday, December 10 to 10 p.m. Sunday, December 11, Queens-bound J trains skip Hewes Street, Lorimer Street and Flushing Avenue due to track panel installation north of Hewes Street. (Repeats next week.)
M Trains From 4 a.m. Saturday, December 10 to 10 p.m., Sunday, December 11, M trains run every 24 minutes between Myrtle Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue due to track panel i nstallation north of Hewes Street. (Every 20 minutes overnight.)
N Trains From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, December 10 to 5 a.m. Monday, December 12, Coney Island-bound N trains run via the D line from 36th Street to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue due to track panel installation south of 59th Street.
MTA, which can’t get a bit of credit — or respect — even when it does something right.
Take Grand Central Terminal, the historic hub where Apple opened a new store on Friday. It’s the latest addition to the hub’s assortment of 100 restaurants and shops.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s net income from rent and special events at Grand Central totalled $8.2 million in 2000. Last year, the net income hit $18.7 million.
That’s a 128% increase and an additional $10.5 million a year the MTA can use for the subway, bus and commuter train network. It’s also a pretty good indication that the authority has done a good job marketing and managing the space.
You wouldn’t know it, however, from a flurry of media reports suggesting the MTA is giving away the store on 42nd St.
According to the reports, authorities have launched investigations into the lease arrangement between the always cash-short MTA and Apple. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be anything rotten about the deal at all.
The Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, which has oversight over the MTA, made a routine request to the authority for information after the media reports. The state controller’s office is conducting a standard non-criminal follow-up audit of a previous audit it did of MTA’s real estate policies and management last year.
No hearings are planned, and these are investigations in the loosest sense of the word. It’s similar to calling golf a sport, Newt Gingrich a family man, city Controller John Liu a mayoral contender or pepper spray a vegetable.
Apple is renting 23,000 square-feet of space. The three largest indoor parcels are the East Balcony, previously rented to the restaurant, Metrazur; the Northeast Balcony, which has always been vacant; and a basement area used as a railroad crew room that lived up to its unappealing name, “Carey’s Hole.”
The retail outlet will be on the balconies and Apple is using the basement for storage.
The MTA banked $260,000 a year from Metrazur under a lease dating back to the 1999 renovation of Grand Central Terminal. The most recent lease didn’t expire until 2019.
Looking for a more lucrative arrangement, the MTA advertised for bids in major newspapers. Other businesses expressed interest but only one, Apple, submitted a bid.
Apple’s rent is more than four times what Metrazure paid — $1.1 million a year. It ponied up $5 million for MTA to buy out the restaurant’s lease and spent $2.5 million on infrastructure improvements that aren’t normally the responsibility of a tenant. These renovations included an improved heating and ventilation system.
The store also will draw far more people to the terminal - and boost sales at other businesses. Every 1% increase in sales is worth $500,000 in additional payouts to the MTA.
There are some unique aspects to the Apple lease. The MTA isn’t getting a percentage of Apple’s revenues, as it does from other Grand Central tenants. The MTA says Apple refused, much like the computer giant has elsewhere.
The per-square-foot rate is also significantly less than other businesses in Grand Central.
You can argue Apple negotiated a good deal, but you can just as easily argue the MTA has done right by riders as well.
No fare hikes in 2011 was cited as one of the "best" transit events for New York City transit, while a proposal by the N.Y. MTA to take out $7 billion in debt was seen as one of the "worst" events for the year, according to a new "best/worst" list released by a New York City-based transit advocacy group today.
“A look back shows that it was both the best of times and the worst of times for New York City subways and buses,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.
Among the top ten worst events were: the MTA proposing to take out $7 billion in debt, increasing operating expenses by $500 million a year; the MTA removing garbage cans from two subway stations as part of a pilot to reduce litter; an increase in passenger assaults on bus drivers and subway workers; and attacks on transit funding in Albany and Washington.
Among the best events were: no fare hike in 2011, after back-to-back increases in 2008, 2009 and 2010; MTA launching it’s “Weekender” website, to help riders cope with massive repairs on Saturdays and Sundays; the MTA consolidating help numbers into one: 511; and in the shadow of the World Trade Center, the southbound Cortland Street station on the R was re-opened.
Probably the biggest transit event of the year — Governor Cuomo’s nominating Joseph Lhota as MTA Chairman to replace former Chair Jay Walder — ended up on neither the best nor worst list. Instead, it fell in the “too-early-to-tell” category.
This is the Straphangers Campaign’s second annual best/worst transit list. The first was issued in December 2010.
Among the top ten worst New York City transit events in 2011 were:
1. The State took a net $100 million from dedicated transit operating funds. For the second year in a row, State government diverted money from accounts created to fund mass transit. The cuts add pressure to hike fares and cut service. Legislation to make it harder to raid dedicated transit funds passed both houses of the State Legislature, but then was watered down.
2. The NY State Legislature voted exemptions to the MTA payroll tax at an unknown cost to its riders. As The NY Times editorialized: “Although the Albany leaders say that the state will make up any lost revenue, they have not determined a secure source of financing. Mr. Cuomo needs to make certain that the already cash-starved transportation authority doesn’t suffer. The last thing New York needs is to downgrade the system that gets so many people to and from their jobs.”
3. MTA proposed to take on $7 billion of debt for capital projects. With little hope of new funds, the MTA is proposing more borrowing to pay for its key rebuilding program. The result: half a billion in new interest payments a year, fueling pressure on fares and service to pay it back.
4. Aged trains on C line will now remain in service through at least 2017. They will then be 53 years old, well past the tenure envisioned upon their gleaming debut during the Johnson Administration in 1964. The reason: shortfalls in capital revenues.
5. MTA is over budget and behind schedule on Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access, say federal officials. The MTA says that ESA and Second Avenue will be done by September 2016 and December 2016, respectively, while the Federal Transit Administration puts their opening dates at April 2018 and February 2018. The feds say that ESA costs could go from $7.3 billion to $8.1 billion, Second Ave from $4.4 to $4.8 billion. The 7 line extension — paid for in large part by New York City — is reported 11 months ahead of schedule and may open in 2013.
6. Breakdowns increased and ridership decreased on NYC Transit buses. The breakdown rate has worsened more than 11% and total ridership is down 3%, as of September 2011. Reason given: an aging bus fleet and a December 2010 fare hike. The percent of city buses that were 12 years or older more than doubled in the past year.
7. Hurricane Irene. It could have been much worse. In stark contrast to the blizzard of late 2010, the City and MTA performed well here. But many New Yorkers experienced what the loss of transit service meant to the city that never sleeps.
8. Garbage can-less subway stations. As part of a larger initiative to address subway garbage disposal problems, a pilot to remove garbage cans from two stations got a poor response from the public. The idea, wrote a columnist, “would seem to rank with fourth marriages...”
9. Passenger assaults on bus drivers and subway workers are up, 20% and 16% respectively, from January to October 2011. Bus drivers were spat on by riders 145 times during the same period. Are transit officials doing enough to protect their employees? The recent shooting on the Q111 also shows the vulnerability of riders to fatal violence.
10. A tax-free transit benefit may shrink in half next year. The program — which exempts up to $230 of wages used for transit from most taxes — was increased in 2009. Right now the parking benefit is slated to go up to $240, while the transit benefit will fall to $125 unless Congress acts.
Among the top ten best New York City transit events in 2011 were:
1. There was no subway, bus and commuter fare hike after three years-in-a-row of increases. The fare went up in 2008, 2009 and 2010 — but not in 2011. That was good news for cash-strapped riders in a harsh economy. But the MTA already says it needs a higher fare by the end of 2012.
2. Faster bus service arrived on the M34. This year, M34 passengers got to pay their fares before boarding, speeding up service on this notoriously slow route — if there’s good rider education on the new fare system. Coming in 2012: reconfigured bus stops to eliminate buses going in and out of traffic and to increase sidewalk space.
3. Some of the service cuts from 2010 were restored in 2011. Weekend M50 bus service in midtown was re-instituted, as was the X36/38 express bus from Bay Ridge to Manhattan. Kudos to local officials like State Senator Marty Golden and Councilman Vincent Gentile. Massive cuts remain, but these restorations are worth celebrating.
4. MTA launched Weekender site. When you go to mta.info on Friday afternoons through Sunday evening, it becomes the Weekender, with easy-to-understand maps describing what most weekend visitors want to know: how will my commute be affected by transit construction and repair projects.
5. Riders can now track the location of some bus routes by cell phone. “Bus Time” — which allows riders to get information on the location on buses on their cell phones — started on the B63 in February. By year’s end, it comes to all Staten Island bus routes. It’s convenient and encourages people to use buses.
6. In the shadow of the World Trade Center, the southbound Cortland Street station on the R re-opened. There was a grim time after 9/11 that a plywood, handwritten sign on the Cortlandt station warned train operators, “DO NOT STOP HERE.”
7. MTA adopted the 511 number for one-stop telephone help. Coupled with mta.info, this has the potential of providing better customer assistance at lower cost. But it still needs to be streamlined.
8. $1 fee on purchase of a MetroCard postponed. Supporters say it would reduce litter. Opponents see it as a fare hike and it’s not popular. The agency will hold off until 2013. The real solution: moving to smart cards.
9. A pilot brings cell phone service to six underground subway stations. Not everyone will agree that his is a good step. In a recent Straphangers Campaign opinion poll, riders voted 54% to 43% that this was a good idea. It’s important to note that riders for years have used cell phones at hundreds of stations above ground. Also, cell phones still won’t work in tunnels between stations.
10. More countdown clocks appear around the subways. New York City Transit set as a goal to install these highly popular displays at 153 stations on the number 1 through 6 lines by December 2011. Another 24 are on the L and a simpler version is at 32 stations on lettered lines.
Most of us, while visiting the New York Transit Museum, will not care too much that in the 1930s large coiled tubes containing liquid carbon tetrachloride were used as fuses to protect the city’s subway system from short circuits. Many of us approach this subject so lightly that we might think a label on an electrical contraption — “Edison Bipolar Dynamo” — is missing a colon after the name of the inventor, who may not have been bipolar but was certainly a dynamo.
We also don’t think much about what makes the trains run, which is the subject of a major new exhibition here, “ElectriCity: Powering New York’s Rails.” Usually the only possible thrill in combining the words “electricity” and “subway” comes from recollections of the ominous sensations of childhood coalescing around that half-hidden “third rail.” The topic now inspires excitement only in times of failure, when stories are told about passengers lining up in the darkened tunnels, trying to avoid scampering rats while mounting ladders to safety.
One of the ways in which this charming and often engrossing museum in Brooklyn Heights works, though, is to recognize that most of us are thoroughly convinced of its subject’s ordinariness. We approach the museum as we do the subway early in the morning, in calm resignation, prepared for whatever fate has to offer. We descend the steps almost as if we were ordinary straphangers, as if we didn’t realize this Court Street subway stop (complete with original enameled signs, tiled walls and miscellaneous turnstiles) was decommissioned long ago to be used as a museum.
But it doesn’t take long before a nostalgic, geekish curiosity replaces ordinary commuter consciousness. We look around in wonder. How did this come to be? When did it change? How does it work?
This is a museum of specimens, a natural history museum of the city’s public transportation. There are facades of buses and trolleys along with their genealogies; models of diesel engines; examples of 70 years of turnstiles; and even an examination of how money and tokens — now almost obsolete — were once the subway’s currency. Original signs are posted like remnants of a dream: “Spitting on the platforms or other parts of this station is unlawful,” or “Warning. Do not lean over the edge of platform.” There are archives of photographs, drawings and blueprints. Head down to the tracks, and you see the ghosts of trains past: long extinct cars along with their descendants. They stand with open doors, as if awaiting passengers to rush for cane seats and enameled poles, the sight of which inspires fulsome memories of sweltering summer heat.
The new electricity exhibition doesn’t quite succeed in making a place for itself in this company, but no one who comes here will see it in isolation, so it is best to take its strengths and weaknesses in stride. It was designed by curators from the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City and has some clever participatory displays (particularly those encouraging visitors’ play with electrical circuits) along with some terrific old machinery. But it takes its time on things that can be quickly portrayed and rushes through matters that are potentially bewildering, as if an uncertain engineer were at its helm.
It also seems somewhat anemic since it immediately follows an exhibition, “Steel, Stone and Backbone,” that examines the subway’s construction during the early decades of the 20th century, when 30,000 men were extending the city’s reach below ground as others were propelling it skyward. Along with equipment of that era — surveying chains, enormous digging tools, a 15-ton jack — are explanations of how tunnels were dug underwater; how the “sandhogs,” the men who did the most dangerous work, worked in compressed air at the tunnels’ most vulnerable endpoints; how ethnic politics and labor unions evolved with the subways; and how, from time to time, lives were lost and sometimes saved.
In 1916, we learn, Marshall Mabey and two other men were working on the tunnel under the East River when air started rushing out through a hole, and water began to pour in. The men were shot upward through the soft earth as if on a geyser. Only Mabey survived. “The last thing I recalled,” he said, “was seeing the Brooklyn Bridge above me while I was whirling around in the air.”
How can descriptions of electrical generators compete with that? It can’t. At the opening of the electricity show we are dutifully shown four methods of generating power that together account for 98 percent of United States electricity: fossil fuel, nuclear power, hydropower and wind power. Each is represented in a panel display in which lights blink and mini-turbines spin, showing how the pressure of steam, water or wind creates electrical power. But the demonstrations are humdrum, the graphics rudimentary and the generators essentially the same.
More interesting is a map of United States energy production. The top three states in production of hydropower? Washington, Oregon and California. The top state in production of wind power? Texas. Also suggestive is a rough chart of energy costs: Wind power requires more land and is most expensive; nuclear energy requires the least land; fossil fuels are the cheapest but have by far the highest carbon emissions.
The most effective demonstration of a generator, though, is a real one. Turn an enormous wheel that moves coils through a magnetic field, and arcing sparks of electricity are created. But it is unnecessarily difficult actually to see what is taking place. You can try studying a nearby diagram, but compressed details — “Wire coils connect to the commutator, which turns the rotor. Brushes gather electricity from the commutator.” — eclipses the clarity and immediacy of the working model.
And how is this related to the transit system? This should be the clearest and most dramatic part of the exposition, yet we can’t really put the pieces together. Why is Thomas Edison’s concept of direct current used for the subway’s third rail? George Westinghouse’s and Nikola Tesla’s rival idea of alternating current allowed electric power to be transmitted over long distances and into homes. But what is the advantage of direct current in the subway? And how does the train itself close the electrical circuit? This should be much clearer.
“Control boards” of earlier eras, once used to manage the subway system, are also intriguing but mysterious. You can actually learn more about the subway’s controls from the two film versions of “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” both of which used the museum’s subway station as a set.
Pay attention instead to the atmosphere of this underground technological world, which has its own version of muscular wonkiness, as if demanding full attention from the menial and the mental. It is also astonishing how much equipment from the turn of the 20th century was used almost to the century’s end. A wooden ammeter for measuring current was in use from 1900 until the 1980s; the system’s rotary converters that changed alternating current into direct current were used until 1999; a 1932 control board was in service until 1994. How is this possible, given the ordinary pace of technological change?
One answer is implied in another exhibition here, “The Plans Behind the Power,” which displays blueprints for the subway’s electrical stations and equipment. The plans don’t just demonstrate great care but are also self-consciously monumental, as if this project were as grand as, say, the construction of dams and canals. A 1903 drawing of a cross section of the 59th Street Powerhouse in Manhattan is an archetype of industrial art. A map of the slew of third rails in the 1910 Coney Island station looks like the beginning of an intricate roller coaster.
Monumentality and care accompanied an almost elementary simplicity: the entire system, after all, is based on the creation of sturdy electrical circuits. Once established, no major improvements were really necessary; pieces could simply be replaced by more sophisticated counterparts. Advances really came in engine construction and brake design and ultimately with the introduction of computers, which now make it possible to analyze enormous amounts of data used to control the largest urban transportation system in the world.
That doesn’t always translate into passenger delight, but in much of the museum, at least, it is possible to come close.
The New York Transit Museum, Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn Heights; (718) 694-1600, mta.info/mta/museum.
In January, MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) plans to introduce FASTRACK, a “new way of working on the rails,” along the Lexington Avenue Line, NYCT officials said in a prepared statement.
Starting on Jan. 9, the 4, 5 and 6 lines will be shut down from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., suspending all Lexington Avenue Line service between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue in both directions for four consecutive weeknights.
NYCT is taking a new approach to preform critical maintenance and upgrades to the system, which includes more than 2,600 switches, 12,000 train control signals, and more than 700 miles of track and 468 stations. By shutting down a section of a subway line, workers can perform tasks more efficiently, at less cost and in a safer environment, NYCT officials said.
The system’s weeknight ridership averages about 250,000 riders. The closures will affect 10 percent to 15 percent of those riders depending on the line segment, they said.
“While providing a safer environment for our employees who will no longer be sharing tracks with in-service trains, we also anticipate an annual productivity savings of $10 million to $15 million,” NYCT officials said.
The new approach does not replace weekend work, however. Most weekend service diversions are due to major station and line rehabilitation projects, they said.
FASTRACK coming to NYCT’s Lexington Avenue Line
Friday, December 16, 2011
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is set to introduce FASTRACK, a new way of working on the rails. Beginning Monday, January 9, the 4, 5 and 6 lines will be shut down from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., suspending all Lexington Avenue Line service between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue in both directions for four consecutive weeknights.
Signals, tracks, tunnels, structures and stations must all be kept in proper working condition, an incredibly difficult task in a system where trains run 24 hours a day, every day. Providing maintenance for more than 2,600 switches, 12,000 train control signals, more than 700 miles of track and 468 stations is an enormous challenge. NYC Transit is taking a new approach to the performance of critical maintenance and upgrades. By shutting down a section of a subway line, work can get done efficiently at less cost and provide a much safer environment for its transit workers.
System-wide, NYC Transit's weeknight ridership is approximately 250,000. The closures will affect from 10 percent to 15 percent of those riders depending on the line segment. While providing a safer work environment for employees who will no longer be sharing tracks with in-service trains, MTA also anticipates an annual productivity savings of $10 to $15 million. However, this is not a replacement for weekend work. Most weekend service diversions are due to capital work, which consists of major station and line rehabilitation projects, such as the Culver Line reconstruction, the West End Line rehabs and the rehabilitation of Dyckman Street and Smith-9th Sts. Weekend diversions will continue as before. In order to accomplish maintenance tasks four corridors have been chosen that begin at Manhattan's Central Business District:
• Lexington Avenue 456 from Grand Central-42nd Street to Atlantic Avenue
• Sixth Avenue FDB from 59th Street-Columbus Circle to West 4th Street
• Seventh Avenue 123 from 34th Street to Atlantic Avenue
• Eight Avenue ACE from 59th Street-Columbus Circle to Jay Street-MetroTech
These corridors will completely shut down on four consecutive nights four times a year. Only subway line segments where there are substantial subway alternatives have been selected for the overnight shutdowns. So, in addition to nearby lines, there may be other lines running that don't usually operate during the late night hours in order to help accommodate customers.
By providing a more productive work window, employees will be safer by not working on "live" track and will avoid the interruptions of repeatedly having to "clear up" for trains going by. Workers will inspect track, repair or replace rails and perform power and signal maintenance. During this time, repairs to platform edges, wall tiles and lighting in addition to power washing at some of the closed stations will be done.
Line-closure maintenance: NYCT calls it FASTRACK
Thursday, December 15, 2011
MTA New York City Transit says it plans to introduce FASTRACK—“a new wayof working on the rails”—beginning Jan. 9, when the 4, 5, and 6 subwaylines will be shut down from 1:00 a.m. until 5 a.m., suspending all LexingtonAvenue Line service between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue inboth directions for four consecutive weeknights.
In proceeding with this momentous change on a system famous for runninground the clock, NYCT described conditions leading to he closures:
“Signals, tracks, tunnels, structures, and stations must all be kept inproper working condition, an incredibly difficult task in a system wheretrains run 24 hours a day, every day. Providing maintenance for over 2,600switches, 12,000 train control signals, more than 700 miles of track and 468stations is an enormous challenge. NYC Transit is taking a new approach tothe performance of critical maintenance and upgrades. By shutting down asection of a subway line, we can work more efficiently at less cost andprovide a much safer environment for our transit workers.”
1 Trains At all times until summer 2012, 1 trains bypass the downtown platform at Dyckman Street due to station rehabilitation. Customers wishing to travel downtown are advised to take the uptown 1 train from Dyckman Street to 207th Street and use a free MetroCard transfer to the downtown side.
5 Trains From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, December 17 to 5 a.m. Monday, December 19, there are no 5 trains between Dyre Avenue and 149th Street-Grand Concourse due to track and finishing work for the East 180th Street Interlocking project. For service between:
· Dyre Avenue and East 180th Street, customers may use the free shuttle buses.
· East 180th Street and 149th Street-Grand Concourse, customers may take the 2 train.
7 Trains From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, December 17 and Sunday, December 18, Flushing-bound 7 trains skip 82nd, 90th, 103rd, and 111th Streets due to signal work in the area of Junction Blvd. and 111th Street.
D Trains From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, December 17 to 5 a.m. Monday, December 19, Bronx-bound D trains operate via the N line from Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue to 36th Street, skipping 53rd and 45th Streets due to station and line structure rehabilitation from 71st Street to Bay 50th Street and ADA work at Bay Parkway.
F, G Trains At all times until spring 2012, F and G trains skip Smith-9th Sts. in both directions due to station rehabilitation. Customers may use the B61 for connections between Smith-9th Sts. station and 4th Avenue-9th Street station, where F, G and R trains are available. Customers may also use the B57 bus for connections between Smith-9th Sts. station and Carroll Street station, where F and G trains are available.
F, G Trains At all times until spring 2012, Brooklyn-bound F and Church Avenue-bound G trains skip 15th Street-Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Parkway due to Culver Viaduct rehabilitation. To get to these stations take the Brooklyn-bound F to Church Avenue and transfer to a Manhattan-bound F or Queens-bound G. Leaving these stations, customer should take a Manhattan-bound F or a Queens-bound G to 7th Avenue and transfer to a Brooklyn-bound F.
F Trains (Overnight) From 11 p.m. Saturday, December 17 to 6:45 a.m. Sunday, December 18, Brooklyn-bound F trains run local from Forest Hills-71st Avenue to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue due to stop cable replacement along the Queens Blvd. Line.
J Trains From 4 a.m. Saturday, December 17 to 10 p.m. Sunday, December 18, Queens-bound J trains skip Hewes Street, Lorimer Street and Flushing Avenue due to track panel installation north of Hewes Street.
M Trains From 4 a.m. Saturday, December 17 to 10 p.m., Sunday, December 18, M trains run every 24 minutes between Myrtle Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue due to track panel installation north of Hewes Street. (Every 20 minutes overnight.)
N Trains From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, December 17 to 5 a.m. Monday, December 19, Coney Island-bound N trains run via the D line from 36th Street to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue due to track panel installation south of 59th Street.
New York MTA has awarded Skanksa USA and Traylor Bros a $301m contract to build the station cavern and basic structure for 86th Street station on Phase 1 of the Second Avenue subway by late 2014.
A Skanska/Railworks JV has been awarded a $514m contract for ‘finish work’ on the West Side extension of the No 7 subway in New York. This includes the installation of track, signalling and communications and fitting out the terminal station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue.
Google released its annual Zeitgeist report today, showing 2011's "10 fastest-rising global queries." It's exactly what you might expect from the internet: (10) iPad2 (9) Steve Jobs (8) Fukushima (7) Adele (6) iPhone5 (5) Battlefield 3 (4) Casey Anthony (3) Ryan Dunn (2) Google+ and yes, at number one, Rebecca Black.
But what did people in the New York metro area search most in 2011? Drumroll please...
(10) Brooklyn Bowl (9) Brooklyn Public Library (8) Ezpass (7) NYCDOE (6) Hurricane Irene Path (5) Con Edison (4) DMV NY (3) Hopstop (2) NJ Transit and at number one, the MTA!
The MTA makes sense at the top of the list. Aside from the usual checking on train times, weekend schedules etc..., there was plenty of MTA news for New Yorkers to read about this year— Second Avenue subway dynamiting, that time the whole MTA shut down for Hurricane Irene, pension scandals, trash problems, a new man in charge, derailments, undercover cops, abandoned stations, suicides, underground cell phone service, attacks on subway workers, rejected Islamophobic subway ads, budget problems, nostalgia trains, and rats, lots of rats.
But with the exception of Brooklyn Bowl (where did that come from?!) the city's Google habits are far more mature, responsible and downright boring than we were expecting. Just a bunch of people getting directions, checking on train delays and paying electric bills. No Anthony Weiner? Bronx Zoo Cobra? Mister PeePee? Come on New York, we don't have to be so adult about all this.
Yesterday, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) board approved a budget for 2012 and four-year financial plan.
The board also amended the 2010-2014 capital program that outlines how the final three years of the program are to be funded. The funding plan, announced in July and updated last month, must be approved by the MTA Capital Program Review Board in Albany, MTA officials said in a prepared statement.
The budget reflects an $87 million reduction in revenue projected to be raised through taxes dedicated for public transportation. As a result, the MTA projects an operating deficit of $68 million in 2012. The agency plans to make up the deficit by reducing internal expenses by $35 million and releasing $33 million in general reserves funds, officials said.
“The reduction in projected subsidies underscores the fragility of the MTA's current fiscal stability,” said MTA Executive Director Joseph Lhota. “It also indicates how important it is for the MTA to continue its recent efforts to reduce costs, even as we work to improve service.”
The budget identifies potential risks to the four-year plan: a worsening economy; additional cuts in state subsidies and dedicated taxes; expense reductions that might not be achieved; labor settlements that fall short of the net zero wage initiative; and funding for the 2012-2014 capital program still to be approved.
The capital program funding plan calls for revenue already committed to capital in the budget to fund new bonds, and has three primary benefits: It requires no new revenue; it protects a capital program that “delivers safety and reliability” to the transit system; and it delivers jobs and stability in the MTA's capital program, MTA officials said.
New York MTA approves 2012 budget
Thursday, December 22, 2011
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board approved the agency's budget for 2012, culminating a process that began with the release of the agency's Preliminary Proposed Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan in July, updated last month by a Final Proposed Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan. In addition, the board approved an amendment to the 2010-2014 Capital Program that outlines how the final three years of the program are to be funded.
The 2012 budget is largely similar to the Final Proposed Budget presented to the board in November. Based on updated economic forecasts, it reflects an $87 million reduction to the amount of revenue projected to be raised through Metropolitan Mass Transportation Operating Assistance, a collection of taxes dedicated to support public transportation. As a result, the MTA projects an operating deficit of $68 million in 2012. The MTA intends to make up this deficit through management actions to reduce internal expenses by $35 million and releasing $33 million in general reserves funds.
"The reduction in projected subsidies underscores the fragility of the MTA's current fiscal stability," said MTA Executive Director Joseph Lhota. "It also indicates how important it is for the MTA to continue its recent efforts to reduce costs, even as we work to improve service."
The Budget recognizes a series of potential risks to the Four-Year Financial Plan:
• Worsening of the economy
• Additional reductions in state subsidies and dedicated taxes
• Expense reductions are not achieved
• Labor settlements fall short of three "net zero" wage initiative
• Funding for 2012-2014 Capital Program still to be approved
That capital program funding plan calls for using revenues already committed to capital in the budget to fund new bonds and it has three key points: it requires no new revenues; it protects the benefits of a capital program that delivers safety and reliability to the transit system and it delivers results including jobs and stability in the MTA's Capital Program.
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board approved the agency's budget for 2012, culminating a process that began with the release of the agency's Preliminary Proposed Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan in July, updated last month by a Final Proposed Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan. In addition, the board approved an amendment to the 2010-2014 Capital Program that outlines how the final three years of the program are to be funded. The funding plan, announced in July and updated last month, must be approved by the MTA Capital Program Review Board in Albany, N.Y.
The 2012 budget is largely similar to the Final Proposed Budget presented to the board in November.
Based on updated economic forecasts, it reflects an $87 million reduction to the amount of revenue projected to be raised through Metropolitan Mass Transportation Operating Assistance, a collection of taxes dedicated to support public transportation. As a result, the MTA projects an operating deficit of $68 million in 2012. The MTA intends to make up this deficit through management actions to reduce internal expenses by $35 million and releasing $33 million in general reserves funds.
The budget adopted today recognizes a series of potential risks to the Four-Year Financial Plan:
•Worsening of the economy.
•Additional reductions in state subsidies and dedicated taxes.
•Expense reductions are not achieved.
•Labor settlements fall short of three "net zero" wage initiative.
•Funding for 2012-2014 Capital Program still to be approved.
That Capital Program funding plan calls for using revenues already committed to capital in the budget to fund new bonds, and it has three key benefits: it requires no new revenues; protects the benefits of a Capital program that delivers safety and reliability to the transit system; and delivers results, including jobs and stability in the MTA's Capital Program.
MTA board nixes service restoration plan
Originally published: December 21, 2011 2:09 PM
Updated: December 21, 2011 10:22 PM
By ALFONSO A. CASTILLO email@example.com
Riders are stuck with the elimination of dozens of bus and subway lines and fewer Long Island Rail Road trains after the MTA board Wednesday rejected a proposal to restore some service.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, in a 6-4 vote, rejected an amendment proposed by member Allen Cappelli to set aside $20 million of next year's $12.7-billion budget to restore some lost service. The board then voted to pass the budget as is.
Cappelli, of Staten Island, and Suffolk County representative Mitchell Pally led the drive to take advantage of the MTA's improved fiscal situation and restore some of the cuts, which were enacted last year to save the MTA about $93 million annually.
Pally and Cappelli said it would not be asking too much to find $20 million in a budget of $12.7 billion, and estimated it would require creating about 300 new labor jobs.
"I have people on Long Island who have absolutely no service anymore -- none -- at certain parts of the day," said Pally, of Stony Brook, who added that he is open to revisiting the restoration plan if the MTA's financial situation worsens before service would be brought back next summer.
Several members of the MTA's management team vehemently opposed the plan, saying that every bit of this year's projected surplus is needed to ward off a potential deficit next year. New MTA executive director Joseph Lhota called the service restoration proposal "dangerous."
"What you would be burdening this budget with is another $20 million," said Lhota, who added that he looks forward to the day the MTA can restore the cuts, but believed Wednesday was not that day. "Any idea that this doesn't cost money and doesn't cause pain I think is erroneous and misleading."
MTA chief financial officer Robert Foran said the MTA's fragile finances took another hit earlier this month when the agency learned it would lose $87 million in state aid in 2012 and more than $300 million in revenue from its payroll mobility tax, which was recently amended to exempt small businesses. The state has vowed to find another way to recover that money for the MTA.
Given the precarious economy, Foran said, it's possible that any restored service would have to be cut again before long.
"This amendment is going to put us in a position where we are going to lose our credibility, not restore our credibility," Foran said before the vote was taken.
Although the amendment was defeated, Ira Greenberg, a nonvoting board member representing MTA riders, said he was encouraged by the fact that even board members who voted "no" expressed their support for eventual restoration of the cuts.
"It's a cause for hope," Greenberg said.
The board Wednesday approved a plan to finance the final three years of the current five-year, $24-billion MTA capital plan, largely by borrowing money. The plan, which lasts through 2014, funds major infrastructure projects such as the LIRR's East Side Access plan to connect to Grand Central Terminal.
1 Trains At all times until summer 2012, 1 trains bypass the downtown platform at Dyckman Street due to station rehabilitation. Customers wishing to travel downtown are advised to take the up town 1 train from Dyckman Street to 207th Street and use a free MetroCard transfer to the downtown side.
D Trains From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, December 24 to 5 a.m. Monday, January 2, 2012, D trains skip 79thStreet and 25th Avenue in both directions due to demolition and installation of new mezzanine floors.
F, G Trains At all times until spring 2012, F and G trains skip Smith-9th Sts. in both directions due to station rehabilitation. Customers may use the B61 for connections between Smith-9th Sts. station and 4th Avenue-9thStreet station, where F, G and R trains are available. Customers may also use the B57 bus for connections between Smith-9th Sts. station and Carroll Street station, where F and G trains are available.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday approved a $12.6 billion budget for 2012 that called for no new service cuts or fare increases, even though the plan leaves a $68 million deficit.
Robert Foran, the agency’s chief financial officer, told board members that he would fill part of the gap by dipping into $33 million in reserve funds. But he said he still did not know about the rest.
“I don’t know where I’m going to get the $35 million I said I would cut,” Mr. Foran said.
But he and other agency officials, including Joseph J. Lhota, the newly appointed executive director, wanted to reassure passengers that fares would not rise and service would not be reduced in 2012.
Still, the meeting seemed unusually contentious. Allen P. Cappelli, a board member from Staten Island, proposed an amendment calling for the agency to reallocate $20 million in the budget to restore service cuts made in 2010. Mr. Cappelli suggested that the $20 million could be found in administrative savings, like consolidating the agency’s various legal departments.
“We have an obligation to push the institution to do more with less,” he said. “We need to show the riders out there that we are listening.”
His proposal prompted more arguments from board members about the agency’s perilous finances. Andrew Albert, a board member since 2002, complained that “these budgets are always balanced on the backs of riders.” He said he had never heard so many vocal board members.
“Usually it’s the rider reps who are the only ones arguing for more service,” Mr. Albert said. “Now more and more people are speaking up.”
But Mr. Foran, whose voice shook slightly and whose face grew redder through the meeting, warned board members that the agency may encounter even more troubled finances in the future because it depends, in part, on tax revenue from Wall Street bonuses. He predicted that next year, when smaller bonuses are handed out, the agency may have to cut back even more.
After rejecting Mr. Cappelli’s proposal, the board approved the operating budget and a proposal to pay for the final three years of the agency’s $24.3 billion five-year capital program.
MTA adopts budget, advances capital program
Thursday, December 22, 2011
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York has approved a $12.6 billion operating budget with no planned fare increases of service cuts though it comes with a funding gap of $68 million.
“The 2012 budget is largely similar to the Final Proposed Budget presented to the Board in November,” said MTA in a statement Wednesday. “Based on updated economic forecasts, it reflects an $87 million reduction to the amount of revenue projected to be raised through Metropolitan Mass Transportation Operating Assistance, a collection of taxes dedicated to support public transportation. As a result, the MTA projects an operating deficit of $68 million in 2012. The MTA intends to make up this deficit through management actions to reduce internal expenses by $35 million and releasing $33 million in general reserves funds.”
“The reduction in projected subsidies underscores the fragility of the MTA’s current fiscal stability,” said MTA Executive Director Joseph J. Lhota. “It also indicates how important it is for the MTA to continue its recent efforts to reduce costs, even as we work to improve service.”
MTA noted that a separate capital funding plan calls for using revenues already committed to the budget to fund new bonds, and has three key benefits: It requires no new revenues; it protects the benefits of a capital program that delivers safety and reliability to the transit system; and it delivers jobs and stability.
“In the context of the ongoing economic crisis in New York State, this proposal advances our critical capital investments in an affordable way,” said MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran. “It relies on revenues already dedicated to capital expenses and keeps debt service at a manageable level, with the percentage of debt to capital investment the lowest in 15 years.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Subway riders stuck all night in a train trapped by snow after a blizzard sued a transportation agency on Tuesday, saying officials told them it was simply "an act of God."
In court papers describing last year's ordeal, they said they had no heat, food, water or bathroom facilities while the Metropolitan Transportation Authority kept promising help.
The city was all but paralyzed when the storm hit on Dec. 26, 2010, with 2 feet of snow piled around an A train on elevated tracks in Queens. Inside were about 500 passengers who spent eight hours there in freezing temperatures.
The conductor refused to allow passengers off the train, "resulting in a deplorable imprisonment," said 22 of them named in the suit, which was filed in Queens state Supreme Court.
They are seeking unspecified damages from the New York City Transit Authority, part of the MTA, which runs the nation's largest mass transit system. The subway alone has a daily ridership of more than 5 million.
Manhattan attorney Aymen Aboushi said the stranded passengers decided to sue after a year of meetings with transit officials convinced them that suing was the only way to get the MTA to pay attention. He said he's handling the case pro bono in hopes of forcing changes in the emergency response system to avert a similar nightmare.
The MTA issued a statement Tuesday saying it already has implemented changes to improve performance in future storms. The changes include "protocols to suspend service in harsh conditions" and assigning a rider advocate "to ensure the safety and comfort of our customers."
The blizzard, just after Christmas last year, was part of a mammoth nor'easter that stretched from Florida to Maine.
More than 2 feet of snow fell on some parts of New York City, combined with strong winds that led to a massive transportation gridlock. Hundreds of buses were stuck on streets, commuter trains were frozen onto tracks and major airports closed.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration was criticized for its slow response to the foul weather and its aftermath. Streets went unplowed for days, and cars, buses and other vehicles were stranded. Bloomberg acknowledged the response wasn't good enough.
A year later, more than $1.8 million has been paid out in claims, with more pending from people who said they were injured on snowy and icy roads and walkways or whose cars and other property were damaged from snow removal efforts, according to the city comptroller's office.
Passengers on the stranded A train say their frantic cellphone calls to 911 and the MTA did not result in any action — or even helpful information.
"It's pretty clear that the MTA dropped the ball," Aboushi said.
With frost developing on the subway windows inside, passengers spent the night huddled together in one of the five cars to create some body heat, they said.
One woman resorted to a makeshift toilet — outside between subway cars. Others urinated or defecated in the car filled with riders, some standing for hours because there wasn't enough room, according to the complaint.
Several others had to be hospitalized after finally being rescued from the Manhattan-bound train, which was stuck on the tracks between the Aqueduct and Rockaway Boulevard stations. One rider developed bronchitis, another pneumonia.
"When the train was finally moved, the passengers were off-loaded at the next stop, in the freezing cold, with about three feet of snow on the ground," the plaintiffs said in their lawsuit.
As for any changes being implemented, Aboushi said: "There really hasn't been any meaningful policy change."
The passengers named in the suit met with MTA officials repeatedly in the past year to voice their complaints, but transit officials insisted they "did nothing wrong and that the passengers being trapped was an act of God outside the defendant's control," according to the suit.
Aboushi said transit officials should introduce "an effective communication policy with passengers" that would make it possible to provide accurate information to anyone stuck during an emergency. In addition, he said, there should be a way to get basic resources such as food and water to passengers in need.
"We're not asking them to provide three-course dinners," he said. "But there were grandfathers on that train."
At a City Council hearing earlier this month, NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast acknowledged that transit officials had lost track of the stranded train.
"We forgot about it," he said, adding, "It's inexcusable."
French graffiti vandal Maxime Bezat busted for spray painting his tag on subway trains around the city
Arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court, may face additional charges
BY Pete Donohue
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, December 29 2011, 4:00 PM
An French graffiti vandal has been busted for spray painting his tag on subway trains in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, sources said Thursday.
Maxime Bezat, 25, was arraigned Wednesday in Brooklyn Supreme Criminal Court on felony charges of scrawling his tag, RASK, on two trains. He is expected to be charged with many more transit "hits" in the city, sources said.
News of the bust was first reported by the website Animal New York.
The Gallic vandal may have defaced about a dozen MTA trains over the last two years while they were parked overnight on unused "lay-up" tracks in tunnels between stations or in subway yards, sources said.
"He's not leaving the country any time soon," one source said.
The special investigations unit of the NYPD's transit bureau has been leading the ongoing probe, sources said.
The vandal's attacks knocked each train out of commission until the Metropolitan Transportation Authority removed the multi-colored scrawls, part of its zero-tolerance stance to deny vandals any public viewing of their illegal work. It cost the MTA $1,400 just to clean the exteriors of the two
Brooklyn trains, authorities said during his arraignment.
Brooklyn prosecutors recommended Bezat pay the removal costs and do a 90-day jail sentence, but the case was adjourned until next month, said his defense attorney, Matthew Galluzzo.
Bezat was released from jail after posting bail Thursday morning.
The Frenchman apparently is part of a European subculture of graffiti vandals who come to New York City the place where spray painting originated to make their mark. Since the MTA's NYC Transit division cleans vandalized trains before they're put into service, vandals often take photographs of their tags and murals.
Police apparently received a tip from authorities in France that Bezat came to the U.S. and was staying with a girlfriend in New Jersey. He was arrested at Newark airport earlier this month before he boarded a flight home, sources said. A computer and his passport were seized.
Bezat was first brought to Boston where he was wanted for vandalizing a train. After doing a short jail stint in Beantown and paying a fine, he now faces the music in New York City.
Galluzzo declined to comment on the charges.
NYPD detectives and NYC Transit investigators are jointly working to determine the full extend of the damage Bezat caused, but sources said it is likely above $10,000.
Sources said Bezat has several other tags that he uses, including SEKEL.
Jamaica Comes Alive With Airport Arrivals
Published: December 29, 2011
The Jamaica Market has a popular ethnic food court.
The wheelers are passengers from abroad heading to or getting off the sleek, driverless trains of Kennedy International Airport’s AirTrain, whose ridership has tripled since it opened in 2003. Most travelers are not dawdling in Jamaica itself and are simply connecting to the E, J or Z subway lines or the Long Island Rail Road trains that can whisk them in 20 minutes to Manhattan. But enough linger for the night to encourage three developers in recent years to open budget hotels — a 64-room Ramada, a 72-room Quality Inn and a 66-room Sleep Inn.
“Seventy percent of my guests travel by AirTrain,” explained Chandresh Patel, operator of the Ramada, where rooms go for $99 a night, less than two-thirds the price of a Midtown equivalent.
And some of the hotel guests choose to cruise the area’s increasingly inviting shopping corridor. Flying in from Bermuda, Dija Brown, 31, picked the Ramada so she could load up on clothes for her children, Papi, 12, and Angel, 7, at Shoppers World and V.I.M. nearby. The savings can more than offset the trip’s expense.
“A pair of jeans is $50 to $80 in Bermuda,” she said. “Here I can walk over to Jamaica Avenue and get two for $20 at V.I.M.”
Jamaica, a honeycomb of clamorous department stores, government offices and apartment houses until too many stores and residents departed for the suburbs, is undergoing something of a resurrection. It is a gradual and halting upswing, but an upswing nonetheless.
A Home Depot has replaced the shell of the old Long Island Press, a newspaper that closed in 1977. Through New York City-sponsored initiatives, a striking building with 346 rental apartments behind the rescued brick facade of the former Queens Family Court opened last year, with silk-stocking amenities like a lobby dry cleaner and a gym. A new 400-seat theater in a restored landmark Dutch Reformed church hosts acts like Haitian dancers and African jazz singers.
A retail district that lost Macy’s and Gertz more than three decades ago is welcoming recent arrivals like Gap Generation and Zales that are joining slightly older settlers like Old Navy and Bally Total Fitness and stores that specialize in hip-hop fashion. (Jamaica was a cradle of hip-hop.) A strip of shops is being constructed opposite the AirTrain on one side of a railroad underpass that for years had been used for unloading railroad trash.
A nightclub notorious for drugs and shootings has been alchemized into a stately children’s science addition to the Queens Library. Though it still loses money, the 20-year-old Jamaica Market, an ethnic food court with two rows of stalls offering Cajun-style chicken, Caribbean goat curry and Chinese and Japanese dishes, is becoming a lively lunchtime magnet, in part thanks to the presence of new immigrants from the West Indies, South America and Bangladesh.
“There’s been a lot of changes; you see a lot more stores opening,” said Justin Kilian, a bank manager eating at the market with two friends. “There’s an Applebee’s, a commercial restaurant. You never had that over here.”
The transformation is a contrast to longtime erosion in downtown Jamaica, which at one time was the city’s third-largest shopping district but suffered from the citywide middle-class exodus to the suburbs of the 1950s and 1960s aggravated by crack and crime epidemics.
But the AirTrain is among the factors causing a resurgence. The rail link, which for a $5MetroCard fare ferries tourists in eight minutes from Kennedy’s Terminal 1, recorded 3.9 million passengers using its Jamaica hub in the 12 months ending in September, a 6.8 percent increase from the year before. (There is also a terminal in Howard Beach.)
“It may have been slower coming than they first thought, but some of that development that was hoped for with the AirTrain is now starting to appear,” said Charles Brecher, a professor of public administration at New York University who studied the AirTrain.
A big setback, however, was the bankruptcy in 2009 of Mary Immaculate Hospital, a 162-bed institution that the year before had more than 100,000 patient visits. Its three buildings along Rufus King Park were sold to a developer for a rock-bottom $7 million; their fate is unclear. The closing sucked 1,200 jobs out of the neighborhood.
And the area immediately around the AirTrain — five blocks west of the shopping district’s heart — is still forlorn, with cluttered groceries and at least one “gentleman’s club.” A former meatpacking plant a few steps from the AirTrain was torn down, but the site’s future is murky.
So, many travelers simply pass through the transit hub.
“If they have to wait for the next train, they’ll stop; if they have to catch a train, they don’t stop,” said Ali Ahmed, a clerk at the Long Island Deli Express.
Much of the energy for the new changes has been driven by projects started years ago by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. It had helped attract York College, which is part of the City University of New York; an 11-story office building of the federal Social Security Administration; and an extension of the subway along Archer Avenue. It runs the Jamaica Market and three garages and two parking lots with 1,900 spaces that make shopping easier.
Also crucial to Jamaica’s resurgence, said F. Carlisle Towery, an urban planner who has been the corporation’s president for almost four decades, was a 2007 rezoning from manufacturing to commercial and residential uses.
Jamaica has also been helped by the revitalization of York College, which has an enrollment of 7,400. Its effort to create a symbiosis with its neighbor, the federal Food and Drug Administration’s regional headquarters, has produced 100 internships and a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences.
Still, with the AirTrain, the downtown has a new mission — a pause that refreshes, to use an advertising slogan. In addition to the three new hotels, a fourth, a Comfort Inn, is under construction, a developer of two more (a 160-room Marriott Courtyard and a 160-room Fairfield Inn) is seeking financing and the development corporation has acquired sites for two others.
Rajendra Patel (no relation to Chandresh), who is building the Comfort Inn, with 72 rooms that he said would go for as little as $80 per night, said he liked downtown Jamaica because guests could entertain themselves at the 15-screen multiplex on Jamaica Avenue or catch the Mets at CitiField, a short subway ride away.
“It is the location,” he said.
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials recently touted the agency’s achievements in areas such as construction, efficiency, service and customer communications during 2011.
For example, the agency completed milestones on major construction projects and began service to new and expanded stations, MTA officials said in a prepared statement.
The agency also completed the tunneling for the Second Avenue Subway; excavated the caverns under Grand Central Terminal that will house a new concourse for MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trains; began work on the last major contract to extend the 7th Line to 34th Street; and opened a new entrance that will lead to the future Fulton Street Transit Center.
In addition, MTA reopened the southbound platform of the Cortlandt St. R station, completed the rebuilding of a station damaged during the 9/11 terrorist attacks; rehabbed the Atlantic Avenue Viaduct to improve service on LIRR; and completed construction of Fairfield Metro Station, the first new station on the New Haven Main Line to be built in more than 100 yeas.
In terms of efficiency, the MTA reduced expenses, including saving nearly $700 million from the 2011 operating budget, and generated recurring savings that will total more than $4 billion by 2015; streamlined its capital program; and began steps to maximize the value of real estate assets, MTA officials said.
To help improve service, the agency rolled out a new fleet of 405 M-8 cars on the New Haven line and appointed an emergency coordinator to facilitate MTA-wide storm response procedures during severe weather storms.
MTA’s rider communication improvements during 2011 included expanding access to real-time digital information.
Not much has been heard from Jay H. Walder, the former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, since he resigned abruptly last year to take over the sleek and generously financed rail system of Hong Kong.
But on Tuesday, his first formal day at the new job, Mr. Walder resurfaced to weigh in on the state of New York City’s mass transit. His prognosis was oddly uneven: grim and overly optimistic in equal parts.
“New York, when I arrived there, was in a financial crisis,” Mr. Walder said at a news conference in Hong Kong. “The system simply did not have enough money to continue to operate. The assets were not being renewed. And the infrastructure was in terrible condition.”
“What I did,” Mr. Walder added, “was to be able to right that financial basis and to be able to put the system back on firm financial footing.”
Whether this statement can be considered accurate may depend on one’s definition of the word “firm.”
It is true that Mr. Walder, a former management consultant, aggressively cut costs at the transportation authority. He laid off workers, renegotiated contracts, and consolidated large parts of the bureaucracy, wringing more than $500 million in annual costs out of a notoriously bloated budget.
But the authority’s current financial footing may be less sound than advertised.
Mr. Walder announced his departure for Hong Kong days after the authority unveiled a capital plan dependent on millions of dollars in still-to-be-approved federal grants. The capital budget, which pays for maintenance and expansion, is still underfunded by $10 billion.
Meanwhile, the 2012 operating budget is held together by spit and glue: planners admitted last month that their balance sheet included $35 million in savings that had not yet been found. The budget also assumes that transit workers will go without raises for three years, under a contract that has yet to be negotiated.
It is not unusual for high-ranking executives to garnish their accomplishments, and Mr. Walder, who is starting a new job on a new continent, may simply have been paraphrasing his work. (A clearer explanation remained elusive on Tuesday, as representatives of Mr. Walder’s new company, MTR Corporation, could not be reached.)
But Mr. Walder, whose new perch as chief executive of MTR comes with a salary worth at least three times his compensation in New York, made it clear that he was excited about his new charge.
“I think we have a very different situation here,” Mr. Walder said, of Hong Kong’s mass transit system. “We have a first-class railway. We have a sustainable financial model that is supporting that railway. And I think the people of Hong Kong are benefiting tremendously from what we have.”
Mr. Walder added: “I don’t think it’s the same situation as what you have in New York.”
Indeed. MTR, which earns millions of dollars from real estate developments along its rail lines, recently said it would increase train service during the holidays to meet customer demand.
In New York, the transportation authority, which recently lost $325 million in state financing after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo eliminated part of a payroll tax, ran fewer peak-hour trains between Christmas and New Year’s
as part of a program to save about $200,000 a year.
Mr. Walder, in a company press release this week, said he would be focused on expanding business opportunities for MTR.
“There’s no standing still,” he wrote. “Companies cannot continue to succeed if they stand still.”
NYCT to perform FASTRACK maintenance on Lexington Avenue
Monday, January 09, 2012
For four straight weeknights beginning Monday, January 9, a small army of Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit workers will perform more than 300 maintenance tasks in stations and tunnels along a segment of the Lexington Avenue 4, 5 and 6 Line stretching between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Service will be suspended in both directions between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Workers will perform a variety of tasks that can be accomplished much more safely and efficiently in the absence of train service. Maintenance workers will take this opportunity to inspect track, repair or replace track components and perform power and signal inspection and maintenance tasks. Maintenance-of-way crews will also clean and scrape dried mud from the roadbed, which will help ensure signal reliability.
In stations, workers will also be able to do spot painting, repair platform edges, wall tiles and lighting in addition to performing power washing at some of the closed stations. By shutting down a section of a subway line, work can be done more efficiently and at less cost, in many cases taking days to complete tasks that would normally take weeks.
"All of this is work that must be done to maintain the safe, smooth and efficient operation of a subway system that runs around the clock, seven days a week. However, by suspending service along line segments, workers can work on and near the tracks without having to interrupt that work every few minutes while a train moves through the area," said NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast.
Work will proceed along 6.7 route miles of subway, which translates to nearly 20 miles of track.
The next FASTRACK overnight closure will be on the Seventh Avenue 123 line between 34th Street and Atlantic Avenue from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for four consecutive nights beginning Monday, February 13 and ending at 5 a.m. Friday, February 17.
ALBANY—The state Senate on Monday unanimously confirmed Joseph Lhota as chairman and chief executive of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, making the 57-year-old Republican the agency's third leader since 2007.
In hearings before the vote, Mr. Lhota won praise from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for his time spent as deputy mayor under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Mr. Lhota promised to work to streamline the nation's largest mass transit system.
Mr. Lhota has been the MTA's executive director since October, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo picked him to replace former Chairman Jay Walder, who left after two years to run Hong Kong's mass-transit operator.
Mr. Lhota takes the helm of an agency that faces persistent budget gaps, aging infrastructure and continuing labor talks with its largest union. The contract between the MTA and Transport Workers Union Local 100 expires Sunday, but both sides have indicated they will likely continue talking if a deal isn't reached by then.
Mr. Lhota told lawmakers Monday that he would seek to continue a program of biennial fare increases. He also said he plans to move ahead with the sale or lease of two of the authority's most visible properties: its headquarters complex on Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan and the hulking, mostly empty building it controls in downtown Brooklyn.
The incoming chairman at times defended the MTA, which is a frequent target of criticism for alleged waste and inefficiency. Mr. Lhota pushed back against some senators, such as Suffolk County Republican Lee Zeldin, who said it would be ideal if the MTA didn't need to rely on any taxpayer subsidies to fund its $12 billion annual budget and $24 billion capital plan.
"There is no way that the MTA can operate without taxpayer dollars," Mr. Lhota replied. "There is not a transportation or commuter rail line in the country that doesn't work without some other infusion of cash."
Later, Mr. Lhota vowed to "do everything I can while I'm there to eliminate the myth that the MTA is a mystery."
Questions from lawmakers underscored the vast breadth of the job, which oversees 660 miles of subway track, two commuter rail lines, a bus system and an array of bridges and tunnels. Mr. Lhota fielded queries and complaints on topics including rats on the subway, the cleanliness of the Flushing Main Street Long Island Rail Road station and cuts to bus service on the Lower East Side.
He said he plans to finish his term, which runs until 2015 and possibly serve longer.
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