Category Archives: 2nd Ave Subway

Andrew Cuomo Is Hiding from NYC’s Subway Nightmare


The real reason the country’s largest subway became such a total disaster.

What do you do when your political brand is based on old-school competence, but you literally can’t keep the trains running on time? For New York governor Andrew Cuomo, presiding over a subway system that’s become a total nightmare, the answer seems to be: Hope your constituents think it’s someone else’s fault.

Cuomo’s public image has never been about an inspiring message or firing up a passionate base. He lost more than a third of the vote as an incumbent in a Democratic primary in 2014 after pushing deep cuts to school aid, declaring war on unions, and tacitly supporting a Republican takeover of his state senate. Nor is he one of those happy retail politicians who derives popularity from attending local events, shaking hands, and flashing a friendly smile.

Instead, a key selling point for Cuomo has been a promise of barebones effectiveness. Or, as the man himself explained in a 2015 New Yorker profile: “Show me, it’s show-me time. Show me results. Build a bridge, build a train to LaGuardia, clear the snow, save lives. Huh? A little competence.”

It’s precisely this “a little competence, huh?” shtick that makes the disastrous state of New York City’s subways so dangerous to Cuomo—and why it’s vital for him that city residents continue to not realize that it is he, Cuomo (and not his nemesis, Mayor Bill de Blasio), who controls this mess.

How bad is the subway situation, exactly? A woman recently got her head stuck in a train, and people just kept walking past her. These people resorted to taking their shirts and pants off after being stuck in an underground tunnel for 45 minutes. This guy missed his graduation and had to settle for some passengers giving him a makeshift subterranean ceremony because his train was delayed for almost three hours. Signal malfunctions, crowding, and track repair delays have become commonplace, and there are now 70,000 delays a month—nearly triple the number five years ago. The results, beyond people losing their minds, include lost wages from tardiness and missed medical appointments.

And all of that’s before the pending shutdown of the L train upends thousands of people’s lives.

Seizing on those who understandably assume this stuff is the province of the local mayor, Cuomo recently proposed an adorable bill giving himself control of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) that he already oversees. “Who’s in charge [of the trains]?” he asked last week. “Who knows! Maybe the county executive, maybe the president, maybe the governor, maybe the mayor.”

It’s super weird that Cuomo isn’t sure who controls the transit system, since this winter he orchestrated a multimedia self-promotional tour to take credit for opening the “Second Avenue subway.” This included a fawning profile in the Times in which he invoked Robert Moses, and a celebration in which the MTA’s Tom Prendergast gushed about how proud he was to serve the governor. Never mind that the project was over budget, overdue, and basically amounted to the addition of three subway stops. For this particular development, Cuomo was not confused as to who controlled the subways. (He was right then: The governor not only appoints the head of the MTA, but also a plurality of its board. The MTA is chartered by the state, and even the agency’s own website says the governor appoints the members.)

Cuomo’s real coup has been dodging a full-fledged media scandal over this stuff, due partially to a quirk of geography.

Some excellent journalists are out there covering Cuomo’s administration, holding his feet to the fire on everything from his double talk on political corruption to a water poisoning crisis in upstate Hoosick Falls. The vast majority reside and work in Albany—which is great when a major event or story occurs in the State Capitol or nearby. In those cases, reporters are able to experience it directly and viscerally (and then go a short distance and report on it). Many times, the big stories requiring context and reporting involve the legislative process, and the Albany press corps are experts at condensing this super boring but important minutia.

The problem is when a Cuomo story happens hours away from the people keeping tabs on him. In the case of the ongoing subway nightmare, the reporters experiencing (and covering) these hellish commutes, the ones who know precisely how the MTA works on a day-to-day basis, are not necessarily in position to put pressure on Cuomo in Albany.

While the governor has received his share of unpleasant criticism over this fiasco, he still seems to be evading a total bulldozing in the press. Which means many people still don’t know where to point their fingers.

Speaking of Albany reporters covering the legislative process, some dogged ones noticed earlier this month that Cuomo tried to slip in a provision in the dark of night that would replace the honorary name of the Tappan Zee bridge from that of one former governor, Malcolm Wilson, to that of another: Cuomo’s father, Mario.

Ultimately the provision was stalled (though perhaps just temporarily), when members of the state assembly declined to vote on it.

While the effort by Cuomo was roundly criticized, with one sharp observer calling it an “incredibly classic Cuomo/Albany story” and a “ridiculous farce,” perhaps it could still spawn an idea that actually serves the public. If the governor is so keen on blessing major infrastructure with his family name, Albany leaders might just oblige—by naming the current transportation mess after its rightful owner.

The Andrew Cuomo Subway System has a nice ring to it.

The state of the New York subway: transit experts weigh in


Every day, it seems as though there’s another instance in which the New York City subway fails massively—and, impossibly, the aftermath of those problems also seems to be getting worse. Perhaps you heard about the ride in which a train was stalled for so long that a guy hopped out of the train and walked the tracks to the next station? (Don’t do that, by the way.) Or the one in which commuters were stuck on a train, sans electricity or air conditioning, for over an hour?

Granted, subway breakdowns also seem to be getting more attention thanks to the rise of social media. There are more ways than ever to document when problems happen, and more voices that are ready and willing to broadcast them, which leads to the question: Is subway service actually getting worse, or are more people paying attention now?

Bad news: It’s the former. “I do think [the subway is] measurably worse than [it was] a couple of years ago,” says Ben Kabak, the blogger behind Second Ave. Sagas, though he acknowledges the role that social media is playing in hyping the problems.

“[Social media] is helping make our elected officials pay attention,” says John Raskin, the head of transit advocacy group the Riders Alliance. “[But] it’s not just people’s day-to-day commutes. Subway service has deteriorated noticeably over the last five years.”

The numbers back that up: the MTA periodically releases data tracking its performance, and the numbers are not good. In February, it was revealed that monthly delays had increased to about 70,000—a figure that’s increased dramatically since 2012, when the agency reported about 28,000 delays per month. The Straphangers Campaign, which releases an annual report card for the subway system, has also tracked worsening service vis-à-vis previous years; according to its latest report, car breakdowns have increased, while subway regularity has decreased overall.

According to Raskin, there are three factors that have contributed to the decline in subway service: equipment failures, like recent power outages and signal problems; overcrowding; and a one-two punch of massive delays and unreliable service, which can largely be attributed to the first two issues.

The MTA has, at least, acknowledged the severity of these problems: the agency recently ordered a review of the increase in subway delays, in addition to its six-point plan to tackle that issue. But one of the biggest issues—the MTA’s aging signals, some of which date back to when the transit system was created more than a century ago—is also proving to be one of the hardest to fix.

The MTA has committed $2.1 billion from its current capital plan to repair its signals, but as a recent report from the city’s Independent Budget Office notes, many of the scheduled fixes are happening behind schedule, if they’ve been started at all. Per the report, the current capital plan has 14 signal-related projects scheduled to begin by the end of 2017—more than half of which are now delayed. “They don’t have a plan yet to speed up the replacement of signals sooner than the next few decades,” notes Kabak, “and there’s a groundswell of voices calling on them to improve service sooner than they can.”

And according to Raskin, “the problem is not that the MTA doesn’t know how to run trains. The problem is that every governor in a generation has underinvested in public transit.” That includes Governor Andrew Cuomo, who Raskin says has “ignored deteriorating transit service” in favor of funding big-ticket projects like the first segment of the Second Avenue Subway.

Raskin and the Riders Alliance—along with a growing chorus of voices, both on and off Twitter—have been particularly pointed in their criticism of Cuomo, who was initially less than vocal about this year’s uptick in service disruptions, and has occasionally claimed that he’s not in charge of the subway. (He is, for the record.) In recent weeks, Cuomo has put forth more of an effort into addressing the subway’s meltdown, and recently asked former MTA chairman Joe Lhota to step back into that role, noting his “proven track record needed to address the enormous challenges facing the nation’s largest mass transportation system.”

Kabak is optimistic about the choice. “The MTA needs a crisis manager,” he explains. “Lhota knows what the agency is capable of. He knows the challenges it’s facing.” And as Kabak notes with a laugh, “he actually rides the subway”—something both Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have been criticized for not doing regularly.

Raskin is also cautiously optimistic, but notes that “no chairman or CEO can substitute for leadership from the governor.” He continues, “the change we need is not going to come unless riders demand it until we get what we need from the governor and state lawmakers.”

He proposes that riders keep doing what they’re doing: make their voices heard when issues arise. “Take advantage of newfound Wi-Fi service,” Raskin says. “Tweet and email Governor Cuomo to make sure he understands that riders won’t go away.” That shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Governor Cuomo Bringing In HIS Team To Run MTA

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim today announced that Janno Lieber, a senior private sector real estate development and construction executive who is the current President of World Trade Center Properties, will join the senior executive ranks of the MTA as Chief Development Officer. In this newly created position, Lieber will take over leadership and oversight of key strategic capital initiatives focused on increasing the capacity of the system.

“The key to transforming the MTA is delivering on bold and ambitious projects that will give New Yorkers the enhanced, modern transportation system they deserve,” Governor Cuomo said. “Janno Lieber has a proven track record of innovative success managing multi-billion dollar projects in the private sector and deep experience in transportation. His unique skillset is a significant asset and will help us continue to deliver on the promise of a world-class transit system for New Yorkers.”

As part of his new responsibilities, Lieber will head up the MTA Capital Construction Company and will manage the MTA’s major capital projects that expand capacity:

Second Avenue Subway Phase II – extending the line to 125th Street;
East Side Access – connecting Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal;
Penn Station Access – bringing Metro-North Railroad into Penn Station;
Enhanced Stations;
Improved Rail Mass Transit Access to JFK Airport with a focus on developing a one-seat ride;
LIRR Third Track – expanding capacity on the Railroad’s main line; and
LIRR Double Track – improving service and reliability on the LIRR’s Ronkonkoma Branch.

His new broad strategic portfolio will also include oversight of the following key initiatives:
Signalization priorities – Communication Based Train Control and Positive Train Control;
MTA Real Estate – Real Estate Development; and
Alternate Project Delivery – including in particular expanded use of Public Private Partnerships.

Lieber brings extraordinary private sector experience to his new role as Chief Development Officer. Most recently, he served as President of World Trade Center Properties for 14 years where he managed the multi-billion dollar development of Silverstein Properties’ projects at the World Trade Center. Lieber’s responsibilities included managing design and building, business, finance, public affairs, legal, government and community relations. His appointment is a part of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to bringing private sector talent into public service to produce results for New Yorkers.
MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said, “These projects are the foundation upon which the future of our agency is being built. We look forward to Janno bringing to the MTA his lifetime of experience in getting big things accomplished – and we know that will pay lasting dividends for our riders and customers.”
Acting Chairman MTA Board Fernando Ferrer said, “The MTA is the economic engine of New York and we are moving our region forward with an unprecedented investment in our infrastructure. Janno Lieber’s has proven that he has the ability to get results and we are proud to have him on our team at the MTA.”
Janno Lieber said, “New York has always led the way in public transportation. Now, under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership we are again taking on the big projects that will make a real difference to New Yorkers’ lives and to our economic future. I’m thrilled to join him and the entire MTA team on that mission.”
Prior to World Trade Center Properties, Lieber served as Senior Vice President of Lawrence Ruben Company, and worked with clients such as Chicago Transit Authority, New Jersey Transit, and Penn Station Redevelopment Corp. – the agency responsible for planning the transformation of the James A. Farley Post Office Building into Moynihan Station.
Before that, Lieber served in the federal government, having been appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the U.S. Department of Transportation. In this role, Lieber spearheaded the development and roll-out of the Clinton Administration’s ISTEA authorization proposal, a highway and mass transit funding bill that included federal spending to improve, widen and extend the nation’s highway system.

Earlier in his career, Lieber practiced law at the New York firm of Patterson, Belknap Webb & Tyler and served as a transportation policy advisor in the office of New York City Mayor Ed Koch.

Lieber is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University Law Schoo

Hell Is New York City’s Transit Situation

From Slate Magazine
The subways are a mess. Penn Station is a disgrace. Who is to blame?
By Isaac Chotine

As a Californian who is forced to drive more than I would like, I always look forward to my trips to New York City. I can jump on the subway to Brooklyn—which I have been told is actually part of the city—and visit my Slate colleagues whose faces I view too infrequently. Last month, however, I got a brief taste of what New Yorkers’ have spent their spring complaining about—and with good reason. The state of the New York City subways is a disgrace: Trains are old, delays are frequent, power outages are common. And even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo oversees the Metropolitan Transit Authority and needs the votes of NYC’s large population of Democrats, he has seemed reluctant to tackle the problem. Plus there is the mess that is Penn Station, which has left suburban commuters bracing for a “summer of agony” as repairs get underway to restore service to its old status quo, which wasn’t good to begin with.

To discuss all this, I spoke by phone with Benjamin Kabak, who edits the Second Ave. Sagas Twitter feed (@2AvSagas) and is an expert on NYC transportation. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed whether Cuomo is really to blame, the hell of Penn Station, and what Trump could (but won’t) do to fix some of New York City’s problems.

Isaac Chotiner: How precisely would you describe what the hell is going on?

Benjamin Kabak: That’s sort of the multibillion-dollar question. From a day-to-day perspective, what’s going on is that the once-reliable New York City subway system is showing its age and a lack of investment in such a way that service isn’t dependable anymore. You have constant delays, constant service reroutes. So the millions of people who rely on the subway to get around are suddenly faced with much longer commutes and much more uncertainty and an element of surprise that people do not want to schedule into their daily trips to work or home or school.

But at a certain level it’s a little unfair to target him specifically because it has really been a history of disinvestment. You can trace it back to Robert Moses and this lack of investment in transit that goes back to the ’50s and was exacerbated in the ’60s and ’70s when the MTA should have been thinking about replacing and modernizing the signal systems and didn’t have the money to do so. Cuomo’s lack of empathy and support for what New Yorkers are going through is an accumulation of 50 or 60 years of governors not investing in transit or paying the right attention to it.

You mentioned investment, but I read on your Twitter feed that you don’t think investment is the problem per se or rather that more funding would not necessarily solve the problems.

One of the challenges that I think advocates of the system have is that there is an idea that if you throw more money at the MTA then things will magically be fixed. But the MTA has access to a lot of money. They have a five-year, $30 billion capital plan, and while some people say the proper amount would be closer to $50 billion, the underlying concern is that the MTA can’t spend money very well. Everything it does is far more expensive than its peer cities. Everything they try to do in terms of construction takes far too long.

So why can’t they spend it well?

That’s a tough question and one nobody has been able to pinpoint. You have a lot of different factors. Projects in New York take a lot of planning. You have environmental regulations. You have old city streets and nobody knows what’s under them. You have old buildings that are nearby. You have this [not-in-my-backyard] reaction to everything when it’s a heavy construction project. You have lawsuits. You have what I call institutionalized corruption. There are only so many companies that are qualified to take on things, which leads to a bidding process where the bidding process is very inflated.

What about the projects Cuomo cared about? Have they been pulled off with less trouble, or did they have the same problems?

It’s the same problems. The Second Avenue subway, which sort of opened on time, was actually four years late. It opened on a new schedule that they had put forward when it became apparent they were going to blow past the original schedule. It was well over budget and the most expensive subway line built in the world. You have the same problems with the bigger projects, but they are out of sight. You don’t miss something you don’t have.

In terms of who pays: Are suburban riders paying enough, and should fares be subsidized for poorer riders?

The riders themselves have borne a fair share of costs. And it’s all part of the same regional economy. You need to make sure people can get into their jobs in New York City, or we will all suffer. I am in favor of subsidizing fares for lower-income riders, but that is something that hasn’t gained much political traction from either the mayor or the governor.

Has the terrible relationship between those two guys exacerbated the crisis?

Oh, absolutely. Cuomo is trying to get more money out of the city; the city is pointing fingers at Cuomo. The MTA is sort of set up where no single politician has to take responsibility for it, so everybody is finger-pointing.

How would you describe the state of Penn Station, and is it uniquely awful or is it a good stand-in for many of the infrastructure shortcomings in America?

I think it is somewhat emblematic of the general state of transportation infrastructure, but at the same time it has really become a huge chokepoint. It’s a station that is run by three different agencies. The tracks are owned by Amtrak, but the MTA and New Jersey Transit both operate out of Penn Station. And you have had so many problems with aging infrastructure that it has become unsustainable. Amtrak has to perform two months of repairs this summer and shut down a bunch of the train service that comes through it, but it is also the busiest train station in the country. It is a huge chokepoint of the American economy and New York economy and needs to be resolved.

If Trump were a rational actor, is there anything he could do help New York City with its transportation problems?

What you would need—and unfortunately the reality right now is that Republicans are not particularly focused on urban issues, because that’s not where their base is—is an infrastructure bill with robust federal investment in transit, with a focus on the Northeast corridor, where they would say they would fund Penn Station and fund this new gateway tunnel, which is Amtrak’s plan to build new tunnels. You are looking at around 110-year-old tunnels that are at risk of failing. I don’t mean the ceilings will collapse and trap people, but I mean the infrastructure inside will not be able to support the number of trains that pass through it. That’s what you see at Penn Station. The problem is that you don’t have a party or an administration that is particularly sympathetic to urban investment issues right now.

Nicely put, “urban investment issues.”

Better than saying, “and is completely crazy.”

If you were governor, what could you do right now to make the situation better?

Say to people, “We know your subway system is bad, we know your train system is bad. To really fix it we have to take lines out of service for extended periods of time.” We don’t know what those periods of time are because no one at the MTA has really explored the issue yet. But if you can accomplish a signal replacement in a year without a train service, it might be better to do that than to knock out service over seven or eight years and have this uncertainty.

Transportation Takes Big Hit In Trump Plan

From Queens Chronical

Maloney says budget is full of baloney, as do Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand

Initiatives such as the next phase of the Second Avenue subway or the implementation of Select Bus Service on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards are at risk of losing millions of dollars under President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget, sparking outrage from lawmakers and transportation advocates.

“The President’s budget cuts would only further delay long overdue repairs to make our transit systems more safe and reliable,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said in a May 25 statement. “I will do everything I can to fight these harmful cuts and protect the funding that helps support our transit systems.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation faces a 13 percent cut overall, according to the plan, a $2.4 billion reduction from the $16.4 billion approved for the agency in the continuing resolution authorized by Congress in early May — which funds federal agencies through the end of September.

In New York State, no transit proposal is at the full-funding grant agreement stage, according to the Federal Transit Administration’s website.

That means the Gateway tunnel project, which would allow Amtrak to run trains under the Hudson River, SBS in South Queens — which, among other changes, would put dedicated bus lanes along much of Woodhaven Boulevard and have commuters wait on median bus stops — and the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway may have to be funded by other means, should Trump’s budget plan be passed by Congress the way it’s proposed.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) said in a statement to the Chronicle she’ll fight to restore the transportation cuts.
“New Yorkers can’t afford cuts to federal transit investments,” said Maloney, who represents the area of Manhattan where the Second Avenue subway line is. “Rather than cut programs like TIGER and New Starts grants, we need to continue to increase investment in infrastructure so we can extend the Second Avenue Subway line north to 125th Street and south to Houston Street, and so we can also deal with the major problems plaguing Penn Station. Given these needs in New York City and similar ones around the country, I am hopeful that Congress will reject these cuts.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Trump’s cuts to transportation “a job-killing, 180-degree turn away from his repeated promise of a trillion dollar infrastructure plan.

“President Trump’s campaign promises on infrastructure are crumbling faster than our roads, railways and bridges,” the Senate minority leader added.

Raskin and Richards also called out the president for cutting transit funding while saying he’ll improve infrastructure across the country.
“It’s both hypocritical and counter-productive if we’re trying to restore infrastructure,” Raskin said.

“So far we have not seen any signs that he’s really serious about infrastructure, outside of saying localities should take care of things,” the councilman said.

MTA Takes Heat for Surge in Subway Delays; Cuomo & DeBlasio Remain Mum

Thanks to Jewish Voice NY

According to the New York Times, there has been a surge in subway delays and problems and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been increasing its efforts to fix the problem.

In recent years, subway delays have increased with now more than 70,000 delays every month—up from 28,000 per month in 2012, reports the Times.

Overcrowding, which keeps the trains stuck in their stations, and ancient infrastructure that is failing, are the two chief guilty components for being the main source of the delays, says the Times.

Just in March, overcrowding was to blame for nearly 30,000 subway delays, which is about 38 percent of all delays; also the failing infrastructure, specifically the signal system which dates back to the 1930s, could take half a century and $20 billion to upgrade, reports the Times.

According to the Times, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo controls the subway, as opposed to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who many people believe is responsible for the failing system. Although the ‘state-run’ MTA oversees the city’s subways, buses and commuter railroads, Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio have stayed fairly quiet about the worsened service, reports the Times.

“Governor Cuomo shows up to open the Second Avenue subway, but he’s missing in action for the day-to-day disaster that transit riders are experiencing,” said John Raskin, the executive director of Riders Alliance, an advocacy group.

The Times reports that the MTA recently announced a six-point plan to put into place instant repairs on the Eight Avenue lines, which if proven to be successful will be implemented into the rest of the system. Some aspects of the plan include increasing the number of rapid response teams to fix track problems and assigning EMTs at five stations to respond to passengers in need of medical assistance, says the Times.

In terms of a long-term plan, the MTA is working on increasing the capacity of subway cars by buying new subway cars which are designed to fit 10 percent more passengers, and they are also hoping to extend the Second Avenue Subway line to 125th Street in Harlem, reports the Times.
The MTA has also raised the fares of a subway pass every two years, in order to keep up with the rising costs of the failing system, says the Times. Many advocacy groups and even elected officials have called on Mayor de Blasio to seek out a program for reduced fares for low-income New Yorkers, reports the Times.

“The M.T.A. keeps fares as low as possible while providing safe, reliable service,” said Beth DeFalco, a spokeswoman for the MTA, who cited how the agency subsidizes fares for students and people 65 and older, says the Times.

So why does only Penney Vanderbilt talk about the subway control system?

Funny that Penney knows the real answer that Cuomo and DeBlasio do not!!!

Why Does Subway Construction Cost So Much In NY City?

Rdership increases, delays increase and the 22 subway lines led by the MTA don’t seemm to know what to do.

Governor Cuomo and the MTA Board released an updated version of the authority’s five-year capital plan. The plan allocates $14.5 billion toward the subways, which includes ample funding for expansion projects—like a cool $1.735 billion towards the full-length extension of the Second Avenue Subway.

Cuomo is concentrating on the “showy” opening on new lines and new stations. But what about outdated, archaic signaling system? It does not make for media events with parties, etc.

The cost per kilometer in New York is the highest in the World.

New Yorkers may not be getting an updated signaling system in the subway any time soon—that could take up to 50 years and cost $20 billion. If you’re wondering where that money is going, look no further than projects like the Second Avenue Subway.

All divisions of the New York City subway use what is now called “wayside color-light block signalling”, that is, signals are physically located to the side of the track (as opposed to being overhead, or transmitted directly to the train), utilize the colors of lights (as opposed to semaphores or other devices, or positions or shapes of lights), and rely on dividing tracks into discrete blocks (or track sections or track circuits) to electrically detect the presence of trains. Nearly all of the routes of the current subway are signalled with classic wayside block signalling, whose principles have not changed markedly since the opening of the IRT in 1904. (In-cab signalling and recent position- and radio-based technologies are slowly being deployed on some lines; the first to be cut over is the “L”, chosen because it shares no trackage with other routes, and has a relatively simple service pattern, i.e. no express service.)

At a subway station deep under Manhattan, a dingy room is filled with rows of antique equipment built before World War II. The weathered glass boxes and cloth-covered cables are not part of a museum exhibit, however — they are crucial pieces of the signal system that directs traffic in one of the busiest subways in the world.

Much of the signal equipment at that station, at West Fourth Street, is decades beyond its life span, and it is one of the main culprits plaguing the overburdened subway.

2nd Ave. Subway gets a boost: Two Q Trains


The MTA will increase Q service during the morning and even rush hours.

the MTA will make a small increase to the number of Q trains along the Second Avenue Subway line during morning and afternoon rush hours. But don’t get too excited, because the service change won’t be huge: It will add one southbound train during the morning rush hour, and one northbound train during the evening rush hour. But according to the MTA, this small measure will help keep trains from overcrowding as ridership along the line increases.

According to Wynton Habersham, the MTA’s head of subways, daily ridership on the Second Avenue line has surged from 124,000 riders during opening week to about 176,000 riders every day during the week. Meanwhile, ridership on the 4/5/6 lines has dipped 40 percent during morning rush hour, and 26 percent overall.

And the agency says that wait times have decreased along the Lexington Avenue line now that many commuters have switched over to the Second Avenue Subway.

Taxi Hails Plummet On Upper East Side After 2nd Ave Subway Opens

From the Upper East Side Patch

Historically, taxi ridership on the Upper East Side is much higher than the citywide average, especially among commuters.

The arrival of the Second Avenue Subway has been a blessing for Upper East Siders, but a nightmare for cab drivers. A new study from the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation shows taxi pickups and drop-offs have plummeted in the neighborhood since it opened in January.

Some sections of the Upper East Side saw nearly a 20 percent drop in the number of taxi pickups in January 2017 compared to January 2016, according to NYU researcher Sarah M Kaufman. Traditionally the Upper East Side was a rich market for cabs.

With the “unique combination of higher median incomes and inadequate subway service,” the neighborhood’s commuters had a high reliance on taxis, Kaufman told Patch. In the eastern part of Lenox Hill, 9 percent of residents said they commuted to work by taxi in a 2015 American Community Survey. The same survey showed that in the eastern part of Yorkville, which used to boast the furthest walking distance from a subway line in Manhattan, 7.3 percent of residents commuted by taxi. Those numbers were much higher than the Manhattan average of 2.9 percent.

Major Construction Projets For 2017

New York City’s Second Avenue Subway

The Second Avenue Subway phase one construction is complete, allowing this transportation project to actually open to the public in 2017. This will be New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) first major expansion project in 50 years. The Second Avenue Subway was first discussed back in the 1910s but delayed after the Great Depression struck. With a lack of post-war funding, construction didn’t start until 1972 but was again stopped in 1975 thanks to another fiscal crisis.

According to the MTA, “The Second Avenue Subway reduces overcrowding and delays on the Lexington Avenue line, improving travel for both city and suburban commuters, and provides better access to mass transit for residents of the far East Side of Manhattan.”

Work did restart 32 years later in 2007. At that point, the MTA promised the project’s first phase would be open by 2017, and that deadline was met when phase one of the project opened for service on January 1, 2017. Phase two of the Second Avenue Subway project is scheduled to begin possibly in 2019.

When complete, the full-length subway line will extend service 8.5 miles along Manhattan’s East Side, offer 16 new stations and easy transfers to other subway lines.

Phase one of the project will help decrease crowding on the Lexington Avenue Line by as much as 13% (23,500 fewer riders) on an average weekday. It will also help reduce travel time by 10 mixtures or more from many riders traveling from the Upper East Side, according to the MTA.

New York New Tappan Zee Bridge
The New Tappan Zee Bridge crossing the Hudson River in New York is currently one of the largest public infrastructure projects under construction in the United States, according to Curbed. Construction on the 3.1-mile bridge began in 2013. The new bridge will have eight traffic lanes, four breakdown and emergency lanes, space for express buses, a bicycle path and a pedestrian path with viewing areas.

According to the New York State Thruway Authority, plans for the bridge were first discussed in 1999. During the next 10 years 430 meetings were held and 150 concepts were considered, but the project did not move forward until 2011 when a new design-build legislation was enacted, a fast tracked federal environmental review and concurrent procurement processes were completed, a project labor agreement with construction unions was negotiated and then construction activities started.

The New York State Thruway Authority says, “The new bridge will be a visually striking, recognizable landmark and one of the widest cable-stayed structures of its kind in the world.”

The bridge will incorporate 14 miles of span cables, 50 miles of foundation pilings, 300,000 cubic yards of concrete and 220 million pounds of U.S. steel.

Two spans of the new bridge are expected to open to traffic this summer, but the other four-lane span isn’t scheduled to open until 2018.

More than 6,300 people have worked on the project, which is still set to remain within the $3.98 billion budget.

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Expansion
Across the country, another major project is set to open in 2017 — the Bay Area Rapid Transit authority’s Richmand-Fremont line (known as the BART expansion). This project was originally scheduled to open in 2014 but is now expected to open in 2017.

The Warm Springs extension portion of the project will add 5.4 miles of new tracks from the existing Fremont Station south to a new station in the City of Fremont.

Major construction on the Warm Springs extension began in August 2009. Construction of the design-build line, track, station and systems began in October 2011 and was completed in 2016. The Warm Springs extension is expected to open for passenger service this winter.

Detroit QLINE
Detroit’s QLINE streetcar is scheduled to open this spring. The QLINE will run 3.3 miles and connect the downtown Detroit People Mover to the railway station in New Center. The line will include 20 stations serving 12 stops. According to Wikipedia. approximately 60% of the line will not be equipped with overhead electrical wires, and those streetcars will be powered solely from lithium-ion batteries.

Originally called the M-1 Rail Line, the developers received a $25 million federal grant to support the streetcar project in 2013. In December 2013 underground utility relocation work began with construction starting in July 2014.

Charlotte Light Rail Expansion
Charlotte, NC, is also in the midst of a light rail expansion. The Blue Line Extension is an extension of the LYNX Blue Line light rail service that is currently under construction and is expected to open in August this year. The 9.3-mile addition will add 11 stations, four park and ride facilities and will nearly double the size of the one-line light rail system, according to Curbed.

Construction on the extension began in 2013 when work began on shifting underground utilities, building retaining walls, and grading and drainage work. The city decided to divide the extension into three segments divided between three contractors. In 2014, the joint venture of Balfour Beatty Infrastructure and Blythe Development Co. won a civil construction contract to work on the first segment of the extension project. Work included improving drainage, building bridges, maintaining retaining walls, controlling traffic, and moving water and sewer mains.

Lane Construction was awarded a contract for the line from Old Concord Road to UNC Charlotte. Finally, Balfour Beatty was awarded a separate contract to lay rails and install the power stations and overhead catenary wires.

By the end of 2015, most of the tracks had been laid and foundations for two stations had been completed. The project is expected to open in August 2017.