Category Archives: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Who brought Robert Moses down?

It was Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York State

He also formed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and saved the Long Island Railroad

Robert Moses was a double-edged sword. He built a lot of great things and destroyed a lot of great things at the same time.

Moses was one of the contributing factors to the rapid decline of commuter rail in the New York City metropolitan area in the 1950’s and 1960s. Just when state governments were starting to warm up to the idea of subsidies, Moses would use his power to block funding of any type to the railroads. To understand his attitude towards commuter rail, his mantra was more or less, “The public should not be providing funds to benefit private for-profit corporations.” Never mind that the private for-profit corporations were providing a necessary service. There would be no direct subsidy until he was out of power.

When Moses was removed from power by Rockefeller, they made Moses chairman of the World’s Fair committee, a position that would make him look bad if he turned it down. Since you can’t be chairman of more than one committee at a time, he lost his powerful position, and his voice. By 1968 he was a “consultant” to the MTA, and he passed away in 1981.

Let’s look at what happened immediately AFTER Moses was gone.
1965 – Governor Rockefeller proposes to purchase the LIRR from the PRR. Some commuter rail equipment purchases are funded for NYC lines out of Grand Central.
1966 – The Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority purchases the LIRR from PRR.
1968 – Five transit authorities are created across New York State, MCTA becomes MTA.
1970 – MTA contracts with Penn Central to subsidize Harlem and Hudson Line operations out of Grand Central.
1971- New equipment arrives on LIRR and PC lines… and so on and so on…

Was Moses the catalyst of all evil directed towards the railroads? The jury is still out, but he was certainly a major factor.

In reading about Moses, you see that Moses was a creature of his particular time, and that in that time, the things he did were fashionable politically and popular with the public. At the time, for example, everybody wanted expressways — these were the answer to all congestion problems — and few people seemed to realize the problems they would generate. The Moses projects were the projects that the politicians wanted to spend money on, so he was successful in getting it. The dreary housing projects he built later in his career are examples of the same thing.

Moses has to be judged by the standards and fashions of his time, and not in hindsight. He was no more or less foresighted than most others then.

It would be interesting to speculate what a young Moses would be doing now, with mass transit in fashion and lots of public money available.

The MTA says new stops on the Second Ave Subway are coming

Better bus service? A shorter L-train outage? New Second Avenue Subway stops??

The MTA says yes, you betcha, to all these projects and a few more. Today the MTA Board voted on a number of initiatives it says will improve service and boost turnaround time on major projects, including phase two of the Second Avenue Subway and L train tunnel repairs. The Board also voted to spiffy up train stations and add new buses citywide.

“Today’s votes will bring convenience and better service to the millions of New Yorkers who use our system every day,” said interim executive director Ronnie Hakim, in a prepared statement. “Improvements include modernized train stations in Astoria and a shorter closure of the Canarsie Tunnel, which will lessen the impact on L train riders as we undertake these necessary Sandy storm repairs.”

Phase two of the Second Avenue Subway, which now ends at 96th Street, will eventually bring Q trains zooming north to 125th Street. In the spirit of git-‘er-done, the Board voted to grant a $7.3 million contract for outreach services in advance of two new stations at 106th and 116th streets.

A partnership between Spectrum Personal Communications and transportation planners at Sam Schwartz Engineering will bring a community information center to East 125th Street this spring. At the center, English- and Spanish-speaking staff will be on hand to answer questions about the subway; lead educational events; and prepare plans for the Community Boards and elected officials. Be on the lookout for a project schedule once the (already underway) phase two preliminary design and engineering work wraps up.

Downtown, the MTA is pushing for L train tunnel work to be completed in 15 months, three fewer than initially projected. The $492 million project was awarded to Judlau Contracting and TC Electric, though Judlau is the same firm behind construction delays on the Second Ave subway.

Over in Queens, $150 million will go towards improving above-ground subway stations on the N and W line in Astoria. Improvements will add security cameras, art, better lighting, and countdown clocks, the commuter’s godsend. F0r a preview of what’s in store for the borough, look no further than the work being done on the first group of stations in this project, along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.

Buses were not left out amid the many new things for trains. The city will get 60-foot articulated buses (53 in all) to replace the aging 40-footers in its fleet. These new buses will be suited up with, among other features, turn warnings for pedestrians, wifi, USB charging ports, and passenger counter.

Like The Second Avenue Subway? Remember The 3rd Avenue “El”

Forget the Second Avenue subway—we’re obsessed with this elevated train on Third Avenue. In a new exhibit at the New York Transit Museum, there are vintage photos of the train from 1955, the year it closed. The photographer was Sid Kaplan, who was only 17 years old when he got these shots.

The aboveground railroad in Manhattan was like a High Line of the East Side and one of the four lines in Manhattan in the late 1800s. It eventually ran from the South Ferry terminal up to 113rd Street. The northern Bronx stations remained in service until 1973, but the rest of the railroad was demolished soon after its 1955 closure. Forget the Second Avenue subway—we’re obsessed with this elevated train on Third Avenue.  The photographer was Sid Kaplan, who was only 17 years old when he got these shots.

Feature image is East Village near Cooper Union

Below is 84th Street near station.

The eyes of NYC will focus on critical L train repairs

The shutdown of the L train’s East River tunnel will be painful for commuters no matter how long it lasts.

But the MTA has to find ways to limit the pain and make sure the project doesn’t run into any delays like those that have affected other large public transit efforts, notably the Second Avenue subway.

Problems on the L train line, from crowded platforms to delays in service, are nothing new. But come 2019, most L train riders will find themselves without a train at all, when the Canarsie Tunnel closes for Superstorm Sandy-related repairs. They’ll need alternatives — from buses to bike lanes — and plenty of patience.

That’s why it’s so important that the $477 million project be on time and on budget. And that’s why the MTA will need to pay close attention to every stage of the project from day one, with plenty of checks along the way.

The joint venture selected to do the $477 million project is Judlau Contracting and TC Electric, and it’ll have to get the work done right. But Judlau was partly responsible for Second Avenue subway work delays, according to MTA board member Charles Moerdler.

MTA officials said the company’s other work, including the R train’s Montague Tunnel repair, was successful. And officials say they have built in daily penalties for any delays in the L train project, and incentives to finish early.

If the MTA board approves the contract, as it is expected to do, Judlau and TC Electric will be tasked with fixing the Canarsie Tunnel, making two stations accessible and adding a power substation to enable more trains to run. The project is to start April 2019 and take 15 months.

Judlau and other contractors didn’t meet Second Avenue subway goals until Gov. Andrew Cuomo put pressure on them to do so. Similar problems with the L repairs would cause a far more severe impact. Commuters make more than 200,000 trips under the East River via the L every day.

A Second Avenue Stare

Dear Diary

Once upon a time Second Avenue in the City was clogged with construction. You know: stores closed, pedestrians confused. Well, it took 100 years to build the 2d Avenue Subway.

One day I see a girl with long dark hair, short leather moto jacket, really tight jeans, really high heels. Walking just ahead of me.

A couple of construction workers leaned over their plastic barrier and ogled her as she passed. I remembered the old song “Standing On The Corner”. As I passed the construction workers, I looked at them knowingly and sort of accusingly.

I was surprised when one looked at me, grinned and sheeplishly said “I`m sorry”.

 

Nothing But Great Comments About The Second Avenue Subway

The first comment is from the guy who finally stepped up and said “I AM IN CHARGE”
The Second Avenue subway has already become an “integral” part of the city’s transit network, touted Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.The governor announced that Phase I of the project, which brought three new stations on the Upper East Side, has also successfully attracted riders away from the dreadfully congested subway stations nearby.

The next comment comes right from the heart: The MTA
It was a given that when the Second Avenue Subway opened on the Upper East Side on New Year’s Day it would change how the neighborhood commutes. But the rapid speed at which Upper East Siders have embraced the Q train has surprised MTA officials. Ridership on the Second Avenue Subway line increased by an average of 8,000 riders a week in January, peaking at 155,000 daily riders according to MTA data released Wednesday. After just one month the daily ridership is nearing the projected 200,000 daily riders MTA officials said the new line would service. The new Q line has also eased the burden on the nearby 4, 5 and 6 lines which run on Lexington Avenue and have long been some of the most crowded lines in the city. Daily weekday ridership at Upper East Side stations on the Lexington Avenue line has dropped 27 percent — 46 percent during peak morning rush hours of 8-9 a.m. — compared to January numbers from 2016, according to the MTA.

southferry

The opening of three new stations of the century-in-the-making Second Avenue Subway, and the top-to-bottom renovation of the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station, provide a new emphasis on subway design over the years. I’m no architecture critic, but I have paid keen attention over the years as several design aesthetics have come and gone. Let’s take a look at these efforts from the very beginning. Above we see one of the ceramic sailing ships that grace the walls of the curved South Ferry station, which serves patrons of the Staten Island Ferry, accessing the #1 train. The nearby Whitehall Street station does the same for the R train. Until 2009, it was never thought to connect the two and allow free transfers until a new South Ferry station opened that year and the two lines were united. Hurricane Sandy made short work of the new South Ferry station in October 2012, so, after a few months of making Rector Street the southern terminal of the #1, the old reliable South Ferry station reopened, revealing the colorful station name tablets and ceramics one again. As a matter of fact, the ceramics were relieved of the dull brown paint job they had received and once again sport colors resembling the ones they had when the station opened in 1905.
The architects of subway stations that opened between 1904 and 1908, including the flagship City Hall station that is closed to the public except for sanctioned tours, were George Lewis Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge, who also designed the massive Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Harlem and the original Astor Court buildings of the Central Park Zoo. Heins and LaFarge incorporated several design items they used at the Bronx Zoo into the City Hall station. These included such techniques as arches, vaulted ceilings, and polychrome tile.

If you are into politics, you had BETTER BE SUPPORTING THE SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY

The Trump administration might be threatening to cut funds to sanctuary cities like New York, but it’s thrown its support behind the Second Avenue Subway’s expansion into Harlem and Midtown, according to Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

The last two phases of the Second Avenue Subway line — which would bring service up to Harlem first and then to Midtown and neighborhoods below it all the way down to East 14th Street — has gotten the support of the new president’s transition team, who’s put the project on a “list of [national] infrastructure building priorities,” Maloney said.

The federal government is expected to allocate $14.2 billion towards the next two phases, which could mean progress on the line will be faster than it was during the first phase, Maloney said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Phase 1 of the project cost roughly $4.5 billion.

Information about the list and the project’s funding was leaked from the president’s transition team, and hasn’t been yet been confirmed by the White House, Maloney added.

Although she has not seen the list, she said $137 billion total will be dedicated to the 50 projects on it, including the Second Avenue Subway.

Maloney, who has been pressing Congress and the Trump administration to include the project on the list, spoke directly with the people who worked on creating it and was “repeatedly assured” that Phase 2 and 3 would be part of the plan, she said.

“We’re competing with every great project across United States of America,” she said. “We need to bring service to the underserved area of East Harlem, bring more economic activity, and relieve the over-congested area below 62nd street.”

The news comes in the shadow of Trump’s announcement that the government will seek to cut funding to sanctuary cities that refuse to adhere to his immigrant policies. Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to keep New York a sanctuary city, announcing that he would set aside a reserve fund in case Trump cuts federal funding.

When asked by a reporter whether funding for the Second Avenue Subway was in jeopardy considering Trump’s decree, Maloney said she doubted it because Trump is a New Yorker.

“I’ve been told by the transition team and the transportation team that we are on the first cut of $137 billion for an estimated $14 billion,” she said. “I will go back to Congress to address that. I’m opposed to any cuts to the City of New York. We give far more money to the federal government than what comes back.”

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Federal Transit Administration has already approved funding for the second phase of the Second Avenue line, which will run from 125th to 96th streets. But the project will have to go through two years of environmental review, engineering design and community outreach before the funding will become available.

The MTA has signed two contracts for the environmental review and preliminary engineering and design portions, and a request for proposals has been posted for the community outreach part, Maloney said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on March 30, 2016 that $1 billion has been earmarked for Phase 2 in the new 2016-17 state budget.

The MTA did not respond to questions regarding the timeline and cost of the project, or whether they would be connecting the Second Avenue line to small tunnel sections that were built in East Harlem in the 1970s but were never used.

State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, who represents East Harlem and is the chairman of the State Assembly Office of State and Federal Relations, said he was “glad to see that Phase 2 and 3 of the Second Avenue Subway will be a priority project moving forward.”

“I will continue to work diligently with my federal partners to ensure all funding commitments are met,” he said.

Buskers are Protesting Crackdown from NYPD on 2nd Avenue Subway

OK give up. What are BUSKERS? According to the WIKI: “Street performance or busking is the act of performing in public places for gratuities. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given.”

We all know who the NYPD is: Largest and most heavily-armed police force in the “free World”. Larger than armies of most countries.

So what is the big hassle between NYPD and the Buskers?

Less than three weeks have passed since the Second Avenue Subway line made its long-awaited debut, yet conflict is already brewing between the station’s buskers and the NYPD. On Thursday afternoon, around a dozen subway performers gathered in the mezzanine of the 72nd Street station to protest what they view as illegal harassment by police seeking to keep the newly opened stations busker-free.

While the MTA’s rules of conduct explicitly allow for artistic performances within stations, many officers and station managers seem to remain ignorant of the three-decade-old rule.

buskersprotest

Busk NY posted a video showing two police officers asking violinist Matthew Christian to leave the 86th Street station last weekend.

“You cannot play music here. Sir, I’m asking you to leave. If you don’t want to leave, we can place you in handcuffs and you can leave then,” one of the officers said, adding ” it’s unlawful to play music on the platform.”

It is not illegal to perform on the platform, nor is it against the MTA (New York City Metropolitan Transortation Authority) rules, unless it’s getting in the way of foot traffic.

“Whenever there’s public scrutiny at stations the police step up enforcement of what they perceive to be minor violations”.

The MTA said any musician is welcome to perform in the subway as long as they follow the rules of conduct.

A band of city buskers sang a sad song Thursday, claiming overzealous cops are unfairly harassing them on the Second Ave. subway line.

The musicians and artists said they were forced to speak out after enduring a rash of recent police confrontations inside the gleaming new stations on the Upper East Side.

“This is particularly ironic given that the MTA has highlighted the stations for promoting public art,” grumbled Matthew Christian, co-founder of Busk NY, a group representing subway performers.

A band of city buskers sang a sad song Thursday, claiming overzealous cops are unfairly harassing them on the Second Ave. subway line.

The musicians and artists said they were forced to speak out after enduring a rash of recent police confrontations inside the gleaming new stations on the Upper East Side.

“This is particularly ironic given that the MTA has highlighted the stations for promoting public art,” grumbled Matthew Christian, co-founder of Busk NY, a group representing subway performers.

Musicians are allowed to perform underground as long as they follow certain rules such as avoiding busy areas and not using amplifiers.
But mandolin player Marc Orleans said he was doing none of those things Wednesday when a cop ordered him to leave a subway platform at the 72nd Ave. station and move to the mezzanine level.

“I told him I’d do it this time but I’m within my rights,” said Orleans, 49. “This happens all the time, where the police just seem like they’re not adequately trained.”

Artist David Everitt-Carlson whipped out a summons he received last weekend for setting up an art exhibit tucked behind a station elevator.
“This was surprising to me,” said Carlson, 60, of the East Village. “We’ve been on the Highline for four years and have never had issues.”

Busted subway busker reveals why he refused“The MTA is proud to support and promote the arts and musical performances,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “Any musician is welcome to perform in the New York City subway system as long as they follow the Transit Rules of Conduct.”

NYPD Transit Chief Joseph Fox said officers monitoring subway stations are forced to perform a delicate balancing act.

“Our officers work to protect the rights of everyone who lawfully uses the transit system — artistic performers and commuters alike,” Fox said. “This often means a balance between protecting the uniquely New York experience performers provide, while at the same time ensuring safe passage for subway riders.”

New York’s New Second Avenue Subway Has Already Become A Culture Destination!

“There are several contenders for coolest neighborhood in New York, but the Upper East Side is usually not one of them.”

Musicians can also perform even if they are not part of the MTA’s Music Under New York program.

But the group Busk NY says police harrassment has become common at the new stations.

The MTA issued a statement saying it is proud to support arts and musical performances.

It goes on to say, “Any musician is welcome to perform in the New York City subway system as long as they follow the Transit Rules of Conduct.”

2nd Avenue Subway Is Open For REAL Now

Hard to believe it, but the fabeled 2nd Avenue Subway is NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!!

Riders on Tuesday, the first full day of Second Ave. subway service after the New Year’s holiday, said they were relieved to finally ditch the congested Lexington Ave. line, long walks across avenues to the train and painfully slow crosstown buses for the Q line that is now at their doorstep.

See more pictures. YES, it is for real!

Hundreds came out New Year’s Day to ride the train in New York City, cheering as it left the station. That may sound odd, but this wasn’t just any subway or any old station, it was the stuff of urban legend: the Second Avenue subway line.

To understand the crowd, you have to go back to the 1920s when the idea for the subway line was first floated, but never left the station because the Depression hit.

The idea was revived again in the 1950s as a replacement for the elevated trains, but city planner Robert Moses decided to spend money building expressways instead.

In 1968, the city finally got federal funding to build a subway on Second Avenue. It was expected to cost $220 million. The TV show Mad Men even worked in a reference to the plan when Peggy Olson, one of the main characters, goes apartment hunting on the East Side that year on the show.

But it didn’t happen because in 1975 the city was broke.

By the 1990s overcrowding on the sole East side line had become untenable so the idea for a Second Avenue subway line was revived, and in 2004, a plan was approved. The first phase would include three new stations that go from 72nd Street to 96th Street. The Metropolitan Transit Authority even gave a deadline: 2013. And a cost: $3.8 billion.

But the public was skeptical, as that deadline was pushed back to 2015 and costs crept up. The MTA finally settled on Dec. 31, 2016.

On New Year’s Eve, at a newly renovated station on 72nd Street, Gov. Andrew Cuomo held an opening night party. There was a five-piece band, a newsstand was converted into a beer bar, and the cavernous station was filled with purple, pink and orange lights. The governor helped secure more than a billion dollars in federal funding for the project and the MTA, and appoints their board members. At the New Year’s Eve party he told the more than 500 invited guests that the Second Avenue Subway is vindication of his vision.

“We needed to show people that government works and we can still do big things and great things and we can still get them done,” Cuomo said.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo celebrated the on-time arrival of the Second Avenue Subway – the system’s first major expansion in more than 50 years – with the line’s inaugural ride. The new line’s first ride and celebratory party were cohosted by MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and attended by Second Avenue Subway and MTA workers, local community members, dignitaries, local elected officials and members of President Obama’s Cabinet. Attendees rode to each of the new stations and will ring in the New Year with a celebratory countdown and toast at the 72nd Street station.

FINALLY! The Second Avenue Subway is HERE!

Picture above: 72ndStreet: Vik Muniz, Perfect Strangers. Glass mosaic and laminated glass, fabricated by Franz Mayer of Munich.

New York City’s Second Avenue Subway is an Underground Wonderland
More than a century in the making, New York’s Second Avenue Subway opens for business on New Years Eve 2017.

The mood was festive on the first train, with many riders wearing hats that read Second Avenue Station, including Jessica Hauser and her boyfriend, Neil Smith, who both live on the Upper East Side.

“I can see my friends in Brooklyn much easier now,” Hauser said. “It’s really great to have another subway nearby. I think it’s going to release a lot of pressure from the 4, 5 and 6 trains. Especially in the morning when I have to sometimes wait for a second or third train, since they’re so packed.”

It is hard to imagine that this is the culmination of a plan proposed first in the 1920s. However, the rails to get here wasn’t a smooth ride for people who live in the area.

All the hazards of construction are almost forgotten at the sight of new pavement and better access to the subway.

“The nice change is right in front of my building, they put out trees, we had porta potties there for a few years, and the trees are much prettier,” says resident Micki Avedon.

The area feels like a new neighborhood, giving business and people who live in the area plenty to celebrate.

The nearly 2-mile segment adds stations along Second Avenue at 96th, 86th and 72nd streets and a new connection to an existing subway line at 63rd Street.

Seen as crucial to alleviating congestion in the nation’s biggest subway system, it is on a line expected to carry about 200,000 riders a day. The entire system transports about 5.6 million riders on an average weekday.

The city’s transportation board first envisioned a Second Avenue subway in 1929, but the stock market crash and the Great Depression derailed the plan.

Ground was broken in 1972, but a fiscal crisis in the city slammed the brakes on the project again. The project finally got into high gear when major tunneling work began in 2007.

The $4.4 billion section opening Sunday was initially supposed to be completed in 2013. Delays stemmed partly from concerns about construction noise.

Next, the line is slated to expand north into East Harlem. No date has been set for starting that phase of construction.

Second Ave Subway’s ceremonial first ride will be a New Year’s party for city officials

While the rest of us will be spending our New Year’s Eve elsewhere, Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning on spending his on the inaugural New Year’s Eve ride for the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway line, reports Gothamist.

The celebratory ride will take Governor Cuomo, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, city and state officials, and the press from the 72nd Street stop to each of the new stations, beginning at 10:30 p.m. As for the rest of us, we’ll have to wait until January 1st, when the Second Avenue Subway officially opens to the public at 6 a.m. with limited service.

“I am proud to ring in the New Year on the Second Avenue Subway and welcome a new era in New York where there is no challenge too great, no project too grand and all is possible,” Cuomo said.

The ceremonial ride is being co-sponsored by several organizations that include the Central Park Conservancy, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Mets, and more.

On Thursday, December 22nd, the MTA held an “open house” at the 96th Street station, giving the public a first real glimpse inside the new subway stop. Check out a few of those flicks below.

Controversial but long overdue is a portrait of a gay couple in the 72nd Street Station

2ndavesubwaygaycouple