Category Archives: New York City

After NYC mess, senators call for Amtrak funding

RailwayAge Magazine – ‎Apr 12, 2017‎

Senators Bob Mendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) sent a letter to Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Committee on Appropriations Chairman Susan Collins and Ranking Member Jack Reed, calling for $2.3 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts capital grant program and $1.6 billion to support Amtrak. The New Starts grant program funding was slashed and Amtrak’s funding for long distance service was eliminated in President Donald Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

“The President proposed, Congress disposes”

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.

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.

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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

2nd Avenue Subway Moving Right Along!!

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pushing the end-of-the-year deadline set by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hard in recent days, saying it’s become about more than the long-delayed Second Avenue subway — it’s about the faith people have in government.
“Nobody believes it’s going to be done on time, nobody,” the Democratic governor said in a radio interview this week. But, he added, “if we can get it done on time. … if we can open that thing up at the beginning of the year, maybe people will start to say once again, “Wow. Maybe we can do something.”

The Second Avenue subway, seen as crucial to alleviating traffic on one of the world’s busiest transit systems, has been star-crossed since it was first envisioned by the city’s transportation board in 1929. Those plans were derailed by the stock market crash a few months later.

It wasn’t until 1972 that ground was finally broken on the project. But again, a financial crisis in the nation’s most populous city in the 1970s put to a halt to work. In the 1990s, two powerful U.S. senators from New York were able to secure vital federal funds. But then there were years of bureaucratic hurdles: zoning changes, environmental studies and pre-construction work to clear the city’s underground of pipes and cables.

In 2007, the major tunneling work began on the $4.4 billion project that’s now set to open: a four-station, nearly 2-mile expansion of an existing subway line from Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street to 96th Street, with stops at 72nd and 86th streets in between. .
It was supposed to be completed in 2013.

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