Category Archives: subway

Andrew Cuomo Is Hiding from NYC’s Subway Nightmare

From Vice.com

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

From CURBED NY

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.

Signal Problems Lead to Hours of Subway Disruptions — Again

It was the fourth time in a few weeks that signal problems caused hours-long service disruptions

NBC New York By Andrew Siff

Signal problems mucked up subway travel on the A and C lines from Brooklyn to Manhattan for more than four hours Thursday, the fourth time in just a few weeks that such issues have snarled service.

The MTA said the problems at High Street had been cleared by about 2:15 p.m. (an initial advisory about the service changes came shortly before 10 a.m.) and A and C service had resumed with delays.

In the meantime, on AM New York
Loose stairway treads. Cracked platforms. Water leaks.
As if subway riders didn’t have enough to deal with in terms of the decline in subway service, the MTA is failing to spot and repair crumbling station infrastructure and jeopardizing riders’ safety in the process, according to a new audit released Thursday.

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?

https://penneyvanderbilt.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/why-does-subway-construction-cost-so-much-in-ny-city/

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

From CURBED NY

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.

New York City Subway Tunnels Under Water

River Year
Complete # of
Tracks Name Railroad/Line
Harlem 1933 3 Concourse Subway C and D
Harlem 1905 2 149th Street Subway #2
Harlem 1918 4 Lexington Avenue Subway #4,5,6
East 1989 4 63rd Street Subway B, Q and Long Island Railroad
East 1920 2 60th Street Subway N and R
East 1933 2 53rd Street Subway E and F
East 1915 2 Steinway Subway #7
East 1924 2 14th Street Subway L
East 1936 2 Rutgers Street Subway F
East 1932 2 Cranberry Street Subway A and C
East 1919 2 Clark Street Subway 2 and 3
East 1920 2 Montague Street Subway M, N and R
East 1908 2 Joralemon Street Subway 4 and 5
Newton Creek 1933 2 Newton Creek Subway G

Featured picture is the L Line after Storm Sandy

Find more interesting stories on Railroad Bridges and Tunnels

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/railroad-bridges-and-tunnels/

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.