Category Archives: subway

Doubts raised on Second Avenue subway. Can you believe it?

The Second Avenue subway line has a few more stops before opening in 2016, and East Side elected officials are getting nervous that the oft-delayed project could be set back again.

A quartet of politicians—Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Councilmen Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, and Assemblyman Dan Quart—held a press conference Wednesday to warn of five issues that could postpone completion of the first phase of the new subway line. In ascending order of worry, they listed the 69th Street entrance to the 72nd Street station, track installation, electrical work, the project’s budget, and—their top concern—the 86th Street entrance.

Problems with the electrical work would delay other aspects and push back the completion date for the entire project, and work on the 86th Street entrance is severely behind schedule, the officials said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has ordered an increase in manpower and extended work hours to double shifts and weekends for the entrance to open in August 2016 as planned.

Track installation for the subway line is on track, but previously delays have officials worried about a recurrence. An entrance to the 72nd Street station was relocated from a storefront at 301 E. 69th St. to the sidewalk because of technical issues; the entrance has a target completion date of September 2016. Finally, change orders and tight scheduling could increase costs to $45 million a month from $35 million, which would eat into the MTA’s contingency funding.

The subway project, which originally was to be completed decades ago, has become infamous for false starts, cost overruns and missed deadlines.

To date, the project has generated $842 million in wages, created 16,000 jobs, and produced $2.87 billion in economic activity, according to Ms. Maloney’s office. The first phase of the project will carry more than 200,000 riders daily and alleviate congestion on the Lexington Avenue line, the most overcrowded subway route in the nation.

Despite the red flags, Federal Transit Administration Executive Director Matthew Welbes believes that the MTA can make its December 2016 completion deadline. “Based on our data, the project is trending toward an opening sometime in 2017,” he said. “If the MTA does the aggressive schedule management steps planned, they may very well achieve that December date.”

Schumer protects funding for East Side Access, 2nd Ave. subway

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that he had stopped a Republican proposal in Congress that would have stopped work on the East Side Access project and the Second Avenue subway.

The U.S. House of Representatives proposal would have cut funding on the East Side Access by 47 percent and reduced money for the Second Avenue subway by 21 percent, Schumer said.

Schumer fought against the proposed cuts in a congressional conference and managed to restore the funding to make sure work continues on both projects.

“East Side Access is a transformative infrastructure project that employs thousands of New Yorkers and will shave off commute times for tens of thousands of commuters from Long Island,” Schumer said. “While the cuts passed in the House put the project on life support, I am pleased that we were able to beat back these cuts and keep the project moving forward.”

The East Side Access will bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Terminal and the Second Avenue subway will relieve critical crowding on the Lexington Avenue line, which carries 40 percent of all subway passengers in New York City.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

How transit agencies are trying to attract millennial riders

Millennials — defined as people between the ages of 18 and 34 — are members of the largest and most diverse generation in American history. Their adroitness at using technology and their predisposition for living in urban neighborhoods and taking a train or bus to get around is already influencing trends in the transportation field. That’s what the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) concluded in its 2014 report, “Millennials & Mobility: Understanding the Millennial Mindset.” The study examined what is driving the millennial generation’s transportation choices, what will drive those choices in the future, and the opportunities for the transit industry to capitalize on those choices.

The reasons behind millennials’ transportation decisions are pragmatic: They ride trains and buses primarily for convenience and to save money. At the same time, they have high expectations for the transit services they use: 61 percent want to see more reliable systems; 55 percent expect real-time updates and wireless Internet service wherever they go; and 44 percent want a more user-friendly travel experience over the next decade.

Other studies have reached similar conclusions. In October 2014, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund concluded in its “Millennials in Motion” report that millennials’ shift away from driving cars over the past 10 years is likely to continue. Census data indicate that the share of 16- to 24-year-olds who drive to work declined by 1.5 percentage points between 2006 and 2013, while the percentage of young people getting to work by public transportation, foot or bicycle increased.

A love affair with cars? Not so much

Also last year, Transportation for America — a division of the nonprofit Smart Growth America coalition — and The Rockefeller Foundation sponsored a survey that found a majority of millennials want access to public transportation options so they don’t have to rely so much on owning and driving a car. More than half — 54 percent — of those surveyed said they would consider moving to another city if it offered better options for transit; 66 percent said having access to high-quality transportation is one of their top three criteria when deciding where to live.

The results spoke to the incentive for cities to invest in transit networks as a way to attract and retain a younger workforce, says David Goldberg, communications director for Transportation for America and vice president of strategy for Smart Growth America.

Employers are starting to act on millennials’ preferences, Goldberg says, noting recent announcements by major corporations such as Marriott International and State Farm Insurance that are moving major operations to vibrant urban locations that offer easy access to transit systems.

“Employers are looking to set up in places where the talented millennials want to be,” he says. “The millennials are a great target market for transit agencies. They actually see transit as part of a bundle of services that are tied up with hip, urban living.”

Given the under-35 generation’s tendency to feel positive about using transit, it might be natural for some urban planners to presume that if you build a light-rail or bus line, the millennial riders will come. However, transit agency executives shouldn’t take those attitudes for granted, says Goldberg.

“Transit agencies right now have a really good opportunity that I’m not sure they’re capitalizing on to the degree that they could,” he says. “To attract and keep these riders, it’s really about patron services. It’s thinking in a more agile way about the change that’s underfoot and the incredible energy that could support the growth for transit.” Agencies need to be nimble at adapting to new technology. They should structure their systems to take full advantage of smartphone technology that provides real-time information and other data about what’s going on with their system, Goldberg says. They also should employ technology that helps riders connect with last-mile services such as bike share, Uber or Zipcar, he believes.

Marketing to a younger audience

Transit-industry executives whose agencies are aiming to attract millennial-age riders observe that the generation presents different challenges than previous generations when it comes to marketing and communications.

“They’re the most tech-savvy generation, and they’re the most cynical when it comes to traditional advertising versus word of mouth, recommendations from friends and social networks,” says Nevin Grinnell, chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing communications for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART).

Moreover, millennials grew up in tough economic times and are getting their driver’s license later in life. Those two things bode well for public transportation, Grinnell says. Consequently, DART is using technology in new ways to reach millennial-age customers. One example is the “GoPass,” which DART launched in September 2013. The mobile ticketing application allows purchasers to use smartphones to buy a regional pass that’s good for rides on DART light-rail trains and buses, as well as at neighboring transit agencies in Fort Worth and Denton County, Texas.

“So far the response has been phenomenal,” Grinnell says. “We have over 350,000 downloads to date, and we’ve solicited over a million transactions.”

Social media helps raise awareness

In addition to buying a ticket to ride, the app features tools that enable users to plan their trips around North Texas. The idea is to give public transit riders all the information they need in the palm of their hand.

DART created a Facebook page specifically to encourage DART riders to use the GoPass app.

“With the Facebook page, we found that people started asking questions about how to use the app, and instead of DART getting involved to answer the questions, we saw a lot of our potential riders and tech-savvy people in the community answering their questions,” says Grinnell. “That told us that we can put the app out there and drive the awareness, but we need to make sure we are encouraging the community to get involved and drive that information.”

DART has relied on other social media tools such as Twitter to drive information about the agency.

“We want to be the first source of what’s happening on DART,” explains Grinnell.

As part of that goal, the agency hired a digital media specialist formerly with The Dallas Morning News to write DART Daily, a blog about behind-the-scenes news and trends associated with the public transit system. One recent DART Daily blog post, for example, informed readers about student artwork — created for a DART contest — on display at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Operations communications staff in the agency’s train control center monitor customer comments on DART’s social media networks to respond to concerns or questions, says Morgan Lyons, DART’s assistant vice president of communications and community engagement.

“What social media allows us to do is maintain an ongoing communication with our customer or prospective customer,” says Lyons. “It allows us to put a more human face on the system.”

At Sound Transit in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, millennials make up the heart of the agency’s ridership: 29 percent are in the 25- to 34-year-old age group, and another 17 percent are between 18 and 24 years old, according to Craig Davison, executive director of communications and external affairs. That means the agency has to be at the top of its game when it comes to marketing its services to the millennial generation.

Sound Transit still relies on traditional television advertising to get its message out to the general population, especially as the agency continues to build rail extensions and open new stations.

“Television is still the most effective way to reach the broadest audience,” says Davison, who joined Sound Transit a year ago after a 12-year stint at Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox. One of the agency’s TV ads features two millennial-age women in a car stuck in traffic. The passenger encourages the driver to “unwind” and use Sound Transit services to avoid the stress and wasted time spent behind the wheel. The spot, which could speak to any adult rider, wraps up with the message: “Ride the Wave of the future” on Sound Transit.

But to reach millennials specifically, Sound Transit also has ramped up activity on social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Twitter has been an especially powerful tool for the agency to respond directly to riders’ questions about service issues, Davison says. And, the agency is advancing a plan to create cellular access for mobile phone use in tunnels.

Whether it’s for a TV or social media campaign, Sound Transit creates brand elements — such as humor — that research has shown to play well with the millennial crowd, Davison says. The agency is now preparing a TV campaign that will feature millennial-age comedians as a way to engage riders and potential riders.

Humor also is a central theme for the Regional Transportation Authority‘s (RTA) “Ride On” campaign, a two-year, $5 million effort to raise awareness of public transportation in Chicago. The promotions highlight the convenience of riding Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Metra trains or the Pace bus system to avoid driving in and around a major urban area that’s notorious for its traffic congestion.

Although the campaign is aimed at attracting riders of all ages, millennials are a key demographic being targeted, says Mark Minor, who serves on RTA’s marketing and planning team and is shepherding the campaign. About 79 percent of millennials surveyed by RTA in 2012 said they use transit systems five or more times a week, compared with 70 percent of the rest of surveyed transit riders, he says.

Slated to run through summer 2017, the campaign features television and online advertisements, and the use of digital billboards throughout the Chicago area. Some of the ads intentionally feature millennial-age people riding CTA or Metra trains. The ads focus on transit’s benefits: convenience, increased productivity (you can read on the train) and cost savings.

“We hit on those major points and do so in a humorous way, which is attractive to millennials,” says Minor.

Although millennials compared with other demographic groups are more inclined to use public transportation systems, ongoing brand awareness is critically important in a large market like Chicago, where the stream of millennials moving into or visiting the city is constant, Minor says.

Ride Metra to Lollapalooza

Although Metra doesn’t offer promotions specifically for millennials, some of what the commuter railroad does offer no doubt reaches the under 35 crowd more so than other age groups, says Metra spokesman Michael Gillis.

“Those would include promoting off-peak travel, especially on weekends, where we hope to convince young adults to use our trains to reach downtown activities,” Gillis said in an email.

Examples include an $8 weekend pass for unlimited rides on Saturdays and Sundays. Last summer, Metra also offered a special $10 pass for rail travel to the three-day Lollapalooza music festival at Grant Park in Chicago, an event that’s popular with millennials. Metra plans to repeat the Lollapalooza promotion during this summer’s festival, Gillis said.

“Our use of more digital marketing, such as on Pandora, likely also appeals more heavily to the millennial demographic,” he says. “We also have car-sharing partnerships at some stations and we promote bike-sharing, two things that would appeal to young adults without cars.”

And this spring, Metra — along with CTA and Pace — plans to roll out a new mobile ticketing app that will allow riders to buy and display tickets on their smartphones.

In Atlanta, the Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority’s “MARTA On the Go” app provides scheduling and real-time information and service alerts for trains and buses. The transit agency plans to launch a new version of the app that will feature mobile payment ability as well as a tool that will help riders plan seamless station-to-destination trips via Uber, says MARTA spokeswoman Saba Long.

MARTA also is stepping up its use of social media to communicate with riders, and has a plan in place to equip trains and buses with wireless Internet access.

And, aware that employers increasingly seek to locate near transit stations, the agency is analyzing ways to better integrate transit service with riders’ lifestyles. That way, riding a MARTA train not only would be convenient, but interesting and relevant to their daily lives. MARTA Chief Executive Officer Keith Parker’s initiative known by the acronym SEAT — for service, economic, arts and technology — features strategies that aim to do that in ways that will appeal to the under 35 set, says Long.

“The things the millennials are asking for involve better customer service and being more responsive to the needs of the customer,” she says. “And if something is beneficial to millennials, it will be beneficial to the overall riding population.”

Keeping millennials’ interests, lifestyles and needs in mind will be important for transit agency executives to successfully plan for the future, says Transportation for America’s Goldberg. It will mean thinking about transit holistically, as a part of an environment where people want to live, work and play, he says.

DART’s Grinnell says his agency is already on that track. Next month, DART will launch a brand “repositioning” that will convey the idea that DART is a rider’s ticket to exciting places in and around Dallas.

“People aren’t riding DART just to ride, they’re riding DART to get to places. So, we want to incorporate a lot of those places and really enhance that sense of discovery,” Grinnell says. “Going forward, we’re looking at establishing a campaign that highlights places that maybe people didn’t think of or know about before. We’re calling them ‘DART-able gems,’ or places you can access via DART.”

DART officials have been consumer-testing the new concept, which they see as a potential benefit for the city of Dallas as well as the agency.

Says Grinnell: “We received a lot of positive feedback about it — not just from millennials, but from a broad sample of customers who said this is something that’s part of our city and makes us look cool and hip.”

Email questions or comments to julie.sneider@tradepress.com

NY City Mayor de Blasio Revives Plan for a Utica Avenue Subway Line

Among the far-reaching ambitions of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC plan, one proposal stood out in the transportation world on Wednesday: the study of a new subway line along Utica Avenue in Brooklyn.

The concept is hardly new; it has been debated for at least a century, with no discernible results.

A 1910 article in The New York Times, under the headline “Transit Outlook Bright in Brooklyn,” said “a strong movement” was afoot to construct it. Another effort was made in 1928. More recently, an attempt in the 1970s failed after a City Council member from Brooklyn complained that the area did not have a large enough population to support the line.

Nonetheless, the de Blasio administration placed the concept back in the spotlight, suggesting that the area was a prime spot for expansion because it is one of the most crowded parts of the city without direct access to the subway.

The mayor’s request for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to examine bringing No. 3 and 4 train service down from the Eastern Parkway branch, through East Flatbush, came as a surprise to many.

Utica Ave Map
Utica Ave Map

“No one expected this,” said Mitchell Moss, the director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University. “It’s refreshing to see a proposal to extend mass transit into areas of Brooklyn that are transit-deprived. It’s obviously an idea that will take more than a decade to be carried out, but you have to start with an idea.”

Transit advocates quickly pointed out that Mr. de Blasio had not offered a financing plan for an extension, and that the authority already had a $15 billion gap for its five-year capital plan for improvements to the aging system.

“The issue is: Where’s the check?” Gene Russianoff, a staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, an advocacy group, said of the Utica Avenue idea. “It’s only credible if the city is willing to help finance it.”

A spokesman for the authority, Adam Lisberg, declined to comment specifically on the Utica Avenue study. Instead, he released a statement drawing attention to measures in the capital plan that would expand and improve service, including modernizing the subway signal system and proposals for improved bus service.

Crown Heights station
Crown Heights station

“The M.T.A. and the City of New York are aligned on the importance of mass transit to keep the city thriving,” Mr. Lisberg said.

The authority has several other major projects in the works: The first phase of the Second Avenue subway is scheduled to open at the end of next year, and the East Side Access project, which would bring the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal, is supposed to be completed in 2022. And in January, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed an AirTrain to La Guardia Airport.

Jumaane D. Williams, a City Council member whose district includes Utica Avenue, said the area needed better transit options and the subway extension sounded good in theory. He also noted that the Second Avenue subway sounded good — in theory.

“I’d like to talk about it more when the Second Avenue train is completed,” he said with a tone of skepticism. “But I’m happy the mayor is talking about transportation issues in South Brooklyn, because too often it’s left out of the discussion.”

Mr. Russianoff agreed, saying that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had instead prioritized extending the No. 7 line to the Far West Side of Manhattan — a project that has been delayed but may finally open this summer. (Mr. Bloomberg directed the city to pay for the $2.4 billion project, the first subway extension paid for by the city in more than 60 years.)

“Utica Avenue is much more in de Blasio’s theme of providing service more equitably and keeping in mind the ordinary New Yorker,” Mr. Russianoff said.

The dream of a Utica Avenue line has had plenty of false starts.

Its plight was outlined in the 2013 book “The Routes Not Taken: A Trip Through New York City’s Unbuilt Subway System,” by Joseph B. Raskin, a former New York City Transit employee. Past proposals would have connected it to the No. 3 and 4 lines, the A and C lines, or even to Lower Manhattan. “It’s always been to me one of the lines that should have been built all along,” Mr. Raskin said. “The question was always what line is it going to plug into — and the cost.”

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The Best NY City Subways to get a Seat on The Morning Commute

Park Slope, Bay Ridge, the Upper West Side and Forest Hills are the best neighborhoods to move to if you want to get a subway seat during the a.m. rush hour, transit data show.

As long as you’re willing to ride the local.

New York’s subway system has been breaking ridership records in the last year, with 6 million people cramming onto trains on each of 29 different days in 2014. But riders looking to escape sardine-can trains can take the R line into Manhattan from Brooklyn neighborhoods including Park Slope, Bay Ridge and Sunset Park.

That line operates at only 57 percent capacity.

MTA officials say this is because R train riders typically transfer in Brooklyn to either the express N train at 59th Street or the D train at 36th Street in order to shave a few minutes off their commutes — even though those lines are more crowded.

Bruni Perez, 38, of Bay Ridge said the R is a long trip for her but worth it to read in peace.

“I usually do get a seat,” she said. “You have to get on towards the back. It’s a slow train, you slog through Brooklyn, but having a seat and being able to read my Kindle makes it bearable.”

Others said that though they might not always get a seat on the R train, it’s still a lot less crowded.

“It’s not super crowded, but I’m usually standing,” said Justin Felder, 25, who lives off the Union Street stop.

Subway7Extension1

Upper West Siders also have good odds of getting a seat, as long as they don’t mind taking the local.

The B and C lines above 60th Street only run at 58 percent capacity.

“Oh no! My secret is out,” said Cindy Martinez, 48. “I avoid the 2 and 3 in Manhattan. Crazy crowded. You take the B or the C to the Upper West Side, and you almost always get a seat. Plus it’s quiet. It’s like Upper Manhattan’s secret.”

Unlike the Upper East Side, where the Second Avenue Subway line is being built, the Upper West Side has two major subway routes — one on Broadway and the other on Central Park West.

The next-best lines are the M and R trains from Queens to Manhattan.

LTrain

The lines, which are 59 percent full, run through neighborhoods including Jackson Heights, Forest Hills and Rego Park.

The G train, which runs from Queens to Brooklyn, as well as the 2 and 3 line from Brooklyn to Manhattan, are other lines that aren’t packed to the gills.

The MTA says they are at 61 and 63 percent capacity, respectively, during rush hour.

Read more about this story and other subway news

 

MTA Works to Minimize Record Crowds on New York City Subways

Overcrowded subways are causing more delays across the city’s transit system.

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, there were nearly 13,000 delays because of overcrowding in January. That’s almost double the number of delays in the same month last year.

The Second Avenue subway is expected to ease overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue lines and the MTA says three of the new stations will open by December of next year.

Transit officials say work on the 86th Street stop needs to be sped up to avoid delaying the project’s completion.

Crews are still working to get the 7 train to the far West Side this spring, but they’re dealing with some issues regarding the installation of elevators at the 34th Street/Hudson Yards station.

2ndAveSubwayMarch42015

Long overdue repairs to the 168th Street and 181st Street stops in Washington Heights are being pushed back.

We brought you a story in 2013 about bricks falling from the ceiling onto the tracks and passing trains. Now the MTA hopes to have everything fixed by next year.

Finally, the MTA is proposing changes to two bus routes in Brooklyn and Queens that serve an area where many pedestrians have been hit.

Angry subway riders rip Cuomo over miserable commutes

Angry subway riders ripped Gov. Cuomo on Sunday March 15, 2015 for what they called deteriorating transit service — and even made posters about their miserable commutes while calling for more funding for the MTA.

The advocacy group Riders Alliance collected stories about riders’ commutes from hell at the Atlantic Avenue- Barclays Center station in Brooklyn to share with Cuomo and the state legislature in Albany.

The group said it has seen a major increase in complaints from its members about service problems in recent weeks.

“The subway service has been atrocious recently, and people get frustrated with the MTA,” said Alliance Executive Director John Raskin. “People need to take their frustrations to Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature.”

“Lately, it’s been worse and worse,” she said. “One day, it was a 35-minute bus ride to go 1 mile. Then you get to the F train, and it’s like the sardines.”

Straphangers have also been taking to Twitter to rip Cuomo about the transit system.

“I look at this wall every time I wait for the subway in Brooklyn and think #thankscuomo,” tweeted Joanna Oltman Smith about her run-down Park Slope station. “@RidersNY.”

The MTA is facing a $15 billion deficit in its upcoming capital plan, which funds big projects such as the Second Avenue subway and bringing the LIRR to Grand Central.

The MTA said full funding of its upcoming capital plan would help them strengthen and grow the transit system.

Cuomo oversees the agency, and he and the legislature approve funding for it.

“As subway ridership continues to grow past 6 million a day, fully funding the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Program will let us renew, enhance and expand the MTA network,” the agency said in a statement.

Why the Second Ave. subway could be delayed—again

If the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget debate is not resolved in the next 18 months, the agency could be forced to refund money to contractors on expansion projects, its chairman said Wednesday.

It’s an ominous refrain, repeated endlessly in the same automated monotone: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us.”

Every New Yorker who rides the subway to work each day—all 6 million, on the busiest days—has heard that message echoed over loudspeakers when a train car comes to an unexpected halt. What most commuters don’t realize is that those delays are tied to a contentious political fight playing out over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s five-year capital budget plan, which will fund critical improvements and repairs to the city’s sprawling transit system.

Right now, the MTA is struggling to find funding sources for about half of that $32 billion plan. The agency could be forced to refund money to contractors on expansion projects like the East Side access project—which will connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal—if the budget debate isn’t resolved 18 months from now, MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said at a board meeting Wednesday.

“A year or two, we’re OK,” Mr. Prendergast said. “But as you start to get down that path, we get to the point where we don’t have that money, we can’t award design contracts, we can’t award construction projects.”

Another major project at risk is the new subway line that will run along Second Avenue, Mr. Prendergast said.

“Could we start the next phase of the Second Avenue subway? That would be one that would be up on the table,” he said.

But Mr. Prendergast said the agency has never found itself in that position before, and he doesn’t expect it will happen this time around.

“New York gets the money it needs to get the MTA to keep running,” he said. Probably more so than any other entity in the United States.”

Experts say the city’s aging trains and buses, which already lag far behind other global metropolises, will deteriorate considerably if the transit authority is unable to digitize a century-old subway signaling system, replace miles of subway tracks and cars and fix tunnel lighting, among many critical repairs.

“We will start sliding backwards,” said Richard Barone, director of transportation programs for the Regional Plan Association, an independent civic group that shapes transit policy across the tri-state area. “Stations will be looking worse. We won’t have the money to maintain the track infrastructure to where it should be, and therefore it will result in greater delays. If we don’t upgrade our signaling system, well, that’s really bad because these are signals that are in some cases over 80 years old.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on the funding crisis in Albany on Wednesday, calling MTA’s capital plan “woefully underfunded.” The mayor criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s current contribution of $750 million toward the budget, saying it does not begin to address the transit authority’s critical needs.

“We cannot ask riders alone to sustain the system with fare increases,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Politicians and policymakers are divided over how to come up with the remaining $15 billion needed to fund the plan. Mr. Cuomo, who controls the MTA, has described it as “bloated,” which implies that he will expect significant cuts in order for it to pass muster in the Legislature this summer. But the consensus among transportation experts is that the price tag actually isn’t high enough to cover the massive amount of work that needs to be done.

Mr. Cuomo’s office declined to comment on how the governor believes the budget ought to be funded. None of the options are politically popular: raising taxes, tolls or fares, for example. Funding also could be diverted from other state projects and funneled toward transportation.

The most fully formed alternative funding plan was announced last week by a coalition spearheaded by former transportation commissioner Sam Schwartz, known as “Gridlock Sam.” The group proposed implementing tolls for all cars that cross 60th Street in Manhattan and the free bridges spanning the East River. That plan was endorsed by several local politicians and major transportation groups, but notably did not receive support from either the governor or Mayor Bill de Blasio.

For subway riders, perhaps the most important improvement included in the capital plan is the installation of communications-based train control system on several subway lines, which will effectively digitize the trains. That means they’ll be able to run much closer together and more efficiently, rather than stopping and waiting for other trains to pass ahead of them.

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Throughout 2nd Avenue Subway Build, Local Businesses See Fewer Customers, No Aid

With the first phase of the 2nd Avenue subway line set to be completed by December 2016, construction-weary business owners and residents are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even through the drilling smoke and fences that have become ubiquitous on the Upper East Side. Even so, the damage of a process that is approaching its eighth anniversary has left the surrounding area worse for wear, with businesses leaving in droves and residents finding the essence of their neighborhood completely disrupted.

And it’s just the first section, from 63rd Street to 96th Street, of the new line aimed at increasing transportation options and reducing overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue lines.

The process has left local businesses suffering the adverse effects. Almost half of the businesses between 68th Street and 95th Street that saw the beginning of the 2nd Avenue construction have moved or closed within the last 5 years due to declining revenues, according to the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC). Of the 441 storefronts that are currently situated on the Upper East Side stretch, 242 have been operating there since 2009, MCC says.

The Chamber has kept a steady record of declining foot traffic on 2nd Avenue since the commencement of the subway project, in April of 2007. MCC President Nancy Ploeger said the biggest disappointment to come from the past eight years has been the lack of tax credit for business owners.

“We would have hoped there would be more support for these businesses during a ten-year project,” Ploeger said. “It wasn’t an eight-month project, it was ten years.”

The general consensus among businesses owners on 2nd Avenue that spoke with Gotham Gazette is that the current construction obstructs everything in the area. Most businesses have taken a hit from the lack of walk-in customers, people simply no longer walk down 2nd Avenue unless it’s absolutely necessary. “In the time since the construction, our delivery business has continued to improve, while our dine-in business has stayed flat or fallen,” said Danny Marquez, the ten-year manager of Nick’s Restaurant and Pizzeria on 94th Street. “We may have experienced improvement in both areas were it not for the construction.”

Chris Tripoulas, four-year manager of Dorrian’s Red Hand on 84th Street, said that business has dramatically decreased, estimating about a 50% loss overall, possibly even more in daytime business during construction hours. “They haven’t done anything to help us out,” Tripoulas said of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s involvement with businesses on 2nd Avenue. Tripoulas, like Ploeger, expressed disappointment over the lack of tax credit for businesses in the construction zone. “A lot of the time people don’t even think we’re open, because [the construction] is covering us up,” he said.

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The MBTA’s Real Map

TRANSLATION — Joke maps of the MBTA, like this one that has been making its way around Twitter this week, might elicit some frustrated chuckles now. But as delays get worse and patience runs out, politicians are scrambling to make sure they aren’t blamed for the T’s performance this winter. First and foremost is Governor Charlie Baker. On Wednesday he demanded that Keolis, the French company that operates the commuter rail, shape up in time for Monday, when school vacation ends. He took a similarly strong tone with transit officials last week. It’s clear the MBTA has become a political hot potato, and Baker doesn’t want to be left holding it.

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