Archive for the tag 'department of transit'

New York City’s Independent Budget Office (IBO), which provides nonpartisan information about the city budget and tax revenues, reported that city agencies have rung up $154.1 million in overtime costs related to Superstorm Sandy.

The large figure comes as no surprise, considering the massive devastation Sandy heaped upon our area, but it’s interesting to note the breakdown of which agencies clocked the most overtime.

The NYPD took the bulk of it, racking up 46 percent of the total overtime. Next was the Department of Sanitation, which took in 35 percent of the overtime pie. Park workers, transit workers and firefighters also took home extra chunks.

According to Mayor Bloomberg, the storm’s total price tag, figuring in city and private losses, was a whopping $19 billion. City agencies accounted for $4.5 billion of that figure, which included overtime costs, cleanup and other expenditures.

Click here for the new Brooklyn bus map, in effect starting Sunday, June 27.

Where will the restructured B4 operate starting this Sunday? No one seems to know.

The B4 will no longer operate on Neptune Avenue, but instead will use Avenue Z. It will also now terminate at Coney Island Avenue at all times when it operates, except on Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. during rush hours, when it will continue to serve Plum Beach. (UPDATE 6/25/2010: We’re having trouble confirming the exact time the B4 will be running the Emmons Avenue/Shore Parkway route. The MTA’s webpage just says “rush hours.” Elsewhere on the site we read that means 6:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. / 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., but we’ve heard from others that the B4 will run between 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. / 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.)

But even those in charge of placing signs around Coney Island Avenue appear to be confused where the bus is headed.

The new MTA map shows it operating eastbound along Avenue Z between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue, and westbound along the Shore Parkway north service road between these points at all times. However, DOT posted B4 bus stop signs in both directions all along Avenue Z.

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Allan Rosen is a 25-year veteran of the MTA, including a former Director of Bus Planning. He’s also a Sheepshead Bay-area resident and one of the original planners behind the B4 route. He previously criticized the MTA’s latest round of cuts, and here he questions the revisions made and the amount of thought given to residents’ objections.

On Friday, the MTA announced a set of revised service cuts that are expected to be voted on by Board members on Wednesday. The fact alone that only two weeks were allowed to review and evaluate all the public comments for well over 100 major route and service changes is ridiculous in itself when the MTA ordinarily makes only about ten route changes per year and studies each of those for an average of two years.

The MTA is like a doctor doing surgery without doing the proper diagnostic tests. Standard planning practice is to use passenger traffic counts to determine schedule changes and origin destination surveys, i.e. asking people where they are beginning and ending their trips to determine route changes or eliminations. Yet the MTA uses the former to do both. Also, like doctors, they are playing with people’s lives. There are four nursing homes and assisted living facilities along Emmons Avenue where the B4 is now proposed for weekend and partial weekday elimination, leaving some visitors with no mass transit option to visit their loved ones or employees to get to work. At the same time the City and the MTA are promoting “Leave your car home and use mass transit” campaigns.

The revision to B4 service will restore weekday service, but only from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and reroutes the bus from Neptune Avenue to Avenue Z. They are starting at 2 p.m. because I told them about the high afternoon ridership which apparently they overlooked. What else are they overlooking? The move to Avenue Z could be a great idea or it could be a bad one. Long story short, you would only know by doing the proper diagnostic tests, i.e. proper surveys, which are not being done. They are only guessing which is something New Yorkers just cannot afford.

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I wasn’t able to attend last night’s public hearing on MTA cuts, but luckily Allan Rosen, the former MTA official who critiqued the plans earlier this week, sent us the dispatch below. I encourage anyone who went to add their two cents to the report.

As for me, I’ll be submitting testimony online based on what I’ve seen and heard from residents. Also, at the Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association meeting on Tuesday, board members asked to get a hearing in the area, which State Senator Marty Golden’s office is looking into.

Here’s Rosen’s report:

Brooklyn had their turn last night at giving the MTA an earful regarding their proposals to cut subway and bus service as well as the free or reduced-fare student MetroCards.  The meeting turned tumultous as a brawl broke out when one student tried to speak out of turn and four people were arrested.

Students were frustrated at having to wait hours for their turn to speak because of the MTA’s policy to allow elected officials to speak before the registered public speakers.  Finally, one elected official suggested that the MTA alternate one elected official with one member of the public, which the MTA finally heeded. Still, even pre-registered speakers, who registered weeks ago, such as Allan Rosen, didn’t get a chance to speak until 8:45 PM; the meeting began at 6.  Those registering on the night of the hearing had to wait much longer.  Many went home before their turn as the hour turned late.  One of them was CB 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo.  A few speakers from Sheepshead Bay did get a chance to speak. The meeting was expected to last until midnight.  It is unknown if the meeting actually lasted that long or even longer.

The main points brought out my speakers were the need not to cut student passes, the need to use a portion of the federal stimulus money to fill the deficit gap until more permanent funding can be found, a sweetheart deal between the MTA and Ratner which allowed the Atlantic Yards to be sold at below market value with terms of up to 80 years for him to complete payment to the MTA and how the MTA is wasting money by allowing 370 Jay Street to remain empty for years.

The disabled also spoke against proposals to cut Access-a-Ride services; some mentioned ways to improve how the current system works.  Others protested cuts to specific bus and subway routes.  The MTA stated that the complete video of the hearing will be made available on its website one week from today and all sumitted written testimony will be prepared in book form and be made available to Board members for their review.

Also, some people criticized the location of the hearing claiming it was a difficult location for them to get to, requiring multiple buses and trains. They suggested that in the future additional meetings be held at more locations.

During last Wednesday’s Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting, Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo urged residents to attend the March 3 hearing on MTA service cuts. The all-important hearing is being used by MTA commissioners to judge opposition to their plans, so a light showing from certain neighborhoods could be interpreted as a sign of community approval.

Don’t let that happen! Attend the hearing even if you don’t plan to speak. Let them know that striking out the B4 service along Emmons Avenue will suffocate businesses and leave Plumb Beach residents and several senior homes without service. And let them know, too, that you believe these plans are ill-conceived and rely on faulty data.

To give a little more oomph, you’ll see in the video above that Scavo believes eliminating the student metrocard will lead to increased crime rates. She says struggling students are “going to be stealing the money to get to where they are going, or they’re going to be jumping the turnstiles. They are not going to put their hand in their pocket rather than going and buying sneakers or their cell phone to pay to get on a train or a bus.”

I’m not sure if I totally buy the increased crime argument, but asking families to pay nearly $100 a month for their kids to get to school for their supposedly free education is ludicrous. It will certainly lead to increased drop-out rates and further hurt New York City’s education standings.

It’s stealing opportunity from an entire generation of low-income students and their families.

Learn what you can do to stop the cuts from suffocating Sheepshead Bay!

Photo courtesy of a-NeRo86 via Flickr

Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of Bus Planning for New York City Transit, has fired off a 2,600-word missive at the MTA for its latest round of cuts.

TAKE ACTION!

Read about the cuts [pdf]
Visit MTA.info
Attend a hearing:

Brooklyn Museum
Cantor Auditorium,
200 Eastern Parkway
Wed. March 3 @ 6 p.m.


Register to speak

Comment to MTA by e-mail
Sign a petition

Rosen posted his planned testimony for this Wednesday’s MTA hearing, in which he lays into the befuddled agency for poor planning. And he should know – in addition to his role as Director of Bus Planning, Rosen wrote his masters thesis on the “Inefficiency and Ineffectiveness of Brooklyn Bus Routes” at Columbia University. He’s also a 25-year veteran of the MTA, retiring in 2005 after recovering the authority millions of dollars as Director of Asset Recovery.

The scope of Rosen’s challenge to the MTA is breathtaking. His years of experience afford him an advantage few critics of the MTA have, including a deep knowledge of criteria and guidelines used to determine “acceptable” cuts. And he uses that knowledge to do an almost point-by-point decimation of the MTA’s plan.

Among Rosen’s critiques, which he explains at length, are that the MTA:

  • overestimates the cost savings provided by cuts
  • assumes inconvenience is not a factor in determining whether someone chooses to use the system or not
  • grossly understates the negative effects … [which include for some] no mass transit option at all
  • based its cuts on faulty criteria (which Rosen picks apart well)
  • routinely chose cuts over optimizing efficiency

He also hints that the plan being put forward now is not based on fresh data, but has been a “go-to” plan shelved for many years until deficits grew too deep.

Notably, one of the bus cuts that Rosen singles out for examination is the B4, which will have service eliminated east of Coney Island Avenue. Not only has he observed much higher ridership than the MTA’s data claims, but the service elimination leaves residents with a walk much longer than the MTA’s own planning guidelines allow. The cut will sever mass transit options to the Emmons Avenue waterfront, including a shopping and dining district, major movie theater, and several senior homes.

Rosen is submitting his full testimony electronically, but he’s also planning on attending Wednesday’s hearing and delivering a three-minute version. “I have not been this upset about service cuts since 1993, which was the last time I testified at a hearing,” he told Sheepshead Bites.

He urges all of Sheepshead Bay’s residents to attend the hearing or send comments by e-mail, because he says the MTA is attempting to “overwhelm” with cuts and make it impossible to fight.

Below I excerpt pieces of Rosen’s post, but I strongly advise residents to read his entire testimony.

Read Allan Rosen’s testimony about MTA Bus cuts

Construction at Ave U train station - Q train in Sheepshead Bay

Just one month shy of the first-year anniversary of construction at the Avenue U and Gravesend Neck Road train stations, the sites reek of the failures soon to ail the rest of the line.

Artist's rendering of completed station rehabilitation at Neck Road. The station will have wider platforms, larger stairwells, more exits, newer windscreens that are easier to clean, and vision panels.

Artist's rendering of completed station rehabilitation at Neck Road. The station will have wider platforms, larger stairwells, more exits, and vision panels.

For those who don’t take the train often, above is a photo of the Avenue U train station taken from the platform. They began putting up new frames that will hold the walls here and at the Neck Road train station earlier this week. Work began on the two stations in December 2008, and the MTA said that they finish the Coney Island-bound sides by the end of 2009. Then they’d switch to the Manhattan-bound side, polishing off the project in 2010.

Well, that was the original plan. The MTA changed the Brighton Line Rehabilitation website to reflect the fact that these sites ain’t gettin’ done on time. The tentative date for completion for the Coney Island-bound side is now “Early 2010″, and the full project will be done in “Early 2011.”

If you haven’t noticed, this is the same “Two year plan” that has been extended to the rest of the local stops between Newkirk Avenue and Kings Highway. One year work on the Coney Island side, then one year on the Manhattan side. Gee, you think they’ll honor those schedules?

By the by, for anyone keeping track, the MTA has not yet responded to our leaders’ requests for more information. Politicians and organizers for the area met with MTA officials a month ago to ask for alternatives to the work and guarantees of the timetable. MTA told them they would be in touch in a few days after they had gathered relevant data. Apparently there are delays on that, too.

(Photo courtesy of Pamela Amri)

Sheepshead Bay may be the next site for the New York City Department of Transit’s (NYCDOT) innovative new program Select Bus Service. The proposed bus route, which will run along Nostrand Avenue from Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg, earned a “High” rating from the Federal Transportation Authority (FTA), indicating that it is “extremely likely” to receive federal funds from its Small Starts program.

Though the FTA did not include the new Select Bus Service route on a list of budgeted projects in FY2010, the agency reserves $81 million for unidentified projects which could receive funding next year. The high marks given to the proposal reflect a strong likelihood that the organization will direct funds to the new route, given that of the 40 Small Starts projects in the report, only two are rated “High” by the FTA. The city is asking for $19 in federal money towards the project’s $88 million price tag.

The Select Bus Service features many key elements from the Bus Rapid Transit – including pre-boarding fare collection, entry through multiple doors, and exclusive bus lanes that are in effect during the high traffic 12-hour period on weekdays. First launched in June 2008 with the Bx12 Select, an inaugural route linking the West and East Bronx in a one-seat ride that connects to about seven subway lines and 14 other bus routes, the program has received high marks from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign for illustrating “how inexpensive innovations can improve service throughout the five boroughs and in communities with limited transit options.”

Here’s a video produced by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, in which they report on the Bx12 Select Bus Service’s features and rider’s reactions: