Archive for the tag 'subway'

Source: dtanist/Flickr

A man died early Friday morning after he jumped in front of a Q train in Brighton Beach, the Daily News reports.

The man, who police said was in his mid 40s, apparently threw himself in front of the southbound Q train as it rolled into the Ocean Pkwy. station shortly after midnight on Friday, police said.

The man was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital.

mm_subway_sweetspot_roman_kruglov

Sheepshead Bay Station

In a bombshell investigative report, the New York Post has learned that subway stations and platforms, even in the glitziest sections of Manhattan, are disgusting and visually unpleasing.

The stunning findings, courtesy of the rider advocacy group the Straphangers Campaign, included eyewitness testimony from New Yorkers, flabbergasted at how poorly maintained the platforms are:

Juan Perez, 48, who uses the Chambers Street J/Z station, said the platform there is one of the dingiest he has seen…

“It looks like it hasn’t been retiled since the 1920s,” he said. “It’s falling apart.”…

“It’s gritty and it’s not a good representation of our city,” said Harry Dubin, an Upper East Sider who uses the City Hall stop to visit his sister and her family at a luxury condo nearby.

“It’s rundown and a dump.”

The study noted the presence of rats, crumbling tiles, overflowing garbage bins and graffiti as major factors contributing to the negative experience expressed by New Yorkers. According to experts, the technical term for this experience is known as “reality.”

All joking aside, the numbers gathered by the Starphangers Campaign study are depressing. According to the report, 74 percent of all stations need fresh paint jobs and a whopping 82 percent of all underground platforms suffer from significant water damage.

The MTA defended the shitty quality of the stations by claiming that their focus, rightly so, is on addressing safety issues first and foremost. Still, it would be amazing to one day see the century of grime and filth, caked into and onto the station floors and walls, washed clean. Hey, I’ll stop dreaming, it’s not like New York is the greatest city in the world or anything. Why would New Yorkers ever even dream of commuting to their homes and jobs if it wasn’t a journey through abject grossness?

“I can see for miles and miles…” – An articulated subway car in Canada. Also, cool piano tie, dude. (Source: R. Flores/Flickr)

For decades, Americans were endlessly hyped about what bold and novel wonders the 21st Century had in store for us. Flying cars, apartments on the moon, and sassy robot butlers were promised to all. But, instead, we got computer phones, Wikileaks and unlimited access to pornography. While these advancements have their benefits, they don’t reflect the Jetson-esque utopia of our collective imaginations.

In this spirit of reduced expectations, the MTA rolled out their plan to build a fleet of new subway cars, which promise to be more logically spaced, allowing for increased flow and more space, blah, blah, blah. To the surprise of only the most optimistic futurists, the trains will not be streaked with pulsating neon, hovering over the rails on magnets, and will not be equipped with turbo drives.

According to a report in the New York Times, which spotted the plans laid out in a document by the MTA for 2015-2034, the new articulated and logic-friendly (boring) trains are being seriously discussed by transit planners.

Articulated trains would connect all the cars of the subway, allowing people to stand in accordion-like spaces between the cars.

“This will both maximize carrying capacity,” an MTA official told the Times, and allow passengers to “move to less-crowded areas of the train, balancing loading and unloading times at all doors.”

This type of train is already used in Paris, Toronto and Berlin. Still, implementing a whole new type of train to the system isn’t something that can be done simply. The Times noted that the plan will take years of planning and also touched on the history of articulated trains in the city:

Adam Lisberg, the authority’s chief spokesman, said that increased capacity could improve “dwell time” — the period during which a train is stopped in a station, often because of overcrowding — and allow more trains to run. He cautioned, though, that with a 109-year-old system, any major change required extensive review.

“If you make a bad call on changing equipment in a new subway car order,” he said, “the consequences can be pretty serious.”

In fact, New York City has a history with articulated trains. In 1924, the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation introduced plans for the “Triplex,” with a hinged, multisectioned body. It operated on the B, D, N, Q and R lines over a period of 40 years, representing “the height of transit modernity” at a moment when elevated lines often still featured wooden cars, according to the New York Transit Museum.

Despite offering greater space and flow, articulated trains have some serious drawbacks. For example, if someone vomits, urinates or God-knows-what-else in a car, train operators won’t be able to seal off that section like they normally would, forcing passengers to flea as far as possible from the mess. Andrew Albert, another MTA official, spoke to how articulated trains also have a downside when it comes to crime.

“Remember the time when we were in the high-crime era and gangs were roaming through the trains? Everybody loved the locked end doors,” Albert told the Times.

Personally, I guess that if the kinks of an articulated train system could be managed effectively, it would represent an upgrade over what we have now. Still, I’m bummed that the new trains, which we may not see for decades, are essentially going to be what people in Germany and Canada have been using for a while. When is New York going to really become the “city of tomorrow” and do something bold and incredible with their public services?

Sometimes it feels like the future is slipping through our fingers. Tube transport system, anybody?

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a common theme circulating in the social and political atmosphere has been one of defiance. The message has been to rebuild and redevelop, even in the most vulnerable coastal communities. A report in Mother Jones is arguing that the attitude of continually trying to defy nature is costly, risky and could very well backfire despite billions in planned improvements.

In their analysis, Mother Jones target comments made by prominent political leaders and suggest that “retreating” from the coastline might be a more a realistic option:

Retreat needs to be considered not as a defeatist last-resort, but as proactive strategy needed in some places.

Take New York City, for example, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed 257 initiatives to be pursued over the next 10 years at an estimated $20 billion. He has repeatedly emphasized that the city “will not retreat from the waterfront.” But it will be hard to stand by this categorical commitment as sea levels continue to rise.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $400 million home-buyout program, of which a meager $170 million has been HUD-approved. Only homes with damage more than 50 percent of their value are eligible. The Oak Beach community in Staten Island has applied as a pilot program for a community-based buyout, but hasn’t yet been approved. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is encouraging rapid rebuilding while also proposing a limited buyout program. But with no funding set aside for it, he has made clear he prefers to rebuild rather than retreat.

The report lays out the case that rising flood insurance premiums coupled with expensive new building regulations laid out by FEMA create unfavorable options for homeowners trying to live in coastal communities. Previously, we had reported on the new flood lines drawn by FEMA that will drastically increase costs for homeowners in vulnerable areas. For example, if you have a $250,000 home with a ground floor four feet below sea level, and cannot meet FEMA’s new building regulations, you may have to pay $9,500 a year in flood insurance. By comparison, a home hoisted three feet above the flood line will only have to pay $427 a year, but the cost of doing so will be expensive.

It is because of these reasons that the Mother Jones report is advocating other options like buyouts, curtailing development and fixing the infrastructure:

These options should include support for buyouts in mid-Atlantic communities, at least for coastal and estuary locations that are either at elevations of ten feet or less above the local mean higher high tide or 5 feet above the latest mapped FEMA 1 percent per year base flood elevations, whichever is higher. Once buyouts at these elevations are secured, they should progress to higher elevations.

Disallow new residential development in those low-lying elevations unless it is flood-adapted (safely moored and floatable or substantially raised with raised or floodable utility connections). With urgency, local building codes need to be re-written to take this into account, since those specifications don’t yet exist.

Know that flood-protective structures—sea gates, levees, or walls—have limits. To start, sea levels will inevitably surpass their finite design heights. But before that ever happens, they introduce their own collateral hazards. A barrier system meant to protect an estuary or river with considerable discharge could flood communities behind the protective systems.

Develop a set of land-use priorities. Infrastructure, including transportation networks, sewage treatment plants, solid waste facilities, energy supply and distribution systems, utilities, and public health facilities demand the highest priorities for adaptation, whether by protectionaccommodation (some utility distribution systems could be made submergible; other system elements could be raised or made floatable); or by retreat to higher ground. In any case, for this essential infrastructure, higher flood standards need to be considered (such as the 0.2%/year flood elevations), and margins for sea level rise must be added that are in a time horizon commensurate with the expected lifetime of the facility itself. New rights of way will need to be relocated from low-lying areas to higher elevations.

The report even goes as far to suggest creating alternatives to subway systems, which they believe are too vulnerable to constant predicted future flooding, calling for an overhaul of the century old rail system.

Interesting stuff. Whether or not you accept the recommendations in this report, the critical point is that the city is at a crossroads with billions of federal dollars to spend on potential solutions. It is up to our political leaders, engineers and city planners to make sure that they are covering every angle of the recovery process and make decisions that mitigate the full impact of future natural disasters.

Source: MTA via the New York Times

Source: MTA via the New York Times

Two kittens, trapped on the tracks near the Church Avenue subway station, caused a 90-minute delay along the Q and B lines yesterday. The New York Times is reporting that the kittens, named Arthur and August, were subsequently rescued.

When the saga began, train operators described the situation as “ongoing NYPD activity” to stranded straphangers, which is rather hilarious in hindsight. Eventually, passengers, stuck for almost two hours, were let in on the truth. Rider Sandra Polel told the Daily News that she didn’t mind the delay.

“The announcer said it had to stop to rescue some cats. I didn’t mind. I wanted to get home, but I also wanted the kittens to be safe,” Pole told the Daily News.

Attempts to rescue the cats during the 90 minute delay proved futile and regular service along the B and Q continued after 1 p.m. The cats were still visible to officials and subway riders, dangerously huddled underneath the third rail.

Another delay occurred around rush hour when the express track was suspended at 5:45 p.m. The Daily News described how the cats were eventually rescued:

Letitia Delacorte Spangler, 31, joined the crowd at the platform to watch the commotion.

She said a plainclothes officer and a uniformed officer jumped down on the tracks.

“People were throwing out ideas. The wind blew off a box of honey buns in their direction. We thought, ‘Maybe that would work?’ ”

The two officers kept running alongside the third rail, but the kittens kept eluding them, scampering back and forth.

“They were quick! They kept running up and down,” she said.

An MTA worker rerouted an oncoming B train, then joined them wearing an orange vest.

“One of the officers then had an insulated glove. He just scooped them out, despite all escape tactics,” said Spangler.

The 4-week-old kittens were placed in carrying crates at about 6 p.m. and shipped off to the Brooklyn Animal Care Shelter on Linden Blvd, where a spokesman said they will get medical evaluations. For now, the two are safe. Rescuers even gave the pair names, Arthur and August.

While the story had a happy ending and is very heartwarming, the Times noted that questions were raised over the MTA’s handling of the matter, considering the long delays that resulted:

Though the authority had said officers were involved in the first search, the department refuted that throughout the day, perhaps seeking to distance itself from the service disruption. “We don’t shut down trains searching for cats,” a police spokesman said…

But the circumstances on Thursday presented a wrinkle: It is easy to root for a search that has little downside; one that snarls train service is another matter.

“I’m pro-cat,” Alex Davies, a reporter for Business Insider, posted on Twitter, “but this is absurd.”…

Gene Russianoff, the staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, said the decision to shut down service was understandable given the time of day. “It would be a tougher choice if it were the Lexington line at 8:30 in the morning,” he said.

I do feel bad that many people in our area had to deal with an absurdly long delay. But, whatever, hooray for kittens!

Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you live on the far end of a New York City borough and have the distinct pleasure of sitting through a 45-50 minute commute into Manhattan every day, you gain a unique experience. The trip highlights the diversity of races, cultures and economic classes as the train rumbles from your more modest home towards Fancytown. While it’s easy to notice the types of people you see on the train – homeless, hipsters, lawyers, mothers and tourists – it’s harder to guess their socioeconomic status, even if you have a rough idea. Thanks to the New Yorker, you can now know exactly how much people are making through their handy interactive graph which charts the median household incomes via subway stops.

The results will probably depress you, especially if you are a normal schmo from Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach or practically anywhere outside of the confines of Manhattan. The luckiest New Yorkers live off the 2 and 3 lines by Park Place and Chambers Street. If those people are even using the subway, they are on average earning more than $200,000 a year.

Riders near the 18th Avenue D stop in Bensonhurst clock an average of $39,524. Borough Park riders near 55th street also earn about $39,000. Further south by the Sheepshead Bay Q station, riders earn an average of $33,616. Brighton Beach riders are even less affluent, with the median being set at $28,398. If Q train riders from Southern Brooklyn want to see some fancy people living off their line, all they have to do is drop $2.50 and ride up to 5th Avenue in Manhattan where the median  household income is set at a breezy $171,000.

It’s a fascinating graph filled with huge spikes that tower over the lowly millions in far more precarious economic situations. Sigh…

New Proposed Subway Designs: Source: MTA via gothamist.com

What is your subway strategy? For me, when the train is empty, I head for the edge of a seating platform, preferring to have a barrier of bars to my left or right. When it’s half-full and I have a long ride in front of me, I might try to squeeze in an empty middle spot, unless the people to my left or right are especially smelly or slightly insane or incredibly obese. When the train is crowded, I shoot for some space by a door, preferably on the side that opens less as the train gets more jammed.

These are the silent thoughts that go through practically every subway riders’ mind when they gear up for their commutes, all with the same goal of making the annoying experience as painless and as comfortable as possible. Well, the MTA has been studying your subway exit strategies and seating habits all with the purpose of designing new subway cars that match your behavior and make for better riding experiences for everybody, according to a report by the New York Times.

The study yielded some interesting observation and statistics:

When a subway car has more passengers than seats, the study found that an average of 10 percent or more of the seats were not taken. And even when a subway car is less than half-filled, the authors found that a small percentage of riders would inevitably choose to stand.

Riders prefer seats near a door, the authors said, and demonstrate “disdain for bench spots between two other seats.” Those who stand also prefer to do so near doors, in part because of its many “partitions to lean against,” and for the precious seconds they save getting off the train.

But the doorway area was desirable for a less obvious reason, too, the report found; it allowed riders to avoid “the sometimes uncomfortable feeling of accidentally making eye contact with seated passengers.”

With these observed behaviors in mind, the MTA began to graph some potential new designs that might ease congestion, benefit long-term riders and satisfy people looking to make quicker exits. In the image above, the MTA focused in on “choice-c,” which practically eliminates seating in the middle and provides airline style seats for long term riders near the back. Seems kind of interesting. I also notice that the off-centered seating of the benches near the middle might help people avoid awkwardly staring into each other’s eyes over a long commute.

We were wondering what our readers think. Do the new designs make sense? Do you think that all of this behavioral tinkering makes sense? Let us know.

Remember Maksim Gelman, the lunatic who went on a stabbing spree that resulted in the tragic deaths of four people and 28 hour manhunt throughout the entire city? Well, the last person Gelman attacked, 42-year-old Joseph Lozito, is suing the city for failing to intervene when he was being attacked by Gelman on the subway with police in view of the whole incident, according to a report by the New York Post.

Lozito, who suffered seven stab wounds mainly to the back of the head and face, recognized Gelman on an uptown 3 train and tackled him to the ground. According to Lozito, police officers Terrance Howell and Tamara Taylor, who were stationed in the adjacent operator’s cab, did nothing until Lozito managed to pin Gelman to the ground.

In their defense, the city is (somehow) arguing that a police officer has no “special duty” to protect a citizen, even if they are being attacked in plain sight.

The city’s arguments are even murkier considering that the original NYPD affidavit claimed that it was Howell who had heroically tackled Gelman, not Lozito. According to the Post, it was this point that angered Lozito and spurred his lawsuit:

Lozito says a grand-jury member later told him Howell admitted on the stand that he hid during the attack because he thought Gelman had a gun.

An angry Lozito decided to sue the city for negligence, arguing the cops should have recognized Gelman and prevented, or reacted more quickly to, the assault.

The city routinely settles such litigation but is playing hardball with Lozito, insisting his demand for unspecified money damages be tossed because the police had no “special duty” to protect him or any individual on the train that day.

Experts say it’s a long-standing legal precedent requiring police to put the public safety of all ahead of any one individual’s rights.

Is it just me, or is this one of the most convoluted and bumbling defenses ever put forward? Police officers encounter crazed killer and either fail to recognize him or are hiding from him in fear. Crazed killer tries to kill a citizen in plain sight of police officers. Stabbed citizen pins killer, cops finally emerge, take credit for stopping said lunatic, then later claim they were not obligated to assist a citizen getting brutally stabbed in plain sight. Y’know, allegedly, or something.

Whether or not Lozito’s bizarre case goes to trial is now in the hands of a judge.

“Q Train” (pastel on paper, 22 x 30) by Nigel van Wieck

It’s another week, and another batch of subway service advisories to remind you that, in at least one way (the MTA way), 2013 won’t be all that different from 2012.

The changes kick off tonight at 10 p.m., at which time the gates at the Times Square Station will be locked to stop last-minute attendees of the ball-dropping from getting out of the station and ahead of the crowd. It remains closed until midnight. You can still get out of the station via the passageway to 8th Avenue.

Nighttime changes continue through the week, as Manhattan-bound Q trains will run along the R line from DeKalb Avenue to Canal Street after midnight and until 5 a.m. That means a few more stops, and a few more minutes of travel, so plan accordingly (if, for whatever reason you’re traveling on a deadline at four in the morning).

Daytime changes will be a bit more meaningful, but you’ll be used to them. Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Sheepshead Bay, and Manhattan-bound B trains run local from Sheepshead Bay to Prospect Park, Wednesday to Friday, from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.

That’s it folks, the very last service disruptions for 2012, and the very first for 2013. Have a good commute!

“Q Train” (pastel on paper, 22 x 30) by Nigel van Wieck

It’s another week, and another batch of subway service advisories to make your commute all that much more stressful.

Here’s the easy one: on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 18 and 19, Brighton Beach-bound B trains run local from Prospect Park to Kings Highway. However, that’s only from 9:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., steering clear of rush hour commuters.

More frustrating for late night travelers, however, will be the Q service adjustments that continue this week.

From Monday to Friday, December 17 to 21, late night Q service will operate in two sections, with our neck of the woods getting service every 30 minutes. The changes will be in effect from 11:45 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. each night.

Service operates in two sections: 

  1. Between 57 St-7 Av and Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr
  2. Between Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and Stillwell Av 

You’ll have to transfer at Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr to continue your trip. Here’s the schedule, according to the MTA:

Departures to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr:

Stillwell Av Brighton Beach Kings Hwy Newkirk Plaza Prospect Park
11:51 PM 11:56 PM 12:03 AM 12:08 AM 12:16 AM
12:21 AM 12:26 AM 12:33 12:38 12:46
12:51 12:56 1:03 1:08 1:16
Then every 30 minutes until:
4:21 4:26 4:33 4:38 4:46

 

Departures to Stillwell Av:

Atlantic Av-
Barclays Ctr
Prospect Park Newkirk Plaza Kings Hwy Brighton Beach
12:35 AM 12:42 AM 12:47 AM 12:54 AM 1:02 AM
1:05 1:12 1:17 1:24 1:32
1:35 1:42 1:47 1:54 2:02
Then every 30 minutes until:
5:05 5:12 5:17 5:24 5:32

Note: At 7 Av and Prospect Park, all trains board at the Manhattan-bound platform.

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