THE COMMUTE: For those who don’t know Yiddish, a “shonda” means a crying shame. That’s the only way I can think of describing the above picture showing an Adopt-A-Highway segment strewn with weeds and litter. It puts the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and Community Board 15 (CB 15) to shame, although I doubt that the community board is at fault. I could only wonder that if this is a highway beautification zone, how high would the weeds be and how much more litter would have accumulated if CB 15 had not paid to have this site “beautified.”
Archive for the tag 'the commute'
THE COMMUTE: Much of what I was taught in school was either useless or not true. I spent several years studying algebra, which I actually liked, but only had occasion to use it about six times in the 46 years since I graduated high school. Meanwhile, no one ever taught me stuff I need to know in life, such as how to pick a fresh mango. The fruit lady near where I used to work would reject a half a dozen mangoes before choosing the perfect one for me. I should have asked her for her secret.
THE COMMUTE: This past week, transit news focused on what seemed like a series of unrelated events — most notably the resumption of Rockaway “A” Train service.
“A” Train Service Returns
“A” train service, between Howard Beach and the Rockaways, which was suspended seven months ago due to Superstorm Sandy, finally resumed on May 30. Due to the destruction of the trestle near Broad Channel, the suspension forced residents to resort to unreliable and overcrowded bus service. Months ago, a fleet of R-32 cars were trucked to Rockaway to at least provide subway shuttle service within Rockaway but it was in no way adequate to meet residents’ needs. If you think transit service is poor in Sheepshead Bay, you should be aware of the two-hour plus commutes and hour waits for buses, which Rockaway residents were forced to endure, with the trestle out of service.
THE COMMUTE: Last week we discussed DOT street and parking signage. In January we mentioned the lack of clarity of the subway fare signs at the station agent booths. What about the rest of the MTA signage? In this area, the MTA scores rather well, making significant strides since the agency was put in charge of the subways in 1968.
THE COMMUTE: In early 2012, we reported on confusing Department of Transportation (DOT) parking and traffic regulations and on confusing and outdated signage mentioning the taxi stand on Brighton Beach Avenue. That stand is not even listed in DOT’s database of taxi stands so apparently they are unaware of its existence.
In January 2013, DOT — realizing the problems with existing signage that were causing unnecessary confusion — unveiled a new format for parking regulatory signs, which shortly thereafter began to make their appearance in Manhattan. A consultant was hired who devised what you see here.
THE COMMUTE: I’m not talking about crime, but rather the other type of safety. Will the subway derail? Will a chunk of the ceiling fall on your head? Will the train fall off of an elevated bridge? Will the platform crumble because of inadequate supports? That type of safety.
If your first reaction is that the chance of something like that happening is slim to none, think again. After all, we rely on government to make sure the food and water we drink is safe and that the subways are safe, too. We do that through periodic inspections of infrastructure and equipment. But are these performed in an adequate and timely manner to ensure we are protected and problems fixed before they become life threatening?
We would like to think so.
THE COMMUTE: There are two schools of thought on this. One is that changes should be made incrementally as the need arises. That is known as ad-hoc planning. The other is that changes should be made using a comprehensive approach by periodically studying all the routes for deficiencies, for example, once every 10 years, by performing origin-destination surveys and using other data.
Demanding Transit Accountability: Can Someone Please Explain How $358 Million Can Turn Into $20 Million?
THE COMMUTE: This can only happen in government. Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that he is making $358 million more available for the MTA in next year’s operating budget. The following week, the MTA announces it is deciding how to spend the new $40 million it will be receiving, while other analysts are claiming the amount is closer to $20 million. Just as the governor’s “new” money can disappear in only one week, so can the additional monies raised by a fare increase. Is it any wonder why transit riders and taxpayers are so frustrated?
THE COMMUTE: English is a funny language. If we don’t like someone we might say we don’t like them because they are “stubborn” and that’s bad. If we like them, we say that same person is “persistent” and that’s a good quality, when it’s really the same thing. Similarly, the MTA may want to get rid of a bus route because it’s “duplicative,” meaning a nearby route serves the same function and it is not necessary. If they want to retain two duplicative routes, then the routes are no longer considered “duplicative.” Then they are called “parallel.” In essence we still are talking about the same thing.
THE COMMUTE: It was announced on Friday that, after 100 days without a permanent chairman, the former head of New York City Transit, Thomas Prendergast, who had been sharing the responsibilities with Fernando Ferrer, has been named the sole MTA Chairman and CEO. That is good news. We finally have someone who knows the system. We don’t have to give on-the-job training to a real estate mogul, someone whose primary credentials are finances (i.e. the past two chairmen), or a former transit head from another city. We all know that New York is not like any other major city and its transportation system and needs are unique. Continue Reading »