Welcome, MTA Chief Joe Lhota

Monday, November 14, 2011

The new MTA chief, Joe Lhota starts today. Pete Donohue, transportation reporter for the Daily News, discusses what's on his agenda. Listeners: What should be on Lhota's day one to-do list? Post your suggestions here!


Pete Donohue

Comments [52]


Late to this one...but here's the usual laundry list for the subway:

-countdown clocks in every station
-new/more/better pumps for flooding
-beautify the stations, get food and trash off the tracks
-add handicap access to more stations
-noise reduction


Nov. 14 2011 02:29 PM
Gregory Nissen from Staten Island

1.Do the engineering work to eliminate or reduce the intolerable screeching of the tracks in many stations. Do not underestimate the the stress and health hazards theses noises make.

2. Stop the practice that gives operators permission to depart the station even at the very moment another one is arriving on the same platform. I am sure they will claim it has to do with being on schedule. But that is completely illogical, since you wind up slowing down, in one instant, the transfers of hundreds of passengers.

Nov. 14 2011 12:49 PM
david from Riverdale

MetroNorth: YES - enable us to buy tickets in advance, esp. "City Ticket" I would buy a few and put them in my wallet for future use. I don't always get to the train early enough to buy the ticket (esp. at Grand Central), and so I don't bother to use MetroNorth as often as I would, and rarely use the innovative CityTicket because of this inconvenience. MTA would have the use of my money all those many weeks/months!

TA: Also, enable us to "download" LOCAL bus schedules (.pdf) . I am not trying to hold MTA accountable - though that would be nice! It's just that except for the major avenues and crosstowns of Manhattan, there can be VERY long waits for most other routes, and I would plan accordingly. The printed Route schedules are not useful for local (neighborhood) stops!!

Nov. 14 2011 12:08 PM
Arnold Bernstein from Brooklyn Heights

Mr, Lhota:
Would you please address the problem of where there are more than 2 escalators (examplae: 3 at High St., Brooklyn) and one is not working, that the two remaining go in both directions. Example: Friday evening, 11 Nov, one not working and the remaing two went in the SAME direction.
This happens FREQUENTLY!!
I am 82 and in May I tripped on subway stairs and fractured my right shoulder.
I am weary of steps and Fri I had to go down (not counting from street to station or at bottom of escalator to platform) approximately 100 steps. And, there were two escalators BOTH going in the same direction. Get the unions or whatever, POLICE or FIREMEN to have access to make direction change because I am certain that the clerk on duty - not in their job description. Can they at least make a call to someone to make the change?
Thank you.

Nov. 14 2011 12:07 PM
Anna Shapiro

The woman who called in about exiting at the rear of the bus and fare-beating and speed of loading, comparing London and New York was right. But as someone who used London buses extensively in the past ten years, I had occasion to constantly deplore the fact that the busdrivers were allowed to refrain from intervening and were sealed into glass booths for their own protection. There was none of the feeling that is present on NY buses that the driver will protect you. People loudly played boom-boxes, threw things, did whatever they felt like on the buses (young men, primarily, no surprise there), and the rest of the passengers huddled in fear. The best check on violence and fare-beating would be to have police presence randomly but frequently on the buses, possibly undercover, so that offenders can be caught and feel that there will be consequences. In the current strapped economy, this is probably unlikely to happen, but closing the drivers behind glass would considerably reduce the quality of NY's mass transportation and of life in the city.

Nov. 14 2011 12:07 PM
Rachel from NYC

1. Have drivers announce major intersections. i.e. "72nd Street". "Fifth Avenue"

2. add buses to the 104 line. We have been shortened, and cut back based upon "ridership". However, ridership lessened several years ago based upon cutbacks. With the addition of Trader Joe's. And, on the line of Fairway, Zabar's etc. we need bigger buses, and not to have to stand with groceries bags, etc.

3. Too many times, I pay full fare to stand for most of the ride I am taking, and fall on seated customer. When only standing room is available, fare retracted should be reduced.

Nov. 14 2011 12:06 PM
Ian in Brooklyn from BKNY-USA

As a bus driver in Brooklyn, I can tell you we CANNOT enforce the back door rule. It will cause a delay is service, and possibly aggrivate an already fustrated customer. We are not allowed to let customers enter thru the back door because it is aiding in fear beating and rules tell us we can only ensure the safety of a customer using the front door. If you ask me if you can pay and use the back door I firmly reply "No!". Reason, if you are going to go thru the back door, do it and do not tell me. I am NOT supposed to know or acknoweledge your illegal entry. Just do it.
Now, with this new transit ticket, how are operators to ensure the safety and be able to identify any suspicious persons who enter into the bus? With a convex mirror? Yeah right. Those busses are going to need "conductors" to collect the tickets. This is such another MTA "fail". Someone has to have something to initiate to seem like they have something to do. When you have a call in Brian, hit me up or my facebook inbox. I can tell you a lot.

Nov. 14 2011 12:05 PM
Erik from Manhattan

Regarding fare beaters:

In the 90's, police officers would wait just inside the subway turnstiles to catch fare beaters. Once they had several of these guys in handcuffs, they would be brought to the police station, where most were found to be wanted for other crimes.

Perhaps try this now on buses. It would be very satisfying for the other riders and the police.

Nov. 14 2011 12:05 PM
Marcos from the Bronx

An unstaffed system is an unsafe system.

Subway crime is up nearly 20% since the last round of station attendant layoffs.

Sure we're past tokens. But, the MTA should work in good faith with the union to find the new job descriptions that would guarantee the that all stations were staffed. The new job descriptions could combine customer service, and/or fare collection, and/or security, and/or sanitation.

Nov. 14 2011 12:05 PM
Katharine Mukherji from Brooklyn Boerum Hill

Stop doing track work on weekends. Many people work and many others wish to travel for recreational purposes on weekends. I can't tell you how frequently subway diversions and closings have deterred our going to museums, theater, concerts, and restaurants or shopping on the weekend, not to mention both my husband's and my long trips to and from work at those times. If the authorities are more concerned with the bottom line than with the riders' convenience, let them study the losses to the economy caused by these disruptions.

Nov. 14 2011 12:03 PM

Closing down some subway lines 3 nights in a row to expedite repairs would be difficult for all of the people who work late night shifts, and can't afford cabs to get to & from work.

Nov. 14 2011 12:02 PM
Tam from Brooklyn

". . . ahhh, . . . a few more important things to do than that . . ." --paraphrasing Pete Donahue's insensitive response to whether or not MTA should find a way for bus drivers to relieve themselves during a shift. With an attitude like that from a journalist, no wonder there's not any pressure on the MTA to remedy the situation.

Nov. 14 2011 12:02 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Fix the announcement system in the subway stations so there's only 1 at a time! Yesterday there were 2 at once, & of course we couldn't understand either of them.

Nov. 14 2011 11:59 AM
Clayton Scott from Roosevelt Island

The service outages are never reported on the MTA web site for the F train. Can you actually maintain the site with accurate information. It's maddening.

Nov. 14 2011 11:58 AM
Mark Kalan from Valley Cottage, NY, USA

Interesting discussion. My Father-inLaw (deceased long ago) was stabbed BY a bus driver!

Nov. 14 2011 11:58 AM
Hossein from NYC

I suggest he should take a month vacation and go live in one of the major European cities and learn how a an efficient public transportation system work.

Nov. 14 2011 11:58 AM
Robert from NYC

Oh sorry, my mistake this guy isn't Lhota, that's who I thought he was when I made my "indifferent" remark in an earlier post.

Nov. 14 2011 11:57 AM
Larry from NYC

Why no transfer from the bus to the subway?

Nov. 14 2011 11:57 AM

Not everyone can exit through the back door. The steps don't lower. I, for one, don't exit through the rear door.

Nov. 14 2011 11:56 AM
peter joseph

Why not consider smaller vehicles for some of the bus routes that have been eliminated or cut back for lack of riders? Maybe even franchise the, to private operators?

Nov. 14 2011 11:55 AM
Michael from Upper Eastside, Manhattan

There is a need for more trains on the #6 Local downtown on Saturday's and Sunday's.

Nov. 14 2011 11:55 AM
Jerry from Brooklyn

Another thing that needs attention is train operators who accelerate and brake in a heavy handed way. People are sent sliding forward and backwards on the side benches. All it takes is a little finesse. It would probably save some wear and tear on the equipment as well.

Nov. 14 2011 11:55 AM
Robert from NYC

I think we should just eliminate all Authorities. They have waaaay too much authority and very little oversight.

This guy already sounds indifferent to any recommendations. So can we do something else now? Is there an option B.

Nov. 14 2011 11:55 AM
Meryl from brooklyn

Stop the advertising telling us how much you are doing - a big money saver and a lot less exasperating for the rider

Nov. 14 2011 11:55 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Fix the Metrocard readers at the stations entrances that don't have agents in the booths, & maintain them so they stay fixed! No one wants to wait on line w/people buying Metrocards at the machines just to check their balance.

Nov. 14 2011 11:55 AM
Jeremy Walton from Manhattan

Please address the crisis of public transportation to La Guardia! It's ridiculous enough that the city has never managed to extend a subway line to La Guardia, but now it's also reduced the number of M60 buses, making travel to La Guardia by bus a nightmare...

Nov. 14 2011 11:54 AM
RJ from prospect hts

The word "customer" is also a political one. My taxes pay at least (if diminishing) part of the cost of the MTA. I'm an owner, not a customer. "Rider" would certainly be better. I can't remember what predated "customer" but I believe it was changed during the Giuliani admin.

Nov. 14 2011 11:54 AM
JJ from 11215

1. Service trains 12am to 6am weekdays and weekends instead of daytime hours on weekends
2. Install wifi antennas on all platforms then release smartphone apps for real time updates where our subway train is.
3. More trains during day time hours.
4. Run subways on a schedule and do everything possible to stick to it!

Nov. 14 2011 11:54 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Last one: the new buses that have those small flip down/open windows, which are UNREACHABLE unless you stand on a seat in the forward section (you can reach them on the upper section in the rear) and are sealed shut (with a screw) in the cooler months.

Often times, the weather is such that it is warmer than expected and the A/C isn't on or the heat is, and it is stifling in the bus and you CAN'T OPEN A WINDOW!

What genius bought buses with windows that can't be opened for all practical purposes, and what genius decides to seal them with screws??

Nov. 14 2011 11:53 AM
Ray from Brooklyn

Please tell Mr. Lhota to manage his employee's overtime. I've heard so many times about MTA employees abusing the overtime system, then retiring with a pension based on a salary that is up to double what it should be. That's certainly adding to our fair increases.

Nov. 14 2011 11:53 AM
dan from manhattan


If this means banning food on the subway, then let's do that too.

So many stations have spent MILLIONS of dollars on granite floors and tile walls and they look like they never get cleaned. What a waste of money!

Nov. 14 2011 11:52 AM
Sabrina from 10003

Puleez!! stop the screeching noise of the trains on the tracks at Union Square!!!!!

Nov. 14 2011 11:52 AM
Chris from Bensonhurst

Please explain to us how service cuts over the last couple years have resulted in more and more "delayed for train traffic ahead of us" situations.

Also, the service in south Brooklyn is horrendous. The trains are rerouted and cancelled almost every weekend, and yet there's no noticeable improvement, ever.

Nov. 14 2011 11:52 AM
antonio from bayside

We could have bus-marshalls to prevent farebeaters!

Nov. 14 2011 11:51 AM
Robert from NYC

Hey that lady who said three local busses went by "out of service" saturday must have been the woman who offered me a ride when she finally took a taxi. That was ridiculous and that was at the first stop after the terminal. Why? WHY!!!? If nothing else it's a waste of fuel.

Nov. 14 2011 11:51 AM
Gil from Astoria

ItZ November...right


I heard u r trying to keep out the homeless

but what about us straphangerz

freeZZZing in the subway cars in the morning


Nov. 14 2011 11:51 AM
Andrew from Midtown Manhattan

Can we please have 'hard' monthly passes to differentiate the $120 passes from the $2 passes? Boston saves resources with their Charlie Cards that only need be tapped to get on the train.

Nov. 14 2011 11:51 AM
Billy Gray from Greenpoint

Suggestion: 4-car G trains shouldn't stop in center of platforms when the only exits/stairways are on one end of the platform. (see Metropolitan Ave stop and ridiculous crowds trying to exit and enter just one door on the whole train)

Nov. 14 2011 11:50 AM
antonio from bayside

Streetcars in underserved neighborhoods!!!!
They are cheaper, cooler, and more green then buses!

Nov. 14 2011 11:50 AM
Bobby G from East Village

Mr. Lhota should kill the $700 billion (before cost over runs) East Side Access Capital Project. A waste of money, most of which is borrowed.

Nov. 14 2011 11:49 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Also, speaking of noise, the CONSTANT bombardment of P.A. announcements. To wit:

On new buses, every time a passenger rings the bell, an electronic voice tells us to use the rear door. Every bloody stop.

All of the "if you see something, say something" announcements.

The "backpacks are subject to search" announcements.

The "assault of a transit employee is a felony" announcements.

The courtesy announcements

The "don't lean on the doors"/"don't hold the doors" announcements (Passengers in super-crowded subway cars aren't going to lean on the doors -- yeah, right!)

Plus, all the live lecturing by angry conductors, yelling at the passengers with ear-assaulting volumes, as if we haven't heard it all hundreds of times before and as if it does any good. Not to mention that if they didn't spend so much time lecturing us, but rather closed the doors, the trains might run closer to their schedules!

How about a little anger-management for the some of conductors!!

Finally, same for so many bus drivers -- some of their attitudes stink -- they think they're in business for themselves -- they've forgotten that their jobs are to provide a PUBLIC SERVICE!

Obviously, I don't mean all conductors nor all bus drivers -- some are great, but those who aren't, they ruin it for all the rest.

Nov. 14 2011 11:47 AM
Dave from NYC

1. Standing in the doorway of a boarding train, and not moving in or out to allow riders on or off, should be added to the fineable offenses for MTA riding.

2. At platforms where riders can switch from local to express trains, I've noticed a huge increase in the frequency of a train in the station deboarding as another train arrives at the platform - then in true MTA style, as the doors to one train open, the doors to the other train close, stranding commuters, instead of waiting 30 seconds to allow the riders to transfer.

Nov. 14 2011 11:39 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

You want to talk about shrieking noise??? What about the ear-splitting noise coming from buses as they are lowered or raised. The older buses are unbelievable!

This noise is so out of proportion to the "danger." You'd think that there were dozens of people crushed per year by errant raising and lowering. Meanwhile, our eardrums are being damaged and the added contribution to the gratuitous noise in our city continues.

My other suggestion/complaint is to get rid of the partial fare amounts on Metrocards, because the MTA is selling by amounts that are not equal to a discreet number of rides. This is a boondoggle for the MTA, but it either costs riders or inconveniences us to have to consolidate mulitple cards onto a single one at a token booth -- of which there are fewer than in the past!

Sell Metrocards at a price that exactly reflects a fixed/discreet number of fares! There's a way to do this without eliminating a "discount" for the rider for buying a multiple-ride card (i..e, the "extra" (extra "what"?) on a $10 card.)

Nov. 14 2011 11:35 AM

Response to John:

Actually, I think it's the other way around. The sheer volume of riders during the week brings down the cost of service per rider compared to the more limited ridership on the weekend. The weekday users of most public transport systems typically subsidize the weekend users.

Nov. 14 2011 11:31 AM
Carlos from Manhattan

Re-Evaluate the "Select Bus Service" method. The only thing this has succeeded in doing is to create more union jobs for installing and fixing the dispensing machines at the bus stops. Go visit Hong Kong and see how THEY do it. They use the "Octopus" card. Essentially, a debit card which requires NO swiping through the card reader. Just a "wave" of the card over the reader. You don't even have to take it out of your bag, it reads through it. To top it all off, your can even use the card at retail locations such as 7-Eleven, etc ...

That's a much more convenient way of doing things. Don't be afraid of overseas ideas!

Nov. 14 2011 11:11 AM

Why should people who work on the weekends have to pay full price for inferior service due to maintenance. We are essentially subsidizing the weekday working population.

Nov. 14 2011 11:08 AM

Change weekend bus schedules. On Sunday 3 empty Limited buses passed on Third Ave before one very crowded local bus stopped in the mid 50's. Same thing happened on Madison Ave.
Add the 'pay on the street' concept to all bus lines.

Nov. 14 2011 11:07 AM
David from Morningside Heights

The scale of the "no trash cans on station platforms" test is not going to be sufficient to produce the sort of behavior change you'd be interested in.

Nov. 14 2011 11:06 AM
Keith from Forest Hills

Lhota should arrange to have the announcement on the train announcing the Van Wick station corrected. The family has said their name Van Wike since before the Mayor for whom the boulevard, expressway, and subway stop were named.

The "local pronunication" of Van Wick its used by people who have never been informed of the correct pronunication. Since we now know, the TA should say it correctly.

Nov. 14 2011 10:35 AM
David from Brooklyn

Get rid of the unemployable station cleaners who don't understrand what clean is, or what work is. Those who I have seen at Court Sq. in Queens, in particular, think that coming to work is to get together socially during the day doing anything but cleaning the platforms. I was told by one employee that their job was not to clean the platform. Well, start making that a part of their job description, since they have so much time to waste. Better still, fire them and hire some wonderful Polish women to teach New Yorkers what clean means! New Yorkers have lost their understanding of hygiene and cleanliness.

Nov. 14 2011 10:26 AM
EJ from NYC, near the F & the 6

1. Disable the alarms on exit gates, particularly where there is no booth attendant to do so manually as people walk through. A second-best option would be to lower the volume and shorten the duration (as has already been done at certain stations). It's time to admit that people are not going to stop using them in non-emergency situations and stop the earsplitting noise.

2. Countdown clocks are great. Can we have them display express train info in local stations? This would help us decide whether or not it's worth getting off the local to wait for the next express at the next express stop (I find it impossible to see the countdown display from the local train as it pulls into the station- is that just me?)

Nov. 14 2011 10:17 AM
Cynthia from Brooklyn

Please ask Mr Lhota to do something about the shrieking exit gate alarms. It has added a new level of torture to a subway ride, especially in the outer boroughs where they are as loud as hell.
Many in Manhattan have been muffled so they are not as torturous.

Nov. 14 2011 10:05 AM

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