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Transportation Nation

LIRR Unions: MTA's Latest Offer "Grandstanding;" May Skip Talks

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The MTA says its latest offer to the unions represents "the next level." But union leaders are angry the MTA unveiled the offer to the media — and are threatening to skip Friday's scheduled bargaining session.

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Transportation Nation

MTA Says Latest LIRR Offer Is 'Everything They Want'

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The MTA's latest offer comes close to what the unions want — but new employees would be treated a little differently than existing ones.

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Transportation Nation

Federal Mediators Side With LIRR Unions, Not MTA

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The mediation is nonbinding, but it potentially brings the nation's largest commuter railroad one step closer to a strike as early as July.

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Transportation Nation

Longtime Long Island Rail Road President Replaced

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Newsday didn't mince words: Helena Williams was fired.

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Transportation Nation

MTA Preparing LIRR Strike Contingency Plans

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The MTA is planning to put bus service in place if Long Island Rail Road workers strike as threatened this summer. But not every MTA board member thinks that's a good idea.

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Transportation Nation

MTA, LIRR Meeting With White House Mediators This Week

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There's an offer on the table in the labor dispute between New York's MTA and the Long Island Rail Road workers unions.

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Transportation Nation

Why Nobody Likes the Middle Seat

Monday, March 17, 2014

More passengers are riding the commuter rails, but many of them would rather stand than sit between two other people.

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Transportation Nation

Long Island Rail Road Labor Talks Reach Heated Words Phase

Friday, February 21, 2014

WNYC

Long Island Rail Road workers will not be going on strike in March, as had been threatened. But workers could walk off their jobs on July 20th if talks with the MTA remain at an impasse.

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Transportation Nation

After Derailment, MTA Struggles To Find Right Mix Of Human Skill + Technology

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WNYC

The MTA is speeding up its plan to install an advanced safety technology on its commuter rail lines. But there's no magic bullet when it comes to preventing train crashes.

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Transportation Nation

MTA Buying Hundreds of New Commuter Rail Cars

Monday, September 16, 2013

The MTA has voted to spend $1.8 billion to buy up to 676 commuter railroad cars from the Kawasaki Rail Car company. The cars will be built in Yonkers and are scheduled to be placed into service from 2017 to 2019.

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Transportation Nation

Basketball Arena Spurs LIRR Ridership Spike

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Barclays Center (photo by Kate Hinds)

The Brooklyn Nets may have been humbled by the Miami Heat Wednesday night, but their transit stop has never been better.

The NY MTA says Long Island Railroad ridership surged 334 percent since the Barclay's Center arena opened last fall, with an average of 3300 suburbanites taking the commuter rail to the arena each event night.

The night the Nets hosted the Knicks, 4852 riders arrived by LIRR, and 5377 riders departed, a record.

The arena was built with the highest ratio of seats to parking spaces in the country (about 19,000 seats, 500 spaces) in part to encourage transit usage (nine subway lines go directly to Barclays Center, 2 more nearby, plus the LIRR).

Other data compiled by TN of subway ridership also confirms game night surges.

Neighborhood groups predicted the arena would cause car traffic snarls, and a high demand for on-street parking, but so far, traffic on game nights hasn't met those predictions.

However, the arena's developers, Forest City Ratner, have yet to construct more than a dozen high-rises above and near the arena, slated to created the densest census track in the nation.

 

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Transportation Nation

Holland Tunnel to Reopen to All Car Traffic Wednesday; LIRR Restores Montauk Service

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

 

The shuttered Holland Tunnel on 10/30/12 (photo by Kate Hinds)

The Holland Tunnel will open to all traffic Wednesday morning at 5am.

This marks the first time the tunnel will be fully open since Hurricane Sandy struck the region. The tunnel, which runs under the Hudson River between New Jersey and lower Manhattan, was flooded and remained closed to traffic until last Friday, when a bus lane opened in one tube.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced the opening via Twitter and a press release; it was also confirmed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns and operates the tunnel.

The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (now known as the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel) remains closed due to flooding.

The MTA also announced Tuesday that it's restoring service on the Long Island Rail Road's Montauk Branch between Speonk and Montauk, and will establish bus service between Island Park and Lynbrook.

The LIRR will provide bus service to operate between Island Park and Lynbrook from 6 AM until 9 PM starting Wednesday, November 7. A press release issued by the MTA says buses will make a loop between the LIRR’s Island Park and Lynbrook stations – making stops at Oceanside, East Rockaway, and Centre Avenue stations along the way. Train connections to and from the bus loop can be made at Lynbrook Station.

For more information, visit our Transit Tracker.

 

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Transportation Nation

(UPDATED) NY MTA: Some, Not All Buses Back, No Timetable for Subways

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10:11am: A beheaded subway entrance. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

UPDATE: Tuesday 4:50 PM: The MTA's Charles Seaton says not all bus routes will be running Wednesday morning, that limited routes will be running. Those will be announced later Tuesday evening.

UPDATE Tuesday 11:50 AM: The latest on MTA and NYC transpo is always at our Transit Tracker.

Some bus service will begin at 5 p.m. on a Sunday schedule.

There is no timetable yet for subway service resumption. Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a joint press conference Tuesday morning they hope to have full bus service restored Wednesday morning. No fares will be charged through Wednesday.

Portions of subway service will return in pieces as it is able. Buses will be used to connect fractured sections.

Flooding could keep east river crossings shut for some time. The Clark, Steinway, Rutgers and Strawberry Street tubes under the East River are all flooded. Lhota said pumps are clearing the Joralemon Street tube and will have it dry in a few hours.

No buses or trains were damaged because of effective shut down preparations. Assessment of the extent of the damage on the tracks "will take a little bit more time than we thought," Lhota said.

Lhotoa said flooding at the South Street subway station was "literally up to the ceiling."

Pumping is underway in the Battery Tunnel.

Metro-North has no power from 59th Street to Croton.

 

POSTED Tuesday 9:05 AM: MTA chair Joe Lhota spoke to WNYC's Soterios Johnson Monday morning about the extent of the damage to the subway system. Listen to the interview below, and read the partial transcript of his remarks.

Lhota said he knew last night there was a problem. "Last night I was downtown and it was pretty obvious...I saw the water surge coming up, realizing that the systems were going to be affected. Our electrical systems, our alarm systems, tell us when there's water down there. They basically shut off. It's an automatic system...they would only shut off if there was water down there."

Johnson asked Lhota just how bad the flooding was. "The assessment is ongoing. Dawn is just cracking right now," Lhota said, adding that the sunlight would help with the assessment process, "which is going to be ongoing. We'll report back to New Yorkers later in the day as to what we have assessed, and determine how long it's going to take to get the system back up and running. One thing I do want everyone to focus on is the fact of how dynamic and how robust the New York City subway system is." And New Yorkers need to understand: "We're going to be flexible, we're going to try to be creative. Those systems that can be up and running, those portions of the system that can be up and running -- I want them up and running as quickly as possible. Then use our bus service and our buses -- re-route them in such a way that they supplement and complement each other. And that's what I mean by creativity: if there's a portion of  the system that's going to take longer to repair, that doesn't mean the whole system is down...we're New Yorkers, we adapt very very well."

Johnson asked if salt water had flooded the subways. "I can't imagine that it's fresh water, it's going to be at best brackish, but for the most part it's salt," Lhota said. "Water and electricity never mix properly, but when you add salt to it, once the water is gone, the salt leaves a film...the way electronics work on the subway system is two pieces of metal running together conducting electricity. And it there's anything in between those two pieces of metal -- like film left over from salt -- that needs to be cleaned off because the connections need to be clear and straightforward for us to manage the process of making the subway system safe."

Johnson asked Lhota what his worst-case scenario for restoration of subway service. "I literally can't answer that until later today," Lhota said. "his happened overnight, it's been ongoing, the assessment's been ongoing, and we've called...all of our workers backs." "Are we talking days or weeks?" asked Johnson. "It's unfair to me -- I'm going to  try to get this up and running as quickly as I possibly can," said Lhota. "I really don't want to be tied down to answering that question the way you've asked it because it'll be something that will linger out there...it would be a scientific wild guess on my part to answer it that way and I just need to get better information and then determine it."

As to when the bridges and tunnels will be open: "I literally just sent a text message to Pat Foye, the head of the Port Authority," said Lhota. "He and I need to figure out how to open up the bridges, how to open up the tunnels. The wind has calmed down significantly...the tunnels, if they're dry, the assessment can be relatively straightforward. [But] the bridges, given the extent of the wind, we're going to need a couple hours having the engineers assess that there's no damage to any of the bridges. We experienced at the Triborough - RFK bridge wind gusts over 100 miles an hour last night. That's extraordinary. We've got to make sure that the integrity of the bridge is there. I'm confident that it is, but out of an abundance of caution we're going to need at least two hours for our engineers to go through and assess to make sure that the bridges are safe. I think they're safe -- in fact I'm almost positive they're safe -- but out of an abundance of caution, we will do the work we need to do."

Johnson asked about the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter rail lines. "First off," said Lhota, "we're trying to count the number of trees that are downed on Metro North and it's going to be in the hundreds...we're going up in a helicopter today to assess the entire system from the air to determine where we have our problems. The Long Island Rail Road experienced an enormous amount of flooding all through the South Shore, the Babylon branch all the way out to ...Montauk. We're assessing that right now and will determine how far we can go." He continued: "I am very worried about power....the power is a problem. It's an electric subway system for the most part. Some of our commuter rail system is electric as well, some it's diesel, or a combination...we need electricity to run. So this power problem in the tri-state area is significant for getting us up and running on the commuter rail front...the power on Metro North is down from 59th Street in Manhattan all the way up to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson line, all the way up to New Haven, Connecticut on the New Haven line. We have no power on the system at this time."

In terms of the actual conditions of the rails: "We're going to have to evaluate it," Lhota said. "We're going to have to walk ths system to determine the extent of it and we're also going to have to cut up all the trees that are in the way and get them out of the way."

With reporting by Alex Goldmark

 

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Transportation Nation

MTA, NY Pols Fire Off on Court Decision Striking Down Key Transpo Tax

Thursday, August 23, 2012

For the best summary of this issue LISTEN to this short conversation with WNYC's Matthew Schuerman:

(New York, NY - WNYC) When news broke last night that a New York Supreme Court Justice had struck down a crucial transportation tax, the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority issued a tart remark that included a promise to “vigorously appeal today’s ruling."

Then the authority's financial officers had overnight to contemplate the prospect of having a $1.8 billion hole blasted into their annual budget if the ruling is upheld.

That could not have produced sweet dreams. Instead, it prompted the authority to send forth a more robust denunciation of Justice R. Bruce Cozzens Jr.'s finding that the tax, collected from 12 counties in and around New York City served by the NY MTA, was levied in a way that violated the state constitution.

MTA head, Joe Lhota said, "the ruling is flawed as well as erroneous." He added the lawsuit also contests four other dedicated taxes, totaling $1.8 billion per year. "The payroll mobility tax drives the entire economy of New York. Without the MTA, New York would choke on traffic," he warned.

At issue is a "mobility tax" that collects 34 cents per hundred dollars of payroll from employers, excluding small businesses. The tax was created in 2009 to save the NY MTA from a budget crisis caused by the recession.

In addition to running the largest subway system in the U.S., the city buses, the MTA also manages regional commuter rail companies and the bridges used by them.

Late last year, Governor Cuomo reversed the tax for certain small businesses, promising to replace "every penny" with money from the state's general revenues.

Below is the MTA's most recent fighting words in full, followed by reactions from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg.

MTA Statement on Payroll Mobility Tax ruling

The MTA strongly believes that yesterday’s ruling from Nassau Supreme Court is erroneous. We will vigorously appeal it and we expect it will be overturned, since four similar Supreme Court cases making the same argument were previously dismissed.

The Payroll Mobility Tax maintains a regional transportation system that moves more than 8.5 million people every day and drives the economy of New York City, Long Island, the northern suburbs and the entire state.

Removing more than $1.2 billion in revenue from the Payroll Mobility Tax, plus hundreds of millions of dollars more from other taxes affected by yesterday’s ruling, would be catastrophic for the MTA and for the economy of New York State.

The MTA is getting its fiscal house in order. We have cut more than $700 million from our annual operating budget and eliminated 3,500 jobs. We are on track for this year’s discretionary spending to actually be lower than last year’s.

Without the Payroll Mobility Tax or another stable and reliable source of funding, the MTA would be forced to implement a combination of extreme service cuts and fare hikes. The Payroll Mobility Tax remains in effect for now, and we expect that it will survive this legal challenge.

Governor Cuomo told reporters this morning that he didn't think there would be a disruption to the NY MTA's budget, adding, "I believe this ruling is wrong and will be reversed."

In a separate event, Mayor Bloomberg told reporters that one way to make up for the NY MTA's potential loss of revenue would be to enact a congestion pricing plan like the one he proposed for part of Manhattan in 2008, which was defeated by a vote in the state legislature. The mayor then continued with a bit of sarcasm, "I betcha the legislature thinks they have a better plan. My suggestion is you address your question to those people who think they have a better plan."

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WNYC News

LIRR Retiree Pleads Guilty to Disability Scam

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Long Island Rail Road retiree has pleaded guilty for his role in a massive disability scam.

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Transportation Nation

MAP/VIDEO: How To Survive, And Occasionally Thrive, In New York Penn Station, The Continent's Busiest Train Hub

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Passengers moving through the Connecting Concourse on Penn Station's lower level.

(New York, NY - WNYC) New York's Penn Station is rail hub as ant colony: tight-cornered, winding and grimly subterranean. Like ants, 600,000 passengers per weekday course through it, pausing only to stare at an overhead information board until their departure track is revealed and then, toward that specified bowel, they descend.

Even the transit executives who run the place understand that it needs a makeover: they've hired Los Angeles construction firm Aecom to draft a renovation plan, expected by the end of the year, called "Penn Station Vision." There's talk of moving back walls, upgrading signs and improving the lighting. But that won't happen until Amtrak decamps across Eighth Avenue into a new space at the Farley Post Office, which is at least four years away.

In the meantime, what can a traveler do to make her time in Penn Station more bearable? [VIDEO BELOW]

Typical fare on the lower level.

That's the question I set out to answer with Nancy Solomon, an editor at WNYC who's been commuting from New Jersey to the West Side of Manhattan through Penn Station for more than ten years. Our tour of the station on a sweltering summer afternoon revealed a bi-level, nine-acre public space that, in some places, barely functions. "The station is doing what it was never, ever designed to do, which is accommodate more than a half-million commuters," says Ben Cornelius, a former Amtrak worker and TN reader who toiled in Penn Station for six years. "It was designed to be a long-haul, long-distance train station, not a commuter barn."

Yet, Nancy and I turned up a handful of grace notes: a hidden water fountain, a sanitary restroom, decent sushi. And to our surprise, we stumbled upon a large, and largely overlooked, piece of the original Penn Station.


More than most municipal facilities, Penn Station is haunted by the ghost of its earlier incarnation--a Beaux Arts masterpiece by legendary architects McKim, Mead and White.

Postcard of the original Penn Station.

That station rose in 1910 and fell, against a howl of protest, in 1963. Its dismantled columns, windows and marble walls suffered the same fate as a talkative two-bit mobster: they were dumped in a swamp in New Jersey. On the levelled site rose Madison Square Garden and a nondescript office tower; station operations were shunted to the basement, where they remain. Here's one way to navigate it:

Penn Station users: What do you do to make it more bearable? Where do you eat, rest, go looking for shortcuts? We want to know!

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Transportation Nation

Controversial Atlantic Avenue "Coffins" Now Being Removed in Brooklyn

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

(photo by Andrea Bernstein)

(UPDATED WITH MTA INFORMATION) The imposing concrete bollards surrounding Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal station are coming down.

The so-called "coffins" appeared without warning in 2010, when the new terminal was opened. "More Extreme Than NYPD Counterterror Guidelines" mocked a Streetsblog headline. Urban planners decried the bollards as pedestrian-unfriendly and a backwards model of city design.

The Long Island Rail Road and nine subway lines stop at the Atlantic Terminal station, which will serve the new Barclays Center arena when it opens in September.

New York's MTA cited unspecified security concerns in installing what the Brooklyn Paper called "sarcophagi."

Workers there say the bollards will be replaced with "something else."

A spokesman for the MTA said that "something else" is new, smaller bollards. The work is part of a $3.5 million security upgrade at the subway terminal.

Deconstruction: bollards being removed in downtown Brooklyn (photo by Andrea Bernstein)

 

(photo by Andrea Bernstein)

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WNYC News

Train Tix Get Longer Shelf Life...and Refund Time

Monday, July 23, 2012

WNYC

Starting in September, Long Island Railroad and Metro-North riders have more time to use their tickets.  Tickets will be valid for two months, up from its current two week lifespan.

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WNYC News

MTA Officer Stabbed in Queens

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A man who stabbed an MTA police officer in Jamaica, Queens this morning died of gunshot wounds. MTA police officer John Barnett shot and killed Edgar Owens of the Bronx, after the man stabbed him in the left eye and ignored repeated warnings to drop a knife.

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WNYC News

Service Changes and Closures for 4th of July

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Fourth of July means changes for mass transit, trash collection and street cleaning. Here's what you should know if you're planning travel for today.

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