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WNYC News

Former Cablevision Exec Lhota Tapped as Next MTA Chief

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WNYC

Governor Andrew Cuomo has nominated Cablevision executive Joseph Lhota to be the next chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest transit system in North America.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Your Subway Photos

Thursday, October 06, 2011

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR PICTURES! Bruce Davidson was on the Brian Lehrer Show Tuesday, October 18th - Listen Here

Subway, Bruce Davidson's classic collection of New York City photography, is being re-released this fall by Aperture books. On Tuesday, October 18th, Bruce will join Brian Lehrer to talk about his photographs, and we want you to submit your most iconic subway shot. Head underground (or to an elevated track!) and snap a picture, then submit it here. Bruce will take a look at your submissions, and we'll feature some of our favorites online and on-air. By the way, regulations for what kind of photography is legal on MTA trains and platforms can be found here. Short version: it's legal, as long as you don't have extra equipment.

EXHIBIT: Aperture Gallery presents Bruce Davidson: Subway—a groundbreaking series documenting a unique moment in the cultural fabric of New York City, coinciding with the highly anticipated re-release of the book published in 1986. Opening reception: Thursday, October 13, 6:00-8:00 pm Exhibition on view: Monday, October 3-Saturday, October 29, 2011

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WNYC News

Subway Platform Cell Phone Service Debuts Next Week

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Waiting for a train, might involve a lot more talking — at least in certain places. As part of a pilot program, straphangers will finally get cellphone service at some subway platforms.

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WNYC News

City May Shut Down Transit Ahead of Hurricane Irene

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WNYC

Officials are considering shutting down the city's transportation system this weekend if conditions from Hurricane Irene become too harsh. 

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WNYC News

Underground Economy: Cashing in on Rubble From the 2nd Avenue Subway

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On the East Side of Manhattan, the Second Avenue Subway is generating huge volumes of ground up rock – and there’s a market for this rubble, but moving and selling it can be a risky business.

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WNYC News

Walder's Time as MTA Chief Marked by Fiscal Discipline, Unfinished Business

Thursday, July 21, 2011

WNYC

Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Jay Walder abruptly announced his resignation Thursday after just two years into his six-year term — and though he was considered a shrewd fiscal disciplinarian his departure comes as many important developments hang in the balance, from completion of mega-projects like the Second Avenue subway to an impending contract negotiation with a major union.

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Transportation Nation

Reconstructed Fulton Transit Center, Partly Damaged on 9/11, Starts Opening

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Looking up from below-ground through the frame of partially built oculus tower at the Fulton Transit Center. (Photo by Stephen Nessen / WNYC.)

(New York, NY - WNYC) At one time it was hoped that the $1.4 billion expansion and reconstruction of the Fulton Street Transit Center, partly damaged in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, would be done by the tenth anniversary of that day. That won't happen. But steady progress is being made on the much-delayed project, including the scheduled opening in the next two months of a new entrance and restoration of service to a closed portion of the Cortlandt Street station next to Ground Zero.

The sprawling underground complex is Lower Manhattan's primary transit crossroads. It has long been known as a good place to connect to different subway lines--if you can figure out how to do it. The center is a multi-leveled labyrinth connecting previously private subway systems not built to be compatible. A primary thrust of the project is to detangle it.

Workers prepare stairways for new tiles. (Photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

To show how that was going, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority invited a WNYC reporter to don a hard hat and take an escorted look at the busy underground construction site.

It's an organized mess.

Shadowy caverns contain patches of muck and puddles that workers wearing reflective vests splash through. Cement mixers turn lazily as heavy metal blasts from a boombox.

Parts of the complex are impressive. The new Dey Street underpass will connect the center's main entrance building, which is a block south of City Hall Park, with the World Trade Center. It's a huge tunnel that the MTA says will be lined with digital screens showing train information, ads and artwork. That's a big change from what the Fulton Street station has always been: dark, cramped and crowded.

New tile work under construction. (Photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The grandest element is a fifty-foot glass tower over the main entrance that is to be topped by an oculus--a set of prisms to deflect natural light down to some of the subway platforms. The MTA seriously considered scrapping the tower in 2008 when the project went over budget. Then along came the federal stimulus and the tower was restored.

It was weirdly pleasing to stand two stories the street level on a future subway platform and look up through the steel framework of a tapered tower and see, above the high top of a construction crane, clouds scudding against blue sky.

When the center is all done and linked up with a station for the PATH Train to New Jersey under the World Trade Center--some time in 2016--visitors will be able to walk underground from the Winter Garden on the edge of the Hudson River to the William Street subway stop, about six blocks from South Street Seaport on the East River. That's about three-quarters of a mile.

The PATH Train to NJ is this way. (Photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Riders will have access to eleven subway lines, same as before. But the MTA says the warren of poorly lit passageways will be more open and straightforward. There should be less crowding and more space for the 300,000 people they expect to move through the Fulton Street Transit Center every weekday. That'll be a good day for downtown Manhattan, where 85 percent of all trips are made by mass transit, many of them using the center.

The project, begun in 2004, has been notorious for delays. Michael Horodniceanu, president of capital construction for the MTA, said part of the problem was the complexity of a task like building new station space under and around the 123 year-old Corbin Building, a nine-story landmark made of brick that will be incorporated into the main entrance. Horodniceanu said the Corbin Building's foundation had to be disassembled and rebuilt without using heavy machinery.

"It was done the old-fashioned way with a  pick and shovel," he said. "People went down 30, 40 feet with buckets pulling out stuff. Then we filled it with concrete."

Old brick work uncovered during renovations beneath the Corbin Building on Broadway. (Photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

And he said management of the project was flawed at the start. The MTA looked for a company to do every part of the enormous renovation on tight deadlines. Only one company bid and, when it got the job, soon started falling behind. Horodniceanu said when he came into his position in 2008, he broke the project up into parts, set what he called "realistic" deadlines and attracted multiple bidders.

Now the project seems on track. The MTA's part of it should be done by 2014.

To see more photos in a vivid slideshow of the project, go to WNYC.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: More Roads Lead to More Traffic, Black Women Bike DC, and London's Bike Share, A Year Later

Monday, July 11, 2011

A recent study says that building more roads leads to ... more traffic. And more transit doesn't relieve traffic congestion.  (NPR)

New York's subways attract almost as many riders on weekends as they do during the work week -- but fewer trains and planned maintenance lead to insanely crowded cars. (New York Times)

The Republican's plan to privatize Amtrak and the Northeast Corridor could leave NJ Transit vulnerable to fare hikes. (Daily Record)

WAMU looks at how the House's transportation budget would affect the DC region.

The UAW wants to organize a foreign automaker, labor leader says union's future hinges upon it: "I don't think there's a long-term future for the UAW, I really don't." (Detroit Free Press)

A look at London's bike share system, which is almost a year old. "The bikes make 20,000 journeys a day, but in a relentlessly predictable pattern, with huge spikes during the morning rush hour at the major rail stations and then again, in reverse, as commuters dash back to catch their evening trains." (The Guardian)

Black women take their place in DC's bike lanes -- and encourage others to join them. (Washington Post)

Residents, police and business owners want Bolt Bus booted from West 33rd Street. (DNA Info)

The mayor of Birmingham wants to create a tourist transit system to transport visitors to downtown hotels and attractions like the zoo, Vulcan Park and the botanical gardens. (Birmingham News)

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Transportation Nation

As Planners Decide to Put Station Underground, Intense Political Machinations Over Dulles Airport Train Station

Thursday, April 07, 2011

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) The construction of a subway line out to Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia is one of the largest public works projects in the country, with a price tag of around $6 billion.

With that kind of dough, politics is bound to seep into the process one way or another. And it definitely has, especially after a decision yesterday that puts local politicians here in a no-win situation.

Yesterday, the Board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing the project, chose to locate the planned Metro station at Dulles underground, rather than above ground.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

The Board made this decision against the advice of almost every elected official in the region - local, state and federal. That's because the underground option is more than $300 million more expensive than an above ground alternative.

Airports Board members said they chose the more expensive option because

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Transportation Nation

Can I Put My Bag on a Subway Seat, Instead of Sitting?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The offending bag, with a Blackberry next to it for scale

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Two months ago, I injured my back, making it hard for me to sit.   So I stand on the subway train -- but if it's not too crowded, I put my bag on the seat to ease the strain of carrying a large purse, as well as to avoid bending up and down to put it on the floor.  If I put in on the floor, I have to move it almost every stop, because it's kind of long (good for carrying radio recording equipment.)  And that also stresses my back, so if it's not too crowded, I will put my bag on the seat, and stand beside it.

Today, when I boarded the train, it was pretty empty. So I put my bag on the seat, stood beside it, and proceeded to read the coverage of Japan on the NY Times op-ed page.  About three stops later, a passenger got on -- a young, seemingly able-bodied man, and pointed to my bag, saying "your bag."  I thought he was pointing out that the zipper was about 3 inches open, so I closed it.

Then, he said, "Move your bag!" rather brusquely.  I explained it was there because I can't sit, and it was taking up the seat instead of me.   He started to scream: "You're really being an asshole!"

I was uncharacteristically speechless.

A few seats down, a woman in a white coat joined in and said:  "Can't you see she's injured?"  He continued to yell.   She got up.  "Take my seat, then.  It's too early in the morning.  Take my seat."  Which he did.

A few stops later, someone got off, and then someone got on, my bag was still on the seat.  "Don't worry," the woman said.  "There's room for me and your bag."

But what do you think?  Is it okay for me to put my bag on the seat instead of, um, my posterior?

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NYPR Archives & Preservation

WNYC Covers the Celebration of Wiley Post's Record Breaking Flight Around the World in 1933

Friday, January 07, 2011

New York Mayor John P. O'Brien* pinned a gold medal on Wiley Post, 'round-the-world flier' on the steps of City Hall, July 26, 1933. Post's wife Edna Mae is on the right behind the WNYC microphone.

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Transportation Nation

MTA's 2011 Budget Is In The Black--Just Barely

Thursday, December 16, 2010

(New York -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) The New York City MTA passed a spending plan for 2011 that erases the $900 million deficit officials had projected earlier this year.  But authority chairman Jay Walder warns the budget is just barely in the black.

"It is an extremely tight budget for the MTA," he said at yesterday's board meeting. "We're running an incredibly complex, multi-billion dollar company with essentially no margin."

The $12 billion budget has only an $8 million dollar cushion--less than a tenth of one percent of the total.

The agency says it filled the gap by laying off 1,000 workers and cutting bus and train service back in June. Those savings will continue to this year. And the December 30th fare hikes will kick in more than $400 million.

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Transportation Nation

Smile For London Uses Underground Art to Cheer Up Rush Hour

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Image: Westminster Tube Sign, (c) Transport for London 2005

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Video artists in London are making videos to cheer up commuters. The public art project Smile For London is collecting short films to play on Underground train platforms next month:

"From 17th January 2011, just at a time when Londoners are feeling the January blues and in need of a lift, we’ll be taking over the platform screens for two weeks on weekday mornings with a creative intermission; a programme of film, art and animation, exhibiting the best of London’s emerging and established artistic talent."

They specifically want videos that will make commuters smile, and the collection of entrants posted so far are a delightful diversion.

Video underground is novel, but not entirely new. New York City experimented with video inside subway cars earlier this year, but they did it for special sports advertising, not art. Several cities use projectors to play commercials, usually without sound. That's the technology in London, which inadvertently enabled this art project.

This open call for art comes in a medium mostly new to transit spaces. In fact Smile For London's call for submissions explicitly encourages innovation in video, asking artists "to create a twenty second silent piece of moving image with a view to pushing the boundaries of the medium," according to the website. This video seems meet that request based on the unusual lighting methods, though without the written technical explanation on the website, I wonder if commuters will appreciate the feat.

If you're feeling inspired, local London artists can submit films until December 15th. The rest of us can watch them here. My favorite, of about six randomly sampled, is this:

How snow is made from Amael Isnard on Vimeo.

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Transportation Nation

New Transit Lines Open Today in Dallas, Rhode Island

Monday, December 06, 2010

[UPDATED 12/7/2010 explaining Rhode Island service addition more accurately]

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation).   Two new transit lines launched today. Dallas Area Rapid Transit opened its electric light rail Green Line. And in Warwick, Rhode Island,  new rail service kicked off connecting the local airport with the regional commuter rail line to Providence and Boston allowing for more transit commuting options.

The Dallas Morning News calls Dallas' 28-mile Green Line a "new era" as the DART rail system adds 15 new stations and grows from 48 to 72 rail miles (the Green Line shares track for four miles with another line).  The cities of Farmer's Branch and Carrollton are now connected with downtown, the Baylor University Medical Center, Victory Park and the Pleasant Grove area of south Dallas.

Along with those extra rail miles, DART adds: 18 new high capacity light rail vehicles, 38 redesigned rail cars, 2,700 parking spaces, and 10 park-and-ride lots. DART estimates that its light rail lines are responsible for about $7 billion in current and projected transit-oriented development.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood enthusiastically touts on his blog that the $1.8 billion project, including $700 million in Federal money, was completed on budget and ahead of schedule, six months ahead of schedule by some counts.

See the new route on this special Green Line centric DART map, or watch the video above to actually see the view from the front of a test train run. It almost looks fake as the train passes pristine empty stations again and again.

The new rail line in Rhode Island, is far more modest, but also Green. The new service connects the T.F. Green International airport and its surrounding area to Warwick, RI, in the process making possible rail commuting to Providence and Boston. The six trains each weekday will connect to Amtrak regional rail in those cities. This, in theory, offers an alternative to a ride up Interstate 95 for some commuters south of Providence. They can now park at the new station and commute by rail from to Providence, or if they want, connect on to Boston.

As Jef, in comments section correctly points out, this opens the door to reverse commuting to the Warwick area and thus potential transit oriented development in the airport area.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Reconnecting What the BQE Severed, Mass Transit Expanding in L.A., and Looking Ahead to Intelligent Flight Paths

Monday, November 29, 2010

New York City ponders how to reconnect two neighborhoods that were severed years ago by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. (WNYC)

Second Avenue Sagas talks budget woes with the MTA's Jay Walder.

The Guardian is providing live updates from the U.N. climate change summit, which opens today in Cancún. Last year's summit was described as an "unmitigated disaster" or a "moral outrage," so it's probably fair to say that expectations for consensus on reducing carbon emissions is low.

A proposed high-speed rail link between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities is the topic of two public meetings, with the first one scheduled for today in St. Paul. (Minnesota Public Radio)

The TSA says Thanksgiving travel went smoothly (Washington Post). But it might go even more smoothly in the future, when the FAA overhauls its air traffic control systems and institutes intelligent flight paths. (Smart Planet)

Mass transit is expanding in Los Angeles. “The whole old-school L.A. thinking that people don’t ride subways, that’s a thing of the past.”(New York Times)

Bicycle commuting has tripled in big cities over the past two decades."It's almost like a snowball effect...People see other people cycling and they say, 'Wow!' (NPR)

Your parking history lesson for the day: Think vertical parking lots are futuristic? Check out this Chicago lot, circa 1930.

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WNYC News

MTA Working on Better Service Advisories

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Even the chairman of the MTA forgets to check for subway diversions before he goes out on weekends.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Transportation Fatalities Down, Poverty On the Rise, and State of the Subways Report Out

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The National Transportation Safety Board says that transportation fatalities dropped 9% from 2008 to 2009. But on the rise: marine deaths and pipeline fatalities.  (Washington Post)

Poverty is on the rise across the country, but it's worse in the suburbs, where (since 2000) there's a 37.4% increase.  Rise in cities: 16.7%.  "Future poverty increases will be partly determined by...government policy decisions promoting job growth, affordable housing and transportation." (AP via New York Times)

The new Straphangers Campaign State of the Subways report says that overall, New York's subways have improved (New York Daily News). Especially compared to 25 years ago, when "17 percent of trains were mislabeled with the wrong line number or letter." All aboard the mystery train!  (WNYC)

The implementation of New York's "bikes in buildings" law is proving...challenging for some. (AM NY)

Ford is working with the New York Power Authority to prepare New Yorkers for electric vehicles. (Automotive World)

U.S., Japanese airlines win antitrust immunity for cooperating on pricing and routes (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, in other antitrust news, a company that provides ferryboat service to Mackinac Island (MI) is suing the local government and another ferry provider, saying that the latter two have conspired to create a monopoly. (Detroit Free Press)

The Seat Not Taken: John Edgar Wideman's op-ed on race and seating on the Acela. "Unless the car is nearly full, color will determine, even if it doesn’t exactly clarify, why 9 times out of 10 people will shun a free seat if it means sitting beside me." (New York Times)

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WNYC News

MTA Set to Introduce $104 MetroCard

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

It’s (nearly) official: Monthly MetroCards will go up a whopping 17 percent in January, from $89 to $104.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

MTA: Fair Fares?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

MTA Chair Jay Walder on fare hikes.

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WNYC News

Flooding in Tunnel Shuts Down 1, 2, 3 Lines

Friday, October 01, 2010

A subway line on Manhattan's Upper West Side was suspended for an hour and a half during this morning's rush hour because of heavy rain.

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