NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT RIDERS COUNCIL
MINUTES OF SEPTEMBER 27, 2012
A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 noon on September 27, 2012 in the 3rd Floor Training room at MTA Headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.
The following members were present:
Andrew Albert Trudy L. Mason
Stuart Goldstein Steve Mayo
Christopher Greif Edith Prentiss
Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas Michael Sinansky
William K. Guild Burton M. Strauss, Jr.
Sharon King Hoge Toya Williford
The following members were absent:
Marisol Halpern Thomas Jost
In addition, the following persons were present:
William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Jan Wells -PCAC Associate director
Ellyn Shannon -PCAC Transportation Planner
Karyl Berger -PCAC Research Associate
Angela Bellisio -PCAC Outreach Assistant
Jay Krantz -MTA-NYCT
Deborah Hall-Moore -MTA-NYCT
Yvonne Morrow -Concerned citizen
Brigitta Payne -Concerned citizen
Ann Guild -Concerned citizen
Ken Stewart -Concerned Citizen
Alan Flacks -Concerned Citizen
Matt Shoktin -Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the September 27, 2012 meeting was approved. The minutes of the July 26, 2012 meeting were approved.
The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.
Trudy Mason discussed Select Bus Service (SBS). She stated that on 2nd Avenue, the SBS buses come along at a rapid rate and there are no M15 local buses available for riders who want them. She said that she stood for 27 minutes at the stop between 85th and 86th Streets and that five SBS buses passed the stop before a local bus arrived.
Andrew Albert said that there was a very long and ugly public session at this month’s Board meeting. There are big changes coming next year in the scheduling of Board meetings. The most significant change is that there will be eight sets of Board and committee meetings per year, along with two Chairman’s Forums. The LIRR and MNR Committees will meet separately except for two joint meetings per year.
Under the plan, there will be no Security Committee and the business that was formerly done there will be done in operational committees or the Capital Program Oversight Committee. Mr. Albert asked whether Board Members will be required to attend the Chairman’s Forums, which led to an interesting discussion about the point at which these meetings would become formal Board meetings that are subject to notification and other requirements.
Ms. Mason wanted to know whether the public will be able to speak at the remaining eight sets of Board and committee meetings. Mr. Albert responded that they would in the same manner as in the present meeting structure. Ms. Mason asked if there is a schedule for the Chairman’s Forums. Mr. Albert responded that he did not know whether there is a schedule at this time. He also stated that the schedule of Board and committee meetings is now a little less user friendly, as they will not occur regularly in each month except August. The Board and committee agenda books will move to digital form by the time that the meetings are moved to their new location at 2 Broadway.
Mr. Albert said that the discussion of the Board meeting changes led to an unpleasant exchange between Board member Charles Moerdler, who opposes the changes, and Chairman Lhota. The meetings also included a great deal of discussion of the MTA’s new advertising policy, which was spurred by a court decision that compelled the MTA to accept a specific issue advertisement related to the Middle East conflict. Under the new policy, the MTA will still accept issue advertisements with very few restrictions. These issue advertisements, however, will in the future include a disclaimer noting that the views expressed do not represent the MTA’s position and stating who paid for the advertisement.
Ms. Mason wanted to know how the court ruling and the new policy will affect public service announcements. Mr. Albert said that he did not believe that public service announcements would be affected, but that he would get an answer to this question from the MTA’s Counsel, James Henly.
Karyl Berger asked whether someone will be reviewing the advertisements. Mr. Albert responded that that Mr. Henly had said that the MTA Real Estate Department will be responsible for reviewing proposed advertising in the system.
Ms. Mason noted that on 2nd Avenue near 86th Street, the local bus stop at 86th Street had been restored, but the SBS stop has been left at 88th Street. She asked what reasoning NYC Transit had for these decisions. Mr. Albert said that he will find out why this arrangement of bus stops had been chosen.
Brigitta Payne asked what the use of signal priority will do to the pedestrians using streets crossing the SBS routes. Mr. Albert said that a signal priority system exists on Fordham Road. Several people noted that the situation on Fordham Road is a mess. Ken Stewart noted that pedestrians who can’t see traffic signals are affected by these changes, as they tend to predict the walk phase of the pedestrian signal from experience and that making changes to the cycle will give them problems.
Mr. Greif stated that there are many places throughout the City where bus service is a problem and noted that elected officials are upset about a lack of communication from the MTA’s Bus Operations. Mr. Albert asked whether this concern is referring to problems with buses arriving off schedule and in some cases not showing up. Mr. Greif responded that these are the problems that he is raising. Edith Prentiss said that there are many places where buses make short turns and the end of line is not well served. Mr. Albert suggested that we get NYC Transit’s Bus Division head Daryl Irick and his managers to come to a future NYCTRC meeting. Staff will work to arrange this.
Ms. Prentiss said that she wanted to compliment the Bus Division for bringing out six models of buses for inspection and soliciting comments on them from persons with disabilities. She said that this is a significant improvement over Transit making decisions on equipment without input from its users.
Steve Mayo wanted to know whether there was any discussion of a fare increase at the Board meeting. Mr. Albert said that there was not, but that we have heard leaks about the MTA’s plans, some of which have been reported in the media. Mr. Mayo asked whether the Council could collect from the public ideas about ways that the MTA could save money and reduce the need for fare increases. Mr. Albert noted that the NYCTRC has historically looked to avoid service cuts and to gain service enhancements. Bill Henderson stated that the pattern of fare hikes is grounded in an understanding between the MTA and elected officials that was reached when additional support was provided to the MTA in 2009. Ms. Prentiss asked if we can get a date where this arrangement will expire.
Introduction of Jay Krantz, NYC Transit Director of Rail Network Planning, to Discuss the Future of the Culver Line following the Completion of the Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation
A copy of Mr. Krantz’s presentation is on file in the PCAC office.
Mr. Krantz stated that the extension of the G train to Church Avenue on a permanent basis will continue a time savings for riders of about one and a half minutes per trip. The change from the interim to permanent routing status will occur when the Culver Viaduct project is finished, which he expects to happen by spring 2013.
Mr. Krantz said that express tracks on the Culver line will also be available by Spring and that their functions will include serving as a test track for Communication Based Train Control (CBTC)-capable trains. NYC Transit now has CBTC on the L line and it is soon coming to the 7 line. After that, it will be installed on the Queens Boulevard lines. The spread of this technology is the reason for the test track, as Transit needs a test track to see how equipment produced by different vendors will work together. The test track would be in operation only in off-peak hours, as the plan is to preserve revenue service on weekdays.
Mr. Krantz discussed ridership trends on the Culver Line. He said that in 2004 the project to repair the Manhattan Bridge was completed and people began to move away from the F train toward routes that went across the bridge. He said there has been ridership growth on the northern part of the F route and that new transfer opportunities at the Broadway-Lafayette station will increase pressure on the F line. As a result of these changes, the peak load point for the F, which used to be Bergen Street, has shifted to 2nd Avenue. Between York Avenue and 2nd Avenue, ridership on the F is growing at a rate double that of the overall system.
Mr. Krantz said that Transit is receiving good feedback on the rerouting of the M train, which has resulted in ridership growth and higher loads as the JMZ corridor feeds into the F at the Delancey-Essex Streets complex. The elimination of the V train at the time of the M rerouting added an alternative 6th Avenue line local service, but also left the F train to handle all riders at the 2nd Avenue station, and
the 2004 Manhattan Bridge four-track restoration shifted F riders to adjacent lines. At this point, AM peak hour loads are 85 percent of guideline at 2nd Avenue and 78 percent of guideline at Bergen Street.
Mr. Krantz spoke about F express service. He said that it had originally been implemented with two starting points, Coney Island and Kings Highway. At first, the Coney Island trains ran express wherever the express track was available. The Kings Highway trains ran express only after Church Avenue, but shortly after express service was begun all Kings Highway trains were converted to local service. All G service in this corridor ran local to Church Avenue. In 1976 G service was cut back to Smith Street, and in 1987 all express service was ended. The Bergen Street relay room fire precluded restoration of express service until reconstruction of the damaged equipment was completed in 2008.
At this point, there are two major options for restoring express service. The first of these is comparable to what was in place in 1976. It features one-way express service to Kings Hwy and requires a new switch configuration south of Kings Highway. In spite of its substantial cost and potential for operational conflicts from the short turns of some trains, it offers little or no net travel time benefit and so is not recommended for future study. A second concept features two-way express service between Church Avenue and Jay Street, saving 4 minutes in travel time for riders. It is recommended for future study.
Ellyn Shannon asked about the possibility of weekend express service. Mr. Krantz replied that any express service will probably be limited to weekdays. She asked if the service would be justified with the greater crowds in the summer, and Mr. Krantz responded that most beach crowds use Q service.
Mr. Krantz said that what can be done in terms of F express service is limited by the imperative to be cost neutral and to generally work with the existing frequency of F trains. Service guidelines require at least 6 trains per hour on each service, and there are 14 existing trains that could be split between local and express either 7 and 7 or 6 and 8. He said that they plan to put a report out on their recommendations by next spring and will use MetroCard data in formulating their conclusions.
Bill Guild commented that it seems that the Bergen Street express station could be restored. Mr. Krantz said that there hasn’t been revenue service there in many years and equipment has been stored there, so it would take some work to put the station back into service. Judy McClain noted that the trains would go through the lower level, but not stop there.
Stuart Goldstein said that the express services should do more to benefit riders near the southern end of the line. He asked why NYC Transit could not run a service that bypasses the 4th Avenue-9th Street station, as there is now a connection between the R and F lines available at the Jay Street-Metrotech station complex.
Mr. Greif said that the stations between Avenue X to Ditmas Avenue are in bad shape, and asked whether they will be fixed before an express service plan is implemented. Ms. McClain stated that these stations are scheduled for repair through a combination of rehabilitations and station component repairs.
Mr. Greif asked whether the Bergen Street express stop could feasibly be restored. Ms. McClain answered that it could be done, but it would be very expensive. She said that this remains an issue to be addressed because of the large Bergen Street ridership.
Ms. Prentiss inquired about what will happen to the people who are not at express stops. Mr. Krantz stated they are looking at the impacts on these individuals and these impacts may sway the decision toward not implementing this plan.
Mr. Goldstein stated that there is often bad evening service now, with stations being skipped to Kings Highway. He asked the cause of these trains skipping stops. Mr. Krantz said that it could be due to construction or the need to coordinate with M trains in Manhattan. Mr. Goldstein also commented there are currently trains being put into service at Kings Highway and Avenue X and cases where trains are running express to maintain proper spacing.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.