Meeting Minutes Apr 30, 2009


A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 noon on April 30, 2009 in the 5th Floor Board Room, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City. The following members were present:

Andrew Albert
Trudy L. Mason
Shirley Genn
Edith Prentiss
William K. Guild
Sharon Santa Maria
Marisol Halpern
Michael Sinansky
Sharon King Hoge
Burton M. Strauss, Jr.
The following members were absent:

Thomas Jost
Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas
Toya Williford
In addition, the following persons were present:

William A. Henderson – PCAC Executive Director
Jan Wells – PCAC Associate Director
Ellyn Shannon – PCAC Transportation Planner
Karyl Berger – PCAC Research Associate
Connie Crawford – NYCT
Tamekia Price – NYCT
Deborah Hall-Moore – NYCT
Yvonne Morrow – Concerned citizen
Bob Olmsted – Concerned citizen
Michael Sheafe – Concerned citizen
Lou Sepersky – Concerned citizen
Ken Stewart – Concerned citizen
Jesse Moskowitz – Concerned citizen
Alan Flacks – Concerned citizen
Matt Shotkin – Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the April 30, 2009 meeting was approved. The minutes of the March 26, 2009 meeting were approved as amended.

Chair’s Report
The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

The members went around the table and introduced themselves to the newest NYCTRC member, Sharon King Hoge.

In response to Michael Sinansky’s question as to what is the status of New York City Transit’s Automatic Vehicle Locator project, Connie Crawford reported that the problem is with the software and that a more limited system is possible with existing technologies available in the market. Bill Henderson noted that this was the stance that the Department of Buses took when they testified in front of the City Council earlier this year. Mr. Sinansky noted that maybe NYC Transit should install a simple system and then simply add on to it.

Trudy Mason said she spoke to NYPD Chief Ray Kelly regarding Ellyn’s incident at involving counterterrorism officers in the Times Square station. She said one of the problems is that there are various subdivisions within the police department, including NYPD patrol officers, the NYPD Transit Bureau and the NYPD Counter Terrorism Unit. She said that Chief Kelly was very disturbed that the surveillance tapes that may have captured the incident were destroyed or erased. Ms. Shannon indicated that the NYPD erases their tapes every ten days.

Ms. Mason said this whole incident has led to a thorough internal review of the work of the Counter Terrorism forces.

Ms. Shannon spoke to the Citizen Complaint Review Board, and they have been able to identify the officers involved in the incident. She indicated the case is moving forward and a decision should be rendered in the next few months.

Jesse Moskowitz, the operator of the Record Mart in the Times Square station, noted that there are still problems with the Music Under New York groups playing outside his store. He said that Music Under New York staff say encouraging things when he speaks with them but never deliver on what they say.

Ms. Mason said the Council should send a letter to Arline Bronzaft to ask her to work with the Council to monitor the sound levels generated by the groups that are part of the Music Under New York program.

Board Report
Mr. Albert reported that the MTA Board voted to extend their financial plan cycle from 12 months to 18 months. This change is being made to allow the Board to better deal with the actions necessary to bridge the anticipated exceptionally large gaps in the MTA budget.

A member of the Council noted that there had been rumors about subway service being shut down overnight due to budget issues. Mr. Albert answered that it was very unlikely that overnight service would be eliminated due to budget constraints, as it would be very difficult logistically.

Ms. Shannon said she filed a complaint with WNYC Radio that reporter Matthew Schuerman had filed a report about the MTA bailout that was filled with inaccuracies. She asked that the report be removed from the website.

Ms. Shannon said that, in view of worsened economic conditions, the word to describe the MTA’s financial situation should be Armageddon instead of doomsday.

Ms. Mason said she was at a breakfast earlier that morning and noted the Governor announced he has a “secret plan” to bail out the MTA. She strongly suggested that everyone inundate the Governor and State Senators with letters, emails, and phone calls to ask that they act immediately.

Sharon King Hoge noted that passengers don’t really pay attention until the problem directly affects them.

Old Business
No Old Business was discussed.

New Business
No New Business was discussed.

Introduction of Cosema Crawford, NYC Transit Senior Vice President – Capital Program Management, to Discuss the status of the NYC Transit Capital Program.
A copy of Ms. Crawford’s presentation is on file in the PCAC office.

Ms. Crawford said that the NYC subways are a 24/7 operation and one of the only systems in the world with a four track configuration. In addition, the lines on the NYC Transit subways are not discrete services but are interconnected with each other. This makes for a very complex system and makes it difficult to design and install systems such as Automatic Train Supervision (ATS) or the Public Address/Customer Information Screens (PA/CIS) systems. Cars are not segregated on a specific line, and equipment from the 1 line can run on any of the other numbered lines. She noted the five cent fare was kept in place for so long that resources for maintenance were not available and the system was neglected. Ms. Crawford noted that presently we are working to get the system up to a “state of good repair” and that the system had been in really bad shape prior to this effort. She reported that $71 billion has already been spent on the Capital Program. .

Mr. Albert noted that only a small fraction of all stations have been rehabilitated and that many are in total disrepair. He pointed to a breakdown of capital expenditures that indicates that only about 16 percent of this funding was directed toward stations.

In response to Marisol Halpern’s question whether an analysis of the costs of delays in returning the system to a state of good repair has been performed, Ms. Crawford noted that signals are second most frequent reason for delays in the system, and explained that the signal system is built to be a fail–safe system. She noted that if there is a signal failure that stops a train, the failure results in maintenance costs, operating costs, and costs to the customers. She said there is an impact of inflation on costs when work is deferred, but the true value of funds expended has also changed over time.

She explained that performing signal work on the 7 line is very difficult and expensive and that there are not many alternatives for customers in terms of service when the 7 line must be shut down.

Ms. Crawford said that 90 percent of the subway system was shut down as a result of the flood that occurred in August, 2007

In response to Mr. Moskowitz’s question as to the purpose of seating on the newly raised sidewalk gratings, Ms. Crawford said that raising the gratings alone creates a tripping hazard, and something has to be done to prevent walking across the gratings. She said the seating serves as both an amenity and a barrier to pedestrians.

Ms. Crawford noted that 37 percent of the signal system is more than fifty years old. Rehabilitation work has not progressed fast enough to keep up with the deterioration of the system.

In response to Mr. Albert’s question as to what level of train frequency the replacement signals will allow, Ms. Crawford said that the modernized signals, which are an intermediate step between original equipment and computerized signals, are actually slower than the original signals because they have more safeguards built in to them. She noted that the new computerized signals in the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) system will provide 15 percent increases in throughput on the 7 line. CBTC is more efficient because it takes into account speed, weight, and track geometry in determining safe distances between trains. She said that the new Rail Control center has helped as well. She said there is a tower at every interlocking, and 30 master towers were built to control all interlockings. The Rail Control Center is in effect a master–master tower.

Ms. Prentiss noted the loss of tower personnel through consolidation removes a source of emergency assistance in the system.

Alan Flacks noted that at 134th Street in the 135th Street station (2 and 3 lines) a constant stream is present when there is a big rain storm.

In response to Lou Sepersky’s question as to whether the catch basins are being monitored, Ms. Crawford indicated the Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to do the maintenance and to try to clean basins before predicted large storms.

In response to Edith Prentiss’ question about whether there is even distribution of cameras throughout the subway system, Ms. Crawford said that there is not because placement is based on risk assessment. She said that Transit gave a list of recommended locations to the police and they in turn made some changes.

Shirley Genn asked about the signs that say ”cameras may be recording . . . .” Ms. Crawford said that the signs are present because of a legal requirement.

Ms. Shannon noted that the investigation into her incident took some time because there was question of what camera was involved.

Ms. Halpern asked if there is a list of the stations in which the cameras are placed. Ms. Crawford said that not all cameras are part of the IESS contract, as some cameras are PID (Passenger Identification) cameras.

Ms. Crawford noted that there has been lots of capital work on the bus depots. She highlighted the work on Clara Hale Depot and the Charleston Annex on Staten Island.

Ms. Crawford said that they are halfway through addressing all the stations since the start of the first capital program in 1982. She said the plan was to do 16 stations per year but this number has been reduced to five per year. She said they are now issuing contracts that deal with a specific station component in order to address chronic problems.

Ms. Crawford said that they did a comprehensive station survey in 2007-2008. She said that this survey will allow them to develop station rankings that are more in line with riders’ perceptions of existing conditions. She noted that having the component system in place allows Capital Construction to attack the specific problems that need attention.

Ms. Prentiss asked if the need for replacement of tactile warning strips is included in this survey. Mr. Albert also noted that the NYCTRC has done station surveys and that a station in horrible shape does not get slated for rehabilitation just because it scored high on one category.

Ms. Mason briefly described the Adopt-A-Station program that she was involved in when she worked at the MTA over twenty years ago. She suggested that this program should be looked at as a way to help fund station rehabilitations.

Burton Strauss noted that there is a need of $25 billion for new signals and stations if the system is going to achieve a state of good repair. He wondered where that money would come from.

In response to Mr. Albert’s question about delays in rehabilitation due to water intrusion, Ms. Crawford said that the water issues do need to be addressed.

In response to Ms. Prentiss’ question about the schedule for rehabilitation of the Times Square Shuttle, considering that the completion of this project has been pushed back a number of times, Ms. Crawford said it depends on whether this station is included in the list of locations to be addressed in the next Capital Program.

In response to Mr. Sinansky’s question about the status of the Cortlandt Street station on the N/R/W lines, Ms. Crawford said they are working on the northbound side of the station and that this side should be opened by the end of this year.

Ms. Crawford said that there is no question that the needs of the system are far greater than the resources available to address them.

Ms. Crawford spoke briefly about the use of three dimensional design techniques and noted that it helps a community to see firsthand the features that have been suggested for a specific station.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Karyl Berger

PCAC Research Associate