NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT RIDERS COUNCIL
MINUTES OF APRIL 21, 2016
A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 noon on April 21, 2016 in the 20th floor Conference room, 2 Broadway, New York City.
The following members were present:
Andrew Albert Sharon King Hoge
Christopher Greif Trudy L. Mason
William K. Guild Edith Prentiss
Marisol Halpern Michael Sinansky
The following members were absent:
Stuart Goldstein Scott Nicholls
Burton M. Strauss, Jr.
In addition, the following persons were present:
William A. Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Ellyn Shannon -PCAC Associate Director
Angela Bellisio -PCAC Transportation Planner
Bradley Brashears -PCAC Transportation Planner
Karyl Cafiero -PCAC Research Associate
Deborah Hall-Moore -NYCT
Bill Montanile -NYCT
Debra Greif -RFSSAC
Anthony Drummond -Brooklyn Borough President’s Office
Ken Stewart -Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the April 21, 2016 meeting was approved. The minutes of the March 24, 2016 meeting were approved.
Andrew Albert gave the Chair’s report; the written report is attached to these minutes. Mr. Albert agreed that he will request a service plan for the operation of the Second Avenue Subway and Broadway Line covering the period from restoration of W train service through the initiation of Second Avenue Subway operation.
Mr. Albert said that the revised Capital Program was approved by the MTA Board and now goes to Capital Program Review Board (CPRB). If there is no veto by a member within 30 days, the Program goes into effect. The funding arrangement is for the state to provide resources as needed, including funds to meet debt service on any new bonds needed to finance capital projects. Ms. Mason stated that there was no need to worry about Capital Program approval, according to Assembly and CPRB member Keith Wright.
Mr. Albert said that thirty-one Transit and ten commuter rail stations will be getting upgrades under the Enhanced Station Initiative in the Capital Program. He said that he talked to Wynton Habersham, who said that although stations will be closed, they will not require more backriding than is needed for some current projects.
Stuart Goldstein suggested that riders should weigh in on finishes to be installed in the stations, and Ken Stewart agreed. Mr. Goldstein also suggested that NYC Transit look into the projects’ impacts on persons with disabilities. Mr. Albert noted that the Mets-Willets Point LIRR station is included in the list not only because of its importance for airport access, but because it needs work independently of improving LaGuardia access. He also said that the Board discussed the Second Avenue Subway and upcoming public hearings, and that the MTA had a good showing at the previous evening’s public hearing.
Mr. Albert noted that the Board also discussed the repair of the L train tunnels and that there are issues with a partial shutdown, including protecting those in the tunnels from silica dust and the effects of vibration from the trains that continue to operate. It is not clear that a 36-month shutdown would be better for riders, and the MTA is talking about offering early completion incentives within an 18 month timeframe. He said that he had suggested a dedicated bus shuttle be provided during construction.
Debra Greif suggested that any shuttles run to Queens Plaza rather than Court Square because of availability of elevators. Mr. Albert pointed out that the Bedford Avenue station is not accessible. Ms. Greif said that people could backride to get to accessible stations. Chris Greif stated that there should be additional trains on other lines to take pressure off existing service during the L shutdown.
Edith Prentiss commented that even though there are existing buses between Queens and Brooklyn it is unclear why riders should have to take a slow bus to substitute for the L train. She said that when the A train was out, she was told to take the M5 as an alternative, which required wheeling up a substantial hill.
Mr. Albert stated that he heard a lot of discussion of M5 service gaps at the NYC Transit public hearing that he attended last night.
Mr. Albert said that the transfer of Madison Avenue properties is bring fought by the City because of the structure of payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) to be assessed on the project. The MTA Board is giving the parties another month to reach agreement, but a vote is needed by the May Board meeting. He also noted that Board Member Jeff Kay was very eloquent about the financial aspects of the
Capital Program and that Board Member Larry Schwartz defended the funding plan for the Capital Program.
Mike Sinansky stated that he was appointed to the NYCTRC 25 years ago, and that he believes that this milestone marks a good time for a change. As a result, he announced his resignation from NYCTRC and said that he will be forwarding letters of resignation to the Governor and Queens Borough President. Mr. Greif said that he was shocked and told Mr. Sinansky that he will be missed at future meetings. Sharon King Hoge stated that she will miss the context that Mr. Sinansky was able to add to topics discussed at NYCTRC meetings.
Mr. Greif asked whether the Council can get more information about the status of bus issues. Ms. Mason noted that she formally requested a meeting with Darryl Irick to discuss bus issues. Ms. Greif suggested that representative of NYC Transit unions should be brought into discussions of service. William Henderson said that the NYCTRC has had labor representatives as guests, but including labor in service discussions may not be productive.
Ken Stewart commented that he is having problems on the downtown A, B, and C platforms at 59th Street with performers obstructing riders and making announcements difficult to hear. Mr. Albert noted that he neglected to mention the opening of the Turnstile retail area at Columbus Circle. Mr. Henderson said that performing on platforms is permitted and that there is little appetite for changing the NYC Transit Rules of Conduct, but he noted that the NYCTRC will be having NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox as its guest in June.
Ms. Prentiss asked whether the MTA considered the differences in access provided to persons of different abilities with respect to the Turnstile development. Mr. Albert replied that he did not know, but will find out. Ms. Prentiss stated that she is concerned that the MTA will proceed to develop spaces that are not fully accessible.
Mr. Greif asked whether the Council will send a letter outlining its concerns in advance of the May 5 meeting on plans for the reconstruction of the L line’s Canarsie tunnel. Mr. Albert responded that he will be waiting to see what the community has to say and that anyone can attend the meetings and provide input.
Introduction of John O’Grady, NYC Transit Senior Vice President – Capital Program Management to discuss the transformative approach to station redevelopments, including new design guidelines, design-build procurement and station closure to improve contractor access
Mr. O’Grady said that there are a number of tools that will used in this new approach, including improving ADA access, additional elevator and escalator units, station renewals, station component campaigns, and station reconstruction. The station reconstructions are major structural work, but Governor Cuomo felt station guidelines from 1990’s are outdated and that it is now taking so long to do the work that improvement projects lose public support. The speed at which work progresses can be improved by closing stations to do the work, but there is a natural tension between the impacts of closing stations to riders and the benefits from getting work completed.
Bill Montanile, the Program Manager for the Enhanced Station Initiative, said that the Initiative is about fundamental change and the overall goals include changing the public perception of transit, improving the passenger experience, and bringing stations to a state of good repair.
Ms. Mason asked why there are no East Side Manhattan stations included in the Initiative. Mr. O’Grady said that there are many other stations on the East Side that are being addressed under other programs and that the Initiative is not all of the work being done.
Mr. Montanile said that five to eight packages of stations will be prepared for procurement. The first package will take advantage of design-build contracting, with a Request for Proposals due July 2016 and a contractor to be selected in September 2016. The second package will be released in September, with packages of stations out every two to three months thereafter until all stations in the program are addressed.
The project delivery team includes Grimshaw Architects as designers, an ARUP- Grimshaw joint venture as facilitators, and the winning design-build contractors as vision realizers. Mr. Montanile gave an example of new thinking on ways to make the station information center area better, with digital screens and conduit contained in consolidated raceways. He also said that there could be improved use of lighting, with different colors indicating different kinds of functions. The newly designed stations could also use street level signage and new materials in fare control areas.
Mr. Montanile said that work scopes in the Initiative include typical elements in station renewals combined with enhancements in architecture, communications, lighting and technology. There are no extensive station rebuilds in this program, and it will not include major structural work. The work to be done mainly falls under the headings of renewal and components. The addition of elevators and escalators will be considered, but no commitments are being made.
Ms. Prentiss asked whether ramps will be part of the work. Mr. Montanile responded stated that they like ramps, as they avoid the mechanical problems that face elevators and escalators. Mr. Montanile also said that they are not redesigning MetroCard Vending Machines and may tell contractors what kind of flooring material to use as well as the type and look of lighting, but will provide much more freedom to contractor to carry out the work.
Mr. O’Grady stated that they are looking for a general packaging strategy that will work for all areas where work will be done. He said that facility closures will be primarily limited to stations themselves and the work will require a minimal number of track closures.
Ms. Prentiss asked whether closed station stairwells will reopen as part of this work. Mr. O’Grady replied that there is no prohibition against stairwell reopening, but it has to be completed according to a strategy. In many cases, new functions were located in closed areas, so they must be relocated to restore the stairwell.
Mr. Montanile stated that they held an industry briefing two days ago and will be issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) next month. Mr. O’Grady noted that completing the first stations will probably take a year. In all there are thirty-one stations that will be combined in up to eight packages, multiple shifts of workers, and new provisions to allow station work under traffic. Ms. Hoge said that older stations followed one aesthetic and the new Hudson Yards station another. She asked which approach will be used. The guests answered that they will be keeping the history of the stations but cleaning up the clutter.
Ellyn Shannon asked if the project will use Envision certification. The guests said that they will investigate use of Envision, and are interested in the possibility of applying it to projects where much of the station is already existing.
Mr. Stewart stated that some design decisions are cost neutral, but have major impacts on riders. He noted the use of color and light and asked what input has gone into the design process in relation to issues for people with disabilities.
Mr. Sinansky stated there was no mention of storm drainage improvements in the project and asked if this work is built into the process. Mr. Montanile stated that some stations have ventilators that bring water to sewers. He said that NYC Transit will address drainage before the stations are turned over to contractors.
Mr. Sinansky asked how value engineering will impact the work. Mr. Montanile replied that the project will include a value engineering exercise, but prime consideration will be given to life cycle costs.
Mr. Greif asked whether Brooklyn stations will be elevators. Mr. Montanile said that the Initiative is primarily a component and renewal program, so additional elevators would not necessarily be provided unless the 20 percent of value threshold is exceeded and full ADA compliance was required.
Marisol Halpern asked how much coordination is done with the City and its Department of Transportation as well as utilities. Mr. Montanile responded that there will be substantial coordination with both utilities and the City.
Ms. Prentiss asked what can be done to address discolored tile from water infiltration. Mr. Montanile said that the ventilator team works to prevent overflow onto the tile. The tile itself can be cleaned.
Mr. O’Grady said they have been tasked with developing a program for station cleaning and maintenance. They will develop a program to ensure that the improvements made continue to enhance riders’ experience of the system.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 PM.