Meeting Minutes April 23, 2015




A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 noon on April 23, 2015 in the 5th floor Board room, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.

The following members were present:

Andrew Albert                                   Trudy L. Mason

Stuart Goldstein                               Scott Nicholls

Christopher Greif                             Michael Sinansky

William K. Guild                               Burton M. Strauss, Jr.

The following members were absent:

Marisol Halpern                                Sharon King Hoge

Edith Prentiss

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

Randolph Glucksman                    -MNRCC

Cross Siclare                                    -NYCT

Deborah Hall-Moore                      -NYCT

Phyllis Silvestre                               -Lindenwood Alliance

Alan Flacks                                       -NY Democratic Committee

Ken Stewart                                      -Concerned Citizen

Richard Schulman                          -Concerned Citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the April 23, 2015 meeting was approved.  The minutes of the March 19, 2015 meeting were approved as amended.

Chair’s Report

The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

Chris Greif stated that there are problems with riders holding doors on the 1 line as well as the other lines with heavy ridership growth.

Ms. Mason stated the people do not believe the “next train” is actually right behind the one that is currently in the station.

Board Report

Andrew Albert noted that the April Board cycle of meetings would not be held until next week but that a lot has happened with the MTA rules dictating the types of ads that can be displayed in the subway system.  He said the advertising regulations and the Mayor’s One NYC program will be discussed at the Board meeting.  Mr. Albert noted that the MTA would probably have an independent person or group review and decide about the acceptability of advertising content. He also said the court has ruled that Pamela Geller’s ads must be allowed to be posted in other systems over the last few months.

Ms. Mason commented that the controversy about the ads is a replay of the controversy surrounding advertising thirty years ago.  She suggested that the Council look at that experience.

Richard Schulman stated that he heard a story on the radio news that the MTA will propose banning all political and issue ads.

Mr. Albert noted that the discussion of the Mayor’s One NYC plan will dovetail nicely with the NYCTRC’s Freedom Ticket proposal.  He said that the One NYC Plan includes a study of a new subway line on Utica Avenue and the possibility of a free transfer at Junius Street/Livonia Avenue.

Mike Sinansky noted that Mayor Bloomberg came up with funding for the 7 Line extension and wondered if Mayor de Blasio has available to him similar sources of funding for expansion projects.  Mr. Albert said that he heard that the Mayor has backtracked on funding.  Ms. Mason said the proposals that have been made with regard to funding are all useful to be studied.

Scott Nicholls said that NYC Transit is undertaking a comprehensive look at express bus service on Staten Island, but noted that there were no proposed projects in that area in the Mayor’s One NYC plan.

Mr. Albert said that there will be a Board discussion about what projects will be delayed if the Capital Program does not get fully funded.

Mr. Albert said there was an article about Karen Rae that said that Governor Cuomo should reappoint Tom Prendergast as MTA Chairman and it would be a real shame if he was not reappointed because of his advocacy for funding the Capital Program.

Old Business

Mr. Albert said that Bradley Brashears will talk about the Freedom Ticket project but he wanted to start by saying that the impetus for this project was that he heard from a woman who lives in Laurelton and works in the financial district. This woman takes a bus and two subways each way between work and home, which take over an hour.  He noted that the PCAC has addressed this problem in a previous report, Long Day’s Journey into Work.

Mr. Brashears said the Freedom Ticket project meshes well with some of the Mayor’s recommendations and that it would be valuable to have the report ready in time for the release of the Mayor’s Capital Plan.

Ellyn Shannon said there seems to be a growing consensus to do something along the lines of our Freedom Ticket proposal.

In response to Chris Greif’s question as to whether this program could be implemented on PATH or New Jersey Transit, Mr. Albert said the proof of concept could be extended beyond the city limits depending on the funding that is available.

Trudy Mason asked that the NYCTRC invite Darryl Irick back to another Council meeting, as there are so many problems with BusTime and Next Bus Please signage, as well as overall bus service.  She related an incident that occurred on Tuesday, April 21.  Mr. Albert said we would arrange for the Council to meet with a representative from Buses.

As per Ken Stewart’s request, a document containing recommendations about performers in stations was distributed to the members for review.

Stuart Goldstein had asked that we send a letter bus accidents that result in pedestrian fatalities   He said he never heard that a letter was sent.

Mr. Goldstein had also requested that a letter be sent about the lack of signage at the end of the uptown platform at 59th Street/Lexington Avenue concerning how to get to N and R platform.

Mr. Goldstein had also previously suggested we send a letter asking that a sticker with the current fare options be posted on MVM machines so that customers can consider their options before they purchase a MetroCard.

Introduction of Cross Siclare, NYCT Assistant Vice President, Corporate Communications – MetroCard Customer Relations, to discuss the Reduced Fare Program and MetroCard Customer Service issues.

Mr. Siclare noted the applications for Reduced Fare MetroCard have increased over the past several years as baby boomers age into the program.  He said he deals with any non-standard MetroCard issue such as NYPD requests for cards, reduced fare and claims.   He said his group is also responsible for mobile sales and in the aftermath of Sandy, they set up a temporary site in the Rockaways to make it easy for residents out there to get MetroCards.

Chris Greif said that he does a lot of outreach events with Reggie Baron and that he and all of the staff are very helpful to riders at these events.

Trudy Mason noted that seniors stop her all the time to say that when they ask Station Booth Agents about Reduced Fare issues the agents seem to know nothing about these issues and that the station booths never have reduced fare applications available.  Mr. Siclare said that a million applications are printed every six months and distributed to the booths and organizations, but he has no idea what happens to them as he has heard this complaint before.  He agreed that the station agents need to have refresher training on reduced fare issues.

In response to Ellyn Shannon’s inquiry as to why a replacement reduced fare card cannot be given to a customer who brings in a damaged card directly to the Stone Street customer service office, Mr. Siclare said that between continuing to catch up from Superstorm Sandy and the March fare increase, which was fairly complicated, he finally has gotten more staff which has helped to bring the wait time for replacements down to four to eight business days.  He explained that they can’t issue a card on the spot as they have to first negative list the card and check the account balance.

In response to Karyl Cafiero’s question about the process when a customer leaves a message on 511 about a lost or stolen card, Mr. Siclare said that it takes a day for a message, which is either written down or taken off the IVR (voice recognition) system to get transmitted to his office.  He said he fought hard to keep the Reduced Fare telephone number so that all these issues would come through one portal but that he was not successful.

In response to Ms. Cafiero’s question about how one knows where the MetroCard bus is located on a certain day, Mr. Siclare said that he does not handle off site sales but that the MetroCard bus has a set schedule that is distributed once a year to senior centers and Community Boards to let them know when it will be in their area.

In response to Mike Sinansky’s question as to what is being done to prevent cyber-attacks, Mr., Siclare said NYCT is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant and the information gathered is encrypted and stored in a safe place.  He said the system is a closed loop so someone can’t access it directly from the internet.  Everything in the system is secured every night

Mr. Greif noted that the staff at the Stone Street office need to be more respectful of people with disabilities and that it is hard for some to stand in line for so lengthy periods of time.  Mr. Siclare said they are putting in a queuing system to reduce the waiting time.

In response to Mr. Strauss’ inquiry as to whether riders can complete the entire reduced fare application on the internet, Mr. Siclare said that right now you need to get the application notarized, so one has to mail it in, but they are hoping to get to the point where you do it all on line.

In response to Randy Glucksman’s question about the use of Social Security numbers, Mr. Siclare said they are trying to eliminate their use but in some cases they are necessary.  He said they get 1,000 calls a day about lost or stolen cards and that Social Security is the only system that does not change numbers and thus is the best way to verify the card holder.

New Business

Chris Greif said the residents of East New York are thankful for the work that is being done on the 3 line stations.

Mr. Albert noted that there will be a flip of the Cranberry and Rutgers Street tunnel services later this year to allow repair work to be done.

Chris Greif said there have been lots of delay issues on express buses out of Ulmer Park depot.  He had sent Bill Henderson an email about it but wanted to mention it to the group.


The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

William Henderson

Executive Director