NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT RIDERS COUNCIL
MINUTES OF JANUARY 24, 2013
A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12:00 noon on January 24, 2013 in the 5th floor Board room, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City. The following members were present:
Andrew Albert Sharon King Hoge
Stuart Goldstein Trudy L. Mason
Christopher Greif Edith Prentiss
William Guild Toya Williford
The following members were absent:
Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas Steve Mayo
Thomas Jost Michael Sinansky
Burton M. Strauss, Jr.
In addition, the following persons were present:
William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Ellyn Shannon -PCAC Transportation Planner
Branko Kleva -NYCT
Dilip Kumar Patel -NYCT
Adrienne Taub -NYCT
Ann Guild -Concerned citizen
Matt Shotkin -Concerned citizen
Ken Stewart -Concerned citizen
John Steinberg -Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the January 24, 2013 meeting was approved. The minutes of the December 20, 2012 meeting were approved as amended. Trudy Mason said that she had asked to be informed why NYC Transit had not responded to the Council’s letter on the 34th Street SBS.
The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes. Stuart Goldstein asked if the opening of the old South Ferry station been discussed as an option to provide service while the new station is being reconstructed. Andrew Albert said that it has been discussed, but that it would require some work and NYC Transit does not want to reopen the old station. He observed that there is a lot of damage at the old station that needs to be repaired, and doing this work could delay restoration of the new station.
Chris Greif stated that he has issues with recent decreases in service on the B68 route during the morning rush. He said that the buses are overloaded. Mr. Albert suggested that he talk to elected officials to enlist their assistance in increasing service.
Trudy Mason asked Mr. Albert whether he has discussed the Council’s issues with the 34th Street SBS when the subject of Select Bus Service was raised at the Board level. Mr. Albert said that he had raised the lack of Ambassadors on the route and the elimination of stops when service was converted to SBS. The response that he received from NYC Transit was that some stops had to be eliminated to increase travel speeds on the route.
Mr. Albert noted that Joseph Lhota resigned as the MTA Chairman effective December 31, 2012. Fernando Ferrer, who was recently elected as the MTA Board’s Vice Chairman, is serving as acting Chairman and NYC Transit President Tom Prendergast is serving as acting Executive Director.
Since FASTRACK work on the 2 line along Nostrand Avenue has been underway, Mr. Albert observed, he has received a lot of text alerts about problems on this segment. He said that he has talked to NYC Transit Subways Senior Vice President Carmen Bianco and Mr. Bianco acknowledged that there are issues with this work. The problems that are being addressed include malfunctioning equipment and crews improperly closing up work sites in preparation to return the line to service.
Ms. Mason stated that there have been problems after FASTRACK work on the 6 line. She said that the morning after work was done there was a shutdown of the service and that these problems must have some connection to FASTRACK.
Mr. Albert stated that he has brought up the need for a dedicated shuttle between the Rector Street and South Ferry stations. He said that he believes the shuttle could be operated with two vehicles. It was agreed that the Council will send a letter requesting that a bus shuttle between the current 1 line terminal at Rector Street and South Ferry be established.
Calls for subway platform doors have occupied much of the media’s attention in recent weeks. Mr. Albert said that there are many people calling for the installation of doors between the platform and tracks. He said that there are many problems with installing doors — they would be costly, they would delay travel because they take time to open, and installing them would be problematic due to the different arrangement of doors on different car classes. Mr. Albert said that Mr. Bianco has said that NYC Transit is looking at the issue and that they will examine some locations like the Javits Center 7 line station and the L line as potential places for a pilot of platform edge doors.
Ms. Mason stated that she is distributing copies of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s letter to MTA Inspector General Barry Kluger calling for an audit of subway fatalities. She said that the last two points of this letter address mental health needs and suggested that the Council send a letter supporting Mr. Stringer’s call for a study.
Edith Prentiss commented that before taking position on slowing trains, the Council should look at the impact of such an action on headways. Ms. Mason responded that her recommendation is that the Council support the letter and not the strategy of slowing trains as they come into the stations. Mr. Albert said that we can request that NYC Transit look into the recent rush of train fatalities.
Stuart Goldstein pointed out that NYC Transit is making a tremendous effort to get people to recognize hazards associated with platform edges and trains. Ken Stewart remarked that one part of this effort should be to make sure there are platform edge warning strips and that riders are made aware of them.
Ms. Mason stated that all Mr. Stringer’s letter asks for is information. Toya Williford suggested it would be helpful to forward Mr. Stringer’s letter to all members of the Council and form a consensus after people have a chance to read it.
Ms. Mason commented that she wanted to go on record in a letter to Ted Orosz that it is unconscionable that our letter to him on the 34th Street SBS has been left without a response for seven months. She said that the letter should also state that the current arrangement of stops does not allow for transfers to other uptown and downtown bus routes.
Mr. Albert commented that he has said publicly that the M34 stop at Lexington Avenue should be restored. Ms. Mason said that in addition to the issues of the eliminated stops and the length of time that a response to the earlier letter has taken, she wanted to include the issue of the Ambassadors. She questioned why NYC Transit won’t use the Ambassadors on 34th Street, particularly during holiday periods.
Mr. Stewart asked if Ms. Mason has found the study of the feasibility of selling subway entrance naming rights that she referred to at the last NYCTRC meeting. Ms. Mason apologized for not forwarding that information to Mr. Stewart.
Ms. Prentiss stated that she has had discussions with NYC Transit at Community Board 12 meetings and that the Community Board cannot find out the criteria used for making decisions on the repair of stations and how they are ranked in terms of priority. She said that the Community Board had asked for the assessment instrument and the results of NYC Transit’s assessments. The Community Board is focusing on the 163rd and 155th Street stations on the A line, but the 157th Street station on the 1 line was fixed after Community Board 12 complained. Staff will work on getting information about the assessment process.
Mr. Goldstein pointed out that there should be a follow up on the issue of errors in the on-board electronic signage that does not include possible transfers between the F and G trains in the area where the G train was extended. He said that this must be corrected now that the extension of the G train has been made permanent. Mr. Goldstein said that the Council also should work on having signage posted to inform riders of the cost of different fare options. This could be a poster positioned next to places where fare media are sold.
Ms. Prentiss said that buses often do not curb and expect wheelchairs to load and unload from the street. She questioned what the MTA is doing about this and how NYC Transit trains drivers in this regard. Mr. Albert responded that a letter will be written about training drivers and making sure that they know to curb the bus to board passengers using wheelchairs.
Mr. Greif stated his concerns about the Q train operating on the 6th Avenue line and ending at 57th Street and 6th Avenue while the F train is running. He said that the Q train should terminate at Queensboro Plaza in these cases and that he is most concerned about conflicts in the period between 10 pm and midnight.
Sharon King Hoge stated that she is interested in having a review conducted of bus stops on 5th Avenue, near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The buses in this corridor have to stop for a traffic signal and stop again on the opposite side of the intersection for a bus stop, lengthening their travel time.
John Steinberg stated that there are issues with connections between buses and the Lexington Avenue/ 63rd Street subway station. He said that this is particularly problematic for limited stop buses as they stop approximately every 10 blocks. He said that he had received a letter from NYC Transit Senior Vice President – Buses Darryl Irick offering to move bus stops to the block between 63rd and 64th Streets.
Mr. Albert asked the members whether any of them have a problem with supporting having the limited stop bus on the same block as the 63rd Street station.
Ms. Mason commented that this issue was first raised when the 63rd Street station opened and that NYC Transit has not done anything about this issue and they will not do so in the future.
Mr. Steinberg said out that this proposal was taken to the Community Board
Transportation Committee and it failed to gain support by a 3 to 5 vote. The Committee agreed with NYC Transit that an extra stop would slow buses.
Ms. Prentiss said that before the Council supports moving bus stops, we should ask who is going to be impacted.
Mr. Greif moved that the Council support moving the limited bus stop to the same block as the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station. The motion was approved with Ms. Prentiss voting no.
Introduction of Branko Kleva and Dilip Kumar Patel to discuss the progress of NYC Transit station component, renewal, and rehabilitation projects
Dilip Patel said that their objective is to bring all 468 subway stations to a state of good repair. He briefly reviewed the status of NYC Transit’s work toward this objective. Mr. Albert asked how many inspections are made over what period of time in the course of surveying the stations. Mr. Patel responded that it takes about two years to do the station condition survey and that NYC Transit visits stations that need work several times in the course of the survey.
Ms. Prentiss wanted to know if there are any provisions for quick starts of projects that address issues that create hazards. Mr. Kleva replied that the program Mr. Patel had described is focused on capital improvements. He said that the program that he oversees is responsible for a maintenance program that includes day to day repairs, as well as larger projects in coordination with capital work. Mr. Kleva said that operating personnel visit each station every third day, and when they report a defect maintenance personnel are scheduled to visit the station to repair the identified problem. Where these defects create hazards, the repairs to address them receive higher priority.
Mr. Patel stated that between July and November 2012, his program will have finished work on 13 stations and returned them to a state of 0 percent defects. He illustrated the work that was done in this period with a series of slides of projects. Included in the sides was work on the West End Line at the Bay Parkway Station, at the East 180th Street (2, 5), station, and the Bleecker Street/Broadway Nassau complex. Ms. Prentiss stated that at the latter station the elevator is adjacent to new artwork and that people coming from the escalator cut through to the 6 line platform and block access to the elevator. She said that the design of the station should integrate the artwork, escalator, and elevator in a way that access to one of these elements does not impede access to any other.
Mr. Patel showed slides of work that was done at the Hunters Point station and noted that it was done by in-house forces. Another slide showed the results of work at the neighboring Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue station. He also showed a slide of rehabilitation work at the Van Siclen Avenue (New Lots Avenue line) station and said that this project had been done as part of the MTA’s small business mentoring program.
Branko Kleva discussed the maintenance component of the stations program. He said that in-house maintenance supplements work done under the Capital Program. When there are general orders issued for capital work, it allows maintenance forces to come in and do other work that meshes well with the capital project to maximize the total impact on the station and show riders a major improvement.
Mr. Kleva said that a program to direct additional resources to renovated stations started in 2010. It took 19 of the system’s busiest stations and dedicated additional resources to their cleaning and maintenance. He said that NYC Transit has added stations to the program as capital work is completed. At present there are 59 stations in the program, and eventually the Dyckman Street (1) station will be added when it is completed, but because of resource constraints the total number of stations cannot go above 60.
Mr. Greif wanted to know about other stations in Brooklyn that will be rehabilitated. Mr. Patel responded that they will be doing work on five stations on the M Line and also will be doing work on the Sea Beach Line. He said that the stations that are currently under rehabilitation are the Forest Hills-71st Street station, the Hunts Point Avenue station, the Crown Heights-Utica Avenue station, the Kingsbridge Road station, and the Dyckman Street station. In the Rockaways, there will be capital work continuing on five stations that were not damaged as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
Ms. Hoge asked whether there is ever consideration given to installing three escalators rather than two so that a station will have a backup unit or can add an escalator in the primary direction of travel during rush hour. Mr. Patel responded that this is a good idea, but the cost and space issues involved often make this solution impossible. Ms. Hoge asked why the 96th Street station on the Lexington Avenue line is not accessible. Mr. Patel said that there is a lot of discussion occurring about improvements in this corridor and that he could forward details to the Council.
Ms. Prentiss stated that accessibility improvements on the first 100 key stations are to be finished in 2020 and asked whether there is anything planned for subsequent additions to the key station list. She noted that elevators in some key stations are nearing the end of their useful lives and asked about plans for these locations. Mr. Kleva responded that there is no information yet available about creating additional key stations. Ms. Prentiss acknowledged that the end of the current key station effort is still seven years away.
Ellyn Shannon commented that there should be close communication between those who are doing the renovation and those who plan for the Capital Program. She asked whether there is any communication with the MTA Real Estate Department so that the economic impacts on the surrounding area can be assessed.
Mr. Greif inquired about other projects that are being undertaken. He also stated that platform boarding humps are an issue in some stations and pointed out that the Borough Hall station’s 2 and 3 line platforms have a six inch gap at some places. Mr. Patel stated that in terms of projects affecting ADA accessibility there are five stations underway and 25 percent of this work is completed. Mr. Greif wanted to know if any additional part of the Brighton Line is going to be made ADA accessible. Ms. Prentiss said that improvements to any additional stations would come in the next round of key stations, after 2020
Ms. Hoge commented that when station booths are removed they leave a large open space and asked whether any consideration has been given to leasing these areas. Mr. Kleva responded that this space would fall under MTA Real Estate, which looks at leasing opportunities.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 pm.