NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT RIDERS COUNCIL
MINUTES OF JANUARY 28, 2016
A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12:00 noon on January 28, 2016 in the 16th floor Meeting Room at 2 Broadway, New York City.
The following members were present:
Sharon King Hoge
Trudy L. Mason
Burton M. Strauss, Jr.
In addition, the following persons were present:
William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Ellyn Shannon -PCAC Associate Director
Angela Bellisio -PCAC Transportation Planner
Bradley Brashears -PCAC Transportation Planner
Karyl Berger -PCAC Research Associate
Carl Perrera -Queens Public Transit Committee
Debra L. Greif -BFSSAC
Alan Flacks -NY County Democratic Committee
Ken Stewart -Concerned citizen
Delores Singh -Concerned citizen
George Haikalis -Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the January 28, 2016 meeting was approved. The minutes of the December 17, 2015 meeting were approved.
A copy of the written Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.
Chris Greif commented on the concerns of the people in Brooklyn about repairs to the R Line and service changes that will result.
Andrew Albert responded that his assumption is that there will be bus service to provide links to adjacent stations.
Sharon King Hoge stated the M60 should receive the same treatment as the Q70 in terms of promoting it for airport access, as its ridership to the airport has increased.
Andrew Albert presented the Board report. He said that the MTA Capital Program has not yet been submitted to the Capital Program Review Board. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that the MTA does not want the Capital Program to be rejected. The MTA’s Chief Financial Officer has stated that the MTA will use pay-as- you-go funding and existing bonding to keep capital projects moving, but something needs to happen in the next two to three months to finalize a Capital Program.
Mr. Albert said that the Board also discussed subway car procurement. There will be two train sets included in the next cars to be purchased that will have open gangways. This will allow the MTA to test whether this design will increase capacity and flexibility, but this design will also be a boon to on-board salespersons and performers. While riders can walk from car to car in the open gangway design, these cars are not articulated and each car has its own trucks. He said that there are safety concerns with the design, including crime and fire and smoke hazards, which could overwhelm the design’s perceived advantages of capacity and better circulation. There are other buses and subway cars being procured in addition to these, which is necessary to keep the bus and subway fleets from aging.
The members discussed the potential L train shutdown. There are many options that could be pursued, and the sense of the Council was that the decision should be made after consultation with the communities affected. Elements that could be a part of the plan for repairing the L train tunnels include providing rush hour-only service, scheduling all work on weekends and nights, and robust bus shuttles to bring riders across the East River.
Mr. Greif commented about a community meeting that he attended in Williamsburg regarding the shutdown of the L train. Debra Greif added that the meeting included residents in Williamsburg who were opposed to a total closure of the L train. Mr. Greif added there is concern all along the line about the potential effects of a closure.
Mr. Albert mentioned that hover boards are now banned in MTA facilities and trains.
Mr. Albert also noted that the MTA Board approved two measures on access changes to stations in Brooklyn. There will be a big change at the 7th Avenue station, where mezzanine will be closed. At the Borough Hall station, there will be one free crossover closed, but more turnstiles added along Joralemon Street. Mr. Greif pointed out that there are more concerns about the changes at 7th Avenue than at Borough Hall.
Stuart Goldstein stated that there is an issue with eliminating crossovers where people have to double back to reach their destination. He suggested that NYC Transit could keep the center crossover open to allow riders to go from one track to the other, even though it would not be connected to the mezzanine.
Burt Strauss asked if the alarms have been removed on all of the exit gates. Mr. Henderson responded that they have and noted that the removal of the last alarm was announced at a MTA Board committee meeting several months ago.
William Guild mentioned that he received a call from Joe Clift. Mr. Clift had just traveled to the airport on the Q70 from Jackson Heights on his way to Dallas. He stated that he had problems getting a clear path between the subway station and the Q70 bus stop and that the taxi stand near the station was inconveniently located and should be moved. Mr. Clift also said that The MTA should promote use of the Q70 bus for Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens passengers as well.
Mr. Albert noted that now that it is winter there are likely to be questions about who is responsible for clearing snow, and said that snow clearing near subway stations may be the responsibility of NYCDOT or neighboring property owners, rather than NYC Transit.
Mr. Albert stated that he often sees the wrong destination on R46 cars operating on the A line. This is particularly troublesome because the two destinations for A trains can be very confusing for riders to JFK Airport. He said that he has suggested to new NYC Transit President Hakim that all A trains go to the Rockaways and all C trains go to Lefferts Boulevard. Ken Stewart suggested that the destination signs on cars have audible elements as well. Ms. Hoge commented that the continued development of the Rockaway beaches adds to the case for changes in the A route. Mr. Albert suggested that the change should be made as a formal proposal to President Hakim.
Mr. King Hoge pointed out that at the Flushing Main Street and Hudson Yards stations on the 7 line, the “Next Train” arrows are frequently wrong. Edith Prentiss stated that the situation is the same at the Inwood-207th Street station.
Mr. Greif wanted to know if we have updates on express bus issues that he has reported. Mr. Henderson said that he has been told that NYC Transit has assigned undercover riders to the routes that Mr. Greif had mentioned. He said that he would check with NYC Transit for an update on their investigation.
Ms. Prentiss said that she is having problems with buses dropping off of the Bus Time system. She found out that buses are being taken out of service along their routes but it is taking a long time for the changes to be reflected.
Ms. Hoge suggested that there should be larger stop numbers posted on bus stop signage so riders can better use them to query the Bus Time system. Mr. Albert noted that some bus shelters have a visible quick response code that riders can scan for information.
Mr. Stewart mentioned that he is still having issues with performers on platforms and wanted to know where the Council stand on this. He noted that there are problems at the Columbus Circle downtown A tracks and that the issue is not the volume but the location of the performers. Ms. Prentiss noted that at the Columbus Circle downtown 1 tracks people gathered near the performers block the path to the elevator and that she will send details to staff.
Ms. Prentiss stated that at 11:15 am that day she tried to talk to a booth agent at Dyckman Street. She first asked him to call to get more snow removal assistance for the station and that he screamed at her to take the ramp. She said that the agent needs correction on how he speaks to riders.
Ms. Prentiss also said that there is a disparity in information between subway and bus diversion information. While subway information is generally adequate, the bus diversion information given to riders is poor and there is a lack of information about route changes. She said that route change information should be on the Bus Time system. Mr. Henderson said that he will discuss this with MTA Bus Operations.
Scott Nicholls mentioned that the turnstiles at the South Ferry are not working and are frequently out of order because of their exposure to the elements. There are two of four turnstiles out of order and because of the volumes of riders using a single entrance they have to be in good working order.
Ms. Prentiss pointed out that the lollypop bus signs are missing at many bus stop locations. She said that there is a lollypop with a detour sign at the north end of the southbound stop on Broadway near 178 and179th Streets at the George Washington Bridge but there is nothing on the other side for the M5, Bx7, and M100 buses.
Mr. Albert mentioned there will be a public hearing on the proposed M5 route split and that 37th Street is current proposal for the point where the route will be split. He said that some Community Boards want the route split further south and that he prefers the split at 14th Street.
Ms. Shannon, Mr. Brashears and Mr. Henderson presented an update on the Freedom ticket and the public and elected official support that has been expressed for the proposal.
Trudy Mason stated that she spoke to the Queens Interagency Council on the Aging Councilman I. Daneek Miller was there and said that he has introduced a Council resolution that would tie the fare for the LIRR within City limits to the MetroCard fare. She stated that Mr. Miller said his program is different from Freedom Ticket. Mr. Albert said that there have been discussions with Councilman Miller on this issue.
Ms. Mason also stated that the Queens Borough President’s office is supporting Councilman Miller’s resolution and that Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez supports it well, but is concerned with the cost of implementing it.
George Haikalis said it is important to deal with the politics of the issue as well as analyzing its effects and that there is a need to look at the possibilities more rigorously.
The Council Members discussed the Freedom Ticket proposal and the path forward toward its implementation.
Mr. Haikalis stated that the NYCTRC should get the best deal that they can from the MTA and City.
Carl Perrera asked if there will be a reduced fare discount for Freedom Ticket users. Mr. Henderson said that reduced fare would apply to Freedom Ticket.
Mike Sinansky reminded the members and guests of how this proposal developed. He said that there was a problem and the NYCTRC developed a solution for it and that people in Southeast Queens are intelligent and will make their own decisions about which fare options are right for them. He said that the Council should focus on getting the option of a Freedom Ticket in place for riders and the manner that it is implemented.
Alan Flacks asked what other cities have similar fares. Mr. Albert responded that other cities integrate their commuter rail and transit better. For example, SEPTA Commuter Rail fares are higher than the subway, but still affordable.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 pm.