Meeting Minutes July 22, 2010


A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 Noon on July 22, 2010, in the 5th floor Board room, at MTA Headquarters 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.  The following members were present:

• Andrew Albert
• Sharon King Hoge
• Shirley Genn
• Trudy L. Mason
• Stuart Goldstein
• Edith Prentiss
• Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas
• Michael Sinansky
• William K. Guild
• Burton Strauss
• Marisol Halpern
• Toya Williford

The following members were absent:

• Thomas Jost

In addition, the following persons were present:

• William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
• Jan Wells  -PCAC Associate Director
• Ellyn Shannon  -PCAC Transportation Planner
• Karyl Berger  -PCAC Research Associate
• Hye-Kyung Yang  -PCAC Consultant
• David Haase  -NYCT
• Deborah Hall-Moore -NYCT
• Ashley Emerole  -NYCT
• Tom Namako  -NY Post
• Heather Haddon  -amNY
• James O’Shea  -Concerned citizen
• Bob Olmsted  -Concerned citizen
• Marsha Whitehead -Concerned citizen
• Yvonne Morrow  -Concerned citizen
• Ken Stewart  -Concerned citizen
• Alan Flacks  -Concerned citizen
• Jesse Moskowitz  -Concerned citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the July 22, 2010 meeting was approved.  The minutes of the June 24, 2010 meeting were approved as amended.

Chair’s Report

The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

Andrew Albert raised the possibility of having a forum with some of the candidates who are running for the Senate.  Trudy Mason said that if you invite one candidate you have to invite them all.

Edith Prentiss said she would be happy to survey 125th Street on the A Line as part of the Slam Gate study.

Trudy Mason said that at many stations, there is a herd instinct at work with the crowd going out through the slam gate once someone has pushed the gate open.

Board Report

Mr. Albert announced that there was not much to report since the July meeting cycle would take place the following week.

Mr. Albert said the major piece of business will be the discussion of the preliminary budget and the proposed fare package.  He said in the past, the Board committees would have full discussions about fare options, but this time there has been no preliminary discussion and the Board won’t be briefed until next Monday.  He said this only gives the Board members two days to digest the materials.

Old Business

Ms. Mason said that the NYCT Department of Buses indicated they would continually monitor the bus service on 1st and 2nd Avenues, but the letter indicated that the only counts done in 2010 were conducted in late June.  She suggested that the Council send a letter asking why these were the only counts done in the past six months when they specifically said they would monitor the service as an on-going effort.  She said the letter should specifically ask for all data collected since January, 2010.

Burt Strauss commented that it is unclear how valid the past data is because the counts are done over a two day period and are supposed to reflect an entire year.

Deborah Hall-Moore, NYC Transit explained that the data from the previous years were representative days for illustrative purposes.

Mr. Albert said staff would write a letter to ask for a summary of the cumulative data from start of construction in 2009 through 2010.

Stuart Goldstein asked that staff send a Freedom of Information Letter (FOIL) to ask for a copy of the Accenture Report or any management studies that have been completed.

New Business

Mr. Goldstein said the signage on the G trains do not reflect that it makes intermediate stops between Church Av. and Court Square.  He also noted that some of the cars still have the V sign on them.

Edith Prentiss reported that the “lollipop” signs at bus stops are not accessible in that they are too high up to read.  She also said that the part of the Guide-A-Ride that faces the street is not accessible to someone in a wheelchair because it is too close to the curb for that person to see it.

Ken Stewart said he bumped his face on a HEET as he was exiting a station.  He suggested that some type of obvious and visible marking should be put on the end tips of the bars to prevent this from happening.

Mr. Albert noted that every other time when bus routes have been truncated, transfers have been provided to allow people to make a three legged trip.  This accommodation has not been made in the last service changes, which makes them a fare hike for those customers who have to make a three legged bus transfer.  Ms. Prentiss noted that this issue was raised at the July NYCT ADA Compliance Coordinating Committee meeting, and the committee members were told that NYCT did not have the information base or technology to provide three legged transfers.

Mike Sinansky noted that customers were promised that there would be adequate alternatives to compensate for the service cuts.  He said that the implementation of these cuts is disgraceful.

Marisol Halpern noted there is lots of confusion about what service is running and what is not and that many people do not have any transit options.

Ms. Prentiss said the service cuts have been an assault on the disability community, especially with the elimination of the B51 (Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge) and the B39 (Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge).  She also noted that the service cuts have promoted the use of illegal vans, none of which are accessible for the disabled.  She said there is no complementary service for the disabled that is provided by ”for hire vehicles”.  She said the disabled community is being treated like”3rd class citizens”.

Mr. Strauss noted that without station agents at every station, reduced fare riders can’t turn in their return slips and thus can’t get into the system.

Bill Guild suggested that this may be the time to renew the call for time based transfers in the transit system.  Bob Olmsted said analysis of the revenue impacts for time based transfers would have to be done.

Alan Flacks said the time for using a transfer should be extended to two and a half hours because of the cutbacks.

Ms. Mason noted that the case about closing stations booths is moving forward in the court system.  She suggested that the TRC should send a thank you letter to Judge Scarpulla for her work on this case.

Mr. Albert said the hearings on the station booth closings were pro forma, but there may be some route restorations as a result of the testimony that was given at these hearings.

Mr. Goldstein reported that he has seen graffiti on the new R160 cars and expressed concern that this may become a big problem because, although it appears there was an attempt to remove the graffiti, a ghost image remained.  He also said the fronts of these cars are showing rust spots as well.

Mr. Goldstein also noted the MTA website does not clearly explain how someone from out of town can take advantage of reduced fares.  Staff will ask what the procedure is for out-of-towners who don’t have a reduced fare MetroCard.

Mr. Goldstein noted that the Strategic Initiatives Unit is the way of padding payroll and he also noted the Business Service Center is not cutting payroll at all.  He thought it would be interesting to ascertain what the Strategic Initiatives Unit does.

Mr. Albert announced that the Financial Plan would be presented to the Board next Wednesday and asked for the members to provide input when the information is made public.  He said the MTA is looking to limit the number of rides on an unlimited card.

Mr. Albert said that the MTA plans to charge a fee to buy a new MetroCard or a single ride card.  This would create even longer lines at station booths and people will find a way not to pay.

Ms. Prentiss said the elevator operators at 184th Street have not been on duty but their furniture is still in the car.  She said she is not able to reach the buttons in the elevator because their furniture blocks her from reaching the elevator controls.

Sharon King Hogue said she had a hard time trying to find out how to buy a ten trip ticket on MNR.  She had to print entire ticket information discussion to get the information that she needed.

Mr. Albert said it is imperative to keep the incentives for transit use in the system.  He said one must question what would happen if NYCT was controlled by the New York City.

Toya Williford said that maintaining service is of paramount value.

Ms. Prentiss noted that many people don’t have the resources to absorb a fare increase.

Mr. Flacks suggested that the Council should acknowledge the work the Judge has done on the station booth closing and simply send her a copy of the minutes.  Mr. Albert agreed this would be the best way to let her know the Council appreciates her work.

Marsha Whitehead, a concerned citizen, said there needs to be a class action suit or injunction to make the MTA provide fare scenarios and budgetary information.

Introduction of David Haase, NYCT Director –Station Planning, to Discuss Planning for Station Access in the Subway System

Mr. Haase said that once a station has undergone improvement it is critical that its capacity is adequate for the long term.  He said they have to get it right.  He said an EIS may only address the necessary capacity for the opening of the station, but that his team often looks at sizing station elements to provide for a 25 percent growth factor at the station.

In response to Ken Stewart’s question as to who makes the decisions about ADA features, Mr. Haase said the Architectural Unit makes those decisions.  He said that sometimes there is a project specific change that gets added.

Mr. Haase said that background growth means the assumed 25 percent increase in station utilization that is often used in the planning process, but that sometimes project-specific factors cause his staff to plan for greater than 25 percent growth.

Mr. Haase said they look at sports stadiums/arenas differently as surges of users can overwhelm facilities that are sized using peak hour numbers.

Mr. Haase explained the typical way of analyzing pedestrian capacity uses levels of service, which are categorized from “A” to “F”.  He said that Transit uses the breakpoint between levels of service “C”-D” as their service standard.  He said they do not use averages based on a 15 minute interval because in transit the peak periods are so uneven.  For example, a pattern where a platform is alternately packed with riders and then deserted on average would yield a Level of Service B.   He said that his station planners look at conditions in the peak minutes.  They work out the size of the average surge and use it, rather than a 15 minute interval, to size station elements.  He said the ultimate goal is to limit queing in the station where people stop moving.  He said the guideline that is followed is to provide capacity sufficient to get the surge off of the platform and through the station’s choke point in 30 seconds.

Mr. Haase said many commuters know exactly where they want to exit the train, but this can’t be done on all lines, so on some lines the guideline for clearing the platform is increased to 45 seconds.  He noted that A Division platforms are 520 ft. long, B Division platforms are 600 ft. long and the 7 line platforms are 570 ft. long to accommodate eleven car consists.  It takes approximately two minutes to walk length of the platform even in free flow conditions.

Mr. Haase explained that the planning standards have been developed based on actual experiences in the NYC subway.  He said service frequency influences peak surges.  Mr. Haase gave an example of the calculations that planners make, noting that a 30” stairwell can handle 40 passengers per minute.  Therefore, to clear 80 people in a half a minute requires four stairwells.  He said a similar process is used for escalators.

In response to Robert Olmsted’s question about how NFPA 130 emergency egress standards factor into the station design process, Mr. Haase said that NYC Transit’s main responsibility is to comply with the NY State Building Code.

Mr. Haase said that sometimes they can bring an older station into compliance with code, but sometimes it is more difficult.  He said that a new or substantially rehabilitated station must be brought into full compliance.

In response to Edith Prentiss’ question of how NYC Transit plans for the size of elevators to be used where it does a full rehabilitation of a station, Mr. Haase said that ADA elevators do not enter much into the station access planning process because they do not move large numbers of people at one time.  Ms. Prentiss said that these elevators are increasingly used by the general rider population.  Mr. Haase said that in the long term his unit should probably look at elevators in terms of more general usage.

In response to Jan Wells’ question as to whether the public gets to see the station proposals before they are built, as was the case with the new ARC station, Mr. Haase said that they often aren’t the primary developers of station projects, so NYC Transit does not go to the community boards as they would with their own projects.  He said that the NYC Transit Government and Community Affairs Department takes the lead on informing the community about proposals that are being developed solely by NYC Transit.

In response to Matt Shotkin’s question as to why it is taking so long to complete the accessible elevator at the E Line station at World Trade Center, Mr. Haase said that the elevator is part of the Tower 2 project and the Calatrava transit center.  He said that the permanent elevator will not be in service until they are completed, which will not happen until at least 2014, and that there is no money available to build an interim elevator.

Edith Prentiss noted that some of the work being done at the Dyckman Street station on the 1 Line is for accessibility features.  In response to her question as to what the money is being spent on if an elevator is not to be included, Mr. Haase said he was not up to speed on this part of the project.  Mr. Albert requested a copy of the plans for the Dyckman Street project.  Mr. Haase said he would get the plans to Mr. Henderson and noted this is basically a rehabilitation in-kind project.

In response to Ms. Mason’s question about the status of the installation of induction loops at station booths, Ms. Hall-Moore indicated she would check to see what is happening with this initiative.

Mr. Haase noted that if a private developer puts in an elevator to serve a subway station, it is the developer’s responsibility to maintain it.

In response to Karyl Berger’s question as to who makes the decisions about how many turnstiles and slam gates are placed in a station, Mr. Haase said the slam gates have become a big issue.  He said some riders use the emergency exits instead of walking an additional five feet to exit through the turnstiles.  He said that high wheel turnstiles have two times the footprint but only provide only half the throughput in terms of numbers of people able to exit through a low turnstile.  He said a fare evasion task force has been established.


The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Karyl Berger
PCAC Research Associate