Meeting Minutes July 24, 2014

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NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT RIDERS COUNCIL
MINUTES OF JULY 24, 2014
 

A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 Noon on July 24, 2014, 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
Stuart Goldstein                   Trudy L. Mason
Christopher Greif                 Scott Nicholls
William K. Guild                   Edith Prentiss
Marisol Halpern                    Michael Sinansky
Burt Strauss

The following members were absent:

Steve Mayo

In addition, the following persons were present:

William Henderson              -PCAC Executive Director
Ellyn Shannon                     -Associate Director
Angela Bellisio                     -Transportation Planner
Karyl Berger                          -PCAC Research Associate
Bradley Brashears               -Research Assistant
Eric Adams (on phone)       -Brooklyn Borough President’s Office
Anthony Drummond                       -Brooklyn Borough President’s Office
Dustin Jones                                    -Disabled In Action
Debra Greif                           -BFSSAC
Raybblin Vargas                  -TWU Local 100
Aliya Rasool                         -ICDD
Faraz Rasool                                    -District 75
Brigitta Payne                       -Concerned citizen
Matt Shotkin                          -Concerned citizen
Ann Guild                              -Concerned citizen
Syed Zohails Rasool           -Concerned citizen
Ken Stewart                          -Concerned citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the July 24, 2014 meeting was approved.    The minutes of the June 26 meeting were approved with the addition that Michael Sinansky had suggested that someone be invited from the Department of Buses and that they should address the problem of cars in the bus lanes.  Several clarifications were also made.  William Guild stated that he wanted to emphasize in his comments on page 6 of the minutes indicated that a no passengers notice should be included in audio announcements when trains are at their terminal.

Edith Prentiss commented that her point in this discussion was that there is no use in announcing northbound C trains at 168th Street, as this is the northern end of their route.

Sharon King Hoge said that she wants to find out why there are announcements blaming delays on “train traffic ahead” when there have not been any trains for some time in front of the train where the announcement is being made.

The minutes of the June 26, 2014 meeting were approved with these additions.

Chair’s Report

The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

Chair’s Report

There was a discussion on the Step Aside program, which seeks to prevent those seeking to board trains from blocking train doors by placing signage on the platforms.

Karyl Berger noted that the four standard designs proposed to be used on the platforms were generally yellow and black, with some including a white arrow.  She stated that train operators must be made aware of the need to stop at a consistent place in the each station so that the train doors and signage line up.

Ms. Prentiss stated that the Step Aside program is not only intended for wheelchair users, but improves boarding for everyone.  She said that it is ridiculous that some trains do not line up with boarding humps and markings.

Ms. Berger commented that there were designs for wheelchair boarding areas and said she suggested that NYCT be consistent with “step aside” wording at all boarding locations.  She mentioned that Jim Sears at NYC Transit is compiling the results, but she does not know the process for approval of a design.

Ms. Prentiss said she believed that NYC Transit will use thermo-plastic material for the signs, like the material that is used for crosswalks.  She said that one big problem is that the hanging signs that NYC Transit installs for wheelchair boarding areas are sometimes obstructed by video monitors that the conductors use.

Andrew Albert introduced new NYCTRC member Scott Nicholls to the members and each introduced themselves in turn.

Chris Grief discussed the Welcome Back B37 bus event in which he had participated.

Board Report

Andrew Albert said that he learned at Board briefings that there are now 5.8 million subway riders per day and noted that NYC Transit will be extending weekend service on the J line to Fulton Center when it opens.  Also there will be a longer season for increased train service to Montauk and more West of Hudson service on Metro-North.

Mr. Albert mentioned that most of LIRR settlement funding will come from funds set aside for “Pay-Go” capital expenditures and planned contributions for post- employment health care.  He noted out that there is still a plan for fare hikes every two years, but that the rate of increase sought will be 4 percent rather than 7.5 percent as in the past.

Trudy Mason stated that she has noticed longer gaps between trains.  She wanted to know whether headways are getting longer, or whether it is just her experience.  Mr. Albert stated he would find out.

Mr. Albert pointed out that NYC Transit will be stationing track maintenance personnel along the lines to reduce delays.

Ms. Prentiss commented that she had seen only seen a 20 minute headway on countdown clocks on the 1 line but that she had never seen more than a 4 to 5 minutes wait on the Lexington Avenue Line.  She noted that all riders wait for trains and she regularly waits this long for trains on her line.

Old Business

Mr. Albert thanked everyone for the work that was done for the planned service diversion report.

Marisol Halpern asked if there is a schedule for NYC Transit to respond to the report and Mr. Albert responded that there is not.

Scott Nicholls asked whether the Staten Island Railway is on schedule for new equipment.  It was noted that this equipment would be funded in the next Capital Program.

Aliya Rasool said that she would like to make a plea for restoration of B71 bus, noting that it is very difficult for some persons to use subways.  She also said that the wording indicating priority seating should be consistent across buses and subways.

Ms. Mason commented that while signage consistency would be nice, riders do not respond to the signage even when persons with disabilities need to use these seats.  She said that information for seniors could also be added to subway signage.

Brigitta Payne suggested that there is a need for M15 service to City Hall and for the M104 to go across 42nd Street.  It was noted that Daniel Squadron is leading an effort to restore the B15 bus.

Mr. Greif said that there are many community people who are upset with changes to the B83 and B13 buses.  He stated that some of the stops are not safe and that riders at the Brooklyn Developmental Center will have to use a stop at Erskine Avenue.  He said that the Brooklyn Borough President will be scheduling a town hall meeting on the issue.

Ms. Prentiss said that with the rerouting of M100 bus an operator has refused to let her exit the bus at 207th Street.  She stated that the bus stop is between lanes, without a pedestrian island.  Ms. Prentiss also noted that at 183rd Street on Broadway there is a Bx7 and M100 stop that is in an area designated for head-in parking.  This stop is located on the northbound portion of the route, on the east side of Broadway at 183rd Street.

A comment was made that NYC Transit only did surveys of conditions in Co-op City because the local people went after their State elected officials to pressure the MTA.  The MTA completed the surveys only because they were told to do so. Mr. Albert responded that there was a Co-op City study underway for some time and that this may have delayed the completion of these surveys.

Mr. Greif said that NYCDOT has told him that they are not doing street markings for bus stops.

Ms. Mason requested that Darryl Irick be our guest at the next NYCTRC meeting.  Mr. Albert said that Mr. Irick may come to the Council’s September meeting.

New Business

Ms. Prentiss asked whether the Council can we look into the reason that asbestos abatement is still being performed at Fulton Street when the Transit Center project is almost completed.  She said that there are also some wheelchair users having problems climbing the ramps at Fulton Street. Ms. Prentiss further noted that people who have long chairs often have difficulty getting into buses.  Mr. Greif stated that he will take pictures to show the problem.

Ms. Prentiss stated that she noticed an increasing incidence of “next bus please” signage.  She said that buses that are out of service or displaying “next bus”  signage are not reflected on the Bus Time system. Mr. Albert commented that there are buses that have problems with not changing destination signage and that this also affects how they are displayed on Bus Time.

Introduction of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to discuss his Transportation priorities for Brooklyn and NYC Transit issues in the Borough (via Phone)

Anthony Drummond explained the circumstances that prevented the Borough President from attending in person. Mr. Greif suggested that the Borough President travel by subway, as it is the fastest means of getting around the City.

Karyl Berger requested an overview of the Borough President’s transportation policies from Mr. Drummond. Mr. Drummond responded that the Borough President’s office is working on the Vision Zero program and establishing slow zones.  In terms of public transportation, the office is working on increasing transit access in southeast Brooklyn.

Mr. Albert said that other issues that come to mind are the return of the B37 bus to Downtown Brooklyn and the possibility of a fare-free link between the Livonia Avenue and Junius Street stations.  He also raised the issue of restoration of the F train express service and the possibility of using the Atlantic Avenue viaduct for Transit service.  Mr. Albert said that $90 million was spent to restore the viaduct and it should get more use than it does.

Eric Adams thanked the council for accommodating his emergency and apologized for not being present in person.

Mr. Adams said that he believes that we need to ensure ADA accessibility on the R Line train stations in Brooklyn.  He also said that there is a need to make better use of waterways for transporting people and that the ferry to the Rockaways should be continued.

Mr. Adams said that there is a need to take a holistic approach to transportation and.  For example, one improvement that could be made is the installation of bicycle racks at subway stations to provide better access for those who do not live close to the stations. He said that he wants to deal with population and business growth impacts on the transportation system and is concerned that without using waterways and bicycles the existing corridors for transit service may not be adequate to serve Brooklyn as it grows.

Mr. Albert asked for a clarification that Mr. Adams is not talking about reducing bus service.  Mr. Adams responded that his aim is to use other modes of transportation to complement the existing system and stated that more bus service is needed rather than less.

Ms. Prentiss noted that the increasing use of bikes leads to more bikes on the subway system, which can be a problem for wheelchairs.  She said that already the CitiBikes take up space and obstruct wheelchairs on subway cars.  Ms. Prentiss suggested that it might be good for all Borough Presidents to work together on a plan for bicycle development that will ensure that pedestrians and wheelchairs are not disadvantaged by bicycle facilities.

Mr. Adams remarked that rules and laws that exist now need to be enforced, and that this can address some of the problems with bicycles.

It was noted that the F Train at 7th Avenue has 75 steps leading to the station and suggested that an elevator should be constructed at this station.  The issue of ensuring that seat preference signage includes references to elderly riders was again raised at this time.

Mr. Adams stated that there is no elevator at the Smith and 9th Streets station and that this is the highest stop in the system, but he is very committed to ensuring that the system is ADA accessible.

The Borough President continued that there should be increased accountability at the MTA and NYC Transit and that there is a need for benchmarks and schedules to assess performance.

Stuart Goldstein noted to Mr. Adams that when he was in the New York State Senate he was very vocal about the safety of NYC Transit personnel and asked whether Mr. Adams thinks NYC Transit is doing enough and whether can it do better.

Mr. Adams stated that he was a Transit Police officer and that his great fears are that there may be terrorist incidents in bridges and tunnels or in control centers.  Also he said that he is concerned about protecting passengers from emotionally disturbed individuals in the transit system, which is very difficult.

Mike Sinansky asked Mr. Adams’ opinion on the recent replacements of flags on the Brooklyn Bridge.  The Borough President replied that we should take this incident as a teaching moment.  He said that it was very fortunate that the perpetrators did not do anything harmful and that we need to look at the level of complacency before September 11 and ask what we need to do to remain vigilant and prevent future incidents.

Ms. Prentiss asked to discuss the condition of pedestrian ramps and sidewalks in Brooklyn.  She said that there are major problems and that the Ikea ferry has violated its agreement to be accessible.  Ms. Prentiss further noted that the condition of the walking surface at Borough Hall Park is terrible. Mr. Adams replied that one of the first things that he did was to reach out to the Borough’s Parks Commissioner on this issue.  The cost is $11 million to replace the bluestone in Borough Hall Park and Borough Hall has allocated $1million for replacement of the bluestone.  He said that there is a need to create a solid list of needs and not to get bogged down. Once needs are identified and funding is found, projects should be implemented to address them.

Mr. Albert commented that he feels better when he sees Police Officers staffing the omega booths in the subway system.

Mr. Greif referred to an issue raised earlier in the meeting about the bus changes at Gateway Mall.  He said that NYC Transit did not correctly set up bus correct stops at the mall. Mr. Adams responded that this is a public safety issue and that his office sent a letter asking MTA to reconsider its decision not to stop the B83 bus the Brooklyn Developmental Center. Mr. Greif said that the B83 is only bus in this area that operates late at night.

Mr. Adams noted that the MTA sometimes makes decisions without hearing input from the people who use the service.

Debra Greif requested that there be a requirement that all Community Boards have a committee on disabilities.  She also said that moving the B83 route will endanger Brooklyn Developmental Center employees because there is a need for more lighting on the path to the new stops.

Mr. Albert thanked the Borough President for his time.

Old Business (Continued)

Ms. Prentiss asked for an update on the completion of repairs at the South Ferry station.  Mr. Albert said that it will be several years before the damaged station will be restored.  Mr. Henderson said that there is some work being done, but not as actively as on the Montague Tubes that carry the R train.

Ms. Prentiss said that the effort to provide accessibility with Access-A-Ride is not working.  Mr. Nicholls stated that there appear to be workers there every day. Mr. Albert said he will get an update on the project on the following Monday.

Ms. Prentiss further noted that there is no signage at the Chambers Street station telling wheelchair users how to get to South Ferry.  She said that it took her over an hour to get from Chambers Street to South Ferry when she was there with a reporter.

New Business

No New Business was discussed.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

William Henderson

Executive Director

 

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