Meeting Minutes July 25, 2013



A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 Noon on July 25, 2013, in the 5th floor Board room, at MTA Headquarters 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.  The following members were present:

Andrew Albert                       Trudy L. Mason

Christopher Greif                 Edith Prentiss

William K. Guild                   Michael Sinansky

Marisol Halpern                    Burt Strauss

Toya Williford

The following members were absent:

Stuart Goldstein                   Thomas Jost

Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas     Sharon King Hoge

Steve Mayo

In addition, the following persons were present:

William Henderson              -PCAC Executive Director

Karyl Berger                          -PCAC Research Associate

Joseph Schultz                    -MTA Capital Construction Company

Dan Rivoli                             -amNY

Alan Flacks                           -NY County Democratic Committee

Ann Guild                              -Concerned citizen

Brigitta Payne                       -Concerned citizen

Ken Stewart                          -Concerned citizen

Matt Shotkin                          -Concerned citizen

Joe McMahon                       -Concerned citizen

Richard Schulman              -Concerned citizen

Justin Schultz                      -Concerned citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the July 25, 2013 meeting was approved.  The minutes of the June 27, 2013 meeting were approved.  Mike Sinansky made a comment in regard to the election of NYCTRC officers saying that he is unsure whether the results are legitimate as the Council’s by laws state that “vacancies shall be filled by a majority vote”.  Bill Guild responded that his interpretation of the term majority is that it means a majority of those present.

Trudy Mason said that in her experience a majority is always assumed to be majority of those present.

Mike Sinansky said that the by-laws should be amended to clarify this issue.  Mr. Guild agreed that this could be done, but that it could not be done at this meeting.

Chair’s Report

The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

Ms. Mason said that the Council should respond to the letter received from NYC Transit about subway service diversion notices.  She said that the letter should state that the Council is aware of NYC Transit’s policies but that the agency is not doing an adequate job of informing riders of service diversions.

Andrew Albert said that the Council will respond to this letter.

Chris Greif wanted to know if there are any special transfer arrangements for weekends when the R train goes over the Manhattan Bridge.  Mr. Albert stated he will inquire about this.

Board Report

Mr. Albert said that when NYC Transit removed agents from some booths in the system it created problems for customers needing to use service gates to access the paid area of the station.  He said that Transit is now planning to install intercoms at these gates with remote controls capability for the agents in these stations to open the service gates.

Edith Prentiss inquired about the possibility of the M98 bus to running to 34th Street and whether there has been any talk about restoring this service.  Mr. Albert stated he had not heard discussion about restoring this service.

Mr. Albert suggested that the M104 bus route should be restored so that it goes to the East Side of Manhattan.  He proposed sending a letter to Carmen Bianco to protest NYC Transit’s failure to restore M104 service.

Mr. Albert asked whether there are any other comments about service restorations.  Mr. Greif said that he does not approve of the northern terminal of the B37 service, as it is proposed to be restored.  He said that this route should end at Brooklyn Borough Hall.  Mr. Albert said that a letter will be sent about the M104 and B37 restorations.

Mr. Albert commented that NYC Transit will be installing hidden cameras at the locations that are worst for MetroCard Vending Machine (MVM) vandalism.  He also noted that NYC Transit is compiling a list of locations where it takes riders a long time to exit the station.  They will use this list to change station layouts to make exiting easier.

Ms. Mason suggested an easier way of improving the flow of exiting riders is to disable alarms on the emergency gates and to encourage customers to exit the station through them.  Mr. Albert replied that they do not want to do this because people will use the gates to enter the station.  Ms. Mason said that people will find ways to beat the fare in any case.

Marisol Halpern asked whether NYC Transit has revealed the stations where they will be changing layouts to improve pedestrian flow.  Mr. Albert said that he will forward the list when he receives it.

Ms. Prentiss commented that she has waited a long time to enter a station through the autogate door because of the large number of people leaving the station through it.

Mr. Albert remarked that the proposed Budget and Financial Plan that MTA management presented yesterday still includes a scheduled fare and toll increase next year, but that these increases will not be sustainable for long.  Also, he noted that more money is being put into pay as you go capital spending and that because of more money filtering into the out years of the Financial Plan, the projected deficit for these out years have been reduced.

Mr. Albert also noted that the MTA has developed a policy for the sale of naming rights and that this policy sparked a lot of conversation at the Board and Committee meetings.  For example, there has been some discussion of renaming the Aqueduct station to incorporate the Resorts World brand that is being used for the casino at that location.  He said that MTA Director of Real Estate Jeff Rosen has stated that the MTA is sensitivity the need to maintain existing place names.

Ms. Prentiss raised a broader issue related to station naming.  She asked why station names sometimes include neighborhoods identifiers before street names and why some street names have directional indicators added, such as W. 4th Street.  She said that this makes some stations hard to locate on lists of accessible stations.  Karyl Berger suggested that the Council could hear from Chuck Gordanier at the MTA, who works with this material.

Mr. Albert pointed out that all new names for MTA facilities will come before the Board before they are changed.  Ms. Mason remarked that when the adopt-a-station program was in force, donors were acknowledge but names of stations were not changed to eliminate their geographic designation.  She said that there are other ways of acknowledging donors that NYC Transit has used, such as plaques mounted in the stations or acknowledgement that a donor had sponsored a neighborhood map.

Old Business

Mr. Greif mentioned that he had observed problems with the Q8, B8, and B84 stopping in the correct places.

Ms. Prentiss explained that she sent several complaints about long bus waiting times and buses bypassing other buses that were in a stop instead of waiting for the buses in the stop to proceed.   Mr. Henderson responded that these complaints were forwarded to the Department of Buses.

Ms. Mason asked that she be called when responses are received to letters on issues in which she has been involved.  She said that NYC Transit’s response to the Council’s letter on SBS signage was inadequate and that the Council should respond to it.

Ms. Prentiss said that she finds it very offensive that nothing is happening with providing South Ferry accessibility.

Mr. Greif said that when a stop is detoured on the M20, there should be signage informing riders of the detour, which is not always the case.

New Business

Ken Stewart commented changes in the operation of the 7 train.  The train is now waiting at the Bryant Park station for previous train to clear the station ahead, instead of waiting in the tunnel.  This change does not delay the trip and is more convenient for riders boarding at Bryant Park.

Matt Shotkin wanted to know about a complaint about a bus at 98th Street that he had previously forwarded.  Mr. Henderson responded that the staff did not receive a bus or operator number or any means of accurately identifying the operator.  Without some way of identifying the operator, the complaint cannot be pursued.

Introduction of Uday Durg, MTA Capital Construction Company Senior Vice President and Program Executive, Lower Manhattan Projects,  to discuss the Fulton Center Project

Mr. Durg stated that all lines at Fulton Street will be ADA accessible.  Riders will be able to make connections to the PATH trains and Ferries through the station and a rider will be able to walk from the west side to South Street Seaport and remain underground.  The project will also improve sightlines and sunlight.

Mr. Durg presented a slide show of renderings illustrating various points in the project.

Mr. Albert asked when the part of the project connecting to the 1 train will open.    Mr. Durg responded that this part of the project will have the same opening date as the PATH station at the World Trade Center, and that this is projected for 2015.

Mr. Durg said that in the Dey Street Passage there will be glass walls and video screens for advertising.

Ms. Prentiss wanted to know if there will be any artwork near elevators.  Mr. Durg stated that this will be shown in the presentation and that there will be views of artwork from elevators.

Mr. Durg noted that at William Street the project will provide a new entrance to the system and that sun studies were used to design the oculus in the Fulton Center so that it would capture the maximum light.

Burt Strauss asked how the escalators will hold up under heavy use.   Mr. Durg replied that there are redundant escalators that will allow for repair and maintenance and that the units that have been installed are heavy duty.

Mr. Sinansky commented that Mr. Durg has done a great job with the Fulton Center.  He said that he had read about an element where the project would connect to the World Trade Center and asked where this would occur.  Mr. Durg responded that the connection would be made at the PATH terminal.

Ms. Mason congratulated Mr. Durg on keeping the existing subway service functioning during construction.  Ms. Mason also asked if the council can go on a tour of the facility.  Mr. Durg replied that the Council would have to work through the Capital Construction Press Office and that it is necessary to make sure that the tour could be conducted safely, because the project is an active construction zone.

Mr. Albert pointed out that at first the NYCTRC was told that there would not be ADA access to the J and Z subway lines.  Mr. Durg said that there will be ADA access throughout the station.  Mr. Greif said that he wanted to confirm that there will be ADA access to the J and Z lines, and Mr. Durg confirmed this.

Mr. Durg noted that there are two elevators on the R platform that have been tested and accepted and that the elevators for the 4 and 5 lines have also been tested and are ready.  The elevators in the Dey Street Concourse are currently being tested, and by the end of the year many other elevators will be coming on line.  He said that the opening of the elevators will be coordinated so that when an elevator is activated, the area that it serves will be fully accessible by elevator.

Ms. Mason wanted to know whether the accessible elevators could be turned on for a tour in advance of the opening.  Mr. Durg replied that they could be operated.

Mr. Shotkin asked about the recent fire at Fulton Center.  Mr. Durg responded that it is under investigation.  The report will be issued when completed.

Alan Flacks asked that sufficient directional signage be installed in the Fulton Center.  He also asked about the passageway that had been kept closed.  Mr. Durg responded that this is the passageway between the 4 and 5 lines and the R line and that it is now open.

Mr. Stewart wanted to know if there are any design features in the Fulton Center that were included to address the needs of low vision individuals.  Mr. Durg replied that the lighting in the Fulton Center is diffused, so there is no risk of glare.  He said that he will look into the provisions that have been made for visual contrast between elements of the station.

Old Business (Continued)

Brigitta Payne commented that since SBS lane on 1st and 2nd Avenues has been in operation, there are few local M15 buses left.  She said that there is sometimes a 25 to 30 minute waiting time for a local bus.

Ms. Mason asked to see in writing a date for when the SBS stop will be moved back to 86th Street. Also, she asked to see the frequency of M15 local buses.

Ms. Prentiss stated that the community has proposed a comprehensive travel study for Harlem, which has grown out of its history with the effort to convert the M60 bus to Select Bus Service.  She asked who community groups could approach to have a study done.  Mr. Albert responded that they should ask the MTA and copy the NYC Department of Transportation and local elected officials on their requests.

Ms. Prentiss commented that when property owners put scaffolding on sidewalks at bus stops accommodating buses that have access through rear lifts, there is sometimes no way to get off of buses, because of the scaffolding blocks the rear door.  She said this is the case at the bus stop at 181st Street and Broadway.  Mr. Albert responded that we should ask the proper procedure for bus operators when there is scaffolding blocking a door and noted that the NYC Transit Department of Buses needs to communicate with the NYC Department of Buildings.

Ms. Halpern noted that the disconnect on this issue is between the NYC Department of Transportation and the Department of Buildings.

Mr. Flacks commented that the Smith/9th Street station still has no subway maps on the platform level.  He had previously commented on the temporary signage on the platforms.


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

Respectfully Submitted,

William Henderson

Executive Director