NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT RIDERS COUNCIL
MINUTES OF JUNE 26, 2014
A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12:00 noon on June 26, 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 Edith Prentiss
William K. Guild Michael Sinansky
Marisol Halpern Burton M. Strauss, Jr.
The following members were not present:
Scott R. Nicholls Steve Mayo
In addition, the following persons were present:
William A. Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Ellyn Shannon -PCAC Associate Director
Angela Bellisio -PCAC Transportation Planner
Karyl Berger -PCAC Research Associate
Bradley Brashears -PCAC Research Assistant
Anthony Drummond -Brooklyn Borough Hall
Rebecca Harshbarger -NYPost
Debra Greif -BFSSAC
Monique Lindsay -Parent/Education/Mental Health Advocacy
Ann Collins -Concerned citizen
Matt Shotkin -Concerned citizen
Ken Stewart -Concerned citizen
Ellen Imbimbo -Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the June 26, 2014 meeting was approved, and the minutes of the May 22, 2014 meeting were approved.
A copy of the written Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.
Andrew Albert said that an odd thing he had noticed is that on the G trains, which use R68 cars, it takes longer to open the doors than it does on other lines using these cars. This contributes to the slowness of travel on the G line.
Chris Greif said that he has noticed a problem with communications during unplanned subway diversions on the A and C lines.
Introduction of MTA Capital Construction (MTACC) President Michael Horodniceanu to discuss the Second Avenue Subway, Fulton Center and 7 Line Extension projects
Due to his limited availability, the Council interrupted its normal business to hear from Dr. Horodniceanu. Dr. Horodniceanu commented briefly on the Second Avenue Subway project, noting that the project is projected to be completed under budget and that it is also expected to be on time. He said that there are some challenges to maintaining the schedule, but that MTACC expects to overcome them.
As for the Fulton Center, Dr. Horodniceanu said that there is testing requires to ensure that the facility is safe, but passengers using the Fulton Street complex stations are still being accommodated. He said that a formal opening date has not been established and noted that there is great interest among federal officials in being part of the formal opening, since the federal government has provided $1.4 billion, or 90 percent of the total, and they want to be there for the official opening.
In terms of the 7 Line Extension project, Dr. Horodniceanu said that MTACC had recognized for some time that the project will not be completed in June. There are several things that are standing between the present and opening the station, including vent fans that have failed factory acceptance testing twice, but have recently returned encouraging results. He stated that MTACC will be sending people to Cincinnati to observe testing at the fan factory and that the fans do work but do not perform as specified. The problem is that there are eight fans to be tested, and each test requires a week. Once they pass factory testing, they will be moved and installed, and then they have to be tested all over again.
Edith Prentiss related her concerns about the long term plans for the Fulton Center and the 7 Line Extension. In other cases, facilities have been opened before accessibility features were in place and persons with disabilities were treated unequally. She said that she is also confused and concerned about accessible paths through the Fulton Center project and asked whether there could be a 3-D model or web graphics that would illustrate accessible paths through the complex.
Dr. Horodniceanu commented that the 7 Line Extension will not open until their inclined elevators are working. He said that recently Fulton Center had a group visit that included persons with disabilities and that the Fulton Center is fully accessible, but not every path is the most direct one. There are elevators that connect to platforms to create accessible pathways from area to area in the complex. Dr. Horodniceanu said that MTACC will provide a roadmap for accessible paths through the Fulton Center complex.
Trudy Mason thanked Dr. Horodniceanu for coming to Representative Carolyn Maloney’s press conference on the Second Avenue Subway and for setting up the Community Information Center for the project. She said this should be done for all major projects.
Ken Stewart wanted to know what features have been included in these projects for people with visual disabilities. Dr. Horodniceanu stated that he did not know the specifics and that he would provide Mr. Stewart with his contact information and would discuss this issue with him later.
Mr. Albert noted that there is a potential impact on capital funding from the LIRR labor settlement and that he hopes the Governor comes up with compensating funds if he forces the MTA to accept a settlement.
Burt Strauss wanted to know what percentage of LIRR workers are in SMART union coalition. William Henderson said that he did not have that figure but that the coalition membership makes up a large percentage of the LIRR’s represented workers.
Mr. Greif asked the plan for riders during a strike. Mr. Albert said that the MTA would be telling riders to use carpools, shuttle buses to subways and working from home to make up for the lack of train service. He said that the offer that the MTA made assumes fare hikes every two years and that this pattern of fare increases will eventually drive people away from transit.
At the request of the Governor, the MTA has set up a Transportation Reinvention Commission. Mr. Albert reported that no members of the PCAC were included on the Commission and that, with the agreement of the Executive Committee, PCAC Chair Randy Glucksman has requested that Bill Henderson be included on the Commission. He said that the Commission has a broad mandate to look at everything connected to the MTA. Ms. Mason asked the cost of the Commission. Mr. Albert responded that he will find out.
Mr. Albert said that at yesterday’s board meeting Real Estate and wireless communication actions were approved and that as a result there will be a food hall in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall and some existing stores will be vacating. He said that there will also be changes in access to the Terminal and that if the SL Green plan to develop 1 Vanderbilt goes through there will be more access improvements.
Mr. Albert noted that the new restaurant will be operated by renowned chef Klaus Meyer. He also said that as a result of the board actions Help Points will be able to use the Transit Wireless network to communicate via WiFi. Mr. Albert said that he believes that cameras are crucial to the Help Point system and noted that during a recent Eagle Team stop, a rider with a 22 caliber pistol was arrested.
Mr. Strauss asked the size of the capital investment for installing the Help Points and the cost of adding the cameras. Mr. Albert responded that the cost of adding cameras is $25 to 30 million. He said that he has also learned that many of the East Side Access (ESA) readiness projects, including facilities for shuttle service from Jamaica to Brooklyn would be completed long before the ESA project is finished.
Ms. Mason complimented NYC Transit for installing countdown clocks outside of the control area at the 77th Street (6) station.
Mr. Stewart asked if anything further has been done to update the NYC Transit Rules of Conduct. Mr. Albert responded that nothing has yet been done.
Ms. Prentiss pointed out that, when driving buses with a rear lift, bus operators do not know how to pull into stops to properly operate these lifts. She also noted that the Bus Time system does not recognize an M4 stop at 181St Street and that the M100 bus stops north of Dyckman Street have been taken out of the Bus Time system.
Ms. Prentiss said that there are problems with buses with front ramps as well, as bus operators will not deploy the ramps manually. Mr. Albert mentioned that he received a complaint that a bus operator did not let someone get off the bus when he could not operate the ramp.
Mr. Strauss suggested that council should hear more from the person who had complained about full buses on M15. Ms. Prentiss added that this is a problem at the northern end of the M15. Ms. Mason said that there is no way to distinguish between Select and local buses from a distance now that the blue lights have been turned off on the Select buses.
Several members noted that the Council should have someone from the Department of Buses to address the issues that had been raised. Mr. Greif stated that bus operators are getting arrogant about opening bus ramps.
Mr. Stewart said that it is important that every incident is reported and that we get feedback on what happened as a result of the complaint. Ms. Prentiss noted that individual disciplinary action information is no longer able to be released.
NYCTRC Officer Elections
Mr. Henderson asked for nominees for the NYCTRC officers. Marisol Halpern was nominated for the Executive Committee and the existing officers were renominated for their respective posts. Ballots were distributed and Andrew Albert was elected Chair, Mike Sinansky was elected Vice Chair, and Stuart Goldstein, William Guild, and Marisol Halpern were elected to the Executive Committee.
The Council approved a resolution of appreciation for Tom Jost for his service on the Council.
Sharon King Hoge mentioned there were problems with the M60. She stated that people are being turned away because they did not have proof of payment slips. Mr. Albert noted that NYC Transit’s Ambassadors were on the route for only for one week after it was converted to Select Bus Service. Ms. Mason remarked that short term of the Ambassadors’ presence is horrendous and suggested that now that Ted Orosz has retired the Council can have someone who is civil that come to talk about SBS issues.
Mr. Stewart suggested that SBS ticket machines have an audible element to help those with visual disabilities.
Mike Sinansky said that the Council should have a guest from the Department of Buses and that the Council should address with that guest the problem of bus lanes being blocked by other vehicles and the use of cameras by bus operators to discourage this behavior. He noted that many delivery drivers block bus lanes.
Debra Greif said that she is sick and tired of buses not curbing when nothing prevents them from doing so.
Ms. Prentiss said that NYC Transit is only required to test bus lifts once a week. She also mentioned that at 168th Street on C train, there are announcements about the status of northbound C trains, although the C train does not go beyond 168th Street. As a result, these announcements are unnecessary. Mr. Albert stated that the system may need to be adjusted to distinguish between the A and C trains.
Ms. Prentiss asked why the system can’t distinguish between the A and C trains in the southbound direction. She said that sometimes it makes a difference and more information would be useful.
Mr. Stewart said that at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, E trains are announced as “Brooklyn Bound.”
Mr. Guild asked why NYC Transit did not add a “no passengers” notice to the LED service status sign and audio announcements at 168th Street when announcing the arrival of northbound C trains.
Mr. Albert stated that all terminating C trains at 168th Street are on the express tracks, so why not just stop announcing them.
Mr. Albert said that he has asked whether one should interpret “2 stations away” in announcements about express trains as 2 stations on the line or 2 stops for the express train.
Ms. Prentiss wanted to know if the new shops at Columbus Circle will be accessible. Mr. Albert said that he believes they will be accessible.
Mr. Greif noted the recent restoration of Brooklyn bus routes. Mr. Albert stated that the B51 has been mentioned as a candidate for restoration as well.
Mr. Albert said if council does not hear from NYC Transit by the next day, he will have to set a date for the release of the service disruption notice report even though the Council has not received their comments.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:45 p.m.