Meeting Minutes March 25, 2010


A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 noon on March 25, 2010, in the 5th floor Board room, at MTA headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, between 44th & 45th Streets, New York City.

The following members were present:

• Andrew Albert
• Sharon King Hoge
• Shirley Genn
• Thomas Jost
• Stuart Goldstein
• Trudy L. Mason
• William K. Guild
• Sharon Santa Maria
• Marisol Halpern
• Michael Sinansky

The following members were absent:

• Edith Prentiss
• Jessica G. Rojas
• Burton Strauss, Jr.
• Toya Williford

In addition, the following persons were present:

• William Henderson  -PCAC Executive Director
• Jan Wells   -Associate Director
• Ellyn Shannon  -Transportation Planner
• Karyl Berger   -PCAC Research Associate
• Seymour Portes  -NYCT
• Siraj Attia   -NYCT
• Deborah Hall-Moore -NYCT
• Alan Kritzler   -MTA IG
• Yvonne Morrow  -Concerned citizen
• Matt Shotkin   -Concerned citizen
• Chris Greif   -Concerned citizen
• Ken Stewart   -Concerned citizen
• Bob Olmsted   -Concerned citizen
• Jesse Moskowitz  -Concerned citizen
• Joseph Garber  -Concerned citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the March 25, 2010 meeting was approved.  The minutes of the February 22, 2010 meeting were approved as amended.

Chair’s Report

The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

In response to Tom Jost’s question as to the outstanding issues with the new articulated buses that were made available for the Council’s inspection, Karyl Berger noted that one important question is how the three wheelchair spots will work in practice, because there is not much room for a wheelchair to turn if customers are in the front of the two spots on the left hand side of the bus.  Ms. Berger said she would keep the Council informed on these issues.

Trudy Mason reported that Andrew Albert was magnificent in his testimony during the public hearings on the service reductions.  She said she would like all the NYCTRC public speaking testimony to assign blame for the MTA’s financial position to all responsible parties.  She said that some persons who spoke to her were critical of our focus on the failure of elected officials to fulfill their responsibilities.

Ms. Mason also noted that the student MetroCard funding issue is being dealt with at the State level in response to the negative editorials that were written on this subject.  She said that the Assembly has already proposed increasing the amount of funding for student fares.

Ms. Mason asked that the letter the Council sent to President Prendergast about the station booth closings be sent to the NYCTRC members.

Ms. Mason summarized the amendment to the January minutes that she proposed regarding the Manhattan SBS project and related issues.  The amendment passed with one abstention.  William Guild commented that as he was not in attendance at the January meeting, he could not properly vote on the change.

Ellyn Shannon briefed the Council on a public participation Study that researchers at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service are undertaking.

Board Report

Mr. Albert reported that at this week’s MTA Board meeting the most recently revised version of the service cut package that had been proposed by the MTA was approved.  Mr. Albert noted that there is some talk of a fare increase as a way to reduce the service cuts.

Stuart Goldstein suggested the Council should ask the MTA to release the report on potential efficiencies that has been prepared by Accenture.  He requested that staff obtain a copy of the report for the Council.

Ms. Mason suggested that the PCAC should have a place on the website for riders to comment on the service cuts.  Jan Wells noted that this would take a large amount of time and that the staff is already stretched.  Mr. Albert said staff would investigate a way to do this without making major time commitments.

Shirley Genn suggested that there be a disclaimer on the website that says we have received and read your comments but are not able to respond to all of them and that thanks riders for sharing their thoughts with us.  Mr. Albert agreed that would be a good idea.

Mr. Jost noted that the MTA public hearing process is not done very well.  Ms. Mason noted that it is the staff that runs the hearings and the elected officials are the only ones who get additional time beyond the set time limit if they appear in person.  Ms. Genn said she knew that some elected officials left because they were not given the opportunity to speak early in the program.

Old Business

Ms. Mason reported that there are problems with the relocation of residents affected by the Second Avenue Subway project.  She said the MTA is slowly putting people into midtown hotels, and she questioned the cost of doing this relocation.

Ms. Mason said that she would like to have the members receive letters that are sent on behalf of the Council.  She also asked whether the NYCTRC could invite Michael Horodniceanu to be a guest at a monthly meeting.  Mr. Henderson said that he had attempted to have Mr. Horodniceanu as a guest at a PCAC meeting without success.

Ms. Genn reported that she had to walk from another subway station because the end without a station agent was deserted.  She said that she had to take a Q train to Kings Highway and then had to walk home from there.  She said she wants to reinforce the importance of station agents.

New Business

Tom Jost that he was appalled to learn that the new fare gate enclosure at Tompkinsville cost $8 million and wondered why it was so expensive,

Mr. Sinansky commented on the rehabilitation of the Rockaway Peninsula
Elevated stations (Beach 90th, Beach 98th, Beach 105th) and asked if staff could find out when the contracts were awarded, when the project is scheduled to be completed, and the reasons for the delay

Ken Stewart commented that track numbers as announced in some stations don’t necessarily make sense.  He suggested that they should have numbers that are specific to the station in question, and not to the system as a whole.

Introduction of Seymour Portes, NYC Transit – Program Officer, Capital Program Management and Siraj Attia, NYC Transit design Manager – Capital Program Management

A copy of Mr. Portes’ presentation is on file in the PCAC office.

Mr. Portes explained that the old way of assessing stations was to use a standardized design for a comprehensive rehabilitation that would be redone every 35 years.  He said they have had to push the goal back on completing rehabilitations to 2024, and thus the costs of rehabilitation will in turn increase.  He also noted there has been premature deterioration of some elements of stations that were rehabilitated and that other issues have not been addressed.

Siraj Attia explained the new approach which has been named the Station Assessment program.  He said that the primary objectives are to achieve cost effectiveness, time efficiency and flexibility within the existing funding.  He said that under this new approach they first conduct a station condition survey, then undertake either full station rehabilitation, less extensive station renewals or component campaigns.

The station renewal work will include eliminating the worst structural conditions in individual stations and improve esthetics.  These will be done every 20 years.

Component campaigns will address a single type of station components across a number of stations.

Mr. Portes said a Maintenance Management System will be introduced.  He said the system will include a condition database, which will be updated with the new investments as they are made.  He said capital investments will be made to complete major repairs every 30 years and this will be combined with an operating strategy that repairs minor damage and maintains capital improvements.

In response to Tom Jost’s question as to whether the repairs are being done by the individual component or by station, Mr. Portes said that $90 million has been allocated through 2011 to address the worst components in the stations.

In response to Mr. Jost’s question whether the shift from 35 to 20 year figure for the useful life of a station will have implications for building new stations, Mr. Portes said their consultant will go out and resurvey each station every five years and that these surveys will be in addition to annual station condition surveys conducted by the Department of Subways.  If a defect is given a rating of “A” in the Department of Subways survey, it must be addressed within 24 hours, and a defect given a rating of “B” must be addressed within two weeks.

Mike Sinansky expressed concern that it does not appear that NYC Transit is making use of requirement contracts.  He said if you issue contracts strictly on a station by station basis, then you can’t issue a contract to a vendor to repair a certain kinds of defect in multiple stations, which could well be more efficient.  Mr. Attia said that the Maintenance Management System will work hand in hand with CPM.  He said they have contractors on call, but no requirement contracts are presently being used.

In response to Stuart Goldstein’s question as to whether NYC Transit uses in house forces to do the work being discussed, Mr. Portes said that NYC Transit forces are working on a project in Jamaica but noted that most projects are using contractors as they rebuild the in-house forces.

In response to Marisol Halpern’s question as to how the 205th Street/Norwood station will be addressed under to this new system, Mr. Attia said they will address this station shortly because components in it received a number of 4 and 5 ratings.

In response to Karyl Berger’s question about the steps that they are taking to address water damage, Mr. Portes said that often the utility companies damage the water proofing provided for stations.   He said the tunnels that run under the East River are not leaking because the utility companies are not working above them.

Shirley Genn expressed concern that there are a number of places with very wide gaps between the platforms and strains.  Mr. Portes said she should let PCAC staff know of these stations and they could relay this information to his office so that they can be examined.

In response to Ellyn Shannon’s question whether the Council could obtain a copy of the station data, Mr. Portes said he would ask if it could be released.

In response to Tom Jost’s question that if the 4 and 5 rated components are to be addressed first, does this imply that all components will deteriorate to those levels before being repaired, Mr. Portes explained that you use the Maintenance Management System to keep the components rated 1 and 2 from deteriorating.

In response to Bob Olmsted’s question whether NYC Transit has considered abandoning the middle track on Sea beach stations and putting in an island platform instead, Mr. Portes said they had considered it, but one of the two center tracks is used as a test track.

In response to Joseph Garber’s question about the status of the Chambers Street station (J, M and Z), Mr. Portes said they replaced the platform several years ago and they have included $25 million for painting in the next Capital Program so funding may be available for that purpose.


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

Respectfully submitted,

Karyl Berger
Research Associate