A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 noon on May 27, 2010 in the 5th Floor Board room at MTA Headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City. The following members were present:
• Andrew Albert
• Thomas Jost
• Shirley Genn
• Sharon King Hoge
• Stuart Goldstein
• Edith M. Prentiss
• Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas
• Sharon Santa Maria
• William K. Guild
• Michael Sinansky
• Marisol Halpern
• Burton Strauss, Jr.
The following members were absent:
• Trudy L. Mason
• Toya Williford
In addition, the following persons were present:
• William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
• Ellyn Shannon -PCAC Transportation Planner
• Karyl Berger -PCAC Research Associate
• Peter Cafiero -NYCT
• Deborah Hall-Moore -NYCT
• Jesse Goldman -NYCT
• Alan Flacks -NY County Democratic Committee
• Jesse Moskowitz -Record Mart
• George Haikalis -IRUM
• Heather Haddon -amNY
• Tom Namako -NY Post
• Christopher Greif -Concerned citizen
• Yvonne Morrow -Concerned citizen
• Samuel Pizario -Concerned citizen
• Matt Shotkin -Concerned citizen
• Ken Stewart -Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the May 27, 2010 meeting was approved. The minutes of the April 22, 2010 meeting were approved as amended.
The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.
Tom Jost suggested that, in discussions of the SBS project, the term “refuge island” should be replaced with “oasis island”.
Andrew Albert said that there would be lots of signs and information about the upcoming service changes and that this subject would be addressed by the Council’s guest later in the meeting. Ms. Santa Maria said there are lots of service change notices in her station, and some of them date back to Christmas.
Andrew Albert reported that many people at NYC Transit do not agree with the service cuts that will go into effect in June. He said that MTA Board member Norman Seabrook asked Chairman Walder the level to which the fare would have to be raised in order to offset the current round of cuts and reported that no response was given.
Mr. Albert indicated that the TWU could have averted some of the layoffs that are occurring if they had agreed to restructure their contract, but they refused to do so.
Mr. Albert noted that although G Line service no longer goes into Queens beyond the Court Square station, signs for the G are still up in Queens Boulevard stations.
Mr. Albert said that MTA overtime is being cut to the degree that if a bus driver calls in sick, his runs will often not be covered, so in affect this is an additional unannounced service cut.
Chris Greif said the Ulmer Park buses are being particularly hit hard by the service cuts.
Discussion of Newly Formulated NYCT Performance Indicators
Mr. Albert said that the way that on time performance has been calculated is ridiculous because trains often skip stops and these trains are currently automatically counted as not being on time.
Ellyn Shannon said that platform crowding due to a delay in service is being considered as a performance indicator.
Mr. Sinansky said he thought the move from the use of absolute on time performance to a greater reliance on wait assessment standards based on percentages of published headways is a good one and makes sense. He addressed the idea of excluding weekends, noting that weekends are different in character than weekdays, but asking why weekend data were not to be used as the basis for a separate indicator.
Mr. Albert asked the members to review the proposed performance indicator changes and give their comments to staff.
Discussion of Next NYCTRC Project
Mr. Albert briefly discussed his ideas for a Council project documenting the number of persons who are improperly using the emergency gates in stations. Sharon King Hoge said some of the emergency exits are fully locked. Ms. Genn said some entrances only have HEETS and no emergency gate. She said this makes it difficult for people with strollers and large packages to enter and leave the station.
Mr. Albert will pull a list together of stations that will be monitored.
Nominations for 2010-2011 NYCTRC Officers
The existing slate was nominated for an additional term: Andrew Albert, Chair, Mike Sinansky, Vice Chair, and William K. Guild, Marisol Halpern and Toya Williford as the Executive Committee. The election will take place during the June 24 meeting.
The Council also voted to recommend to the Governor that Andrew Albert be appointed to an additional term as the MTA Board member representing the NYCTRC.
Shirley Genn reported that during the periods where the F train runs in two segments she often has had to wait 25 to 30 minutes for an F shuttle bus to leave Jay Street. She said it is unclear which of the buses at the stop are local buses and which ones are express buses that travel more directly to Church Avenue. Stuart Goldstein said that the buses are on Jay Street and there are Bus Starters who direct people to the bus that they need. He said the buses’ signs don’t indicate whether they are express or local.
Ms. Genn said that at the Church Avenue F Line station, she has witnessed incidents where NYC Transit personnel would not let people on the shuttle bus because they didn’t have a transfer ticket. She said that if riders are not at the front of the train when they alight, they may not receive a transfer ticket because of the location where tickets are distributed.
Ms. Genn noted that after rush hours, she has often seen empty trains being moved along the Culver line. Ms. Prentiss cited published reports that in the future entire lines may be shut down to provide for more efficient General Order work. She said that even if an operating train line is nearby, it may not be a good substitute for a line that is shut down. Also, there may be problems on the line that is operating and, with other lines taken out of service, flexibility would be lost.
Introduction of Peter Cafiero, NYCT Chief – Operations Planning, to discuss methods for communicating information on upcoming service changes to riders.
Peter Cafiero introduced Jesse Goldman, a College Aide who was also involved in putting together the NYCT service reduction book. A copy of Mr. Cafiero’s presentation is on file in the PCAC office.
Mr. Cafiero said that there will be new posters that will inform people that alternatives exist for the service that has been cut. He said there will be special posters placed in identified locations where existing service will no longer be operating, such as Broad Street station on the southbound platform and the Second Avenue station.
In response to Ellyn Shannon’s question whether these signs would be posted on the website, Mr. Cafiero said that they would be, but not necessarily in PDF format.
Ms. Prentiss said she is concerned that the posters placed on poles in subway stations are hard to read because of their small fonts and the placement of the signs high on the poles.
Mr. Cafiero said that all bus stops that will have any kind of change will have a poster with borough specific service information. Audible announcements on subways can’t be made specific to boroughs.
Mr. Cafiero said all the signs are in English and the MTA website translation link is referenced on the signs. Jessica Rojas expressed concern that the signs would only be in English. She cited Jackson Heights as a place where 167 languages are spoken and suggested that NYC Transit try to target specific communities with appropriate translations.
Mr. Cafiero said 150 subway stations are affected by the service changes and that there are 3,000 permanent signs that will need to be changed. He noted that these signs as well as the destination signs on subway cars are in the process of being changed now so that the work will be complete by the time of the service change.
Mr. Cafiero indicated that the pocket subway system map would be available two weeks prior to implementation of the service changes. He said that the wall subway map will go up starting about two weeks before the service changes and it will take four to six weeks to complete the installation, but the affected subway stations will be done first. He said that in car subway maps will be first posted on trains serving routes affected by changes.
In response to Mr. Goldstein’s question as to whether there are significant changes being made to the map, Mr. Henderson said that there are changes, but the map has not been finalized and he was asked not to discuss the changes for the moment.
Ken Stewart said that riders should see signs with service information before they pay their fare and enter the system and also said that if a sign is posted high on a pole, another one should be posted at eye level. Mr. Cafiero said that there will be paper signs posted in the unpaid area of stations and noted there are specific ADA regulations about hanging signs. He said they also have to adjust stopping board markers at station platforms because there will be differently sized trains serving some stations.
Ms. Prentiss noted that even though the elevators at 59th Street/Columbus Circle are already operational, there is no indication on the MTA website that the elevators are working. Ms. Prentiss said that an NYCT worker said to her that elevators are an all or nothing package in that all elevators in a related grouping must be fully operational before they post their status on the website.
In response to Marisol Halpern’s statement that the service change posters should be posted outside of subway stations, Mr. Cafiero said they will try to put these posters at street level.
In response to Mike Sinansky’s question as to how service signs on the platform are changed, Mr. Cafiero said they either would put an overlay on the existing signs or would make new signs for these locations.
In response to Christopher Greif’s comment about the fact that there will be different length trains operating in stations, Mr. Cafiero said they would position the trains’ stopping points at a convenient location for riders.
In response to Mr. Albert’s question about the disposition of bus shelters at locations where bus service is being discontinued, Mr. Cafiero said NYCT is talking to the City about this issue.
In response to Ms. Rojas’ question whether all bus stops have Guide-A-Rides, Mr. Cafiero said that all NYC Transit bus stops have them except some stops near the termini of routes where few if any riders board. He said he will look into what they will do in these situations and what MTA Bus will do at locations on their routes where there are no Guide-A-Rides. Mr. Cafiero said that service change posters will be posted on board buses in mid June.
In response to Ms. Prentiss’ question as to when the bus shelters that are no longer being used be taken away, Mr. Cafiero reiterated that this is up to the NYC Department of Transportation and Cemusa, which holds the City street furniture concession.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.