Meeting Minutes May 28, 2015




A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12 noon on May 28, 2015 in the 20th Floor Board room at MTA Headquarters, 2 Broadway, New York City.

The following members were present:

Andrew Albert                       Marisol Halpern

Stuart Goldstein                   Sharon King Hoge

Chris Greif                             Trudy L. Mason

Michael Sinansky

The following members were absent:

William K. Guild                  Edith M. Prentiss

Scott Nichols                       Burton Strauss, Jr.

In addition, the following persons were present:

William Henderson             -PCAC Executive Director

Karyl Cafiero                         -PCAC Research Associate

Dilip Kumar Patel                -NYCT

Deborah Hall-Moore           -NYCT

Andy Inglesby                      -NYCT

Dustin Jones                        -Disabled In Action

Ken Stewart                          -Concerned citizen

Richard Schulman              -Concerned citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the May 28, 2015 meeting was approved.  The minutes of the April 23, 2015 meeting were approved.

Chair’s Report

Stuart Goldstein said that the recent cable theft raises questions of access to the right of way and implications for the prevention of terrorism.  Andrew Albert agreed and said that he was surprised that the thefts did not set off an alarm.

Chris Greif stated that there are communication problems in the system that might pose problems for the protection of the system.  He didn’t know whether if there are radio problems in the area where the thefts occurred.

Trudy Mason stated that she was stuck in the 6 train.

Board Report

Mr. Albert gave the Board report and commented that one major topic at the NYC Transit Committee was how to cope with delays in system.  He said that the Committee had agreed to give President Carmen Bianco and his team one month to come up with a plan. The plan that they developed includes procedures to hold some trains to maintain even spacing.  This would make the disruptions less evident to passengers down the line, although it would harm the system’s terminal on-time performance. Other aspects of the plan involve having NYC Transit dispatchers hold trains for a shorter period of time and making changes to on-board announcements to reduce the amount of time it takes to make these announcements.

Ms. Mason stated that NYC Transit should change automated announcements about trains being delayed because of congestion.

Mr. Albert said that starting in June weekend J trains will be extended to Fulton Street.

There was a discussion of recent restrictions on issue advertising adopted by the MTA Board.  It was noted that the MTA is not the only system that is having problems with establishing limits for advertising.

Mr. Albert noted that NYC Transit is taking new steps to improve performance in the subway in response to recent declines. Mr. Goldstein commented that NYC Transit is now doing something different during disruptions on the F train by operating some trains as super express runs.

Mr. Greif said that some changes can be confusing to riders, but that when it is explained to them what is being done the passengers understand.

Old Business

Mr. Mason asked whether the NYCTRC has received a response regarding her issues with the number of buses displaying “Next Bus Please” signage.  She wanted to know if the Council had received a response to the letters that have been sent to NYC Transit and whether a meeting has been set up with Department of Buses officials.

Mr. Albert stated that he spoke to Darryl Irick at last Board meeting at length.  Also, he rechecked with the Department of Buses about the status on Bus Time of buses displaying “Next Bus Please” signage. Buses with this signage do not appear on the system, but it is sometime the case that buses change status and that they appear on the Bus Time system from a point when they were in normal operation.

Bill Henderson said that staff will work on setting a meeting with Bus officials in June.

Ms. Mason wanted to know when the Request-A-Stop program begins for overnight buses.  Mr. Albert responded that it begins at 9:00 p.m.

Ken Stewart commented that the emergency brake sign on subway cars is misleading and leads people to stop trains between stations.  He suggested that the sign say something like “Delay Train” to inform people of the impact of engaging the emergency brake.  People should know that they should not activate the emergency brake unless it is necessary to prevent individuals from being injured or killed by a train and not to report a less serious operational problem.

New Business

Mr. Greif stated that every year the Brooklyn Half Marathon is a problem for transit users.  He said that the situation this year was better and that there were signs directing people to the places where buses are and that the buses were where they were supposed to be.

Mr. Albert asked how soon service is restored after the race.  Mr. Greif responded that it takes about ten minutes after the race passes for service to be restored and that there is a dispatcher on site to put the service restorations into effect.  He said that people were not complaining about NYC Transit, but about the Half Marathon.

The floor was opened for nominations for NYCTRC officers.

Mr. Greif nominated himself for Executive Committee. Sharon King Hoge nominated the existing slate of officers, including Mr. Albert as Chair, Michael Sinansky as Vice Chair and Mr. Goldstein, William Guild and Marisol Halpern, as members of the Executive Committee.  Mr. Sinansky nominated Mr. Guild to be recommended as Second Vice Chair of the PCAC for the upcoming PCAC officer elections and the Council voted unanimously to make this recommendation.

Introduction of Dilip Kumar Patel, NYC Transit Capital Program Management Stations Program Officer to discuss upcoming statin renewal projects on the Culver, Sea Beach and New Lots Lines.

Mr. Patel provided briefings on the three major projects that are being undertaken in Brooklyn.

On the New Lots Line, seven stations will receive attention, and some major work scope items at these stations are in the areas of work on the platform level, including replacement of damaged platform slabs, reconstruction of platform edges and ADA boarding areas, replacement of rubbing boards and tactile strips, reconstruction of canopy columns, replacement of windscreens and guardrails, and rehabilitation of stairways.  On the Mezzanine levels, the project will include new concrete floor topping, new exterior cladding, the repair of spalled concrete, and repair to windows and doors.

Mr. Albert asked if this project includes a connection between Junius Street and Livonia Avenue.  Mr. Patel replied that it does not.

Mr. Patel noted that 70 percent of the canopy columns need repair and that as a part of the project the drainage is corrected, which is very important for the future.  He also noted that the project will perform fare array reconfiguration at the New Lots Avenue station. This project was awarded at end of 2014 in the amount of $45.7 million.

Mr. Patel said that the project will be phased. For five months each, trains will bypass the Rockaway Avenue and Van Siclen Avenue stations, the Saratoga Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue stations, and the Sutter Avenue and Junius Street stations, and then the project will move on to rehabilitate the New Lots Avenue station.

Mr. Patel said that work on Culver Line stations would be similar to that on New Lots Line.  This work includes restoration of platforms and mezzanines, as well as painting of the inside and outside of each stations.  Also included in this work are installations coordinated through the Arts for Transit program.

Ms. Hoge asked whether there is any consideration of alternative materials with project architects such as the use of other types of windscreen from those typically used.

Mr. Patel replied that the project architect consults on the material specified for the project.  He said that for the windscreens NYC Transit is using a new materials with a porcelain coating that is tan on one side and green on the other, rather than the common windscreen material that requires periodic repainting.

Mr. Patel said the $ 80 million project was awarded September 30, 2014. There are five phases to the project, with one side of the Ditmas Avenue and Avenue X Stations being bypassed for periods of time.

The third Brooklyn project will rehabilitate stations along the Sea Beach Line and will include nine stations, including every station except for Stillwell Avenue, under two contracts.  Mr. Albert said that he understands that some of the damage to stations on the line is caused by water leaking from the homes above and asked how NYC Transit can remedy the situation.  Mr. Patel replied that the design of the retaining wall will provide for it to carry water and allow water channels and weepholes to be cleaned to prevent water damage.  The project minimizes the need for access to neighboring properties. Included in the project is control area repair, the repair of passageway floors, replacing platforms in all stations, repairing walls, ceilings, and retaining walls, and replacing deteriorated platform columns.

As a part of the project, NYC Transit will energize the middle (E3) track for alternative service south of Kings Highway.  The two contracts for the work cover six stations at $188.8 million and three stations at $80 million.  Like the first project, the work will be phased, with a preliminary phase of preparatory work, a first phase in 2016 that will take northbound stations out of service, and a second phase in 2017 that will take southbound stations out of service.

Mr. Goldstein note that some time ago roadways were replaced adjoining these stations and at New Utrecht Avenue there are side walls up to the roadway.  At other stations, birds are a problem.  He confirmed that there is a need for repair along the line. Mr. Patel commented that the damaged portion of the wall will be replaced.

Karyl Cafiero asked what the project is called.  Mr. Patel replied that it is station renewal.

Mr. Stewart asked if Mr. Patel could give examples of the use of high contrast to assist low vision individuals in these projects.  He said that high contrast is an important feature.  Mr. Patel responded that he believes that the projects include the use of high contrast, but he will check.  He said that the lighting in the stations addressed will be new and colors in the stations will be changed.

Marisol Halpern wanted to know if there is an art project connected with this work.  Mr. Patel replied that there are Arts for Transit projects procured through MTA Arts and Design included in the project.

Mr. Greif asked if there is a list of stations where accessibility will be improved.  Mr. Patel stated that there are 100 key stations programmed for accessibility within the system and of these 86 are completed and 2 are under construction.

Deborah Hall-Moore stated there are no new stations added to the key station list through this project.  NYC Transit is concentrating on completing the 100 key stations but is also looking for additional opportunities.

Ms. Hoge stated that it would be useful to have elevators at Astoria Blvd.  Mr. Patel stated that they are designing this location as a key station.

Mr. Albert asked what the service plan will be for the Sea Beach Line.  Mr. Patel responded that a maximum of four stations will be out of service at a time.

Mr. Stewart asked for an update on possible changes to the Transit Rules of Conduct.  Mr. Albert said that nothing has been received from the NYPD Transit Bureau.

Ms. Halpern asked how one goes about getting stations on the list for the next set of key stations to be made accessible.  Ms. Hall-Moore stated that there is no process, but recommendations can be submitted to NYC Transit.

Ms. Mason said that the Borough Presidents may want to submit recommendations through the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

Dustin Jones commented that when it comes to giving information on stations needing accessibility, it would be best to go to Victor Galicia, Commissioner of Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities.


The meeting was adjourned at 2 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

William Henderson

Executive Director