Meeting Minutes Nov 19, 2009


A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12:00 noon, November 19, 2009, in the fifth floor Board room, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.  The following members were present:

Andrew Albert
Thomas Jost
Shirley Genn
Trudy L. Mason
Stuart Goldstein
Edith Prentiss
Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas
Michael Sinansky
William Guild
Burton Strauss, Jr.

The following members were absent:
Marisol Halpern
Sharon Santa Maria
Sharon King Hoge
Toya Williford

In addition, the following persons were present:
William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Ellyn Shannon -PCAC Transportation Planner
Karyl Berger -PCAC Research Associate
Thomas Abdallah -NYCT
Deborah Hall-Moore -NYCT
Kate Aglitsky-NYCT
Emily Keller -Transportation Access
Joseph G. Garber -Exec. VP C.P.A.A.A
Linda Black -NYC Department for the Aging
Heather Haddon -Am New York
Jesse Moskowitz -Record Mart
Alan Flacks -Concerned Citizen
Matt Shotkin -Concerned Citizen
Ken Stewart -Concerned Citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the November 19, 2009 meeting was approved.  The October 22, 2009 minutes were approved as amended.

Chair’s Report
On Tuesday, November 3, Bill Henderson, Jan Wells and Ellyn Shannon joined seven PCAC members, including Stuart Goldstein and Bill Guild, of the NYCTRC, for a tour of the East Side Access tunnel work.  They gathered at 2nd Avenue and 63rd Street in a small temporary facility to hear an informative presentation by Alan Paskoff, Deputy Program Executive for ESA, Capital Construction.  Thereafter, the group donned rubber boots, protective glasses, hard hats and reflective vests to begin their descent through the adjacent ventilator building for the 63rd Street East River tunnel.  Sixteen flights of stairs later, the group emerged into the surreal world of hard rock caverns filled with water, muck and equipment. The group rode a worker trolley and then walked through the tunnels until they reached a TBM (tunnel boring machine).  Jan has posted pictures from the participants on the website.  Perhaps Bill or Stuart would like to give their impressions at the meeting.

Jan and Ellyn attended the Rail~Volution Conference in Boston October 29-31.  This conference focuses on transit-oriented development and how to create livable communities with transit.  More details about this conference are on the PCAC website.

On Thursday October 29, Bill Henderson testified on behalf of the PCAC at a hearing on the MTA’s proposed 2010-2014 Capital Program held by State Senator Craig Johnson.  The stated purpose of the hearing was to gather input on the Capital Program prior to its consideration by the MTA Capital Program Review Board (CPRB), which must approve or veto the plan by December 30, 2009.

We’ve completed the data collection portion of our survey on weekend subway service diversions.  Thanks to all those members who spent 90 minutes on the platforms logging in the trains that passed and special thanks to those who took more than one assignment.  Your participation is critical to making the member projects work.  We have not yet analyzed the data collected, but the surveyors noted some gaps in service, trains being held, and trains skipping stops.  We’ll look at the data and release the results after the holiday season.

Please mark your calendars for the quarterly PCAC meeting on December 3 at noon.  MTA Chairman Jay Walder will be our guest.  Please make every effort to attend.  Each Council will have an opportunity to ask several questions, so in our discussion under “new business” today, I’d like to spend a few minutes brainstorming a few ideas that we might want to put forward on December 3.

Edith Prentiss asked that a letter be written to ask NYC Transit for its policy on folding children’s strollers and whether there is a priority system for determining who can use wheelchair spaces and priority seating for persons with disabilities in the Transit system.

In response to Andrew Albert’s invitation to say a few words about his recent tour of the East Side Access project, Stuart Goldstein said that it seems that substantial work has been done, but he was told that the work is about 7 months behind schedule.  Mr. Goldstein said that it was disturbing that there was already graffiti on the equipment being used in the project.  William Guild, who was also on the tour, said that he also saw the graffiti and noted that the tour involved a longer walk in wet conditions than had been planned, due to equipment blocking the tracks of the work train.  Mr. Albert said that he expected that there would be additional opportunities to tour the project in the future.

Mr. Albert reported that Howard Roberts’ last day as NYCT President would be November 30.  The Council agreed that a letter should be written to be signed by each member thanking President Roberts for his service.

Board Report
Mr. Albert gave the Board report.  He said that the good news was that Jay Walder had announced that there will be no fare increase and no scheduled service cuts in the 2010 budget, but Mr. Albert noted that some counties are very upset about the payroll tax and feel that they are being burdened out of proportion to the benefits that they receive from the MTA.  Ellyn Shannon said that Board member Norman Brown spoke about ending the use of the term “bailout” with reference to the funding of the MTA.  He said that this term is not applied to other governmental functions and that the proper term should be “funding.”

Mr. Albert also noted that the PA/CIS system at three stations on the 6 line will be activated soon.  He also noted that the future will bring more articulated buses to NYC Transit.  Trudy Mason said that some of the new articulated buses should be used to replace the first generation articulated buses on crosstown routes.  She asked where the new buses will go.  Bill Henderson said that many of the new buses would be used for Select Bus Service.  Ms. Prentiss said that a photo in the Daily News the day before showed an articulated bus discharging passengers away from the curb when it could not get into a stop.  She also noted that the wheelchair lifts on the existing New Flyer articulated buses were prone to jamming.

Executive Session
The Council conducted an executive session to discuss a legal and personnel matter.  A set of guidelines governing Council members when acting in their official capacity was approved and is attached to these minutes.

Old Business
No old business was discussed.

New Business
No new business was discussed.

Introduction of Thomas Abdallah, NYC Transit Chief Environmental Engineer, to discuss NYC Transit’s Efforts to Decrease Subway System Noise.

Mr. Abdullah outlined elements of the system for which he has responsibility.  He spoke about the 700 miles of track, 70 of which is above ground and 2/3 of which is composed of continuous welded rail.  He also alluded to the 18 bus depots that he must address.  Mr. Abdullah said that there are a number of green projects underway at NYC Transit, including the introduction of 1,000 hybrid buses into the 4,500 bus fleet, the conversion of 6,500 subway signals to more energy efficient lighting, the four solar installations throughout the system, and Transit’s efforts toward using green roof technology.

Mr. Abdullah said that he is responsible for noise mitigation and abatement efforts in the system.  In the subways, some tools that are used to reduce noise are continuous welded rail, resilient rail fasteners, rail lubrication, sound absorbing materials, ring dampened wheels, wheel truing, and composition brake shoes.  He said that noise is generally an indicator of maintenance issues, but on curves where noise is a recurring problem, rail lubrication is used to reduce noise.  Lubrication is effective when the equipment that provides it is maintained.  In stations, sound dampening materials may be used.

He said that Transit is striving to follow Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in its facilities, but that these standards were created for office buildings and it has been a challenge to adapt these standards for the transit system.  The LEED standards provide a buffet of possibilities for designers to use.  Mr. Abdullah said that Transit is changing the way it does design, and that this was illustrated in the design charrette that the agency held for the Mother Clara Hale reconstruction project.  This new approach also resulted in the formation of a noise committee within NYC Transit, which Mr. Abdullah chairs.

Tom Jost said that he commends Transit for using LEED standards and asked whether the features that have been successful in retrofits can be designed into new facilities.  Mr. Abdullah said that planned work on the Brighton Line had incorporated strategies that had been used in rehabilitation projects elsewhere.  He said that meeting LEED standards is generally not a stretch, as the system has been moving in this direction over the past 23 years.  Mr. Jost noted that noise reducing strategies involving rubberized materials being used in freight railroads.

Ms. Mason said that the periodic WNYC radio programs on noise issues on which Mr. Abdullah has appeared are the highest rated shows of the Soundcheck series.  She said that the 49th Street station was a demonstration project for noise reduction and asked why the features of this station were not being used systemwide.  Mr. Abdullah said that Transit’s emphasis is on noise abatement and that what works in some stations will not work in all stations.   He said that NYC Transit can improve design by talking to the workers in the stations.

Ms. Prentiss said that bus noise is a problem in the environment, but that the new low floor buses are too quiet and as a result are hazardous.  Mr. Albert noted that the new Design Line buses would have sound designed into them to counteract this condition.

Michael Sinansky asked how rail lubrication works.  Mr. Abdullah said that a train passing a point triggers lubricant release and that this tool is used at over 300 locations.  About 80 percent of these lubrication facilities are in good working order.  He said that the smoother running created by lubrication results in lower energy costs.

Stuart Goldstein asked whether Mr. Abdullah is involved in car design.  Mr. Abdullah said that this was one of Arlene Bronzaft’s recommendations in the report on noise that she produced for NYC Transit.

Ellyn Shannon asked whether Transit evaluates financial savings achieved through green building efforts.  Mr. Abdullah said that this sort of evaluation is currently being conducted, and that there is good information available for the 7 line 74th Street station.   One complication is that NYC Transit has some very favorable energy costs, and the savings may not be so great.  Mr. Abdullah invited the Council to tour the Corona maintenance facility to see the green features incorporated into its design.


The meeting was adjourned at 2:10 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

William Henderson
Executive Director