Meeting Minutes Nov 21, 2013




A meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council (NYCTRC) was convened at 12:00 noon, November 21, 2013, in the fifth floor Board room, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.  The following members were present:

Andrew Albert                       Trudy L. Mason

Christopher Greif                   Steve Mayo

William Guild                           Edith Prentiss

Marisol Halpern                     Michael Sinansky

Sharon King Hoge                  Burton Strauss, Jr.

The following members were absent:

Stuart Goldstein                    Thomas Jost

In addition, the following persons were present:

William Henderson              -PCAC Executive Director

Ellyn Shannon                     -PCAC Sr. Transportation Planner

Karyl Berger                          -PCAC Research Associate

Alla Reddy                            -NYCT

Tewfik Berri                           -NYCT

Deborah Hall-Moore         -NYCT

Gene Russianoff                  -Straphangers

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the November 21, 2013 meeting was approved.  The October 24, 2013 minutes were approved.

Mike Sinansky asked whether the fact sheet that had been prepared on City funding of NYC Transit was distributed to the Mayoral candidates before the last debate.  William Henderson responded that the information went out to candidates and debate moderators the day after the meeting.  Mike Sinansky wanted to know if we received a response.  Mr. Henderson replied that the NYCTRC had not received a response to this information from either candidates or moderators.

Chair’s Report

The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

Trudy Mason suggested that NYCTRC member conduct guidelines that Andrew Albert had referenced in the Chair’s report should be repeated for members of the public that come in after meeting has started.  She also suggested that the Chair call upon all members who request to be recognized before entertaining questions or comments from members of the public.  Ms. Mason said that if the ground rules that apply to a presentation are that questions will be held until the presentation is complete, then everyone should adhere to these rules.

Ms. Mason suggested that the Council should write a letter to Uday Durg and Janice Lee of MTA Capital Construction thanking them for the tour that had been given to members.  Chris Greif said that from the information forwarded about the tour he was not sure what footwear members should wear for the Fulton Tour.

Mr. Albert pointed out that most Manhattan Community Boards were not in favor of East Midtown rezoning proposal that was recently withdrawn by the Mayor.  Ms. Mason said that there was no guarantee that the transit improvements envisioned in the plan would have been completed before the development.  She suggested that Council invite Borough President Brewer as a guest to discuss this issue.  Mr. Albert proposed that all of the Borough Presidents be invited as guests.

Mr. Greif stated the Councilman, State Senators and Yvette Clark were very upset with the MTA over their failure to address the Kings County Hospital issue.  It was mentioned that the Community Boards stated that they have been ignored by Ted Orosz.

Ms. Mason commented that when she rode Manhattan SBS with a representative of the Manhattan Borough President and they met with Ted Orosz of NYC Transit along with a rand with Borough President, he ignored the concerns that they presented.  She said that there are seniors who have excessive walks to the bus because of a twelve block gap between SBS stops at 67th & 79th Streets.  Mr. Albert suggested that a meeting should be set up with Carmen Bianco to discuss these concerns.  Mr. Greif noted that community input had led to one positive change on the B44 SBS, as the final route uses Flatbush Avenue, rather than Farragut Road as originally planned.

Board Report

Mr. Albert reported that there is good news from the Board on service, but that it is not uniform.  The Board has approved service increases on many lines.  On the L line, there are 8 additional trains per hour in some cases.  This is warranted as it is said that the Bedford Avenue Station looks like rush hour at midnight.

Burt Strauss wanted to know if there was a service increase planned on the 6 train.  Mr. Albert responded that there was no mention of the 6 or 1 trains in the service increases that have been announced, although both of these routes are heavily loaded.

Edith Prentiss asked if there are any discussions about restoring bus service to Upper Manhattan after midnight, in the area between 181st Street and the Harlem River.  She stated that there is nothing running north and south in this area after 1:00 am, as the last bus on the M3 northbound from 168th Street leaves at 1:03 am.  Ms. Prentiss also said that the BX20 has no schedule for midday service posted on Guide-A-Ride boxes or on the Bus Time system.

Mr. Albert noted that the increase in yield of the fare increase projected to be implemented in 2015 had been cut to 4 percent, but that this provides no space for funding increased service.  He said that there are many places where service is needed and could have been restored, but it was not.

Ms. Mason stated that there is increased ridership around midnight on the 6 line and that she believes that frequency of the trains has decreased.  Ms. Mason requested an updated study on whether the number of riders per train loading guidelines on the 6 line.  Mr. Albert responded that he will inquire about when the last study of ridership on the 6 Line during late night hours was performed and the hours in which ridership was evaluated.

Mr. Albert mentioned that there will be a push for additional service at the December Board meeting.  He also said that he expects many union members there to talk about their lack of a contract and that there could be a strike on the LIRR by July 2014.

Mr. Albert pointed out that at the November CPOC meeting it was announced that work to install CBTC will shut down the 7 Line from Jackson Heights to Times Square on a number of weekends.  Mr. Albert said that he asked NYC Transit about expansion of service on the E and R lines during these disruptions and received no response.  Mr. Greif said that it would be great to extend M line to Delancey Street on the weekends.  Mr. Albert responded there is no service plan yet developed.

Ms. Mason commented that service on the 6 line is a disaster.  She also commented that the countdown clocks often flash “delay”.  Ms. Mason said that there always seems to be a problem with tracks or equipment and that at some times local trains are changed to express.  She said that she wanted to find out what the problem was the previous night with the northbound 6 train around 10:30pm and said that earlier that day she waited 12 minutes for a 6 train.

Sharon King Hoge stated that she is troubled by disruption caused by booths set up in the station by religious organizations at 49th and 59th Streets.  She asked whether they are permitted to do this because of rights of free speech, and Mr. Albert replied that this is the reason they are allowed to operate in these stations.

Ms. Prentiss commented on the musicians at 42nd Street on the northbound A train platform and said that some of them pose a problem.  She said that there are four groups with amplification that play there but 59th Street is not as bad.  Mr. Albert responded that the Council needs to have representatives of the NYPD as guests to talk about regulations on noise.

Old Business
Matt Shotkin noted that the previous weekend the L Train had stalled and caused service to halt.  Mr. Albert stated that he could not take any action specific details about the disruption.

Mr. Greif suggested that council request that NYC Transit Senior Vice President – Buses Darryl Irick be invited as a guest.  He said that there are many problems with buses, including an increasing number of bus fires.  Mr. Albert recommended that the Council meet with NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco about these issues.

Ms. Prentiss pointed out that certain lines, such as BX7, BX10, and M100 consistently have older buses assigned to them and that many of the bus operators do not understand the older equipment.  She said that operators often don’t stop so that the bus doors are aligned with break in scaffolding installed on the sidewalk.  She asked when NYC Transit will get rid of their high floor buses.

Ms. Prentiss also said that operators do not know how to operate the lift on this equipment and drive off without the passengers who need it to board the bus.  In some cases, the operators leave without saying anything to the individuals needing the lift.  Mr. Albert asked Ms. Prentiss if she could get the number of the buses with malfunctioning lifts.  Mr. Albert said that he has called the bus Command Center and complained about buses with incorrect destination signs and that now they are going to track cases of incorrect signage over time so that operators or equipment that present particular problems will be identified.

Introduction of Alla Reddy, NYCT Operations Planning Senior Director, to discuss the preparation of NYC Transit’s Passenger Environment Survey

Mr. Reddy stated that in 2008 he traveled to South East Asia and found that, in this region, transit agencies commonly used a scorecard in evaluating their performance, although this was not the practice in the United States.  He said that he presented this information to NYC Transit President Tom Prendergast, who was familiar with the concept and receptive to adapting it to NYC Transit.  With this support, Mr. Reddy said that his team started developing the Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

Once these indicators were developed, they were reported twice per year to the MTA Board, but over time NYC Transit staff developed a twelve month rolling average score that could be consulted on a monthly basis.  This score was used internally in 2008 and 2009, and it helped to improve performance because those responsible for the meeting the standards understood that a single problem can cause a whole area to be recorded as failing.

Mr. Reddy said that over time there was an increase in the frequency of reporting indicators in other ways.  This included daily temperature monitoring and monthly reporting of litter and cleanliness reporting.  The result of monitoring has been to improve the conditions that are being observed.

Mr. Albert asked where his staff takes measurements of indicators that must be measured while their location is in service.  Mr. Reddy replied that the checkers board a train and move from car to car to make their readings.  They may start their data collection at different points along the routes.

Mr. Albert asked whether the checkers are assigned the same or different lines over time.  Mr. Reddy responded that checkers receive assignments on different lines.

Ms. Prentiss asked whether checkers worked during rush hours. Tewfik Berri responded that when checkers collect data during times that trains are crowded they ride in the predominant direction of travel and then do the checking on the return trip.

Ellyn Shannon asked how data is provided to NYC Transit managers.  Mr. Reddy replied that mangers get raw data in summary form and review it.  He said that they are developing an application to be viewed on a tablet computer to provide reports to management.  These reports could be translated into a public version.

Ms. Hoge wanted to know if there is any role for customer reports in the system.  Mr. Reddy replied that this is not yet a part of the system.  He said that one of the advantages of using checkers is that they do not analyze the data collected and are independent, which allows for a more direct transmission of factual information to mangers.

Mr. Shotkin asked whether the time of station and train cleaning affects ratings.  Mr. Reddy said that data collection is structured to take place in the early morning before many riders enter the system and in the midday hours.

Mr. Albert asked whether managers wait several months to act on an increase in failures of cleanliness or will assign more staff to deal with the problem after one bad report.  Mr. Reddy said that they generally act within one month.

Ms. Shannon wanted to know if an outdated system map would lead to the failure of a car in the ratings.  Mr. Reddy said that it would, as outdated maps are a cause for failure.  Ms. Shannon also wanted to know if there is an indicator that shows continuing problems.  Mr. Reddy commented that whether there is a continuing problem can be shown by comparing the rolling average score with the score for a given month.

Gene Russianoff wanted to know if there is consideration of discontinuing indicators that consistently score 98 to 99 percent.  Mr. Reddy said that this could be done and that his team is working on another measure that takes into account the large number of elements in station complexes, where a single failure in one part of the complex would result in the failure of the whole.  The Stations Department is interested in an interactive system where input would go directly to managers who could view it on a tablet.

Mr. Albert asked whether Autogates that are used by persons with disabilities are assessed in these indicators.  Mr. Reddy said that they are not.  Ms. Prentiss said that the results of checking the Autogates would be interesting and that the Council has found that there is no specific job title that is responsible for checking whether they are in good working condition.  Mr. Reddy stated that they can look at adding an indicator on the Autogates to the checklist of station elements.

Mr. Albert asked whether the dates that stations were inspected are recorded.  Mr. Reddy replied that in the rolling average different stations and inspection dates average out, but that there are ways of isolating particular stations in the data to focus on them.

Ms. Prentiss pointed out that at 177th Street, there is extensive water staining in the station and she asked if there is any way to get rid of a problem like this over the long run.

New Business

The members approved a resolution of appreciation for Toya Williford in recognition of her service on the NYCTRC.


The meeting was adjourned at 1:55 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

William Henderson

Executive Director

Follow up items:

Send thank you letters for Fulton Center tour – Sent

Ask when ridership on the 6 train was last checked for conformance to loading guidelines in late evening and overnight hours – Andrew Albert to ask NYC Transit.