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Old Posted Sep 24, 2008, 7:45 PM
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09/24/2008 09:55 AM

More Delays In Subway Screen Installation



The wait goes on for straphangers, wondering when the next subway will arrive.

Transit officials say the project to outfit subway stations with electronic screens that display the arrival time of the next train is several years behind schedule.

The info screens are already in place on the L line.

They were supposed to be installed by now at more than 150 stations on the 1, 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6 lines.

But transit officials now do not expect the project to be finished at those stations until 2011.
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Old Posted Sep 25, 2008, 1:33 AM
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What's the deal with the multi-color display? It really doesn't look very official, professional or clean. It looks more like a quick loan joint or a nail shop LED board.


Should look like this:


Rome on left, which sucks about as bad as ours and Paris on right, which is bright, clean and smart.

Paris Metro, Credit: Miglioraroma/FLICKR

Paris Metro

Who could disagree that these look ten times better designed than what they are currently installing? Would something like this cost so much more than what we're getting? Actually, what we're getting probably manages to cost ten times more than what Paris has, because that's NYC, right? Bullshit. I'd almost rather wait for something better to come along.
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Old Posted Sep 25, 2008, 10:16 PM
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^ one is designed by bean counters (or engineers), the other is by graphic designers.

Guess which is which...
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2008, 12:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
What's the deal with the multi-color display? It really doesn't look very official, professional or clean. It looks more like a quick loan joint or a nail shop LED board.



Who could disagree that these look ten times better designed than what they are currently installing? Would something like this cost so much more than what we're getting? Actually, what we're getting probably manages to cost ten times more than what Paris has, because that's NYC, right? Bullshit. I'd almost rather wait for something better to come along.
I would say the NY one costs more because the entire surface is LED while the Paris boards only have small patches of this.
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2008, 3:08 AM
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2:29 PM

Judge Delays Requirement For Cabs To Go Green



A court gives city new cabs a month-long reprieve on going green, as a lawsuit to stop the switch is pending.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission says a group of medallion owners with vehicles retiring in October can operate their taxis until November, as a federal court looks at a lawsuit filed by Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade against the mandate that all new cabs get 25 miles per gallon.

The suit claims that hybrid fuel-efficient vehicles were not built to withstand the heavy use that city cabs endure, and are unsafe for use in city streets.

The court will hear arguments next month.
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2008, 3:10 AM
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New York Times

How a Plan for Bus Fuel Grew Expensive

By WILLIAM NEUMAN
Published: September 24, 2008

Five years ago, as they were signing a contract for a cleaner-burning bus fuel, some officials with New York City Transit foresaw the day when similar low-sulfur fuels might become more common and less expensive.

That fuel was custom-made, and over the last two years, fuel suppliers warned transit officials that it might become difficult to get and urged them to consider a cheaper alternative.

But the transit agency never switched.

So last month, it found itself caught off guard when there were no bidders for a new fuel contract. As a result, it rushed through a stopgap agreement with its previous supplier at a much higher price.

The tale of how officials signed a contract that increases the fuel costs for their bus fleet by what could be tens of millions of dollars over the next year, at a time of budgetary crisis, helps show how well-intentioned efforts can go awry and end up affecting riders.

The custom-made fuel costs about 20 cents a gallon more than the more common ultra-low sulfur diesel that suppliers recommended. The fuel also requires special handling that in the new contract adds about 45 cents a gallon to delivery charges. On 50 million gallons of fuel to be delivered over the next 12 months, the extra costs represent an additional expense of more than $30 million.

The transit agency was a pioneer in 2000 when, to combat pollution, it switched its bus fleet to a type of diesel fuel known as ultra-low sulfur kerosene. It arranged for the fuel to be produced at a refinery in Pennsylvania and delivered by a company that is now known as Sprague Energy. In 2003, it renewed its contract with Sprague, this time for five years.

Dana Lowell, who was the head of research and development for buses at the transit agency at the time, said officials knew then that the federal government was preparing to require that all diesel engines switch to ultra-low sulfur fuel.

The wider use, they believed, would lower the cost of the fuel.

“The idea was that the five-year contract would take New York City Transit all the way through the transition, and on the other side of the transition they’d be able to buy fuel in a more natural process because it would be the standard,” said Mr. Lowell, who left the agency in 2004 and is now a vice president of M. J. Bradley, an environmental consulting firm.

Instead, in 2006 the federal government chose a slightly different fuel, commonly known as ultra-low sulfur diesel. Today the fuel can be bought at most gas stations.

The kerosene fuel used by the transit agency is produced only at a Pennsylvania refinery owned by Sunoco, and the agency is now the only large purchaser. Because of its unique characteristics, the fuel cannot be shipped by pipeline but has to be moved by barge and stored in separate tanks, adding greatly to costs.

Nonetheless, the agency decided to stick with the kerosene fuel, which is similar to jet fuel. Officials cited problems with diesel fuel in cold weather as one reason.

On Tuesday, when asked whether the transit agency should have moved earlier to switch fuels, Howard H. Roberts Jr., the president of the agency, said, “In hindsight, absolutely.”

Back in 2003, only two companies had bid on the transit agency’s kerosene fuel contract, and at about the time the federal requirement took effect in 2006, the agency began talks with refiners and suppliers to gauge their interest in future contracts, according to a four-page summary of the issue provided to board members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The summary said that there was little if any interest in providing the kerosene fuel but that many companies indicated a willingness to provide the more common diesel.

One of those companies was Metro Fuel Oil of Brooklyn. Robert J. Leavy, Metro’s manager of supply and distribution, said on Tuesday that the company had warned the transit agency last year that it could have problems obtaining the kerosene fuel in the future.

“We explained to them that we think that U.L.S.D.” — ultra-low sulfur diesel — “would be a better choice,” Mr. Leavy said. “It’s less expensive and readily available.”

But when the agency made its request for bids public in July, it was once again for the kerosene fuel.

Officials at the agency said that after lengthy discussions this summer with Sprague and Metro, they believed both companies might bid. Neither did.

Mr. Leavy said one reason Metro was unable to bid was that the fuel produced by Sunoco did not meet the standard set by the agency for a component known as cetane, which is similar to octane in gasoline. The agency had told the bidders that it was not willing to alter its specifications.

In a letter to the agency dated Aug. 20, Metro said it would not bid and asked the agency to re-evaluate the contract “in light of its excessive cost.” In a second letter, dated Aug. 27, Metro asked the agency to notify it if it was going to change its specifications or seek a new round of bidding.

Mr. Leavy said he got no response.
The materials provided to the authority’s board state that after the bidding process failed, the agency started negotiating with Sprague, reaching a deal on Aug. 29. But Sprague imposed what agency documents described as “onerous conditions,” more than tripling the handling and delivery charges.

The agency estimated that the one-year contract would cost $206 million. The transportation authority’s board approved the contract on Wednesday. The board materials also state that the fuel that Sprague will provide does not meet the cetane rating and will require an additive, which will cause an adjustment, presumably upward, in the price.

Mr. Leavy said his company was never given an opportunity to make a competing offer at these new terms. A representative of Sprague did not return telephone calls.

Stanley Grill, the agency’s head of procurement, said that when the bidding process failed, he tried to get an extension to the old arrangement from Sprague and Sunoco, but was told that the refinery needed an immediate commitment to ensure supply.

At that point, he said, he did not have the option of seeking a new round of bids. “I don’t have the luxury of doing that any more,” he said. “I have to turn to my supplier who can ensure I have continuity of bus fuel.”

Mr. Grill said transit officials had been hesitant to switch to the more commonly available diesel fuel because they worried about how it might affect their engines and pollution levels. There was also concern that it might violate warranties on the engines.

The agency is currently testing the diesel fuel. Officials said the buses need little or no adjustment to use the different fuel.


Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2008, 3:11 AM
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09/25/2008 03:39 PM
NYC Transit To Post Found Belongings Online



The transit system will soon be putting its lost and found system on the Internet.

Currently, New York City Transit maintains a lost-and-found office at Penn Station, but only about 20 percent of found items are reunited with their owners.

MTA officials say this is just one of the customer service initiatives on the way.

"We have a very robust lost-and-found system at Metro-North that we're duplicating at NYC Transit so people will be able to retrieve lost items immediately," explained Christopher Boylan, deputy executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "And that is one of the major calls we get. We get a lot of people calling looking for things they've left behind in the system."

In addition to the two-million calls it gets annually at its call center, the MTA says it gets about 40,000 emails every year, and responds to each one individually within two days on average.
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2008, 10:15 PM
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Updated 10:27 AM

City Bills MTA For Nearly $12 Million In Services



The city charged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority nearly $12 million last year for municipal services, the Daily News reported this morning.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services confirmed that the charges include about $4.5 million in civil service work.

The News reported that the MTA also owed $3.5 million for police to help nab fare-beaters.

This news comes days after the MTA voted to charge city agencies to cross bridges and tunnels.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign told the paper the city is setting a double standard by asking for free rides, while billing the MTA for basic services.
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2008, 10:15 PM
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09/26/2008 12:21 PM

Airports Delayed By Weekend-Long Rain

A coastal storm that will soak the city through Sunday has already caused delays at the city's airports.

Shortly after noon, John F. Kennedy International Airport was reporting delays averaging one hour and fifty minutes. LaGuardia Airport was reporting delays of two hours and 55 minutes and Newark's delays averaged one hour and 40 minutes.

The total rainfall through Sunday morning will be between one and three inches.

No major flooding has yet been reported.
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2008, 10:16 PM
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Updated 12:47 PM

Governor Slams Return Of Commuter Tax



Governor David Paterson dismissed talks of bringing back New York City's commuter tax.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said yesterday he is in favor of bringing back the tax on those who work in the city and live outside the five boroughs.

Today, a spokesperson for the governor released a statement opposing the tax, saying in part, "The governor is not considering taxes. He's continuing the process he began when he took office, to bring the state's revenues in line with spending."

Next week, on Paterson's lawmakers will meet to address Wall Street's impact on the state's budget.

The governor said the meeting will allow lawmakers to take additional steps to ensure the state's fiscal stability and to develop a plan of action to address the situation, four weeks before a revised state financial plan is due.

If Democrats take control of the State Senate in November, the tax could be reconsidered.

Some say even talking about bringing back the tax could help Republican candidates in suburban districts.

"So this becomes a way perhaps to actually strengthen the candidacy of republican candidates, create a political hurdle for democratic candidates who are going to be a tough position," said David Birdsell of Baruch College.

Silver helped eliminate the tax back in 1999 and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been advocating for its return for years.

Paterson also said he would like the legislature to meet in a special session in Albany to make more budget cuts, but has not picked a date for that meeting.
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Old Posted Oct 1, 2008, 8:38 AM
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Updated 09/30/2008 10:38 PM

MTA Needs $100M More To Keep Subway Clean



Keeping the subways clean will cost a lot more green than expected.

An analysis by New York City Transit released Tuesday found it would cost more than $100 million more than the allotted cleaning budget to reach and maintain what the agency considers an "acceptable level of cleanliness" system-wide.

To clean each of the 468 stations costs roughly $230,000.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is facing a large 2009 budget deficit, but some riders say clean subways would be worth the extra cost.

"They should use that money to clean up the subways system, because the subway system right now is just out of control," said a rider.

"For a clean city, there's never too much money," said another.

Others balked at the $100 million price tag.

"I think it’s too much money to spend there,” said an objecting rider. “Because if people just don't litter and clean up after themselves, the problem would take care of itself."

The numbers are based on a pilot program that increased the number of cleaners assigned to 64 stations, including all stations on the L and 7 lines.
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Old Posted Oct 3, 2008, 8:35 AM
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Updated 10/02/2008 09:06 PM
MTA Unveils Full-Length Subway Ads



Subway advertising has become larger than life.

The cash-strapped MTA unveiled plans at Grand Central Station to wrap subway cars in paid advertisements.

The first project calls for three Times Square Shuttles to be fully covered with vinyl ads promoting the History Channel's "Cities of the Underworld."

The MTA said the move is necessary to help reduce its $900 million dollar budget deficit.

"We are already anticipating that we will be able to increase our revenue to $125 million, that's our plan," said MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliott Sanders. "And then if this goes well, we think there's a potential to do another 125 percent on top of that."

The MTA said it plans to generate millions of dollars by selling advertising packages that include digital ads and stand-alone displays inside subway stations.

If successful, the agency plans to expand the program to city buses.
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Old Posted Oct 3, 2008, 9:46 AM
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^That's a fairly common idea nowadays. We've had those for 5+ years now, some are boring, some are clever. The best one so far:

source
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Old Posted Oct 10, 2008, 12:15 AM
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Work on the number 7 Subway line extension.

Pics By: scumonkey - Wired New York

10/9/08





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Old Posted Oct 10, 2008, 12:17 AM
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10/09/2008 12:49 PM

DOT Moves Forward With Flight Auction Plan




The plan to charge airlines to use three area airports is one step closer to taking off, despite legal challenges.

Today, Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced the rules to auction-off 10 percent of the "slots" at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark.

The airports have been blamed for causing two-thirds of flight delays around the nation. The DOT hopes paying to land and take off will force the airlines to put the limited space to better use.

The money raised would go to infrastructure improvements.

"Without slot options, consumers will bare the brunt of higher fares, fewer choices, and deteriorating service," said D.J. Gribbin, general counsel for the DOT. "All told our efforts to expand capacity and cut delays in the New York region will lead to more flights, better service, additional choices, and lower fares for countless thousands of travelers."

Last month, a ruling by congressional investigators sided with the Port Authority, which is against the plan. The lawmakers say the federal government has no right to auction off the space.

Other opponents like the Air Transport Association have already filed a lawsuit against the plan.

Today, the trade association released a statement saying in part: "...the DOT should follow the recommendations made by the New York Aviation Rulemaking Committee and implement fair and practical solutions to address delays and add needed new capacity."


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Old Posted Oct 11, 2008, 7:11 PM
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10/11/2008 11:53 AM
L Subway Line Undergoes Service Changes

Construction along the L line means some service changes for passengers this weekend.

Starting today and for the next two weekends, shuttle buses will replace trains between Rockaway Parkway and Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues.

Other service changes have already been affecting the L.

During late night hours through November 14, free shuttle buses are replacing trains between Broadway Junction and the Myrtle-Wyckoff stop.
Riders can transfer to the A or J trains at Broadway Junction.

And on weekdays through the end of the month, L trains are running every 30 minutes between Broadway Junction and Rockaway Parkway.

For more information, visit http://mta.info.


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Old Posted Oct 15, 2008, 4:24 AM
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Updated 11:37 AM

MTA Distributes Rider Report Cards On 4 Subway Line



Riders of the 4 subway line are getting another chance to sound off about their commutes this week.

New York City Transit handed out rider report cards this morning at stations in Brooklyn.

Cards will be handed out tomorrow at 4 train stations in Manhattan, with the rest handed out in the Bronx on Thursday and Friday.

You can also fill out an online report card at mta.info.



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Old Posted Oct 16, 2008, 11:22 PM
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PA IN GEAR FOR BUS-DEPOT REHAB

By TOM TOPOUSIS
Last updated: 5:14 am
October 16, 2008
Posted: 4:42 am
October 16, 2008



IN THE HEIGHTS: Artist's rendition of the planned rehab for the Broadway bus station in Washington Heights.


The Port Authority yesterday unveiled designs for its planned, $152 million overhaul of the aging George Washington Bridge bus station in Washington Heights, including a two-block section along Broadway.

The project will include a full renovation of the depot, which was built in 1963, and a fourfold increase in the amount of retail space.

Under the agreement with retail developer Acadia Realty Trust, the firm will spend $102 million on the renovations, while the PA will chip in $52 million. A lease is expected to be finalized in 2010, when work would begin.

"We're moving ahead and we don't anticipate any problems," said PA spokesman Steve Coleman of the prospects of raising funds for the project, despite the current financial crisis.

The project will create 119,000 square feet of retail space. Current tenants include an OTB parlor, newsstands and assorted shops. Leases for new stores are expected to be signed within a year.

Storefronts on both sides of Broadway, between 178th and 179th Streets, would be expanded.


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Old Posted Oct 16, 2008, 11:23 PM
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Updated 1:11 PM

Regional Plan Assoc. Releases Transportation Investment Blueprint



A transportation blueprint for the city and Northern New Jersey was released today by the Regional Plan Association.

The plan includes nearly 40 recommendations, including upgraded subway, bus, commuter rail, ferry, and light rail projects. The goal is to provide transportation to under-served areas of the city.

The recommendations include adding high-speed ferry service to parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx. The group also wants to see an express bus lane on the Staten Island Expressway and an extension of Nostrand Avenue to Kings Highway. They want to see the conversion of the Long Island Rail Road Atlantic Branch into three new stations

In addition, they're recommending a light rail loop in Manhattan, in addition to other transit upgrades in the borough.


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Old Posted Oct 16, 2008, 11:25 PM
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10/16/2008 10:47 AM

Transit Advocates To Candidates: "Get America Moving Again"
By: Bobby Cuza



Barack Obama and John McCain have not talked a lot about transit issues on their race to the White House, but a group of local officials and advocates is trying to change that. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

"Our message is clear to the presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama: invest in transit and transportation and get America moving again," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.

John McCain has pushed for alternative fuels and cleaner car technology, but not mass transit. Barack Obama has talked about strengthening transportation systems, even starting an infrastructure investment program.

But no matter which candidate you prefer, transit has not been a hot topic on the campaign trail.

However, with the economy crumbling, transit advocates say there's no better time to invest in transportation infrastructure, a move they argue could create jobs and jump start the economy.

"If we do it right, it will help us get out of the very deep recession we're going into more quickly," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. "It will put hundreds of thousands or millions of people to work. It will make us more competitive. It will help revive our economy."

There are also a number of specific Metropolitan Transportation Authority projects now under construction that are dependent on federal funding – among them, East Side Access, the plan to bring the Long Island Rail Road trains to Grand Central Terminal, and the Second Avenue Subway.

"The Second Avenue subway will relieve crowding on the most overcrowded subway in the country, the Lexington Avenue line," said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. "Believe me, there's a limit to how many people you can stuff into one subway car."

It's not just the expansion projects at risk. MTA officials, currently facing massive budget deficits, say without more government funding, day-to-day service may suffer as well.

"We may not be able to prevent a return to that transit decay: the graffiti, the subway breakdowns that was part and parcel of the 1970s and 1980s, without Washington," warned MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot "Lee" Sander.

And that, officials say, is something New York cannot afford.


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