Posts Tagged ‘MTA’

Service of Inquiring Minds

Monday, January 8th, 2024

No bus in sight.

As I waited too long for the bus and during my ride I came up with this list of questions to distract from the ridiculous crowd once inside and a screaming toddler.

Why…………

  • Must NYC citizens wait over 15 minutes for a bus on a busy crosstown street at rush hour?
  • Are some people always cheerful?
  • Do manners no longer matter?
  • Are some radio hosts told they must laugh all the time?
  • Are some compelled to cut off other pedestrians if they are walking or vehicles if driving?
  • Do drivers think that by honking incessantly in traffic it will make the cars stuck ahead of them move faster?
  • By yelling at a sales associate or waiter who is trying to help do some think they will get better service?
  • By treating someone with disrespect do others think that they will be respected?
  • By speaking louder at someone who doesn’t understand English do the clueless expect that he/she will understand?
  • Does a little thing over which I have no control–like an elevator door slamming in my face–annoy me beyond words? Is it because I’m really angry about something much more important?

If you have answers, or questions to add, feel free!

Service of the Golden Rule Ignored

Monday, November 13th, 2023

Golden Rule

I often wonder if people think about the ramifications of their actions. Empathy needs to be taught and it seems to have been left out as a priority for too many.

Please stay silent, dear audience

I attended an amateur production of a musical in a small theater filled largely with the actors’ friends. I was on the verge of screaming “STOP PLEASE” if I heard another earsplitting “WHOOOOOOOOOO!” in the middle of a song or after an uttered inconsequential phrase or when a minor actor appeared on stage. Did these people think that they were at a sports event? If it happened once or twice, OK. But it was constant. Grumble.

In addition to the usual request to turn off phones and unwrap candies before the start of the production, I wish the audience was also asked to leave the hollered WHOOOOOOs and shrieks in a stadium or at least to wait for the end of a song though better yet—don’t do it at all. Energetic and enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation at the end says it all.

Do you need to pull away so soon?

Even if I’m not hoping to catch a bus, it drives me nuts when the driver pulls away from the stop just a few feet, only to brake for a red light. [See the photo below for placement of bus stop and traffic light.] I’ve written about this before and have notified the MTA as well. Because they are no longer at the bus stop, even though a few feet away, most drivers won’t open the door for a passenger pleading to get in. Aren’t the drivers supposed to transport as many passengers as possible?

A friend caught up with a bus on a weekend and asked the driver to please wait a moment for her colleague who is disabled and can’t run. The driver responded that there was a bus right behind [which any New Yorker knows is subject to interpretation as “right behind” might be eight minutes away]. The driver closed the door on her face. She yelled through the closed door, “she’s here!” The driver hesitated before reopening the door. Her friend thanked him and slowly slipped her MetroCard in the fare slot. Off flew the driver—using his gas pedal to show his anger and impatience. Her friend, unsteady on her feet, almost fell.

Empathy, compassion and etiquette would eliminate these irritations don’t you think? Can you share other instances of Golden Rule trashed?

From a bus stop like this one the driver can see the traffic light and should not pull away if the light is red.

Service of Inflation—I’ll Say!

Thursday, August 10th, 2023

The pack on the right cost $20 for 48. The pack on the left, $24 for 28.

It was 10 years ago this month that in my blog I hit the subject of inflation head-on even though we’ve been hearing about it more recently for a few years now. Some price increases of late have taken my breath away.

According to US Inflation Calculator, “The annual inflation rate for the United States was 3.0% for the 12 months ended June, according to U.S. Labor Department data published on July 12, 2023. This follows a rise of 4.0% in the previous period.”

OK, I’ll be a sport and give a company or service the green light to increase their prices by 5 percent. But that’s not what’s happening.

Energy

I go through AA batteries like a hotdog stand does mustard. When I run out–in about a year and a half–some Connecticut friends buy me a giant pack from Costco. The previous purchase cost $20 for 48. The new pack costs $24 for 28. The manufacturer claims that these last longer. They had better!

I was away for 10 days in early June, and nobody stayed in my apartment which most would describe as small. Con Edison reported that I’d used 27 percent less electricity than the previous period. Huh?

Here’s to Your Health

I just got a notice from my supplemental health insurance to expect my premium to increase 12.4% next year.

Don’t Go There

Cars taking the nine MTA bridges and tunnels that don’t have E-Z Pass will pay 10% more.  As of last Sunday, those with the pass, +5.5%.

By the end of the month, bus and subway riders will pay an additional 5%.

Anticipated congestion pricing of $23 in Manhattan gives many of us the shivers.

Hop into a yellow taxi at rush hour and before you move one inch, you’re facing $9.00 on the meter.

Do you have examples of services and manufacturers that might be taking advantage of all the talk about inflation by stepping on the gas with their prices?

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Service of I Won’t Pay for That: I’m Not My Neighbor’s Keeper

Monday, February 27th, 2023

Natural disaster
Image by Barroa from Pixabay 

As it should be the taxes of parents who send their children to private school cover the cost of public school. Citizens who never call the fire department pay the freight for those who must. Those cared for in private hospitals pay for public ones.

When 50+ inches of snow fell in Buffalo, NY last December, and not a flake hit the streets of NYC, nobody squawked at the cost of helping with the cleanup. And on a national level, do citizens in Hawaii whine about FEMA funds sent to hurricane victims in Florida or Louisiana?

Subway cars
Image by RGY23 from Pixabay 

Yet, according to Ben Brachfeld of amny.com, “A group of suburban lawmakers are urging their Albany colleagues to restrict proposed payroll tax increases, meant to shore up the finances of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to businesses in the city — arguing the suburbs are already subject to ‘onerous’ taxes without service levels equivalent to residents of the five boroughs.” The tax, proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul, would be 0.5% from 0.34%.

According to Brachfeld, “In their letter, the suburban legislators suggest that municipalities outside the city should be exempted not only from the tax increase, but from the tax writ large, since it would post a levy on public funds used to run such municipalities. They also say community colleges and hospitals should be exempt from the payroll tax.”

Brachfeld reported that the levy impacts businesses in NYC’s five boroughs, two LI counties, five upstate counties that Metro-North serves. It has irritated the legislators in these places since  2009 when the tax was ratified. According to Brachfeld, MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said on WCBS radio, “It [the tax] would only apply to the biggest employers. Only 5% of all businesses would be subjected to this little incremental payroll mobility tax.”

Mayor Adams isn’t a fan either. “He says the city, not the suburbs, are getting shafted, as the Big Apple is the state’s only municipality being asked to contribute new annual subsidies to the MTA, to the tune of over $500 million per year, in addition to the payroll tax increase and fare hike,” according to Brachfeld.

I envision a child’s game of hot potato: Who will end up footing the bill when the music ends? Should suburban municipalities or their constituents who may use the MTA’s buses and subways when they work or visit NYC also pay for some?  Shouldn’t we be proud of the legacy in this country of helping those who need it when disaster strikes even if we are not directly impacted by the emergency?


Image by RÜŞTÜ BOZKUŞ from Pixabay 

Service of Escalators: When Moving Stairs Stand Still

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

Escalator at the USPS at 909 Third Avenue has been broken for ages…

The best escalator I’ve come across is one of the many at the Javits Center. It takes you to the highest level accessible by escalator and is near 34th Street. It starts off flat for a long stretch before heading downward making it easy for the faint of heart and those with suitcases. There should be more like it.

But this post is about escalators that are out of order or might be.

The escalator that takes you up and out of the basement where the goods and cashiers are located at Trader Joe’s on Third Avenue and 32nd Street is often on the fritz. Fortunately, there’s a small elevator that holds a few customers. I can’t lug up the frozen stairs the bottles of juice, fizzy water, milk and soup that weigh down my little carrier-on-wheels. It won’t survive the strain.

It’s been months since one of two steep escalators has been out of order at the post office at 909 Third Avenue. [Photo above.] I’ve never seen anyone working on it.

A week ago I was at the elevated Woodside, Queens subway stop which intersects the Long Island Railroad. I was early meeting a friend. It was cold –the station is outdoors. I thought I’d grab a cup of coffee at a bodega downstairs but decided against it as the up escalator was on the fritz with a line of weary passengers slogging up the narrow stairs. [I later discovered an elevator.]

The escalators at Bloomingdale’s, such as this one, always work.

Why this list of broken escalators? I thought of them because of the buzz about the super steep new escalators at Grand Central Madison, the $11+ billion, 700,000 square foot station that connects the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal on the East Side of Manhattan. (Previously trains from LI stopped only on the West Side at Penn Station.)

After I wrote the copy above I came across what Adriane Quinlan wrote in curbed.com. We were on the same wavelength. She described the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s longest escalators as follows: “Arrayed in four ranks that parallel 45th through 48th Streets, each of the 17 chugging sets of steps is about 182 feet long and drops 90 feet vertically to the mezzanines above the tracks. It takes one minute and 38 seconds to ride down — an interminable lifetime for a restless commuter, particularly if you’re late.”

She quoted one commuter as describing it as “entering a ride at an amusement park.” She reported that “the MTA is bad at keeping even its everyday, one-level escalators running, let alone the longer ones.” (Remember what I discovered at the Woodside station.) And “According to the MTA’s own portal, almost one in ten of its escalators quit working at some point last month, probably just before you arrived with bags of groceries.” Quinlan reported that one of the new escalators at Grand Central Madison was being repaired an hour after opening.

There are 22 elevators and 47 escalators–at 45th, 46th, 47th, and 48th streets. I couldn’t determine, after a quick search on Google, whether any elevators went from street level to tracks or if passengers would first go to mezzanine level and then to the train. Nor could I learn how big the elevators are. I expressed my concern to a friend about whether there were a sufficient number of elevators to take passengers out of this MTA canyon at rush hour if enough escalators were disabled. She’s an engineer. She assured me that she was certain that any number of studies had been made to determine the number and size of elevator required in such an instance.

Don’t get me wrong: I think that the service is terrific. Quinlan reported that one passenger from Queens whose job is on First Avenue in Manhattan saves 40 minutes on his commute. I simply was concerned, given my observations of broken escalators, about being stuck in long lines for elevators up or down in the manmade ravine should there be multiple escalator glitches caused by repair delays. Maybe the MTA should find out who services the escalators at department stores, like Bloomingdale’s, that seem to be in order most of the time.

Are you escalator averse? Do you have escalator anecdotes or favorite ones?

I took this photo of an escalator from street to mezzanine level at 42nd Street before Grand Central Madison opened.

Service of Living Underground

Monday, February 28th, 2022


Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

What happened last week was a one-off: The shower water turned freezing and I shivered rushing to clean away a head full of cream rinse.

The next day was the first of the war in Ukraine. I saw Clarissa Ward, #CNN #News, reporting from a subway in Kharkiv. It was filled with families fleeing bombing, most standing--at least where the camera captured them--as there wasn't enough room to sit. Others huddled in darkened subway cars.

And I grumbled about a dose of cold water?

Ward and many others equated the readymade shelter to London subways during the WWII blitz. One mother, sandwiched between her nine and six year olds, carried a quarter bag of what looked like chips which she showed Ward when asked “do you have any food?” Ward asked her why she seemed so calm. “For the children,” the mother replied quietly.

Subways are homes to many others around the world. David Meyer wrote “Hundreds of people are living in NYC subway stations and tunnels, MTA says.” According to Meyer in his New York Post article, a subway task force studying underground incidents recently uncovered 29 “homeless encampments” in 89 stations and tunnels–housing some 350 people.

Euphemisms are the language of civil servants. When a person is found on subway tracks–whether they are suicidal, fall, are pushed or for any other reason–they call it a “track intrusion.” According to Meyer, “Taskforce Leader Jamie Torres-Springer says that homeless tunnel encampments directly lead to track intrusions.”

Lisa Daglian of the MTA’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee told Meyer: “Nobody should be living in the subway system, whether it’s in a subway car, whether it’s in a subway station, whether it’s in a subway tunnel. That is not a home. There needs to be sufficient housing for people to live.”

Do you find yourself complaining about minor mishaps or discomfort and then reprimand yourself when you compare them to real problems? Can you imagine looking to a subway for shelter during hostilities–whether as the result of an invasion or the war on poverty?

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot II

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

I wrote the first post with this title three + months ago. It’s time for a reprise. The first post was about friends who reach out. This one is about strangers who warmed my heart.

How Cool is That?

The air conditioning units in my apartment all fizzled on a toasty day. I followed up a few times–the units belong to the landlord–and when the temperature had climbed upwards of 86° with four more hours until sunset–I get afternoon sun–I visited the lobby again explaining that I was beginning to feel woozy. The morning year-round doorman had been passive and useless. The manger was on vacation.

Climbing up to 86 degrees+

Doorman Joshua, a very young man and summer temp jumped into action and within an hour a porter/handyman was on the job. As I waited for him to return with new units the intercom rang. It was Joshua–we’d met only that afternoon–asking if I was OK. The porter told me Joshua had also called him again to confirm that he was on it. Too bad for us this is his summer job. I suspect he’s a student and given his common sense and empathetic streak predict great things for his future.

Beautiful Cashier

I visited CVS drug store on Third Avenue and 42nd Street early on a recent Sunday morning. The cashiers consistently help me make the most of my coupons. As I left that day–I was dressed in pandemic fashion on the cusp of sloppy–the young woman, who was barely out of her teens, called out: “Stay as beautiful as you are.” She could see my wave but not the smile under my mask.

Moving Along

I called the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] about returning a discount MetroCard sent my husband. When I explained the reason the clerk, hearing he’d died, was compassionate and so heartfelt in her condolences I could hardly catch my breath.

Read On

I treated myself to an iPad so I could download books. I got tangled in the process of ordering a book after I’d downloaded an e-card from the New York Public Library so I sent a query to the help desk. After more fiddling I figured it out. A few days later I heard from Elizabeth at AskNYPL and in another email I explained that I was set and apologized for bothering her unnecessarily.

She wrote: “You are not bothering us. We’re here to answer questions, so if you run into any more e-book trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Chat and phone are best for quick answers.” I responded again as did she: “So glad you were finally able to get a book! I loved A Gentleman in Moscow. Hope you enjoy it….Take care and happy reading!”

You don’t feel alone when dealing with people like these. Kindhearted, lovely strangers who take extra steps beyond their job descriptions are welcome anytime but especially these days. I suspect they enjoy their jobs more as well. Many of them suffer from pandemic fallout yet they still go the extra mile. Do you have similar instances to share?

Service of Sensible Measures: How to React to a Crisis

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

Grand Central Terminal that’s losing its reputation as a crowded place.

Coronavirus has increasing nasty, damaging ramifications: Its super-contagious nature; the threat of quarantining people for 14 days if exposed or sick; the potential long-lasting crushing economic consequences; the seminal changes to education as more and more colleges are closing dorms for weeks after spring break and moving students online for instruction if they haven’t already done so and for the near future sports, entertainment and expos–to the trade or consumers–won’t be the same. What about young children and their working parents should the kids be forced to stay home? Will imports/exports be stopped? One of the worst aspects: the fuzzy, ad hoc nature of the strategy to contain the virus.

Will we remain helpless, grasping at straws, improvising in a scattershot way for the year we must wait for a vaccine? Can someone please facilitate production and delivery of test kits for the virus, hand sanitizer and face masks? Manhattan is also bereft of the latter two.

Any good ideas, Mr. President and team?

In my apartment building tenants must pick up takeout food in the lobby as delivery people are not allowed upstairs. A week ago the manager installed a hand sanitizer dispenser in the vestibule by the elevators.

You’ve heard the expression “As busy as Grand Central Station?” If this keeps up, it will be meaningless. Please see the photo I took yesterday at the top of the post.  And doors to the terminal and the Rite Aid drugstore inside are left open [photos below left and right] so people don’t have another handle on which to spread or from which to catch germs. The doors normally are not left open but nothing’s normal.

Doors to Grand Central not usually left open

Some friends called off vacations, [while one left for India as scheduled and I wonder what her return in a few days will be like], and others, planning to cover industry events, aren’t going because their meetings or trade shows have been deep-sixed or their employers withdrew their OK for travel/attendance. Venues such as hospital and church community rooms have pulled the plug on professional or educational gatherings for now yet a trade show in Manhattan next week so far is expected to go forward. A friend who pooh-poohs 99 percent of every danger said he was working at home for the next few days to avoid the train commute.

And for me? I’ve always used my knuckle to select my floor in an elevator but I’ve never before washed my hands as much. I bought a large container of peanut butter should I be quarantined or ill so I don’t have to bother anyone if I run out of other food. [Truth: I’ll probably finish the jar long before the crisis is over.] I picked up an extra bottle of prescription meds in the event there’s a delivery glitch in the near future and the last 2 bottles of CVS-brand hand sanitizer. I gave one away. I’m not doing laundry in the communal laundry room at my apartment and I’m hand-washing as much as I can.

I wasn’t soothed by the NY Metropolitan Transit Authorities’ warning–without proposing viable alternatives–that citizens avoid taking crowded subway or buses. Jeanne to the MTA: This is NYC. Everything’s crowded pretty much. I worry that the system will be shut down.

I’m tempted by the $50 Broadway theater tickets to fill otherwise sold-out shows left with last minute seats because of significant cancellations by ticket holders–but hesitate to take advantage of the bargain and think all the shows may eventually be closed. Tickets are supposed to go on sale today at noon. According to amny.com, “Tickets for “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “West Side Story” are available through telecharge.com. “The Lehman Trilogy” and “The Book of Mormon” are available through ticketmaster.com.

I don’t have the stomach to calculate my financial losses spinning out of control.

Have you altered your life or plans in recognition of the virus or been forced to? Are you concerned about the financial ramifications or do you figure everything will return to “normal” shortly? Have you experienced anything like this—a triple-whammy of health, lifestyle and financial menace all at once? War perhaps? Do you feel that someone responsible has her/his arms around this? What will you do with your time if restricted to your home for 14 days? Am I overstating the situation?

Service of Congestion Pricing: Positive or Negative Impact on NY Metro Area?

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Michael Riedel declared on the radio yesterday morning that he doesn’t care about the impending congestion pricing initiative slated for high traffic zones in Manhattan because he won’t be impacted by it as his colleagues might. He lives in the Village and often rides his bicycle to work. He’s half the WOR Radio 710 morning team. Len Berman, the other half, drives in from Long Island and the other key players are news director Joe Bartlett and executive producer Natalie Batos-Vacca. They hail from New Jersey. The latter three are currently less enthusiastic.

The system that state legislators approved in concept on Monday might start as early as the end of 2020. A network of license plate readers would bill vehicles south of Central Park. The money would supplement the tolls on seven bridges and tunnels around the city that charge between $9.50 and $15.

According to an Associated Press [AP] article that appeared in USA Today, some 717,000 vehicles daily enter the high traffic zone in question. With a toll of say $11.52, [which is being considered] proponents estimate a 13 percent reduction in traffic and $1.1 billion/year in revenues. After expenses, the money would go to trains and buses. Pollution should also be less.

The scheme has been in place in London [since 2003], Stockholm [since 2007] and Singapore [since the 1070s]. At first the effect was positively felt in London but congestion has increased lately because of businesses like Uber that were exempt from the toll. That changes on April 8.

The AP asked, as do I, if there is sufficient alternate transportation for those who give up their cars. What happens to taxis, delivery trucks, and ride-hail cars that might go in and out of the zone multiple times a day? Will excessive exemptions weaken the effect of the initiative? One pundit predicted that people “aren’t going to abandon their cars to get into the subway.”

“Asked about concerns over whether such a beleaguered transit system could even handle more riders if people decided not to drive into Manhattan, [Kate] Slevin pointed out that transit officials have almost two years to take steps that will help, like redoing bus routes.” Slevin is with an advocacy organization that supports the congestion toll.

How come we hear nothing about measures taken to belt-tighten at the MTA? Anyone review the budget for pork and ways for efficiency to lower the cost of doing business? The organization might find more than enough money for repairs were these steps taken.

Is Riedel right: That because he doesn’t live or work in the high traffic zone congestion pricing won’t impact him in any way? Do you think New York City’s limping transportation system can withstand an increased passenger load until the money kicks in to improve things? Aren’t the exorbitant fees in high traffic zones that are already added to the cost of yellow taxi rides—onerous for citizens and a death knell for the taxi owners–enough? Might the new tolls impact the value of residential real estate in the boroughs and NY Metro area?

Service of I Love New York… But Don’t Push It

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

I was born and grew up in NYC and consider it a beloved relative that makes me glow with pride sometimes and bristle other times. On my walk to work my eye caught a menorah installed right next to a Christmas wreath [photo above] illustrating the comfortable diversity I admire. I turned around to see a homeless person huddled in the cold on a nearby bench, [photo right, below], striking my heart, but in the opposite way.

The New Year will bring with it two ham-fisted decisions that impact transportation and will punch the Big Apple in the gut. Worse: Nobody seems to be directing the big picture.

Congestion Pricing Will Give Yellow Taxis the Flu

The January 1, 2019 $2.50 congestion pricing fee will help destroy the already limping yellow cab industry and hurt citizens of modest or microscopic means who rely on traditional cabs. Many can’t manage busses or subways, can’t afford limos or don’t have smartphones to hire car services like Uber or Lyft. The fee impacts “any yellow cab, e-hail or other for-hire vehicle trips that start, pass through or end in a designated ‘congestion zone’ below 96th Street in Manhattan,” Vincent Barone wrote in amny.com.

What’s the destination of the some $400 million the tax man anticipates collecting? According to Barone, it will help the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA]  which is “financially strapped.”

Services like Lyft and Uber are charged a $2.75 fee but because they can fiddle with their basic price which yellow taxis can’t, they could make rides cheaper than traditional cabs—another stab to the financial heart of their competitor.

Barone reported: “‘The fact that it will cost $5.80 to step into a taxi cab now is going to be devastating for the taxi industry,’ TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said after a City Council oversight hearing on the surcharges, referencing the existing fees on taxi trips. ‘The other sectors … have more flexibility. They have to add $2.75 on but they’re not bound to a metered fare, so they can reduce the price of the trip so that the passenger doesn’t feel the effect of the $2.75.’”

Pay More Get Less on Trains & Busses

And what about the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] that, in addition to benefiting from the congestion pricing taxi fee is fighting to get a 4 percent increase in subway and bus fares next year? Here are highlights of its cost-cutting proposal, according to 710 WOR radio new: “Among the plans is to change the temperature on subway trains, providing riders with less heat in the winter and less air conditioner in the summer. The proposal would also result in fewer trains and buses on some lines that could lead to overcrowding.  Trains would also be cleaned less frequently.” Good plan: Charge more, give less.

What and/or who is to blame for the MTA’s financial woes? Fare beaters according to Andy Byford the president of NYC Transit.

Who’s Running the Place?

William Neuman in a New York Times article may have hit on a reason for the shambles hitting transportation and, I suspect, other sectors in the city. He reported that New York Mayor de Blasio “rarely meets with many of his commissioners, according to the schedules, at times making it difficult for department heads to advance new ideas at City Hall, or to inform the mayor about problems at their agencies.”

Worse, his City Hall attendance record shocked me. Neuman reported that he averaged 19 days a month in the office in 2014; 17 days a month the next year falling to 14 in 2016 and last year, 9—only 5 in July! It’s up to 10 on average this year. Further, wrote Neuman, he “was at City Hall just four of the first 39 Fridays this year, according to the schedules.” [Remember when Mayor Bloomberg was creamed for being out of town once, for a major snowstorm?]

Will congestion pricing to hit cabs positively impact the city’s severe traffic challenges? Is the potential increase in public transit fares along with a decrease in comfort for riders badly timed? Do these moves tell citizens “If you can’t afford the city and can’t handle a nasty subway ride, get out” even louder than ever before? Would strong leadership avert or lessen the transportation tangle? Do you live in a town or city that works seamlessly?

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz