Monday, December 22, 2014

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The Call Blog: Best And Worst Of The MTA In 2013

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This year, I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. My commute went from the 6 to the L, to the R to the B, D, or A. Whenever I want to complain about missed connections and clogged tunnels, I think of my commute when I lived on Staten Island. Anything beats a car ride to a train to a ferry to a subway.

The Straphangers Campaign released its annual list today of the ten best and worst events in 2013 for New York City subways and buses. In the category of good news, the watchdog group cited the MTA cutting the 2015 fare hike almost in half, the expansion of Select Bus Service in three boroughs, and the appointment of the "highly respected" Tom Prendergast to run the agency.

Topping the list of ten worst events is that subway and bus fares went up in March at twice the rate of inflation. Next, the Straphangers Campaign cited the $4.955 billion cost to "fix and fortify" the transit system following Superstorm Sandy, as well as the "seemingly endless parade of major reconstruction projects" in the five boroughs. What do you say?

What were some of the best and worst moments for the MTA this year? How would you improve service for subways and buses in the five boroughs? What should the new chairman's priorities be in the new year? Do you think Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio should try to wrestle control of our mass transit from the State?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

Hi John

First of all my buddies at the MTA are doing one helluvajob keeping NYC moving, they're working without a contract they should raise the fares so the workers can get a decent and fair contract they have families to support and bills to pay, that should be the chairman's first priority then make sure they're working in safe conditions because so many MTA workers are being assaulted. The chairman's second priority should be to purchase new train cars and buses and hire more transit police to catch the farebeaters on the select buses i see to many people getting away without paying the fare

upper west side

Hi John,

We need to see the books = both sets without question. All of this has been going on far to long. All I keep hearing is that they spent a lot of money before and after Sandy and so just what did happen to the Fema money, concert money, donations and tax money that should be set aside to pay for repairs relating to MTA in general and most of all [OUR FARES THAT WE PAY TO RIDE THIS MTA EVERY DAY OR MORE THAN EVEN ONCE A DAY ]. WE ARE JUST NOT BUYING ANY EXCUSES ANYMORE =

As far as DeBlasio taking over the MTA I really don’t believe that would be a wise move to make because he is still not sure about what this job is going to entail. I am in one respect happy that in the past few days they do mention the Bronx and please everyone lets not forget the rat population in New York = They must get grip on it already and curtail this problem once and for all.

Thank you John,

Hi John & The Call -

I disagree with Joe from Eltingville. The Staten Island Railway is constantly not meeting the schedule as posted. In the Fall season the Staten Island Railway Management lists that the leaves on the tracks are the reason. What about cleaning out the leaves? The Staten Island Railway operations needs to improve !

For the deskhands on the Staten Island Ferry, can they please stop yelling for the passengers to get off the Ferry ! The boat isn't even docked yet and they are yelling for us to disembark with "bark" being the operative term. What about safety and not standing on the front stairwells? Especially during the morning commute, passengers know from the repeated overhead announcements that we are to get off the boat. Why the harassment? What about the escalator at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal? When is the due date for the completion of the escalator installation? The mechanics don't seem to be in hurry to complete the job.

John, Oakwood

We need more q22 buses in the mornings.


Build the second ave subway! Not a stub but a full length line, service on the 456 is horrible at rush hour ! Subway expansion! Also, improve service on the A, at 175th st station in the morning, theres train coming from brooklyn every 2 mins empty, while downtown service comes ever 6 to 8 mins and its packed.


There are a number of issues that need to be addressed concerning the MTA. I truly believe all 3 categories are equally important but we also have to focus on the quality of service we are paying for. I don't understand how the MTA can justify a price increase in 2015 when they clearly have the resources to pay for repairs. With all of the strap hangers that ride the trains and city buses there should be more than enough to pay for repair and upgrades.

Best wishes,
Park Slope

The subway system needs advertising that reminds commuters of common courtesy and etiquette. I take a very crowded 7 train from Sunnyside to grand Central everyday and the service is great but the inconsiderate people, especially kids going to school in the morning make it an extremely unpleasant trip, the worst problem is commuters all congregating right by the doors, leaving an empty middle of the car that nobody can get to without shoving.


The same problem with Select Bus Service that Brooklyn complains about exists on the Upper East Side & Second Avenue in Manhattan! 3 weeks ago 2 wheelchairs plus 22 passengers were waiting on the local stop, while 4 almost empty Select Buses passed us by!!! There is something drastically wrong here!! I started marching......., but what of the wheelchairs??

From Christine, Upper East Side

1. Agree with Susan from Riverdale on bus bunching. I am seeing it now on Select Bus Service M15 on 1st/2nd Avs -- 2 or 3 buses running together, regardless of schedule.

2. Also, think there need to be more subways in Manhattan after 9pm and on weekends. Was waiting for #6 on Upper East Side on a Sunday and couldn't get on because as crowded as a weekday.

Ellie - Turtle Bay

The health hazards that are distributed from traveling throughout the city via train are ridiculous and unacceptable. When attending classes in midtown, I rode the E train daily. I knew where to board the train because of the mold imprint on the ceiling. We as New Yorkers have a right to healthier traveling conditions.

Raelene, Harlem

The solution is simple. They want more money? How about dispersing all the money they steal from the public with their "swipe and steal" turnstiles!!! There's at least 2 per station. How about the disappearing free transfer that some bus fare boxes refuse to recognize. They're ripping the public off DAILY!!! That's why I shake my head when they cry broke.

Upper East side

Bus service in NYC is, hands down, at its worst in Staten Island, which is an unfortunate paradox considering that Staten Islanders are completely reliant on mass transportation. Unlike other boroughs, we have no subway, and the SIRR is a joke. Buses are constantly running late, and when they do arrive, they are constantly packed. Certain areas of the island, like Grimes Hill are overlooked as far as bus service is concerned, which leaves dozens of people without any means of transportation. Additionally, the MTA needs to stop raising the toll on the Verrazano bridge! It makes no sense that they continue to isolate Staten Island from the rest of the city with outrageous toll fares, and I am disgusted at how they continue to profit of a bridge that has been paid for time and time over.

Katherine, Staten Island

Landlords now call it East Village to charge outrageous prices but when it comes to transportation, we still live in the Alphabet City. The L subway makes a stop every two avenues all along 14 St but skips four avenues between First and Brooklyn, the entire Alphabet City and Stuyvesant Town. It would be fairly easy to drill a station someone on Av B or C since the line is already running underneath. At least there is another solution that could cost no money and could be implemented tomorrow just by changing the sign of some buses: Please, put a Select bus on the 14D line. All we want is to get quickly to the subway to continue our journey, there is no need to painfully stop in every corner. There are 20.000 people living along avenue D. If the subway is going to keep ignoring us at least take us quickly to First, Third or Union Sq where we can hop in the subway.


Ever since they truncated the cross-town portion of the M-104 bus on 42nd St., the world's busiest street, you're stuck with the schleppy M42- which never comes, and when it does, is so crowded you can barely get on it. Don't be in a hurry if you're going crosstown on 42nd St.

Just sayin...
Gretchen UWS

Hi John;

How about using the .50 cent surcharge on each taxi ride to give the MTA workers a raise?

RE: Select service..;.MTA used to use blue lights to distinguish select and local buses. Of course, MTA removed the lights which makes it impossible to tell if the bus is local or select.(select tickets have to be purchased at kiosk.) The bus tickets are not interchangeable.

NYC subways are just not safe; and in the event of a terror attack the stations are just going to come crumbling down. More great news for NYers.

Best regards,
midtown east


the B44 is just starting out with the selsct service give them time to work the kimks out


I hate the Select Bus Service because it has resulted in a dearth of local buses. The stops are so far away from the regular buses that you can't sprint from one to the other! Also, the Select Buses spend as much, if not more, time at the stops because so many people are fighting to get on and get off. I suspect that a lot of people don't even pay their fare because I have never seen anyone inspect for tickets on these packed sardine cans. Another of Sadik-Khan's bad ideas.

East Village

The 7 train should run on the LIRR Pt Washington line from Willets Pt to Douglaston


Dear John,

I have some suggestions for the MTA in Staten Island:

1) There should be more SIR Stations with available ramps for the disabled and handicapped;

2) The MTA needs to revise bus schedules more frequently as ridership levels tend to change;

3) The MTA should remove the buses with low ridership and add buses to the crowded service;

4) Staten Island Ferry schedules should be posted in subway stations in Lower Manhattan so people could better plan their trip.

5) The (so-called) S-79 SBS (Select Bus Service) should be called "Limited Service" because its not a SBS Line. A SBS Line is where people may pay their fare before boarding their bus, and the people on S79 bus pay their fare as they board.

Clifton, Staten Island

It seems almost every time I take the A during evening rush a group of teens comes on the train with a loud radio and starts to break dance in the train for donations. Not only does it disturb my ride but someone is going to get injured by their gyrations. I contacted the MTA and they are doing nothing. very commuter deserves some peace and quiet on their ride.

Howard Beach NY

The subway system should be improved with toilets on each station. My husband has prostate problems and you just cannot imagine what he goes through, because is just hard to find one in the subway. You may find a toilet just in few stations and mostly always closed.

Cary from Washington Heights.

MTA should place undercover police on the 61 bus. It’s annoying the grown people who do not pay their fare. Many cards that don’t work. Many excuses. No change for a dollar, when someone offers change they are waved away....Pay your fare!!

Crystal-Red Hook

My complaints are about the Q67 & Q39 Bus Line in the Sunndyside/Woodside area of Queens. I live off of Queens Midtown Expressway around 39th Street,, which is great because you have the option of diff. bus lines, such at the Q67, Q39 & the B24.

My compalints are about the Q67 & Q39 - The Q67 comes about every 20-25 mins., it is always crowded and unfor. for us passengers waiting for this bus on Queens Midtown & 39th Street, the bus will skip our stop due to the overcrowding on the Bus, so we must wait another 20-25 mins. WHY MTA? If this bus lines is overused, add more buses and more frequent.

The same goes for the Q39 - This bus comes quite often, sometimes 2-3 at a time, but again very crowded and sometimes skips the bus stops on 48th Avenue in the Sunnyside/Woodside area. WHY MTA? Both these lines need more service both. What could be done.

I love NYC Public Transportation, as I come from Long Island and the Public Transportation stinks , but these two bus lines need to be looked at. The Same with the 7 Train 40th Street Stop, which is a local stop and when there are delays the train goes express and skip our stop.

Thank you.

Everyone says we need a upgrade and new trains...tell that to the FAREBEATERS who cheats us from getting and ask MTA, why are they allowing it!!

McGriff from bklyn

It's high time to bring the 80-year old Queens Boulevard IND into the 21st century. Renovate it's decrepit stations as well as address ventilation and cleanliness of the entire line. The second most used line in the entire MTA system leaves much to be desired.

Forest Hills

If you breakdown this notion of "Disgruntled America", NY is the heart of it all, the MTA serves to be the circulatory system & we New Yorkers are the blood cells. The MTA causes heart attacks on the daily. They need to provide free service on days to compensate for their massive failures.


Hello John,
What a timely topic, on my way home this evening, waiting for the northbound # 4 train at 149th Street – Grand Concourse train station, I heard a
LOUD PIERCING CRY , John, a small rat that was running on the tracks, got caught between the third rail and the poor creature was
CRYING out as he/she was being
executed ……………
John, I saw it ……………….
I heard it …………………
The cries broke my heart!!!!!!!!!!
The MTA should utilize method to reduce rodent infestation BUT in a humane manner.


The MTA expects us to throw out trash in their bins, yet half the time the bins are full and already cluttered, there are stations that don't contain garbage cans for example flushing Main street on the 7 line has NO cans at all, there is nowhere to throw out your trash therefore it makes life complicated and the MTA doesn't take that into consideration, i think this makes is a bigger safety hazard.


• Get control of the MTA under the New York City Council and the Mayor (Kinda ridiculous the Governor appoints the governing body which then makes decisions for us city folk). At the very least we should control the subways and commuter trains in our borders.

• Reinstate the commuter tax. If I go to long beach/robert moses I pay for a day pass; folks who use our subways should pay as well!

• While I like the capital projects SAS, ESA (second avenue, east side access) a quarter of that money could recreate a expansive new streetcar system! They're neighborhoods which have no or little transit Red Hook, East NY, Eastern Queens!! While we're at it... what about my brothers and sisters in Staten Island?! They need a direct link to the mainland!

Great show John!

Hi John,

I think one of the best improvements by the MTA is the select bus services. I live on the East side of Manhattan and I take the M15 bus often, and the bus really moves a lot faster when passengers pay before boarding, so I would like to see more select bus service for NYC bus routes. However I think the fare hikes need to stop, it's just too much!

Alison, Midtown East

Most of the subway stations are hell holes. Last year I worked on a project that required me to travel by train to each borough. I took almost every subway line in the system. I was disgusted at the condition of 80% of the stations I saw. Filth, flaking paint, standing, fetid water, urine odor, mold, etc. And this is New York? The center of the universe?



I simply don't understand why it is going to take so long to get countdown clocks on the lettered lines. If the countdown clocks are mainly about putting sensors at various points to track train movements and the display units at stations - can't this be done in the course of their regular weekend or Fastrack projects? I know when the 2 or 3 will arrive, but if I'm waiting for the Q or the F, I have no idea how much longer I'll have to wait.

Faye from Brooklyn

MTA service delivery will continue to suffer until the agency, in conjunction with the City and the State, finds a way to reduce its burdensome $32 billion debt load.

The annual interest payment on that debt this year will approach $2.5 billion. That's money that won't be available to restore the Jay Walder service cuts in 2010, expand or improve service, or for even modest wage increases for transit workers, some of whom haven't had a raise in over five years.



What's with all the Not In Service buses on Staten Island? What a waste of money!
And what about standing and waiting for a ferry to start loading> It should start loading immediately after being checked by security and swept clean.

Port Richmond, SI

Why is it when their are signal problems or a sick customer on a train the whole line stops .also why do the homeless have control of the system .

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