Monday, May 31, 2010

The latest excuse.

I swear, I was on the verge of another ride. Really and for truly. The end of a W-and-Z-Train era is rapidly approaching, and I am eager to get those rides under my belt while I still can.

And then, tragedy struck.

Last Saturday after 10 hours in the ER we figured out that I have kidney stones, seven of 'em. It should have been simple enough, get rid of the one big one that's giving me all the trouble and pass the rest and have done with it. But no. Not for me. I went and got two infected kidneys and put myself in the hospital for three days instead.

So for the moment I'm, uh, grounded. Frustrating as hell, what with this clock ticking. I've got the taste for it! I want to get out there and do some professional riding! But given that I can't even get to my station right now, it just doesn't seem to be in the cards.

And in conclusion,

damnit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hello, Doomsday. (I'm going to have to go out of order.)

More details. L is the next up for riding, but since after June 25 the V and W will no longer exist, it seems to me that I should hit them up. They're hard though, since they're weekday lines.

From the MTA website:

MTA Board Approves Service Changes

MTA Board Approves Service Changes











On Wednesday, the MTA board approved a package of service changes needed to help fill a nearly $800 million budget shortfall for 2010. The service changes included modifications based on public feedback from more than 500 speakers at the MTA's nine public hearings, in addition to 7,100 emails, and 110,000 letters and signed petitions.

"The extent of our deficit requires that most of the cuts move ahead, but we listened to our customers and made changes where we could," MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder said. "We were able to take a number of cuts off the table but unfortunately, many of the cuts moving ahead will be painful."

The service changes will save the MTA $93 million each year and are part of a series of actions proposed in December to close a nearly $400 million shortfall for 2010, including changes to paratransit service and the elimination of student MetroCards. An additional shortfall of $378 million has since developed. The total of nearly $800 million is due largely to the deterioration of projected payroll tax revenues and a state cut of $143 million to the MTA's budget that was diverted to the State's general fund.

Additional actions are also being undertaken to close the remaining gap. The MTA has begun overhauling how it does business, renegotiating contracts with suppliers, and identifying projects that can be deferred or eliminated. Spending is already down $59 million for the first two months of the year. It plans to consolidate functions across its agencies, reduce overtime costs and has already begun meeting with union leadership to discuss the agency's budget situation and begin the dialogue about how they can contribute to the solution.

"The reality is that closing the first $400 million is extremely painful, and closing the additional gap will be even harder," Chairman Walder said. "We've just taken a very difficult vote, but there are more difficult choices ahead to achieve necessary cost savings."

A full list of the service changes and an implementation schedule are available below.

Implementation Timeline

New York City Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Bus

All changes, bus and rail, are planned to be effective June 27, 2010. Since that is a Sunday, weekday-only services (V, W, many of the express buses, etc) would run their last regular service on Friday, June 25 and the first weekday patterns on Monday June 28. One exception: Staten Island Ball Park (SIR) special will officially be discontinued June 18 (the first Staten Island Yankees home game).

Long Island Rail Road

The LIRR service changes earmarked for May 2010 would be implemented with the May 17, timetable change. The LIRR Service changes earmarked for September 2010 would be implemented with the September 13 timetable change.

Metro-North Railroad

Service changes will be implemented on June 21, 2010, to correspond to with their next timetable change.

Access-a-Ride

Service changes will be phased in over the next several months.

Able-Ride

MTA LI Bus agreed to a federal judge's request to delay the elimination of Able-Ride's non-ADA paratransit service by two weeks. The planned date for this change therefore has been rescheduled to April 28, 2010.

The judge asked for a two-week delay to give social service groups within the affected areas of Nassau County an opportunity to be fully apprised of the pending changes to Able Ride service. While we believe that our actions are fully in conformance with legal obligations with respect to the lawsuit itself, we want to afford our customers this additional period to explore alternative modes of transportation and resources. An invitation to attend an information session on April 22 was mailed to various social service groups in the affected areas within Nassau County.

The judge scheduled another hearing for April 27 to render a decision in this matter.

Bridges & Tunnels

Modification of the Cross Bay Bridge Resident Rebate Program will go into effect at a yet to be determined date in July.

Student Fare Proposal

The proposal to eliminate free and discounted student fares has not been acted upon by the board.

Monday, May 3, 2010

So what are they doing to our subway?

A summary of the subway service changes:

Subway and Staten Island Railway
  • Reduce Weekend Train Frequencies to Accommodate Construction Work
  • Revise Off-Peak Service Levels – Change Maximum Loading Guideline from No Standees Per Car to 10-18 Standees per Car (from 100% of a Seated Load to 125% of a Seated Load)
  • Operate G Between Court Square and Church Avenue at All Times
  • Extend Q to Astoria and Operate N Local North of Canal Street to Replace the W
  • Extend M to Replace the V Between Broadway-Lafayette Street and Forest Hills-71st Avenue, Discontinue M Between Essex Street and Bay Parkway (Note: route letter designation changed from 1/27/10 proposal).
  • Discontinue Staten Island Railway Baseball Special Service
So... now not even traveling during non-rush-hour times will save us from overpacked subway cars (this is really a nice way of saying that the trains won't be coming as frequently, and therefore will be more crowded) - I shudder to think what getting to and from work will be like. Something just doesn't smell right here. They're raising our fares and covering every available surface of the trains - inside and out - with advertisements, and yet their costs are still going up and up and up and none of it is helping to close the gap? Or is this really an issue of some kind of raging mismanagement (misappropriation?) of funds and resources? Is the MTA (supposedly a public service) under the impression that it should be operating at a profit?

If you're interested, you can read the full 127 page report on the cuts.