Posts tagged with "Subway":

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Andy Byford resigns as head of NYC’s subways

Andy Byford, president of MTA New York City Transit, has quit. The British transportation expert was hired to turn around the city’s ailing subway system in January of 2018 after pulling off a similar feat at the Toronto Transit Commission. Now it seems that clashes between Byford and Governor Andrew Cuomo have reportedly led to the former’s departure. The system did improve markedly under Byford’s tenure. On January 20, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) released the latest update on its Subway Action Plan, demonstrating improvements in station and track cleanliness, a 10,000-delay-a-month reduction for the fourth month in a row, and an on-time performance rate of 72.6 percent, the highest in four years. Still, despite all of the tangible benefits of his work, this isn’t even the first time Byford has resigned from the MTA; he briefly quit and then rejoined the agency last October. The friction between Byford and the Governor had reached an all-time high and Byford claims that he was being forced to organize conferences at transportation conferences at the Governor’s behest, rather than doing his job. That came after Governor Cuomo swooped in last January to preempt Byford’s 15-month plan to shut down L Train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn for repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel with his own preferred alternative. According to the New York Times, Byford and Cuomo didn’t speak for four months after that, though relations had seemingly thawed since then. Byford’s announcement that he was leaving came during an MTA board meeting earlier today, and even his staff reportedly only learned it was happening through Politico. Immediately afterward, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson took to Twitter to try to woo Byford back, trying to kickstart the “#BringAndyBack” hashtag and calling his departure a crisis. So, farewell to the transportation official that railfans were so enamored with that they nicknamed him the “Rail Daddy.” He’ll live on as long as the MTA continues to run in-station ads for its new OMNY contactless fare system; Byford lent his dulcet voice to an audio announcement about the upgrade that has been running since January 7.
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MTA announces $51.5 billion capital plan with commitment to accessibility

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is set to begin exercising its $51.5 billion capital plan this year—the largest budget approved in agency history. In a press release this week, the MTA announced it's now looking for qualified design-build firms to work on accessibility projects across 23 subway stations in the city. "Accessibility is a top priority fo the MTA," said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye in the statement, "and we are committed to completing these accessibility projects as quickly as possible." Equitable travel—via public transit in particular—has long been a big issue throughout the five boroughs. According to a February analysis by The New York Times, there are over half a million residents who have limited mobility, two-thirds of which don't live near an accessible subway station. What's more, only 25 percent of New York's 472 stations have elevators. The accessibility push is part of the MTA's historic 2020-2024 Capital Plan in which it will invest billions of dollars into New York City public transit, as well as regional subways, buses, commuter rail systems, bridges, and tunnels. Up to $40 billion will be set aside strictly for improving New York's subway and bus systems with $5.2 billion of that allocated for accessibility projects. A total of 70 subway stations have been identified for work overall in the MTA's capital plan. The MTA promises to install two-to-three new elevators at each of the 23 stations listed in the RFQ and make other improvements aligned with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, it will reconstruct platform edges or ADA boarding areas in the hopes of making passengers feel safer. Utility, station communication, and lighting upgrades may occur as well depending on existing conditions at the station. The news comes less than a year later after the MTA announced Foye, longtime head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as its new leader. This past December, the agency moved 430 employees to its new Construction and Development department in an effort to consolidate all construction personnel. The change, along with other organizational moves, was mandated by the New York State government earlier last year in order to increase efficiency within the agency and speed up project delivery timelines.
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MTA to double subway speed limits in parts of Brooklyn

Last weekend, New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) doubled the speed limit on sections of two subway lines in Brooklyn, two decades after a high-speed train crash killed an operator and injured dozens of passengers. The recent changes, which boosted the speed limit of the N and R trains from 15 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour, are part of transit chief Andy Byford’s multi-billion-dollar proposal to revolutionize New York City’s subway system by eradicating delays. “We want to keep pushing trains through the pipe and moving them,” Byford told The New York Times. The modified sections of the N and R lines are the first of many to increase in speed, with 100 locations to follow this spring. Byford’s goal is to reverse issues that arose from system changes made after the 1995 crash, when two trains collided on the Williamsburg Bridge, killing a J-train operator and wounding multiple riders. The changes resulted in decreased speed limits and increased delays. While the MTA has previously blamed overcrowding and slow passenger loading times for delays, Byford claims that speed limits that were implemented decades ago are the main reason for the troubled system. Since the 1995 crash, speed limits as low as 15 miles per hour were put into place, while signal systems called “grade time signals” were adjusted to automatically trigger a train’s brakes when another train is close by. However, in a three-person investigation conducted by Byford last summer, it was discovered that there were not only 130 areas where trains could move faster while remaining safe, but also 267 faulty grade time signals, forcing operators to drive trains at slower speeds for no reason, even if there were no train up ahead. A 2010 report by transit planner Matt Johnson further revealed that New York City trains travel at roughly 17 miles per hour, which is slower than any other heavy rail system in the United States. Byford, with help from the MTA safety committee, strives to find the right balance between safety and speed, not wanting to allow trains to run any slower than they should. So far, 34 sections of track have been approved for speed increases by the MTA, while 30 grade time signals have been repaired throughout Brooklyn.
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New York City is full of “ADA transit deserts” according to report

New York City’s subway system may have the most stops of any in the world, but many of them are inaccessible to the disabled and mobility-impaired. This month New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer published a report highlighting accessibility issues in the city's subway system and calling for immediate action. According to the report, “of the 122 New York City neighborhoods served by the subway system, 62 do not have a single accessible station.” Of the 62 stations that do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 55 are located in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
These inaccessible stations are serving 199,242 residents with impaired mobility, 341,447 seniors, and 203,466 children. This amounts to a total of 640,000 residents who are “confined to neighborhood” as they cannot access the city’s subway network. They are restricted in terms of housing options, and those who are mobility-impaired also show a much lower labor force participation rate than the able-bodied. “Too many New Yorkers are left stranded by the MTA,” said Comptroller Scott M. Stringer in a statement. “Decades of underinvestment and neglect have real-life consequences. For every inaccessible station, there is a New Yorker who can’t get to work, pick up their children from daycare, or visit their doctors. It’s simple–a person’s livelihood should not be dictated by their mobility status, and we must take action immediately to address this crisis.” In light of this, the Comptroller supports Fast Forward, a plan proposed by the MTA and its President Andy Byford, which promises making fifty more stations ADA accessible in the next five years. It also assures that “no rider is more than two stops away from an accessible station,” across the five boroughs. However, the Comptroller recognizes the difficulty in funding a plan of that scale. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, ever at odds, have yet to agree to support the plan. Stringer urges the state legislature to introduce an $8 billion Transit Bond Act to fund the much-needed upgrades to the city’s transit system. Read the full report at this link.
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L.A. Metro unveils plans to link San Fernando Valley with Westwood and eventually LAX

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has unveiled six potential alignments for a forthcoming transit project that could link L.A.’s San Fernando Valley with the city’s Westside neighborhoods and—eventually—with Los Angeles International airport (LAX).  The concepts were unveiled last week and represent the latest efforts to span over the Sepulveda Pass with public transit, an effort that is complicated by the route’s steep terrain, the presence of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the presence of Interstate-405, the busiest and most congested freeway in the United States.  Plans call for building the link in two phases, with an initial segment connecting the Westwood with the southernmost edge of the valley due to be completed by 2026. A southern extension to LAX could be completed by 2057 under the current timetable. For that initial segment, the six proposed alignments are as follows: Concept 1: Planners envision a 10-mile underground subway alignment that would link the future terminus of the regional Purple Line subway with the Orange Line busway in the valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, where the line could link with a forthcoming north-south transit route planned for Van Nuys Boulevard. To the south, the new heavy rail transit line (HRT) would also link with the east-west Expo Line that connects Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Concept 2: A second potential HRT line would follow a similar tunneling route but would connect with the Orange Line station on Sepulveda Boulevard instead of Van Nuys. The potential alignment could contain as many as five miles’ worth of aerial alignments constructed to link separately with the forthcoming Van Nuys Line, as well. This route would run a total of 13 miles in length and could connect to the Expo similarly to Concept 1.  Concept 3: This alignment would follow the same path as Concept 1 but would be built using light rail transit (LRT) technology, a cheaper option that would ultimately carry fewer passengers per train at slower speeds than the HRT proposal. The underground route would ultimately run about 10 miles in length. Concept 4: This route would run along the same alignment as Concept 3, but would feature a mile-long aerial spur that would link to the Orange Line. Plans are currently underway to convert the Orange Line from a bus rapid transit route (BRT) to a light rail line, meaning that, with this option, the two routes could potentially share trains in the future, creating the possibility of several different one-seat routes.  Concept 5: Metro is also considering monorail and rubber tire trams for the Sepulveda Pass route, options that would blend below-ground, at-grade, and aerial alignments to cross through the mountain range. Concept 5 would follow the same route as Concept 1 but would result in a transit line that simply linked the two regions without offering the interlining capabilities of Concept 4 or the capacity and speed of Concepts 1 and 2. Concept 6: Concept 6 is proposed as an extension of the Purple Line route, an idea that would thread the primarily east-west line northward into the valley, where it could link with other forthcoming lines or even extend further in their stead. The potential alignment would be the death knell for the “Subway to the Sea” concept originally proposed for the Purple Line that would have extended the line to Santa Monica. That idea has been on the back burner for years as Metro has moved ahead with planned extensions that take the route only as far west as Westwood, where the line simple dead-ends.  Metro will be gauging public opinion on the routes over coming weeks and will announce a consolidated list of route options at a later date. The route is listed as one of the 28 transit projects Metro would like to complete before L.A. hosts the 2028 Olympics, so the timeline for the project will likely be sped up over the coming years. 
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MTA releases 10-year plan to improve subway and bus services

Within ten years, a modernized signal system on 6 subway lines and more than 180 new subway stations are among many new improvements to New York City’s public transportation promised by the MTA. In a package released by New York City Transit Chief Andy Byford and the MTA, called “Fast Forward: The Plan to Modernize New York City Transit,” (PDF) the transit provider also guarantees repair work at more than 300 stations, new subway cars and CBTC-modified car, a redesign of bus routes and a new tap-and-go fair payment system to be in place in the next decade. The improvements come with a cost. According to The New York Times, the groundbreaking proposal will cost more than $19 billion for the first five years. The plan will also entail closures, including continuous night and weekend closures for up to 2.5 years per line. Byford’s plan is thought to be ambitious, as work previously estimated to take 40 years would be completed within the next ten years. The two-stage proposal will benefit a cumulative eight million daily riders. The outdated transportation infrastructure has caused delays and frustration. The “state-of-the-art” communications-based train control (CBTC) is believed to deliver greater reliability and better prospects for future capacity growth. In the first five years, lines 4, 5, 6, 7, A, C, E, F, M, R, G will be upgraded with the advanced train control signal system; in the next five years, lines 1, 2, 3, B, D, S, N, Q, R, W too will be upgraded. The bus network will be reimagined across the five boroughs, promising customer focused routes, faster and more reliable travel times, and more comfortable and environmentally sustainable buses. However, the plan has an issue with funding. Amidst the quarrel between Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio on who should pay to rehabilitate the subway, a spokesperson for de Blasio told The New York Times that the city is not willing to help pay for Byford's plan. He advised that the MTA should instead resort to existing resources and the state should endorse new revenue sources such as the millionaire's tax that de Blasio has proposed.
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Winners of MTA's first genius award announced

The winners of the MTA’s Transit Genius Challenge, which was first announced last spring, have been selected. The award, which set aside $3 million to be split among winners in three categories, is part of the city’s plan to modernize the aging subway system, which has been experiencing ever increasing delays and other issues affecting its nearly 6 million daily users. The MTA has been in an official state of emergency since the summer of 2017. Of the 19 finalists, of which 17 are major corporations and current MTA contractors, eight have been selected as winners to split the three $1 million prizes. In the category of signalling, Robert James and Metrom Rail have both won for a proposal to use ultra-wideband technology, a wireless technology that eliminates the need for more costly, cumbersome equipment and that the MTA has the ability to implement immediately. Using ultra-wide band technology would cut decades off the 40-year plan to overhaul the subway’s signaling system. Also in signalling, Ansaldo STS and the Thales Group have won the contest with plans for using sensors and cameras to track train positions and allow them to travel closer together more effectively. In the second challenge category, subway cars, three winners have been chosen for three different approaches to the problem. Lawyer and transit aficionado Craig Avedisian took home $330,000 for a plan that combines longer, higher capacity trains with new loading procedures to significantly increase train capacity with only minor changes to underlying technical infrastructure. CRRC has proposed a $50 million initial investment to develop an entirely new train car with materials such as carbon fiber, and proposes shorter lifecycles on subway cars to be able to continually phase in the newest technologies. Finally, CSiT wants to harness the power of big data to quickly identify maintenance issues and create a more reliable rider experience. In the final category, communications, Bechtel Innovation has won for a plan to implement a semi-automatic robotic system to install communications and control systems. The Big B, as the robotic solution is called, could even nimbly climb off railways, into stations, onto platforms, and into service bays. Transit Wireless and Alcatel-Lucent (Nokia) received honorable mentions in the category. Although it is not immediately clear how and if the winning changes might be phased into subway operations, the MTA was inspired by the success of the Transit Genius Challenge and intends to create a recurring challenge, the “Transit Innovation Partnership.”
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19 finalists announced for MTA’s Genius Transit Challenge

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced the 19 finalists in three categories for the MTA Genius Transit Challenge today. Winners will be declared in early 2018 and will receive up to a $1 million genius award (or the profit of 363,636 card swipes, according to the New York Times). The MTA assembled a panel of technology and transportation experts to review the 438 submissions, narrowing it down to 64 and then 19. During phase two of the competition, the final contenders refined and elaborated on their original submissions. The three categories are: to improve signaling, to identify strategies to better deploy subway cars, and increase communications infrastructure. Each submission in these categories was reviewed on “its ability to fulfill the Challenge’s core objectives, whether it could be implemented in a rapid timeframe throughout the Subway System, innovativeness, and cost-reasonableness.” With the recent release of the RPA’s newest plan, we can only hope at least a few improvements are made, genius or otherwise. FINALISTS IN THE SIGNALS CATEGORY AECOM: Intelligent Alignment of Service Delivery to Customer Demand Alstom: Train-Centric Peer-to-Peer CBTC Ansaldo STS: Video Odometry, Heads-Up Display and Augmented Reality Arup: Acorn: Autonomous Car Operating Rail Network Robert James (Individual): Connected Vehicles & Ultra-Wideband for Communications & Location Metrom Rail : Positive Train Control System based on Ultra-Wideband Siemens : Dramatically Accelerate Communications-Based Train Control Deployment Thales Group: Several Integrated Ideas to Accelerate Communications-Based Train Control Deployment Thales Group: Next Generation Positioning: Autonomous Train Car Platform FINALISTS IN THE CARS CATEGORY Alstom: Upgrades to Improve Subway Car Reliability Craig Avedisian (Individual): Modify Cars to Enable Trains to Have 4 More Cars Bombardier: Modular Car Concept Utilizing a Common Vehicle Platform CRRC MA: Technology-Advanced Cars with Shorter Vehicle Lifecycle CSINTRANS: Open Information System to Improve Operations Efficiency & Customer Communications Faiveley (Wabtec): Newly Developed Brake Control System FINALISTS IN THE COMMUNICATIONS CATEGORY Alcatel-Lucent (Nokia): Standards-Based Trackside Private LTE Network with an IP/MPLS Backbone Alstom: Multi-Service High Capacity, Flexible Network Bechtel: The Big B: Semi-Automated Robotic System Transit Wireless: Dedicated LTE Network to Connect Trains to Tunnel Entrances and Trackside Radios The MTA Genius Transit Challenge Finalist Judges Sarah Feinberg, Former Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean and Vice Provost, Cornell Tech Charles Phillips, CEO, Infor; Former Co-President and Director, Oracle Kristina Johnson, Chancellor-elect, SUNY Nick Grossman, General Manager, Union Square Ventures Eliot Horowitz, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, MongoDB Balaji Prabhakhar, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stanford University Joe Lhota, Chairman, MTA Pat Foye, President, MTA Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, Managing Director, MTA Janno Lieber, Chief Development Officer, MTA
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Dallas picks routes for new subway and streetcar lines

Last Wednesday, the Dallas City Council unanimously endorsed Commerce Street as the preferred location for a new subway project and a new streetcar line. Even though the decision is not yet final, this event is a significant milestone for a public transportation project that has been under debate for several years. The massive undertaking of embedding a subway line in downtown Dallas has a projected cost of $1.3 billion and is slated for completion in 2024. The line would begin above ground near the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Victory Station and make its way to a new station adjacent to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science before going underground. It is designed to relieve pressure on the existing four light rail lines, which all run on the same downtown track.  Estimated at $92 million dollars, the new streetcar line would link already existing streetcars in Uptown Dallas with existing lines running in the north Oak Cliff area. While there are technically three locations still in consideration for the streetcar, the Elm-Commerce alignment seemed most attractive for its potential economic benefits. While two major public transportation projects in the same area may seem redundant, the subway and the streetcar lines will serve different rider populations. The streetcar is expected to serve local downtown residents, while the subway is aimed at transporting commuters who live further outside the city center. As these projects are nearing consensus, detailed planning will begin for their exact locations, budgets, and urban effects.  
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Cuomo declares state of emergency for New York's subway system

The cheek of it. Governor Andrew Cuomo waltzes into a press conference and announces he is going to save the subway. After years of denying the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) the funds to upgrade the subway, Cuomo on Thursday declared that the system was in a state of emergency and pledged $1 billion to fix the issue. But a knight in shining armor he is not. New Yorkers know how overdue this is, and so does he.

According to the New York Times, Cuomo fled the scene immediately, revealing no details as to where that money would come from. The New York State Governor will also reportedly sign an executive order to usher in repair work and new gear to bring the subway up to speed.

The announcement comes after an A Train derailed earlier this week, leaving 17 hospitalized and others with minor injuries. Other subway horror stories abound. This is the culmination of a beleaguered 112-year-old system that has been crying out for help for decades since its popularity boomed in the early 1990s. As more and more use the system, the worse it gets. In 2007, 94 percent of 1 Trains were on time. Fast forward ten years and that performance meter has dropped to 70 percent. That's better than the rest of the subway's lines which, on average, are punctual 59 percent of the time. The problem is overcrowding (which accounts for more than a third of delays today) and, of course, this means more delayed passengers angrily tweeting venting their frustration—so the more we hear about it. (The Architect's Newspaper recently spotted this poster at the 49th Street N/Q/R/W subway stop.) Signals, way outdated and faulty beyond belief, are also the source of other delays, as are faulty tracks and switches.

Though ironically delayed, Cuomo's rhetoric will be welcomed by subway riders more accustomed to hearing about train traffic ahead of them. “We need new ideas, delivered faster," the governor told reporters and entrepreneurs who attended the speech. “It will no longer be a tortured exercise to do business with the MTA,” Cuomo continued, announcing an ideas competition to improve the subway.

Put in place to oversee to all this is the new chairman of the MTA, Joseph J. Lhota. "The governor has made it clear he wants a new MTA, a new approach," he said. “We know what we need to do. He mentioned the subway’s aging signal system. We live in a digital age. Our signal system isn’t even analog. It’s mechanical.”

Lhota now has 30 days to change the turn the MTA into an agency that "performs a function." In addition to this, Lhota, who only heard about the $1 billion pledge at the conference himself, must review the MTA's capital plan within 60 days. Though deriding the subway system as it is, Lhota is optimistic. "I know what the subway system was, and it can be the crown jewel of New York,” he said. “No idea is too crazy. No idea is too ambitious.”

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MTA will pay for big new projects instead of subways that run on time

The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has approved a capital plan that gives money to roads and bridges but not to enhancing service on New York City's beleaguered subways. Out of a five-year, $32.5 billion capital plan, the board gave $3 billion in extra funding to projects that Governor Andrew Cuomo supports, including $1.5 billion for a new LIRR track, $400 million for cashless tolling for bridges and tunnels, and $700 million for phase two of the Second Avenue Subway. Cuomo is in charge of the authority and appoints six of its 14 members, more than any other entity. (In a quirk of home rule, the MTA, a state agency, oversees the subway, which serves New York City only.) Although the new plan adds more funding for these expansion projects, subway spending remained almost flat, the New York Times reported. As almost any commuter could confirm anecdotally, there are more straphangers than ever, with trips—especially during rush hour—marred by frequent delays. Part of the problem is that the MTA relies on an outdated signal system to move cars through the tubes. This new capital plan doesn't provide additional funding for a system that would allow trains to run more efficiently, even with the occasional sick passenger. “Investing in the M.T.A. is a good thing, but these changes won’t address riders’ core concern of the increase in crowding, breakdowns and delays,” John Raskin, executive director of passenger advocacy group the Riders Alliance, told the paper.
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Coming to the Cooper Union: How NYC could revolutionize its transportation network

New York–based ReThink Studio is on a mission to transform how the Big Apple's transportation system works, from the L Train shutdown to a new Penn Station and a vastly improved subway and regional train network. Urbanists, architects, and transportation aficionados (you know who you are) alike won't want to miss ReThink Studio Principal Jim Venturi in conversation with Sam Schwartz, president, CEO + founder of his eponymous engineering and planning firm, and Dr. Vukan R. Vuchic, professor emeritus of UPenn's Dept. of Electrical Systems and Engineering - Transportation. The discussion—free and open to the public—will focus on ReThink Studio's 2050 plan for New York City and will be held at The Great Hall at The Cooper Union, May 9, 6:30 to 8:30pm. Stay tuned for more details on speakers and programming, as well an opportunity to RSVP through Eventbrite. For more on ReThink Studio, see their website here.