November 5, 2009

NYC Transit Head Resigns

NYC Transit President Howard Roberts resigns in wake of Jay Walder's elevation to MTA chair:

click here for the Daily News story.

November 4, 2009

Who Will Be The Next Miss G Train?

Quirky Williamsburg museum sponsors 'Miss G Train'

Read the story here...

March 5, 2009

February 28, 2009

G Line "Funeral"

Greenpoint Gazette
Riders, Community Activists and Politicians Rally to Save the G
Feb 25, 2009 by Khristina Narizhnaya

Since the V train was introduced in 2001, the Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown local G train service to 71st Avenue in Forest Hills has been a hotly debated issue between community groups and the MTA. With major budget deficits looming over, the fate of the G train is on the chopping block once again. To save money, MTA is proposing to cut G train service to 71st Avenue permanently, making Court Square in Long Island City the last and final stop.

Not surprisingly, the proposal was met with loud opposition from G train riders, community groups and local elected officials in North Brooklyn and Queens.

Last week the Straphangers Campaign, a NYPIRG campaign to improve mass transit in New York City, held a mock funeral for the G train service to 71st Avenue at Court Square station. Bagpiper John Maynard played several funerary tunes as “mourners” in black armbands, joined by Assembly members Joseph Lentol and Hakeem Jeffries, looked on. After the music, a minute of “subway silence” was observed, followed by laments regarding the G train service cut.

“Thousands of working people rely on this train to get to work and to live their lives,” said Gene Russianoff, the staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “Without the G service [to Forest Hills] commuters will have longer walks or extra walks or transfers.”

Lentol said that although he doesn’t know what it will take to negotiate with Albany to save the G, in the upcoming weeks he is going to try to make sure any MTA-related financial legislation will include improvements to the G line.

“The transit system is suffering a major short fall and I will try to make sure that financing will be allocated for a better G service,” said Lentol.

Two days after “interring” the G train to Forest Hills, Lentol and Jeffries invited Richard Ravitch, the Chairman of the Commission of MTA Financing, along with MTA planning and operations experts, to ride the G train during rush hour with them to show the necessity and the shortcomings of the G line.

“There are a lot of people who depend on the G train,” said Ravitch after riding the G from Metropolitan Station in Williamsburg to Court Square in Queens. “I think a fair explanation of how it will be improved is in order.”

Ravitch’s proposed MTA rescue plan will adopt East River bridge tolls and a payroll tax on businesses to raise revenue in order to prevent public transportation service cuts.

Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 member and volunteer with Brooklyn Committee of Alternative Transportation Kevin Vincent said the G train needs to be saved in order to sustain the lives of local people, and to attract new residents to the neighborhood.

“New residents coming in to the neighborhood will have a harder time commuting,” said Vincent. “Also, the G train cut puts out a whole slew of working families.”

“The G train has been on the MTA’s endangered list for a while, but it’s always been a survivor,” said Teresa Toro of the Save the G Coalition. “Even in these hard times the G holds a special place in its riders’ hearts.”


February 18, 2009

The G to Rest-in-Pieces?

Politicians, straphangers rally to protest G train service cuts
BY Michael E. Miller
Wednesday, February 18th 2009

The G train as we know it is dead - or close to it.

Politicians and transit rider advocates rallied Tuesday in the Court Square subway stop at Hunters Point, Queens, to protest proposed cuts in G train service that could inconvenience thousands of commuters.

With the dirge of bagpipe music in the background and a funeral wreath in view, they mourned the possible demise of the subway line and called on Gov. Paterson to find new funds to "raise it from the dead."

"The G train has for decades been neglected in terms of resources provided," said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), a Bible in hand for the mock funeral ceremony.

"If G train service is cut off, thousands of Brooklyn and Queens riders will be left out in the cold," he said. "They deserve better treatment."

Faced with a $1.2 billion operating deficit for 2009, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has proposed slashing Queens-bound service on the G at Court Square to save money.
But despite the doom and gloom, there were signs of life to be found.

"Let's take today as an opportunity to raise the dead," said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn), adding that the budget crisis has put subway concerns on the back burner. "We will get a plan down that saves the subway system, but we have to save the G."

The event was organized by the Straphangers Campaign, a transit riders advocacy group. The MTA's proposed cuts would lop off 13 stops in Queens from the G line, which now ends in Forest Hills. The cuts would affect other subway and bus lines with crowding.

A Transit Authority study found that the cuts to the G line would result in extra walking, longer waits and additional transfers for thousands of passengers in Brooklyn and Queens each day.

Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the MTA, said the agency was hoping to avoid the cuts and prefers that Albany find other ways to cut the budget.

Daily riders on the G line as well as politicians also expressed their outrage at the plan.

Jose Cortez, 35, a cook on his way to work in Manhattan, said, "It's difficult now to get where I got to go. So just imagine if they cut the service."


February 16, 2009

Funeral for a Friend...

Mock Funeral for the G Train

The Straphangers Campaign and State Assembly Members Joseph Lentol and Hakeem Jeffries will hold a "mock funeral" for the G train on Tuesday, Feb. 17. Without new state aid, the MTA is proposing to eliminate the line at all times from the Court Square subway station to Forest Hills-71st Avenue, while also raising transit fares.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
10:30 a.m.
Court Square Subway Station (G)
Inside paid area
Street entrance at Jackson Avenue and Court Square


February 13, 2009

Greenpoint Transit Looking Worse

Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Subway, Bus Cutback Plans Give Greenpoint the Blues

by Raanan Geberer
February 11, 2009

NORTHERN BROOKLYN — Just as elsewhere in the city, residents of Greenpoint and Williamsburg are objecting to the MTA’s planned budget cuts as well as those recommended in the so-called Ravitch Commission report.

Specifically, people are up in arms about the plan, spelled out in the Ravitch report, to cut the G train back to Court Square at all times, and at plans to cut the B24 and B48 buses in Greenpoint at night and on weekends.

The beleaguered G train was first cut back around 2003, when it was made to terminate at Court Square on its northern end at all times except late nights and weekends. Previously, it had gone to 71st Street-Continental Avenue in Forest Hills. Greenpoint and Williamsburg residents often used it to go shopping, hospitals and movies in Queens.

Even though it is supposed to go to Forest Hills nights and weekends, temporary service cuts often scale it back to Court Square anyway. “I used to live on that line, and I can count on two hands the number of times I saw this [trains going to Forest Hills] happen,” says Amy Cleary, an aide to Assemblyman Joe Lentol.

The G train was also cut back to using four-car trains. MTA officials defended the move on the grounds that this would allow trains to operate more frequently. Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers’ Campaign says he can understand the transit agency’s point of view because “there are 6,200 cars in the entire fleet, but we wish they had taken our advice a few years ago and kept the Redbirds in service.”

Area residents say that if anything, G service should be expanded because of rapid population growth and new housing construction in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

“The assemblyman will be going for a ride on the train with Ravitch in the coming few weeks,” says Cleary. “The best way to make them understand is to get them on there.”

As far as the B24 and B48 buses are concerned, Lentol pointed out in a letter to the MTA that “the B48 services an area of Greenpoint that will not have any other options when it comes to public transportation. Cuts to the B48 bus will mean 20- and often 30-minute walks to the G train, and even longer to and from the L Train.”

Tony Pecora, a neighborhood resident, says, “Many people go to work from 4 to 12, many go out on weekends. To get to the L train, they will either have to call a car service or walk two miles. I work Tuesday to Saturday, and get off at Lorimer Street after midnight. If they make these cuts, I won’t be riding the bus — I’ll either take a car service, which is eight dollars without a tip, or I’m going to walk.”


February 10, 2009

G is for Jeepers, Guys!

MTA spellers way off-off Broadway in Brooklyn
BY Veronika Belenkaya and Pete Donohue
Tuesday, February 10th 2009

There's Broadway in Manhattan and Brodaway in Brooklyn - at least in the subway system.

A mosaic tile sign in a G train station misspells the stop's name as Brodaway instead of Broadway.

A NYC Transit spokesman said the agency would dispatch someone from the stations division to check out the spelling butchery.

Several riders Monday said they didn't notice the mistake on a tile wall across from a platform at the station.

"Oh my God, I've never noticed this before," high school teacher Varumi Tiruchlvam, 31, said.

"My students could definitely do better than this, even though some of my students are struggling with learning English and spelling."

Phillip I, 37, a ground traffic supervisor for a major airline at an area airport said he probably didn't notice it before because he commutes so early, "When I'm not really awake.

"I guess somebody made this mistake. I guess this job was done pretty early when they didn't have their coffee yet, either."

Teresa Toro of the "Save the G" committee, launched to lobby for improvements to the Brooklyn-Queens line, said she wasn't surprised by the misspelling.

After all, at the Greenpoint Ave. station in Brooklyn, one of the signs for the India St. exit says Indian St.


February 5, 2009

State Senator Dilan to Hold Public Hearings

Train in Vain: Passengers say No! To Fare Hikes and Service Cuts
Feb 04, 2009 by Juliet Linderman
Greenpoint Gazette

Not even broken buses, troublesome trains and a brutal smattering of freezing rain could keep hordes of legislators, elected officials and angry Brooklynites from turning up to last Wednesday’s public hearing in full force, eager to voice their disdain for the proposed MTA fair hikes, service cuts and the elimination certain bus and subway lines throughout the outer boroughs. Neighborhoods throughout the city will be directly impacted by these cuts, none more so than those of North Brooklyn.

“We are asking you, please abandon this bad plan,” said Councilman David Yassky, addressing a panel of MTA officials. “There are thousands of new people moving into Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and still we have the same crummy G train service. It’s unfair.”

Due to massive debt and budgetary constraints, the MTA approved their 2009 budget on December 19, 2008, along with a comprehensive report outlining station, subway, bus and service changes. These changes will take effect in the following months unless State legislators vote in favor of the Ravitch Commission Report, which proposes instating tolls on several East River bridges in order to generate revenue for public transit. Though approving the report would undoubtedly bail out the MTA temporarily, it could have lasting consequences for motorists in Brooklyn who, due to already unreliable train service and too few accessible subway lines, are forced to drive.

“There could end up being three toll bridges in one district of Brooklyn, and it will be really horribly affected,” said Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront. “These cuts will affect populations least prepared to deal with them.”

The Ravitch report was a topic widely overlooked at Wednesday’s hearing, as outraged subway riders and patrons of the Access-A-Ride program focused more heavily on venting their frustrations to the MTA Board about the dire consequences of fare hikes and service cuts on those who rely exclusively on public transportation, especially Brooklynites.

“I always wondered about the cut on the corner of the Metrocard,” said Councilmember Simcha Felder, who represents District 44. “Now I know it’s for the cuts in service. Pretty soon, there will be no Metrocard left!” Felder then called for a moment of silence for the beginning of the demise of the MTA, which was immediately broken by MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger, who insisted on immediately calling upon the next speaker, to the crowd’s dismay.

Among the hundreds of hearing attendees were dozens of disabled customers who depend on Access-a-Ride service to get around the city. If MTA service is, in fact, cut, so too will Access-a-Ride vehicles. In addition, fares for Access-a-Ride will be raised 150 per cent.

Jean Ryan, Vice President of Public Affairs of Disabled in Action, gave a moving testimony during which she related personal stories of her own.

“When you cancel a bus or increase headway, the actual alternative for people with disabilities is staying home or Access-A-Ride, which costs $63 a trip and requires advance reservations….Often when a wheelchair user wants to board an express bus, the driver doesn’t know what to do and we have to tell him. If we don’t know how to use the lift we are left at the curb as the bus pulls away.”

While the MTA stayed mostly quiet throughout the hearing, several MTA officials made a point of explaining that concerned riders should appeal directly to their State officials, who will ultimately be responsible for either accepting or rejecting the Ravitch Report. Most State legislators remain undecided as to how they will vote, Greenpoint’s State Senator Martin Dilan, Chair of the State Transportation Committee, said he is committed to hearing what his constituents have to say before voting one way or another, and plans to host two public hearings in the coming weeks.

“I’m looking to get the officials from MTA and Ravitch himself, advocates and community input as to how they feel about the plan,” Dilan said. “According to Ravitch, if we do the toll increases, they are supposed to bring in 300 new buses into service in areas like Greenpoint, which are grossly underserved, and I just want the public to hear what they have to say.”

Senator Dilan’s public hearings will be held February 18th at Borough Hall and February 19th at the State Office Building in Harlem.