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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who Are You Kidding, Mayor Bloomberg? The MTA is a Financial Disaster

We now can see clearly what Mayor Mike has in mind concerning the financial mess that NYC transit is in right now, if indeed it is (remember John Liu, Queens City Council member and Chair of the Transportation Committee asked former MTA President Kalikow last year where the missing $1 billion was, and NYS Chief Judge Judith Kaye's Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, ruled that the MTA books were not to be seen by the public): after years of mismanagement if not outright corruption, with the current and retired top people getting free gas and passes to travel wherever they wanted to (are we to believe that Mayor Bloomberg didn't know about this? Or that former Commissioner Iris Weinshall didn't know about the freebie?), and financial books that we, the public are not allowed to see, NYC Mayor wants to give a raise to everyone involved. Anyone who reads the comments by the public to these articles can see how far from agreeing with Mayor Bloomberg the 'public' really is.

Is this money an award to keep silent?

The public needs an accurate picture of what is going on, and I hope that the MTA audit that has been discussed recently with tell us, and then we need to see reform rather than cover-up.

Report finds more New York City subway car breakdowns
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Updated Tuesday, July 29th 2008, 11:15 AM

NEW YORK - New York City straphangers — facing a possible fare increase — can chalk up yet another indignity: an increasing number of subwaycar breakdowns.

A "subway report card" issued Tuesday by the group Straphangers Campaign said mechanical failures occurred about every 156,624 miles in 2006 and every 149,646 miles in 2007 — a "troubling trend" that raises "questions about the condition and maintenance of the aging transit fleet."

Some stranded riders also may be left to wonder what's going on. The report said accurate and understandable subwaycar announcements declined from 90 percent in the second half of 2006 to 85 percent in the second half of 2007.

The report also assesses such factors as cleanliness and the chances of getting a seat on individual subwaylines.

NYC Transit and its parent, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, had no immediate comment.

The transit system got a double-whammy on Tuesday. In his own report, Assemblyman Dov Hikind cited "rotting wood separating from the platform, dangerous gaps between the train and the platform" and "metal beams breaking away from concrete."

The cash-strapped MTA has proposed an 8 percent fare increase in 2009 for millions of subwaybus and regional rail riders — and another 5 percent hike in 2011. The agency says the fares are needed to cut deficits coming from rising fuel costs and shrinking real estate income.

Some fares just went up 3.5 percent in March.

Assemblyman Hikind’s Efforts Responsible for Emergency Renovations to Brooklyn Subway Stations

(Assemblyman Hikind with Avi Katz, who fell onto the subway tracks at the Kings Highway station pictured above).
Assemblyman Hikind was contacted by the family of a teenage boy who fell onto the tracks when the platform gave way beneath him on the Q line at the Kings Highway subway station. The Assemblyman investigated many subway locations throughout the district to determine if there were similar platform deficiencies, and found deteriorating platforms and serious safety hazards at many of the Brooklyn stations.
In a letter to MTA NYC President Howard Roberts Jr., Assemblyman Hikind demanded that the NYCT exert more stringent protocols for maintaining subway stations and
requested that the stations throughout the system be inspected routinely and their needs be addressed immediately. President Roberts assured him that due to the incident with Avi Katz and Assemblyman Hikind’s subsequent investigation depicting many deteriorating platforms, he would be instituting new measures designed to address safety matters as soon as they occur. Also of concern was how it was possible that the station deteriorated to such a state of disrepair without being noticed by an MTA employee. Assemblyman Hikind will continue to monitor this situation and explore possible negligence that may have occurred by MTA personnel.

Assemblyman Hikind Applauds the End of Congestion Pricing

Citing the current economic crisis and the resulting unfair tax on middle income New Yorkers and outerborough residents, Assemblyman Hikind is happy to announce that the Majority of the New York State Assembly has rejected the congestion pricing plan. “In these tough economic times it is inappropriate to initiate a new tax on middle income families. Charging hardworking New Yorkers an additional $8 tax per day, and charging businesses an additional $21 tax for the delivery of goods is outrageous in these financially difficult times.” While the Assemblyman agrees that there is a definite need to come up with viable solutions to improve the congestion and air quality in Manhattan, he is doubtful that instituting the congestion pricing plan would result in the desired effect. Instead, it would unfairly overburden outerborough residents already struggling to make a living.

In Floral Park riders are furious with the Long Island Railroad:
MTA funding shortfall delays third track LIRR project

Commuters rail for spot on MTA board
By Pete Donohue, Daily News Staff Writer, Sunday, July 27th 2008, 11:03 PM

An MTA advisory panel has floated a novel idea to Gov. Paterson: Appoint regular rail riders to the board.

"There are quite a few [current board members] who don't ride mass transit on a regular basis," said Gerard Bringmann, chairman of the Long Island Rail Road Commuter's Council.

Bringmann said the group wants Paterson to appoint "someone who feels our pain and is in the trenches with us; someone who knows what it's like to be on a train without air conditioning or on a platform where messages are garbled or nonexistent."

The council, part of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, expressed its view in a letter to Paterson, who must fill a vacancy caused by the death of Frances Powers. The missive was prompted by recent comments by David Mack, chairman of the MTA's Long Island Rail Road committee, who said he rides the train a handful of times a year - and only because he doesn't have to pay.

MTA divisions are currently preparing their preliminary 2009 spending plans amid high fuel costs and declining tax revenues. The reports include how the various divisions will meet a prior directive to cut spending by 6% over four years, starting next year when savings must total about $80 million.

Mike Bloomberg's idea to save transit money: Give engineers raises
Friday, July 25th 2008, 11:17 PM

Mayor Bloomberg favors trimming MTA spending, but Friday he called for the cash-starved agency to give workers a raise.

"The people who work for the MTA, we don't pay them enough," Bloomberg declared on WOR radio.

The mayor blamed construction cost overruns, in part, on underpaid engineers who have to haggle with their higher paid, and presumably, more experienced counterparts.

"If you want to have the best engineers to negotiate with the best engineers in the construction company, you are going to have to pay comparable salaries," he said.

An MTA spokesman agreed that modest pay makes hiring tough, but stopped short of supporting raises.

"We certainly agree that it is a challenge in the public sector to attract the best talent when you have limited resources, but I think we have an extremely talented group of engineers and planners at our capital construction company," MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.

"We work as hard as we can to make those jobs appealing, but obviously we are limited by being in the public sector."

Bloomberg's comments came a day after he scolded the state-run MTA for proposing two fare hikes without finding alternative revenue or cutting its budget by 1.5%.

The MTA has called for an 8% fare hike next July and another 5% jump in 2011 to close a $700 million shortfall.

Wango Tango Jul 26, 2008 11:12:17 AM Report Offensive Post
If lazy transit workers would actually work an 8 hour shift then maybe the condition of the subways would be better as a result. Then, and only then would these already overpaid collection of misfits be worth more money! For the 10% of transit workers who actually do their job, ignore the above as it is slung at the losers who do just enough work to stay out of trouble but not close to the 8 hours of work they are supposed to do!!!

srqmike Jul 26, 2008 1:51:45 PM Report Offensive Post
Mayor Bloomberg has over 20 billion dollars. He can't spend that in two lifetimes. Why doesn't he donate 500 million to the MTA and give his citizens a break. He'll never even miss it.

Tom2007 Jul 26, 2008 3:29:41 PM Report Offensive Post
bloomberg is clueless moron and a failure as mayor. The last time he stuck his 2 cents into transit negotiations he offended the transit workers by calling them thugs. He has no clue and he should keep his clueless ideas to himself and his mouth shut. His record as mayor is a sham, a media hoax perpertrated by the biggest mayoral press office inn history, just a lot of smoke and mirrors and wasted tax dollars.

Sazo Jul 26, 2008 7:20:15 PM Report Offensive Post
Mayor "Dunceberg" for almost 40 years I worked on different NYC Transit job's for private contractor's. Thankfully I was able to retire. What I can tell you is in those 40 years the vast majority of "cost overrun's" were due to the ineptitude of your so called engineer's. Most could care less, they assuming the taxpayer's would just dig a bit deeper into their pockets to cover the overrun's (mistake's). It was not unusual at all to do a specific job many times over by trial and error, until YOUR PENCIL WIZARD'S finally got it correct. Kind of like giving enough monkey's enough typewriter's and time and one of them would type up Hamlet!

milesbrown49 Jul 27, 2008 12:02:47 AM Report Offensive Post
I guess that last strike struck a note with Bloomberg!!

guy Jul 31, 2008 8:03:29 AM Report Offensive Post
check out all the lazy cleaners that hang out at the coney island station as the trains pull they are sitting on the benches mops and brooms in hand and are in the same position as the train pull out they all make between 40 to 50 grand the other losers on the other stations get paid to clean one station for 8 hours which all they do is sweep and pull the garbage bag out out of the pails nobody checks what they do the phone nu. to call there sup's always has a tape they they are not there and leave a message big joke

From Betsy Combier: It seems to me that Mayor Mike wants to make up for the loss of those wonderful FREE Passes the MTA Bigs got caught having:

After News scoop, MTA tells execs to curb cars
Wednesday, July 9th 2008, 10:06 PM

The MTA is curbing the use of authority-owned cars by staffers who don't even have to pay to fill the tank, officials revealed Wednesday.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chief Executive Officer Elliot Sander ordered the cost-cutting in a memo to top administrators that was dated Tuesday - a day after a Daily News report about Bridge and Tunnel workers using authority sedans to commute.

"The budget problems we are facing are daunting," the memo states. "The severe drop in proceeds from our real estate taxes, coupled with dramatic increases in fuel prices, are creating great stress on our operating budget."

By September, miles traveled by "nonrevenue vehicles" must be slashed by 15%, according to the memo, which also ordered cuts on out-of-town travel, food, beverages, cell phones and BlackBerrys.

Planned hirings also are to be delayed by two months.

Citing burgeoning budget deficits and inadequate state and city funding, Sander has warned that further fare and toll hikes could be necessary next year.

The savings ordered by the memo will amount to approximately $5 million and is the first salvo in an initiative in which Sander expects to find even more savings, MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.

Under a prior directive, agency heads were told to find annual budget savings of 6% over four years, which would total about $80 million over the next year.

William Henderson, executive vice president of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said such administrative belt-tightening could give the authority "some necessary breathing room." But the large budget gaps will require "a more comprehensive solution that provides reliable, stable and inflation-sensitive funding to operate vital transportation services."

Gov. Paterson last month created a blue-ribbon panel to recommend ways to increase transit funding. It is expected to issue a report in November or December.

On Monday, The News reported that 60 MTA Bridges and Tunnels supervisors have division-owned cars in case of emergencies that require them to response from home.

The vehicle also are used for daily commutes. The division also has 40 so-called pool cars that staffers not assigned their own set of authority wheels can request for official business during working hours, The News reported.

JohnnyBarham Jul 10, 2008 1:06:56 AM Report Offensive Post
Pat yourselves on the back guys, you just inconvenienced some hard working people for little gain. Hope your proud.

Rigger Jul 10, 2008 7:29:53 AM Report Offensive Post
JohnnyBarham: I have to disagree with you on this. While they may be hardworking, there is no reason why they have to have free cars and free gas. If they need to get somewhere after their official work hours, let them use their own vehicles and reimburse them for gas and mileage. During their workday they can use motor-pool vehicles. Let them pay to get to their jobs like the other 99% of us have to. I suspect that many of these vehicles (and the free gas) are used for more than "official purposes." I know quite a few people who have gov't issued cars and gas cards. Trust me, they are used for everyday driving; not only for official duties. I'm not saying that everyone breaks the rules, but I would hazard a guess that quite a few do.

mbdono Jul 10, 2008 8:23:26 AM Report Offensive Post
The day of the free spending binge is over! These boys set themselves up so they could have a car and gas to commute on my dime is fast approaching ludicris! I have to work to earn money to get gas and insurance, I dont vote myself a nice car with all the fixens! Wish I could but the reality is that we must pay for these things escapes them!That tired excuse that in an emergency, they need instant access to get where they are going is rediculous. There are people on duty 24/7 at these places who are more than capable to handle emergencies, If not fire the deadwood at the top!

goyugo82 Jul 10, 2008 9:44:19 AM Report Offensive Post
You know what. If I have to pay to go to work, why shouldn't they! I think its a bunch of BS that these poeple even got away with this for so long. They should be lucky they still have jobs! They are getting free rides, while the middle class suffers, and pays for them.

babbo Jul 10, 2008 10:15:25 AM Report Offensive Post
Johnny Braham....Me thinks you sound like a disgruntled MTA worker who now has to put $ on his METRO Card. YOUR OWN $$$. That sucks, huh?

OldNewYork Jul 11, 2008 7:20:00 AM Report Offensive Post
Dear JohnnyBarham, I'm a hardworing person who has to pay for his commute, where's the convenience in that? I applaud the News for outing these freeloaders!

bydesign001 Jul 11, 2008 8:52:46 AM Report Offensive Post
It's about time. Why does we have to hear it through the media before these fat cats get off their fat arses?

anothertompaine Jul 11, 2008 10:02:17 AM Report Offensive Post
Believe it or not, these 'fatcats' are workers just like the rest of us. These aren't MTA Board members who are worth millions. They're middle class workers who went up through the ranks because of hard work. Most have over twenty years on the job. When they moved into management the car was part of the deal. How would you like it if your employer wanted to take five or ten thousand dollars a year away from you?

June 9, 2006
Deer Park
If Train Riders Don't Mind Their Manners, a Commuter Group Will

THE 7:47 a.m. Long Island Rail Road train from Ronkonkoma to Jamaica pulled into the Deer Park station, and Sandra Krebelj-Douglas eyed her fellow passengers carefully.

As one of eight official "note takers" for the L.I.R.R. Commuters Council, a volunteer group that acts as the voice of the railroad's passengers, she was preparing to monitor riders' behavior in a two-month program to establish the nature and extent of antisocial behavior. Results from the note takers, who ride different lines from different stations, will be used in a report sent to railroad management later in the year.

"Most people aren't deliberately rude," said Ms. Krebelj-Douglas, who lives in Dix Hills. "They just forget they're in a public space."

Ms. Krebelj-Douglas, who works in Manhattan as director of sales administration for the A&E television network and has been commuting from Deer Park for more than four years, said she had had first-hand experience of much of the behavior she was looking for.

"There's a bunch of guys who regularly get on the 5:29 from Hunterspoint who talk so loudly it's like they're in their living room," she said. "I've actually had to leave the section I'm sitting in."

Men are not the only offenders. A group of women on her daily train regularly broadcast their personal lives to anyone in earshot. "I hear about their kids," Ms. Krebelj-Douglas said, as much amused as irritated. "I know when one of them is pregnant. I know they're having a girl. And these people are total strangers to me."

In her notebook was a list from the Commuters Council of behaviors to look out for, including feet on seats, littering, excessive sounds on headphones and "extended talking on cellphones."

As trees and backyards sped past, there seemed to be little to report. Behind Ms. Krebelj-Douglas, a woman wore an iPod, but no hissing emanated from it; the two men across from her were engrossed in a book and a newspaper. The loudest sound was the clip-clip-clip made by the approaching conductor.

Evening trains are more problematic than morning ones, Ms. Krebelj-Douglas said. "Going home, people tend to be more talkative," she said. "They've had a drink perhaps."

At Jamaica, Ms. Krebelj-Douglas switched to the 8:38 train to Hunterspoint Avenue. The only problem to that point had been the conductor's failure to make courtesy announcements — polite nudges about appropriate behavior — which the railroad has adopted as standard operating procedure thanks to pressure from the Commuters Council.

Eventually, Ms. Krebelj-Douglas did record a couple of minor infractions — a woman in flip-flops with her feet on a seat, and a newspaper left on another seat.

As the train neared Hunterspoint Avenue, one commuter, Barry Ritholtz, revealed his own approach to problems on the train: "If there's really bad behavior on the train, I simply take a cellphone photo and post it to my Web site."

He has nicknamed some offenders: the Baritone, Barefoot Guy and Nail Polish Narcissist. "I realized I needed a healthier outlet than sending my blood pressure up by getting into an argument," he said.

Ms. Krebelj-Douglas was amused by his solution, and she sees humor as part of the Commuters Council's approach, too.

"Ideally, we'd like the L.I.R.R. to put up posters based on our research," she said. "Something clever that pokes fun at it, that doesn't feel like a lecture."

As she arrived at Hunterspoint Avenue, she put away her notebook. But she would be pulling it out again on the trip home.


The Long Island Rail Road Commuter's Council (LIRRCC)

The Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC)

The Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee LINKs

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