6 Ideas for a Better New York Subway

City Lab

The beleaguered system looked outside its own ranks for ambitious new fixes.

Craig Avedisian, a New York City lawyer and one of the Genius Challenge winners, proposes increasing capacity by adding more cars to trains, without having to build longer platforms.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) wants to know if anyone, anywhere, can figure out how to fix New York City’s beleaguered subway.

With the hopes of solving problems such as persistent overcrowding, train delays, and crumbling physical infrastructure, the MTA launched a Genius Transit Challenge in June. Offering as much as *$1 million for the best idea, nearly 500 groups hailing from 23 different countries sent in submissions. Now, the final results are in.

Last week, an expert panel selected six winners, awarding them a total of nearly $2.5 million in prize money. They present new ideas for train control signals, subway car design, data management, and tunnel maintenance.

Train Control Signals

The subway’s current signalling system is woefully out of date and a major cause of delays and overcrowding. Currently, all lines except the L employ a fixed block signalling system. This system divides lines into “blocks,” preventing two trains from being on the same one at once. While effective for maintaining safety, the fixed block system prevents trains from running as close to one another as more modern systems. The MTA plans to install more efficient signalling systems known as Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) on many of its lines, and is nearly finished upgrading the 7.

But the process is time consuming and expensive. Two MTA Genius Transit Challenge winners propose cheaper and faster methods for installing state of the art train control systems:

Robert James and Metrom Rail propose installing wireless communications devices along the track that require much less hardware and installation labor than current methods for installing CBTC technology.

Ansaldo STS and Thales’ proposal also cuts down on hardware and labor by implementing CBTC technology with cameras and sensors on the front of each train.

Subway Cars

Craig Avedisian, a New York City lawyer, proposes increasing capacity by adding more cars to trains, without having to build longer platforms. This would be done by creating “A” and “B” sections of trains, corresponding to A and B stations.  At an A station, only the A section car doors would open, and vice versa. The intervention could theoretically increase train capacity by 42 percent.

The Chinese train builder CRRC MA plans to invest $50 million to develop New York City’s subway car of the future. Its key features would be lighter materials, greater energy efficiency, and a modular design that would make it easy to upgrade as new technologies become available.

Data Management

CSinTRANS (or CSiT) proposes to centralize the data coming to and from transit vehicles, allowing for for MTA staff and passengers to be aware of problems in real time. The system is also intended to help reduce maintenance costs by spotting breakdowns before they become severe.

Tunnel Maintenance

As one of the world’s few 24-hour systems, New York’s subway has very little time to make repairs. Bechtel Innovation’s proposal hopes to make that process more efficient by providing the system with a tunnel maintenance robot that can perform routine repairs. The robot, similar to those already in operation in the U.K., could help lower costs and improve worker safety.

Whether these “genius” ideas will be implemented remains unclear. If they are, the MTA’s notoriously glacial pace of progress means it’ll still be a while before riders would experience their benefits. Still, after last summer’s countless delays and hellish hiccups, any effort to think outside the box should be a sign of encouragement.

Legendary General Electric Chief Jack Welch Has One Big Retirement Tip

The Street

The concept of retirement is outdated, suggests long-time General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

Jack Welch isn’t your average 82-year-old business tycoon.

The former chief executive officer of General Electric Co. (GE – Get Report) started working at the company in 1960, a freshly-minted chemical engineering PhD, at a plant in Pittsfield, Mass. He had a starting salary of $10,500.

In 2001, Welch retired from his position as CEO of the same company with a $417 million severance package, the biggest type of payment made to any U.S. CEO in recent history.

Along the way, Welch increased GE’s market value by an impressive $300 billion. He whipped a struggling industrials company into a global leader by implementing widespread change and stark cost-cutting that earned him the nickname “Neutron Jack.”

With all his successes in a storied career, what are Welch’s tips for retiring smart? Just don’t, he insists.

“Who wants to just retire? Banish that word from your vocabulary,” Welch wrote on LinkedIn in 2015. “You’ve got to constantly reinvent and take a chance on something you’ve always wanted to do — it’s what keeps you alive. You’re never done.”

After Welch finished up a historic tenure at GE, he didn’t head out to pasture, or even to the golf course. Welch and his wife Suzy have reinvented themselves as co-authors of a number of books about management and business.

On his LinkedIn, Welch offers the following self-description: “For the past decade, Mr. Welch has been active as a special partner with the private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice, an advisor to IAC/InteractiveCorp (IAC – Get Report) , and a popular public speaker addressing audiences around the world. In 2010, he founded the Jack Welch Management Institute, a fully accredited online MBA program with 900 students.”

So much for retiring, huh?

Welch’s philosophy makes sense, even if your net worth isn’t as impressive as his estimated $720 million.

According to TheStreet’s retirement expert Robert Powell, those saving for retirement would be better off working longer than just bumping up their savings rate by one percentage point.

“If you bump up how much you save for retirement by one percentage point 10 years before retirement it has the same impact on the sustainable retirement standard of living as working a single month longer — just one single month longer,” Powell wrote.


Fort Wayne included in hyperloop study

A feasibility study is underway for a project that could get Fort Wayne travelers or cargo to Chicago or Columbus, Ohio in half the time required for a flight.


The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is including Fort Wayne in its feasibility study for its hyperloop as well as conventional passenger-rail routes, which would run along the same corridor from Chicago to Columbus

Join Us for “The Subway”, A Talk at Museum of the City of New York

On March 21st, the Museum of the City of New York will host The Subway, a talk with Joseph Lhota, Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and transportation advocate and MTA Board Member Veronica Vanterpool to delve into what can be done to ensure the future success of the New York subway system.

New York City’s sprawling subway system has rolled into the 21st century in fits and starts. While long-awaited gleaming new stations recently opened along Second Avenue, the more than 100-year-old system is straining under the demands of booming ridership. The talk will be hosted by Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times reporter and host of the Only in New York series at MCNY. Reception to follow with beer courtesy of Harlem Blue.

DATE: Wednesday, March 21st from 7-9 PM

Canada’s Freight Industry

Ramon Insurance

Canada’s importance in the world is a lot greater than many may perceive. With the world’s third largest proven petroleum reserves and the fourth largest exporter of petroleum, Canada is the 12th largest export economy in the world. And Canada’s ports are extremely important to it’s economical growth.

Port Metro Vancouver is one of Canada’s largest port that handles more than 50% of all container cargo. In 2017, Port Metro Vancouver handled 2.7 million units of containers. Ports Prince Rupert and Halifax handled approximately 2.3 million. To maintain the flow of traffic, Vancouver is improving the infrastructure with a $700 million investment. The port’s main terminal TSI Terminal Systems’ Delta port handles 70% of container volumes.  The ports officials are in the early stages of planning Roberts Bank 2. This would be a new terminal that would handled 2.4 million TEUs of annual freight.

Canada’s fastest growing port has…

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MTA enlists ‘chief customer officer’ to improve agency’s communication issues with riders

NY Daily News

The MTA’s tough “customers” will be the focus of a new executive position at the transit authority, the Daily News has learned.

NYC Transit President Andy Byford has hired a marketing exec to join his “top team” as chief customer officer, he wrote to staff in a March 5 memo.

Sarah Meyer joins NYC Transit from Edelman, a communications marketing firm where she served as senior vice president.

Meyer, 34, will earn $205,000 a year in the new role — a pay cut from her private sector work, Byford noted.

General Electric axes top-executive bonuses for first time


General Electric Co last year eliminated bonuses for its senior managers for the first time in its 126-year history, saving millions of dollars after losing money in 2017, the industrial conglomerate said on Monday.


General Electric Co last year eliminated bonuses for its senior managers for the first time in its 126-year history, saving millions of dollars after losing money in 2017, the industrial conglomerate said on Monday.



ATTENTION PASSENGERS. We are not delayed because of train traffic ahead of us. There is no sick passenger.  Forget the closing doors. We are being held momentarily for 15 months. Please mind the gap between your needs and the state’s ability to provide reliable transportation. Courtesy is contagious.

The L train has been a lot of things for a lot of years. Identity merch. Meta reading material. And, especially around the time when the Strokes came into prominence, a kind of cool kid code. But most importantly for the line’s 400,000 daily commuters — especially those who live off station stops with less brand recognition than Bedford or Lorimer — the L train is just a way to get from point A to point B.

Grumbling about crowds, delays, and other nuisances is easy. Truly, though, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. In April 2019, the MTA train will suspend service between Bedford Avenue and 14th Street/Eighth Avenue for a projected 15 months. Next year? May as well be never!, you say? Tell that to future you.

Amtrak suspending service between Boston, NYC on Tuesday

Amtrak is temporarily suspending its service between Boston and New York City on Tuesday. The northeast corridor service will not run until at least 11 a.m.

Amtrak said service would return depending on the weather.

Modified service for Tuesday, March 13 not operating between New York City and Boston, Mass., includes:

Northeast Regional Service: 66, 67, 93, 95, 141,171, 190, 170, 172, 148

Acela Express Service: 2150, 2154, 2158, 2160, 2151, 2153, 2155, 2159, 2163

Modified service for Tuesday, March 13 not operating between Albany, N.Y. and Boston, Mass., includes:

Lake Shore Limited Service: 448 and 449

Canceled service for Tuesday, March 13, includes:

Acela Express Service: 2190

Amtrak Downeaster Service: 686, 687, 688, 689

Amtrak Keystone Service (New York – Philadelphia – Harrisburg), Amtrak Empire Service (New York to Albany-Rensselaer – Niagara Falls) and Amtrak Shuttle Service (New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass.,) will continue to operate as scheduled.

Customers will be re-accommodated on trains with similar departure times. You can check on Amtrak.com or your smartphone app. Anyone planning to travel should check their train status prior to departing, allow extra time to get to the station and be extremely careful in stations and on platforms.

Evidence From Boston That Uber Is Making Traffic Worse


Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are exacerbating rush-hour traffic jams in Boston, according to new research by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The results should be a wake-up call about the need to improve bus and train service and prevent further shifts to car travel.

MAPC surveyed 944 ride-hailing passengers in greater Boston about their travel habits, using questionnaires administered via tablets during ride-hailing trips. More than two out of every five — 42 percent — said they would have taken transit if the ride-hailing service were not available. Another 12 percent said they would have walked or biked.

Combining those results with time-of-day data, MAPC estimates that 15 percent of ride-hailing trips are substituting for more spatially efficient modes of travel during the morning or evening peak (defined as 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.).

In addition, most of the trips either began or terminated in the center of the region — the area with the worst traffic congestion and the best transit access.


Most ride-hailing trips in greater Boston are substituting for transit, biking, or walking, not driving. Graphic: MAPC

The findings underscore the premium regular transit riders are willing to pay for ride-hailing trips, MAPC notes. A large share of people who substituted ride-hailing for transit — 51 percent — had unlimited fare passes, and that figure didn’t change much even for ride-hail trips that cost more than $10 or $20. On average, these passengers also tended to be poorer than the ride-hailing population overall.

These trip substitution patterns are an indication of how badly MBTA needs to improve bus and train service, MAPC says. Residents should be able to rely on the transit system instead of feeling compelled to shell out for ride-hailing fares, especially for trips to the center city. And not only are streets getting more congested as riders opt out of transit, but the agency is losing fare revenue.

MAPC also recommends increasing and restructuring Massachusetts’ flat 20-cent fee on each ride-hailing trip. The current fee is so low it barely registers in the price of a trip, and doesn’t vary in accordance with congestion levels.