Transit head unveils plan to expedite signal upgrades on subway lines

Queens Times Ledger


New York City Transit President Andy Byford unveiled what some agency board members regard as a bold plan to bring the most critical parts of the subway system into the 21st century in just five to 10 years as opposed to the previously projected 40 years.

The plan will close stations overnight and temporarily inconvenience millions of riders for the sake of completing a full install of Communication-based Train Control to replace the century-old analog signals across multiple lines.

“Our plan demonstrates what can be done in advancedly expedited time frame to transform New York City Transit from its state of emergency,” Byford said with emphasis on the last three words at Wednesday’s board meeting. “It won’t be easy to complete such massive upgrades on such a compressed time frame on such a busy system. Transit is in a trough right now, but we can and we must come back.”

In Queens, the No. 7 train will see a complete install of CBTC in 2018 alongside the L line, followed by the E, M, F, R and G trains in the next five years, and then installations will begin on the N, R, W and A within 10 years.

But the price tag may be shocking to some with an estimated $19 billion needed in the coming years.

MTA board member Veronica Vanterpool backed Byford’s plan during Wednesday’s meeting regardless of the potential “sticker shock” expected to go along with any major spending to bring the subways into a state of good repair, especially since she believes the usual budget of $3 billion per year is not sufficient to run the agency, which serves 8.6 million people per day as a whole.

“This plan properly identifies and offers substantive solutions for the significant infrastructure problems facing the subway system,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “The plan does not, however, answer the question of where the money to finance this ambitious proposal will be found. I have proposed a surcharge on New York City millionaires to help fund necessary subway improvements. Other viable solutions have also been proposed. Above all else, we must do something and quickly enact one of these ideas to establish a dedicated revenue stream to save our mass transit system from further calamity.”

The Wednesday announcement follows plans to expand service in November on the A, D, E and F lines in the hours after the morning and evening rush by one to three additional trains on each line.

Buses will also get a boost in Queens with the Q6, Q8, Q29, Q47, Q49, Q101 and the Q65 slated for increased service on Saturdays starting in July to meet high demand.

But Byford’s plan is not the only major improvement plan from the MTA.

Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng unveiled a plan to rescue the commuter line from the decline in service it experienced throughout 2017.

The nation’s biggest commuter railroad will be bringing improvements to the system by adding countdown clocks currently in operation at 116 stations, with a full roll-out by the end of summer, and repair 10 problematic switches attributed to 44 percent of the 205 failures in 2017, including one at Jamaica Station.

“LIRR Forward is the first formal step in a new direction that will help us anticipate our problems before they arise, set standards on how to quickly and correctly respond to the challenges we face, to deliver what our ridership expects of us – which is safe, reliable service bolstered by timely, accurate and effective communicat­ion,” Eng said.

A report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli claims the Long Island Rail Road had the worst on-time performance in nearly two decades in 2017.

With up to 9.2 million riders inconvenienced, the regional economy sustained about a $75 million loss in productivity throughout the year, with an on-time performance of 91.4 percent, which had not been seen since 1999, according to DiNapoli.

January 2018 was the worst month for the LIRR in 22 years, making a slight recovery in February.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

New York City’s subway disaster now has its own 8-bit video game

The Verge

‘We’re just three idiots who make topical video games’

Straphangers who want to experience the rolling nightmare that is New York City’s subway system from the comfort of their own home are in luck. A new video game called “MTA Country,” which debuted this week, takes players on a treacherous ride through graffiti-lined tunnels filled with electrical fires, broken tracks, and stalled subway cars.

Users play as Gregg T., the face of the MTA’s “New Yorkers Keep New York Safe” safety ad campaign, who has since become a bit of a meme. At the start of the game, Gregg T. jumps into a subway car with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Together, the three must leap over track fires and broken-down subway cars full of irritated passengers while dodging pizza rats and passing under graffiti tags that say “Giuliani was here.”

The goal is to collect subway tokens and a series of glowing letters that — spoiler alert — eventually spell out the word “PRIVATIZE.” At that point, the subway car turns into a shimmering hyperloop pod, and Gregg T. disembarks safely in Washington, DC.

It’s been about as long as the last F train rolled in, but we’re back with another game about the world’s most reliable subway system: the NYC MTA.

The game was created by Everydayarcade, a creative collective of advertising professionals that makes hot-button video games in their spare time. The group has created video games for The New York Times and The Outline. A satirical anti-Trump game, in which players throw stereotyped Mexican characters over an ever-rising border between the US and Mexico, was rejected by Apple’s App Store for being too offensive.

“We’re just three idiots who make topical video games, so we have no idea how to fix the subway,” Mike Lacher, one of the game’s creators, said in an email. “Everybody seems to propose a solution, so we thought it would be funny to play one out to the extreme. Collecting letters to spell out “RAISE FARES OVER FIVE YEARS TO FINANCE SIGNAL IMPROVEMENTS” would take too long, and be kind of a downer.”

(Lacher’s co-creator, Chris Baker, told the New York Post, “We didn’t want to hit anyone over the head with the libertarianism. We wanted it to be a funny joke that does have some merit.”)

Lacher said he and his friends were inspired to make the game by countless hours of being trapped on broken-down trains. “The three of us live in New York, and, like pretty much everyone in New York, have been frustrated by the subways,” he said. “We’ve spent lots of time trapped underground or fighting to get into full trains.”

He continued, “We’ve also been watching the intense debate and arguments around it, and we were amused by what an inescapable mess it seems to be and how no one can possibly take accountability for it. So we decided to poke some fun at the absurdity with an absurd game. We got excited about the connection between the abandoned mine level in Donkey Kong and the declining state of the subway.”

The buck-passing over the subway came into view this week as de Blasio and Cuomo sniped at each other over a $19 billion proposal to overhaul the subway. The money would pay to modernize the subway’s signal system and replace antiquated equipment, but New York’s governor and mayor characteristically couldn’t agree on who should shoulder most of the cost. (The correct answer is Cuomo, who appoints the majority of the MTA’s board members and controls its purse strings.)

I asked Lacher whether he’d prefer to ride a hyperloop, a non-existent technology first conceived by Elon Musk, rather than the subway. “In theory, sure!” he said. “A superfast, brand-new hyperloop would be a lot better than a vomit-caked C train with no air conditioning. Sadly, a one-mile test track under LA doesn’t do us a lot of good. I guess you could say the best thing about the NYC subway is that at least it exists.”


NYCT plan to improve subways, buses, accessibility, corporate culture


MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford revealed a comprehensive plan to completely modernize every major aspect of the organization and its services, from subways to buses to accessibility to corporate culture.

The plan, called “Fast Forward: The Plan to Modernize New York City Transit,” focuses on four major priorities: transforming the subway, reimagining the city’s public bus network, improving accessibility for all modes, and engaging and empowering NYC Transit’s workforce to deliver the best service possible.

Highlights of the plan include:

State-of-the-art signal and track infrastructure for optimum reliability, performance and safety. Within five years, the latest computerized signal and track infrastructure will be installed on five additional lines, so three million daily riders are on lines with Communications Based Train Control (CBTC). Within 10 years, these benefits will cover a total of 11 additional lines, benefiting five million daily riders. This work will also require the refurbishment, replacement, or upgrading of myriad supporting infrastructure and equipment, such as power systems, shops and yards, and cars.

Accelerated work towards a fully accessible subway system. Within five years, more than 50 new stations will be made accessible, ensuring that all subway subway riders will not be more than two stops away from an accessible station. Within 10 years, this will expand to a total of more than 130 additional stations, with the balance of all possible stations completed by 2034. Elevator and escalator maintenance and repairs are also being enhanced. All this physical work will be coupled with equally important customer service enhancements, including new sensitivity training for all employees in the next year and better information about elevator and escalator outages and alternative routes. Shepherding these and other accessibility initiatives will be a new Accessibility Advisor reporting directly to the president of NYC Transit.

Critical station repairs and improvements. Critical structural and functional repairs, maintenance, and improvements will be performed at more than 150 stations over the course of five years, and more than 300 stations within 10 years. Keeping these stations up to date is critically necessary for regular service delivery and customer safety.

A state-of-the-art fleet of new subway cars and buses. Within five years, riders will be benefit from the reliability, performance, and safety advantages of more than 650 new subway cars, more than 1,200 refurbished cars, and 2,800 new buses including 200 electric buses, provided that there will be industry capacity to meet the demands of such a large-scale design and manufacturing initiative. Within 10 years, the plan calls for another 3,000 new subway cars and 2,100 new buses, including 1,600 electric buses. Byford has expressed a desire to achieve a fully electric bus fleet; NYC Transit will work with bus manufacturers, charging infrastructure manufacturers, power delivery utilities, and municipal officials to achieve this goal in New York City.

A completely redesigned bus route network. As noted in the NYCT Bus Plan released last month, the entire route network for local and express buses in the five boroughs is being re-evaluated and redesigned based on ridership patterns, road operating conditions and input from customers, route neighbors, advocates, and others. The Fast Forward Plan calls for this work to be done within five years.

A simpler, more reliable, more efficient paratransit experience. The Fast Forward Plan builds upon the work of the MTA Board Access-A-Ride Work Group by simplifying the application process, using modern technology like GPS to enhance ride scheduling and tracking, and working with NYC DOT to allow Access-A-Ride vehicles to use city bus lanes.

MTA New York City Transit subway platform. Photo: Patrick Cashin/MTA New York City Transit
MTA New York City Transit subway platform. Photo: Patrick Cashin/MTA New York City Transit

Engage and empower employees. The Fast Forward Plan works to improve the employee experience — and, as a result, performance — by creating new programs for recognition and for dialogue with management, by streamlining bureaucratic processes, by improving opportunities for internal promotion, by better maintaining and improving employee facilities such as bathrooms and crew rooms, by working with labor unions to refresh the approach to discipline, and by working with NYPD and prosecutors to take a strong stand against assaults on employees. The Plan also establishes a formal agency-wide mentoring program and revamps training and skills development. There will also be increased focus on diversity in the workforce and diversity training, as well as increased facilities for women and non-gender-conforming individuals.

Improving efficiency and reducing costs. The Fast Forward Plan embraces and builds upon the emerging recommendations from the MTA Board Work Group on Cost Containment and Procurement to ensure the efficient use of capital funding; overhaul processes for faster, more efficient project delivery; and better measure, track, and report publicly on performance. This includes clearer lines of accountability and strengthened project management to improve adherence to schedule and budget, improving the design process to reduce unnecessary change orders, simplifying the procurement process, and modernizing the supply chain.

Embracing and increasing capacity for innovation. The Fast Forward Plan will support a new “innovation unit” that incubates new solutions to improve the customer experience and operational efficiency, improve the integration of new technology in operations, explore the increased use of public-private partnerships, and pursue and expand upon recommendations from the Genius Transit Challenge.

Advancing environmental sustainability and resiliency. The Fast Forward Plan keeps up ongoing efforts to require environmental sustainability in new construction including using LEED-certified specifications and building upon an extensive asset recovery and recycling programs that divert 50,000 tons of waste from landfills annually. Resiliency equipment and planning efforts begun after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy continue and are making NYC Transit better prepared for major storm events than ever before in its history.

Modernizing the approach to safety. NYCT is working closely with NYPD to support its expansion of a “neighborhood policing” model to the subway system, as well as to enhance enforcement against, assault, and other crimes in the transit system. NYCT is also going to establish a 24/7 confidential safety reporting hotline for employees to strengthen the safety culture. Enhanced security measures using the latest detection technologies and collaboration with law enforcement will continue to keep the transit system and its users safe.

To track and report progress for stakeholders and the public, the Fast Forward Plan includes twice-yearly reports on the progress of its initiatives.

The MTA revealed its $37 billion plan to save NYC’s crumbling subway system —but there’s one big problem

Business Insider

New York City’s subway system has become overcrowded and unreliable.
Mario Tama/Getty
  • New York City Transit Authority president Andy Byford unveiled a plan to repair and modernize the New York City subway system on Wednesday.
  • The plan, called “Fast Forward,” would replace an antiquated signal system, redesign the way passengers pay fares, increase the number of subway cars, and install elevators at stations.
  • According to the New York Daily News, the plan would cost $37 billion.
  • It would require stations to close on nights and weekends for up to 2.5 years, though it would not close lines during weekdays while improvements are made.

New York City Transit Authority president Andy Byford unveiled a plan to repair and modernize the New York City subway system on Wednesday.

The plan, called “Fast Forward,” would replace an antiquated signal system, redesign the way passengers pay fares, increase the number of subway cars, and install elevators at stations. It would also include station repairs, an increased number of buses, and redesigned bus routes.

The plan includes signal upgrades and new subway cars

The plan is divided into two, five-year segments. The first segment would introduce a new signal system on five lines, add 650 new subway cars and 2,800 buses, bring elevators to over 50 stations, and create a new fare payment system. The second segment would result in six lines receiving a new signal system, elevators for over 130 stations, 3,000 new subway cars, and 2,100 buses.

According to the New York Daily News, the plan would cost $37 billion, though Byford and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) president Joseph Lhota said an estimate for the plan is still being developed, an MTA representative told Business Insider.

The plan would require stations to close on nights and weekends for up to 2.5 years, though it would not close lines during weekdays while improvements are made.

In April 2019, the city will shut down the L line between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 15 months to focus on repairs for the tunnel that allows the line to travel under the East River. (The line will continue to operate in Brooklyn between Bedford Avenue and Rockaway Parkway.)

There are questions over who will pay for the improvements

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that the city would not help pay for Byford’s plan, according to The New York Times.

“It’s now fully understood that the responsibility for the M.T.A. resides in the state of New York, ultimately the governor,” he said.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo replied to de Blasio’s statement, saying a lack of investment from the city would hamper subway improvements, The Times reports.


“If that’s the case, then the real problem is you’re not going to be able to do anything significant to fix the subways,” Cuomo said.

The subway system has become unreliable

Decades of inadequate investment, an outdated signaling system, track fires, and overcrowding have contributed to the New York City subway system’s frequent delays. Transit projects in New York are far more expensive than those in comparable cities throughout the world partly because of generous compensation for workers and high costs from contractors, both of whom are allowed to negotiate their rates without input from any New York City agencies.

Last summer, the MTA began working on an $800 million rescue plan that included urgent track and signal repairs.

The Times has previously estimated that upgrading the signaling system for every subway line could take 50 years and $20 billion.

You can read Byford’s full plan here.

Website ready with full info on Hartford Line


BERLIN – A full buildout of the website for the upcoming CTrail Hartford Line passenger rail service is now live.

Accessible at, the website provides future riders with information on the service’s launch on June 16.

“Our enhanced Hartford Line website offers quick and easy navigation to trip planning, station information, schedules and fares,” stated state Transportation Commissioner James Redeker in a release. “It also offers wide-ranging information about easy-to-reach destinations from the Hartford Line.”

When service begins, 17 trains will run between New Haven and Hartford, with 12 of them continuing on to Springfield, Mass., up from six trains previously run solely by Amtrak.

Amtrak trains and trains specifically designated for the Hartford Line will travel up to 110 mph. A trip from New Haven to Springfield will take 81 minutes.

Service will be free on June 16 and June 17, with full weekday service starting June 18.

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Guest Post – Rationing Gone Wild by GPCox

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

We’ve all heard about rationing but with GP’s help, we’ll now know quite a bit more about it. Enjoy.

Blog - Rationing - Shate my car - 8.114.2013

The Second World War was fought on two fronts and as we’ve seen in previous posts, the home front rarely received the credit it deserved for its efforts.  The generation that endured the Great Depression, worked long, hard hours and were often forced to use the barter system to survive now, for the war effort, had shortages for most everything.  If you can name it – there was probably a ration book for it and a black market to get it; if you dared.  The children also pitched in by giving, what money they could earn, back into the family.

Rationing started just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor and sugar was the first product to be rationed when sales ended 27 April 1942 and commercial manufacturers received…

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LIRR’s Atlantic Ticket would slash prices for 10 Brooklyn and Queens stations

AM New York

The MTA board will vote on a proposed pilot program Wednesday that would dramatically reduce LIRR ticket prices for 10 stations in Brooklyn and Queens, including Atlantic Terminal. Photo Credit: The MTA board will vote on a proposed pilot program Wednesday that would dramatically reduce LIRR ticket prices for 10 stations in Brooklyn and Queens, including Atlantic Terminal.

The MTA is making Long Island Rail Road service more affordable for residents in some of the city’s worst transit deserts.

In June, the authority plans to launch the Atlantic Ticket — a half-off transit pass to Atlantic Terminal for riders at nine other LIRR stations located in Queens in Brooklyn. The idea is that the selected stations are located in neighborhoods poorly served by the subway, and the current cost of LIRR tickets discourages riders from using the railroad on a daily basis.

“[The pilot] will have an important and meaningful rider impact — not only by reducing the fares, but also reducing extreme two-plus hour commutes down to 45 minutes,” said Bradley Brashears, the planning manager for the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, a main proponent for the fare policy. “We are talking about parents who have to leave home before their children wake. We are talking about health care workers, service industry workers and those struggling to make ends meet.”

The pilot is pending a full MTA board vote on Wednesday, where it is expected to pass. A one-way ticket to Atlantic Terminal or between any of the other nine selected stations in LIRR’s Zone 1 and Zone 3, will cost $5, as opposed to the current peak-hour fare of $10.25. The MTA will also offer a $60 weekly pass to use the Atlantic Ticket and local subways or buses. That’s a bit less than half the price of the current $104.25 combined weekly pass.

The program is a watered-down version of the Freedom Ticket proposal that the PCAC first advocated for in 2007. The committee has called for a transit pass that applies to all MTA railroad stations that are .8 miles or more from a subway — that includes Metro-North.

The Atlantic Ticket will also not be as accessible as other LIRR tickets; it will only be available for purchase at ticket windows or vending machines. It will not be available on train cars or through the MTA’s mobile ticketing app, eTix.

The pilot will cost the MTA up to $250,000 for implementation, advertising and market research, according to the authority. MTA officials plan to study the pilot for six to 12 months, surveying riders while monitoring usage and impacts on service.

“Due to the lowered railroad fares, and potential time savings and convenience, some [subway and bus] customers may switch modes from subway and bus to LIRR,” said Douglas Johnson, the MTA’s director of management and budget, at the authority’s Finance Committee Monday. “Additionally, due to the introduction of a price differential between Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal, some existing LIRR customers may switch destinations. The field study will provide insight into travel dynamics and inform future planning and operations.”


The Development of Britain’s Airfields (Part 7).

Especially interesting to Americans who did not need to camoflage their hangers

Aviation Trails

Whilst the runway’s remains one of the biggest features of an airfield, perhaps one of the most discussed and certainly visible is the hangar. Large sheds used to maintain aircraft, many still dominate the skyline today, used by farmers and industrial companies, they are massive buildings, but yet many remain classed as temporary or even transportable!

The development of these huge buildings is another that lasted many years, and whilst similar in layout and design, they are as complicated and as varied as any other building found on Britain’s airfields.

Hangars and Aircraft Sheds.

The topic of aircraft hangars is well versed in a large number of books and internet references. They, like the runways, can explain much about the history and use of an airfield, being the largest single building on any airfield site. Distinguishing features between hangar types is often difficult to see, many now re-clad or updated…

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Best Food in New York City

Some great meals!

Kyrosh Travels - New York City JPG Header

New York City offers some of the most diverse food choices in the world. A melting pot of cultures that have come to call NYC home over the last 200 years. You can find your traditional New York burgers or Hot Dogs to some of the best Asian and South American cuisine, in different parts of this vibrant city.

As you may know we travelled with our little boy, Prince, who was only 10months old at the time, we are lucky parents because Prince loves to try anything and he loved pretty much all of the food, that he was allowed to eat. We did keep deep fried and food with lots of sugar away from him.

This was our first visit to the BIG APPLE, we had spoken to a few food bloggers and locals, to come with our favourite hangouts (so far!). For us it was about getting…

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