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Access-a-Ride needs access to bus lanes

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Even the smallest of fixes can make a large difference, especially for those in need of assistance.

For New Yorkers with disabilities, that seemingly simple change would allow Access-A-Ride vehicles to use NYC bus lanes.

Access-A-Ride, an MTA service that provides, on average, 23,000 trips per weekday, relies mostly on vans and cars to transport city residents who are disabled or need assistance when traveling. About 147,000 residents are registered to use the service, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many of them can’t use the subways or city buses because stations and stops aren’t fully accessible. But unlike the MTA’s buses, which can use marked lanes that, at least in theory, allow for a faster ride, Access-A-Ride vehicles are often stuck in regular traffic. That creates an unnecessary dichotomy between two forms of public transit that cost riders the same fare, but don’t provide the same level of service.
Unlike installing elevators in subway stations, this is a change that’s easy and inexpensive: All it would require is the New York City Department of Transportation issuing rules to clarify that Access-A-Ride vehicles are allowed in the city bus lanes. No legislation is needed, but making the change a reality would necessitate coordination among MTA, NYC and NYPD officials, and proper enforcement so Access-a-Ride vehicles aren’t improperly ticketed.

But NYC officials haven’t committed to getting it done. Advocates say they broached the topic with city transportation officials last fall, but have gotten little feedback.

The MTA and its NYC Transit arm are on board. NYC Transit chief Andy Byford included the reform in his Fast Forward plan to overhaul the transit system. But Byford needs the city’s support, and the necessary rule change.

There will be details to work out and questions to answer, such as which Access-A-Ride vehicles would qualify and how to mitigate any extra traffic caused by the additional bus-lane use. Those questions can be addressed, but first, the city has to get on board. City officials can make this happen easily and quickly. It’s one simple way to give disabled city residents a smoother ride.

Source: https://www.amny.com/opinion/editorial/access-a-ride-new-york-city-bus-lanes-1.19646061

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To save cash, MTA could make cuts to Select Bus Service, subway cleanings

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The cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is looking for ways to save $562 million over the next few years and its planning to do so by halting the expansion of Select Bus Service in the outer boroughs, cutting subway car cleaning positions, and eliminating overtime payment to NYPD officers for extra far evasion patrol, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The MTA is expecting to save around $4 million annually by cutting increased fare-evasion patrol that results in the agency paying overtime to the NYPD; the agency also thinks that it could save $28 million over the next four years by postponing the expansion of the Select Bus Service into “transit deserts” in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx until 2021. Additionally, agency officials plan to save the agency $8.4 million annually by reducing staff at some terminals for subway car cleaning, and another $2.4 million could potentially be saved by reducing fare-evasion patrols on some select bus service routes.

According to the WSJ, internal emails highlight that MTA board members are worried about the measures being taken to reduce costs for the agency, despite still planning to hire more than 1,000 workers under the Subway Action Plan. The emails suggests that some board members were not aware of the specifics of the service-related cuts when MTA Chief Financial Officer Robert Foran presented the board with an overview of the plan in July.

Nevertheless, during an interview on Monday, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota stated that the reductions are not service cuts and that it is simply a “redeployment of resources.” He also highlighted that the MTA still intends to add more than 700 positions over the next few years.

“The financial plan was built with three ironclad requirements—maintenance of service levels, absolutely no layoffs, and avoidance of any unplanned fare/toll hike—all of which were accomplished,” said MTA spokesperson Jon Weinstein. “In fact, the headcount at New York City Transit is increasing– while hitting savings targets – which is allowing us to accomplish significant amounts of badly needed repairs and maintenance work.”

New York City Transit Authority president Andy Byford said in an August 3 email to board members that the reductions are “intended to be temporary in nature while the necessary funding and revenue stream discussions sort out.”

Source: https://ny.curbed.com/2018/8/15/17693128/mta-budget-cuts-select-bus-service-subway-action-plan

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Bronx transportation options now include NYC Ferry service to Manhattan

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The city’s ferry system on Wednesday launched its first-ever service out of the Bronx, providing a new commuting alternative for those in the transit-starved borough.

The NYC Ferry Soundview Route connects Clason Point Park in the Bronx to Wall Street/Pier 11, making stops at East 90th Street and East 34th Street along its route.

Clason Point residents who took the boat the morning of the launch said they were thrilled to have a faster and more picturesque way into the city.
“I love it — it’s a great alternative for transportation,” said Millie Campuzano, 57, who works as a legal assistant near the ferry’s final stop downtown.

Campuzano said she lives near the route’s starting point in the Clason Point section of the Bronx, where her options for getting to work were limited and time-consuming. The area is not accessible by subway. In the past, she either drove to work or took the Bx39 or Bx27 bus to the closest subway station, and both commutes took roughly an hour and fifteen minutes during rush hour.

The Soundview Route, on the other hand, takes about 45 minutes. At $2.75, a one-way ticket costs the same as a subway ride.

For residents who enjoy Manhattan but are tired of slow and unpredictable subway service, the ferry is a breath of fresh air, said one longtime local.

“I go to Manhattan a lot for pleasure, and traveling from the Bronx to New York is usually not a pleasure,” said Bill Folchi, 66, a retiree who said he goes into the city to enjoy the museums about twice a week.

His trek would normally take about an hour and a half, he said.

Folchi had no complaints about the ferry, on the other hand.

“It seems to be on time,” he said. “And you breathe some fresh air.”

The 9:22 a.m. ferry Wednesday morning was sparsely populated with just a few dozen travelers.

The NYC Ferry has served more than five million riders since premiering in May 2017, but that ridership is significantly dwarfed by other forms of transit — the subway, for instance, serves more than five million riders daily — leading to criticism that the city is overspending on the waterborne service.

Mayor Bill de Blasio in May announced the city will dedicate nearly twice as much taxpayer money as originally planned to the ferry service, funneling an additional $300 million into the program to serve an annual ridership of 9 million by 2023.

NYC Ferry service also will soon be offered to the Lower East Side. A planned 32-minute route, launching on Aug. 29, will run from Wall Street/Pier 11 to Long Island City, stopping at Corlears Hook, Stuyvesant Cove and East 34th Street.

Source: https://www.amny.com/transit/nyc-ferry-bronx-1.20484145

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Drunk MTA Bus Driver Smashes Into Parked Cars, Found at 3.2x Legal Limit Behind Wheel in Brooklyn: Complaint

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An MTA bus driver was busted for allegedly being drunk behind the wheel as he drove erratically, with passengers, in Brooklyn over the weekend and smashed into three parked cars, according to a criminal complaint released Monday.

Lenny Lachman, 24, was driving the B82 bus with nine passengers around 1:30 a.m. Sunday when the bus hit parked cars on Flatlands Avenue and East 46th Street, the complaint says. No one was hurt; the vehicles all were scratched.
Responding officers found the driver displaying signs of intoxication, including watery eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol on his breath, officials said. He agreed to take a chemical test to analyze his blood alcohol content, and it tested at 0.257 percent, more than three times the legal limit, the complaint says.

He was charged with DWI and reckless driving. Attorney information wasn’t immediately available.
The MTA said it has “absolutely zero-tolerance” for the driver’s alleged actions.

“This bus operator has been removed from service immediately without pay and we are working with NYPD to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out.”

He was hired in 2017, officials said.

Source: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/MTA-Bus-Driver-Drunk-DWI-Brooklyn-Arrest-490156441.html

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