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Clean, On Time and Rat-Free: 9 International Transit Systems With Lessons for New York

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What smells like a “nightclub toilet,” evokes the feeling of “an underworld” and resembles a “working museum”?

That would be the New York City subway, according to international readers who have experienced it.

The subway runs around the clock and carries millions daily across a sprawling network. But when we asked riders of public transit around the world how their systems compare, New York’s scored worse than most on several measures.
Among the enviable features they described were Moscow’s chandelier-adorned platforms, Istanbul’s plans for a 500-mile expansion and Tokyo’s friendly attendants who locate lost items.

Below are some of their tales of exceptional public transit. They have been condensed, edited for clarity and paired with photos of their systems and New York’s.

Moscow
I’m a senior majoring in Russian studies at Carleton College in Minnesota. When I studied abroad in Moscow last year, my father, a South Bronx native, came to visit. We took the metro many times, and he was shocked.

“Where are the rats?” he asked. “I can’t believe how clean it is on these platforms.”

Many of the stations are works of art. Kievskaya, one of my favorites, has chandeliers and glittering mosaics with scenes from Ukrainian and Russian history. My other favorite station, Dostoevskaya, has murals depicting some of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s famous works, including “Crime and Punishment.”

The stations are held to a high standard of cleanliness, and there’s a constant police presence. Hooliganism is a serious crime, and it’s illegal to drink in the metro.

New York impressions: The subway in New York doesn’t follow a schedule in my experience. One time, in the summer of 2017, I waited 40 minutes for a Q train on the way to Brighton Beach. There was construction, but come on, 40 minutes?

Tokyo
I live in Tokyo and rely on three trains — JR and Tokyo Metro lines — to get to my job leading food tours at the Tsukiji fish market. My first train is famous for being packed during the morning commute. But riders are good for the most part about making room for as many people as possible. When things go smoothly, a new train comes on the JR Chuo line every few minutes. If there are ever delays, train stations, social media and TV news are quick to share the information.
Trains are clean, and some cars are reserved for women and children. There are staff at the stations who are helpful and friendly. One time I left my keys on the train, and the staff at my station quickly figured out which train it was and where I could track it down. The keys were turned in and I retrieved them.

Japanese culture respects others before yourself. My train ride is so quiet in the morning that a baby could sleep. There are rules, such as letting people off first, that everyone follows.

New York impressions: I lived in New York for many years, and two things happened to me on the subway. First, I was held up. There were other riders in the car, and no one did anything to help. Second, I was on a train and a man had a gun. Everyone panicked, and people fled to the ends of the train. This doesn’t happen in Tokyo.

Amsterdam
As an American and former New Yorker, I am keenly aware of the public transit differences between here and New York. In Amsterdam it is a priority, a connecting web of trams, buses, trains and ferries that allows everyone to get around safely and on time.

I came to Amsterdam in 1989 to work for Radio Netherlands Worldwide and started living here full time seven years later. Now I’m retired, and as a senior on a limited income, I qualify for a free pass on all city transportation. This mobility has opened my life.

When American friends visit, they think our system is like a dream. But it isn’t. It’s the result of decisions made by the city and national governments and supported by the citizenry, who benefit daily and are willing to pay taxes to support it.

New York impressions: When I moved to Amsterdam after 15 years in New York, I had no idea that transport could actually run on a schedule. All I knew was to schedule extra time.
I still don’t trust the timetables, mainly because I want to keep some of my New Yorker-ness!

Stockholm
The metro here is known as the world’s longest art gallery.

One card allows you to ride the commuter trains, metro, trams, ferries and buses. There are even driverless vehicles. Transit is safe, punctual and affordable. Between my commute from the suburbs and my work co-directing the Stockholm Fringe Festival, I take three to four transportation modes a day. The system is part of my office.

For the festival we rely on public transit to get our actors, crew and audience members to each venue. In fact we plan the locations and schedule around the metro lines. In 2012 we had a roaming performance that took place across different stations and trains. It won the Audience Choice Award.

New York impressions: The subway looks like it does in the movies and smells like a shady nightclub toilet.

Berlin
When my husband and I were both working remotely, we thought, “Why not do this from Berlin instead of home?” So we left Austin, Tex., and spent a month there in 2016. We returned last year to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary and my birthday. Berlin is our favorite big city, in large part because of how easy transportation is.

The U-Bahn was our primary method of transit for everything. Trips on it aren’t particularly memorable, and that’s how it should be. Systems are consistent across platforms and stations. There aren’t obstacles to smooth travel. What’s memorable, though, is the exquisite, ornate tiling in many of the stations. You also don’t validate your ticket when you enter a platform, which I think only works because of German culture.

New York impressions: When I visited New York, the stations were grungier and more rundown than the U-Bahn. But the U-Bahn serves a city with 3.5 million people. It’s harder to maintain and clean a system in a city of 8.5 million.

Istanbul
My family has a foundation that manages a robotics competition in Turkey. My work for it often requires taking public transit to meet with schools, sponsors and teams across Istanbul. When I was looking for an apartment, access to the metro and buses was basically my only criterion.

The metro is pretty fantastic. The trains can carry a massive number of people. We have mild overcrowding for an hour or two a day, but it’s usually not horrendous. Trains are almost never delayed thanks to good maintenance. My line, the M2, carries about 400,000 people each day without trouble.

The trains have TV screens that play lots of things. My favorites are the cat (and sometimes dog) videos.

The metro sparkles: Trains and stations are shiny clean. What I like most, though, is how fast it’s expanding. There are plans to go from 105 miles of track to about 680 miles in the next decade or so.

New York impressions: I’ve come to New York for robotics competitions. The subway gets you there. That’s about it. It was slow and broken, with lots of trash and decay. I felt like I was in an underworld.

Vancouver
My work addresses urban-planning issues. Before moving to Vancouver, I lived in San Francisco, where I helped take down the Embarcadero Freeway and create the Presidio, a national park. Here, I’m working to remove two old highway viaducts, which will be replaced by a new roadway, parks, housing, bike paths and more.

The SkyTrain, our rapid transit system, has three lines that run through metro Vancouver. It plays a key part in a transportation strategy that makes walking, cycling and transit account for half of all trips in Vancouver.
The entire system is driverless. I’ve sat in the front seat of a SkyTrain, imagining that I’m the engineer as we race across the Fraser River.

Automation puts more money into maintenance and expansion. Six new stations opened in 2016. A project that will connect the suburbs to a major hospital has been approved, and an extension to the University of British Columbia is being discussed.

New York impressions: The subway is a critical public asset with impressive 24-hour service. But it’s antiquated, inefficient and not designed for all ages and abilities.

Zurich
I’m a professor of computer science and use public transit on weekdays to drop off my youngest daughter at school, get to my university, run errands and go to meetings.

Zurich’s system has many desirable features. Most trams and many bus lines have their own lane, so travel time is more or less predictable.

The buses, with few exceptions, and many trams have low floors, allowing a stroller, wheelchair or suitcase to be moved easily onboard. Most U-Bahn stations are also accessible.

The timetables are fairly dense on many lines, and the evening and weekend schedules aren’t much thinner. On Friday and Saturday there’s a late-night network. I’ve never felt unsafe in any bus or tram.

Public transportation covers every part of the city. I don’t recall walking more than five minutes to a stop. It also has wide social acceptance; I know C.E.O.s who take public transit.

We once had visitors from the United States who left a handbag with money, jewelry and their passports on a bus. It took a phone call to find out when and where to meet the bus, and the driver handed over the bag.

New York impressions: The subway is a nice working museum.

London
I go to Northeastern University in Boston and studied in London for six months in 2017. I return every so often to work with a friend there on a business venture.

The Tube was the most amazing thing to happen to me. I could reach practically every spot in London in less than 40 minutes.

The system is extremely efficient, with frequent trains during the day. For me this is one of the main reasons that London has stayed ahead of many cities that haven’t aged as gracefully.

The trains are extremely long and can fit tons of passengers. Some stops also serve as national rail stations. I could board a train near my apartment and head out almost anywhere in the United Kingdom, from London’s suburbs to Edinburgh.

Transit fares are based on zones. One time I accidentally left the area that my card could access. It was 2:30 a.m., and I was six miles from my apartment. A security guard offered to pay for me and I was home within 30 minutes.

New York impressions: I like that New York’s subway is extensive (more so than Boston’s), but it’s extremely poor quality. It’s closer to London in terms of having many stops in many places, but not close in much else.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/11/reader-center/international-public-transit-new-york-subway.html

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Three separate homicides across city this weekend under investigation

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The weekend was especially busy for homicide detectives across the city as three people were killed since Thursday night in separate murders, police said.

Police were also seeking a possible wounded person from a shooting on a Brooklyn train Saturday night.

The violence began Thursday, Nov. 14 at about 9:05 p.m. when police from the 34th Precinct responded to a 911 call of shots fire in the vicinity of Sherman Avenue and Thayer Street in the Bronx.

Upon arriving at the scene, law enforcement sources said, officers were told about a 20-year-old man who had arrived at New York Presbyterian Hospital, via private means, with gunshot wounds to the legs.

The victim, identified as Luis Dela Cruz, of 36 Arden Avenue, was subsequently pronounced deceased at the hospital. There are no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing.

On Friday, Nov. 15, at about 9:15 p.m., 17-year-old Talasia Cuffie of Vernon Boulevard in Long island City, Queens, was found stabbed in the chest multiple times along 166th Street in South Jamaica. Paramedics rushed her to Jamaica Hospital. where she was pronounced dead.

Sources said Cuffie was stabbed only hours after attending a memorial for her friend, Aamir Griffin, 14, who was shot to death on by a stray bullet 21 days earlier.

Hours later, at about 3:44 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, police in Brooklyn responded to a 911 call of male shot in front of the Lafayette Garden Houses, a NYCHA development. Officers found a 34-year-old man shot multiple times in the chest. EMS rushed him to Brooklyn Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim has not yet been identified, and no arrests have been made.

Shooting aboard train

Meanwhile, cops are also investigating a reported shooting on board the Franklin Avenue Shuttle in Brooklyn Saturday evening.

Police say a group became embroiled in a dispute either aboard or on the platform of the Franklin Avenue shuttle as it sat in the station at Prospect Park and Flatbush Avenue Saturday night at about 8:40 p.m. Police were checking hospitals in the borough for possible person shot, but could not confirm that anyone was hit.

A transit worker inside a maintenance room at the station said he heard a large group of teens running from the station, but he didn’t hear the shots. Police were holding the motorman after the shooting for questioning.

The suspect was described as male black, 5’9″ with a dark hoodie.

The shuttle was shut down for the duration of the investigation as evidence collection units collected spent shells and a bullet that may have been lodged in a wall of the train.

Source https: www.amny.com

By  Todd Maisel

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Advocates: MTA Board Must Get Moving On Congestion Pricing Details

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In less than one year, the state-mandated Traffic Mobility Review Board can issue its nuts-and-bolts recommendations for how congestion pricing is supposed to work, what it will cost, and who will get much-desired exemptions from the toll.

Of course, there’s a few things that need to happen first — primarily Mayor de Blasio and the MTA Board have to actually appoint members to this obscure board, get it an office so it can start the work of setting those tolls and exemptions, and start holding meetings (which are supposed to be public, but might not be!).

On Friday, a coalition of 20 good government and transit advocacy groups including Reinvent Albany, the Permanent Citizens Advisory Council, the Citizens Budget Commission and the Straphangers Campaign fired the first warning shot, with a letter reminding the politicians who passed the tolling scheme earlier this year that the hard work of actually designing and then implementing congestion pricing still needs to be done before it supposed to (magically!) begin in January, 2021.

The Traffic Mobility Review Board is supposed to comprise one chairperson and five members: one appointed by Mayor de Blasio and the rest appointed by the MTA Board/Gov. Cuomo, though two members must be from the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North service areas.

Asked if the MTA Board had held any discussions about the board and who will be appointed to it, de Blasio’s MTA Board appointee Veronica Vanterpool told Streetsblog it had not. Noting that she felt it could wait until after December’s decision on the 2020 MTA budget, Vanterpool still urged the Board to prioritize the TMRB going forward.

“All eyes are on NYC for this rollout, so we shouldn’t squander time,” Vanterpool said. “January, 2021 is around the corner.”

A spokesperson for Cuomo referred Streetsblog to the MTA, and a spokesperson for de Blasio did not respond to a request for comment on potential board appointees.

Nov. 15 was an auspicious date for the good-governance groups to send the letter, because Nov. 15, 2020 is the date when the TMRB can release its recommendations, per the congestion pricing agreement that the state legislature passed this year (observers have pointed out releasing the recommendations on Nov. 15 allowed legislators to avoid any potential consequences in the 2020 election, which is a week earlier).

If those recommendations are approved by the Triborough Bridges & Tunnel Authority, the MTA can start collecting the congestion toll fee as soon as Jan. 1, 2021, although there’s no requirement that the tolling begin that soon (clearly, there is a huge potential for delay). Although the TMRB has not yet been appointed, the MTA has at least selected a vendor to design and operate the tolling infrastructure once the fee is instituted.

With no TMRB holding meetings, there’s no way to know what congestion pricing will look like or even what the price might be. For now, thanks to state lawmakers carving out exemptions, we know that emergency vehicles, vehicles transporting disabled people and drivers passing through the congestion toll zone on the FDR Drive or West Side Highway will be exempt from the fee. In addition, CBD residents making less than $60,000 per year will get a tax credit equal to what they spend on the tolls each year, and an exception is being worked out for drivers who have to move their cars in and out of the CBD border because of alternate-side parking.

Other than that though, the public is only left to speculate. At Tuesday’s state legislative hearing on the MTA’s historic $51.5-billion 2020-2024 capital plan, MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye promised that before the tolls and exemptions are set, there would be pointless kvetching sessions robust public hearings with the TMRB so that MTA Board members could be properly informed.

In September, the Regional Plan Association issued a series of suggestions as to how the congestion toll could be set. The plan that seemed to do the most good, in terms of raising money and reducing congestion during peak hours, was a fee of $9.18 to enter the CBD during the morning rush and the same fee exit it during the evening peak. That charge would raise $1.06 billion and increase traffic speeds in the Manhattan core by 15.6 percent.

The TMRB’s decisions will have enormous consequences for the success of the congestion pricing program, and for the MTA’s historic capital plan. The MTA is banking on raising $1 billion per year with the congestion fee, which they can then turn into $15 billion in bonds for the agency’s capital spending. In addition to setting the tolls and exemptions, the TMRB is also supposed to review the 2020-2024 capital plan at some point, which makes actually appointing its members somewhat urgent since next year is…let’s see here…2020.

 

Source  nyc.streetsblog.org

By Dave Colon

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Contract talks break down between TWU, MTA

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TWU, MTA

NEW YORK (WABC) — Talks between Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the MTA have broken down after both sides have been meeting for the last three days, officials say.

The transit union president claims that the MTA contract demands have “only made the already tense situation worse.”

The union released a statement Thursday evening about MTA Chairman Pat Foye.

“These two days of bargaining have actually set us back,” union president Tony Utano said. “Foye presented us with a new set of demands today that are substantially worse than the insulting package he threw across the table three months ago. Foye not only appears unwilling to negotiate in good faith, he is intentionally spoiling for a confrontation.”

No new talks are scheduled.

The main issues are wages, pension and health benefits, but it all comes amid rising tensions at the MTA and accusations of widespread overtime abuse.

On October 30, members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 rallied outside MTA headquarters, from bus drivers and subway operators to station cleaners and track inspectors. All of them, working without a contract for nearly six months.

MTA officials claimed they have been bargaining in good faith. But unionized workers from the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North are also working without contracts.

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