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How Leaves, Icicles and an Old Bridge Can Complicate Commutes

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Each day this week, New Jersey Transit has heaped extra frustration onto its clients by warning them that their morning trains may very well be delayed by “slippery rail” circumstances.
To some beleaguered riders, that clarification appeared like a concocted excuse for the railroad’s persevering with wrestle to function on time. A number of even challenged it.

Slippery rail circumstances? I like the creativity but it surely’s 55 levels and barely misting.

— Neil Shapiro (@neilsshapiro) November 5, 2018

Slippery rails is, in reality, an issue and is simply one of many causes New Jersey has cited to elucidate the delays and disruptions which have plagued its service. Others have included “manpower scarcity,” annulments, a malfunctioning Portal Bridge and the mysterious “ice patrol.” (One clarification that veteran commuters take severely is “trespasser incident,” which they know means somebody was hit by a prepare.)

Right here’s a translation of those numerous bêtes noires and why any one among them can damage a commuter’s day.

Do prepare tracks actually get slippery in Autumn?
Monday by Thursday, New Jersey Transit mentioned its prepare service may very well be delayed by as a lot as 30 minutes due to rails made slippery by fallen leaves. The company mentioned that is an “age-old” drawback that impacts all railroads within the Northeast within the fall.

Certainly, commuter railroads from Boston to Philadelphia had been citing slippery rails as a reason behind delays this week. Slippery tracks had been blamed for railroad delays even in England this week.

The situation is brought on by the heavy metal wheels of trains crushing fallen leaves and producing an oily residue or the tracks, New Jersey Transit mentioned. When the trains can not get traction, they’ve hassle braking and getting as much as full velocity between stations, it mentioned.

The railroad tries to reduce the consequences by trimming bushes alongside the tracks and by dispatching trains with particular tools, generally known as Aqua Observe, which energy washes the rails.

What’s a Portal Bridge and why does it get caught so usually?
Final week, the reason for prepare delays was not slippery rails however a balky outdated bridge. The Portal Bridge, a 108-year-old swing bridge that carries trains over the Hackensack River, is an notorious choke level on the Northeast Hall between New York Metropolis and Newark.

The bridge pivots to permit boats to move by however usually fails to lock again into place, blocking visitors to and from Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. When that occurs, Amtrak, which owns and operates the bridge, could need to dispatch a crew to hammer the rails till they line up once more.

New Jersey Transit mentioned there had been 326 delays within the final 12 months “associated to Amtrak Portal Bridge points.”

Amtrak has partnered with New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on a plan to interchange the bridge with a better, fastened span. However that undertaking is estimated to value $1.5 billion and the sponsors are hoping the federal authorities will cowl about half of that quantity.

Is the Ice Patrol actual or a whimsical excuse?
Credit scoreÁngel Franco/The New York Instances

Veteran commuters know that as certainly as winter follows fall, the “ice patrol” will succeed slippery rails as a reason behind delays.

Far-fetched as it could sound, throughout spells of very chilly climate, Amtrak sends a crew into the tunnels beneath the Hudson River to take away icicles. The ice that varieties on the ceiling of the century-old tunnels interferes with the flexibility of trains to attract energy from the overhead electrical wires.

Staff clear the icicles the old style method: they stand on a rail automobile and whack them with lengthy poles which have hammer heads. However whereas they’re doing that just one observe is out there between New York Metropolis and New Jersey, a state of affairs generally known as “single-tracking.” Hardened commuters know that single-tracking can wreak havoc on their journeys to work or again dwelling.

Why is Amtrak being blamed?
CreditJohn Taggart for The New York Instances

A pet peeve of many New Jersey Transit riders is the railroad’s propensity to assign blame for delays to Amtrak. The 2 railroads have a landlord-tenant relationship that at many instances has been lower than pleasant.

The stress stems from New Jersey Transit’s reliance on Amtrak property, together with Penn Station and the tracks that lead from all of it the way in which previous the state capitol in Trenton. Amtrak’s rails, bridges and indicators usually malfunction, inflicting delays for all commuters heading to or from New York Metropolis. When that occurs New Jersey Transit makes clear in its bulletins that that is an Amtrak drawback.

The Portal Bridge alternative is an element of a bigger undertaking, generally known as Gateway, that would come with including two tracks in a brand new tunnel beneath the Hudson River. Whether it is accomplished, Gateway might cut back conflicts between the 2 railroads.

Is there a employee scarcity and does it trigger annulments?
Throughout the summer season, New Jersey Transit had a rash of cancellations of scheduled trains. But it surely described lots of these cancellations as “annulments,” a time period that irritated some clients.

Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman for the railroad, defined that it reserved the time period “canceled” for trains that began their runs however didn’t full them due to a breakdown or another drawback. Trains that by no means began their scheduled runs had been “annulled.” she mentioned. She mentioned there had been three,539 annulments and 705 cancellations this 12 months, which mixed amounted to 1 of each 43 scheduled trains.

The reason for lots of these of annulments and cancellations was a scarcity of engineers to drive the trains and the sidelining of locomotives to put in an automated braking system, generally known as Constructive Prepare Management. Unable to satisfy its schedule, even after lowering service this spring, New Jersey Transit pared again its schedule once more in October.

However the railroad has continued to cancel trains, although it has dropped references to annulments. “Cancellation is a time period extra broadly used and understood,” Ms. Snyder mentioned.

This fall, New Jersey Transit’s go-to clarification for canceling trains has been a “manpower scarcity.” State officers have taken a number of steps to recruit and prepare extra engineers, together with waiving a requirement that they dwell within the state. This week, New Jersey Transit introduced that it had obtained greater than 5,000 functions in its quest “to revive the railroad to a full complement of educated engineers.”

Source: https://bylifetoday.com/2018/11/09/nyregion/how-leaves-icicles-and-an-old-bridge-can-complicate-commutes/

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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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