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Islanders arena project at Belmont Park now includes new LIRR station

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A Long Island Rail Road station will be built at Belmont Park as part of a proposed $1.3 billion arena and entertainment complex aimed at bringing the New York Islanders back to Nassau County, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday.

New York Arena Partners, the development group seeking to build the project on state land at Belmont, has agreed to pay $97 million of the $105 million to build the station, state officials said. The development group is a partnership of the owners of the Islanders, New York Mets and the arena development company, Oak View Group.

The expanded LIRR service, which has been discussed for years, is considered critical to the success of the proposed 19,000-seat arena, 350,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and a 250-room hotel. State officials said Monday that the developers had reduced the size of the retail plaza from 435,000 square feet and dropped plans for a movie theater in response to community opposition.
The new Elmont Station will be attached to the LIRR’s Main Line, just north of Belmont Park, and will allow riders from the east to take the train directly to Belmont. Currently, LIRR commuters from the east must go to Jamaica Station and backtrack to the park. Riders from the west already have direct access to the park through a part-time Belmont station.

“The Belmont project will help drive the region’s economy forward while building the Islanders a state-of-the-art facility at home on Long Island, creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic output along the way,” Cuomo said. “Now, with the addition of the first full-time LIRR train station in almost 50 years, we will provide millions of visitors and fans a fast and affordable way to get there.”

Plans for the new station were announced only hours before the Empire State Development Corp., the state agency responsible for attracting economic development to the public land at Belmont, released its final study on the environmental impact of the arena proposal.

To build the LIRR station, state officials said the developers will initially contribute $30 million and the state will cover the remaining $75 million. The developers will then pay back the state $67 million of that figure over time, officials said. Details of that arrangement are not yet available.

The new station is expected to be partially open for service for eastbound customers — going from Manhattan to Long Island — in 2021, at the time of the arena project opening, according to a state-commissioned analysis of the project conducted by BJH Advisors LLC. The station, partially located in Elmont and the other half in Bellerose Terrace, will be fully operational for both eastbound and westbound customers in 2023, the analysis said.

The train stop — located between the Bellerose and Queens VIllage stations — will be the first, new year-round LIRR station built since 1976, when the railroad opened a station on the Southampton LIU campus. The lightly used station was dismantled in 1998. The last new full-time LIRR station that still is operable is Massapequa Park, built in 1933.

Trains will stop at the new Elmont station every half-hour during peak times and every hour during off-peak times. Electric shuttle buses operated by the developer will take LIRR riders to the arena, hotel and retail village. The station, which is three-quarters of a mile from the arena, will be built entirely on existing LIRR property.

The station platform will be large enough to serve 10-12 LIRR cars. The station, which will be ADA compliant, will have an overpass with elevators connecting the north and south side platforms, the LIRR said. Other amenities include platform canopies and shelter sheds, LED lighting, electronic signage, benches, charging ports, an art installation and bicycle racks, according to a LIRR spokesman.
“We are delighted by this plan, which allows us to provide full-time year-round service to the Elmont community and a second station at the redeveloped Belmont Park, all at no construction cost to the LIRR,” railroad president Phil Eng said. “This new station will allow us to provide direct service to Belmont from Long Island as well as from New York City with trains traveling on our Main Line, which is being expanded to a third track for greater service reliability and flexibility.”

The parking lot north of the Belmont racetrack, which has 2,860 spaces, will be shared by weekday LIRR commuters and arena patrons, with 150 devoted strictly for LIRR customers, according to the LIRR. There is no dedicated parking available at the Queens Village station and the parking lot at the Bellerose station is small and limited for village residents.

The existing Belmont railroad station, which operates only during the track’s horse-racing season, will remain open but is not equipped to handle regular train service. The station, a spur off the LIRR’s Main Line, is only accessible from Jamaica Station.

Previously agreed-to upgrades to the existing LIRR Belmont spur, including the installation of automated track switches, are still included in the project, providing another transit option after arena events, state officials said.
Vehicular traffic along the Queens-Nassau border was among the major concerns about the proposed project, which has been going through the state approval process since December 2017. ESD began to study the feasibility of a new LIRR station on the Main Line in April.

“Today we celebrate with our loyal fans and we thank Governor Cuomo, the elected officials, and the community for their ongoing support,” Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said. “Next Stop: Belmont!”

State lawmakers applauded the train station as a critical linchpin for the Belmont development.

“The addition of a full-time train station to serve Belmont Park and the surrounding community is critical to the success of the Belmont redevelopment project, and it’s a huge win for my constituents who will finally have a stop on the LIRR Main Line,” said State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), whose district includes Belmont Park.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), whose district includes Elmont, called the station an “indispensable part of the proposed complex at Belmont because it provides a green alternative to overcrowding area roads and offers Elmont residents access to their own, long-sought-after station.”

But Floral Park residents and elected officials, who testified against the project at the ESD hearing, questioned the benefits of the LIRR station for their community. They urged state officials to study the proximity of the station to homes in Floral Park and the elementary school that borders the northeast side of Belmont Park.

“That station is good to have, but it’s not a panacea,” said Dana Weissman, 66, who has lived in Floral Park for 45 years.

Source: https://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/belmont-lirr-islanders-1.33590940

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Corey Johnson Want to Break the Car Culture in New York City Subway

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Imagine a New York where cars no longer rule the road, and pedestrians and cyclists reclaim dominance of the city’s public space. While a New York where cars don’t dominate the streets may seem like a fantasy, to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, it is the future.

In recent months, Johnson — a Manhattan Democrat in his second year leading the 51-member City Council — has gone full bore touting the idea of “breaking car culture,” or prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists, and mass transit in public policy rather than private automobiles. But what, exactly, would that look like?

Johnson, who says he’s never owned a car and rides the subway all the time, has become a darling of transit advocates and experts, from his focus on the health of the subway system (and call for municipal control of it) to his pushes for congestion pricing and the “Fair Fares” Metrocard program to help low-income New Yorkers.

He’s been seen as a polar opposite to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has shown much more of a “windshield perspective” as a former everyday driver who now gets chauffeured around the city, opposed Fair Fares until Johnson prevailed in city budget negotiations, and has had reluctant overall interest in the subways and buses, not to mention biking.

Mainly, de Blasio’s vision for changing the city streetscape has been aspects of his Vision Zero program to redesign intersections, reduce speed limits, and protect people from traffic crashes. While the program has been successful, helping to continue a reduction in fatalities, the mayor has not shown an interest in creative uses of the city’s public space or the type of more radical thinking Johnson has professed.

Breaking the car culture is at the center of Johnson’s proposed “master plan for city streets,” new legislation that would require the city Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve pedestrian and cyclist access and safety by establishing benchmarks and, in five-year increments, aggressively building out a network of bike lanes, bus lanes, and pedestrian plazas that transform the city.

By 2024, the master plan would institute a connected bike network across the city, install many miles of protected bus lanes, install accessible pedestrian signals at all intersections with a pedestrian signal, redesign all intersections with a pedestrian signal according to a checklist of street design elements designed to enhance safety, and complete all these improvements within the standards for accessible design held by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The CIty Council held a hearing on the bill recently, its fate is unknown at this time.

But beyond the elements in Johnson’s legislation and the policy-making lens it represents, the speaker and others looking to break the car culture in the city also point to changing the decision-making process to give DOT authority over community boards when it comes to specifics of implementation, like getting rid of parking spots and installing bike lanes.

Others advocate for expanding the subway, bus and bicycle networks, building more pedestrian plazas and parks, pedestrianizing certain streets and neighborhoods, rethinking car-focused bridges, aggressively fighting parking placard abuse, and more.

Johnson’s bill comes as the city has seen an increase in traffic fatalities this year over last, despite Vision Zero and its progress over several years. During the first five months of the year, fatalities of pedestrians, bikers, and those in cars were up 21 percent over the first five months of last year.

The number of cyclist fatalities is up 66 percent over the same period, and this year has already surpassed last year’s 12-month total in terms of the number of cyclists killed.

Since its launch in 2014, Vision Zero has helped decrease the number of traffic deaths in every subsequent year, but this year is on pace for an alarming regression, adding to the calls for a much more ambitious approach to street safety and undoing deference to cars.

De Blasio and his administration have been reluctant to support Johnson’s “master plan,” citing the improvements already made and in the works, and what it would require in terms of DOT workload and budget. But Johnson is not satisfied with the pace or scope of the city’s efforts. He wants to prioritize pedestrians, cyclists, and bus riders, ultimately reducing a reliance on cars in the city — in large part by making the alternatives more attractive.

From 2005 to 2017, the number of cars in the city increased by 15%, or 250,283 cars, to a total of 1,923,041, according to the summary of Johnson’s bill.

Meanwhile, in 2017 the subways had an average weekday ridership of 5,580,845 people a day, while average weekday bus ridership that year was 1,923,993, according to MTA statistics. Bus ridership has declined every year since 2012 and subway ridership hit a four-year low in 2017, as both public transportation systems have been mired in failure. However, there have been recent attempts to reinvent the bus system and fix the subways, and the work on both is ongoing.

“Breaking the car culture means not prioritizing public policy as it relates to private automobile use and doing what we can to reprioritize pedestrians and cyclists and buses and mass transit users,” Johnson told Gotham Gazette just after the Council’s first hearing on his master plan legislation, held on June 12.

The City Council hearing featured testimony from DOT and advocacy groups. Johnson again touted the importance of breaking “car culture,” and questioned DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for nearly an hour on what the DOT could do to better manage the city’s streets. Johnson lauded the DOT for the improvements it has made, but said that it could do more, especially on bike lanes, improved bus service, and accessibility.

“What this bill is about is shifting away from car culture, breaking the car culture, prioritizing people not in cars, prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists, and mass transit,” Johnson said at the hearing.

He was critical of DOT for not putting enough effort into doing the same.

However, Trottenberg maintained that DOT has been prioritizing those not in cars and is moving ahead on bike lanes and bus improvements at a solid rate.

“In our designs we have tried to change that priority,” Trottenberg said at the hearing. Through increasing the amount of resources dedicated to public transport, bicycles, and other alternatives, “we absolutely could accommodate people by getting rid of cars.”

According to Rosalie Singerman Ray, a PhD student at Columbia University studying institutions in transportation planning, breaking car culture has two components. First, politicians and activists must name cars as the problem and come up with feasible solutions to make people less dependent on cars. Second is increasing the capacity of local agencies to enforce the new solutions, such as improving public transport and getting rid of parking spaces, among other proposals.

“That’s where we’re struggling,” Ray said in an email to Gotham Gazette. “Unenforced, unplanned streets don’t work well for anyone,” she said.

Breaking the car culture in the city would not be an easy task even if it was the stated goal. Johnson’s bill outlines concrete steps to make people less reliant on cars, and he tasks DOT with many of the improvements necessary to do so. While DOT is eager to continue to make improvements, it does not currently have the resources to accomplish all the initiatives in the bill, Trottenberg said. DOT is “aggressively growing,” but it would need to “aggressively grow some more” to make all the changes in the bill, she said.

“I think we are a piece of it, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that DOT is the sole entity that is going to break the car culture in New York. To break the car culture in New York you need an incredibly robust functioning and expanding mass transit system, you need to build political consensus with players above and beyond this agency,” Trottenberg said.

In an interview earlier this year on the What’s The [Data] Point? podcast from Gotham Gazette and Citizens Budget Commission, Trottenberg said that the MTA, a state-run authority that controls the subways and buses with city representatives on its board, should be in the subway-building game, expanding the network like other cities are doing around the globe.

Many of the initiatives in Johnson’s bill must be implemented by DOT in conjunction with the MTA and community boards, creating bureaucratic speed bumps in the bill’s feasibility.

To implement a bike corral, or curbside bike storage, a private business or individual must petition DOT, which in turn must file an application before the community board, before the corral is voted on. Often these bike corrals will take the place of a parking spot.

“My feeling is that DOT regulates the curb and they should have the ability to say that parking spot for one car is going to be changed now,” activist Doug Gordon said in an interview with Gotham Gazette. Gordon is a co-host of The War on Cars podcast, examining transit issues. Eliminating the process by which the city litigates every single parking spot could make the DOT more efficient and encourage biking, Gordon said.

Gordon, like many transit advocates, including Speaker Johnson, is active on Twitter and posts a lot about mobility around the city. He recently celebrated a new protected bike lane painted along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn. However, building protected bike lanes can be difficult, because they require the approval of a community board, which often boosts the voices of local residents who drive, Gordon said.

Last year, DOT constructed 21.9 miles of new protected bike lanes, falling short of its goal of 30. Johnson’s plan would require the construction of 50 miles of new protected bike lanes a year. The DOT defines protected bike lanes as a lane separated from traffic by vertical delineations or a physical barrier, including parked cars.

Increasing the number of protected bike lanes can have the potential to increase ridership. According to a 2014 report by City Lab, protected bike lanes increase ridership 21 to 171 percent, with about ten percent of new rides drawn from other modes of transportation.

To build so many miles of protected bike lanes, many of the city’s free public parking spots would have to be removed. For example, in its resolution to build a protected bike lane on the east side of Central Park West, Manhattan’s community board 7 eliminated parking on the east side of the avenue, and with it 400 parking spots. The community pushed for the protected bike lane following the death of a 23-year-old cyclist in the current bike lane, which is unprotected.

The DOT estimates that there are 3 million free public parking spots in the city. “We have too much free parking in New York City,” Trottenberg said at the Council hearing. She also agreed with Johnson that there are “too many” cars in the city.

Three million free parking spots is “an astronomical number,” Johnson said. “If you tried to calculate the amount of cubic square footage that is and the amount of people and bike lanes and bus lanes that could fit in that area, you could potentially have a transformative effect on New York City if you started prioritizing breaking the car culture,” he said.

De Blasio has demonstrated a reluctance to remove parking spaces, though he has backed the expansion of CitiBike bike-share, the docks for which often take away a few spots.

“There is a little bit of fear that pervades the development of these plans because there is the sense that if parking is taken there will be community pushback,” Gordon said.

“We all as New Yorkers understand how to maximize the least amount of space for the most amount of good,” Gordon said. “I think we need to extend that very New York point of view to the curbside,” he said.

When the city repurposes parking spots, DOT considers the parking needs of the neighborhood and tries to redesign streets in a way that works for everyone, DOT official Sean Quinn said at the hearing.

Gordon and others want not only parking spaces turned over to other public uses, but also some of the land currently used for driving, such as a lane on the Brooklyn Bridge, which could be given to cyclists, thus alleviating some of the at-times dangerous overcrowding that happens on the pedestrian and bike pathway across the bridge. Gordon and others have also called for pedestrianizing Broadway from Union Square to Times Square, if not beyond, as well as much of downtown Manhattan.

“Making provisions for individuals to be allowed to drive and park wherever and whenever they want makes pretty much everything harder in New York,” Ray of Columbia said in an email to Gotham Gazette.

In London and Paris, both cities that have been cited by Johnson as examples of how to break car culture, the push against car dominance began with parking and public transit investment. Both cities cleared street parking off of major avenues.

London instituted congestion pricing in February 2003, built bus lanes and invested in its bus network, and its bus system boasted a higher ridership than New York’s subway system in 2010. Paris built tramways and bus lanes, putting them on the street to take the place of cars. Paris has since raised the cost of parking on the street, with parking fees higher outside of one’s home neighborhood.

At the same time, both London and Paris kept costs relatively low while they implemented alternatives.

New Yorkers “don’t actually know what it looks like to break car culture wallet-first,” Ray said, meaning that New York’s infrastructure costs are often astronomical, and the state is set to institute congestion pricing while investments in the subway and bus systems have not been clearly planned and funded, much less implemented — though some investments have been made through the emergency Subway Action Plan and initial re-signaling of the 7-line. Still, the MTA must soon perform an authority reorganization while also designing a new five-year capital plan to outline roughly $30-60 billion in planned investments.

Part of Johnson’s master plan includes getting people to rely on cars less by improving the mass transit system, especially buses.

“If the subways and buses are more reliable, if the buses are faster, if there are dedicated bus lanes, if there are more pedestrian spaces, I’m going to rely on something that is cheaper, that is more reliable, that is better for the environment, that is more affordable,” Johnson told Gotham Gazette just after the hearing. There are indeed elements of public transit and space that the city has a great deal of control over, including establishment and enforcement of bus and bike lanes.

Johnson’s plan calls for 30 miles of new bus lanes each year and the implementation of transit signal priority, a method used to coordinate vehicles and traffic signals to reduce the time buses are stopped at traffic lights along a corridor and therefore improve bus travel times, according to DOT.

“We need much better bus and commuter rail service,” Nicole Gelinas, a Manhattan Institute fellow, said in an interview with Gotham Gazette. “We need a better bus network to take pressure off the subway as we decrease reliance on cars.”

Improvements to the bus system would come at a time of decreasing ridership, as more and more New Yorkers get around in for-hire vehicle services, like Uber and Lyft. In January 2016, taxis and for-hire vehicles combined to provide 680,000 rides, according to statistics released by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission and DOT. Today, they combine to provide over one million daily rides. From 2012 to 2017, bus ridership decreased by 12.75 percent.

To break car culture, the city would have to address the increasing number of New Yorkers who are reliant on taxis and app-based for-hire vehicles. The city recently announced a plan to extend the existing cap on fire-hire vehicle licenses another year and introduced another regulation to limit the amount of time drivers cruise, or drive without a passenger. The state also recently passed a congestion pricing program, which will begin in 2021 and charge a fee for entering Manhattan’s central business district, which will add a cost on top of the other new fee recently assessed to for-hire vehicles.

Johnson said that congestion pricing is another part of breaking the car culture. Congestion pricing “will at least below 60th street reduce the number of cars that come in every day,” he said.

Congestion pricing may also eliminate some effects of pollution, which could have environmental and public health benefits. Breaking the car culture could be beneficial to the health of New Yorkers and the globe. High density of cars has been linked to noise and air pollution problems, so creating an environment with fewer cars would make the area less polluted, Ray said.

“Congestion pricing in NYC can do more than address congestion—it can open the city’s streets to better transportation choices and new economic prospects,” former DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan wrote on Twitter. “Cities need people-friendly mobility options that reclaim streets from the damage caused by cars. Sadik-Khan spearheaded the Times Square pedestrian plaza, and under her leadership in the Bloomberg administration, the city began implementing CitiBike terminals and the transformation of approximately 180 acres of road space into pedestrian and cyclist zones.

Some advocates have called for even more pedestrian plazas and spaces in the city, such as the idea of turning Broadway into a pedestrian-only park between the Times Square pedestrian plaza and Union Square.

Breaking car culture will also require the city to become more accessible, Johnson said. The plan calls for the introduction of accessible pedestrian signals (APS), or devices fixed to pedestrian signal poles to assist the blind or low vision pedestrians crossing the street. The devices emit a sound that tells the pedestrian when to cross.

“Cities that have broken their car culture have more public space to talk and play and eat and breathe, and paradoxically, roads that work better for more people,” Ray said.

Johnson noted that there are some parts of New York City that are “transit deserts,” and people who live in those areas will not give up their cars unless the city provides them with an alternative. Eastern Queens and South Brooklyn both lack significant transit options, for example.

“You’re never going to eradicate cars in New York City. That’s just not possible. But it’s about reprioritizing, giving people better options, making significant investments in things that don’t relate to private automobile use,” Johnson said.

Source: https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8626-corey-johnson-want-to-break-the-car-culture-in-new-york-city-subway

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MTA’s private ‘deep cleaners’ skirt safety standards in push to beautify subway stations and cars

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Eight-foot flames shot out from a gas-powered generator powering high-pressure cleaning hoses at a Brooklyn subway station last week — an example of safety risks and cut corners on the MTA’s “deep cleaning” of subway stations that is part of the Subway Action Plan.

Workers scrambled to shut off the generator, one of six set up on the eastbound platform at the Clinton-Washington station on the C line in Clinton Hill in the accident witnessed Tuesday by the Daily News.

Crews were calm as they put out the fire — the generators had caught fire before during station cleaning, workers said.

The accident is an example of the safety risks and cut corners that have come with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “deep cleaning” program paid for by the $836 million Subway Action Plan.

The contractor, WRS Environmental Services, is one of 21 outside firms commissioned by the MTA to aggressively clean 106 stations this year.
The agency has dedicated $200 million of its Subway Action Plan money to station and train car cleanings. The spending includes $16 million to hire outside firms to aggressively scrub stations.

The decision to bring in outside cleaning firms nearly sparked a union picket earlier this year. Transport Workers Union Local 100 and MTA bosses came to a compromise: the agency could bring in outside crews to intensely clean the batch of stations, and two union workers would be on site for the cleanings to learn new techniques.
MTA spokesman Max Young said the work aimed to get stations to a point of cleanliness that in-house crews could maintain moving forward.

“Besides cleaning the stations through the Subway Action Plan, the MTA has begun to incorporate some of the independent contractors’ means and methods so we can reinforce this work every few days and keep these stations clean,” Young said.

But the Daily News found that some of those means and methods skirt basic safety standards.

Sixteen workers cleaned the Clinton-Washington station last week — compared to three or four workers usually assigned to the MTA’s unionized mobile wash force.
The contractors scrubbed areas like light fixtures and vents, where in-house crews normally do not hit.

Those workers were using heavy duty “citrol” chemicals to complete the clean. The fumes from the solvent mixed with the intense exhaust from the gas generators and the vapor from hot, pressurized water. The combination made the underground air difficult to breathe.

Workers were wearing minimal protective gear. Some didn’t have face masks.
Gov. Cuomo has repeatedly chided the MTA’s in-house cleaners over the last six months, alleging they only use Tide detergent to clean the subway stations.

The governor is correct when he says that that Local 100 workers use detergent — Procter & Gamble sells a heavy-duty version of Tide to clean floors and industrial sites.

But the workers also use bleach solutions, power washers, scrub brushes and, in some cases, the same types of Citrol degreasing solutions the private companies use, union officials say.
WRS executive Mike Rodgers repeated Cuomo’s use of the Tide jibe last week. Rodgers hopes to get more work from the agency.

“Nonunion contractors are a scourge to the safety of the system,” said TWU International President John Samuelsen. “We’ll clean with any chemical they issue us to clean with as long as we can do it in a safe manner.”

Samuelsen thinks the MTA got the short end of the deal with the private contractors, and called the move to hire them a “political stunt.”
Outside contractors have also been brought into subway train maintenance facilities to clean cars inside and out.

FleetWash, the contractor hired to do exterior cleaning, uses strong chemicals that are not allowed to be dumped into city sewers. FleetWash pump the runoff from its work back into waste tanks in their trucks and hauls it off for disposal.

The company leaves the outside of subway cars, roughly 3,000 so far, sparkling and shiny. They do this by using a high-powered pressure washer to blast them with a highly concentrated phosphoric acid solution, which over time can corrode the cars’ stainless steel exteriors.
“It has a very high acid content,” a high ranking MTA source said of FleetWash’s cleaning mixture. “It’s not meant to be used regularly.”

The MTA has train car washing facilities at eight of its subway depots that automatically blast cars with water and cleaning solutions, but are unable to fully remove years of built up rust and grime.

FleetWash CEO Anthony DiGiovanni said the treatment should be applied to subway cars every few months. The company’s contract expires in early July.
Private contractors who clean cars’ interiors use safer chemicals. Imperial Cleaning Company, one of three contractors brought in to clean 3,000 cars, uses standard soap, mops and wipes for the floors and seats, and off-the-shelf Bar Keepers’ Friend to polish steel grab bars.

Imperial Cleaning supervisors said it takes a full day for 16 of its workers to clean a 10-car train. Before the Subway Action Plan was launched, the MTA deployed just one or two workers to clean each train.

Some riders may notice cleaner cars and platforms — but surveys show straphangers believed they were already up to snuff. Recent MTA surveys say 85% of straphangers find the appearance of stations and cars acceptable.
While cleaner environments will have minimal impact on subway service, agency officials hope the outside contractors’ work will set a new baseline for cleanliness.

“These intensive cleanings were necessary because many of the stations have not been thoroughly cleaned in decades,” said Young. “The deep cleaning also helps in maintaining the structural elements of the station.”

Crews are currently testing out new cleaning equipment and techniques that supervisors hope will keep the stations clean without the safety risks that come with the private contractors.

Source: https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-subway-action-plan-deep-cleaners-safety-standards-20190617-zyptr37pl5a57aos37gd3g57di-story.html

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Cars to be banned from most of 14th St. in Manhattan starting July 1

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Cars will be banned from most of 14th St. in Manhattan starting July 1 as New York City launches its first official “busway,” Department of Transportation officials said on Monday.

Through traffic will be banned on the street between Third and Ninth Aves. Cars making pickups, drop-offs and accessing local garages will get a pass.

DOT spokesman Scott Gastel said the restrictions would be in place from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will also launch its new M14 select bus service on July 1, hoping to speed up buses by eliminating 16 existing stops and requiring riders to swipe their MetroCards at curbside machines before they board. The new service will replace the M14A and M14D routes currently operating along 14th St.

Buses and trucks will be able to use a new priority lane along the street, and left turns will not be permitted on the affected stretch.

New high-tech cameras on MTA buses will enforce the 14th St. rules, but tickets for violations will not be issued until at least September. A bill working its way through Albany would lift the cap on automated traffic cameras in the city, possibly leading to more cameras on 14th St. and beyond.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said seven new NYPD bus lane tow truck teams will help enforce the new 14th St. rules.

“Clearly there’s no point in having a bus lane if you have it hopelessly blocked with people double parking, delivering,” said NYC Transit president Andy Byford. “You can’t park in the bus lane. It’s selfish.”

The changes are expected to be a boon for L train riders, who have dealt with 20-minute waits for trains beneath 14th St. at night and on weekends since the MTA started construction on the line on April 26.

The “busway” was originally planned for 14th St. as part of the city’s L train mitigation plan, but Mayor de Blasio pulled the plug on the idea when Gov. Cuomo announced in January a change in the scope of reconstruction work on the line.

In April, city officials changed course again, and said the program would run as an 18-month pilot.
Tom DeVito, senior director of advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, said the changes to 14th St. will help some 30,000 New Yorkers every day.

“It shouldn’t be long before this innovative, space-efficient, transit-first design for 14th St. is replicated on crosstown corridors across Manhattan and other major bus routes citywide,” DeVito said.

Source: https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-14th-st-select-bus-service-busway-cars-banned-july-1-20190610-e3mcik7e7vbjjkpuslb3hrvybe-story.html

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