It’s been a long time coming. On Tuesday, the Long Island Railroad finally rolled out the first new trains in nearly two decades.
They’ll go into service for passengers starting Wednesday.
CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge got a look and a ride on the first generation of new cars.
CBS2 got to hop onboard one of the highly anticipated new M9 trains with LIRR president Phil Eng riding from Jamaica station to Hicksville.
The first eight of 202 cars will start taking passengers on Wednesday, as commuters say they have suffered through overcrowding and delays far too long.
“I did notice as it rolled in that train looks pretty clean… it’s always about time for upgrades to public transportation,” LIRR rider Ryan Lott said.
The new trains were ordered back in 2013, but were delayed repeatedly due to a series of problems.
“There were a number of changes that occurred… clip modifications needed to be made,” Eng said.
The M9 replaces the 1980’s era M3 cars. The $550 million new fleet includes:
- More seats
- Clearer public announcements
- Automatic doors that let you move between cars with the push of a button
- Upgraded armrests that don’t rip your pants pockets like the old ones used to
“On the technology side outlets at every seat. Bigger bathrooms. The signs now tell you what car you’re in. There’s a lot of improvements,” Barry Johnson, a road foreman for LIRR added.
Most importantly, security enhancements like Positive Train Control have been added for a safer ride.
“For example take the brake system the computer in this actually controls the break right down to a stop,” Johnson said.
Officials say the new trains will also ease congestion on the LIRR’s ever expanding ridership.
“LIRR ridership is booming. Last year we had record ridership. This year we’ve exceeded last year’s ridership by over 1 million riders to date,” Eng said.
That’s 90 million riders expected this year alone, who will soon get to experience that new “car” smell.
Every month the new cars will be rolled out until all 202 are active by 2021.
NYC’s gross subway cars are actually getting worse – and causing delays
It’s not your imagination — the subways are getting even grosser.
Complaints of “soiled” subways are piling up, with skeeved straphangers reporting more cars caked with garbage, food spills and human waste so far in 2019 than in all of 2017, according to MTA data.
Having already blown past the 1,504 reports logged in 2017, this year’s 1,623 complaints as of the end of August are on pace to obliterate 2018’s year-end tally of 2,058, the agency said — to the surprise of absolutely no New Yorkers.
“Saying the trains are getting dirtier is like saying the Titanic took on two inches of water after it had already sunk,” said Gene Glicksman, a Queens lawyer toughing it out on the A/C platform at Fulton Street in lower Manhattan.
Grimy subway cars aren’t just funking up your commute — they can also slow it down.
From January 2018 through July 2019, delays related to the interior of train cars being soiled and dirty accounted for approximately 1 percent of total delays, the MTA said.
Nonprofit news outlet The City, which first reported on the festering problem, reviewed MTA documents reporting trains strewn with garbage and bodily fluids — as well as messes made by the growing number of vagrants in the system.
Nelson Rivera, administrative vice president for Transport Workers Union Local 100, said that there’s no single factor fueling commuters’ increasingly gag-worthy rides.
“If you take, say, the L line for example, it could be the millennials getting drunk and throwing up on cars,” said Rivera. “It’s not only the homeless, it’s all types of people.”
Rivera and the TWU also pointed to an MTA-ordered moratorium on hiring new car cleaners as older workers retire.
In 2016, the ranks of cleaners were 1,049 deep. Now, only 968 are employed to maintain the same number of cars, letting the mess mount.
“These disgusting conditions are terrible for riders and workers,” said Rivera in a statement. “If MTA Chairman Pat Foye wants to talk about ‘worker availability,’ [he] needs to recognize the environment and unacceptable assaults that cause workers to get sick and injured.”
The MTA insisted that train cars aren’t getting dirtier —it’s just that more people are reporting problems.
“The accuracy in reporting and coding these types of incidents has been improved, which has contributed to a rise in the number of reports,” said the MTA.
But riders say that a trash-strewn commute has become par for the course.
“The trains are always dirty,” said Chris Cruz, 32, of Brooklyn. “But what can you say other than welcome to New York?”
Buses on 14th St. are moving slightly faster, MTA says
Buses on 14th St. are moving slightly faster than they were a year ago, but MTA and city officials said they’d be even speedier if a lawsuit had not prevented them from restricting car traffic on the crosstown corridor.
On the M14A and M14D routes, which run on the street, buses averaged just over 5 mph on weekday mornings in July, Metropolitan Transportation Authority data shows.
That’s a hair faster than the 4.7 mph average pace for the same routes during the morning rush in July 2018.
The speed-up correlates with the MTA’s implementation of Select Bus Service along the routes, which got rid of 16 stops and requires riders to pay their fare at machines placed on sidewalks before they hop on board.
The MTA’s changes to the bus routes went into effect on July 1, and were supposed to be accompanied by new rules from the city Department of Transportation that would have prohibited passenger cars from driving on 14th St. between Third and Ninth Aves. unless they were making a drop-off or heading to a parking garage.
But after a cohort of block associations filed a lawsuit, the city was unable to impose the car ban. The suit was dismissed in Manhattan Supreme Court earlier this month, but the plaintiff’s lawyer and chief advocate Arthur Schwartz filed a last-minute appeal, and was granted a stay that once again kept the city from kicking cars off the street.
“Speed increases on the M14 show that balancing the alignment of stops with need, off-board payment, and all-door boarding work,” said MTA spokesman Shams Tarek. “However, there’s still much room for improvement to be achieved by smart street treatments that prioritize movement of buses and mass transit.”
DOT officials have said those restrictions would speed up buses on the routes by 25%, which would require the buses to move at a still-sluggish 6 mph.
The lawsuit has also kept the MTA from rolling out new front-facing cameras on the 14th St. buses to automatically ticket cars that block the street’s new bus lane. Tarek said those devices would also help speed up bus service on the street.
Schwartz, who lives in the West Village and is concerned that the traffic restrictions will lead to more car traffic on his street, said the DOT could improve bus service without the car ban.
“If DOT would separate the cars and institute a true bus lane, they would achieve the 25% increase, which was their goal, without diverting for-hire vehicles and small trucks onto the side street,” he said.
The MTA’s union needs to check its privilege
According to Transport Workers Union chief John Samuelson, the MTA’s efforts to rein in overtime and pension abuse amount to “creating a hostile [work] environment.”
Wow. Check your privilege, John. The reason your members — and workers represented by other MTA unions — face treatment as if they might be criminals is that some of them clearly are defrauding the public.
Sure, the very worst seem to be certain employees of the Long Island Rail Road, not the subway and bus workers repped by the TWU. But it wasn’t LIRR workers who cut the cables on new subway timeclocks meant to replace honor-system timesheets.
And kudos to MTA boss Pat Foye for requesting contract changes to let the agency deny and even revoke pension benefits for workers who commit overtime fraud — which regularly inflates pensions.
It’s not remotely guaranteed that the MTA will get those fixes. Samuelson is already threatening “strikes across the entire MTA system” over the issue, even though most of those strikes would be illegal.
And never mind that the objective evidence is that far too many workers have been claiming hours they couldn’t possibly have worked.
On the downside, the MTA’s financial projections now assume that it will get major cost savings from ending these abuses, as called for in the Transformation Plan pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and endorsed by the Legislature.
The Citizens Budget Commission rightly notes that those estimated hundreds of millions in savings ignore “serious barriers to its implementation,” such as Samuelson, his fellow union bosses and their entrenched power. “Highly optimistic” is how the CBC terms that financial plan, and the watchdog is clearly right — unless the unions decide that the public has had enough.
Most MTA workers are not thieves, but their unions are determined to protect the thieves among them because . . . union solidarity?
More likely, labor leaders figure the average New Yorker is too blinded by pro-union sentiment to realize what a racket this is. Here’s hoping Cuomo, Foye and all the rest of management have the guts to put that to the test.
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