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New York MTA defers vote on fare increase

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The Metropolitan Transit Authority delayed voting on a potential fare increase at its Thursday meeting, pushing back a decision for at least a month.

A unanimous vote (with one absention and one board member absent) tabled the vote until the Feb. 27 meeting.

“We need to change the thinking and the culture of how we operate the system to make sure there’s clear performance metrics tied to any potential future fare increase,” said board member Lawrence Schwartz, chair of the board’s finance committee. The delay will allow a month to devise alternatives.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken a hard line against any fare increase, which MTA sources estimate could generate an additional $30 million per month. As an example of the hike under consideration, a subway fare could possibly increase up to 10 percent over the current base fare of $2.75.

Also at the meeting:

— A vote had been expected on the new construction plan for the subway L train, which avoids the lengthy closure which had long been planned. [See “New York MTA emergency board meeting will result in Jan. 24 vote on the L Train’s future,” Trains News Wire, Jan. 17.] Acting MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer, however, said there was no need for a new vote if the cost of the new plan was equal two or less than the amount that had been originally been budgeted. Full details of the new plan, which replaces a full closer of the 10-mie line between Manhattan and Brooklyn with partial closures, should be finalized soon.

— The board approved a $32 million contract with HNTB New York Engineering and Architecture for preliminary engineering and design of the Penn Station Access Program. The contract must also be approved by Amtrak’s board of directors.

The program will lead to four new stations in the East Bronx along the line from Penn Station to New Rochelle, N.Y., used for Amtrak Northeast Regional and Acela Trains [see “Bronx to get four new Metro-North stations,” Trains News Wire, Jan. 24, 2019] and additional tracks for the Hell Gate Bridge Line right-of-way. Actual track placement yet to be decided upon. Funding is available through the MTA’s 2015-2019 Capital Plan. Expected opening for this will be after 2022. When the vote was cast, it was mentioned the idea came from then-Bronx Borough President Ferrer thirty years ago.

— During the post-meeting press briefing, Trains News Wire asked Ferrer specifically about the timing and train slot availability of at Penn Station and Grand Central. With the East Side Access program bringing Long Island Rail Road trains into a new station under Grand Central Terminal, there may be additional capacity at both New York City stations. Ferrer said the East Side Access service must be fully operational before Penn Station Access service begins, and that once the East Side Access trains are running, “we will know how many slots we will have at Penn Station in a relatively short period of time.

“Those underutilized slots at Grand Central for trains that go into GCT are available for us to use for Metro-North, and others, perhaps. We’re not selfish.”

MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan indicated plans for the new East Bronx Service were being formulated, and that the new Penn Station trains would mean additional service, not diversion of current trains from Grand Central.

Source: http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2019/01/25-new-york-mta-defers-vote-on-fare-increase

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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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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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