The newest fleet of NYC Transit subway cars is having a tough time on the rails lately.
Dozens of cars built by Bombardier for the latest train model — known as the R179, which now run on the J/Z and C lines — were sidelined this week after suffering from different kinds of maladies, from door problems, propulsion issues and air compressors, sources told The News.
Even the springs that hang between train cars were bolted on too tight, ripping holes in the car body, sources and transit officials told The News.
Those springs are safety barriers to prevent people from stepping between cars from the platform.
“That could be why I haven’t seen them as often on the C train,” said Andrew Albert, the riders advocate on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board. “If they’re defective, Bombardier has to make good. Not only are they two years late, they have defects.”
There were 112 of these cars — costing roughly $2 million a piece — on the tracks as of December. The rest of the roughly 300-car order has yet to be filled, according to MTA public reports.
There were 16 defective new model cars out of the 96 cars at the East New York yard. There were another 32 new model cars in the transit system that had defects that forced them off the tracks.
“We have very high standards for the safety and performance of our subway cars, and if there’s an issue on a car we work to get it addressed right away,” said MTA spokesman Shams Tarek. “We continue to work through reliability issues with Bombardier; (NYC Transit) President (Andy) Byford is directly involved with bi-weekly meetings with Bombardier to force action on outstanding issues and deliver the remainder of the contract.”
Bombardier spokeswoman Maryanne Roberts said that the Montreal-based manufacturer has 50 full-time workers in New York working round the clock on the R179 cars.
“Introducing and integrating new cars with new technologies into existing transit systems is challenging and it’s not unusual to have some issues,” Roberts said. “Thus, we have over 50 full-time employees in New York City, working around the clock in support of the R179 fleet, as the in-service safety and performance of the new cars is paramount.”
NYC Transit, meanwhile, is desperate to get the cars running on the tracks so that it can retire the oldest of the 20th-century model cars still in operation, called R32.
Bombardier was already late to deliver the cars because of a cracking issue discovered during manufacturing. Even more problems cropped up once they started carrying riders in 2017, forcing the MTA to briefly suspend testing for nearly a week at the time.
“They’re in really rough shape. I see so many stuck door panels,” Albert said of the oldest models. “We’re putting good money after bad with those.”
What’s Up With This Green Ooze in a New York City Subway Construction Site?
Construction for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s L train subway tunnel has been ongoing in Lower Manhattan, and recently, locals have noticed dumpsters filled with cartoonishly green ooze on the site. And no, this isn’t some setup to a Ninja Turtles joke.
The sludge, which was first reported on by Gothamist Wednesday, can allegedly be seen from above ground at the construction on Manhattan’s 14th Street in Alphabet City.
“It’s weirdly green off and on like that,” Penny Pennline, a 14th Street resident of more than 20 years, told Jalopnik over text. “It’s so nasty.”
It’s unclear if the dumpster contents are actually as green as they appear in the photos. The MTA said the container should just be holding water, concrete, and dirt, according to Gothamist, which first reported on the mysterious ooze.
When asked about the alleged sludge over the phone, MTA spokesman Shams Tarek seemed skeptical.
“Photoshopping would be pretty nefarious…We’re not buying green [dumpster] liners—that liner’s black. It might have something to do with the lights and the color balance on the camera” Tarek said. “We’re looking into it.”
Is it radioactive sludge? Probably not. Who knows! We probably wouldn’t recommend swimming in it, though.
“It’s usually not so bright, but I think that pic was at night so the lights were on it and made it glowing,” Pennline said.
Patrick Ferguson, Pennline’s neighbor and the photographer of the green sludge photo, blames what he said is a jet grouting operation on the site for the apparent sludge.
“Something in it is really green and it lights up in the street light,” Ferguson told Jalopnik over the phone. “It never gets fixed. They never get their jet grouting operation fixed.”
Ferguson also explained that the photo’s green-ness is likely played up by lighting.
“It’s lit up by the neon lights. It lights it up more,” Ferguson explained. “That stuff in the bin smells of sulfur and petroleum product.”
The construction seen here is part of the MTA’s Canarsie Tunnel reconstruction project for the L train subway line. The work, which has been ongoing for months, is part of the lead up to what’s set to be a 15-month shutdown of the line in Manhattan and its service to and from Brooklyn.
In addition to the alleged ooze, some locals who live on or near 14th Street in the area have complained about air, noise, and light pollution emanating from the construction site.
“When my nose started bleeding, I started freaking out,” Pennline told Jalopnik on the phone in October. “My doctor said, ‘You’re probably having allergies to whatever they’re digging.”
“As soon as I leave this neighborhood, within a few days, I’m good,” Pennline said.
The MTA, on the other hand, says it’s doing its due diligence in regards to the construction.
“We have had dozens of meetings with neighbors of the L Project, have developed extensive procedures to minimize the impact of construction, and welcome practical ideas on how we can further protect local quality of life,” Tarek said in an emailed statement. “We require our contractors to uphold strict guidelines regarding noise, vibration, air quality, and safety, are monitoring all of these impacts, and any suggestion otherwise is just false.”
When the L Train’s Manhattan service comes to a temporary end on April 27, 2019, around 275,000 subway riders will have to find a new way to get into Manhattan.
It’s going to be a mess. Ooze or not.
Amtrak train cars detach as passengers head to New York City ahead for Thanksgiving
It was a frustrating and at times alarming Thanksgiving Eve for many train travelers in the tri-state area who were trying to get home for the holiday, CBS New York reports.
Amtrak Train 68, called the Adirondack, was traveling from Montreal to New York’s Penn Station when two of its cars separated near Albany shortly before 7:30 p.m. local time.
CBS New York said none of the 287 passengers or crew were injured, and the rail company said a recovery engine was dispatched to transfer affected passengers from the disabled train.
Chuck Reeves, a software engineer from Troy, New York, told The Associated Press was aboard the first car behind the locomotive and said when the train pulled away, he and other passengers heard a pop and a hiss, smelled electrical burning and felt a rush of cold air.
The AP also said some crying children were comforted by their parents, but for the most part nobody panicked. A state trooper soon boarded to make sure everyone was OK, according to AP.
Earlier in the day, NJ Transit service along the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines was briefly suspended on one of the busiest travel days of the year due to overhead wire problems in New Jersey.
Crowds were packed to the brim at Penn Station New York after NJ Transit said plastic wrap became tangled in Amtrak-owned wires near the North Elizabeth station.
Service resumed after less than an hour, but eventually resumed with residual delays of up to 30-minutes.
NJ Transit and private bus carriers were cross-honoring rail tickets and passes, as were Path stations in Hoboken, Newark Penn Station and Herald Square.
It wasn’t immediately known when the passengers from the disabled Amtrak train would arrive in New York City.
Private companies have worse track record than MTA in subway elevators
When it comes to functioning subway elevators, the Barclays Center makes the MTA look good.
Barclays Center is among the private, non-government entities responsible for maintaining dozens of elevators at subway stations — and most do a lousy job of it, new data shows.
An elevator Barclays Center operates in the Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center transit hub was out of service for 88 days between January and June, and worked just 52% of the time, says a study by The Transit Center, a research firm.
The Transit Center dubbed Barclays Center and seven other private groups that operate elevators the El-Evaders.
“It’s a travesty — I actually got stuck on this elevator about a year ago,” said Dustin Jones, an disability advocate who uses a wheelchair.
Jones, who’s attended basketball games and wrestling events at Barclays Center, was dismayed that the main elevator facing the station is so unreliable. It could force people with disabilities onto the hectic streets to find another way to access the station.
“Why should I have to navigate around busy Atlantic Ave.?” he asked.
One problem for Barclays Center is that the elevator’s manufacturer is out of business, making parts hard to find, said to Mandy Gutmann, spokeswoman for BSE Global, which owns the arena.
“We are well aware of the elevator’s operational issues and are frustrated that this is not resolved,” Gutmann said. BSE Global hopes to correct the problem by bringing in a new company to overhaul and service the elevator, she said.
Barclays Center ought to do better, said Councilman Brad Lander, whose district abuts the arena.
“They currently make the MTA’s elevator performance look stellar,” Lander said.
Elevators maintained by private real estate companies — 45 machines in total — had poor performance compared to those run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Privately-run subway elevators were out of service 19% of the time during the first six months of 2018, The Transit Center found. MTA-operated elevators were out of service just 3.6% of the time, the data shows.
“Our private sector partners must do their part to keep their parts of subway stations in good working order and we’re working closely with them to improve elevator and escalator availability and improve communication to customers when there is an outage,” MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said in a statement. “This is part of an all-out focus on elevator and escalator availability regardless of ownership.”
The companies responsible for two elevators at 42nd St.-Port Authority subway station — Tishman Asset Corporation and the Intercontinental Hotel — had to take one out of service for 57 days, giving it an availability rate of 68%. The other elevator was out for 34 days, and was in service for 80% of the time.
Hines Incorporated and Bank of China — the companies behind the 7 Bryant Park office tower — are responsible for an elevator at the 42nd St.- Bryant Park subway stop.
It was out of service on 36 days from January to June, with an average availability rate of 80%.
Hines spokesman Mark Clegg blamed the outages on vandalism from homeless people that lead to electrical malfunctions. He declined to elaborate, but said that “our elevators are never out for long and when something like this happens repeatedly, we do our best to get them back online as quick as possible.”
Colin Wright, advocacy associate at the Transit Center, said penalties under contract are not enough.
“Whatever contractual penalties are in place for these developers, they need to be strengthened,” Wright said. “They have an obligation to, not only to disabled riders all other riders, but there’s an obligation to the city when they’re accepting huge financial benefits to uphold their end of the contract.”
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