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Thursday’s Headlines: Let’s Focus on Buses Today!



mayor de blasio

If you want to run for president, there’s no better platform than, “I sped up buses by 25 percent in the most congested city in America!” So when Mayor de Blasio makes what’s expected to be a big announcement about the city’s bus service today at 2:30, we’re hoping he brings that particular plank.

Our own David Meyer — who started the day with coverage of another crucial bus issue! — will be on hand to provide coverage. He’ll also ask the mayor why so many people are being killed by drivers on city streets this year. Or why he’s still cracking down on e-bikes even though the data show they’re safe, according to this scoop by Julianne Cuba. That’s an official “heads-up!” Mr. Mayor.

Here’s the rest of the news to get you going:

Activists held a “die-in” at City Hall yesterday to protest inaction on global warming, which certainly won’t go away if every two-bit politician keeps getting discount tolls for entitled drivers. (NYDN, NY Post, Gothamist)

The Daily News offered a fuller look at the crash that killed 7-year-old Cameron Brown yesterday.
Mayor de Blasio’s highly subsidized ferry system came under fire at a City Council hearing. Right now, taxpayers are the only thing keeping these boats afloat (well, and the laws of hydrodynamics, of course). (NY Post) The Times also weighed in on the excessive costs. Meanwhile, amNY’s Vin Barone highlighted the fallacy of the mayor’s claim that the ferries serve the less-fortunate. “Boats only for the wealthy?” he asked.

Meanwhile, The City reported on an obvious conflict of interest involving the ferries.
We were very happy to see the Post’s Nolan Hicks take the side of transit riders over selfish drivers, who scored yet another toll exemption yesterday.
Hard-working Hicks at the Post also reported on Council Member Justin Brannan’s call for more oversight on Citi Bike after its e-bike fleet was grounded for repairs over the weekend. Streetsblog’s coverage revealed very little oversight, in fact.

Look, here are the rules about animals on the subway. (Gothamist)
Could the rumors be true? Could the city be finally closing the gap in the Second Avenue bike lane near the Queensboro Bridge? (Billy Freeland via Twitter)
Usually when you say “He is risen!” on Easter, you’re talking about Christ. This year, you’ll be talking about the subway fare. (amNY)


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MTA News

Schumer wants investigation into Chinese-designed New York subway cars





Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling for a federal probe into a plan for a Chinese government-owned corporation to design new New York subway train cars.

Schumer told the Associated Press in a statement Sunday that he requested that the Commerce Department conduct a “top-to-bottom review” after train-manufacturer CRRC won a contest to design the cars.

CRRC has previously been given contracts in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, according to the AP.

Government officials and security experts have reportedly warned that allowing a Chinese-state company to design U.S. transit systems could leave it vulnerable to cyberattacks and cyberespionage and sabotage.

Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) spokesman Max Young told the AP that it has “robust” safety standards.

“The MTA has robust, multilayered and vigorously enforced safety and security standards, but we support efforts of government agencies to bolster that work,” he said.

CRRC said it would invest $50 million to develop the train cars after it won the bid.

A spokesman for CRRC Sifang America, the company’s Chicago subsidiary, told the AP that most of the train parts it plans to use are made by American companies.

Spokesman Dave Smolensky told The Hill in a statement that the company “fully supports Senator Schumer’s efforts to ensure the nation’s transit systems meet the highest cybersecurity standards and we are eager to address any concerns the Senator may have regarding our U.S. operations.”

“A review will demonstrate to lawmakers there are no examples of a passenger railcar manufacturer, including CRRC, installing any type of malicious software or exposing a transit system to any type of cyberespionage,” he added.

Smolensky said that it is “not possible” for CRRC to put malware into the cars.

The Hill has reached out to Schumer’s office for additional comment.

Relations between the U.S. and China have become strained in recent weeks after the countries failed to reach an a trade agreement and instead pledged to raise tariffs on each other in an escalating trade war.


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MTA News

Bad welds are latest woe for NYC’s newest subway cars — MTA blames manufacturer




newest subway cars

They’re shiny and clean and all of them were supposed to be on the subway two years ago.

But New York’s newest subway cars face yet another problem with their manufacture — and an official of the transit workers’ union calls them “lemons.”

A handful of the new R179 cars, which run on the J/Z and A/C lines, have shoddy welds on their collision pillars, a part of the cars’ structure meant to protect train operators in crashes, NYC Transit president Andy Byford said.

The problem isn’t severe enough to require the cars to be pulled from service, Byford said at an MTA meeting last week.

Bombardier, the Canada-based company that is building the cars at a factory in upstate Plattsburgh, reported the problem with the cars.
“This is very disappointing from Bombardier and rest assured I’ve made it very clear to them that that is my position,” Byford said.

The $600 million, 300-car delivery was supposed to be completed by early 2017.

The R179s are supposed to replace the R32 subway cars, which were first delivered in during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency and are the oldest rolling stock on any subway system in North America. R32s — dubbed “Brightliners” when they were first delivered — have distinctive corrugated metal exteriors.
“This is bad news for riders who want to retire the R32s,” said Andrew Albert, the rider advocate on the MTA board.

The bad welds are the latest problem the MTA has had with Bombardier’s delivery of the R179s. The MTA pulled dozens of the new cars from service in January because of mechanical problems.

“These things are lemons,” said Transport Workers Union Local 100 head of trains Eric Loegel. “We’ve known about a number of mechanical problems with them for a while.”
NYC Transit employees complain the windows in the cars’ cabs uncomfortably press into their chests when they lean outside as trains enter or leave stations. They also say the space between the ends of the cars is so small, larger crew members can’t squeeze through them when they are required to do so.

MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said those issues are being addressed.

Around 190 R179 cars now run on the subway, with roughly another 126 on the way. Bombardier is providing an extra 16 cars because of its extensive delays in delivery.
Bombardier spokeswoman Maryanne Roberts said the company values its partnership with the MTA, and is working to resolve the issues with the R179s as quickly as possible.

Bombardier products are also causing troubles on the Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road.

Bombardier and German technology giant Siemens bungled the installation of a $1 billion federally-mandated project to install life-saving positive train control equipment on the two commuter systems.

The problems on that project led the agency’s leaders to demand an appearance by the CEOs of Bombadier and Siemens at the next MTA board meeting on May 22.


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MTA News

Man dies after walking between subway cars in Bronx, MTA urges caution




ma new york

A man was killed by a subway train Monday morning in the Bronx after he fell between cars, police said.

The victim, who police said was in his 30s, fell beneath a northbound No. 5 train as it left the Jackson Ave. station in the borough’s Woodstock neighborhood at around 9:15 a.m.

He was dead when emergency responders arrived, an FDNY spokesman said.

The man is the fourth person to be killed on the rails in New York City over the last nine days, and at least the eighth to be struck by a train.

Last Tuesday two straphangers were critically injured after falling between subway cars in Manhattan and Queens. On Saturday, another 34-year-old man feel between cars on an F train is it entered the York St. station in Brooklyn at around 3:40 a.m.
“We cannot stress enough how dangerous this is and urge all of our customers to never walk between cars unless told to by an MTA employee,” MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said.

Three homeless men have also recently been killed by subway trains while they were walking on the tracks.

Last Saturday a homeless man died after being struck by the Times Square Shuttle while walking through the tunnels near Grand Central Terminal. On Friday, a 60-year-old homeless man was struck and killed by a No. 4 train after he was seen struggling to get back onto the platform at the 28th St. station.

On April 28, a man in his 60s who appeared to be homeless was killed at the Grand Central Terminal subway station after he was seen on the tracks.


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