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Via Garibaldi 8

MTA board member slams the agency for misleading New Yorkers about delays in subway service

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I agree. In the specific part of the TA where I work (I'm not going to say exactly where for the sake of privacy, sorry), the people are AMAZING and go the extra mile all the time, but you can really see the waste when elsewhere in the offices. I just don't understand how they can't see it.

Well of course I don't expect you to divulge such information, but I could see it just interning there.  Granted it was the summertime, but no one really was under the gun per se there. No one worked through lunch, and no one sure as hell missed the snack cart coming around in the afternoon. lol  I suspect that they would argue that they need to hire the best and continue to draw the most talented people in the field, and I understand that, but still.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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Three things?

Is it wrong to test a system over a certain period to make sure it's reliable before introduction to a system?  

Do you believe one size fits all in the case of NYC? I understand where the tech is going no one denies that. Again do you believe an out of the box CTBC works with no adjustment?

Name a City with the intricacies of NYC with a fully automated system in place. Interlaced trunk lines and all?. No line with a branch or two. 

 

Except that's not what I was saying at all. Of course CBTC should be tested, but then the question becomes how much testing is considered exhaustive; if you do all your testing during late-nights you won't catch anything, and with all the weird crap that happens in this city you really can't do a 100% QA. Signals are not software, where you can test with a 20% prototype and just throw away everything if you throw it at the wall and it doesn't stick.

 

JR East's commuter rail network, the busiest in the world, with multiple stopping patterns on routes and through-routing with different operating companies, is planning to convert entirely to CBTC by 2036, and they started in 2013.

 

There have been instances where the (MTA) has essentially been forced to do work in-house because outside contractors couldn't get the job done.  BusTime comes to mind... I think all avenues should be explored/examined, and if the job has to be done in-house then so be it.  Yes, custom always costs more for the reasons you mentioned, but that doesn't mean that it should be automatically abandoned.  If we have one billion dollars to spend on each new station, surely there is money for other things.

 

While I agree with the sentiment in general, I'd like to point out that a signalling system designed for our complex flying junctions is not really something that you can just shovel onto the intern from Hunter College (which is essentially what happened). The MTA cites high replacement costs for the signals it has to make in-house as part of the reason why they're pursuing CBTC.

I agree. In the specific part of the TA where I work (I'm not going to say exactly where for the sake of privacy, sorry), the people are AMAZING and go the extra mile all the time, but you can really see the waste when elsewhere in the offices. I just don't understand how they can't see it.

 

As someone who works for the State in an unrelated organization, this is kind of the MO of state agencies in general.

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Except that's not what I was saying at all. Of course CBTC should be tested, but then the question becomes how much testing is considered exhaustive; if you do all your testing during late-nights you won't catch anything, and with all the weird crap that happens in this city you really can't do a 100% QA. Signals are not software, where you can test with a 20% prototype and just throw away everything if you throw it at the wall and it doesn't stick.

 

JR East's commuter rail network, the busiest in the world, with multiple stopping patterns on routes and through-routing with different operating companies, is planning to convert entirely to CBTC by 2036, and they started in 2013.

 

 

 

If I misread your statement I apologize. Your right it could never be 100% QA im full aware of that. But what I'm gathering from the folks at the MTA is years after implementation the system still has some major issues. Thus my question on testing and whether this was implemented correctly. JR East in 23 years and this from a culture that embraces rail that's a 30-year project at best here. How do you improve service in the mean time? 

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That's because the MTA is crap at stuff like this. Instead of just ripping the damn band-aid off and just doing it in one massive go, they're doing it over 50 years using multiple contractors. What's more, they're handing out concessions left and right to stakeholders, making the whole thing more expensive. We've been over this....

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red

 

ooookay, now that I'm awake (ish), here goes again.

First off, while some of my posts can be a bit hyperbolic, that last one wasn't. Your post though......................................really hyperbolic. 

Let's go back to the beginning of this whole discussion. CBTC. My original point was that it is necessary, and that if installed, it could potentially allow for automation. You then blew a gasket and began this whole debate about O/ZPTO (which I am quite happy to have, but again, not my original intention). In these last couple posts, you've admitted that a new signal system is needed, but you think that CBTC isn't the way to go. You say that the MTA needs to innovate, which I agree with, but seeing the current state of the authority, I think letting the outside experts do their thing is best. That's economic specialization for you. In terms of the current product, I think that we're paying too much for too little. We as a city are having to foot the bill for what is in the end a version of CBTC that is kinda B grade. However, I do think that if the options are this or more ABS, I'll take this any day. At least it has the potential to grow. While I agree that adding new corridors is important, forgetting about the old ones is...idiotic. Especially in midtown manhattan where there really isn't much place to put new subway lines, maxing out existing ones is paramount to keeping the system relevant.

 

I deal in real world. An improvement to the signal system is necessary, but it is less necessary than new corridors. New corridors are the best use of capital money possible at the moment. Full length SAS, Third Avenue subway in the Bronx, Northern Blvd. subway in Queens, extend the 2 and 5 to Kings Plaza (from Flatbush), extend the D to Gun Hill/White Plains Road. These are some major projects suggestions based on my own knowledge of ridership patterns, to get started. Those are all at least worthy of a study. All of those take precedence over signal improvements. Remember that terminal capacity limits you far more frequenly than corridor throughput does.

 

Outside "experts" have a really bad habit of either negotiating in bad faith as vendors, or making recommendations based on their own personal experiences only, which are almost always from non NYCT properties, so they do not understand the confluence of unique environmental factors here that make NYCT such a challenging environment. The R-156 project is a wonderful example of this. How can a contract go out for a diesel locomotive to be used in the New York City Subway that has such obscene emissions levels that train crews have to wear respirators to work on those trains, and the vendor turn around and tell the TA they were intended for outside use and no one caught it???

 

Now back to ZPTO. One thing that y'all are misunderstanding is that I'm not saying that we should start running automated trains tomorrow. I'm saying that despite SubwayGuy's eloquent protests, it can be done. He says that doing so would make the system more unsafe, but I question that. 

 

Anything can be done. Doesn't mean it should be. It makes the system more unsafe because of issue with the technology. It does not detect track intrusions (people on tracks). The track intrusion detection systems known to exist create false positives that would delay service beyond what is acceptable. It does not provide timely firsthand help to evacuate trains. It does not provide a limited functionality restricted speed bypass mode to keep trains moving in the event of signal system failure. In this day and age of antiterror climate, it does not provide "eyes and ears," it does not report suspicious activity, and in many of the most common delay categories, not having a crew would lengthen the delay.

 

Moving back to the issue of platforms and issues, I give you this: the MTA is already planning to phase out station agents (note that the agency thinks that the system doesn't need them, or, in other words, that their responsabilities are negligible), but I say keep them. Make station agent into a position that is less sitting in a booth and more circulating around platforms, assisting passengers, and keeping an eye on things. There are 472 stations. That's 472 employees who are keeping their jobs, a net 0 change in costs. Not only does that cover platform supervision, but it also helps with crowding, as these employees could help direct loading/unloading. If we then eliminate TOs and conductors, we're up $650 million in direct pay (ie not including overtime, pensions, benefits). Next, we factor in signal savings. No more in-house fabrication of arcane components. Fewer maintainers for a greatly simplified system (I'm imagining bye-bye block signals), and just generally a lot less infrastructure. That there is probably another 200-300 million per year. But aside from these purely fiscal measures, service reliability will increase. Normalized run times, shortended headways and greater speeds will help in general, but the fact that the signal system will have significantly fewer points of failure is (in my eyes) the greatest benefit. 

 

Except it's not. You've already conceded you need yard switchmen, which also includes personnel to lay up and put in trains, which means you need station switchmen too. And, work train operators. 472 station agents for 472 stations? Unless you're planning on having each one work a 168 hour work week, you're going to need a lot more than that. Not to mention, there are 472 stations, not 472 platforms. In reality, there are many more than that. You wouldn't want a single agent in Times Square responsible for answering questions, assisting with fare media sales, monitoring CCTV's on 4 different station platforms, and needing to jump in to assist in the event of an incident on any one of them. These are the types of details you conveniently overlook that I am pointing out the fatal flaws in.

 

There aren't as many signal maintainers as you think in the system. There are about 800. Another drop in the bucket if you cut the number in half. You overestimate the impact of signal issues. As I've said before, many are switch problems. Yes, there are more "failure points" but many signals are actually quite reliable, and the numbers tend to often come from recurring signal failures which are as much an environmental issue as anything else. When it snows, stop arms get frozen. Switches are heated in winter, why not near stop arms? These are relatively inexpensive improvements to implement that would save most of the money you're throwing at new technology in the same overworked rail network, so it can instead be spent expanding the system to what 2020, 2030, and 2040 NYC will need.

 

Someone asked about implementation. Basically, when CBTC is finished, this could be done. So whenever that happens. Until then, the agency should work on reducing delays and building out new capacity in a cost-efficient manner.

 

But you can't build new capacity when what little capital money is free is earmarked for projects like this. Government is broke, the MTA is broke. What little money can be set aside must be set aside for system expansion. This is reality. You can't have your cake, eat it too, and also refrigerate it for tomorrow.

 

Also, SubwayGuy, I see and understand your points, I just disagree. I'd really like it if you'd stop caricaturing me. It lowers the level of discussion a lot. I understand you have a vested interest in me being wrong an all, just try and argue like an adult. 

 

It's not just about my own job, it's also about society. The economy has not figured out a way to help people displaced by technology. It has the potential in private industry, to create mass poverty for the benefit of the few. I'm outspoken on this on other threads as well. But also a society that grows overly dependent on technology becomes incredibly weak. It becomes susceptible to hacking, to hostile takeover, to terrorist attack, to catastrophic failure if the system should go down as people will be inexperienced in what to do. It creates dependency.

 

ATO is no different. Look at Transit's own operating rules. Every CBTC train operator must make one trip a day in ATPM mode. Do you know why? Because when the train ran in ATO all day, everything was just great. 'Till one day they had a major problem with it and had to shut it down, and trains had to operate in ATPM. And can you guess what happened next? Trains running out of stations, because T/O's who had been doing this job for 10, 20, some even close to 30 years, were out of practice in their craft because the technology had replaced their skills. So the rule change was adopted that they must operate in ATPM one trip a day. The same thing happens in the IRT when ATS is down, or in the B Division when the computerized dispatching system goes down and many newer dispatchers have to keep track of the railroad having never learned to properly keep paper records. You can tell who the real dispatchers are and who the pretenders are (hint: they're the ones asking every train they see for ID).

 

And lastly, larger picture, what's good for an organization is not always what's best for society. Sure, reducing costs sounds good, but automating a system and putting people out of work hurts their income. Less income = less spending. Less spending = less revenue for other businesses. If every organization in the country did this at the same time, economic activity would completely stalemate. What purpose does a transportation system serve if everyone just works on fiverr.com at home doing the bidding of rich people, because there are no more real world jobs? How does government provide necessary social services and benefits when there is reduced tax revenue coming in since it both refuses to tax the rich, and has put everyone out of work through advanced in technology that have only benefitted the rich? The amazing thing about these arguments, is they may seem like hyperbole, but they're really not. They're just a slight logical extension of what we know to be historically true. We know that income inequality is bad for a society because it creates social unrest and inhibits growth since many of what could have been the most innovative minds spend their lives mired in poverty instead of having the chance to have and grow what might be their big idea (or they sell to a large company early on, and that company either buys the technology to keep a lid on it and protect their profits as a competitor, or doesn't develop the idea as well as an entrepreneur might have). We know that debt is bad practice for government that makes it harder for future generations. Our founding fathers spoke of it, because it has always been the norm in Europe, and yet here we are. And we also know that strong workers' rights (and by that, I mean everyone who works, not just union members) lead to a higher quality of life, more time off the job, better pay and benefits...which serves to create happier and more stable families, which also creates less crime in the future, but also allows for further economic growth since most people spend a big part of their paycheck, and this generates both tax revenue for government and business revenue that sustains someone else's jobs. These are historical facts that any non-partisan, non-agenda seeking historical study of America can tell you.

 

I say what I say not because what you suggest threatens my own lifestyle, but because what you suggest, applied en masse, which is currently the thinking of most "captains of industry" will eventually displace everyone into poverty. There are no limits to what technology can replace. Technology can even replace a CEO's decision making to be purely rational. It could replace a lawyer someday. It's not just so called "blue collar" positions that are at risk, it's everything.

 

And unless you own something, really own something like a company...not just your house...this wave threatens to destroy your standard of living too. And the craziest part about it is, as I say, that operationally we won't really be much better off. Whether it's the subway, or General Motors. Instead of investing in improvements, we're investing in replacing ourselves. And for what? So we can sit at home all day collecting welfare from the government which taxes the businesses that self function, so we can watch Youtube all day? Who will need a subway system then?

 

 

Edited by SubwayGuy
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As someone who works for the State in an unrelated organization, this is kind of the MO of state agencies in general.

This is the MO everywhere. It's present in for-profit, non-profit, and governmental.

 

It's a mindset in American business where loyalty and familial ties are often rewarded over competence. In general, there are too many idiots getting promoted into high paying positions everywhere, and it's very hard to get rid of them. Good people job hop until they land somewhere good, it grows for a while, then falls into the same malaise all organizations get into when they grow too big to be "great places to work." And I'm not talking about in the sense that those BS career builder articles talk about them "But they have bean bag chairs!"

 

There are plenty of supervisors who shouldn't be supervisors, and plenty of managers who shouldn't be managers, everywhere. From your local McDonald's, to high ranking White House officials, to ESPN headquarters.

 

Everything I push has been about America as a meritocracy. You want to "Make America Great Again?" Start with justice. Fair outcomes for all. Try hard and you'll do OK. Try hard and be good and you'll do great. Be good and don't try hard, you'll end up below average in life. Suck and don't try hard, you'll be broke. Regardless of how you were born into this world. Let the cream rise to the top. Instead, the cream is often sitting in middle management, underpaid, and forced with making something work that was both ill conceived and implemented by a complete idiot who makes twice as much, despite the middle manager's protests.

Edited by SubwayGuy
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Indeed and your not crazy everything you speak is fact.  The fact of the matter is at this point even working at 100% isn't enough the generations before shafted us majorly. We have to double up we have to catch up in infrastructure and push forward with innovation at the sometime no question about it. The main enemy here is time the one thing you can't get back. Technology is going to take years maybe in the scale of decades to complete. But population is exploding at present as you stated it's only going to be a matter of time before we feel the effects in the real world loss of population Business is moving out of NYC. Someone told me once if you really want to tell the difference between Reality and Fantasy you have to look it through the door of suffering. Computers and trains can't suffer but the people using and riding them can. NYC can't suffer why because it's a mad made construct but the people living in it will. People aren't going to get it until there affected personally then it becomes real by that time it's already too late so if you feel the effects of suffering you know it's real.  I agree we need to get digging the only way to get some real relief it's way over do.  Another thing I've come to realized as I've gotten older and failed a few times along the way is knowledge and application are two very separate things. You may be aware of technology knowing how to ask the right questions and a few days with google and your well way on your way. But understanding the task your about to undertake and knowing how to apply that knowledge to the task that's the hard part. Exactly why I asked the questions above to get an idea of the where one's point of view originates from. I guess the fact that I have Civil Engineering background as well as Technology  I see it. I don't understand how one doesn't see your points especially the expansion easily provable points. 

 

That (bolded) is an excellent saying.

 

The people riding the trains are suffering, which is why the rip the band-aid off is unacceptable. Also, that's easy for him to say as he's not a front line employee. We are the ones that have to face the firing squad (the public) every time the service gets jacked up. We are the ones whose breaks vanish, whose lunches go out the window, who have to be 100% on point at all times for a greater and greater part of our day in this challenging environment. It's actually very much to our advantage as well to reduce or eliminate delays, and we don't want to be the ones to face the wrath of the public alone, as we often have to, when lines are totally shut down for a weekend, let alone months on end.

 

The public's suffering can be showcased in the rapid growth of horrible companies like Uber which treat their workers like crap and use cutthroat type competition that often rips the customer off too. The fact that these companies have flourished, that there are now more taxis, yellow/green cabs, and black cars than ever, shows you what the public thinks of the deteriorating service. Even on the L. And with real estate being what it is, that's why so many are leaving NYC in droves - they can't afford to have an easy commute, and the commute is too maddening to live where they can afford. What makes NYC unique, one of the greatest cities on earth is rapidly disappearing. Its culture made it unique. Its food. Its delicious restaurants. The small businesses everywhere. The personalized and friendly service you got as a regular that you never get at chains. Now, it's just like everywhere else. Come visit NY and go visit Chipotle or shop at Whole Foods, like you never left whatever midwestern town you're from...and while you're at it have an authentic NY slice from Sbarro! That is the end result of so many saying F*** it and leaving. The death of what makes NYC unique, and its culture. It will ultimately hurt the city because right now people are still attracted to coming here because of what they think it is. When they learn the reality is different, the allure will not be there anymore.

Edited by SubwayGuy
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SubwayGuy: your missing the fact that I'm not saying it SHOULD be done, I'm saying it CAN be done. And I'm saying, that if done, in the most direct sense, it would improve the system. Huge difference there. I'll respond in more detail later.

 

Can/should aside, I have a feeling it will be done. I largely agree with you on the effects of automation on society, but I just can't see the MTA bucking that trend as some sort of a social experiment. If it is to stay relevant, I don't think it can .

Edited by RR503

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SubwayGuy: your missing the fact that I'm not saying it SHOULD be done, I'm saying it CAN be done. And I'm saying, that if done, in the most direct sense, it would improve the system. Huge difference there. I'll respond in more detail later.

 

Can/should aside, I have a feeling it will be done. I largely agree with you on the effects of automation on society, but I just can't see the MTA bucking that trend as some sort of a social experiment. If it is to stay relevant, I don't think it can .

 

It could have been done in the 1970's with an adequate capital budget and plenty of patience from the passengers. If that's your point in 2017, you'll get no argument from me there.

 

Where I disagree with you is that it will improve the system. It may in some areas, but in others will be significantly worse. Net, it will ultimately fail in addressing the overcrowding, as ridership growth occurs at such a higher rate than the improvements of such technologies are estimated at. You may save on employees, but you will likely end up paying more in lawsuits. The challenges we face as a city and as a society are enormous. It's largely, as others have said, the product of previous generations kicking the can down the road and funding maintenance of what's been there since the 50's with debt. This is the reality of the world we inherit from those before us. It's not pretty, and there's no silver bullet to fix it. There are going to be a lot of hard choices ahead, and if we don't make the right ones, it's going to get really ugly.

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It could have been done in the 1970's with an adequate capital budget and plenty of patience from the passengers. If that's your point in 2017, you'll get no argument from me there.

 

Where I disagree with you is that it will improve the system. It may in some areas, but in others will be significantly worse. Net, it will ultimately fail in addressing the overcrowding, as ridership growth occurs at such a higher rate than the improvements of such technologies are estimated at. You may save on employees, but you will likely end up paying more in lawsuits. The challenges we face as a city and as a society are enormous. It's largely, as others have said, the product of previous generations kicking the can down the road and funding maintenance of what's been there since the 50's with debt. This is the reality of the world we inherit from those before us. It's not pretty, and there's no silver bullet to fix it. There are going to be a lot of hard choices ahead, and if we don't make the right ones, it's going to get really ugly.

 

And herein lies our argument... ;)    Oh well, agree to disagree? No pressure though, I'm quite happy to keep going at it. 

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And herein lies our argument... ;)    Oh well, agree to disagree? No pressure though, I'm quite happy to keep going at it. 

I don't think anyone's saying technology isn't going to win out at some point. But if full implementation is decades away. If you work for the MTA you know this is the case. What's the relief now for the system? And were's the funding for this relief? CTBC Planing could happen in parallel you have to walk and chew gum at the same time. The City isn't going to wait for 30-40 years. This point is like saying the Earth is going to be destroyed by the Sun no one's going to argue it's not. But okay what about in the meantime. Still, have to pay bills and keep moving. This seems to be the point the now! and making moves now. Automation is still nebulous here in NYC. There is no system yet with the same complexity someone said 2036 for Japan.  So as a New Yorker as a Business owner with employees that take the subway. When can I expect relief?? 5,10,20,50 Years?  That's all I want to hear. (No really I'm really asking)

Edited by RailRunRob

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I don't think anyone's saying technology isn't going to win out at some point. But if full implementation is decades away. If you work for the MTA you know this is the case. What's the relief now for the system? And were's the funding for this relief? CTBC Planing could happen in parallel you have to walk and chew gum at the same time. The City isn't going to wait for 30-40 years. This point is like saying the Earth is going to be destroyed by the Sun no one's going to argue it's not. But okay what about in the meantime. Still, have to pay bills and keep moving. This seems to be the point the now! and making moves now. Automation is still nebulous here in NYC. There is no system yet with the same complexity someone said 2036 for Japan. So as a New Yorker as a Business owner with employees that take the subway. When can I expect relief?? 5,10,20,50 Years? That's all I want to hear. (No really I'm really asking)

That was not the argument. We were talking about the feasibility and advisability of automation using CBTC. I agree that capex needs to happen in parallel, but the MTA first needs to learn to control costs. NOTHING they do is as cheap as it should be. Really the only long term fix is a full build out of CBTC along with massive route expansion.

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That was not the argument. We were talking about the feasibility and advisability of automation using CBTC. I agree that capex needs to happen in parallel, but the MTA first needs to learn to control costs. NOTHING they do is as cheap as it should be. Really the only long term fix is a full build out of CBTC along with massive route expansion.

And that's my main issue with the (MTA).  It's difficult to justify upping funding to an agency that can't keep costs under control.  Folks want to blame politicians for a lack of funding of the (MTA), but at the same time, we don't have money to throw into a black hole.  

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That was not the argument. We were talking about the feasibility and advisability of automation using CBTC. I agree that capex needs to happen in parallel, but the MTA first needs to learn to control costs. NOTHING they do is as cheap as it should be. Really the only long term fix is a full build out of CBTC along with massive route expansion.

That's kinda of what I got out of it. I don't think he was against CBTC overall his view was rooted in the now and putting money where it could relieve the most pressure ASAP and that all not all there eggs shouldnt be put in the CBTC basket. At least that's what I got from it perception is sometimes tricky not putting words in his mouth.  Your right CBTC and expansion is the only way. With expansion being the one thing that the MTA has history and experience maybe not the best track record but experience nonetheless CBTC would have to follow. I see both sides of the coin but when you have guys on the ground telling you the system isn't working correctly you have to take it seriously. Any General values reconnaissance from the battlefield. So yeah I think the point here the system needs help now! The generations before us screw us royally. And City doesn't care if the MTA get's costs together the economy is going to take a hit. Maybe then they'll clean house at the MTA. None of us have any control there but when the money starts to suffer they'll take note. Reality!

Edited by RailRunRob

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This is the MO everywhere. It's present in for-profit, non-profit, and governmental.

 

It's a mindset in American business where loyalty and familial ties are often rewarded over competence. In general, there are too many idiots getting promoted into high paying positions everywhere, and it's very hard to get rid of them. Good people job hop until they land somewhere good, it grows for a while, then falls into the same malaise all organizations get into when they grow too big to be "great places to work." And I'm not talking about in the sense that those BS career builder articles talk about them "But they have bean bag chairs!"

 

There are plenty of supervisors who shouldn't be supervisors, and plenty of managers who shouldn't be managers, everywhere. From your local McDonald's, to high ranking White House officials, to ESPN headquarters.

 

Everything I push has been about America as a meritocracy. You want to "Make America Great Again?" Start with justice. Fair outcomes for all. Try hard and you'll do OK. Try hard and be good and you'll do great. Be good and don't try hard, you'll end up below average in life. Suck and don't try hard, you'll be broke. Regardless of how you were born into this world. Let the cream rise to the top. Instead, the cream is often sitting in middle management, underpaid, and forced with making something work that was both ill conceived and implemented by a complete idiot who makes twice as much, despite the middle manager's protests.

 

There's actually a formalized theory for this.

That's kinda of what I got out of it. I don't think he was against CBTC overall his view was rooted in the now and putting money where it could relieve the most pressure ASAP and that all not all there eggs shouldnt be put in the CBTC basket.

 

Problem is, at the rate the MTA uses eggs there aren't enough for every basket in general. I, for one, have never actually heard a good, defensible reason as to why MTA projects cost so much more.

 

If it's geology, subways have been built in worse geology for less.

If it's unions, there are places with more toxic union cultures than ours that build for less.

If it's property, SAS Phase II in a less expensive part of Manhattan should not cost more than Phase I.

 

Someone, like the state comptroller or something, needs to audit how the MTA, and the state, in general does procurement and why things cost so much, and then compare it to other places. The difference in cost goes above and beyond any sort of reasonable premium expected of such a rich city.

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There's actually a formalized theory for this.

 

Problem is, at the rate the MTA uses eggs there aren't enough for every basket in general. I, for one, have never actually heard a good, defensible reason as to why MTA projects cost so much more.

 

If it's geology, subways have been built in worse geology for less.

If it's unions, there are places with more toxic union cultures than ours that build for less.

If it's property, SAS Phase II in a less expensive part of Manhattan should not cost more than Phase I.

 

Someone, like the state comptroller or something, needs to audit how the MTA, and the state, in general does procurement and why things cost so much, and then compare it to other places. The difference in cost goes above and beyond any sort of reasonable premium expected of such a rich city.

Your right there's no reason for it I don't think any of us deny that. You have the guys that work in the system saying put shovels in the ground. So yeah someone from above has to step in and set some accountability.  

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Some very good points are made in this thread by everyone, I believe.

 

Here's my take on things. In my option, the MTA has a problem in its hands right now. It has a subway system where ridership seems to be bursting at the seams and there's no end in sight to the cascade of delays espcially during the workweek. The thing is that I believe that ridership could even be higher and that overcrowding in itself doesn't cause the delays and the breakdowns. If you ask me, overcrowding in itself is often the result of delays and not the cause of them. Even if we accept the fact that the service levels provided, in other words the capacity of the system, cannot, in many cases match the needs of the ridership, there are far too many issues, other than overcrowding that cause delays. The state of the infrastructure is one of them.

 

My point is that, while this is definitely not the 70s and the 80s, there are enough service meltdowns which occur frequently enough to trouble someone. How many times in the last months have we witnessed dozens of subway lines being rerouted and/or suspended to switch/signal and other infrastructure issues? I don't think that this is something acceptable for a world class subway system. People depend on it to get to places in a timely manner, the economy of the city, and the country depends on it, yet we have "fun and games" nearly every day. There's no one else to blame but the politicians to which the issue of funding the TA is always a hot potato.

 

Almost every other issue stems from this.

 

The fact that the MTA runs the service it does, the way it does is because of its resources. And let's face it. We may have 24/7 service but service reliability and service levels are in many cases abysmal when compared to other big cities. We cannot keep using the argument that we have 24/7 service to prove that our system is better because AT LEAST 50% of the time the service has serious problems. During off peak hours it's flagging. And if it's not an emergency (which I understand, it can happen) this flagging is planned so badly in multiple locations of a single line that it creates a miserable experience for passengers, not to mention, it makes them late. The subway shouldn't be there only for rush hour! It should truly be there 24/7 since that's what it says it does. The way service is run is like we're in a big village, not in NYC.

 

Regarding CBTC and system expansion, I believe both are needed. System expansion is needed especially outside Manhattan, but thus can only be done if everything the TA does stops being so outrageously expensive, because whatever way they use for the absurd costs is BS. CBTC is also needed. I think it will tremendously improve the level and quality of service provided. With the current signaling system, there is technically no control over a train's speed. Of course there are timers in various right and wrong places but the T/O plays a huge role. I have seen T/Os being so conservative something which automatically leads to delays. With a more modern cab signaling system, the T/O can rely on information provided to him in real time to control the speed of the train and the distance to his leader can be optimal. I don't believe in ATO personally.

 

I'm no expert but this is what I see as an everyday rider and railfan..

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You're giving industry too much credit by referencing that theory which has been around for quite a while. People getting promoted in all walks of life aren't even good at their current roles. In fact, many times, someone good at their job is passed over for a promotion because they are too valuable in their current position.

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Some very good points are made in this thread by everyone, I believe.

 

Here's my take on things. In my option, the MTA has a problem in its hands right now. It has a subway system where ridership seems to be bursting at the seams and there's no end in sight to the cascade of delays espcially during the workweek. The thing is that I believe that ridership could even be higher and that overcrowding in itself doesn't cause the delays and the breakdowns. If you ask me, overcrowding in itself is often the result of delays and not the cause of them. Even if we accept the fact that the service levels provided, in other words the capacity of the system, cannot, in many cases match the needs of the ridership, there are far too many issues, other than overcrowding that cause delays. The state of the infrastructure is one of them.

 

Delays are always charged to their root cause. If a signal problem that affects 5 trains causes congestion and crowding that delays 42 trains, 42 trains' lateness will be charged to the signal problem.

 

Passengers are the #1 cause of delays. Whether that is "overcrowding" (which means no incident occurred but dwell time in stations is excessive), someone holding the doors, sick passengers, trains operating at slower speeds in an area because someone dropped their phone on the track and we have to make sure it's safe to enter the station and they didn't try and get it...

 

As for the points about politicians, I've been saying this for a while.

 

Politicians don't want a world class transit system. They literally don't give a shit. They will always give it enough money to keep the lights on and the trains generally moving enough that people can get to work and make money for big business which buys contributes to their re-election bids. But they'll never give it enough to be world class. I'm just the messenger. Get mad at your politicians, not me for stating facts! They love CBTC (and "Bus Rapid Transit" for that matter) because both are something less costly than system expansion they can throw significantly less money at, and tout as if it is the solution for all of NYC Transit's problems. Except, to anyone who has a baseline working knowledge of the system, it isn't. Look at all the crap they are out promoting. USB ports on trains! Next train arrival boards in the BMT and IND too! Transit Wi Fi! (the installation of which is actually a leading cause of overnight delays, BTW) All lipstick on a pig.

Edited by SubwayGuy
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Delays are always charged to their root cause. If a signal problem that affects 5 trains causes congestion and crowding that delays 42 trains, 42 trains' lateness will be charged to the signal problem.

 

Passengers are the #1 cause of delays. Whether that is "overcrowding" (which means no incident occurred but dwell time in stations is excessive), someone holding the doors, sick passengers, trains operating at slower speeds in an area because someone dropped their phone on the track and we have to make sure it's safe to enter the station and they didn't try and get it...

 

As for the points about politicians, I've been saying this for a while.

 

Politicians don't want a world class transit system. They literally don't give a shit. They will always give it enough money to keep the lights on and the trains generally moving enough that people can get to work and make money for big business which buys contributes to their re-election bids. But they'll never give it enough to be world class. I'm just the messenger. Get mad at your politicians, not me for stating facts! They love CBTC (and "Bus Rapid Transit" for that matter) because both are something less costly than system expansion they can throw significantly less money at, and tout as if it is the solution for all of NYC Transit's problems. Except, to anyone who has a baseline working knowledge of the system, it isn't. Look at all the crap they are out promoting. USB ports on trains! Next train arrival boards in the BMT and IND too! Transit Wi Fi! (the installation of which is actually a leading cause of overnight delays, BTW) All lipstick on a pig.

When you say it like this, I can't help but to laugh (because I agree). Only because it's sad and pathetic

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Politicians don't want a world class transit system. They literally don't give a shit. They will always give it enough money to keep the lights on and the trains generally moving enough that people can get to work and make money for big business which buys contributes to their re-election bids. But they'll never give it enough to be world class. I'm just the messenger. Get mad at your politicians, not me for stating facts! They love CBTC (and "Bus Rapid Transit" for that matter) because both are something less costly than system expansion they can throw significantly less money at, and tout as if it is the solution for all of NYC Transit's problems. Except, to anyone who has a baseline working knowledge of the system, it isn't. Look at all the crap they are out promoting. USB ports on trains! Next train arrival boards in the BMT and IND too! Transit Wi Fi! (the installation of which is actually a leading cause of overnight delays, BTW) All lipstick on a pig.

 

I couldn't agree more with that line. Spend money where its needed (and yes, I know we disagree on where that is). There was a poster up at my local subway stop advertising the availability of wifi/cell service in the station. Someone had wrote on it "F*** wifi. I want better service. -- NYC Subway Rider" I'd say that sums it up perfectly. 

Edited by RR503
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Can't blame Andrew Cuomo nor the MTA, they all wanted credit saying they helped "improved" the system. Having all these fancy trinkets that riders will notice, hopefully they "forget" that their commute is bad and that their politican is doing something for them. Building new subway on the other hand won't be finished when the current governor's term is over, therefore they can't take credit for. Just look at SAS, we don't know which governor actually began the project by looking at the placards located in each station, instead it all says (Andrew) Cuomo, Cuomo, Cuomo. What's the point of starting a project so the next politician can take credit for it. We need a politician that actually care about the people, not their next term (if there are any)

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Can't blame Andrew Cuomo nor the MTA, they all wanted credit saying they helped "improved" the system. Having all these fancy trinkets that riders will notice, hopefully they "forget" that their commute is bad and that their politican is doing something for them. Building new subway on the other hand won't be finished when the current governor's term is over, therefore they can't take credit for. Just look at SAS, we don't know which governor actually began the project by looking at the placards located in each station, instead it all says (Andrew) Cuomo, Cuomo, Cuomo. What's the point of starting a project so the next politician can take credit for it. We need a politician that actually care about the people, not their next term (if there are any)

 

Cuomo initiated the study that eventually led to the creation of the "Second Avenue Stubway"

 

MARIO Cuomo.

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Cuomo initiated the study that eventually led to the creation of the "Second Avenue Stubway"

 

MARIO Cuomo.

It’s about time to start another phase of construction. When his daughters are old and experienced enough to take office the project will be almost complete—ripe for a Miss Cuomo to take the credit when it finishes during her term.

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