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Via Garibaldi 8

Shakeup could change Metro-North shuttle - My Riverdale Press Comments

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Shakeup could change Metro-North shuttle

20190731-104459-RailLink-4.jpg

A Hudson Rail Link bus idles before reaching the pickup point at the Riverdale Metro-North station. The Rail Link has provided transportation back into the business district for commuters who frequent the Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North stations, both located at the bottom of steep hills.

FRIDA STERENBERG

By HEATHER J. SMITH

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted last week to accept a reorganization plan and preliminary budget that includes a number of proposed cost-cutting measures addressing a nearly $1 billion annual projected budget deficit by 2022.

It may put a valuable local service at risk as well.

Buried in the 500-page budget is a proposal to end the Metro-North division’s management of the Hudson Rail Link buses. The service shuttles Metro-North riders from the trains to stops in their neighborhoods, including from the Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil stops.

Currently, the city contracts with a company to operate the buses, while Metro-North provides management and customer service. The new budget would transfer all functions and responsibilities of Rail Link, plus the purchase of two new buses, to a vendor.

“If no MTA party or outside vendor is identified, Metro-North will unilaterally cancel the contract,” the proposal reads.

That last line prompted more questions than answers.

20190731-104455-RailLink-2.jpg

A Hudson Rail Link bus waits at the pickup point at the Riverdale Metro-North station. The Rail Link is currently under the purview of the MTA, but the transportation authority has proposed offloading it to some other vendor, which would save the agency some $3 million.

FRIDA STERENBERG

20190731-104455-RailLink-1.jpg

As it seeks to reorganize itself, the MTA has proposed offloading the Hudson Rail Link from the Metro-North to some other vendor as a cost-saving measure. The green-and-white buses provide transportation to and from the Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North stations, as well as stops within and around those neighborhoods.

FRIDA STERENBERG

20190731-104457-RailLink-3.jpg

A Hudson Rail Link bus crosses onto Riverdale Avenue from Irwin Avenue.

FRIDA STERENBERG

“It seems like what they’re saying is, if they can’t find another vendor to do it, there’s a possibility they might say they’re just not going to do it entirely,” transportation advocate and Riverdale resident Vittorio Bugatti said. “I find that completely unacceptable.”

As of 2017, Metro-North consisted of five rail lines carrying 86.6 million people annually from Grand Central Station to suburban neighborhoods in New York and Connecticut. On days when express buses are late or never appear, Metro-North is a lifesaver to people like Bugatti, who works in Midtown.

“It’s a great service if you take advantage of the shuttle buses to the stations and not have to worry about driving and parking,” he said.

Rail Link buses make several stops in neighborhoods near Metro-North stations to pick up and drop off commuters. Since the train stations are located on the bank of the Hudson River — and therefore at the bottom of a steep slope — buses allow riders to avoid a tough walk without having to rely on personal vehicles they leave parked at the stations all day.

“They also give us dedicated bus service so that we don’t have to depend on the MTA to provide, say, the Bx10 that gets us somewhat close to the station but then we have to walk the rest of the way,” Bugatti said.

The proposed changes to Rail Link are part of a larger restructuring within MTA. The state legislature hired consulting firm AlixPartners to study ways the agency can decrease costs. Consultants spent three months preparing the plan that calls for sweeping reorganization of the transportation agency’s structure.

The result is a “transformation plan” to reduce the budget by $530 million annually over the next few years, which could possibly eliminate up to 2,700 jobs. Even with a successful implementation of the plan, the MTA would still have a deficit of about $440 million annually by 2022.

When Bugatti saw the proposed changes to Rail Link, he raised the alarm among fellow commuters through a social media post.

“There are legitimate concerns about this, and I think what my post was about was, if they want to try a different way of providing the service then tell us what it is,” he said. “We need some sort of assurances that whatever decision is made, they’re going to be able to maintain that service.”

If things go as the plan proposes and the MTA finds another vendor who’ll shoulder all of Rail Link’s responsibility, it should save the agency almost $3 million annually by 2023.

An MTA spokeswoman told The Riverdale Press the changes would not result in losing the Rail Link bus service — a point driven home by a Facebook comment authored by Fredric Klein, a staffer for Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, in response to Bugatti’s social media post.

“As was suggested earlier but is now confirmed by Metro-North, this is only a preliminary proposal being explored by the MTA as part of their larger reorganization plan,” Klein wrote.

MTA is exploring if it’s more efficient to transfer Rail Link to a different agency, like a city bus, agency officials said. The soonest things would change is next year, but it shouldn’t affect riders.

“We were assured that there will continue to be Rail Link service now and in the future, regardless of how it is organized with the MTA bureaucracy,” Klein wrote.

Bugatti hopes that’s the case, but encouraged his fellow transit neighbors to continue holding transportation officials accountable.

“The community needs to make sure that we get the transportation that we need,” Bugatti said.

“Because if we’re going to be giving the MTA billions of dollars over the course of the next several years once congestion pricing is sorted out, we need to make sure that we’re getting better service — whether it’s Metro-North, express buses, local buses or subways.”

Source: https://riverdalepress.com/stories/shakeup-could-change-metro-north-shuttle,69610?

 

 

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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Excellent comments! And what is with this new game the MTA is playing where everytime someone points out a cost-cutting proposal, the MTA says "oh, that is not really being considered. In fact. The proposal was made up by a rogue staff member and should never have been printed." C'mon!

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26 minutes ago, QM1to6Ave said:

Excellent comments! And what is with this new game the MTA is playing where everytime someone points out a cost-cutting proposal, the MTA says "oh, that is not really being considered. In fact. The proposal was made up by a rogue staff member and should never have been printed." C'mon!

Exactly.... It's total BS... We still have to be on the lookout for express bus cuts, which they will try to slide through via the redesigns. They did it on Staten Island and now they are trying it with the Bronx. Queens and Brooklyn will be up next... That is one reason we are watching several lines like hawks because we want to ensure that they provide the service so that ridership grows and then they can't argue that oh ridership is declining so we have to cut such and such lines, which I suspect they want to do with the QM1. As you know more and more QM5s run via Fresh Meadows.

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@Via Garibaldi 8 Great job! Thanks so much for being a great advocate and getting this out there! Keep up the great work! The MTA thinks we are idiots and tries to slip things like this by, but we won't allow that to happen.

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3 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

@Via Garibaldi 8 Great job! Thanks so much for being a great advocate and getting this out there! Keep up the great work! The MTA thinks we are idiots and tries to slip things like this by, but we won't allow that to happen.

So true!!

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I'll go as far as to say that they're not even trying to find another vendor..... They want to wash their hands of these shuttles entirely.

14 hours ago, QM1to6Ave said:

Excellent comments! And what is with this new game the MTA is playing where everytime someone points out a cost-cutting proposal, the MTA says "oh, that is not really being considered. In fact. The proposal was made up by a rogue staff member and should never have been printed." C'mon!

It's no different than when employers flat out lie to employees of a company that's about to go defunct.... They string 'em along for as long as they can (usually to the very last day), then they pull the rug right up from under them..... Oh, sorry for any inconveniences that this may cause you.... That's what this recent (lazy) denial tactic of these cuts aren't being considered reek of to me, and it's insulting - Full knowing that not only are they being merely considered, but unless the right people speak up/out, those shuttle buses up there in Riverdale are gone...... Stringing people along, having them believe that their commute won't be exacerbated - Which I believe is by far worse than just cutting service, cold turkey....

The MTA has never really been all that great as far as customer relations are concerned & this recent bit entailing blatantly lying to the public (especially if it persists) will have people engaging in more than just saying f*** it & resorting to finding other means to getting around.... It'll evoke a certain anger that I'm not so sure this city's ready for....

I tell you, it's going from me being irritated, to a straight up hatred of this agency.....

 

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6 hours ago, B35 via Church said:

I'll go as far as to say that they're not even trying to find another vendor..... They want to wash their hands of these shuttles entirely.

It's no different than when employers flat out lie to employees of a company that's about to go defunct.... They string 'em along for as long as they can (usually to the very last day), then they pull the rug right up from under them..... Oh, sorry for any inconveniences that this may cause you.... That's what this recent (lazy) denial tactic of these cuts aren't being considered reek of to me, and it's insulting - Full knowing that not only are they being merely considered, but unless the right people speak up/out, those shuttle buses up there in Riverdale are gone...... Stringing people along, having them believe that their commute won't be exacerbated - Which I believe is by far worse than just cutting service, cold turkey....

The MTA has never really been all that great as far as customer relations are concerned & this recent bit entailing blatantly lying to the public (especially if it persists) will have people engaging in more than just saying f*** it & resorting to finding other means to getting around.... It'll evoke a certain anger that I'm not so sure this city's ready for....

I tell you, it's going from me being irritated, to a straight up hatred of this agency.....

 

The fact that they didn't even consider putting it directly under RBO (flawed as it is) concerns me. I mean, it's part of the same damn agency...

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2 hours ago, Lex said:

The fact that they didn't even consider putting it directly under RBO (flawed as it is) concerns me. I mean, it's part of the same damn agency...

Not surprising at all, they are trying to save money period. Putting it with RBO will most likely cause them to spend more money operating this thing

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11 hours ago, Mtatransit said:

Not surprising at all, they are trying to save money period. Putting it with RBO will most likely cause them to spend more money operating this thing

I personally don't mind another vendor coming in.  There have been a few times where there was no shuttle bus during periods when it is the only one to run, forcing us to take an Uber to the station, and many of the drivers are not exactly friendly, and some even expect tips during the holidays.  GTFOH.

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1 hour ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I personally don't mind another vendor coming in.  There have been a few times where there was no shuttle bus during periods when it is the only one to run, forcing us to take an Uber to the station, and many of the drivers are not exactly friendly, and some even expect tips during the holidays.  GTFOH.

The drivers expect tips? What kind of bullshit is going on behind the scenes?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Lex said:

The drivers expect tips? What kind of bullshit is going on behind the scenes?

Metro-North riders have deep pockets and it has been a trend going back for years with some of the old-timers. Usually around Xmas time, the regulars will give the driver a card with money and or wine or something nice, but there is usually a card with money for sure, at least with some of them anyway. In return, that means that when they are running late and can't reach the stop, they expect the driver to look out for them and pick them up at non-stops, or they hold the bus at the stop when they are running behind if the driver seems them coming, which I have seen from time-to-time. 

I'm a regular, but I've only had one driver that I was really cool with at most, and he has been gone for years.  He is the only one that I would give a bottle of wine or something to, but for the others... No way am I tipping. They are PAID to provide the service, and likely paid well at that. I am not tipping for you to do your job.  I had one driver that clearly thought he was deserving of a tip from me. I looked at him like HELL NO dude!  

Now this driver I have had for years, and he was VERY nasty with me one morning. I sometimes get him in the afternoons as well if I get an earlier Metro-North train home. One morning, I got on the bus closer to the Spuyten Duyvil station, and there were no seats left, so I had to stand. It was winter, and he had the heat blasting on another level. No windows open for any air.  With my coat and my laptop bag, I was becoming overheated, so I told him I was getting off at the next available stop because there was too much heat on the bus. He got an attitude, and gave me this whole speech about how I had to take the bus to the train station in order to get off. That's when I got nasty back.

I haven't spoken to him since. I just pay, and keep it moving. He has since tried to speak with me, but I don't say anything because he is very rude with other customers as well, and I filed a complaint. One morning we were by the Henry Hudson Parkway and West 246th street stop. Another regular boards.  Before he could put his things down on the chair to get his wallet out, the driver starts complaining about how he needed to pay his fare. The guy snapped back and said, "Don't you see that my hands are full!?!?" Then that's when he shut up. I mean really... Metro-North riders are generally regular customers with passes, so they are not going around fare beating. The guy is on a power trip and needs his ego checked.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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7 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I'm a regular, but I've only had one driver that I was really cool with at most, and he has been gone for years.  He is the only one that I would give a bottle of wine or something to, but for the others... No way am I tipping. They are PAID to provide the service, and likely paid well at that. I am not tipping for you to do your job.  I had one driver that clearly thought he was deserving of a tip from me. I looked at him like HELL NO dude!  

Now this driver I have had for years, and he was VERY nasty with me one morning. I sometimes get him in the afternoons as well if I get an earlier Metro-North train home. One morning, I got on the bus closer to the Spuyten Duyvil station, and there were no seats left, so I had to stand. It was winter, and he had the heat blasting on another level. No windows open for any air.  With my coat and my laptop bag, I was becoming overheated, so I told him I was getting off at the next available stop because there was too much heat on the bus. He got an attitude, and gave me this whole speech about how I had to take the bus to the train station in order to get off. That's when I got nasty back.

I haven't spoken to him since. I just pay, and keep it moving. He has since tried to speak with me, but I don't say anything because he is very rude with other customers as well, and I filed a complaint. One morning we were by the Henry Hudson Parkway and West 246th street stop. Another regular boards.  Before he could put his things down on the chair to get his wallet out, the driver starts complaining about how he needed to pay his fare. The guy snapped back and said, "Don't you see that my hands are full!?!?" Then that's when he shut up. I mean really... Metro-North riders are generally regular customers with passes, so they are not going around fare beating. The guy is on a power trip and needs his ego checked.

I have no words...

If the vendor does change, I can only hope that the drivers are better.

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On 8/6/2019 at 11:02 AM, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I personally don't mind another vendor coming in.  There have been a few times where there was no shuttle bus during periods when it is the only one to run, forcing us to take an Uber to the station, and many of the drivers are not exactly friendly, and some even expect tips during the holidays.  GTFOH.

I never had a problem with the drivers. Most are super-friendly -- much more so than MTA bus drivers. And they are usually amenable to dropping you off on any corner, not just official stoops. That will end if MTA Bus takes over.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Italianstallion said:

I never had a problem with the drivers. Most are super-friendly -- much more so than MTA bus drivers. And they are usually amenable to dropping you off on any corner, not just official stoops. That will end if MTA Bus takes over.

If you were tipped, you would be super friendly too... I always got off at the stops listed, so it wouldn't be a big loss for me.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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12 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

If you were tipped, you would be super friendly too... I always got off at the stops listed, so it wouldn't be a big loss for me.

I've never tipped, and I'm not a regular. Always had good service.

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On ‎8‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 8:54 PM, Lex said:

The fact that they didn't even consider putting it directly under RBO (flawed as it is) concerns me. I mean, it's part of the same damn agency...

Even though they are part of the same agency, they are different divisions.  MTA is the umbrella company, while MTA busses and Metro North are individual divisions.

No different than Sears Holdings.  Sears Holding owns the Sears and  KMART brands but they operate independent of one another from an operational standpoint.

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22 hours ago, Truckie said:

Even though they are part of the same agency, they are different divisions.  MTA is the umbrella company, while MTA busses and Metro North are individual divisions.

No different than Sears Holdings.  Sears Holding owns the Sears and  KMART brands but they operate independent of one another from an operational standpoint.

Sure, and look how hot Sears is doing...

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22 hours ago, Truckie said:

Even though they are part of the same agency, they are different divisions.  MTA is the umbrella company, while MTA busses and Metro North are individual divisions.

No different than Sears Holdings.  Sears Holding owns the Sears and  KMART brands but they operate independent of one another from an operational standpoint.

The idea is to promote integration and keep the service going (assuming that they decide to look for a vendor and come back with nothing).

Hell, OMNY is planned to foster integration on some level. Internal operations could prove useful in increasing integration if done with care. (In general, though, this service -- like any -- needs people who care.)

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1 hour ago, Lex said:

The idea is to promote integration and keep the service going (assuming that they decide to look for a vendor and come back with nothing).

Hell, OMNY is planned to foster integration on some level. Internal operations could prove useful in increasing integration if done with care. (In general, though, this service -- like any -- needs people who care.)

They are not changing the contractor! They want to cut the subsidy entirely to save money. 

What they mean by vendor is, an government agency or some other party picking up the subsidy and the service.

 

The (MTA) would therefore get its hands washed of this service

 

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5 hours ago, Mtatransit said:

They are not changing the contractor! They want to cut the subsidy entirely to save money. 

What they mean by vendor is, an government agency or some other party picking up the subsidy and the service.

 

The (MTA) would therefore get its hands washed of this service

 

By "vendor" I specifically mean any non-MTA entity. (RBO is right there, but the service is outsourced to some other group.)

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14 hours ago, Lex said:

By "vendor" I specifically mean any non-MTA entity. (RBO is right there, but the service is outsourced to some other group.)

I don’t think any private agency is going to make a profit on this thing.

Without the Metro North subsidy there will be no bus

which is a shame because those Station’s ridership went up when they implemented the bus. Now they are probably going to lose it... talk about losing a dollar to save a Penny

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