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CenSin

MTA Pulls Emergency Brake on All Major Projects as Financial Woes Mount

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https://www.thecity.nyc/transportation/2020/6/23/21301217/mta-pulls-brake-on-major-projects-as-financial-woes-mount

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MTA Pulls Emergency Brake on All Major Projects as Financial Woes Mount

By Jose Martinez | Jun 23, 2020, 8:52pm EDT

Billions of dollars in planned upgrades to the transit system — including modernized signals, new subway cars and elevators at dozens of stations — will be frozen indefinitely due to financial fallout from the pandemic, THE CITY has learned.

MTA officials are expected to reveal Wednesday that a 60-day hold on “capital projects” that was announced in March will remain in place while the cash-strapped state transit agency tries to secure another $3.9 billion in emergency federal funding.

So what can we expect for the subway and bus network now?

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I remember commenting on this issue on a thread at the beginning of the pandemic. It amazes me that throughout the subway threads there are proposals about new cars, CBTC and the like without the posters mentioning the financial fix all mass transit systems will face countrywide. Seems like many people are living in Fantasyland. The real world is much harsher. It’s belt tightening time folks. Elections matter. DC, state and local. My take. Carry on.

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58 minutes ago, Trainmaster5 said:

Elections matter.

Like the one that took place yesterday.

58 minutes ago, Trainmaster5 said:

It amazes me that throughout the subway threads there are proposals about new cars, CBTC and the like without the posters mentioning the financial fix all mass transit systems will face countrywide.

Methinks a lot of plans (both official and fantasy) will have to go back to the drawing board. A lot of the prior assumptions that went into planning are probably going to be obsolete.

For example, those wide elevator/escalator banks installed in the newest stations and spacious mezzanines/platforms are looking much more reasonable in the era of social distancing whether social distancing will be permanent or seasonal. (There are preliminary findings that suggest immunity to the virus is not lasting and that the virus has already mutated into something different.)

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Yeah, we can probably kiss the R262s, Phase 3, and Penn Station Access goodbye at this point...

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3 hours ago, CenSin said:

So what can we expect for the subway and bus network now?

Deterioration.

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Posted (edited)

Given that Prince Andrew will likely only step in to save what brings him nice ribbon cuttings, here's how I see projects going:

Most likely saved:

ESA

Elevator installations already in progress 

R211s

50/50 chance:

Service cuts - (W)(Z) elimination?

CBTC delays (excluding places where work is underway already)

R262 delivery pushed back further

Elimination or trimming down of late night service

Most likely DOA:

Bus network - Borough redesigns will be a trojan horse for service cuts

Station renovations - Most will be cut and projects like the Nostrand exit reopening will probably be quietly terminated

Replacements for R68s - those cars will probably be around much longer and reach their late 40s/early 50s

 

 

Edited by R68OnBroadway

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I think that the proper course of action for the MTA at this point to salvage the budget requires some drastic actions. I think the core of this should be the privatization of the services which the MTA provides, in conjunction with deunionizing transit employees to reduce overtime, benefit pay, and various other cost-intensive forms of spending. The MTA would therefore shift its focus from an organization directly involved in the operations of transit to one which merely oversees network, schedule, and fare coordination.

Ideally, I would subdivide the MTA into the following contracts (ideally for 5- or 10-year periods) for privatization:

Subway:

A Division

B Division plus Staten Island Railway

Bus:

Contracts would be doled out to private companies on a depot-by-depot basis.

LIRR:

Port Washington Branch

Main Line electric services

South Shore electric services

Diesel services

MNR:

Only the Hudson and Harlem lines would be privatized, each as its own contract. This is due to the nature of Metro-North's other services, which require coordination with other states to achieve ideal results.

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3 hours ago, R68OnBroadway said:

50/50 chance:

Service cuts - (W)(Z) elimination?

CBTC delays (excluding places where work is underway already)

R262 delivery pushed back further

Elimination or trimming down of late night service

Most likely DOA:

Bus network - Borough redesigns will be a trojan horse for service cuts

Station renovations - Most will be cut and projects like the Nostrand exit reopening will probably be quietly terminated

Replacements for R68s - those cars will probably be around much longer and reach their late 40s/early 50s

A (W) and (Z) Elimination is something I've low key predicted for some time, though I still doubt that'll happen. 

Overnight service, I'd like to see it return, but if there was a partial elimination, at least keep the high ridership lines running such as the (L) 

Also, (if I recall correctly) the Nostrand Avenue entrance/exit reopening was a community funded project so I think that'll still happen. 

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3 hours ago, 67thAve said:

I think that the proper course of action for the MTA at this point to salvage the budget requires some drastic actions. I think the core of this should be the privatization of the services which the MTA provides, in conjunction with deunionizing transit employees to reduce overtime, benefit pay, and various other cost-intensive forms of spending. The MTA would therefore shift its focus from an organization directly involved in the operations of transit to one which merely oversees network, schedule, and fare coordination.

Ideally, I would subdivide the MTA into the following contracts (ideally for 5- or 10-year periods) for privatization:

Subway:

A Division

B Division plus Staten Island Railway

Bus:

Contracts would be doled out to private companies on a depot-by-depot basis.

LIRR:

Port Washington Branch

Main Line electric services

South Shore electric services

Diesel services

MNR:

Only the Hudson and Harlem lines would be privatized, each as its own contract. This is due to the nature of Metro-North's other services, which require coordination with other states to achieve ideal results.

 

 

How About No, Making things private makes things worse. look at NICE bus for example.

 

gotta love the anti union talk, Without a Union we wouldn't have the working rights we have now

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16 minutes ago, R32 3838 said:

How About No, Making things private makes things worse. look at NICE bus for example.

What's the track record for Veolia and RATP stateside?

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, R32 3838 said:

 

 

How About No, Making things private makes things worse. look at NICE bus for example.

 

gotta love the anti union talk, Without a Union we wouldn't have the working rights we have now

The private-public partnership that is NICE failed on account of the shoestring budget Transdev had to work with, as well as the nature of the operating area (sprawling suburbia with a mostly captive clientele is not conducive to being desirable for private transport investment). Yet I still have no doubt that Transdev managed the situation better from a financial standpoint than the MTA could ever do so.

Privatization of this design has been successful in cities throughout the EU (particularly in France, where the local government issues contracts to private transit operators for X number of years with certain requirements and stipulations, such as investing in electric vehicles or expanding service hours). The reality is that the United States and Canada are "behind the curve" of public transit investment, as most places in other developed nations have already moved to this model of private outsourcing on a large scale (with the exceptions of some minor holdouts, such as Northern Ireland and parts of Tasmania).

The fact that such a "union-unfriendly" idea as privatization can be undertaken in a country such as France to this scale indicates that perhaps unions overhype the threats of the concept (understandable, as it gives them less power and less political clout). But driving a bus is not the same as working in a slaughterhouse with poor ventilation or blasting steel for ten hours straight. I understand that the employees who spend their days working in the depot and not driving the buses can suffer similarly, but working conditions have improved in the past century, and the money saved from deunionization can not only be utilized to rectify problems such as poor ventilation through infrastructure upgrades, but improve service - all while saving money.

Edited by 67thAve

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, 67thAve said:

The private-public partnership that is NICE failed on account of the shoestring budget Transdev had to work with, as well as the nature of the operating area (sprawling suburbia with a mostly captive clientele is not conducive to being desirable for private transport investment). Yet I still have no doubt that Transdev managed the situation better from a financial standpoint than the MTA could ever do so.

Privatization of this design has been successful in cities throughout the EU (particularly in France, where the local government issues contracts to private transit operators for X number of years with certain requirements and stipulations, such as investing in electric vehicles or expanding service hours). The reality is that the United States and Canada are "behind the curve" of public transit investment, as most places in other developed nations have already moved to this model of private outsourcing on a large scale (with the exceptions of some minor holdouts, such as Northern Ireland and parts of Tasmania).

The fact that such a "union-unfriendly" idea as privatization can be undertaken in a country such as France to this scale indicates that perhaps unions overhype the threats of the concept (understandable, as it gives them less power and less political clout). But driving a bus is not the same as working in a slaughterhouse with poor ventilation or blasting steel for ten hours straight. I understand that the employees who spend their days working in the depot and not driving the buses can suffer similarly, but working conditions have improved in the past century, and the money saved from deunionization can not only be utilized to rectify problems such as poor ventilation through infrastructure upgrades, but improve service - all while saving money.

Privatization doesn't always work- just take a look at the U.K.  The government has been gradually re-nationalizing parts of the network because the private companies can't get their shit together.  In fact a majority of people over there support public ownership of the railways, and the government has temporarily assumed responsibility for rail transport on account of the whole coronavirus situation:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-51298820

https://news.sky.com/story/railways-sky-poll-shows-majority-backs-renationalising-network-11860684

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/06/24/grant-shapps-set-centralise-control-britains-railways/

The issue is not that New York's subways and buses are publicly managed; it's that they are poorly managed.  These are two completely different things.  Public ownership can be very effective and quite efficient when managed by competent people and not bogged down by local/regional machine politics- Austria, Denmark and Sweden are good examples of this.  The railways in Yugoslavia and East Germany were also fairly decent even though they had outdated infrastructure and rolling stock- they made good with what they had.

The trains and buses in NY would not suck as much as they do if the politicians didn't suck.  A competent government, like those that exist in other parts of the world, would have no problem managing the system, whether it be run under the umbrella of the MTA, the DOT, NASA, or whatever.

But as long as a majority of the voters continue to re-elect a**holes like Cuomo and deBlasio, then the people of NY get exactly what they deserve. 

 

Edited by R10 2952
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8 hours ago, Trainmaster5 said:

Elections matter. DC, state and local. 

The Accuracy of this last sentence. 

 

5 hours ago, R68OnBroadway said:

Given that Prince Andrew will likely only step in to save what brings him nice ribbon cuttings, here's how I see projects going:

Most likely DOA:

Bus network - Borough redesigns will be a trojan horse for service cuts

Here’s the only problem with that. Bronx Bus Network is complete- Fall 2020 unless any additional delays. I say Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan bus networks are suspended for the time being. 

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1 minute ago, R10 2952 said:

The issue is not that New York's subways and buses are publicly managed; it's that they are poorly managed.  These are two completely different things.

There's way too much political involvement/influence in the MTA; how many transit experts have Cuomo driven out of here, since he's been governor again?

But yeah, MTA is too large for some private entity to swoop through & seamlessly take control of (and quite frankly, clean house/revamp) the mess it would inherit.....

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4 hours ago, B35 via Church said:

There's way too much political involvement/influence in the MTA; how many transit experts have Cuomo driven out of here, since he's been governor again?

A good amount. He's done more harm with running the agency than good honestly.

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11 hours ago, R68OnBroadway said:

Service cuts - (W)(Z) elimination

The (W) , sure, let's go back to 2010 (sigh), but the (Z) ? Thing is, (Z)  elimination is something that's been discussed on this forum, and it would inextricably have to lead to an increase in (J) service (so either way, people wouldn't be losing out on much, unless they seriously decide to keep the (J) 's current schedule after eliminating the (Z) ...)

11 hours ago, R68OnBroadway said:

R262 delivery pushed back further

Um... do we even know if there's a set year for their arrival yet?

6 hours ago, R10 2952 said:

whether it be run under the umbrella of the MTA, the DOT, NASA, or whatever

This just in, NASA builds a rail track that goes to the Moon!

2 hours ago, Daniel The Cool said:

A good amount. He's done more harm with running the agency than good honestly.

I remember watching one of his daily press briefings... media scolded him about the LGA airtrain yet he just denied everything... no investment in buses, the airtrain is "super duper fast" going all the way to mets-willets... it was ridiculous

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1 hour ago, Bay Ridge Express said:

The (W) , sure, let's go back to 2010 (sigh), but the (Z) ? Thing is, (Z)  elimination is something that's been discussed on this forum, and it would inextricably have to lead to an increase in (J) service (so either way, people wouldn't be losing out on much, unless they seriously decide to keep the (J) 's current schedule after eliminating the (Z) ...)

The (Z) is literally just a variant of the (J). Abandoning skip-stop with as little pain as possible (assuming that there's enough funds to maintain current frequencies, but not enough to go beyond) is to leave those trips in the schedule and have all trains make all stops east of Myrtle Avenue.

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21 hours ago, R10 2952 said:

Yeah, we can probably kiss the R262s, Phase 3, and Penn Station Access goodbye at this point...

If the R211's are surely delayed because of the pandemic and all major projects are on hold, we are going to return to a major car shortage if (MTA) does not realize that they can not run full service without the R32's and R42's once we return to Phase 4.

Does this also mean that Queens Blvd CBTC is on indefinitely on hold? So that whole Jamaica/Coney Island yard swap was pretty much pointless?

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8 hours ago, Lex said:

The (Z) is literally just a variant of the (J). Abandoning skip-stop with as little pain as possible (assuming that there's enough funds to maintain current frequencies, but not enough to go beyond) is to leave those trips in the schedule and have all trains make all stops east of Myrtle Avenue.

Ok, but I don't understand how that would be a "cut," per se, since abandoning skip-stop on the (J)(Z) , at times, is even advocated for, and the total frequency would not be changed.

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35 minutes ago, Bay Ridge Express said:

Ok, but I don't understand how that would be a "cut," per se, since abandoning skip-stop on the (J)(Z) , at times, is even advocated for, and the total frequency would not be changed.

It would be a cut if the schedule is altered for a net decrease in runs, especially if the (Z) trips are simply removed from the schedule.

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1 hour ago, Lawrence St said:

If the R211's are surely delayed because of the pandemic and all major projects are on hold, we are going to return to a major car shortage if (MTA) does not realize that they can not run full service without the R32's and R42's once we return to Phase 4.

Does this also mean that Queens Blvd CBTC is on indefinitely on hold? So that whole Jamaica/Coney Island yard swap was pretty much pointless?

 

Queens Blvd CBTC is pretty much paid for assuming that there's no other contracts needing awarding. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Bay Ridge Express said:

Ok, but I don't understand how that would be a "cut," per se, since abandoning skip-stop on the (J)(Z) , at times, is even advocated for, and the total frequency would not be changed.

Either way, anything that riders can reasonably interpret as a service cut will not go over well.  For them, cutting skip-stop service east of Broadway Junction will be a non-starter unless the MTA throws something in to sweeten the deal (such as peak express service west of the Junction).

Edited by R10 2952

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3 hours ago, R10 2952 said:

Either way, anything that riders can reasonably interpret as a service cut will not go over well.  For them, cutting skip-stop service east of Broadway Junction will be a non-starter unless the MTA throws something in to sweeten the deal (such as peak express service west of the Junction).

Doubt it. Skip stop kills frequency on Jamaica and most riders would probably prefer a more frequent all stop service to today.

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This is political theater.  The whole state is crying poor in an attempt to get aid from the federal government.  They should get aid, but the Senate Republicans would rather see New York go bankrupt than give a dime to a blue state.  Also, people need to just move on from the R32s and R42s.  The R42s are definitely not coming back into service, and I'd say the R32s will not likely be put back into service.  It's over.

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