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Thread: New York Subway and Bus System

  1. #26
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    M.T.A. Shows Off New Hybrid Buses - City Room - Metro - New York Times Blog
    September 5, 2008, 4:10 pm

    M.T.A. Shows Off New Hybrid Buses

    By Sewell Chan


    The new generation of Orion VII hybrid-electric buses have an updated appearance and technology. (Photos: Mary DiBiase Blaich for The New York Times)


    Several Staten Island officials spoke at a news conference at which the new buses were unveiled. From left: State Assemblyman Vincent M. Ignizio; Allen P. Cappelli, a newly appointed member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board; State Senator Andrew J. Lanza; State Senator Diane J. Savino; City Councilman James S. Oddo; and City Councilman Michael E. McMahon.

    Has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suddenly gone literary on us? A news release from New York City Transit today struck City Room as unusual, both for its writing flair and for a certain degree of self-effacement. It began:

    Sleek, modernistic and efficient. These are hardly the words one usually uses when describing a bus, but that could soon change with the introduction of a new fleet of Orion VII New Generation Hybrid-Electric buses, which are now making their first runs on Staten Island.

    The new buses were put on display this morning at a news conference on Staten Island attended by elected officials. The new buses, among 850 that have been ordered, are part of a generation known as Orion VII. It has “a traffic-stopping, modern design aimed at appealing to bus customers” — not to mention hybrid-electric technology that uses much less fuel and emits fewer tailpipe gases than conventional vehicles.

    These buses represent a huge step forward for New York City Transit,” said Joseph Smith, senior vice president for buses at New York City Transit, the arm of the authority that runs the city’s buses and subways.

    Of the 850 buses, 125 will be assigned to Staten Island, replacing buses built in the early 1990s. All 850 buses are scheduled to be delivered by 2010.

    When completed, the 850-bus order will bring the authority’s diesel-electric hybrid bus fleet to nearly 1,700 buses, the largest diesel-electric hybrid fleet in the world.

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    Money for Fulton St. facelift is not just a facade
    Volume 21, Number 18 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Sept. 12 18, 2008

    Money for Fulton St. facelift is not just a facade

    By Sisi Wei


    Downtown Express photo by Caroline Debevec

    City officials presented plans to give store and building owners on Fulton and Nassau Sts. incentives to improve their storefronts and facades.


    Since the water main project began on Fulton St. on June 23, 2007, business owners have seen construction six days a week with added occasional overnight construction. At the end of 2008 or the start of 2009, Fulton St. building and business owners may opt for even more construction — this time on their individual buildings.

    After construction finishes on the World Trade Center memorial and the South Street Seaport, pedestrian traffic will increase significantly on Fulton St., said Seth Myers, project manager at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The increase in traffic has spurred city agencies to improve the appearance of Fulton and Nassau Sts., resulting in a storefront and building facade improvement program by the E.D.C. and the N.Y.C. Department of City Planning.

    Once launched, the program may be the largest storefront improvement program across the country, said Ali Davis, another E.D.C. project manager, as she presented the project to the Financial District Committee of Community Board 1 on Sept. 3 with Myers and Keith O’Connor, the Lower Manhattan project manager for City Planning.

    Eligible owners can apply for up to $275,000 in building or storefront construction services (not grants), depending how many tiers of the improvement program owners apply for.

    The first tier deals with the basic storefront, giving store owners the chance to construct new signage, replace security gates and restore awnings. This tier provides up to $15,000 worth of services with no match requirement from the store owner.

    The second tier has a more comprehensive storefront focus, offering up to $60,000 for improvements such as window replacements and new architectural lighting. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is funding the project, will match store and building owner investments two to one for second tier services. For owners to receive the full $60,000, they must pay E.D.C.’s contractor $30,000 up front.

    Third tier facade restoration looks at the entire building from top to bottom. Improvements may include replacing upper story windows and restoring building linings. The program offers up to $200,000 in services for this tier, with the same matching requirements as tier two.

    The L.M.D.C. has given $15 million for the project, which will continue for three years or until funding runs out, Davis said.

    O’Connor stresses that the development project isn’t for uniformity, but rather to make every individual building the best it can be.

    “This isn’t about having the same sign on every building,” he said. “This is about embracing what we see as a very unique Fulton and Nassau, which has the densest concentration of ground-level retail anywhere in Lower Manhattan.”

    Davis hopes to start outreach to building and store owners by the end of the month. The E.D.C. is considering holding large scale outreach meetings as well as reaching out to owners individually or in small groups.

    The storefront facade program is part of a three-part effort to make Fulton St. more appealing. In addition to offering improvement incentives to business owners, the L.M.D.C. is also funding improvements to plazas and nearby side streets.

    sisi@downtownexpress.com

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    TRAFFIC MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET - New York Post
    TRAFFIC MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET

    By SYLVIA HARVEY
    Posted: 4:17 am
    September 16, 2008

    The city yesterday opened a red bus lane across 34th Street - with an eye toward unclogging weekday traffic.

    Any other vehicle using the lane from First to 11th avenues between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. will risk a citation, officials said.

    And to better spot violators, overhead cameras will be installed.

    The lanes are used by about 30 bus lines carrying 17,000 regular passengers and 14,000 express-bus passengers each day, officials said.

    The project is modeled after one instituted last year on Fordham Road in The Bronx. Described as an "extraordinary success" by MTA Executive Director Elliot Sander, that program has seen an improvement of 14 to 24 percent in trip times.

    As for cabbies, they'll still be able to use the 34th Street bus lanes to pick up or drop off passengers.

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    No. 7 Extension Wont Include 10th Ave. Station - City Room - Metro - New York Times Blog
    September 19, 2008, 9:08 am

    No. 7 Extension Won’t Include 10th Ave. Station

    By William Neuman


    The No. 7 line is being expanded to the Far West Side of Manhattan. (Photo: Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

    The westward extension of the No. 7 subway line will be built without a new station at 10th Avenue. That became even clearer this week after the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority let a deadline pass on a contract option for preliminary construction of the 10th Avenue station.

    The bottom line: in a time of budget cuts neither the city nor the authority wanted to pay for the extra station.

    The city is financing the rest of the work, which will bring the No. 7 line west of Times Square to Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, with a new station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue. It is an important part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plan to spur development on the Far West Side of Midtown.

    Early plans called for the project to also include a station at 10th Avenue and 41st Street. But as cost estimates rose, the station became expendable in the eyes of the city — and it became increasingly clear, by last fall, that financing for the new station was unlikely.

    Last fall, the authority signed a $1.14 billion contract with a company to dig the tunnel and excavate the 34th Street station. The contract contained a $450 million option to excavate a cavern for the 10th Avenue station as well. But the authority would have had to agree to the option by last Saturday. The deadline passed with no agreement.

    Transit advocates and some public officials have been critical of plans to build the extension without the extra station, saying that it would bypass a growing area in need of subway service.

    “Failure to build a full 7 train extension is a huge missed opportunity to promptly realize the complete potential of the Far West Side,” Senator Charles E. Schumer said in a statement.

    But city and M.T.A. officials defended the decision. Andrew Brent, a spokesman for Robert C. Lieber, the deputy mayor for economic development, said in a statement:
    Unlike the extension to 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which the city is funding, a 10th Avenue station is not necessary to drive growth there. A Tenth Avenue station would be nice, but it’s really a straight transportation project versus an economic development catalyst. We do recognize the difficult financial situation in which the M.T.A. finds itself as pressure on all of our budgets intensifies.

    Jeremy Soffin, an M.T.A. spokesman, said in a statement:

    We currently do not have the funding necessary to pursue a second station as part of the 7 extension, and were forced to allow the option to expire. While we would prefer to include a station at 10th Avenue, it is not critical to the success of the overall project. If funding is identified at a later date we will revisit the issue.

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/24/ny...l?ref=nyregion
    One Tunnel, Two Views of the Future

    By JIM DWYER
    Published: September 23, 2008

    Right now, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is digging a subway tunnel down a short piece of Second Avenue. The current estimate is that the construction will cost about $3,000 every minute of every day next year. Then the real money begins.

    Which raises the question: Is it really such a great idea to be digging subway tunnels in Manhattan?

    Once this was a simple question. A century ago, only dirt and rocks were under the sidewalks. The subways built between 1900 and 1940 made the modern city grow, a system of human irrigation for skyscrapers and apartment buildings. Today, though, the underground is practically as crowded as the streets above.

    Running beneath every street is an invisible, honeycombed world of cables and conduits, pipes and vaults.

    To thread new subway tunnels through this tangle requires both brilliant engineering and construction, and spectacular amounts of money.

    The Second Avenue subway is only one of a number of megaprojects that came to life during a prosperous era that appears to be coming to an end.

    The Long Island Rail Road is tunneling under the East Side of Manhattan to add a connection with Grand Central Terminal. And the city wants to extend the No. 7 train from its current terminal in Times Square to the Far West Side.

    Only now are city and authority officials beginning serious exploration of using the surface of the city, rather than its underside, for mass transit.

    One idea is to dedicate portions of big streets and avenues to protected bus lanes, physically separated from other traffic. Riders would pay their fares before they boarded. An experiment to do that in the Bronx has made a big cut in travel time, said Joan Byron, director of the Sustainability and Environmental Justice Initiative at the Pratt Center for Community Development.

    Such systems are called bus rapid transit, and the cost to build them is $1 million to $2 million per mile, Ms. Byron says, compared with $1 billion per mile for the Second Avenue subway.

    “If you just took the cost overruns for one year on any of the megarail projects, that would pay for a handsome bus rapid transit network,” she said.

    Others, including a group of private transit planners, have argued that the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority should examine light rail, essentially a modern version of old-fashioned streetcars.

    To Jeffrey M. Zupan, senior transportation fellow at the Regional Plan Association, it makes no sense to drop the Second Avenue subway. While the final price is estimated at more than $16 billion, Mr. Zupan says it will be the most cost-effective rapid-transit project in the country — not only providing a new line on the East Side, but also easing congestion on the existing Lexington Avenue trains for people in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The Second Avenue project has received federal funding precisely because it will reduce travel time for hundreds of thousands of people, Mr. Zupan said.

    It has been on the drawing boards through the terms of eight mayors and eight governors; portions were actually dug in the early 1970s, but the city and state ran out of money.

    “With the checkered history — if you stop now, you’d never start again,” Mr. Zupan said. “Inertia is what we had for a generation. You’d be kissing goodbye the benefits that would accrue to a half million riders a day, and you would continue to subject riders on the Lexington Avenue lines to inhumane crowding conditions.”

    A report from the Pratt Center says that 750,000 people in the five boroughs now have commutes longer than one hour. A bus rapid transit system, Ms. Byron argues, would be the quickest, least expensive way to make those rides shorter.

    New York’s vaunted subway and rapid-transit network — including the els — essentially stopped growing with the completion in 1940 of the IND lines. A 1986 report from the Regional Plan Association noted that since 1940, New York has gained the “dubious distinction of being the world’s only city with a shrinking rapid transit system, even as world mileage grew over 40 percent a decade.”

    Gene Russianoff, a staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, said he was reluctantly coming to the view that the grand new projects could hurt the upkeep of the existing system. “The M.T.A. just proposed cutting a fifth of their core capital program,” Mr. Russianoff said. “That included dropping fixing 19 stations, and hundreds of millions for emergency fans in the tunnels. At some point, maybe not yet, how vigorously can we proceed on these expansion projects if we don’t have the money to keep fixing the existing system?”

    Mr. Zupan of the regional planning group said construction jobs from the megaprojects would help the city through an economic downturn. “This is what I’ve been fearing will come up in the conversation because of the M.T.A.’s financial situation,” he said. “Now more than ever we need them.”

    E-mail: dwyer@nytimes.com

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