Tag Archives: Long Island Rail Road

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

 TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Overcast in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 55. Winds from the ESE at 10 to 15 mph. Monday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 41. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Marking Spaces: New York City’s Landmark Historic Districts 

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Law, enacted by then Mayor Robert Wagner on April 19, 1965, protects the city’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. One of the best manifestations of the New York City landscape and the impact of landmarks is the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum of Art. The new exhibition “Marking Spaces: New York City’s Landmark Historic Districts,” will have yellow flags placed on the model to identify the 109 historic districts throughout the five boroughs. On view through June 2. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own 

 7 Injured in  fire in Astoria, Queens

Seven people were injured late Sunday afternoon when a fire broke out in an Astoria, Queens apartment building. Read more: CBS New York

Man caught riding Long Island Rail Road train through Queens

Talk about a crazy commute. A reckless rider was spotted on top of a Long Island Rail Road train in Queens Sunday morning. Read more: New York Daily News 

Schumer opposes possible concealed weapon addition to gun control bill

As Washington lawmakers prepare to vote on expanded background checks for gun purchases, Senator Charles Schumer warned Sunday that a possible Republican amendment to a federal gun safety bill could force all states, including New York, to recognize all other states’ concealed-carry laws. Read more: NY1

9/11 memorial charging reservation fee

Visitors to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum must now pay a $2 service fee to reserve passes online or by phone. Read more: Fox New York/AP

New York’s ‘assault weapon’ registration to begin

Key measures of New York’s tough new gun law are set to kick in, with owners of guns now reclassified as assault weapons required to register the firearms and new limits on the number of bullets allowed in magazines. Read more: AP

Tight win for Chavez’s heir spells uncertainty for Venezuela

Late socialist leader Hugo Chavez’s chosen successor Nicolas Maduro won Venezuela’s presidential election by a whisker but now faces opposition protests plus a host of economic and political challenges in the OPEC nation. Read more: Reuters 

LIRR riders say no justification for fare hikes


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

MetroCard holders are not the only ones pinching pennies now that fare hikes are in effect.

Starting on Friday, March 1, monthly, one-way, round-trip and 10-trip tickets all went up an average of 8.2 to 9.3 percent for Long Island Rail Road riders.

On the first full work week of higher fares, LIRR commuters in Queens questioned why they are paying more to ride, but are not receiving better service.

“I don’t know how [the LIRR] can justify constantly increasing prices,” said Kevin Gilmartin, a New Jersey resident who has been regularly taking the train from Penn Station to Queens to do millwork projects in the borough for around five years.

Gilmartin knows that taking the train is cheaper than driving, but said with ridership up, the MTA should be lowering prices, not increasing them.

For Nina Rahn, a Bayside resident who commutes to her retail job in Manhattan about four times a week, the fare hike adds up to around $50 more per month.

“I didn’t get a raise at work, so it’s like paying another bill,” said Rahn.

She is also shelling out more cash to ride the bus to and from the train station since MetroCard fares also recently increased.

Agreeing with Gilmartin, Rahn said that if she’s paying more, she wants to see improvements, such as extra trains or fewer signal problems, but those things likely won’t happen.

“Where does the money go?” she said.

 

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Op-Ed: Recovery through economic activity and investment


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER PHILLIP GOLDFEDER

Last year, the legislature passed a bill, as the first step in the process to amending the state constitution, allowing enhanced gaming in up to seven locations across the state. While this was only the beginning, it was a huge victory for Queens families who have already benefited from the economic development and jobs created by Resorts World at Aqueduct and realize the potential for growth. In his annual state of the state address, Governor Andrew Cuomo shared a vision for the future of our state and I look forward to our continued partnership and collaboration in an effort to boost every community across the state.

In southern Queens and Rockaway, Sandy has left a path of unimaginable devastation and destruction and it will take the coordinated efforts of the public and private sector to fully recover. Now, more than ever, we need to find new and creative ways to help our small businesses to create good-paying jobs and rejuvenate our local economy. Creating a full-scale, enhanced gaming casino at Resorts World would not only increase revenues for the community and the state, but the impact would be felt immediately in terms of economic activity and job creation for southern Queens and Rockaway families.

Expanding gaming also provides opportunities for continued investment in southern Queens and Rockaway infrastructure. I continue to be a staunch advocate for the complete restoration of the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line, as it would be the right solution to not only encourage economic development but to increase transit options for all of Queens’ families. Created at the turn of the century, the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, also known as White Pot Junction, was owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road. Strategically placed within a major network of trains throughout New York City, the rail line provided residents with safe, affordable and expedient access to other parts of Queens and the rest of the city.

There is no need to look any farther than Resorts World at Aqueduct, a proven location for enhanced gaming and reliable community partner. Since their first year anniversary, Resorts World has set records in slot machine gaming, beating out the casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, contributing millions of dollars towards the education of our children. Further, Resorts World has been a valuable neighbor that has worked hand-in-hand with elected leaders, the NYPD and our community to ensure a seamless development at the Aqueduct facility. Resorts World is the perfect example of partnership and we need to give them the tools necessary to continue to succeed so that our families and small businesses may continue to recover and become even more resilient.

In addition to their success as a casino, Resorts World is committed to a long term partnership with our community and has continued their positive relationship through vital investments in our local organizations and standing on the front lines of Sandy relief and recovery. Given the right tools, Resorts World will continue to exceed every expectation, expand on our local workforce and stimulate our local economy, in addition to creating opportunities for the continued success and recovery of Queens.

Goldfeder represents the 23rd Assembly District including Ozone Park, Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

 

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MTA service changes for President’s Day holiday


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

According to the MTA, the transit agency’s trains and buses will operate on special schedules in observance of Presidents’ Day on Monday.

Subways and Buses

On Monday, February 18, President’s Day, the MTA New York City subways and buses will operate on a Saturday schedule.

Planned Service changes for Monday, February 18:

The 5 train will operate only as a shuttle in the Bronx, between Dyre Avenue and East 180th Street

7 train weekend work is extended through Monday; 7 trains operate only between Flushing-Main Street and Queensboro Plaza.

Q service will be extended to Astoria due to the 7 shutdown. (From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, February 16, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, February 17, and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, February 18, Q trains are extended to Ditmars Blvd. in order to augment service between Manhattan and Queens.)

Other weekend track work diversions will extend through Monday. Details will be posted at www.mta.info.

As a reminder, on a Saturday schedule, these subway changes are in place:

There is no express service on the 6 or 7

The B train does not operate; use the A, C, D or Q instead.

M trains operate only between Myrtle Avenue (Broadway), Brooklyn, and Metropolitan Avenue, Queens.

The Z train does not operate; use the J, which runs between Jamaica Center and Chambers Street.

To stay informed, refer to the Weekday and Weekend Service Change Directories posted in all subway stations, or visit the MTA website at www.mta.info and click on “Planned Service Changes” and/or “Current Service Status.”

Long Island Rail Road

On Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 18, the LIRR will operate on a holiday schedule with three extra westbound trains and three extra eastbound trains on the Port Washington Branch and one extra westbound train on the Ronkonkoma Branch. In addition, selected trains will make additional stops. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day. There will be no train service on the West Hempstead Branch and East of Ronkonkoma.

Extra Westbound Trains

Ronkonkoma Branch

Departs Ronkonkoma at 7:10 AM, making stops all stops to Hicksville (except Pinelawn), then Jamaica, Woodside and arrives Penn Station at 8:28 AM.

Port Washington Branch

Departs Port Washington at 7:10 AM, making all stops to Flushing Main St. (except Mets-Willets Point), then Woodside and arrives Penn Station at 7:55 AM.

Departs Port Washington at 8:10 AM, making all stops to Flushing Main St. (except Mets-Willets Point), then Woodside and arrives Penn Station at 8:55 AM.

Departs Port Washington at 9:10 AM, making all stops to Flushing Main St. (except Mets-Willets Point), then Woodside and arrives Penn Station at 9:55 AM.

Extra Eastbound Trains

Port Washington Branch

Departs Penn Station at 3:48 PM, making stops at Woodside, Flushing Main St., then all stops to Port Washington.

Departs Penn Station at 4:48 PM, making stops at Woodside, Flushing Main St., then all stops to Port Washington.

Departs Penn Station at 5:48 PM, making stops at Woodside, Flushing Main St., then all stops to Port Washington.

Eastbound Trains Making Added Stops

Ronkonkoma Branch

Departs Penn Station at 4:35 PM, making stops at Woodside, Jamaica, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Westbury, Hicksville, Bethpage, then all stops to Ronkonkoma (except Pinelawn).

Departs Penn Station at 5:35 PM, making stops at Woodside, Jamaica, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Westbury, Hicksville, Bethpage, then all stops to Ronkonkoma (except Pinelawn).

Departs Penn Station at 6:35 PM, making stops at Woodside, Jamaica, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Westbury, Hicksville and Bethpage, then all stops to Ronkonkoma (except Pinelawn).

Metro-North Railroad

On Presidents Day, Monday, February 18, Metro-North Railroad will operate on a Saturday schedule. Hudson Rail Link, the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry and the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry, will not operate.

Staten Island Railway

On President’s Day, Monday, February 18, the Staten Island Railway will operate on a Sunday schedule. There will be no early Get Away schedule for the Friday before the holiday weekend.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with a chance of snow in the afternoon. High of 25F with a windchill as low as 0. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the SW in the afternoon. Chance of snow 40%. Friday night: Overcast with snow. Low of 19F with a windchill as low as 10. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the NW after midnight. Chance of snow 60%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: afroTANGO

Discover Tango’s African roots in this world premiere musical at the Thalia Spanish Theatre in Sunnyside. Music arranged and directed by Latin Grammy winner Raul Jaurena. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Firefighters battle flames, cold in Glendale fire

One person was critically injured in a house fire in the Glendale section of Queens early Friday. Read more: ABC New York

Veteran city supervisor arrested on charges of child porn possession tells FBI he uses binoculars to spy on elementary school kids in Queens

A veteran city supervisor busted for possession of kiddie porn told FBI agents he uses binoculars to spy on kids leaving an elementary school across the street from his Queens apartment. Read more: New York Daily News

Senate sets Monday vote on $50.5B Sandy aid bill

The Senate is set to vote Monday on a $50.5 billion emergency relief bill to help victims of Superstorm Sandy. Read more: CBS New York

Cold weather breaking tracks along LIRR rails

The extreme cold is creating an unusual and potentially dangerous problem for the Long Island Rail Road Friday. Read more: ABC New York

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to host campaign fund-raiser for NJ Gov. Chris Christie
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is opening the double-wide doors at his $7 million Palo Alto, Calif., home for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Read more: New York Post 

State Department pick Kerry draws praise, outlines policy at hearing
John Kerry urged Congress to fix the U.S. economy to ensure America’s role as a world leader and pledged to keep pressure on Iran at a Senate hearing on Thursday that left little doubt he will win easy confirmation as secretary of state. Read more: Reuters 

MTA service changes for Martin Luther King Jr. Day


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

On Monday, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, New York City subways and Staten Island Railway will run on a regular schedule.

In Queens, buses will run on a regular schedule, but will be no limited-stop service on the Q6, Q25 and Q65.

The Long Island Rail Road will operate on a holiday schedule with 39 additional trains added on various branches. Off peak fares will be in effect all day.

The Metro-North Railroad will operate on a Saturday schedule with 36 additional trains. Off peak fares will be in effect all day.

 

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MTA customers still satisfied, says annual survey


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The results of the MTA 2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey are in, and riders remain pleased with all New York City transit options.

Surveying 18,000 people, the agency found that the biggest jump in satisfaction was with the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and Metro-North.

The increase comes after last year’s drop that was likely due to “winter storms and service disruptions from Amtrak repairs/derailment,” said the MTA.

In 2010 the LIRR had an overall satisfaction rate of 89 percent, but was 78 percent in 2011. This year it went back up to 86 percent.

Among the individual lines, Port Washington, Port Jefferson and Port Washington tied for first with a 90 percent rating. The worst line, Oyster Bay, still rated high at 79 percent.

Overall, riders were just as happy with the subways and buses as much as they were last year.

As in the past two years, only about 45 percent of straphangers were satisfied with how well the MTA kept subway trains from getting too crowded during rush hours. It was the only category in the 2012 survey that received a rating below 67 percent.

Bus riders were least happy with how long they had to wait for a bus to arrive and frequency of service. They were most satisfied with convenience of bus routes.

Satisfaction with tunnels and bridges was up from both 2011 and 2010, at 85 percent, and drivers were most pleased with the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

See more results from the MTA 2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey.

With or without convention center, a push to revive Rockaway LIRR


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Josephine Wendell

Elected officials and advocates are campaigning for the revival of a long-closed LIRR line in the hopes that plans for the nation’s largest convention center at Aqueduct will not be derailed.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said the convention center delay — which will now wait until voters decide on gaming laws next November — could ultimately help the campaign and plan for a Rockaway Long Island Rail Road route that serves south Queens.

“As far as I’m concerned there’s actually a silver lining,” he said. “I think everybody agrees, whether it’s a convention center or a casino, Aqueduct is right for a railway development.”

Currently, the area through which the now-defunct line once ran is owned by either the city or several entities who bought properties after it folded in 1962. There have been talks of turning the overgrown area into a nature walkway, similar to the High Line in Manhattan. An MTA spokesperson said the transit authority did not have any plans currently to revive the line.

The land can be taken back for LIRR, however, if the city or MTA choose to revive the line, according to Lew Simon, district leader. Simon has advocated the rebirth of the line since 1997 and has plans for it to be reinstated.

He compared a ride to Howard Beach on the current “A” train service — an hour and 40 minutes, he estimates — to a railroad ride, which could be under 40.

“The old Rockaway Beach line and the railroad is a win-win,” Simon said, meaning that it would not only provide a quicker commute to a growing workforce in the area, but would spark more initiative for either a convention center or other venue at Aqueduct.

The push for better, faster rail service had been a deciding factor in getting a convention center to Queens. Goldfeder said no matter the outcome, he wanted a line that would provide quick service to Aqueduct — as the planned property would eventually be developed into something.

“Aqueduct is right for development, and Queens should finally get the transportation we deserve,” he said. “I’m excited about dealing with the challenges that may arrive as we look to improve transportation for the entire borough of Queens.”

Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, said while the railway could be a good idea, the community would have to have its say once plans were drawn up. Wendell had been hopeful the line would be back, but with the news of the convention center plans shutting down he said it’s now less likely.

“We would never presume to make a decision on what is the community’s opinion,” he said, “not without really consulting with the residents.”

Any progress, however, is still in the earliest of stages, all have said. The timing, Goldfeder said, is the key advantage though.

“Even absent a convention center, we’re very likely to get some form of a responsible development,” he said. “We have more time to organize, we have more time to explore the various opportunities.”

New elevators coming to Flushing LIRR


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco

The Flushing Long Island Rail Road Station is getting a major “up”grade.

Legislators and transit officials announced plans to install elevators at the station, a major development for the transportation hub.

“As Flushing continues to grow, our infrastructure must grow to match,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky at the press conference on March 2. “These desperately-needed improvements will allow people to travel more easily to and from Flushing and supports the economic expansion that is occurring here.”

Officials expect to award a design contract for the elevator this year, with designs to be completed in 2013 and construction expected to start later that same year. The new project will include the installation of two elevators, one for the eastbound and one for the westbound platform, with elevator machine rooms and entry vestibules. There will also be upgrades to the station’s electrical services, including the replacement of platform lighting, as well as new station signage, warning strips and security cameras.

According to LIRR, the station serves over 2,000 customers on an average weekday so these changes are long overdue. The platform as it is currently constituted dates back to the 1980s and these improvements will bring the station in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Assemblymember Grace Meng, who represents the immediate area, said that the station cannot support the needs of the community as it stands today. Meng recalled a friend having to take a bus east to a more accessible station and then travel back west to get to work in Manhattan.

“Flushing’s LIRR station has long been unable to meet the basic needs of our community,” she said. “The installation of elevators on both platforms will be a great service to those residents who are physically unable to access the LIRR currently.”

LIRR president Helena Williams said that community input had a lot to do with the decision to move forward with these upgrades.

“We’ve been working closely with the community and local elected officials on this project, which we hope will attract additional ridership to the LIRR from the very vibrant and growing Flushing community,” said Williams, adding that the upgrades will come at a cost of $8.5 million in MTA/LIRR capital plan funds.

MTA Continues to Improve Customer Communications with Introduction of New Winter Weather Guide


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is continuing its efforts to improve customer communications with the introduction of the Winter Weather Guide.  Harsh winter weather may prevent some MTA services from operating normally, so the MTA has created a colorful and informative poster designed to alert riders to foul weather service changes.  The new Winter Weather Guide explains service adjustments for MTA New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, Staten Island Railway and Bridges & Tunnels. This service poster is available for viewing online and posted in subway and rail stations.

The Winter Weather Guide is a handy guide to keep customers informed during periods of heavy snow, ice and freezing rain that require service changes.  The poster provides information about service on each of the MTA’s agencies with a description of the weather condition and how that weather may affect operations.

The poster details how extreme cold, combined with snow and ice could impact service — ranging from the elimination of express service to the temporary reduction or suspension of service.  Similar information is provided for all MTA agencies and it is all part of the MTA’s “Know Before You Go” philosophy, which helps keep riders informed and provides as much real-time information as possible.

While forecasted temperatures and snow accumulations play a key role in preparations, the actual intensity of the storm, road conditions, and the ability to clear tracks will dictate the level of service that can be safely provided and/or restored.

When the forecast calls for severe winter weather, MTA customers should allow for additional travel time and remember, service alerts are posted on the MTA home page at www.mta.info.  Customers can also tune into local television and radio stations for the latest transit and traffic conditions.

LIRR a less noisy neighbor in Forest Hills


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Residents of Forest Hills may be receiving relief from what they have described as a disastrously deafening din debilitating their daily lives.

Members of the community who live near the local Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station have complained that the noise created by the train’s door chimes and speaker announcements has been intrusive and disruptive, greatly affecting the standard of living in the area.

“It’s like living in a train yard,” said Martin Levinson, who has lived adjacent to the station since 1982. “It is like the train is coming through your bedroom or living room. Every time a train comes through you feel like you are on the platform. You have this noise blasted at you. You can hear it all through the neighborhood. A friend of mine who lives a mile away hears it.”

Levinson says the noise has been so powerful that he has been forced to “blast” his television and keep the windows closed, even during the summer, in hopes of drowning it out.

“Forest Hills is a very busy station,” said Levinson, whose wife wants to move due to the noise pollution. “You are constantly subjected to these loud noises 24/7. You can’t say I just moved in either. I’ve lived here for 25 years. I know what it’s like living near a railroad, and I enjoy living by the railroad. But all of a sudden, in 2010, they started this noise pollution with these chimes and speakers.”

Other residents have been forced to interrupt daily activities due to the clamor.

“We expect noise from trains, but it’s these chimes and announcements that are too loud,” said Inas Kelly, an Economics professor at Queens College who lives across from the station. “I can’t have my windows open comfortably, and it keeps me from sleeping soundly. You have to stop what you’re doing, and if you’re having a conversation, you have to pause until the noise stops. It negatively affects me daily.”

According to an LIRR spokesperson, the railroad has received positive responses from residents regarding recent measures taken to reduce the noise pollution emanating from the station.

“We have worked closely with Forest Hills community and other areas we serve on this issue and are pleased to hear that residents notice an improvement,” said the spokesperson. “The LIRR has shut off the external speakers on the train cars in question. We also have reduced the door chimes sound by 10 decibels by closing the chime shutters and installing a muffling device.”

Levinson acknowledges the changes, and has noticed an improvement in the past several weeks, but admits he is hesitant to let his guard down too soon.

“The people who run the railroad live far from stations, so they don’t care,” he said. “It took them too long to make these changes, and the residents near the tracks don’t trust them. We now worry they will do something else. I feel the LIRR is like the old Communist governments before the fall of the Berlin War. They are unaccountable to the people, and they feel they can do whatever they want.”

Ride Safe pilot program a success


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Two months after its inception, transit officials have hailed the pilot Ride Safe Livery Stand program a success.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) — both instrumental figures in the stand’s creation — joined with other officials on Thursday, November 10 to celebrate the thriving launch of the first Ride Safe stand in Queens.

The stand — in operation since September — is located directly outside the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road station’s main entrance, at the intersection of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue.

The cylinder-shaped, bold, bright yellow booth features an on-site dispatcher 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and two Queens Village Car Service vehicles that wait nearby for passengers.

“This stand is a key transportation hub, serving the core of Jamaica’s vital commercial district,” said David Yassky, commissioner and chair of TLC. “The ability to offer passengers the high-quality, safe and convenient taxi-like service they need and deserve in an area that is historically not served by yellow taxis is an innovation.”

The stand is designed to put an end to illegal pickups by unauthorized cabs, which officials say put riders in potential danger.

“The presence of aggressive taxi hustling around the Long Island Rail Road/Air Train station created serious quality-of-life problems and contributed to the public’s misperception of downtown Jamaica,” said Carlisle Towery, president of GJDC. “The institution of the Ride Safe program has transformed the area around the station.”

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department (MTAPD), illegal livery activity has drastically decreased in the vicinity of the Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue intersection and also on 91st Street since the stand’s inception, which is also attributed to stepped up enforcement.

Of the 1,180 summons distributed for illegal livery violations this year, Captain Kevin Kieran of the MTAPD said many of the drivers were driving without licenses or with suspended licenses.

“This station has such a tremendous concentration of passengers that it was really attracting a lot of illegal activity,” Yassky said. “It’s always dangerous when passengers are getting into a car, and they have no idea if the car is properly licensed or insured. There’s a risk there. We’re making sure people can get into a vehicle, get where they’re going safely, and do it knowing that the driver has been screened, and that the car has been inspected and is properly insured.”

So far, transit officials say the stand has provided almost 3,000 safe and convenient livery rides.

“The stand is a good idea,” said commuter Bharat Chhugani. “I’ve seen people who have been overcharged by double the amount, especially if they’re not from around here.”

The cost of the ride is computed by mileage, and drivers must provide detailed receipts to passengers, which include the vehicle and license number in case of a problem.

“We can move around this area with comfort and with ease now,” said Jacqueline Boyce, chair of Community Board 12. “I’m just thrilled, and I look forward to seeing this being expanded and seeing this community keep getting the service it deserves.”

The stand is under a one-year term, although it may be extended or terminated early depending on circumstances.

There are four other Ride Safe stands throughout the city, including two in Brooklyn and one at the Staten Island Ferry Street George Terminal, according to Allan Fromberg, deputy commissioner for public affairs.

Ride Safe Livery Stand pilot program hailed a success


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan.

Two months after its inception, transit officials have hailed the pilot Ride Safe Livery Stand program a success.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) — both instrumental figures in the stand’s creation — joined with other officials on Thursday, November 10 to celebrate the thriving launch of the first Ride Safe stand in Queens.

The stand — in operation since September — is located directly outside the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road station’s main entrance, at the intersection of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue.

The cylinder-shaped, bold, bright yellow booth features an on-site dispatcher 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and two Queens Village Car Service vehicles that wait nearby for passengers.

“This stand is a key transportation hub, serving the core of Jamaica’s vital commercial district,” said David Yassky, commissioner and chair of TLC. “The ability to offer passengers the high-quality, safe and convenient taxi-like service they need and deserve in an area that is historically not served by yellow taxis is an innovation.”

The stand is designed to put an end to illegal pickups by unauthorized cabs, which officials say put riders in potential danger.

“The presence of aggressive taxi hustling around the Long Island Rail Road/Air Train station created serious quality-of-life problems and contributed to the public’s misperception of downtown Jamaica,” said Carlisle Towery, president of GJDC. “The institution of the Ride Safe program has transformed the area around the station.”

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department (MTAPD), illegal livery activity has drastically decreased in the vicinity of the Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue intersection and also on 91st Street since the stand’s inception, which is also attributed to stepped up enforcement.

Of the 1,180 summons distributed for illegal livery violations this year, Captain Kevin Kieran of the MTAPD said many of the cab drivers were driving without licenses or with suspended licenses.

“This station has such a tremendous concentration of passengers that it was really attracting a lot of illegal activity,” Yassky said. “It’s always dangerous when passengers are getting into a car, and they have no idea if the car is properly licensed or insured. There’s a risk there. We’re making sure people can get into a vehicle, get where they’re going safely, and do it knowing that the driver has been screened, and that the car has been inspected and is properly insured.”

So far, transit officials say the stand has provided almost 3,000 safe and convenient livery rides.

“The stand is a good idea,” said commuter Bharat Chhugani. “I’ve seen people who have been overcharged by double the amount, especially if they’re not from around here.”

The cost of the ride is computed by mileage, and drivers must provide detailed receipts to passengers, which include the vehicle and license number in case of a problem.

“We can move around this area with comfort and with ease now,” said Jacqueline Boyce, chair of Community Board 12. “I’m just thrilled, and I look forward to seeing this being expanded and seeing this community keep getting the service it deserves.”

The stand is under a one-year term, although it may be extended or terminated early depending on circumstances.

There are four other Ride Safe stands throughout the city, including two in Brooklyn and one at the Staten Island Ferry Street George Terminal, according to Allan Fromberg, deputy commissioner for public affairs.

Oh, the hypocrisy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

So Senator Charles Schumer wants a “Bill of Rights” for Long Island Rail Road commuters. Great sound bite!

How about a taxpayers’ “Bill of Rights” for voters? Hold Schumer and colleagues accountable for doing their job and passing the federal budget on time. Dock them all one day’s pay for each day the budget is late. By the way, just how did Schumer arrive in Mineola for his press conference announcing his “Bill of Rights?” Did he ride the Long Island Rail Road? Does he own a MetroCard to ride the subway from his expensive condo in trendy Park Slope, Brooklyn to work in his midtown office? Has anyone ever seen him take a MetroCard out of his wallet and use mass transit like millions of his constituents do on a daily basis? Perhaps he prefers his staff member to drive him around town rather than soil himself by using public transportation.

 

 

 

Larry Penner

Great Neck