Tag Archives: Long Island Rail Road

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


| 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