Category Archives: New York City

In January, 2007, a ROYAL TRAIN ran from Philadelphia to New York

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were guests of the Levin family. Amtrak’s role was limited to that of a support services contractor, providing locomotives, crew and track to Junita Terminal Company for their chartered special train. Amtrak made an incremental profit on operating the chartered special train for Juniata Terminal Company, as they do on all special train and private car moves.

Both the Prince and the Duchess enjoyed the trip, and the railroad experience. He was knowledgable and interested in the cars, and the rail operations from PHL to NYP.

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To solve city’s overcrowded subway problem, think outside the train

A quick and effective fix for subway woes: more, better buses

As daily riders of the New York City subway system know, there simply is not very much space left underground. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has seen annual subway ridership increase by 158 million since 2010 and by 381 million since 2000. In the mid-1990s, average weekday ridership hovered around 3.6 million; today it’s 5.6 million, and the subways routinely see 6 million passengers in a day. Yet in that time, the MTA has opened just one new subway station.

From L trains that remain crowded well into late evening to E and F trains underneath Queens Boulevard packed with commuters until 9:30 or 10 every morning, the city is suffering from a subway capacity crisis. Straphangers have to let multiple trains go by before a sliver of space opens up.

To combat the great subway squeeze, the MTA has few tricks up its sleeve. Ongoing work to install communications-based train control on the No. 7 line should allow the MTA to run a few more trains from Queens in the morning, and power upgrades that accompany the looming L train shutdown will eventually add a handful of rush-hour trips to the perennially packed Brooklyn line. Once the Second Avenue subway opens later this year, passengers on a small stretch of the Lexington Avenue line will have new subway options to ease the crowding, but years behind schedule and at a prohibitive $2.7 billion a mile.

The list of problems facing the subway system is lengthy, and options for improvement are few and expensive.

That’s where buses come in. By investing in better bus routing and better bus infrastructure, the city could almost immediately move more people into and out of job centers without spending billions. By creating dedicated bus lanes over popular routes—even those that mirror subway lines—instituting more pre-boarding fare payment systems to reduce the time buses wait as riders slowly dip their MetroCards, and giving buses priority over single-occupancy vehicles, the MTA can make buses more appealing and give New Yorkers more transit options. Why not turn a pair of Manhattan avenues into dedicated bus-only thoroughfares?

New York City’s buses carry over 2 million riders per weekday, but they are often the invisible transit option, a slow-moving, hulking system of incomprehensible routes that do not always connect jobs with homes. If New York wants to expand transit capacity now—and not in 10 or 20 years—it is time to take buses seriously. They may not be sexy, but they work.

Benjamin Kabak, Second Ave. Sagas, Crains New York

Second Avenue Subway and the Politicians

See the empty tunnel. It is part of the Second Avenue Subway.

The problem is that financing this monster is bigger than New York City. It is bigger than the giant Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It even stresses the State of New York although Governor Cuomo has helped a lot. Well, there is always Washington.

NY Mayor is a pain in the tail. Hope his wonderful Presidential candidate looses, but not to a Republican.

Two members of Congress said they were “deeply concerned” this afternoon following the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to slash $1 billion in funding from the proposed Second Avenue subway.

Congressman Charles Rangel and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, two Democrats who represent Manhattan neighborhoods where the subway is being built or is supposed to eventually reach, said the authority was making a “huge mistake.”

“While we are delighted that the state and city were able to reach an agreement to move the MTA’s capital plan forward, we are deeply concerned that roughly one-half of the reduction in the cost of plan … is coming from the Second Avenue subway,” the veteran lawmakers said.

They pointed out the $26.1 billion MTA capital plan, formally passed yesterday, includes only $535 million for the Second Avenue subway, most of which will be spent for preliminary engineering and design, as opposed to the $1.5 billion originally proposed.

The first segment of the Second Avenue Subway, scheduled to open at the end of next year, will go from 63rd Street to 96th Street. The MTA had originally planned to pay for the tunneling north from 96th to 125th streets by 2019. But under the revised plan, that work will be deferred until 2020 or later.

Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the MTA, told the Observer the authority is “full speed ahead” on the Second Avenue subway, and made the decision for practical and not financial reasons. “We eventually came to the realization we wouldn’t be able to get a tunnel boring machine at the end of 2019 and all the money in world wouldn’t get us to that point. It would be silly to keep a billion for tunneling when we wouldn’t be able to tunnel,” he said.

But this was little comfort to Mr. Rangel and Ms. Maloney. The East Side of Manhattan has been waiting for a new Second Avenue subway since the old elevated line was torn down a century ago. “Based on the current schedule, one hundred years will have passed and we will still be waiting. This ‘go slow’ approach to the Second Avenue subway is a huge mistake,” they said.

Oddly enough, another leading elected official in the area, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem, said at an unrelated City Hall press conference today that she was unaware the cuts had even taken place.

“I’m not aware of what you’re referencing,” she told a reporter. “I’ll look into that.”

To really see New York City inequality, just ride the subway

PenneyVanderbilt

New York is increasingly a tale of two states — and Mayor Bill de Blasio presides over the superrich one. This would be good news for a mayor with a real plan: That is, we’ve got the money to start fixing our subway woes, and a historic chance to do it.

De Blasio is still on his inequality kick, although he has run out of ideas about how to fix it.

But the real inequality crisis is not within Gotham. It’s between New York City and the rest of the state.

Just look at the figures from a jobs report by the state comptroller, Tom DiNapoli. Over the half-decade since we got out of recession, New York City has created three out of four of the state’s new jobs, even though we have only 42 percent of the state’s population. Since 2009, Gotham has seen job growth of 11.3 percent…

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Chilling at Central Perk

mypassengerdiaries

The first episode of Friends aired a month before I was born. I started watching it when I was ten. Up until now, I keep watching and re-watching it…after all, who could get bored with it?

One thing that I’ve always wondered about when watching an episode of Friends is how it would feel like to sit in Central Perk, their coffee shop hangout. Last week, during a VIP Studio Tour at Warner Bros Studios, I got the chance to do just that.

It is smaller than it seemed on camera, but there are various movie tricks they used to make it seem big. The actor of Ross Geller, David Schwimmer, is a very tall guy and he could walk from the door to their sofa in three strides. He always had a line when he walked in to divert our attention from the fact that he crossed the room so…

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Gas-related explosion suspected in East Village fire that injures 22, takes down buildings, mayor says

A blast from a suspected gas leak set off a seven-alarm inferno that burned four Manhattan buildings, collapsed one, partially collapsed two others and injured 22 people, four of them critically, New York City officials said.

At least two people are unaccounted for on Friday afternoon, the mayor’s office and the NYPD said.

The explosion, which injured four firefighters, rocked the block where employees of a private contractor were adding a new plumbing and gas system to an existing one inside a sushi restaurant at 121 Second Ave. in the East Village, authorities said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday there could be a possiblity that a gas pipe had been accessed improperly.

Although city officials said it didn’t appear that anyone was missing, late Thursday Tyler Figueroa, 19, of Manhattan said his 23-year-old brother, Nicholas, had disappeared after going on a date at the sushi restaurant, which was leveled by the explosion, the Associated Press reported. Figueroa said the couple was paying for their meal when the blast occurred, and that his brother’s date, who is in the hospital, remembers only stumbling outside before losing consciousness.

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Emergency personnel move an injured New York City East Village building explosion: Photos Pommes Frites is seen engulfed in flames in RIP #PommesFrites

“I just pray my brother shows up,” he told the AP. “We just hope my brother comes back.” Police said early Friday they have no reports of a missing person.

Six of those injured were firefighters, de Blasio said on Friday.

Even hours after the blast on Thursday night, firefighters were hosing down the smoldering, smoking scene, where debris was still falling, as heavy rain poured down at times. They also used water pressure to take down leftover facades as displaced residents searched for shelter and Con Edison workers investigated.

“Preliminary evidence suggests a gas explosion,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier at the scene in the East Village.

But he warned, “until we know what happened here, we cannot pass judgment.”

On Thursday night, Con Edison released a statement saying its personnel had been at the building to “evaluate work the building plumber was doing inside 121 2nd Ave. in connection with a gas service upgrade. The work failed our inspection for several reasons, including insufficient spacing for the installation of the meter in the basement.

“We had no reports of gas odors in the area prior to the fire and explosion,” the statement continued. “A survey conducted yesterday of the gas mains on the block found no leaks. We continue to work with all agencies on the investigation into the cause, and we are praying for the recovery of all the injured.”

The boom was heard about 3:15 p.m., after the 2 p.m. Con Edison inspection that gave failing marks to the new work, preventing any gas from flowing through the new lines, authorities said.

“It sounded like two tractor-trailers hitting head on,” said Jason Birchard, whose family owns Veselka, a restaurant a block north.

He and his employees raced out to a smoky scene, and saw debris everywhere, then flames 10 to 15 minutes later.

“My first visual was multiple people down in the street . . . on Second Avenue on the sidewalk,” he said. “They were cut by flying glass, it looked like, some people just lying on the ground from the impact of the explosions, bleeding.”

Ataur Rahman, 57, general manager of the Dallas BBQ at one end of the block, said his building shook from the explosion. He ran outside to see what had happened.

“The storefront was completely empty,” Rahman said. “The glass was all over the street.”

There was just debris where the Japanese restaurant had been, he said: “I saw the whole storefront was on the street.”

Two bloodied victims were lying in the street, he said, and neighbors began stopping traffic rolling down Second Avenue.

Tobarka Hassan, a waiter working at a nearby Indian restaurant, said he rushed out at the sound of a huge explosion and spotted a woman on the third floor of one building fleeing to safety using the fire escape of an adjacent building.

“Everything was falling down,” Hassan said. “Fire was coming from the basement to the top of the building. I felt the heat from here, at least half a block away.”

The first of 250 firefighters arrived three minutes after the first 911 call came at 3:17 p.m., said FDNY Commissioner Dan Nigro: “They certainly didn’t expect to see the explosion blow the front of 121 across the street.”

Flames consumed the upper floors of the five-story buildings at No. 121 and 123.

EastVillageFire02

Then just before 4 p.m., as firefighters had feared, No. 123 crumbled. A huge gray plume of smoke and dust mushroomed up, but no firefighters were hurt. No. 121 also partially collapsed.

The inferno spread to adjacent buildings, No. 119 and 125 and later, the FDNY said, 119 also partially collapsed.

De Blasio told reporters that subduing the fire was a tough battle.

“This is a complex and difficult operation they’re mounting here,” he said. Firefighters are “obviously doing everything they can to search for anyone who still may be in those buildings, but also to ensure that there’s no spread of fire to the surrounding buildings.”

Of the four critically injured, two had burns to their airways and one was knocked unconscious, Nigro said.

City officials said they did not have any reports so far of people smelling gas just before the blast.

Con Edison crews shut off gas to the area, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state Department of Public Service was on the scene to monitor the utility’s performance.

He also said the state agency will conduct a “full investigation” to determine the cause of the explosion.

EastVillageFire03

“We will continue to monitor this tragedy and do whatever is needed to support the ongoing response and recovery in the days ahead,” he said in a statement.

Joe Esposito, the city’s emergency management head, said authorities were concerned about air quality and warned people to keep windows closed and limit time outside.

He said a “debris task force” would try to clear debris out as soon as possible.

Red Cross officials set up a shelter at a nearby school, where Anna Ramotowska, 26, and her roommate, Lucie Bauermeister, showed up.

Ramotowska said after lunch she had returned to their third-floor apartment at 129 Second Ave. when they felt the blast.

“It felt like an earthquake,” Ramotowska said.

They grabbed their dog, their phones and wallets, and ran out, where they saw glass all around the street and people, young and old, trying to escape down a mangled fire escape.

The roommates said they will stay with friends.

“We want to know what is going on,” Ramotowska said, “and when we can go back.”

About 79 adults and one child had registered for services at a Red Cross disaster center at PS 63, said Josh Lockwood, regional CEO for the American Red Cross Greater New York region.

“People are stunned. Most people are in a state of shock. They’re processing the day’s events. They’re grieving over the loss of a home. They might have a pet that’s missing,” Lockwood said.

NYC subway Line 7 extension may transform Manhattan neighborhood

Ancien Hippie

Work crews are scrambling underneath New York City to finish the city’s first major new subway stop in 25 years, a fast-track project intended to revitalize a long-neglected slice of  Manhattan.

The city’s transit authority has been working for seven years on the $2.4 billion extension of the Number 7 subway line, once known mainly for transporting fans to New York Mets baseball games and the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Now the line will extend far west to 11th Avenue in Manhattan, a run-down neighborhood long known as Hell’s Kitchen that is home to a major bus station and tunnel entrances to New Jersey.

Like most big infrastructure projects in U.S. cities, the extension has suffered some delays, but it has moved along far faster than a Second Avenue subway that is still under construction after more than 80 years of planning.

Trees and plants are placed near the entrance to the still unfinished 34th St. Hudson Yards stop for the Number 7 subway line in New York

The project was sped along by former Mayor…

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