NYC Subway W-Train makes a comeback on 11/7/16

w-1

It’s a long time coming for the New York City Subway – the return of “W” service to Manhattan and Queens!

Back in 2009, during the height of the recession – many transit agencies were forced to cut back service in order to trim down their budgets. This came at a time when transit ridership was hitting all-time highs due to higher gas prices and unstable economic conditions. The New York City MTA was not immune to these circumstances and enacted a rash of service cuts in 2010 that included the elimination of the “W”, replacing it with “Q” service in Queens.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Second Ave Subway – which has been marred in delay after delay during the past several decades – is set to open its first segment this December.  In preparation for the launch of “Q” service to 96th St, the MTA is bringing back the “W” to compensate for the loss of service that the re-alignment of the “Q” will bring to Queens. These changes in fact; will bring the “N”, “Q”, “R”, and “W” trains all back to their pre-2010 levels – except of course that the “Q” stays in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The MTA has put together a comprehensive guide to the realigned services, including where and when you can catch each train. Please be sure to pay close attention so that you can plan out your commute. The realigned services kick off on Monday, November 7, 2016, with the first “W” trains departing at 6:30am.


south-ferry-1

Oh, that South Ferry…

Because the “W” terminates at the Whitehall St/South Ferry station in Manhattan, I thought that this would be a good time to also post an update on the reconstruction of the “newer” South Ferry station for the “1” train. As many know, the “newer” station was damaged due to Superstorm Sandy.

Since earlier this year, work officially began on gutting out and rebuilding the “newer” South Ferry “1” platforms – which lie below the “older”, curvier “1” platform. In addition, the “newer” entrances to the station’s mezzanine level have also been undergoing reconstruction – namely replacing the elevators and escalators in and out of the station. As a result – customers have been having to rely on the “older” entrances at Whitehall St and the Staten Island Ferry building to access the “older” platform for the “1”. The free connection between the “R” and the “1” continues to be maintained via the mezzanine passageway between the respective platforms.

With the return of the “W”, all station signage is being updated to reflect the connection to the revived service and this will no doubt bring forth a very rare opportunity for transit fans to get photography and video action of the “1”, “N”, “R”, and “W” trains together while the “older” “1” platforms remain open. As I will say right now, enjoy this opportunity while it lasts! Because come the fall of 2017, the “older” “1” platform will close (very likely forever this time) in lieu of the “newer” platform reopening.


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The Paris Metro MP 14 – First Glance

At the end of May, 2016, the RATP unveiled a video showing a rendition of the proposed MP 14 railcar traveling through a subway corridor. While I have to assume that the design is still in its early stages – leaving room for modifications in the future – I have to say the railcar looks pretty impressive.

The MP 14 railcars are projected to enter revenue service at some point between 2021 and 2023 on Paris Metro Lines 11 and 14, with the possibility of trains being assigned to Lines 4 and 6.

Gasparilla 2016

Side angle of #1506.
Beat the parking and traffic hassles this Gasparilla parade by using HART!

Pirates, and Beads, and Transit…oh my!

Yep, it’s that time again, for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival! The Parade of the Pirates brings in hundreds of revelers each year, and along with that…tons and tons of roadway closures. So here’s what you need to know if you plan on attending the parade on Saturday, January 30, starting at 2:00pm.

Roadway Closures and Parking Info

On Friday, January 29, the day before the parade (that is TODAY as of the publishing of this post), many area roadways will begin to shut down. A complete list of closures has been provided through local media outlets (for this post, I’ve used the ABC Action News article) and I strongly suggest that you go through this list so that you’re not caught in unnecessary traffic congestion. Because of the parade route and disbursement of the floats at the end of the parade, the Platt, Brorein, and Kennedy bridges will all be closed. That means your only points of egress into downtown Tampa will be the Cass St bridge, the Selmon Expressway, and I-275. If you don’t need to be in downtown Tampa, please do not enter the area! I cannot stress this enough.

For those traveling to Davis Island and Tampa General Hospital, access will be maintained to the island, but the on/off-ramps to/from Bayshore will all be closed. Please be sure to plan ahead for this, as shuttle service may not be available during the parade.

If you plan to park in one of the parking garages in either Downtown Tampa, Channelside, Hyde Park, or Ybor City, please make sure you remember where you parked. Also, keep in mind that many streets will be closed throughout the area. Please also be sure to bring cash, because some lots may only accept cash as payment. Additionally, please be aware that the City of Tampa prohibits parking on some streets.

Escape the parking and traffic hassles, use transit!

Select HART bus routes and the TECOline Streetcar Line will operate on a modified schedule on Saturday, and some bus routes will be detoured due to road closures. I’ll go through a brief rundown of what to expect if you’re using transit to get to and from the parade. For detailed information – including routes that serve the Downtown Tampa area – please visit the HART website, as information can change between now and the day of the parade.

Routes 7, 8, 14, 19, & 30 will be detoured! Please plan your trip accordingly! Below is a listing of how buses will be detoured, along with respective route maps. OneBusAway WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR THE ROUTES AFFECTED, SO PLEASE REFER TO POSTED SCHEDULES FOR DEPARTURE TIMES!!!

  • Routes 7 & 14 WILL NOT SERVE CASS ST. Instead, both routes will travel along Palm Ave from N. Boulevard and then follow Tampa St/Scott St into downtown (outbound will use Marion St/Henderson Ave/Florida Ave to Palm Ave).
  • Route 8 will be detoured via Nuccio Pkwy & Cass St. The normal route through Channelside and southern Downtown WILL NOT BE SERVED.
  • Routes 19 & 30 will be detoured via Howard/Armenia and I-275. The Platt/Cleveland/Brorien/Davis Island segments of Route 19 & the Kennedy Blvd segment of Route 30 east of Armenia/Howard WILL NOT BE SERVED.
    • Please make alternate arrangements if you are needing to get to/from Tampa General Hospital, as shuttle service may not be available.
    • If you reside in the Town-N-Country area, you can park your car at the Northwest Transfer Center and use Route 30 to connect to the Gasparilla festivities!
  • The TECOline Streetcar will run a modified schedule from 9:00am through 1:30am Sunday morning, and will only serve selected stations during selected times of the day. However, the Dick Greco Plaza, Centro Ybor, and Centennial Park stations will be served all day. The Whiting station will be CLOSED all day. Please read carefully through HART’s blog post for a complete listing of stations that will be closed throughout the day.
  • Feeder bus shuttles will pick up passengers at the Tampa Port Authority Garage, Dick Greco Plaza, Cumberland Ave, Cadrecha Plaza, and Streetcar Society stations to help get customers between various parking venues and the parade route. Service will commence at 9:30am and run through 7:00pm.
  • The In-Towner will offer trolley service from Dick Greco Plaza to the Marion Transit Center to allow for speedy travel between northern Downtown and the parade route. Service will commence at 9:00am and run roughly every 15 to 20 minutes through 6:00pm.

And remember, please party responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t text and drive.

Will the Tampa Bay Region FINALLY see commuter rail?

In a Tampa Bay Times article yesterday, it was revealed that CSX Transportation was finally letting up to the possibility of selling two key freight rail lines to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in the same manner that it did with another key rail line that is now a part of SunRail in Metro Orlando. While this is great news for the region, many concerns have been raised as to how and if the plan will ever materialize. CSX has been in talks with FDOT for at least several months now, but the issue at hand has been in the minds of many within the local transportation realm for years.

What are the two rail lines?

The two rail corridors in question includes the north-south line that runs from Brooksville, closely paralleling US Highway 41 until it reaches northern Hillsborough County, skirts past the University area, and ends in downtown Tampa, with another spur leading into South Tampa (the Times article does not mention the South Tampa spur however). The other corridor branches off from the Brooksville line at Busch Blvd and parallels the roadway and Linebaugh Ave in an east-west direction, connecting to a spur towards Tampa International Airport, before swooping into Pinellas County and eventually Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

Will CSX ask for a reasonable purchase price?

One huge concern that I have, is the cost of purchasing these two lines. A couple of people that I’ve talked to in the past have expressed that the only way CSX will put these lines up for sale is if they do so at a ridiculously high price. Something that would force FDOT to walk away without any compromise. However, I know that with what was able to materialize with SunRail, something can be done to ultimately bring the price down some while continuing to give CSX its portion.

Along with the purchase price, another unclear batch of costs includes building stations, parking facilities, purchasing rolling stock, and double-tracking the corridors.

Everyone MUST be involved in the process!

And when I say EVERYONE, I mean FDOT, the commissions of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando counties, AND every municipality within those counties (especially those who lie along the corridor). Plus, we will need to have the involvement of state representatives and senators, MPOs, and even TBARTA (although the state never gave the latter the powers it needs to actually operate as a regional transportation authority instead of just a planning body). Without this political unity, the entire plan stands to fall right through the cracks, just like every single past transportation initiative and Go Hillsborough. If Metro Orlando can have this kind of political unity to have saved SunRail from the chopping block of Governor Rick Scott, then why can’t Tampa Bay have the same? The answer lies in the next segment of this post.

Enough of the squabbling!!!

This news comes after the Times wrote a scathing op-ed about the Tampa Bay Region’s lack of local leadership and why it has largely contributed to not just the failed transportation initiatives, but also shortcomings in education, as well as the ongoing stalemate between St. Pete and the Tampa Bay Rays on a new stadium. This is also the same reason why FDOT is pushing so hard to build Tampa Bay Express (TBX). The problem at hand is that no one at the municipal and county levels want to work together in most situations. I’ve in fact seen countless times where mayors, city council members, county commissioners, etc. have done nothing but squabble in disagreement amongst themselves instead of working together towards one common goal. Because of this, I see our elected officials only working only for “me, myself, and I”, and not for their constituents who put them in office to begin with.

This individualistic mentality has got to end immediately! Especially when we are dealt with a regional situation like this. Instead, all of our elected officials need to start coming together and working together AS A REGION in order to tackle the big issues that affect all of us…whether it be transportation, education, or sports teams and venues. Otherwise, we will pay an extremely hefty price when these same powers to be, despite community opposition, allow TBX to be built in its entirety with no alternative transit option. Because at the end of the day, if we fail to work together AS A REGION, FDOT will simply walk away from this prospect with CSX and will instead continue to only focus on TBX. And finally, if the powers to be cannot do their jobs as promised, they all should not expect to be re-elected in the next election cycle.


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New York City’s Line 7 Subway Extended!

new_york_city_subway_line_7_clip_art_19975

NYC Subway 7 Extension Banner 1

For Travel Information, please visit MTA.info

On Sunday, September 13, 2015, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York opened its 469th subway station on Manhattan’s West Side! The new 34th St/Hudson Yards station for the busy Line 7, which runs from Manhattan to Flushing, marks the beginning of a new era where an area of New York City now has access to subway service.

 An overview of Line 7

Line 7, commonly referred to locally as the “7-Train” first opened on June 22, 1915 between Grand Central Station and the Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue Station. On March 14, 1927, the previous western terminus at Times Square opened, with the current eastern terminus at Flushing – Main Street opening a few months later on January 2, 1928. Express services have been in place on much of the Queens segment, by which is mostly elevated, since 1917 – though there have been periods by which express services were suspended for a time. Local services are distinguished by a circle on signs whereas express services are distinguished with a diamond. Both shields are in a raspberry color with the “7” in white – as show at the top of this post.

The entire line itself is currently undergoing a massive modernization project that will bring forth the latest generation of railcars, the R-188 (though some railcars are actually converted R-142A cars), along with Communication-Based Train Control (or CBTC). The latter will allow trains to run more efficiently under the Automatic Train Control (ATO) system that is currently used on many subway lines in Paris, France. The older R-62A that originally ran on Lines 3 and 6 are gradually being replaced by the newer stock, allowing them to be shifted to other compatible lines. It is to note that the entire New York City subway system is not streamlined on the same rail gauge due to the system being constructed by different companies during the early 1900s.

The last stronghold for the “Redbirds”

In 1997, I had an opportunity to ride Line 7 for the first time while in Flushing for a family wedding. At this point in time, the 7 was being operated with “Redbird” (R33 WF and R36 WF) railcars from the the 1960s – which were used during the World’s Fair (these were known for their red color, though they were originally painted in turquoise). There were several instances where my family and I rode trains from Flushing – Main Street to either Grand Central or Times Square. Riding the “Redbirds” was definitely a sight in its own respect, especially being that they all have since been retired – being replaced by R-142 and R-142A stock. Perhaps on day, I’ll be able to hitch a ride on a heritage train trip using one of these wonderful railcars.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the subway from my 1997 trip.

The stations

Below is a listing of all stations along Line 7. <E> indicators are present for express services.

Flushing – Main Street <E>
Mets – Willets Point <E>
111th St
103rd St – Corona Plaza
Junction Blvd <E>
90th Street – Elmhurst Avenue
82nd Street – Jackson Heights
74th Street – Broadway
69th Street
61st Street – Woodside <E>
52nd Street
46th Street – Bliss Street
40th Street – Lowery Street
33rd Street – Rawson Street
Queensboro Plaza <E>
Court Square <E>
Hunter’s Point Ave <E>
Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue <E>
—EAST RIVER—
Grand Central Station <E>
Fifth Avenue <E>
Times Square <E>
10th Avenue (Provisional Station – Not yet funded)
34th Street – Hudson Yards <E>

The Extension

Extending Line 7 westward or southwestward has been in the books since the 1990s, although a longer range proposal to eventually carry the line all the way into New Jersey appears to be dead. The 34th St – Hudson Yards station was originally a part of New York City’s bid for the 2012 Olympics, which London eventually earned. The station was originally projected to open in 2013, but was delayed several times – partly due to the Olympics going to London, but later due to problems with installing the inclined elevators. The elevators – a first for New York City’s subway system – were installed due to the station’s depth. While there are escalators available, the elevators serve as the main point of egress between the upper mezzanine (fare control) and the lower mezzanine, as well as to comply with ADA requirements. Below the lower mezzanine is the the island train platform and the dual tracks. To the south of the station is a garage to store trains overnight, something not possible at the previous terminus at Times Square.

A provisional station is located at Tenth Avenue and was slated to be built in the original plans, but after the 2012 Olympic bid went to London, the plans were dropped due to funding constraints.

New subway station openings can be a fanfare for transit fans, and as such was definitely the case for 34th St/Hudson Yards. While the fanfare is more subtle in other cities like Paris, it is quite impossible to hold back hundreds of budding railfans from getting their first glimpse of the new station. Simply do a search on YouTube for “hudson yards subway” and you’ll see what I mean.

After watching the videos, feel free to head on over to the Subway Nut and Second Avenue Sagas websites for additional coverage.

Source

While I don’t like using Wikipedia as a “source”, it was the only singular place for me to be able to gather some information to be able to make this post possible.


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Monorail, why isn’t there more systems in the US?

The Walt Disney World Monorail is one of only a handful of monorail systems in operation in the United States. Seattle and Las Vegas also have monorail lines. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012. March, 2014.
The Walt Disney World Monorail is one of only a handful of monorail systems in operation in the United States. Seattle and Las Vegas also have monorail lines. Photo Credit: HARTride 2012. March, 2014.

One mode of public transportation that has always fascinated me is the monorail. Unlike conventional urban trains, like subways, monorails comprise of a one-beam track system and can either be built like something shown in the photo above, or as a suspended model, where trains are suspended below the beam. Monorails have long been touted as “the wave of the future” in public transit, allowing for a unique alternative to sitting in traffic or even using congested bus lines. The relatively narrow footprint of a monorail line can easily beat out building a conventional rail line, but the downside is that all stations are elevated, requiring elevator access for wheelchair customers.

Although many monorail systems exist worldwide (including a few lines that are either planned or under construction in Sao Paulo, Brazil), only a handful of them exist in the United States. Furthermore, many systems (both in the US and abroad) are primarily hinge off tourist traffic or are part of an amusement park or zoo, creating a negative stigma that monorails are nothing more than an amusement ride rather than meaningful public transportation. This negative stigma plagues systems like the Las Vegas Monorail, the Seattle Monorail, and the Newark International Airport AirTrain.

The Las Vegas Monorail in particular has been dealing with lower than projected ridership and its operating company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010. Two extension proposals, one towards downtown Las Vegas, and another towards McCarran Airport have both been cancelled, with only a revised extension to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino remaining alive. It is currently unclear if the latest plans will pull through to reality, and plans for an underground light rail/pre-metro line appears to be taking priority over any subsequent monorail extension plans. The Newark AirTrain is currently being debated for replacement due to its short projected lifespan of only 25 years, and replacing the monorail with either another monorail system or other mode of rail transport has proven to be costly. This leads some to believe that the AirTrain will be ultimately replaced in the short term by buses.

Even talk about building a monorail system in Tampa Bay has been nothing more than just talk. To the best of my knowledge, there have not been any official plans for any monorail lines in Central Florida outside of Walt Disney World.

On top of the theme park stigma and elevated stations; constructing monorail lines often have to deal with the usual transportation challenges such as land acquisition, track and station construction, manufacturing rolling stock, etc. and all of the associated costs. All of this is already on top of the general anti-rail sentiment that has filled many parts of the car-dependent US.

So the bottom line is, until monorails can prove to the US that they can be a reliable public transportation model, don’t expect any new lines to be built for the foreseeable future.

Tampa Dreams of SunRail

Metro Orlando is very grateful to have SunRail! Because here in Tampa Bay, it’s hard to build a better transportation network without a meaningful passenger rail system.

In collaboration with the SunRail Riders group – which advocates for better service on the SunRail Commuter Rail system in Orlando – I’m going to talk about SunRail and the challenges that Tampa Bay faces being without a passenger rail system. This post highlights the 7-day-a-week congestion along I-275, challenges with keeping the TECOline Streetcar Line running, and the ongoing battle between transit advocates and supporters, and the rail haters.

I invite you to read the full post at sunrailriders.com and tell us what you think. I want to take a few moments to thank the SunRail Riders for giving me this opportunity, and for everything that they do to help make SunRail even better! I hope to be able to write other pieces for the SunRail Riders in the future.

NOTE: Corresponding media in the post (except this photo) is not mine. Credit goes to their respective authors.

Railway Safety Campaign Videos from the New York City MTA

Some of you may recall my blog post about not beating a train at a crossing several months ago and why you should never ever attempt to risk your life for the sake of “saving a few extra minutes”. Well recently, the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (or MTA) has been putting out a railway safety campaign along its commuter rail system to inform people on the dangers of doing certain things along its tracks.

Here are three videos that the MTA published during the month of June.

Don’t beat the train at its crossing. NEVER attempt to drive around lowered crossing gates.

Pedestrians should not do the same. ALWAYS wait for the train to pass and the crossing gates to raise before continuing your walk.

Trespassing is ALWAYS illegal. NEVER walk along or on railway tracks, they are considered private property and can bring forth DEADLY results.

Be safe out there!

Paris Metro Line 11 Extension Project (Phase I) Begins

M11 Extension Banner

As the month of June begins, several major expansion projects are taking place throughout the city of Paris. One of which is the first of two phases to extend the Line 11 subway eastward, and then southeastward. Phase I, which officially broke ground this week, will extend the 11 by six stations to Rosny-Bois Perrier. In addition to this extension, a new maintenance depot will be built near the new terminus, and several existing stations will receive accessibility upgrades such as elevators. Eventually, some (if not all) of the existing stations will have their platforms lengthened to be able to accommodate longer trains. Currently, the Line 11 platforms can only accommodate trains up to five cars, but due to a space limitation at the current Victoria Depot, only four car trains run on the line at this time. The goal is to eventually have eight to ten car trains running by the time Phase II is completed, which will extend Line 11 further by four stations to Noisy-Champs. Phase II of the extension is part of the widely ambitious Grand Paris Express project, which will also extend Line 14 in both directions, and result in the construction of four new subway lines. Currently, the opening timetable for Phase II is sometime between 2025 and 2028.

Stations

Below is a listing of both proposed and current stations along the Line 11 Subway, along with their opening dates (expected opening timeframes for the proposed stations).

Going from West to East

Châtelet – 1935

(Victoria Maintenance Depot) – 1935

Hôtel de Ville – 1935

Rambuteau – 1935

Arts et Métiers – 1935

République – 1935

Goncourt – 1935

Belleville – 1935

Pyrénées – 1935

Jourdain – 1935

Place des Fêtes – 1935

Télégraphe – 1935

Porte des Lilas – 1935

Mairie des Lilas – 1937

Liberté Les Lilas – Serge Gainsbourg – (2020)

Place Carnot – (2020)

Montreuil – Hôpital Nord – (2020)

Boissière – La Dhuys – (2020)

Londeau-Domus/Parc des Guillaumes – (2020)

Rosny-Bois Perrier (2020)

(Rosny Maintenance Depot – 2020 – Will replace the Victoria Depot)

Villemomble – (2025)

Neuilly – Les Fauvettes – (2025)

Neuilly – Hôpitaux (2025)

Noisy – Champs (2025)

Rolling Stock

The current fleet of MP 1959 railcars will be phased out in favor of next generation MP 2014 railcars at a cost of about €150m. It is assumed that the new railcars – composed of five cars per train – will start out as being manually driven (meaning that the train is controlled by a human conductor), but will likely have the capabilities to be converted to fully automated operation once the entire line becomes automated – which will correspond with the Phase II extension to Noisy – Champs. Additionally, more cars could be added to each train if capacity warrants as so.

SERVICE INTERRUPTION – TECOline Streetcar

UPDATE: Normal streetcar services will run on Monday.

Due to a power substation outage, the TECOline Streetcar is running services between the Whiting Street station in downtown Tampa and the Port Authority station in Channelside only. All services north of the Port Authority station have been suspended until further notice. In the meantime, HART is using two In-Town Trolley buses to provide bus bridge service into Ybor City.

TECOline Interruption - 2015-05-31

Please stay tuned to the TECOline Streetcar Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest.