Transit advocates discuss boro subways at meeting

By Philip Newman

For two hours patrons of the New York City Transit system offered suggestions and complaints on everything from what one called “robot-like” announcements to subway routes at the Transit Riders Council forum in Manhattan last week.

Queens was well-represented at the session and some borough residents had strong ideas about improvements to the G, E and No. 7 lines.

One subway rider brought with him nine pages of changes he said would improve subway travel, handing copies to the Transit Authority and others at the Feb. 18 forum at Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters on Madison Avenue.

New York City Transit Authority President Lawrence Reuter brought to the forum eight departmental specialists from his agency, who patiently answered questions or beefs, often in detail, from straphangers.

Reuter said the Transit Authority would look into their complaints and in some cases asked them to write to the agency in detail.

Several had suggestions on routes of subway lines.

A transit rider familiar to Transit officials and others at the forum, who identified himself only as “Mr. X,” waved a sheaf of papers listing changes he advocated.

George Kalimnou of Jackson Heights asked the TA to restore the G train to its original schedule and said service could be improved on the E-line.

John Cornelius of Flushing suggested that crowding on the No. 7 line could be relieved by changing the final stop of the Q32 bus from 81st Street and Northern Boulevard to Roosevelt Avenue/Main Street.

Cornelius, who is retired but has long been not only a transit activist but active in anti-crime projects for which he has been commended by the Police Department, said the Transit Authority listens to straphangers who are trying to improve things.

Speakers at the forum also told the Transit Authority:

• Automatic announcements aboard trains “sound like a robot and the voices don’t sound like New Yorkers talk.”

• The Transit Authority should issue MetroCards in a variety of colors according to the type of card.

• Non-residents should be charged more to ride subways than New York City residents.

• The Transit Authority does an inadequate job of making subway stations and trains easier for sight-impaired straphangers to navigate and signs should include audible directions.

• The Transit Authority is slower to clear subway entrances of snow in poor neighborhoods, a charge Transit officials denied.

• Many fare booth agents refuse to sell single ride fares.

• At some stations, when swiping MetroCards, a straphanger gets different readings on readers than on turnstiles. Transit officials said that problem was new to them but it would be investigated.

• Now that the Transit Authority has succeeded in persuading subway riders to step aside on platforms, the worst bottleneck has become people who stand in doorways.

Andrew Albert, a Manhattan member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and moderator, said a separate forum on bus service would be held later although no date has been announced.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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