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2015’s best and worst of the MTA

By Philip Newman

The Straphangers Campaign has issued its list of best and worst news from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2015 with the agency’s $26 billion capital program topping the good news and the aging, jam-packed subway and increasing fares leading the worst column.

The BEST

1. “On truly bad days, a subway and bus rider can feel like surviving the 10 plagues,” says Gene Russianoff, attorney for the transit advocacy agency. “On good days navigating the system is thankfully less daunting but always challenging.”

“The best moment of the year? Agreement on a five-year $26 billion capital program to invest in the future of New York City backed by Gov. Cuomo’s pledge.”

2. The city agrees to quadruple its support of MTA rebuilding to $2.5 billion for the system that is the lifeblood of the economy and quality of life.

3. Veronique “Ronnie” Hikim named president of New York City Transit, which operates buses and subways, as a 20-year veteran and first woman to hold the key post.

4. MTA starts new bus routes in Brooklyn and Queens like the nonstop Q70 Limited between LaGuardia Airport and the No. 7 subway.

5. MTA expected to meet its pledge of 20 Select Bus Service routes by 2017. Recent additions include Q44 serving Jamaica, Flushing and the Bronx.

6. A record 6,217,621 riders enter subways on Thursday, Oct. 29.

7. Russianoff said that in an encyclical, Pope Frances laments that straphangers must put up with “undignified conditions due to crowding, inconvenience, infrequent service and lack of safety.”

8. Developer SL Green agreed to spend $220 million improving the overcrowded Grand Central subway station in exchange for zoning permitting greater density.

9. First new subway station since 1989 opens at 11th Avenue and West 34th Street on the 7 line.

10. MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast asks MTA staff to be more open to outside ideas, such as a free shuttle between Queens subways and LaGuardia Airport

The Worst

1. Subways are in slump, limited by the system’s age and needed resources, according to the MTA and Straphangers.

2. Straphangers’ chief complaint: severe overcrowding. NYC Transit admits,“We are seeing a system that is bursting at the seams in terms of increased ridership.”

3. In March MTA hiked fares by a quarter to $2.75 and a 30-day MetroCard by $4.50 to $116.50.

4. MTA proposes to forbid all political ads from buses, trains and stations in what Straphangers Campaign calls “the agency’s long hostility toward free speech on subways.”

5. In the past year subway riders were less satisfied – 74 percent okay with service now, down from 78 percent in 2014

6. Front car of G train carrying 150 passengers derailed south of Hoyt-Schermerhorn station in downtown Brooklyn, resulting in minor injuries.

7. “Pizza Rat” drags slice of pizza on subway stairs, which Straphangers said “instantly captured darker imaginings of riders.”

8. No new cars on J/Z line until 2022 due to problems at manufacturer Bombardier in a delay that will cost MTA $50 million.

9. Straphangers said “labor unrest roils MTA Paratransit Call /Center” with workers’ complaints against private contractor ranging from bedbugs to wages of $9 to $11 an hour.

10. Pedestrians hit by buses. Straphangers calls for new technology to address bus blind spot and legislation clarifying who has the right of way.

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