Wednesday, January 17, 2018

NYCT still misinforms customers - - a suggestion

Before I start, newly minted NYCT President Andy Byford started this week - - I give him a warm welcome to the greatest transit system in the world. 

Now for some NYCT minformation

This week (and next week) - - the first FastTrack program of 2018 started on the 8th Ave A/C/E lines in Manhattan. Among the service changes, C service ends an hour earlier, while on a separate notification shows M service ending by 9 PM.


But nothing for the B line which also ends early, by 9:30 PM. This is because A trains are partially running on the B/D lines (in both directions) between 59th Street/Columbus Circle and 34th Street/6th Ave before using the F tracks to/from Jay St Brooklyn. With E trains already running on the F line between Manhattan and Queens, and the bottleneck switching of A trains north of 34th Street, it makes operationally sense to end B service earlier before FastTrack starts. Being that the B is a disposable line with alternate A/D/Q services available, I think it's a great move to cut service on lines like the B, C and M lines before a major shutdown on one line takes place.


I just disapprove of the way NYCT is mishandling the information which customers need to know - - why tell customers only 2/3rds of the story when you tell them C and M service ends early but nothing on the B. It's not the first time it happened - - on the week of December 18-21, B service ended early - - only between Atlantic Ave and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn - - nut there was no B service at all on the entire non-rush hour length - - between 145th Street and
Brighton Beach. But wait, it gets better, a false service notice showed northbound B (and C) trains ran express from 59th Street to 145th Street. No B trains were running after 9:30 PM











The MTA has an obligation in reporting every service change, no matter how trivial it may seem.   During winter storms, they tell us to monitor the MTA website for the "latest service changes".  Here is a YouTube video on their Cold Weather Plan.


"Latest" does not mean two hours after the fact.  Or nothing at all.

And it sure does not mean you have to use their MTA Subway Time app to find out if your train is running or not.   Here is a prime example of the week of Jan 5-8 - - and from Jan 3 when the storm was going to hit the NYC area,   After 6 PM, all 6 express service in the Bronx is suspended - - all trains run on the local track.   But the MTA website says "Good Service" on the 4/5/6






It was not posted until after 8 PM.  On January 8, when the 6 express service does not start until 8 AM, nothing was posted at all (although on the morning of Jan 4, they were actually spot on - - for once)

And if you want to find out if the B and W service ended early - - - nope, not at 8 PM. for the B and 9 PM for the W.



The weekend of January 5-8 they failed to post service changes on the A/E/F/2/3/Q lines which were affected by the remains of the Bomb Cyclone, a quick but brutal winter storm on .   The A was running local in Brooklyn, the E and F were also running local in Queens (in addition to the existing planned trackwork on the E and F between Roosevelt and 71st Aves), the 2 and 3 were running local in Manhattan (alongside with the existing scheduled 2 and 3 weekend diversions) and the Q was also running local in Manhattan.  In fact, it also pissed off Benjamin Kabak, a prominent transit blogger and website owner of his 2nd Ave Sagas website and Twitter accounts:





But I told NYCT on Twittter 36 hours ago about the Q local in Manhattan.  Ignorance is bliss.



When I asked about the B line - - NYCT responded (with a compliment, thank you)












However, it does not address the problem of not posting the service change about B service not running after 9:30 PM

But at the end of the day with some of the more disposable lines ending early than scheduled - - and now that most trackwork now starts at 10 PM instead of around midnight, it's time for NYCT to take a hard look at cutting service - - no not to cut service across the board, but to shorten the operating hours of the 5/B/C/M/W lines to have then cease running after 9 PM.   This makes it a lot easier on a set schedule basis instead of constantly posting service notices that the M ends at 8:30 PM.  The frequency of these nighttime service changes does warrant a more steady and permanent set of service changes.  When the L line shuts down in 2019, then the M will need to run 24/7 - - if not to Forest Hills then to 96th Street and 2nd Ave on the Q line.

Having a predictable schedule each night instead of variations in service makes it easier for customers to follow.   And less chances of posting wrong or missing information/

Update:  Seems like NYCT is getting better at these notifications the last week.  Let's hope this will be a long term process as when they do inform customers, they can do a great job if they put their effort into it.   Bravo (pun intended):








Sunday, January 14, 2018

November 10, 2020 - - vote the $hithole out

A Commander-in-Chief is obligated to uphold the U.S. Constitution and respect people from all backgrounds, even if you disagree with some.

President Trump clearly is not.    In fact, he is the most racist President in United States history.  On top of it, he LIES about the racist remarks he made last week.

By now, you heard about President Trump calling the countries of Haiti and Africa "shitholes" during a White House meeting with his top lawmakers about immigration reform.   Granted Africa and Haiti are impoverished countries but he also added fuel to the fire by wondering why the United States is not accepting immigrants from countries like Norway.  Then he lies, saying he denies saying he never made that nefarious comment. 


Of course, Trump should know why people don't want to leave Norway for the United States, read these sobering health care statistical comparisons between Norway and the United States, particularly abortions and people with HIV/AIDS.     While the United States may have slightly better health care than Norway - - the life expectancy in Norway is higher than the United States.


Or maybe people in Norway are happy living there and they don't want to migrate to the U.S.

Whatever the case may be, Trump's racism clearly shows beneath the surface of his honoring of Rosa Parks 62nd anniversary of her willpower not to give up her right to sit anywhere in that bus.   We should also remember that Trump has still never apologized to the Central Park Five.     because he still insisted that the NYPD has done their job of investigating the horrific crime, even though DNA evidence clearly proved that Matias Reyes did it.   He has insulted Mexicans, women, blacks, various Middle Eastern countries and everyone else right here in this NY Times list (although MS-13 should not be on there because they ARE a vile gang of killers and rapists.).  And for the record, Trump has said things which are true, like Amazon not paying their fair share of taxes (but he gives millionaires a nice tax cut, which means they are not paying their fair share.) 


But his shithole comment on two countries was clearly outrageous - - if someone, said that at the workplace or on social media, they would be fired on the spot, no questions asked.  oh yea, let's not forget Charlottesville, VA when he said both sides (the racist KKK and the counter demonstrators) were "fine people on both sides".  

November 10, 2020 can't come fast enough to vote Trump out.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Sen. Marty Golden - poster boy for fraud and corruption

Last month, there was a incident between Brian Howald and NY State Senate Marty Golden, involving Golden's alleged menacing and criminal impersonation of a police officer. Yet there is still no NY State investigation into Golden's alleged abuse of his NY State Official Business Placard, using it at Brian Howald as identifying himself as an NYPD officer. And NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, in his usual self in saying a lot in press conferences but failing to follow through a lot on what he says (think the original and groundbreaking Placard Abuse on Twitter  and my own related page on Facebook  as well as the ongoing fake crackdown he "promised" in the Bronx)  has said that he will look into the incident .....only because when the issue came up, as his staff were following up on this matter ...which was 10 days after the incident took place.   




Let's go back to the evening of December 11th when according to Brian Howald was biking southbound in the 3rd Ave bike lane in Brooklyn when Golden's vehicle (plate T327TSD) purportedly obstructed Howald by driving in the bike lane. At one point, Golden used his NY State official business parking placard as an "NYPD shield" at Howald while threatening arrest. When Golden's vehicle drove off, Howald smelled a rat on that placard and chased the vehicle down, taking pictures of it,along with the plate and Golden (Howald initially didn't recognize Golden). As he took the pics, Golden's chauffeur drove off on northbound 3rd Ave, against traffic flow while running three red lights.


Golden told NY1 that he denied the allegations, noting that this was not the first time Howald has a run in with someone.





While it may be true that Howald's challenger to the bike lane issue was not his first time, there are questions to Golden's statements that he was threatened by Howald, First off, it was clear the Golden was sitting on front passenger side, with the window fully down. In 30 degree weather, and not wearing a hat?






Remember, the weather took a chill for the worst, dropping from 50 degrees in the afternoon, to about the 30's around the time this incident took place (it was freezing overnight). Additionally, if you really felt a bicyclist threatening you, you would NEVER have the windows down - - notice the rear passenger window was up. Also why didn't he call 911 for NYPD to show up, taking a police report? The 72nd Precinct was not far away on 4th Ave.  

Oh yea, did we forgot to mention that his chaffured driven vehicle was caught speeding through two school zones?






Also, his car was recently spotted blocking the crosswalk, while his NY State registration lapsed two weeks ago.




Of course the cat stole Golden's tongue - - or he pleaded the fifth, not saying anything about the blocked crosswalk incident.





 But wait a minute, Golden was spotted coming out from his gym to attend to his scofflaw vehicle ..... while collecting a full line of duty disability pension from the NYPD. Ugh, all these years he can go to the gym and still collect his disability pension?????  Fraud, criminal impersonation, and menacing - - these are serious allegations which call of ethics hearings in Albany about Sen. Marty Golden's conduct.   

As long as Golden keeps his city issued placard and abuses parking privileges - - he will be a cancer to the neighborhoods in Brooklyn which he was elected to serve.  Golden must resign from office.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sexual Harassment, and hypocrisy from the left and right in politics

Disclaimer:   As a reminder to all readers, the names and any related incidents described are deemed as accusations unless the person has admitted without duress to them. 


Harvey Weinstein
Kevin Spacey
Al Franken
Michael Moore
Russel Simmons
Ruben Kihuen
Matt Lauer
Roy Moore
John Conyers
Richard Branson
Brett Ratner
Ben Affleck
Roy Price
Lockhart Steele
Charlie Rose
Michael Oreskes
Bill Cosby
Mark Halperin
John Besh
Chris Savino

My, my, my - - what a year it has been - - suddenly after the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, people are coming out of the woodwork to lay claim to 10-20 year old incidents against powerful figures.  Money really does buy power and now it seems that this power has fallen like a deck of cards.   Whether these people (and possibly hundreds more which we may know in the coming weeks) are actually guilty of innocent - - one things is clear that sexual harassment is NEVER permitted in or out of the workplace, is unacceptable in any form - - no matter how innocent or large it is - - whether it happened once or over a few years - - and creates a hostile environment to not only the victim but other co-workers at work or friends at a public function - - those who are aware of this sickening condition.

Just tell that to President Donald Trump - who himself should have been accused of sexual harassment  - who still supports a suspected pedophile -  Roy Moore





But he has a lot to say about Liberal Al Franken


Moreover, while Franken recently resigned, Trump continues to back that pedohpile who is running in Alabama against a liberal named Doug Jones.   Yes liberals like Jones are bad - - but Trump really has nothing to say about  John Kelly - - a retired U.S. Marine Colonel who is a write-in ballot - - at least he has guts to take on the swamp from both sides, and unless any allegations surface (I hope not) then Kelly would be a fine choice over a pedohile or a liberal.

Meanwhile not a lot Democrats have initially called Franken to resign either as they supported him during a Congress ethics investigation.     I wonder how much in politics does it take to have accusers sleep with their cohorts in government before they finally call out for the boot. 


One thing is sure - - Tuesday's special election in Alabama for Jeff Session's former Senate seat is sure going to be dirty right down to the wire.   And dirtier than porn. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

NY State ballot Amendments and the Con Con

 On November 7, voters in NY State should "flip it over".  That's when you choose your candidates on the front side of your ballot and the three Amendments on the back,  


Getting the two minor ones off my back are Prop #2  - - A proposal to allow courts to reduce or revoke the NY State pension of a public official convicted of a felony, when related to the performance of that person's duties at the time he/she was employed.  Sorry, it does not go far enough because a retired firefighter convicted of bank robbery and murder can still keep their pension because banks are not related to saving lives.   I say YES with reservations

#3 involves the modification of the State Constitution in forest preserve by setting aside 250 acres for towns and municipalities to encroach (translation:  destroy) onto these forest preserves for a public health or safety purpose...when there is no other viable alternative.   Sure, watch these towns gobble up the 250 acres for their pet projects - - I say NO.

Now onto Amendment #1, and this has far reaching effects for current and former NY State residents - - but also non-residents who work in NY State  - - the Constitutional Convention or Con Con.

The Con Con comes up on the State ballot every 20 years and involves a three year process where, if passed, will have an election of delegates who represent it, in the November, 2018.  They are paid $87,000 a year, can work as little as one day for the year (and still get that 87K), hire whoever they want as their staff, give everyone parking placards (great, more Placard Abuse), and make recommendations which will be put up in the 2019 ballot for voters to approve or reject.  The last time voters approved the Con Con formation was in 1967. . . . and that didn't get far anyway as voters rejected the 1969 proposals recommended by the 1968 Con Con.

Now you might ask about the Con Con, why are unions against it?  Sure, they want to protect their pensions (I am one, a proud union member).  But I am also looking at from other perspectives....the Con Con on paper might sound good when it comes to making government work for New Yorkers.  But the Con Con is also ripe for exorbitant abuse, a drain in the State's risky finances, and takes 2 years and 3 ballots to make them work. If passed, they will work on making changes to our State Constitution in 2019,  how State government operates, including playing with our right to free education in the State's public school system - - or even the funding formula.   Remember when the City University of New York system was free until tuition was imposed in 1976 in response to the 1975 NYC Fiscal Crisis?   Do you want the Con Con delegates to play with your property taxes, your right to hold property in NY State and to be reimbursed under the State' Eminent Domain Law?  Do you want them to abolish the Board of Regents?  Do you want them to eliminate the right to free access to public health care?

Here is the .pdf document of the NY State Constitution and look closely what can be changed with the Con Con and what they can modify or eliminate:

1.  Religious Liberty
2.  writ of habeas corpus
3.  Eminent Domain (the State has a right to take YOUR property only if you are fairly compensated).  The Con Con can suggest eliminating the compensation part. 
4.  Divorce
5.  Lottery and casinos
6.  Absentee voting
7.  Redistricting and changing the 3 branches (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial)
8.  The courts, including Landlord/Tenant, Criminal, Civil and Family Courts
9.  State debts - - including payments to State Universities
10.  Water supply, sewage, and related taxes
11.  Schools and school transportation
12.  Housing and Hospice care
13.  And a lot more to list

Do you really want the delegates of the Con Con to play with some of these tenets of the State Constitution?   Want to pay a fee for taking your children to public school?  Want to pay higher property and utility taxes?  Want to be denied access to health care because the Con Con suggested to do away with  requiring hospitals to care for the indigent?  Want to find out why your property was taken without the state government paying you a reasonably appraised amount?  Want to find out that you might have to serve on jury duty more often?  Want to find out that your child's school bus has a farebox and you child must pay his/her "fare" in order to be transported to school?  Want to find out the divorce and no-fault auto accident laws have changed?  Want to find out that your utility bills have increased because of additional levies to pay for so-called "NYS Programs"?  Want to find out that the Property Tax cap was eliminated?  Want to find out that NY State will no longer provide any nursing home assistance?  Geez, you might have to be forced to take your parents out of that nursing home and have them move into your residence.


Flip that page over and VOTE NO on Proposition #1.  The other two propositions you can decide.  But Prop #1 will affect your future, whether you are a NY State active or retired civil servant, a uniformed member or one who works in the private sector.


 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Las Vegas shooting and the DOI placard bust: Some unanswered questions

Last week, tragedy happened in Las Vegas, followed by an important Placard counterfeiting ring, partially broken up by NYC's Department of Investigation involving fake government parking placards used by private citizens to snare free parking .  While these are two completely different news events, both have questions unanswered regarding about what went down and the aftermath.

1.  Las Vegas shooting:   The October 1st mass shooting by one man, into an outdoor crowd (estimated at 20,000 spectators) watching a Route 91 Harvest festival concert at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, was done by a suicidal lone wolf, Stephen Paddock, which law enforcement will never understand his motives after Las Vegas Metropolitan police found him dead from self-inflicted gunshot wound(s).  How striking is that Mr. Paddock was able to carry 23 varieties of assault rifles, shotguns, thousands of rounds worth of ammunition to carry out his carnage, two platforms to set his line of sight, and even hand made cameras setup in the hotel's hallway outside his room so he can track any police presence.  All the guns were in golf bags, on his own (didn't he feel nervous when the bellhop of hotel staff helped Mr. Paddock with his "belongings"?)    Why nothing was captured on camera in the public areas which Mr. Paddock was roaming around?     According to Hotels.com, the 4 star rated Mandalay Bay has 3,220 guestrooms - - not for nothing, but nobody really noticed anything wrong with Mr. Paddock or his "stash" carried in bag?  How much time was needed to setup his personal cameras outside the hotel room, without anyone walking by on the 32nd floor, where Paddock stayed?  Why is Vegas law enforcement changing the timeline of the shooting, saying the the hotel guard was either shot before or after Mr. Paddock's 10 minute shooting rampage?   Paddock's car had thousand's more in ammo as well as fertilizer, didn't the valet staff notice anything wrong (possible odd chemical smell), and would Paddock feel comfortable leaving his fully "loaded" car with valet staff each night?

I'm just saying

Yet closer to home was a breakthrough in the New York City's "war" (quotes added) on Placard Abuse with 31 perps arrested for using counterfeit parking placards of assorted varieties to illegally park in New York City, mostly in Manhattan and the outer borough's Civic Center areas.   All you need is PowerPoint, a good high dpi color printer and a laminating machine.   I do note that the majority of placards are legitimate and even so, they can be abused too, by parking at fire hydrants, bus stops, crosswalks, taxi zones  and No Standing/Stopping zones as NY State Assemblywoman Diane Richardson found out the wrong way when she tried to embarrass a traffic agent - - all prohibited parking locations according to the NYC Traffic Rules, Section 4-08.     The various parking placards, range from NYC disability placards to combined NYC DOT/Law Department "Official Business" placards.  On the day these perps were hauled from the 1st Precinct Stationhouse to Manhattan Criminal Court, Placard Abuse and I (whom we collaborate on Twitter) found plenty of fake placards and illegal license plate covers.




















I found a 2008 NYPD placard, with the "Courtesy Card" covering the expired year, and a so-called "Police Surgeon" placard.







Even so, there are hard facts and questions remain on this fake placard takedown.  These observations should not detract the fine work done by the NYC Dept. of Investigation, as well as coordination from the NYPD and the NYC Dept. of Transportation

1.  Of the 30 individuals charged, only 5 were charged with felony possession of a forged instrument (the fake placard) and four others were charged with offering a false instrument for filing (using the fake placard as "evidence" in their "defense" against a parking ticket).   One of them slapped with the possession of a forged instrument charge, was caught selling a fake placard to an undercover DOI agent. The remaining 21 perps were only charged with misdemeanor criminal impersonation, nothing else.  I wonder why the others (including those who used the placards to try beating those tickets) weren't hit with the felony possession of forged placards charges.   Going deeper into this, it is most likely the majority of perps will have their charges dismissed after 6 months of good behavior, further encouraging their return to placard fraud.  However, since these 30 were given the now-rare "perp walk" treatment at the 1st Precinct stationhouse, they won't want to risk embarrassing themselves again. 

2.  The concentration of this investigation occurred in Lower Manhattan, where DOI staff found out that these fake placards were not only taking up their reserved spaces, but nearby spaces reserved for ambulette services.  But we all know that these fake placards are not just in Lower Manhattan, I found some in the Bronx too, like this one still out there on Bainbridge and 205th Street in the Bronx last Thursday (10/14), a week after the arrests.






And others of Twitter, including Placard Abuse found more fakes outside of Lower Manhattan, like this one in the Riverdale section of the Bronx:




However, according to Placard Abuse - - he was sending pertinent information for over a year, yett the investigation didn't open until March, 2017.  Suddenly, they saw these fakes near their offices?




3.  The investigation does not include the so called "Theft Vests", where members of the NYPD, MTA New York City Transit and even some construction companies, use a reflective vest to throw it on their dashboard, "identifying" themselves as such to make it look like they are specially entitled to park there for free, without regarding for the parking regulations like these below.   Some locations take up metered spaces which clearly is stealing from the city's revenue source, as well as making it difficult to have open parking spaces for customers and businesses.











Oh yea, you don;t need to work for the NYPD to get a vest - - it's all over eBay like this one sold.    Want to make it look like you work for NYC Transit?  Go bid on items like this MTA NYCT vest too.   Oh, did we forget contractor vests? Amazon has them too.  Then once you get that vest, you can literally park anywhere for free.



4.  Finally the investigation does not tag real placards on vehicles which are registered from far away states, such as Florida and North Carolina - - like these. 






Video of vehicles with illegal license plate covers and Manhattan DA office staff with placard and Florida car.  Incredibly, this video was taken the evening after the arrests - - of the Manhattan DA's office prosecuting these "dirty 30" they forgot one of their own for committing insurance fraud - - register you car in Florida while working in NYC to get dirt cheap insurance rates.  Yet, nothing from DOI ot the Manhattan DA's office on this, 



We have a long way to go in erasing placard abuse and insurance fraud. 






Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Westchester's Bee Line - - a hidden crisis

(Editor's note:  This post was prepared in draft status in 2016, with new information provided this week.  )

In 2015, I posted about the lack of communication within Westchester's Bee-Line bus and paratransit system  This past week, I feel that Westchester County has a crisis on their hands which is not really shown in media reports like Yonkers schools - - the lack of funding and no public information on their website.   Want to find out about bus detours on Bee Line's Service alerts page?  Forget it, they still don't post any except for standard snow detours.  Need to call customer service and speak to an information agent during normal business hours?  Good luck, sometimes their lines are closed - - like when I found out by calling them on Friday October 21 2016 to ask them about the bus detours during the Yonkers marathon. and other events which requires street closings. Same problem in 2017 when their 2017 Riverfest and Yonkers Marathon were held on Saturday and Sunday respectively - - with no notice of bus detours:

While Westchester County will issue a $10 million bond to pay for new articulated buses  with approx 20 percent from Federal funds.  The article claims they are for the busy Central Park Ave/Central Ave corridor (Routes 20/20X/21) so could it be that Bus Rapid Transit which has been in the works since 2007 may happen?  However, I have yet to see construction of a new pedestrian bridge connecting Cross County Mall at Macy's with Central Park Ave southbound side at Burger King.  So all funding for the BRT study and still nothing to show for,

Westchester County has a problem with customer service as their phone lines are closed on some days as I found out when calling their information line several times.  If there is no information agent available, the pre-recorded message tells you the office is open but to try again later, no voice recording is enabled so you can receive a call back from someone in that office.




Construction projects might have a bus stop relocated which Westchester Bee line does not post.  In the most recent case in point, the construction of an extended sidewalk on White Plains Road at East 233rd Street in the Bronx, forced the relocation of the weekday only Route 42 terminal from White Plains Road side to East 233rd Street in front of the Bx31 southbound bus stop because there is no space for the 42 buses to layover.


Bee Line has other issues too - - they lack a bus tracking system and, until recently, had no bus stop and schedule data.  The latter can now be found in Google Maps, making it one of the last bus companies in the New York Metropolitan area to have the bus stop and schedule data.   A bus tracking system will encourage a better customer experience for Westchester County bus riders.