Wednesday, February 25, 2015

NYCT fails to post Nereid 5 line service status.

MTA New York City Transit preaches us to "check service status" all the time.

And they still are withholding certain service information, agaiin.

This morning, a rail condition on the 2 and 5 lines near 3rd Ave and 149th Street station was first reported at approximately 6:30 AM.  From that time to about 8:30 AM, there were 4 updates ranging from a full suspension of 2 and 5 service between East 180th Street and 96th Street/Broadway or 149/Grand Concourse to northbound 2 and 5 running with delays.  None of these messages told customers that AM rush hour 5 service from Nereid Ave was not running.

But tell that to the 5,000 customers between Bronx Park East and Nereid Ave who waited in the freezing cold (20 degrees isn't warm) for the next 5 train.  Sure I guess in NYCT's eyes. 5,000 customers ain't a big deal but when they have to get to work on time and wait in the cold at the same time, then it is a big deal when there are no announcements or service alerts.  What I can say this is that the first four and last four 5 train runs were abandoned (ABD or cancelled) because of the rail condition further south along the White Plains Road line.  I waited for the 6:40 train at Nereid which didn't come out to play from the nearby subway yard (and the 6:52 run was abandoned too.)  The asterisk next to the two 5 trains show scheduled arrival times, not actual times.


Just before I started work, I checked on the last three 5 train runs from Nereid (from 8 AM on), none of these runs took place.

Again, there was no serviced alert about no 5 trains running from Nereid Ave - - I cannot confirm if any 5 line runs from Nereid Ave took between 7 and 8 AM but I can say that any significant suspension of a line, even for 30 minutes - is unacceptable when that service information is not disseminated to the public.  Perhaps these 5,000 upper WRP deserve better then being treated like garbage from NYCT. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Parking hoggers in NYC and other cities

I don't have to tell you how difficult it is to park in NYC - - impossible is a mild word to describe how parking is in the 5 boroughs of NYC.  But many homeowners and businesses go to great lengths to "secure" parking by means of using traffic cones (many of these cones are stolen from entities such as Con Edison and NYC Department of Environmental Protection) or trash cans to hold their "personal" parking spaces in front of their properties.  Even houses of worship are in the act of holding their own parking spaces during services.  Here's how it works, a car is parked in front of the homeowners' property.  A person leaves the house, cone or trash can in hand, and uses it to place it on their parking space while they drive off in their car which was parked in front of said house.  The objects remain there until the driver comes back to park at the same spot. 

Now suppose if another driver sees the objects in front of the home, he/she has a right to remove them and park there (assuming that it's clear that there is no work in the area as Con Edison has emergency authority to take any parking space, in addition to the NYPD.)   The driver places the cone or trash can aside while another resident who lives in front of the offending parking space, see the driver putting the cone aside and park there - - three scenarios could happen.

  • The resident tells the person that he/she can't park there and an altercation occurs, where the driver might take out a weapon and use it against the resident - - in 2013 a Seattle (believe it or not) driver used his car as a weapon against two parking hoggers and was subsequently arrested for the assault.
  • The driver leaves the car, only to fine out when he comes back with a broken window or his tire slashed in retaliation for taking that parking space
However, Boston (for example) allows drivers to hold parking spaces (Bostonians call them "space savers") for up to 48 hours after a snowstorm - - but recently, Mayor Marty Walsh declared a moratorium of the post-48 hour enforcement rule.  One Boston neighborhood, the South End neighborhood group which just passed a resolution banning space savers two weeks ago, is now raising money to help pay for drivers who had their cars vandalized by the pesky space savers, with reports by drivers of tire slashings on their vehicles

It is selfish and (in most municipalities) illegal to hold parking spaces for personal use.  In New York City, it's illegal by way of two specific laws, the NYC Traffic Rules and the NYC Administrative Code

NYC Traffic Rules Section 4-08(n)(7)

(7) Unofficial reserving of parking space.
It shall be unlawful for any person to reserve or attempt to reserve a parking space, or prevent any vehicle from parking on a public street through his/her presence in the roadway, the use of hand-signals, or by placing any box, can, crate, handcart, dolly or any other device, including unauthorized pavement, curb or street markings or signs in the roadway.

NYC Administrative Code - Sanitation Provisions - Section 16-122(b):  

It shall be unlawful for any person, such person's agent or employee to leave, or to suffer or permit to be left, any box, barrel, bale of merchandise or other movable property whether or not owned by such person, upon any marginal or public street or any public place, or to erect or cause to be erected thereon any shed, building or other obstruction

Tell that to the thousands of homeowners and businesses who put objects such as traffic cones and trash cans out with impunity while the NYPD and Department of Sanitation ignore this decades old problem. Most business offenders are tire repair shops, catering halls and some well known establishments like Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn, this video was taken at night.

So the parking spaces on Broadway, in front of Peter Luger, are 2 hour meters on Monday through Saturday with free parking after 7 PM and all day Sundays and major holidays.  But according to the owner(s) Peter Luger, you can park at their "reserved" spots only if you patronize their restaurant. 

Wikipedia has an article about Parking Chair which is common is Pittsburgh, PA - using chairs as a symbol to hog parking spaces.   A 2011 article in the NY Daily News highlighted parking hogging abuse in Maspeth, Queens.  Last year the NY Post had an article  about a Sunset Park man hogging his personal parking space to protect his prized Dodge Challenger.  Maybe the NY Post should visit Shonnard Place in Yonkers and see what is going on there with the homeowner protecting 2 cars.  (BTW, it's illegal in NY State to cover your car because you are concealing your license plates and registration/inspection stickers.)

You can also see Google Street view images of that same location.  Many of the locations I am describing can be found in Google Maps

The parking abuse is so rampant within the confines of the 47th Precinct in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, it's to a point where residents of an entire block are hogging parking spaces like drug dealers owning parking "turf.  Here is the dead end street on the 4400 block of Grace Ave with as many as 6 drivers holding parking spaces.


Here is the Google Maps street view on Grace Ave taken in April, 2012. That's how pervasive the problem is. The winter season is worse, after major snowstorms with more selfish residents hogging parking spaces.  Here is the 4100 block of Bruner Ave this past week.  Homeowners realize that if one person can get away with illegally placing cans on parking spaces, then others will follow suit. 

1160 East 223rd Street - - also see Google Maps Street View with the traffic cone from 2012

4459 Murdock Ave - again see Google Maps Street View picture from 2012.

I maintained constant communication with Bronx Community Board 12, whom they referred this illegal activity to NYC Sanitation.  It seems like NYC Sanitation doesn't care as the same offenders continue to do this..  The NYPD can only remove cans and cones but cannot issue a summons unless an officer observes the driver placing the cans or cones.  That said, I now have created a dedicated Facebook page called Parking Hoggers where you can upload pictures and tag locations where homeowners and businesses are hogging on-street parking spaces.  However keep in mind the rules of the page - - only relevant photos and discussion, it has to be illegal. Got a gripe about reporting the hogger to authorities or had a run-in with someone who is not a law enforcement officer or traffic agent who told you that you can't legally park there?  Feel free to post it too.  This is a community page, share whatever you want to do regarding parking and these "space savers".  If you have links to Google Maps on a specific address, that would be helpful too. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Update on free parking in Lower Manhattan, NYPD continues to lie and ignore this issue.

On my January 12 blog post, I detailed about how a few drivers working at the American Museum (the rear side on Bridge Street) were able to get away with free parking by illegally parking their passenger vehicles in the metered commercial vehicle parking zone. Since then I have made three requests through 311, NYC's complaint hotline, and gotten not only the runaround on this condition but am convinced that NYPD and the City of New York have no interest in following though a complaint by a citizen, particularly NYPD's ignorance of this problem. In fact, the same condition was reported three times, the first two they claim the condition was corrected (assuming by issuance of a summons or towing the vehicle), while the third instance, they observed the vehicle and found no evidence of the violation. All three times, the vehicle was the same Honda Odyssey, with the same passenger plate number, with the same handmade paper sign, parked on the same side of the same street (Bridge Street), and parked within the same time frame where commercial vehicles are only allowed to park there on weekdays between the hours of 7 AM to 7 PM. Unless the vehicle has a valid permit issued by any Federal, State or City agency, or it's a commercial vehicle with a valid parking meter receipt, the vehicle is illegally parked, even with the paper sign.

On January 26th, I reported to 311 about the scofflaw, again.

NYPD's response

February 2 - note that NYPD found "no evidence of the violation at this time"
  That means they did observe the vehicle - same plate #, same location, same time of day, same handmade SEE OFFICER AT THE BOOTH, THANK YOU, and determined that the vehicle was legally parked in a commercial metered parking zone.  Last week, according to NYPD they took "action" to correct the condition and on Feb. 2, they did nothing. 

February 3rd - - this time they allegedly "took action" - - again same vehicle, same passenger plate #, same commercial vehicle metered zone, same time of weekday and same SEE OFFICER AT THE BOOTH, THANK YOU handmade sign.

That afternoon, I received a call from a Lieutenant from the NYPD 1st Precinct (I was at work and could not write down his name because he hung up on me after threatening me with arrest if I continue to report this condition to 311.  But it is clear that the NYPD did nothing to this vehicle - - if they did on 1/26 then the vehicle would have never parked on Bridge Street during my observations on 2/2 and 2/3.   The NYPD is really that ignorant in taking a handmade sign, not produced by any Federal, State or City agency, as a valid "permit" to park there.  This and other vehicles belong to workers at the guard booth behind the National Museum of the American Indian.  These are their personal vehicles and they should obey the parking laws like anyone else, find a parking garage or park legally.  Other vehicles in the area do display valid permits, not handmade signs and it is selfish to take a parking space which is reserved for commercial vehicles.  If it was my vehicle, then it would have been towed in 2 seconds. 
Even after the NYPD call, I saw another vehicle last night (Friday 2/6) at 6 PM with the same SEE OFFICER AT THE BOOTH, THANK YOU.  Sorry for the grainy photo.  This is why the NYPD should stop lying and offer a valid explanation as to why they can park there - - not making lame excuses and false responses to my 311 complaints about what they already know are illegally parked vehicles on Bridge Street, getting a free pass. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Incompetence and miscommunication on the 7 line disaster

MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast should resign after the 7 line fiasco. 

Today's 7 line disaster where a frozen third rail near Queensboro Plaza, shut down the entire 7 line between Times Square and Main Street since 10 AM this morning.  The cold weather also hampered NYCT's ability to thaw 3rd rail components.  Riders on the 7 line found it difficult and frustrating trying to get home or work with an entire line shut down.  The MTA and NYC Transit did enter into an agreement with the Long Island Railroad in cross-honoring NYC Transit customers with Metrocards to ride the LIRR free between (at first)  Hunters Point, Woodside, Mets-Willets Point and Main Street-Flushing stations on the Port Washington Line which runs parallel to the 7 line.

This is where the incompetence starts - - both NYCT and LIRR were giving wrong information all day to the point they don't even know their own service patterns.  Here is one of the original NYC Transit Service alerts which show the original stations in Queens, nothing mentioned about LIRR cross-honoring at Penn Station in Manhattan. 

  So being my curious self and nothing better to do during my lunch hour (too cold to take a power walk outside), I asked the people who take care of NYC Transit's twitter account (@NYCTSubway) about why Penn Station is not on the list of LIRR stations.  Here is NYCT's response:


Then I asked if NYCT confirmed with LIRR that all trains on the Port Washington branch were adding Mets-Willets Point as a special stop during the 7 line closure, NYCT's response:

So, NYCT claims they verified the station stops with the LIRR.  Now I advised one of my co-workers who is planning to take the LIRR instead of the 7 train home to purchase a ticket at Penn station - to Main Street - unaware that they were actually cross-honoring Metrocards at Penn.  This tweet was posted by the LIRR's twitter account at 2:49 PM - while nothing is posted on the NYCT 7 line service alert.  Note that another twitter user (whom I have since followed) is also asking why NYCT is saying that LIRR is not cross-honoring at Penn.   How many customers at Penn purchased a ticket between Penn station, Woodside and/or Main Street when they could have rode for free?


Oh, let's go back to the original NYCT service alert (with the 4 Queens LIRR cross-honoring  stations) and dissect it for a minute.  Two of the four stations are incorrect - Hunters Point is a PM rush hour outbound station which NONE of the trains run on the Port Washington branch (so much for stopping at Flushing-Main St) and they don't stop at Woodside either.  The next stop after most trains leaving Hunters Point is either Jamaica or any station east.  Mets-Willets Point is the other inaccuracy - - none of the LIRR trains stopped at Mets-Willets Point, contrary to what NYCT tells us. 
And even the LIRR insisted that the rest of the Hunters Point trains were stopping at Woodside.
Of course, that was also a lie - - I already lost track how many times NYCT and LIRR lied to each other today. 

Here is the list:

1.  NYCT claims LIRR is not cross-honoring at Penn - - FALSE

2. NYCT claims Hunters Point and Mets Willets point are cross honoring stations - FALSE

3. LIRR claims trains from Hunters Point are stopping at Woodside - FALSE

Thomas Prendergast should resign from his post as MTA Chairman - - he has proved that he cannot oversee NYCT and the LIRR with the cross/mis-communication and incorrect tweets let alone that the 7 line shutdown (now since partially restored) will run overnight.    There were signal failures all over the NYC Transit system, including a signal issue which shut down the J/M subway tracks over the Williamsburg bridge for a few hours this afternoon.   To mess up on disseminating service alerts means the MTA, NYCT and LIRR cannot manage a railroad system properly.