Subscribe for FREE with:

“I can see for miles and miles…” – An articulated subway car in Canada. Also, cool piano tie, dude. (Source: R. Flores/Flickr)

For decades, Americans were endlessly hyped about what bold and novel wonders the 21st Century had in store for us. Flying cars, apartments on the moon, and sassy robot butlers were promised to all. But, instead, we got computer phones, Wikileaks and unlimited access to pornography. While these advancements have their benefits, they don’t reflect the Jetson-esque utopia of our collective imaginations.

In this spirit of reduced expectations, the MTA rolled out their plan to build a fleet of new subway cars, which promise to be more logically spaced, allowing for increased flow and more space, blah, blah, blah. To the surprise of only the most optimistic futurists, the trains will not be streaked with pulsating neon, hovering over the rails on magnets, and will not be equipped with turbo drives.

According to a report in the New York Times, which spotted the plans laid out in a document by the MTA for 2015-2034, the new articulated and logic-friendly (boring) trains are being seriously discussed by transit planners.

Articulated trains would connect all the cars of the subway, allowing people to stand in accordion-like spaces between the cars.

“This will both maximize carrying capacity,” an MTA official told the Times, and allow passengers to “move to less-crowded areas of the train, balancing loading and unloading times at all doors.”

This type of train is already used in Paris, Toronto and Berlin. Still, implementing a whole new type of train to the system isn’t something that can be done simply. The Times noted that the plan will take years of planning and also touched on the history of articulated trains in the city:

Adam Lisberg, the authority’s chief spokesman, said that increased capacity could improve “dwell time” — the period during which a train is stopped in a station, often because of overcrowding — and allow more trains to run. He cautioned, though, that with a 109-year-old system, any major change required extensive review.

“If you make a bad call on changing equipment in a new subway car order,” he said, “the consequences can be pretty serious.”

In fact, New York City has a history with articulated trains. In 1924, the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation introduced plans for the “Triplex,” with a hinged, multisectioned body. It operated on the B, D, N, Q and R lines over a period of 40 years, representing “the height of transit modernity” at a moment when elevated lines often still featured wooden cars, according to the New York Transit Museum.

Despite offering greater space and flow, articulated trains have some serious drawbacks. For example, if someone vomits, urinates or God-knows-what-else in a car, train operators won’t be able to seal off that section like they normally would, forcing passengers to flea as far as possible from the mess. Andrew Albert, another MTA official, spoke to how articulated trains also have a downside when it comes to crime.

“Remember the time when we were in the high-crime era and gangs were roaming through the trains? Everybody loved the locked end doors,” Albert told the Times.

Personally, I guess that if the kinks of an articulated train system could be managed effectively, it would represent an upgrade over what we have now. Still, I’m bummed that the new trains, which we may not see for decades, are essentially going to be what people in Germany and Canada have been using for a while. When is New York going to really become the “city of tomorrow” and do something bold and incredible with their public services?

Sometimes it feels like the future is slipping through our fingers. Tube transport system, anybody?

Councilman Vincent Gentile, Source: council.nyc.gov

Councilman Vincent Gentile, Source: council.nyc.gov

Councilmen Vincent Gentile and David Greenfield issued press releases slamming the proposed increase in the water rate that we wrote about earlier today.

In particular, Gentile went after the year-after-year increases that has left homeowners paying nearly double what they paid in 2005, and the fact that the city is using the money to pay off debts (for what it’s worth, the debts were incurred during the 1970s, long before the mayorality was a twinkle in Bloomberg’s eyes).

Here’s his statement in full:

“Mayor Bloomberg is at it again with yet another 5.3% water rate hike that will undoubtedly hit homeowners the most,” Vincent Gentile, 43rd City Council Candidate said. “Since 2005, the average family in New York City has seen their water bill go up nearly 80%. Even more despicable, some of the revenue from these backdoor tax hikes is used to pay previous bills the City has racked up, which have nothing to do with water usage. Homeowners shouldn’t have to bear the consequences of decades of irresponsibility and poor fiscal management on the part of the City. Average citizens are struggling enough without the City picking their pockets for extra cash. Crippling homeowners to pay for outsized budgets is bad policy and outright wrong. In the Council I will continue to work to develop a budget that cuts wasteful spending and uses revenue efficiently, so that we can pay our bills without unfairly burdening our middle class.”

Meanwhile, Greenfield focused on ongoing concerns over the use of new electronic meter readers that allow usage to be monitored remotely. Here’s a chunk of his release:

Councilman David G. Greenfield is demanding that the city back off its proposal to again raise water rates in the coming year until it can resolve all outstanding issues that customers have had with sky-high bills ever since the city installed automated meter readers on homes and businesses several years ago. The city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced that homeowners and businesses are facing a yet-to-be-determined increase in their water bills next year, after being hit with a 5.6 percent increase this summer and a 7 percent increase last year. Since 2005, water bills have increased 78 percent, including double digit increases in four straight years from 2008 to 2011. According to a report in today’s Daily News, the city collected a record $3.3 billion in water revenues during the prior fiscal year, up from $2.1 billion in 2008. That means the average water bill for a single-family home is now nearly $1,000 a year – up from $554 just five years ago.

However, during the same time period, countless property owners have seen their bills increase by much higher amounts since the city began installing automated meter readers on buildings around the city in 2009 to remotely determine a property’s water usage. Many residents have reported receiving  water bills that are two or three times higher than they were in the past, despite having fewer children at home and using a minimal amount of water. This was consistent with issues that other cities faced after installing similar technology, prompting Councilman Greenfield to call on the DEP to conduct a full audit and review of the new electronic meters, which were installed as part of a $250 million project, to ensure that they are accurate and are not overcharging residents.

While the DEP and Bloomberg administration has maintained that its system is accurate, Councilman Greenfield continues to receive complaints from frustrated property owners over incredibly high water bills that do not match the actual water usage at their home or business. In response to these continuing billing issues, Councilman Greenfield believes that the Water Board, which is appointed by the mayor, should not approve any future water rate increases until the DEP finally conducts a full audit of the automated meter readers to ensure they are accurate and to eliminate concerns from the public that thousands of customers are being overcharged.

victim

More than two years after an autopsy was ordered to determine the cause of death of an unidentified woman found stuffed in a shopping cart in the waters of Gravesend Bay, authorities have finally deemed the case a murder, and are turning to the public for help in identifying the victim.

Police released the above sketch of the victim this morning. She is described as between 18 and 25 years old, approximately 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing approximately 150 pounds when she died.

The victim was found on the evening of July 17, 2011, jammed into a shopping cart snagged on the rocks at the coastline near Bay 20th Street and Shore Parkway. She was stuffed inside a plastic bag.

Investigators say she suffered a fractured skull, according to NBC New York.

According to CBS, “She was found wearing blue jeans that read ‘ONLY YOU’ and a black sleeveless summer blouse and a black belt with a silver oval buckle.”

If you recognize the person depicted above, or have any information related to the case, please call 1-800-577-TIPS immediately or visit the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers website by clicking here.

Photo by Yuriy Semenov

New York City officials are claiming they need additional revenue to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure, and they’re looking to collect on yet another water rate hike.

That’s on top of a 5.6 percent hike in water rates this summer, and a seven percent increase the year before. In fact, if I’m reading this chart correctly, water rates have gone up more than 165 percent since Bloomberg took office in 2002, with increases every single year, and double digit jumps from 2008 to 2011.

But, hey, at least they’re considering a “smaller” increase for next year.

“We want the rate increase that goes into effect next July to be smaller than before,” Steve Lawitts, the chief financial officer of the Department of Environmental Protection, told the Daily News.

Public Advocate and mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio has previously depicted the increases as a “backdoor tax,” a device the city is using to not just cover costs, but to pay bills elsewhere in the budget. That has allowed Mayor Michael Bloomberg to claim he hasn’t raised taxes, when in fact city residents are still paying hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars more a year – and your City Council rep doesn’t even get a vote on it.

The New York City Water Board usually holds rate increase meetings in the spring. Stay tuned.

Source: 28 Dreams/Flickr

D LINE

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound D trains run local from 145 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle.

N LINE

All times until October 2014: There are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 10:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, Manhattan-bound N trains skip 39 Av, 36 Av, Broadway, and 30 Av.

From 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound N trains are rerouted via the D (express) from 36 St, Brooklyn to Stillwell Av.

R LINE

All times until October 2014: There are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late night N and weekend R trains are rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 9:30 p..m. to midnight, Monday to Thursday, R service is extended to the 179 St F station.

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there are no R shuttle trains between 59 St and 36 St in Brooklyn – Take the N. R shuttle trains run between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St, Brooklyn.

F LINE

No scheduled service advisories at this time.

Source: Openmarket.org

Source: Openmarket.org

A State Supreme Court judge struck down a suit that sought to change the language on an upcoming November ballot measure expanding legalized gambling in New York. The New York Times is reporting that Judge Richard Platkin ruled that the case was “lacking in legal merit.”

Earlier in the month, we reported that the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) joined the legal fight to block the ballot. The fight was spearheaded by Brooklyn-based bankruptcy lawyer Eric Synder. Synder, NYPIRG and other groups had argued that the language surrounding the casino ballot measure was biased, presenting the issue as a no-brainer for voters, promising jobs and economic growth. The Times explained why Judge Platkin ruled against Synder:

In dismissing the case, though, Justice Platkin said Mr. Snyder’s suit, filed on Oct. 1, had come after the statute of limitations for such ballot-language challenges had passed. (Such challenges are limited to a 14-day window after a referendum’s final day to be certified; this year, that deadline was Aug. 19.)

And while Mr. Snyder had argued that he was not aware of the language at that point, and that the Board of Elections did not post the referendum to its Web site until Aug. 23, Justice Platkin seemed unimpressed. “The petition/complaint would still be untimely,” he wrote in his decision.

While the Times reported that Synder was planning to continue his legal battle, Politics on the Hudson reported that Synder is now giving up his fight.

“Unfortunately, I just don’t think the timing is there,” Synder said in a radio interview.

With the ballot language now in place, voters will be presented with a rosy, one-sided pro-gambling message. As we previously reported, a Siena College poll found that support for the ballot increased nine percentage points when shown the controversial language.

Again, it is worth noting that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign has received $361,000 from powerful gambling interests from 2011 to July of 2013 and that politicians in Albany took in over $1 million from the same groups in that time.

gentile

To complete the four-day celebration of Eid al-Adha, Councilman Vincent Gentile teamed up with the United American Muslim Association to donate close to 300 pounds of meat to the needy, according to a press release..

Eid al-Adha is a major holiday in Islam, and in a symbolic and traditional act on this holiday, Muslims distribute food to those who cannot afford it. Giving out this meat, in addition to the morning prayers, is considered an essential component of Eid al-Adha.

Thomas Choice (Source: Handout)

Thomas Choi (Source: Handout)

A Bridge and Tunnel officer was left in critical condition after being struck by a Nissan Maxima on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on Sunday.

Thomas Choi, 61, was removing the orange barrels that had stopped traffic during weekend work on the Brooklyn-bound lower level, when a female driver from Bayonne, NJ, hit him at approximately 8:00 a.m. on Sunday.

The NY Post reports:

A 10-year MTA veteran, Choi, who was on the Brooklyn-bound side of the bridge at the time, crashed into the vehicle’s windshield and fell to the ground.

The driver of a Nissan Maxima stopped and has been talking to police. She and her four passengers were not injured.

Choi suffered head injuries and was listed in critical but stable condition at Staten Island University Hospital, officials said.

CBS News adds that Choi’s colleagues have come together to show their support:

“It’s a very dangerous occupation,” [MTA Bridge and Tunnel Special Operations Director Daniel DeCrescenzo] said, “so when you see the construction workers on the side of the road, or Bridges and Tunnels personnel – be it maintenance or officers – that’s why we have red and green arrows. That’s why we have barrels and cones for traffic control.”

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, officers from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority were keeping a vigil at the hospital for Choi, 61.

“We’re going to have an officer here as long as he’s here,” DeCrescenzo said.

21K281_school1

Source: schools.nyc.gov

Following the approval of a controversial charter school co-location within Seth Low Intermediate School (99 Avenue P), the Department of Education is targeting yet another local school as Mayor Michael Bloomberg makes a last-ditch effort to approve as many charter school co-locations as possible before his term ends.

The department is now holding hearings on Coney Island Preparatory charter school for elementary school-aged children to be co-located within I.S. 281 Joseph B. Cavallaro Junior High School (8787 24th Avenue).

The hearing to determine the school’s fate will be held this afternoon, at 6:00 p.m. Community Education Council (CEC) District 21 is again rallying the troops, calling for a protest before the meeting, at 5:30 p.m.

Here’s an e-mail they blasted out on Friday:

On behalf of the Community Education Council District 21, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude for your support at the Seth Low, I.S 96 rally and Joint Public Hearing on September 30th.  Your dedication to the community strengthens our position; that we are united and committed to a quality education for all children in District 21.

As you are aware, our traditional public schools are being inundated with co-locations. We would like to invite you to join us at Cavallaro, I.S. 281, for our upcoming Rally and Joint Hearing on Monday, October 21st at 5:30 pm.  We truly appreciate your support, and look forward to seeing you on October 21st.

Again, my fellow CEC members and I would like to express our sincerest gratitude for your support and guidance. Your dedication and support is appreciated by the parents, students, teachers and community of District 21.

And here’s the flier they put together for the rally:

flier

Intersection of 11th Avenue and 49th Street (Source: Google Maps)

Intersection of 11th Avenue and 49th Street (Source: Google Maps)

A Mazda minivan struck and killed a 69-year-old woman at 11th Avenue and 49th Street in Borough Park, just four blocks from the victim’s home.

The van was traveling north on 11th Avenue at approximately 10:35 p.m. when it hit Ethel Rubenstein, who was in the crosswalk.

According to Metro newspaper, Rubenstein was unconscious and unresponsive when police arrived. She was taken to Maimonides Hospital, where she was prounounced dead.

The minivan’s driver stayed on the scene. An investigation is ongoing.