Happy Transit Friday: MTA tries to make money, wants money from riders (again!) and don’t farebeat, or Eagle will fall upon you.

Happy happy Friday where the weather in NYC is currently no rain (yet) and not deathly humid outside.
So what’s good in the news?

Well, after reading about the MTA considering pimping out their MetroCard fronts for adspace, they’re now considering bringing back their unpopular proposal of enacting a $1 “Green” tax on MetroCard fares (which was first proposed back in 2010 for 2011 in an article from the NY Post). According to the MTA, the tax will supposedly help keep riders from just buying cards and discarding them willy-nilly before their expiration dates and causing more garbage in landfills. Having a tax on it will keep riders using the same old cards until they can be used no more. However, if you do have an expired card, when you go to refill it you are exempted from this tax (should it go into effect next year if it passes).

According to the New York Daily News article:

The MTA on average prints and encodes 160 million MetroCards a year at a cost of approximately $9.5 million, agency spokesman Adam Lisberg said.
The surcharge will generate an estimated $18 million in revenue while printing fewer MetroCards will save another $2 million or so, according to the MTA.

I think I preferred if they attempted this route instead. What is that old adage? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar? An optional tax with a good cause attached to it might have been a better approach as people knowing where their money goes (especially if it’s towards the betterment in quality of life) would be more opened to “donating”. Plus the MTA could always sweeten the pot by including names of biggest civilian donors to this “Green” program (nothing makes you feel more important than seeing yourself in print) in a scrollable box on a page in their website. Just saying.

For those who want to help the MTA keep used cards out of the landfill, might I suggest reusing them as a more resilient version of their product? At least yours will be homemade and it won’t get soggy in the rain! Of course I don’t condone selling it (not even on Etsy, hipsters!), because their legal eagles will be on you like white on rice.

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A member of the Eagle Team (mta.info)

Speaking of eagles… the MTA is increasing the presence of the Eagle Team[!] (okay, saying it without the added emphasis of an exclamation mark really doesn’t give it the oomph that it deserves) on their bus routes.

According to MTA’s information on the Eagle Team:

Created in September 2007, The Eagle Team began their work in collaboration with the NYPD and both the NYCT’s Departments of Buses and Subways to combat graffiti and vandalism.  By ensuring our yards and depots were secure, the Team was able to make a serious dent in the vandalism problem.  In June 2008, the Eagle Team expanded to cover SBS in the Bronx and again in October 2010 and November 2011 as two more SBS routes opened in Manhattan.

On their Select Bus Service (SBS) lines (the fareless pay-before-you-board system), the Eagle Team has been a deterrent on farebeating. Basically it’s additional MTA personnel on the buses making sure people boarding have paid the fares and aren’t just trying to get a free ride. In addition, they will also help NYPD determine which areas or “hot spots” are more prone to farebeating. If caught evading the fare, a member of the Eagle Team will have the authority to issue a summons of $100.00.

While this sounds good, it begs some questions:

  • What if they encounter a farebeater who will get violent? So far the press release said that they have been “credited with creating an atmosphere of minimal fare evasion as well as near zero operator assaults along those routes.” It neglects to mention if Eagle Team personnel are constantly on the buses even during off-peak late night hours, or are they only there during rush hours, or randomly throughout the day outside of late night hours.
  • How many Eagle Team members out of the 60-70 members (actual number 57) are prone to be on routes outside of Manhattan (like the Bx12 in the Bronx) or are they more clustered in Manhattan (because everything dangerous always happens there. /sarcasm) on their other 2 SBS routes: the M34/34A and M15.
  • If, and if that scenario of violence actually comes up, would they be able to subdue the person if they do turn violent while they wait for NYPD assistance as according to the previous link that members of Eagle Team do have prior law enforcement experience? Or will they have to take a passive approach and just notify NYPD when it occurs (much like Station Agents who are forbidden to leave their booths and penalized if they do when something happens to a rider in the station)? If it’s the latter, how will this be any more safer than having cameras onboard and partial partitions for the operators?

For those who tl;dr’d the last bit, the tl;dr would be: Eagle Team is good, but I have questions about passenger/operator safety during late night hours that wasn’t brought up in short MTA PR piece because I’m cynical and like to question things.

Resorts World Racino making too much money and MTA trying to make some.

About 3 months shy of a year’s anniversary, Resorts World Casino apparently pulled in $15mil just in one week (July 1-7). With that sort of streak, it’s no wonder that they have surpassed Atlantic City as the new “gambling mecca” in the Tri-State area. Even though it’s only a slots only establishment (whereas the other casinos like Mohegan Sun, Atlantic City have actual dealers), the numbers are astounding.

Disclaimer: I’ve been in the casino once. It was loud, cold and I forgot my shawl.

Since Resorts World Casino opened in Queens back in October of 2011, there has been mixed reviews on its location. Some background information: It is situated in the former Aqueduct Racetrack, a stone’s throw away from the residents of Ozone Park/Howard Beach/Richmond Hill, and literally a bus ride away (the Q37 bus’ amended route includes a stop into the casino) for the rest of New York’s citizens. If you live further, you can always fly in (JFK Airport is right around the corner) and take the Airtrain into the Howard Beach station and catch a connecting A train to the Aqueduct-North Conduit station (which was renovated by Genting, the parent owner of Resorts World).

There were people for and against the construction of the casino. Some people weren’t fond of the idea of a casino right in their own backyards (NIMBY) because it would

  • raise the percentage of crime activity (there was an increase)
  • make people gamble more
  • displace the people who participated in the Aqueduct flea market (the flea market have since disbanded)

The people who were for this project (including our own Governor Andrew Cuomo, who wants to have more casinos in the city of New York supported the casino idea because

  • it would create jobs in the building of
  • it would create local jobs with people from the neighborhood
  • the gambling revenue would benefit education (as in NY, supposedly all lottery revenue generated goes to education, although in reality some revenue actually goes to the racing association to supplement the upkeep of racetracks)
    (Historically, their revenue so far is $7.6 Billion. From their weekly net of $15mil from 7/1-7, they returned $6.5mil back to the state for education)

With all the news fluff about how great the casino is though, there have been stories (hilarious) where people have been “maiming” the slot machines. Chalk it up to being a sore loser, really. Apparently the damages usually ranged from $1-2k of damage and the crime can carry up a year in jail. You do however, get to avoid the latter if you paid the damages. One would think this kind of stuff would never happen in Nicky Santoro’s Casino.

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While talking about something financially successful, now it’s time to change channels and focus on the not so “financially sound” MTA. Taking their economic cries with a grain of salt, as every other year they cry poverty while spending obscene amount of monies on bloated capital projects (eg: what seems like an eternity of construction with the East Side Access project) and massive PR stunt (eg: the reactive Fasttrack project that seems to really benefit the MTA’s PR image).

Yesterday it hit the news that the MTA is looking to sell ad space right in the front of their MetroCards. Iconic yellow-gold no more! While the MTA is trying to expand their touch-and-go-pay system (which with their record we will probably not see for another good 5-10 years), currently they are trying to raise more revenue with this new venture. It’s commendable, I am curious to see what agencies will commission the cards. When done tastefully (like the wraps on the Grand Central Station Shuttle), I will admit the ads do not look too intrusive. Since I don’t spend too much time staring at any parts of my MetroCard (except when using it), I hope they get a good amount for this. According to the MTA, there is no limit to what can be on the cards as long as it doesn’t block the magnetic strip, and is not religious (thank the baby Jesus). They can also “microplace” ad-specific cards in up to 10 stations to better target their demographics.

How much will this cost advertisers? Agencies, contact the MTA to find out! However, it can cost anywhere from 18-51 cents to advertise on the backs of the cards (with a minimum of 50,000 cards ordered), so you can take that as an indicator (maybe front space would be anywhere from $3-5/each).

With that said, as a collector of MetroCards (or hoarder, they do make great bookmarks) I can’t wait to see this unfold.

MTA Holiday Train Ride

Otherwise known as the Nostalgia train ride, runs every Sunday since November 30th. I say runs instead of ran because there are still two more Sundays left before the year ends and I am pretty sure they are running.  In any case, I caught it with J & lil V. Foamers aside, the ride was rather fun as this time instead of it like last year where we were going mainly to get pictures and videos of the trains, this year we were just sitting and enjoying the rides. Much less of a headache in getting that perfect shot and just relaxing and having a good time.

 


I didn’t take many pictures this time, but I do these, enjoy!
The (C) at Hoyt Schemerhorn.
A Transit Peeve from the past… oh girlfriend, I can relate to that one personally as we experienced it yesterday with the Foamy Foamers pushing us out of the way so they could occupy many of the empty seats… yeahhhh.
The R1/9 pulling out of the 2nd Avenue Station in motion (and in wide screen resolution for your wallpapering pleasure. ;))
The best I could get of the front without any foamer in my way. 
Got to love and wonder what happened here.
Nothing says ‘dead end’ like that.
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On another note: I peeled an apple– with a knife!! It never tasted so sweet. Why is that so interesting? If you know me, you would know this is the person who can draw blood with safety scissors.

Do Not Use Shoddy Decals?

Saw this little beauty last Wednesday. While personally I don’t think that the decal is shoddy, I wondered who allowed this to be out in public. Usually all decals are all perfect in shape and letters. Good catch for me though.

Striped Rear!

Now *this* is how a rear is supposed to look like.

TA/MTA Roadeo 2008






Rest of the pictures can be seen [here].

Pretty Good Thursday






On another note, my post-it made it into The Post-It Project‘s blog. Yay! The youtube video of BeezelBus is pretty funny too.