Watching Subway Vandalism
This week, MTA New York City Transit announced a $25 million effort
to combat graffiti, scratchitti, and acid etching. If you hate
this stuff and see it as vandalism - as we do - you probably agree
with the MTA’s programs to replacing defaced windows and coat them.
Steps from the successful 1980's campaign to eliminate graffiti on
subway cars included more undercover detection, tougher prosecution
and penalties and greater security at rail yards. New York City
Transit is also considering using cameras in subway cars.
While we don't oppose this on principle (100's of cameras are now being installed on platforms and in stations), we are skeptical. Among the questions we have are: Are cameras practical? How would they work? How useful would the pictures be? How would the images be stored? And for how long? What protections would there be against misuse? I am sure these and other issues will be debated. What do you think?
Posted May 25 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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The Grime Underground
Yesterday, the Straphangers Campaign released our 8th annual survey on subway car cleanliness .
In our "Shmutz" survey, we do not rate litter, instead holding transit officials accountable for providing subway cars without grime.
Unfortunately, we rated only 47% of cars as clean. Fifteen of 22 lines showed deterioration.
This follows transit officials cutting nearly $9 million in financial resources for subway car cleaning in 2003 and more than another $8 million in 2004.
Dirtier subway cars? What do you think?
Posted May 17 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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Spitzer Talks Transit
Last week, State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer gave his first major speech on transportation this election season.
The New York Times reporter covering the address concluded: "In his first major speech on transportation, Mr. Spitzer, a Democrat who is the state attorney general, cast doubt on whether a direct train to Kennedy was a sensible use of public resources, and he did not include it among what he called 'the top priorities for Albany's funding of major new transportation expansion projects in the metropolitan region over at least the next five years.'"
We share the skepticism about the at-least $6 billion rail link to downtown, give all the other priorities for spending scarce transit dollars in the region. What do you think?
Posted May 11 2006 by Gene Russianoff
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Subway Payphone Hang Up
Ever tried to use a payphone in a subway station only to find it out of order? You're not alone!
Yesterday the Straphangers Campaign released a report on the quality of subway station payphones . Our two studies looking at payhpones in the top 15 busiest stations and 100 randomly selected stations showed one out of every four phones to be "non-functioning." That means either no dial tone, no handset, no ability to connect a call or no way to put in or retrieve your quarter.
The MTA and Verizon used to have a contract that kept a minimum number of payphones in working order at all times, but, in responding to our report, admitted axing it from the current agreement because the provision was too hard to live up to. The new contract merely says Verizon will exercise a "good faith effort" to clear all known troubles within 24 hours.
Additionally, Verizon said they "depend on the support of all New Yorkers" to notify the company of payphone problems. So, apparently, it's up to you, riders! If you encounter a broken phone, dial "#-5-5-5" from any Verizon payphone to report it. That is, if you can find another payphone that works.
Posted May 3 2006 by Neysa Pranger
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