Today’s Headlines

  • It Happened Again: Charter Bus Driver Kills Michael Mamoukakis, 80, Biking on 7th Ave (NYT, News, Post)
  • Less Parking, More Safety for Cycling on Side Streets (WNYC)
  • MTA Insider: Subway Service Could Improve Substantially Simply By Changing Some Operating Standards (Fusion)
  • Only Two Subway Lines Make the Grade on Reliability, According to the MTA’s Own Imperfect Metrics (Gothamist)
  • Commuters Brace for Penn Station’s Emergency Track Repairs This Summer (NYT)
  • Meanwhile, Andrew Cuomo Wants to Dazzle You With Shiny Train Hall Renderings (Politico)
  • Gianaris: Fund MTA With Downstate Income Tax Surcharge (News)
  • Paul Massey’s Transit Platform Fails to Impress (Post)
  • Classon Avenue Finally Getting a Painted Bike Lane Where Lauren Davis Was Killed (DNA)
  • Manhattan CB 3 to DOT: Make Mixing Zones Safer (DNA)
  • DOT Backtracks and Agrees to Add Stop Sign at Crossing Near LIC Schools (DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) is set to introduce legislation this week that would impose a three-year temporary state income tax surcharge on millionaires in the 12-county MTA region. The revenue raised would go to pay for upgrades to the transit system.”

    Um, what happened to all the money from the permanent income tax surcharge imposed just a few years ago? Where is all that money going?

    Three years? Since this is a member of the state legislature I assume that the MTA would issue 30 years bonds against the revenue stream? After all, the money could be used for Capital Expenditures!

  • Elizabeth F

    Umm.. I believe such a tax already exists; although it’s more of a proletariat tax than a millionaire tax.

    https://www.tax.ny.gov/pdf/publications/mctmt/pub420.pdf

  • Larry Littlefield

    Already exists and its future revenues are already spent, to the general celebration of everyone back when it happened.

    Note the Democratic lie that after 30 years of selling the future, the only people who need to sacrifice to turn things around are “the rich.” Similar to the Republican lie that everyone can have everything were it not for all the money stolen by “the poor.”

    Well, at least for now the Bush/Reagan tax cuts have been reversed, and New York State already imposed a “millionaire’s tax” surcharge. And kept it after claims it was temporary.

    And services to and benefits for “the poor” under age 65 have been cut and cut and cut for decades.

    New lies are apparently required. They only need to last a couple of decades, until most of Generation Greed is gone. Because not only do they deserve everything they have promised themselves but refused to pay for, they deserve not to have to feel bad about the consequences for those coming after. “Let’s not talk about the past” when confronted with the future!

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Surprised there is no mention of the organized opposition to the classon lane. CM Cornegy joined the regular cast of anti bike safety electeds and penned a letter with AM Tremaine Wright, Rep Velmanette Montgomery, and CB3 to fight it. They seem to prefer keeping riders in harm’s way.

  • Toddster

    Meanwhile the bike lane that is perpetually blocked from NYPD 88th squad cars on Dekalb at Classon, just a few blocks up was milled out last Monday.

  • AMH

    Wow, that Fusion article left me speechless. I’d heard about handicapping the trains in response to the collision, and engineering in slow service, but had not realized that it was all in response to handicapping the emergency brakes to begin with. What a mess.

  • Joe R.

    Those of us who have studied the subway throughout the years are aware of the snowball effect reducing the emergency brake rate had. Slower trains, more timers, less ability to get back on schedule if there’s a delay, more trainsets for the same frequency of service (or lower frequency of service with the same number of trainsets), plus more delays which propagate through the system where lines merge and one train isn’t where it’s supposed to be.

    I was laughing at this comment:

    In the 90s, I rode in subway cars that were traveling WAY TOO FAST. Like, runaway train fast. After reading this article, I just realized that I haven’t had that experience in a long time. I think of that as a good thing.

    Guess he/she never had the pleasure of riding the NJT Arrow IIIs pre-rebuild when they hit 80 mph from a dead stop in about a minute, and often hit 110+ mph in between New Brunswick and Princeton Junction. The subway of the 90s was tame by comparison. Sometimes the redbird expresses on the #7 might get to 55 or 60 mph. It felt like a roller coaster but hardly runaway train fast. Now the trains go so slow I’m surprised the TOs don’t fall asleep on the job. Not sure what’s such a good thing about slower trains given all the issues they cause.

  • Vooch

    Video: Pedestrian Zone in Munich destroys all economic activity. No Parking, No motor traffic leaves a yuge dead zone in middle of city. The War on Cars fails again

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=__Z2ML4RFKI

  • redbike

    re: the 18 Jun 2017 NYPost article about mayoral candidate Paul Massey’s public transit priorities, read about the initiatives he proposes for the MTA and the Port Authority, two agencies squarely under mayoral control.

  • Reader

    I’m assuming it was removed after a community board resolution and 90-day-notification, as is required by city law.

  • AMH

    This needs to be part of the public discussion. We need to demand that rapid transit be rapid! Looking at speed as antithetical to safety is just unacceptable.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Low speed is more than just a NYC subway problem;

    Consider the time it takes to take a train from Penn Station to Montreal: 11hrs (even subtracting the hour or so you’re stopped for the border, that’s till 10 hours).

    Driving the same route usually takes about 6.5 hours, traffic and border included.

    There’s no excuse for that.

  • Michel S

    OMG that’s horrible! Praying for Munich.

  • Vooch

    bet it fails within the year and the cars return

  • Larry Littlefield

    I heard former NYCT President Larry Reuter say that CBTC would allow NYCT to restore the speed of the system.

    So how fast do the L trains move?

  • sbauman

    Did you ask Reuter exactly how CBTC would make trains move faster?

  • sbauman

    Those of us who have studied the subway throughout the years are aware of the snowball effect reducing the emergency brake rate had.

    To be fair to the MTA, the policy of reducing emergency braking started with the Board of Transportation with the introduction of the first post WWII trains, the R10.

    Prior to their introduction, the spec for maximum emergency stopping distance was 250 feet. This was raised to 275 feet for the R10’s and later models.

  • sbauman

    That emergency braking is deficient should come as no surprise to anyone who bothered reading the NTSB’s report on the Williamsburg Bridge Collision.

    https://permanent.access.gpo.gov/websites/www.ntsb.gov/publictn/1996/RAR9603.pdf

    The stopping distance expected by the signal system was 270 feet, which was greater than the 250 feet maximum stopping distance specification of the pre-WWII rolling stock. The collision took place 288 feet beyond the application of the emergency brakes.

    The NTSB ran a test simulation on the same track. The emergency brakes took 364.5 feet to stop or 76 feet beyond the collision point. The NTSB also ran a simulation using the full service brakes. The full service brakes took 162 feet to stop or 125 feet short of a collision.

    Why should the emergency brakes perform so much worse than the ordinary service brakes? The answer lies with how the MTA specified its emergency brakes. There are two braking systems: dynamic (electrical) brakes and air brakes. Both braking systems are used for service braking. However, only the air brakes are used for emergency braking.

    The dynamic brakes require third rail power to operate. Therefore, an emergency braking system should not rely on dynamic brakes. This caveat should not prevent an emergency braking system from using the dynamic brakes, if they are operable. An emergency brake should mean to stop the train by every possible means short of a collision. That’s not the principle behind the engineering of the MTA’s emergency brakes.

  • AMH

    I don’t know, but the ATO braking is pretty jerky. Compare that to the silky-smooth operation of WMATA trains back when they ran under ATO.

  • Andrew

    Compare 2017 to 2013: it looks to be roughly 2 minutes faster in each direction, about a 6% speed-up.

    (Before anybody asks: as of 2011 – see the very bottom of that page into the top of the next – schedules hadn’t been revised yet to reflect the CBTC speed-up. For lack of any other obvious reason and given the general slowdown of the subway system elsewhere, I assume the schedules were adjusted at some point between 2013 and 2017.)

  • Andrew

    My name’s not Reuter, but it’s pretty clear:

    1) No need to cap train performance to stay safe with the old signal system given the findings in the wake of the 1995 crash.

    2) Where speed restrictions are necessary, CBTC has finer control than the crude GT tactic of the old signal system.

    3) ATO removes much of the human element, with many train operators operating more cautiously than they need to be.

  • sbauman

    1) No need to cap train performance to stay safe with the old signal system given the findings in the wake of the 1995 crash.

    Every train control system, the current block system and CBTC, works on the principle that when emergency brakes are applied the train will stop within a predetermined distance. Should the train fail to stop within the distance that the train control system thinks it should, a collision is a likely outcome. The train control system sill continue to permit collisions to happen unless the operating agency takes one of the actions. The first is to improve the emergency braking system to a level that the train control system expects. The second is to modify the train control system to accept the emergency braking system’s longer stopping distance. The third is to reduce train speed so that the emergency braking system will stop the train within the distance assumed by the train control system.

    The MTA chose the third option. This results in longer trips and requires more trainsets to provide service levels achieved by faster trains.

    Ironically, the method chosen by the MTA to reduce train speed probably would not have averted the Williamsburg Bridge collision. That’s because the collision occurred on a steep downgrade. Most of the force that was moving the train was probably due to gravity. Eliminating the top speed on the notch on the train’s controller, the max speed reduction method chosen by the MTA, did not reduce any gravitational forces. Few things do.

    2) Where speed restrictions are necessary, CBTC has finer control than the crude GT tactic of the old signal system.

    There are very few devices that directly measure speed. Doppler shift devices are the only ones that comes to mind.

    All others measure the time to traverse a known distance. CBTC uses a tachometer and measures the time for each revolution. It’s essentially measuring the time to traverse the circumference of the wheel. Block system timers use an accurate timing circuit to clear a train, if it takes longer than a set interval to traverse the previous block. This insures the train is going below the speed derived by the timing circuit and the block length. It’s more than adequate. If somebody sets the timer for much longer than the spec to reduce the train speed, that’s not the fault of the Grade Timer. It’s the person who set or specified the time interval.

    3) ATO removes much of the human element, with many train operators operating more cautiously than they need to be.

    Automatic Train Operation does not require CBTC. Look at the driverless cars that are being developed. Many are autonomous – meaning they are using vision systems and are not relying on “smart” highways. A driverless subway train should be an easier task. Tesla appears to reduced the price that’s a fraction of what CBTC systems cost.

  • Andrew

    Every train control system, the current block system and CBTC, works on the principle that when emergency brakes are applied the train will stop within a predetermined distance. Should the train fail to stop within the distance that the train control system thinks it should, a collision is a likely outcome. The train control system sill continue to permit collisions to happen unless the operating agency takes one of the actions. The first is to improve the emergency braking system to a level that the train control system expects. The second is to modify the train control system to accept the emergency braking system’s longer stop ping distance. The third is to reduce train speed so that the emergency braking system will stop the train within the distance assumed by the train control system.

    The MTA chose the third option. This results in longer trips and requires more trainsets to provide service levels achieved by faster trains.

    The signal system was fundamentally unsafe because train acceleration had been enhanced since the signal system was designed. Redesigning and modifying the entire signal system to reflect the new acceleration would have taken years, and waiting years to implement a critical safety fix was not deemed acceptable. The alternative approach, restoring the cars to their old acceleration performance, could be implemented in much shorter order. Despite the disadvantages, it was the only option to overcome the safety deficiency in the necessary time frame.

    But if the signal system in a given area is fully designed from scratch to be safe at higher acceleration, and if the cars know that they’re operating in such an area, there’s no longer a need to cap acceleration. Trains operating under CBTC assume the higher acceleration profile, reducing running time.

    Ironically, the method chosen by the MTA to reduce train speed probably would not have averted the Williamsburg Bridge collision. That’s because the collision occurred on a steep downgrade. Most of the force that was moving the train was probably due to gravity. Eliminating the top speed on the notch on the train’s controller, the max speed reduction method chosen by the MTA, did not reduce any gravitational forces. Few things do.

    You are suggesting that the signal system wasn’t even safe under its original design parameters. Do you have any justification for that claim?

    Besides, I was under the impression that the 1995 collision was near the Brooklyn end of the bridge. The steep downgrade is at the Manhattan end. Am I misremembering the location?

    There are very few devices that directly measure speed. Doppler shift devices are the only ones that comes to mind.

    All others measure the time to traverse a known distance. CBTC uses a tachometer and measures the time for each revolution. It’s essentially measuring the time to traverse the circumference of the wheel. Block system timers use an accurate timing circuit to clear a train, if it takes longer than a set interval to traverse the previous block. This insures the train is going below the speed derived by the timing circuit and the block length. It’s more than adequate. If somebody sets the timer for much longer than the spec to reduce the train speed, that’s not the fault of the Grade Timer. It’s the person who set or specified the time interval.

    CBTC can ensure that the train not exceed a given speed limit at a given location. Grade time can only enforce an average speed limit between two insulated joints. If a speed restriction is safety-critical, the GT speed will be deliberately set lower than the maximum safe speed, so that a train operator who varies his speed through the timing section still can’t exceed the safe speed. This isn’t a concern with the finer control of CBTC, so the restriction can be safely set to a higher speed.

    Also (and related to the below), have you seen how train operators produced through GT areas? It’s typically well below the speed limit. That’s not an issue with ATO.

    Automatic Train Operation does not require CBTC. Look at the driverless cars that are being developed. Many are autonomous – meaning they are using vision systems and are not relying on “smart” highways. A driverless subway train should be an easier task. Tesla appears to reduced the price that’s a fraction of what CBTC systems cost.

    I never claimed that CBTC is the only way to achieve ATO. You asked “how CBTC would make trains move faster,” and I answered.

  • sbauman

    train acceleration had been enhanced since the signal system was designed.

    It’s the speed at which brakes are applied and the braking rate that determines the stopping distance. Increasing the acceleration merely determines how quickly that speed is achieved.

    I was under the impression that the 1995 collision was near the Brooklyn end of the bridge. The steep downgrade is at the Manhattan end. Am I misremembering the location?

    I reviewed the NTSB report. You are correct regarding the location and I was wrong.

    Here are some important points contained in the NTSB report.
    1. the emergency braking rate for all cars is supposed to be a minimum of 3 mph/sec
    2. the impact point occurred 288 feet from where the tripper was actuated.
    3. the block length for that tripper was 270.35 ft.
    4. tests showed that similar equipment operating over the same track could achieve a speed of 34 mph at the point of tripper contact. These tests also showed that it took the test train 364.5 and 358.5 feet.
    5. the train was on a 2.25% upward climb

    Here’s what these points mean. A train traveling on a level surface, traveling at 30 mph with a braking rate of 3 mph/sec will have a stopping distance of 220.5 ft from where the brakes are applied. A train traveling at 34 mph up a 2.25% grade will have a stopping distance of 243.3 ft. Had the brakes performed as per spec, the collision would have been avoided by 45 feet, even at the higher approach speed. The block length was sufficient, had the brakes met their 3 mph/sec braking rate.

    A third test was conducted but the full service brakes were applied, instead of the emergency brakes. The NTSB report noted the train stopped 162′ 2″ from the point of application. The difference between emergency brakes and full service brakes is that the dynamic brakes are not applied during emergency braking.

    The test stopping distances indicate braking rates of 1.8 and 1.9 mph/sec, for the initial speed of 34 mph and an 2.25% upgrade.

    The NTSB report also noted that the MTA substantially modified the pneumatic brakes, when composition shoes were substituted for the original cast iron shoes. Following the 1991 Union Square derailment, the NYS PTSB recommended that the MTA adjust all braking systems to be in conformity with the signal system and to combine dynamic and pneumatic braking into emergency braking. The MTA declinded to incorporate dynamic braking into emergency braking. The Williamsburg Bridge collision and subsequent braking tests indicated that the MTA did not follow the PTSB’s second recommendation.

    The only thing a train control system can do is apply brakes without operator intervention. That control system applies these brakes so that the train will stop short of an unsafe situation. If the train will not stop within its specified distance, no train control system will prevent an unsafe condition.

    CBTC can ensure that the train not exceed a given speed limit at a given location. Grade time can only enforce an average speed limit between two insulated joints.

    You failed to mention that grade timers can be incorporated into every block. This was one of the NTSB’s recommendations in their Williamsburg Bridge report. This requires a time delay relay for every block. This addition is expensive, if the block system is implemented with hard wired relay logic. It’s inexpensive, if the block system is implemented with a programmable logic controller.