MTA's best and worst moments in 2012 could have impact in 2013
Between Superstorm Sandy, fare hikes and construction, 2012 was a turbulent year for the MTA, and 2013 may be even wilder.
The Straphangers Campaign released on Thursday its third annual ranking of the worst and best subway and bus events of year, with Superstorm Sandy coming in as the worst and the heroic clean-up of storm as the best.
"It has been a tumultuous year for city subways and buses, with superstorms, fare hikes and MTA chairmen coming and going," said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the group.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the agency is "Glad that Gene recognizes all of the positive steps we've taken to improve the system over the past year."
- We looked at the three of the events from both lists and how they may affect the agency this year.
- Transit rebounds quickly in the wake of Sandy: The MTA's massive clean-up efforts gave a spike of approval for the oft-derided agency, which some have suggested played a part in departing chief Lhota's possible mayoral run this year.
- MTA uses technology to make life easier for its customers: The agency just launched the beta version of an app that will tell you precisely when your train will get the station - but only for numbered lines. Still, it's likely that the service will continue to grow in 2013. Likewise, two full waves of cellular and Wi-Fi service are expected to be completed this year, bringing service to major hubs including Columbus Circle and Times Square by March and to much of midtown and Queens by December.
- Select Bus Service expands: The plight of the city's pokey buses is largely resolved by SBS, which speeds up service through advance paying, special lanes and more. The MTA will continue to roll out more service in 2013, with new routes expected in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
- Superstorm Sandy hit: The defining moment for the MTA in 2012, the superstorm shut down the entire system and it is still recovering. Some $5 billion in damage was racked up, some of which may trickle down to riders, the Straphangers Campaign reported. The Rockaways are still without subway service, and the agency has estimated it may take until spring to restore it.
- Fare increase: The fourth hike in five years will hit commuters March 1, driving up the monthly unlimited card to $112 from $104, and the base fare up a quarter to $2.50. Since 2010, the price of a monthly has gone up $23, or a %25 increase.
- Revolving door: Lhota's departure to pursue a possible mayoral run this year makes him the sixth MTA chief to depart in six years. Though all leaders have left for varying reasons, the Straphangers Campaign argues that the high turnover "has not helped the cause of winning safe, reliable and affordable transit."
1. Transit rebounds quickly in the wake of Sandy
2. The MTA added $30 million in bus and subway service
3. A new connection opened between the uptown 6 Bleecker Street and the B, D, F and M at Broadway/Lafayette
4. Subway ridership increased to highest levels in 45 years
5. Bus Time comes to all buses in the Bronx and Staten Island
6. Select Bus Service expands
7. Poetry in Motion is back after a four-year hiatus
8. A new transit advocacy group - the Riders Alliance - joins the fray for better subways and buses
9. The MTA uses tech to make life easier for riders, including station Wi-Fi and cell service and a new app
10. Congress included in the fiscal cliff legislation a provision equalizing tax-free benefits for parking costs and transit costs
1. Superstorm Sandy hits
2. Sandy costs riders big to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in interest on bonds
3. The revolving door keeps swinging at MTA as Lhota resigns
4. Fares increase
5. Subway crime is up 6.6% for the first 11 months of 2012 compared to the same time period in 2011
6. The Second Ave. Subway had an accidental explosion
7. Fare beating on buses is worse than thought, with the MTA losing about $50 million annually
8. Assaults continue against bus workers and other transit employees
9. Plans to install Wi-Fi and cell service at 30 stations were delayed because of Sandy
10. The MTA payroll tax was held unconstitutional by a state court judge