Police Watch: Different suspects wanted for robbery at bubble tea spot, menacing at nightclub

One of the two suspects

TWO WANTED FOR ATTEMPTED ROBBERY AT BUBBLE TEA SPOT
The NYPD is on the lookout for two men who tried to rob a bubble tea shop in Flatiron.
On Friday, August 11 at 7 p.m., two men entered a Coco bubble tea spot, located at 38 Lexington Avenue and East 24th Street. One of the men approached the counter, simulated a gun with his hand under his sweatshirt and demanded cash from the register. However, they ended up fleeing the location without getting any money.
The first suspect is described as black, 20-30 years old and was last seen wearing a blue head scarf, white hooded sweat jacket, green knapsack, blue jeans and black shoes.
The second suspect is described as white or Hispanic, approximately 20-30 years old and was last seen wearing a black baseball cap, gray hooded sweat jacket, white T-shirt, blue jeans, sneakers and was walking with a cane.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Bus stop shelters on East 14th Street removed, will be relocated

 

 

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The MTA said the removals were because of impending work. (Photos by Hermann Reiner)

By Sabina Mollot

On July 1, an eagle-eyed reader informed us an unannounced removal of M14 bus stop shelters had occurred that day and the day before from Avenues A to B. We reached out to the Department of Transportation for an explanation and the agency responded via email Thursday evening to say the stops were removed due to impending work, but would be relocated this week.

The agency didn’t say what project the impending work is for, but Council Member Dan Garodnick said he was told by the MTA it had to do with the looming L train line repairs, which include building an Avenue A subway entrance.

According to the MTA and DOT:

The existing bus stops on the westbound side of 14th Street on the island at Avenues A and B have shelters which were removed this past Friday in advance of the two bus stops being relocated this week. Both of these stops which are on the west side of the intersection now and will be moved to the east side of the intersection. The bus shelters will not be installed at the temporary stops but will be replaced at the end of the project when the stops are relocated back to their permanent location.

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Countdown clocks coming to East Side bus stops

Council Member Dan Garodnick (right) stands by a new countdown clock at a bus stop for the M66. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In an effort to help straphangers get a more reliable idea of when their next bus is coming, the city is installing 48 new countdown clocks at bus stops around Council District 4. The project is being funded with nearly $1 million allocated by Council Member Dan Garodnick, who admitted that there’s still plenty of work to be done in making buses more reliable.

Similar countdown displays are already in place in local routes where Select Bus Service is offered, like the M23, although other SBS routes, including the M15, will be getting new countdown clocks in stops that don’t have them already.

The announcement was made last Tuesday at a bus stop at 68th Street and Lexington, which is one of four where a new countdown clock has already been installed. The other three are in midtown and the other 44 will be installed by the end of the year.

Garodnick, who was joined by Manhattan Borough Department of Transportation Commissioner Luis Sanchez and John Raskin of the Riders Alliance, discussed how unlike other methods of mass transit, bus usage is actually on the decline.

While noting that it’s sometimes the only option for the mobility impaired or New Yorkers who don’t live close to a subway, the speed or rather lack of it at which buses travel, has made above ground mass transit too slow and unreliable for a growing number of people.

“Bus service has declined by 16 percent in the last decade,” said Raskin. “People are voting with their MetroCards. People are starting to abandon the bus.”

Garodnick gave the bus stopping on that block, the M66, as an example of why.

“It’s the 17th busiest out of 40 routes, but it moves at 4.1 miles per hour,” he said. “I can jog backwards carrying my six-year-old son faster than the M66 goes to the West Side.”

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Hoylman wants audit of MTA over ‘dismal’ bus service in district

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Following a report that showed the buses in his district were the slowest in the city, State Senator Brad Hoylman has called for an audit into the MTA’s bus service and wait times.

Hoylman made the request via a letter to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Monday, calling the local bus service “dismal.” His district, the 27th, includes Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, the East Village, midtown, East Midtown, Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, Columbus Circle and the Upper West Side.

“Here in my own district, we’ve nicknamed some of the buses across town: The Turtle, The Sloth and The Slug,” said Hoylman, of the M42, the M50 and the M23, respectively.

One of those buses, the M23, is a two-time recipient of the Straphangers Campaign’s infamous Pokey award, which is given to the slowest route in the city.

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14th St. SBS route planned ahead of L shutdown

The MTA and the city are working on plans to enhance bus and ferry service, including Select Bus Service for 14th Street. Meanwhile, work will soon begin on the Avenue A entrance of the First Avenue subway station just west of Avenue A. (Corner pictured here opposite Stuyvesant Town) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA has announced that preliminary street work on the new entrance for the L train at Avenue A and East 14th Street will begin this month. The new entrance is planned for the north and south sides of East 14th Street, just west of Avenue A.

Additionally, the MTA recently discussed plans for a new Select Bus Service (SBS) route along 14th Street to help make the looming L train shutdown less of a nightmare.

The plans for mitigation were discussed at the last Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting.

The shutdown, which is expected to begin in April 2019, will affect about 225,000 riders and cuts off train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan so the MTA can make repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The MTA is working on plans with the Department of Transportation for a series of buses, road improvements and ferries.

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MTA to reduce L train shutdown by three months

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA announced at the end of last week that the L train tunnel will likely be closed for 15 months instead of the originally-proposed 18 for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs and the shutdown will begin in April 2019 instead of that January.

Transportation blog Second Ave. Subway first noticed the changes to the plan in the board’s materials last Friday and MTA spokesperson Beth DeFalco confirmed via Twitter that the timeline had changed.

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Police Watch: Woman arrested after swallowing lit joint, Man arrested for unprovoked attack

WOMAN ARRESTED AFTER SWALLOWING LIT JOINT
Police arrested 24-year-old Ashley Balbuena for criminal tampering and possession of marijuana in front of 72 East 26th Street last Thursday at 11:10 p.m. Police said that Balbuena was smoking a joint on the sidewalk in public view and when an officer approached her and identified himself, Balbuena allegedly attempted to eat and swallow the lit joint. Police said that she was informed several times that she would be arrested if she swallowed the joint but she continued to do so. Balbuena was arrested and taken to Bellevue Hospital.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER UNPROVOKED ATTACK
Police arrested 22-year-old Thomas Blyden after he allegedly assaulted a passerby unprovoked at the corner of East 25th Street and First Avenue last Wednesday at 8:52 p.m. Police said that Blyden punched a man he didn’t know for no apparent reason. When police attempted to confront him, Blyden allegedly fled and when officers caught up with him, he allegedly tensed his body to prevent being handcuffed. Blyden was charged with assault and resisting arrest.

MAN NABBED FOR BURGLARY AT EPIPHANY
Thirty-year-old Tony Scott was arrested for burglary inside 239 East 21st Street last Wednesday at 7:50 p.m. Scott allegedly entered the commercial office inside the church and removed property without permission. Police said that Scott did not have permission to be inside the office. No further information was available about what was taken.

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Police arrest subway groping suspect

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Groping suspect, identified as David Cruz

By Sabina Mollot

A homeless man was arrested Wednesday night for allegedly groping two women on the subway in Flatiron.

The man, identified as 33-year-old David Cruz, wore a Santa hat and rose colored glasses during the incidents, which both took place around the same time.

Cops say Cruz has a lengthy rap sheet with 17 arrests, running from minor crimes like turnstile hopping and petty larceny to more serious ones like assault, burglary, sale of marijuana and tampering with evidence.

On the evening of February 8, police said Cruz grabbed a 32-year-old woman’s butt as she waited on the platform at the 23rd Street R/W station. Then he allegedly hung around before doing the same thing to a 34-year-old woman on his way up the stairs to the street. The victims reported the incidents separately at later times.

Cruz has been charged with two counts of forcible touching.

Garodnick recommends Trump Tower police unit

Council Member Dan Garodnick

Council Member Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

Since the presidential election, traffic in the midtown streets surrounding Trump Tower has been consistently snarled, with local stores reporting a yuuuuge amount of lost business as a result.

While it did help that shortly before the New Year, the block of 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues was once again opened to traffic, the area still feels somewhat militarized. The reopening had been pushed by City Council Member Dan Garodnick, whose district includes Trump Tower, and this week, Garodnick spoke with Town & Village about how the neighborhood has been inconvenienced since Donald Trump was elected president.

“It’s an ongoing headache that gets worse when he’s around and we hope he does not choose to use Trump Tower as a pied-a-terre,” said Garodnick.

Incidentally, First Lady Melania Trump has recently reiterated plans to remain at Trump Tower with her son Barron until the school semester ends before moving to the White House.

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Opinion: A New Year’s resolution to build the full Second Avenue Subway

By Keith Powers

Starting on January 1, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to ride the brand new Second Avenue Subway – a project over one hundred years in the making and once considered out of reach. We still have a long road ahead of us, but we have reached a major milestone and New Yorkers are right to celebrate. We should all make a New Year’s resolution to see this project through to the end and complete the entire Second Avenue Subway.

The new line is expected to carry 200,000 riders each day, easing congestion on the Lexington Avenue line, which carries over 1.3 million riders daily and is the most heavily trafficked subway line in the city. Easing congestion means faster running and less crowded trains. It means that we get to work faster and return home to our families sooner. Even better, it means that East Siders will feel more comfortable during their ride.

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Former city councilwoman: London buses better than SBS

Workers stand by a newly built bus stop for the M23, which now has Select Bus Service, at 23rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Workers stand by a newly built bus stop for the M23, which now has Select Bus Service, at 23rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Carol Greitzer, a former City Council member representing Peter Cooper Village, reached out to T&V this week to respond to the story, “Select Bus Services arrives along M23 route,” in T&V, November 10.
The article cited city data claiming SBS has sped up service on participating routes by 10-30 percent. Its launch on 23rd Street was cheered by local officials, who pointed out the M23 crosstown’s infamous pokiness.

However, in Greitzer’s view, the city came up short in its response, and would have done better if it had followed a fare payment system similar to one in London.

There, she noted, there are two ways to pay a fare, one with a pre-paid card called an “oyster,” bought ahead of time, while another option is paying with a credit card, as long as the card has a readable chip in it, and getting billed monthly.

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Select Bus Service arrives along M23 route

Workers stand by a newly built bus stop for the M23, which now has Select Bus Service, at 23rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Workers stand by a newly built bus stop for the M23, which now has Select Bus Service, at 23rd Street and Broadway. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After months of planning — and a canceled plan to remove a Stuyvesant Town bus stop — Select Bus Service has come to 23rd Street.

SBS buses have sped up service by 10-30 percent, according to the mayor who made the announcement via a press release on Monday. The news was cheered by local elected officials, who pointed out that the M23 has been one of the city’s slowest buses, even twice winning the annual Straphangers Campaign’s Pokey Award for the slowest route.

“My constituents agree: the M23 is one of the slowest bus routes in the city and it’s often faster to walk than take the bus,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.

State Senator Liz Krueger said the SBS couldn’t come at a more needed time: ahead of the dreaded L-pocalypse.

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Man fatally struck by L train at Union Square

Feb26 L Train

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A man was hit by a train and killed at the Union Square station on Wednesday afternoon, causing the MTA to suspend service along the L line from Eighth Avenue to Bedford Avenue just before the evening rush. The FDNY received a call at 4:03 p.m. and a spokesperson for the department said that the victim was dead by the time they arrived. The man was hit by a Brooklyn-bound train but service was suspended in both directions.

The investigation is ongoing but a spokesperson for the NYPD said preliminary information shows that the victim jumped onto the tracks. As of 5 p.m., trains were still not running between Manhattan and Brooklyn but service was restored by 5:20 p.m. with residual delays. Commuters were advised to use M14A and M14D local bus service as an alternative in Manhattan and the A, C, J and M for service into Brooklyn.

This is the second time in two days that a person has been struck by a train, although the man who jumped onto the tracks at the Fulton Street A/C station yesterday morning survived.

Man comes close to to hurling boy off 4 train

oct13-train-attacker

Police sketch of suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who who pulled an 11-year-old boy off a 4 train last Wednesday into the area between the cars where he then picked him and shook him as if he was going to throw him off the train.

The boy bumped his head on the side of the train while this was happening. At some point, a 26-year-old female passenger intervened, and managed to pull the victim back into the train car. The good samaritan and the boy got off the southbound train at Union Square while the suspect remained on the train. This happened at around 3:30 p.m.

According to a police officer, the incident began with play fighting that was going on aboard the train and it escalated to a point where the victim’s involvement or lack of it was enough motivation for the suspect to pull him outside. The victim and the suspect did not know each other beforehand and the woman didn’t know either of the individuals. There were also other passengers aboard the train car though it was unclear how many.

The suspect of the crime, which went from being classified as reckless endangerment to assault by police, is described as black, in his 30s and 6’0 tall. He was last seen wearing black sweater and a multi-colored baseball cap.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

MTA will conduct study on a traffic-free 14th Street during L train shutdown

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State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The MTA will be conducting a study on a plan to close 14th Street to traffic for the duration of the planned 18-month L train shutdown.

The feasibility study was announced by State Senator Brad Hoylman on Wednesday, who, along with quite a few other elected officials, had requested the study.

“More than 50,000 people cross Manhattan daily on the L train below 14th Street,” Hoylman said. “It’s crucial that we have a plan in place to accommodate these riders given the L train will be closed for 18 months starting in January, 2019.”

He added that the study includes a proposal for a dedicated bus lane and expanded cyclist and pedestrian access.

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