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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L train will close for 18 months in Manhattan in 2019, MTA says

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA announced this morning that the L train will be completely shut down between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 18 months beginning in January, 2019.

According to social media, email surveys and testimony from public meetings, 77 percent of respondents were in favor of the 18-month full shutdown, the MTA said.

The 11 community boards in the affected areas along the L, which hosted meetings about the two options prior to the decision, were also more in favor of a full closure than of a partial shutdown. In the joint meeting hosted by Community Boards 3 and 6 at the end of last month, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney expressed her strong support of the full closure, basing her decision on a number of meetings with the community that she had attended previously.

“During this process, it quickly became clear to many in affected communities that a shorter, full closure will be less painful than a longer period with minimal service, as long as there are broad and varied alternative ways to get to work while the line is closed,” Maloney said following the announcement. “I’ve argued that most people will accept full closure, as long as it takes them no more than 20 extra minutes to reach their destinations, and I look forward to working with the MTA to make sure this happens.”

The New York Times first reported the news on Monday morning, noting that officials hope to finish the repairs, made necessary because of damage from Hurricane Sandy, as quickly as possible to limit the impact on riders.

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Man punched after taking photo of suspect on L train

L train suspect

L train suspect

Cops are looking for a man who repeatedly punched another straphanger in the face while they were on an L train approaching First Avenue.

It was on Friday, June 3 at 1 p.m. when a 49-year-old man got into an argument with the suspect on the southbound train. When the first man snapped a photo of the other on his phone, the suspect tried to grab the phone. He also then punched the phone’s owner in the face and head several times, police said. At First Avenue, the victim was able to get out of the train and was treated and released at the scene.

His attacker is described as Hispanic, approximately in his 20s, 5’10” tall and wearing a black hat with lettering on top, headphones and a dark hooded sweater.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident, which has been classified as a robbery, 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 CrimeStoppers or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

MTA says Stuy Town M23 bus stop won’t be removed

The MTA is planning  an SBS route for the M23, but had initially planned to scrap a stop on East 20th Street to help speed it up. (Photo courtesy of the MTA)

The MTA is planning an SBS route for the M23, but had initially planned to scrap a stop on East 20th Street to help speed it up. (Photo courtesy of the MTA)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA will not be removing the M23 bus stop at the 20th Street Loop when Select Bus Service is implemented on the route, following the plan being blasted as being a hardship to elderly and disabled riders.

The agency’s decision was announced on Monday by City Councilmember Dan Garodnick at a Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting.

MTA President Veronique Hakim had informed Garodnick of the agency’s decision earlier that day, noting in a letter that the MTA had decided to keep the stop based on his input and input from Community Board 6.

Hakim noted in the letter that the agency had also taken a suggestion of the councilmember into consideration and as a result, will be moving the 20th Street Loop stop slightly east to “improve access and spacing for our customers, and to improve overall operational performance.” This change means that the westbound stop, which is between First Avenue and Avenue C, will be moved about 150 feet to the east.

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MTA explores options at meeting on L train repairs and shutdown

A public meeting on the planned L line repairs and accompanying shutdowns was held last Thursday at the Salvation Army Theatre.

A public meeting on the planned L line repairs and accompanying shutdowns was held last Thursday at the Salvation Army Theatre. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

L train riders got the chance to voice their opinions on the impending closure of the line during a meeting hosted by the MTA last Thursday, with straphangers divided on what would be less disruptive, a full closure or a partial one that takes twice as long while the agency conducts repairs.

Donna Evans, chief of staff for the MTA, said at the beginning of the meeting at the Salvation Army Theatre that there were two important facts to consider about the repairs: the tracks must be closed whether one at a time or together, and regardless of which plan is chosen, the closure won’t take place until 2019.

A two-track closure would be the shorter option at 18 months, but there would be no service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue with this plan. The MTA said that train service would be fairly regular in Brooklyn with trains running between Bedford Avenue and Rockaway Parkway every eight minutes.

During a three-year closure, the MTA said that service through the tunnel wouldn’t be frequent or reliable but in Brooklyn, service would be near normal with trains running every eight minutes. The MTA would be running extra trains on the G, J and M to supplement service in Brooklyn and the B39 over the bridge would provide an alternative for service into Manhattan. The L train would operate a shuttle between Eighth Avenue and Bedford Avenue at a 12 to 15-minute frequency and would not stop at Third Avenue. There would also be no service between Bedford Avenue and Lorimer Street, but service would operate between Lorimer Street and Rockaway Parkway.

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CB6 urges city not to eliminate M23 stop

Request a condition for support of M23 SBS plan

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Transportation Committee for Community Board 6 voted for a resolution in support of the Department of Transportation and NYC Transit’s plan for select bus service along the M23 route, but only on the condition that the proposal reconsider the elimination of bus stops near Peter Cooper Village along the route.

The DOT and NYCT presented the plan to the committee at last month’s meeting and one part of the proposal included consolidating the East 20th Street stops at First Avenue and the East 20th Street Loop on the westbound side of the route. The plan would relocate the First Avenue stop closer to the existing Loop stop, to a location between the two but closer to First Avenue.

The proposal argued that the distance between the two stops is short, even for local bus spacing, and the stop at First Avenue would need to be lengthened anyway to install the fare payment machines for Select Bus Service, so consolidating the stops would potentially decrease travel times along the route.

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