New York commuters’ ‘summer of hell’

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New York (CNN)New York’s commuter rail lines, subways and buses carry about 9 million riders daily. Six million of those souls cram in the metro system’s massive underground maze every day.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, besieged by complaints regarding faltering service and infrastructure problems, sounded the alarm on North America’s largest transport network on Thursday — announcing a state of crisis at the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).
As a portion of this disaster declaration, Cuomo committed $1 billion to the MTA capital plan during a speech at the MTA Genius Contest, which was organized to cultivate new ideas to fix the subways.
    “It’s definitely going to be like that movie ‘Planes,Trains & Automobiles’ and we are preparing for that which we call a ‘Summer of Hell,'” Cuomo said, speaking to the 1987 movie about a simple trip dwelling becoming a slapstick ordeal.
    The $1 billion will be along with agency’s $15 billion operating budget for the 6,000 subway cars and 5,700 buses the MTA uses now. The governor did not specify in which the funds would come from.
    Cuomo is supplying MTA leaders 30 days to think of a game plan, and they also have their work cut out for them with much more than 700 metro cars older than the usual 40-year expiration date.
    The MTA is run by the nation, not the city government, and critics say that the governor is a significant part of the problem.
    “The governor has quit ignoring the problem, which is an essential first step. He wants to produce a credible plan to fix the metro, and also to assemble the billions of dollars we will need to make it happen,” John Raskin, executive director of The Riders Alliance, said in a statement.
    The Riders Alliance is a grassroots group of New Yorkers who were advocating infrastructure improvements for several years. Raskin says that the public transportation system was a very low priority of this government and that’s why the city’s transit system is in decay.
    Here’s a sampling of recent throttle mayhem:

    Off the rails, then off to court

    A metro derailment at Harlem Tuesday morning injured 39 and brought the metro to a grinding halt for the afternoon.
    One injured motorist filed a $5 million lawsuit against MTA.
    “[I’d] passed for a moment,” said Sheena Tucker at a news conference at her lawyer’s office Thursday afternoon.
    She also stated that once she’d “vomited,” “choked” and had been “stepped on” at the scene of the derailment at a tunnel above 125th Street on Tuesday, her “side still hurts” and she’s “just in a great deal of pain” still, CNN affiliate WPIX 11 reported.
    Tucker’s lawsuit is sending a clear message to the MTA, according to her lawyer Sanford Rubenstein.
    “MTA — fix the trains,” Rubenstein, stated.

    Stranded underground

    If they’re not sliding off the tracks, subway cars — some with equipment almost 80 years old, in accordance with Gov. Cuomo — will probably discontinue without warning deep in the dark tunnels.
    In early June, a crowded subway train with a broken air conditioning system was stranded stopped in a tunnel at Lower Manhattan for nearly an hour, CNN-affiliate WABC reported. After eventually rolling up to a stage, some distressed riders attempted to claw their way from their cars gasping for air.
    It got so hot about the train a passenger managed to scrawl, “I will survive,” about the humidity-covered train doors.
    MTA government attributed the problem to force failure and started an investigation into the episode.

    Tunnel of misery

    The city subways aren’t alone in their own misery. Many train lines intersect at midtown Manhattan’s Penn Station, which each day manages about 600,000 commuters using the MTA, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit services.
    Those government subsidized transportation organizations are also facing the realities of failed transit systems. Amtrak, which runs a lot of Penn Station, newly announced emergency repairs of decaying tracks and train switches which will cut the number of running trains by about 20 percent during peak travel times.
    So when Amtrak struggles with, say, a power failure, it doesn’t just influence their own trains, but also those of New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad.
    On Thursday, LIRR commuters faced delays and cancellations all day after a train lost power at a tunnel to Penn Station due to Amtrak’s third-rail problem.
    A train with 500 people on board became stuck in the tunnel due to power issues on the electrified third rail, which is maintained by Amtrak. The LIRR stated on Twitter the passengers had been evacuated on a rescue train almost two hours afterwards.
    Seventeen trucks were canceled or rerouted, and trains traveling to Penn Station were delayed an average of 20 to 25 minutes as a result, CNN-affiliate WABC reported.
    One commuter at the Jamaica section of Queens was among those who believed the effects. She tweeted through her trek:
    “Dangerous insanity at Jamaica.”
    In New York, riders hotel to MTA buses when the underground transport fails them. However, the buses are not with their own troubles.
    A runaway MTA bus rolled backward three or more blocks and crashed into a church last Wednesday, leaving a man hospitalized and damaging many cars in its path in Brooklyn, CNN affiliate CBS reported.
    The MTA suspended the bus driver and started an investigation into the episode.

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    Government plans might be in order to start to fix the huge system, but for commuters is an issue of wait-and-see.
    “Subway riders are going to assess the government’s performance based on our day to day commute,” Raskin of The Riders Alliance told CNN.
    “It absolutely can get worse”

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