The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announces initial actions of Bike, Pedestrian and Micromobility Action Plan. Also, newly proposed changes to TriMet Code would "strengthen the agency’s ability to help keep riders and employees safe"; and Metrolink celebrates its 30th anniversary.
MTA officials on Oct. 26 announced a series of initial actions being undertaken through its landmark Bike, Pedestrian, and Micromobility Strategic Action Plan, which include capital projects enhancing bike and pedestrian access to MTA bridges, additional bike parking infrastructure at subway stations throughout the system, and the initial commuter rail stations to pilot improved car-free connectivity to local communities.
The Strategic Action Plan, first announced in May, “will outline how pedestrians, cyclists, and micromobility users can better access MTA facilities and services in collaboration with local governments, advocacy groups, and stakeholders,” MTA said.
Below are summaries of the capital projects announced through the Strategic Action Plan.
Two MTA Bridges to Receive Widened and Improved Shared-Use Paths
The MTA Board today approved the award of a capital project recommended by the Strategic Action Plan to improve cycling and ADA access on the Cross Bay Bridge.
With this project, the MTA says it will renovate the south approach of the bridge’s shared-use path with an ADA-compliant ramp. This capital project is funded in the 2020-2024 Capital Plan and the construction contract will be awarded by the end of 2022. In addition, effective this month the MTA is allowing for cycling across the bridge’s main span through a temporary shared use path where the width safely allows. Cyclists must continue to dismount at the south side until the completion of the new ADA compliant ramp.
In addition, on the Henry Hudson Bridge, the MTA will widen the existing lower-level walkway so that it is suitable for shared-use and will construct ADA-compliant ramps on both the north and south approaches to this shared use path. This project is funded in the 2020-2024 Capital Plan and the construction contract will be awarded in 2023. Upon completion of the project in 2025, the ban on cycling across the Henry Hudson Bridge will be lifted.
Investment in Biking to Transit, Including Bike Parking at 37 MTA Priority Locations
In collaboration with the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), bike parking infrastructure will be installed at 37 subway stations that currently lack bike racks within 100 feet of station entrances. The MTA says it provided NYCDOT with this priority list to “help focus the DOT’s ongoing efforts to add bike parking at important transit hubs and stations.” The list includes details on suitable locations for bike racks, focusing on outer borough stations near end-of-line areas. The installation of bike parking at these stations will “help fill gaps in bike connectivity to transit and reach the authority’s goal of bike parking at 100% of subway stations,” MTA said. MTA and DOT will continue this collaboration by exploring opportunities to grow the bicycle network and provide secure covered bike parking near transit.
A full list of stations can be found here.
Piloting Car-Free Connectivity to Commuter Rail Stations
The MTA’s First-Mile/Last-Mile study, commenced earlier this year, has focused on analyzing existing station access and targeting gaps in walking, biking, rideshare and transit with strategies to improve customer access to stations in the agency’s suburban Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) territories. As commuter railroad ridership continues to surge after Labor Day, improving access to rail stations “will help grow ridership and increase connectivity,” MTA says. According to the MTA, the agency developed a First-mile/Last-mile Toolkit for its county and municipal stakeholders to “assess their local stations and design pilot programs to improve connectivity.” Ten interested communities across the MTA’s commuter rail territory have been selected for pilot projects as part of this study. MTA says its consultant on this study, VHB, will complete station assessment and design of the 10 Pilots, using the FMLM Toolkit, by the end of December 2022, and MTA will continue to coordinate with local stakeholders on their implementation plans.
The stations participating in the pilot are:
- Riverhead Station in the Town of Riverhead.
- Port Jervis Station in the City of Port Jervis.
- Nanuet Station in the Town of Clarkstown.
- Tarrytown Station in the Village of Tarrytown.
- Scarsdale Station in the Village of Scarsdale.
- Fleetwood, Mount Vernon West and Mount Vernon East Stations in the City of Mount Vernon.
- Hempstead Station in the Village of Hempstead.
- Poughkeepsie Station in the City of Poughkeepsie.
- Floral Park and Bellerose Stations in the Village of Floral Park.
- Valley Stream Station in the Village of Valley Stream.
Multi-Modal Trip Planning Function Coming to MyMTA App
To “further encourage connectivity to MTA services,” MTA says it was awarded a NYSERDA grant to develop a multi-modal trip planning function within the MyMTA App. This function will be rolled out beginning in 2023.
Process and Next Steps
According to the MTA, the final Bike, Pedestrian, and Micromobility Strategic Action Plan, which will build on the initial actions announced Oct. 26, will be released by the end of 2022 and address how the MTA can improve access to its services and facilities for bikes, pedestrians and micromobility services.
The plan, MTA says, will help to support the growth of sustainable transportation modes, and boost transit ridership by increasing access points to the MTA’s services and facilities.
“We are working with local governments and other agencies in our service area, such as NYC DOT, to develop this plan,” MTA said. “We are also soliciting input from other partners, including our customers, advocacy groups, and bike share and micromobility companies.”
“Increasing access and connections to MTA services is one of my top goals,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Today’s announcement represents the first steps in a comprehensive strategy to provide more car-free access to transit across the New York region. As MTA ridership continues to rise, the actions we unveiled today will upgrade connections to transit for cyclists, pedestrians and micromobility users, and bring more riders back to the MTA’s subways, buses and commuter railroads.”
TriMet has announced that newly proposed changes to TriMet Code—the rules for operating and riding TriMet—would “strengthen TriMet’s ability to help keep riders and employees safe.”
Brought before TriMet’s Board of Directors on Oct. 26 for its first reading and public hearing, Ordinance 369 would “amend the Code to authorize the General Manager to impose stiffer penalties for prohibited conduct on the transit system.” The ordinance, TriMet says, “addresses behavior-based conduct only, and does not change penalties for fare evasion.”
The amendments to TriMet Code would “expand the types of offenses that could result in long-term exclusions, those that stretch from six months to a lifetime ban,” the transit system says. While felonies already fall under the scope of TriMet’ current long-term exclusion policy, Ordinance 369 would “also permit those types of exclusions for attempted felonies and Class A misdemeanors—the most serious category, which includes fourth-degree assault and some bias crimes.”
According to TriMet, the new ordinance, which is being proposed eight months after the TriMet Board approved a change to the Code that increased penalties for spitting on operators, is part of a larger effort “to make it safer to work on and ride the transit system, while addressing nuisance issues to improve the customer experience.”
“With the challenges happening in the community today, issues such as vandalism, crime, drug use and mental health are at a tipping point and, at times, spill over onto the transit system, despite agency efforts,” said TriMet COO Bonnie Todd. “TriMet is working on a strategy to better address inappropriate behavior on the system, better support our operators and other employees, improve the cleanliness of our vehicles and property, and pursue coordinated efforts with external partners to address social issues and ensure safe access to transit.”
Part of the strategy, TriMet says, involves increases in security presence on the transit system. In the past four months, the agency says it has doubled the number of Customer Safety Supervisors—TriMet employees who assist riders and operators while enforcing the Code—from 18 to 37.
“In the same timeframe, we’ve increased the number of contracted transit security officers from 60 to 96, with hopes to grow that to more than 100 by the end of the year,” TriMet said. “We’ve also doubled our contracted Safety Response Team to 48 members. Safety Response Team members help people on and around our system, specifically those who are struggling with homelessness or are in need of other social services. TriMet employees and our contracted security staff are all unarmed and are separate from our Transit Police Division,” the agency added.
According to the agency, Ordinance 369 would make three principal changes to TriMet’s Code, focusing on individuals who commit serious physical offenses and repeatedly violate TriMet’s Code relating to conduct.
1: The most serious misdemeanors would be covered under TriMet’s definition of “serious physical offense.”
People committing Class A misdemeanors against others, along with attempted felonies, would be eligible for long-term exclusions. In addition to assault and bias crimes in the second degree, Class A misdemeanors include public indecency, possession of a hoax destructive device, and harassment that includes offensive sexual contact.
2: Remove distinctions between first and second offenses.
Because most, if not all, of the actions that would trigger a long-term exclusion are physical and serious, TriMet says, Ordinance 369 would “simplify” the Code by removing the distinction between first and second offenses. The General Manager would have discretion on whether a year-long exclusion, or even a permanent ban, was warranted after the first offense, depending on the severity of the crime. Since TriMet instituted long-term exclusions more than five years ago, only one person has ever been permanently excluded. Anyone who receives a long-term exclusion does have the right to appeal it annually.
3: Further address chronic offenders.
Chronic offenders who have repeatedly committed Code violations for behavior, whether they were Class A misdemeanors or not, and have not changed their behavior despite multiple attempts by TriMet to dissuade such conduct, would also be eligible for long-term exclusions of up to two years. The ordinance defines a chronic offender as a person with three or more violations for conduct within a 90-day period.
This change, TriMet says, is specific to behavior and not simple fare evasion. Rather, this would address behavior that disrupts the safety and order of the transit system.
According to TriMet, any person issued a long-term exclusion can seek a later review of that exclusion to show changed behavior. A second reading of Ordinance 369, followed by a Board vote, will occur at the Board’s Dec. 14 meeting.
Metrolink on Oct. 26 celebrated its 30th anniversary in Southern California by gifting afternoon and evening travelers boarding trains at Los Angeles Union Station with commemorative pins and memorabilia from events over the years.
The agency also introduced a new, more modern logo that “reflects its function as a vital transportation link for the region’s 70 million residents and 50 million annual visitors who ride the train to work, school and leisure destinations.” In 2028, when Los Angeles hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Metrolink says it will “play a major role in getting attendees to and from events taking place throughout the Southern California region.”
“We are grateful every day for our riders, yet today, as we mark Metrolink’s first rail trip 30 years ago, it’s especially important that we show our gratitude to customers for their continued support,” said Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle. “And as we address the changing needs of our riders, our communities and the planet, it was time to refresh our logo and put a sharper focus on how Metrolink connects riders to the people and places that matter to them most.”
“Making real connections, improving people’s lives, protecting the environment, and enriching communities is what drives Metrolink,” the agency said. With 547 route miles connecting Southern California and an average trip length of 37 miles, Metrolink service provides “a more relaxing, productive, cost-effective and faster alternative to freeway travel. The positive impact on riders’ well-being and the planet are ‘added perks’ for Metrolink customers,” the agency added.
Additionally, Metrolink is offering a 30% discount through the end of 2022 on its monthly pass in honor of its 30th Anniversary. More information can be found here. “Metrolink’s everyday discounted fares ensure access to affordable transit for everyone, including students, children, the disabled, seniors, low-income and active military,” the agency said.