2018-05-23 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Still Blvd. Of Death

To The Editor:

My name is Judith Berman. I am 62, disabled and walk with a cane. I have a disease of my spine and I am mostly in pain. In the past 6 months two people close to me have been hit by cars as pedestrians crossing at the light. Both survived, but it has been life-changing. My friend was in a coma and his neck was broken. My father was hit in November a week before his 88th birthday. It has frightened all of us. In both cases the pedestrian was crossing with the light and the car was turning fast. I have spoken to NYPD traffic enforcement and I have spoken with DOT. Basically what I am told is that there are not enough police to be at every intersection or even to view cameras and videos for offenders. DOT claims that putting in bike lanes will help everyone—no it will not. I was told the NYPD traffic enforcement meets with DOT regularly to review where most of the accidents take place and that they prioritize their budget and attention to be directed to where most of the accidents occur.

Well my father was hit at Queens Blvd. and 71st Avenue in Forest Hills, November 15 during the day crossing Queens Blvd. and there were other accidents at that same intersection days apart from my father’s accident. But in the past 6 months nothing has been done and no improvements have been made, so there goes the theory and excuse that if there are enough accidents at an intersection something is done. It isn’t the case.

By the way, bike lanes are not improving anything. It is making it harder for pedestrians because it used to be that when you cross Queens Blvd. you only had to look in the direction the traffic was coming from, now you have to look in every direction because the bicycles come in both directions and do not adhere to the lights or the rules. They go through lights all the time.

I heard there are plans to put trees down Queens Blvd. What is needed are more lights and cameras. Lights that give pedestrians a chance to cross before giving turn signals to cars waiting to turn. The mayor wants Amber Alerts for any driver who leaves scene of accident after hitting a pedestrian, so you need cameras, otherwise you have no means to track down the offenders.

My friend was hit by a car on May 1 at Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. He was crossing at the light, just as my father was crossing at the light. This is a 77-year-old man who has been very active and has done many fundraising walks for all the charitable causes. Now he has just emerged from a coma with all the bones in his neck shattered, and he is in an adult care facility. I wonder if his accident will be enough to justify a change at the intersection at which he was hit or whether there needs to be more accidents before it can get the attention of NYPD traffic enforcement and DOT?

I live at 108th Street in Forest Hills and I have had close calls all along 108th Street and Yellowstone Blvd. and by Queens Blvd. I see cars and bikes going through the light every day, at various intersections, and they turn fast and also block the cross walk. I don’t want to be a statistic. The technology exists to make every light a three-way light and have each traffic light also include a camera to record when a car or bike is going through a red light. This needs to be a priority, because the quality of my life and that of all I know, as well as our safety, are at stake.

Judith Berman
Forest Hills

He Is A Pearl

To The Editor:

I am extremely proud of Rabbi Pearl and read with such elation the letter to the editor from Astoria Center of Israel of the event to honor of Rabbi Pearl upon his 10th anniversary as rabbi. As a member of ACI and after having Rabbi Pearl touch my life personally, I certainly am proud and honored to know such a special and rare individual. In 2011 after my twin brother's passing suddenly Rabbi Pearl rose to the occasion and touched my heart with his kindness, empathy, compassion, and caring. With his resourcefulness and acumen as a pastoral counselor and understanding of my special needs as a totally blind person, he created a new life for me, mended my broken heart and sorrow and grief and was instrumental in my moving here to Brandywine in Little Neck on June 5, 2012.

His deep interest in me continues and I consider him a messenger from God.

In addition he created a Hebrew school, Tot Shabat Junior Congregation, adult education classes, and above all, he has disabled people involved in all facets of his congregation. He enabled me to be a graduate of his two-year bat mitzvah class and I read Torah portions and haftorah portions in Hebrew Braille and he opens minds and hearts concerning my blindness and eliminates prejudice and ignorance.

His family is talented as his two sons play musical instruments, his wife Judith is in charge of special events and sings as well as his daughter, and all are loving, friendly, and caring people who have a vision and mission to have Astoria Center as the centerpiece of Jewish life.

Your publication of the letter to the editor was indeed wonderful, so that Jewish people in all areas can worship with us.

Our journal is the biggest fundraiser of the year and the funds are needed so that our building that is 92 years of age can be repaired.

Thanks, Gazette, for enlightening the community by publishing the article about my beloved Astoria Center of Israel and I go there every week, traveling a total of about 28 miles round trip from Little Neck. And yes, the Pearl family are our pearls of wisdom, pearls of caring, pearls and gems of lovely people who weave a tapestry of religious spirituality kindness and love.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

God Bless Our Soldiers

To The Editor:

As the country prepares to celebrate Memorial Day, let us also be thankful for all of the men and women in our armed services who continue to risk their lives each and every day to protect the freedoms that we have. From the Revolutionary War through the Gulf War, thousands have risked and sacrificed their lives to fight for freedom and justice. As we gather for family barbecues and other activities on this Memorial Day, let us give thanks to all of these brave men and women past, present and future for the jobs that they have done, are doing, and will continue to do. They are the true heroes and heroines of this great country of ours, and as Americans we should be most appreciative of their hard work and dedication. God bless all of them, and God bless America!

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Costs Not Addressed

To The Editor:

NYC Transit President Andy Byford’s “Bus Action Plan” lacks critical details. What is the total cost of Byford’s action plan? What are his sources of funding? Will he be reprogramming existing funding within the current $32 billion MTA 2015 - 2019 Five Year Capital Plan? Will he be asking both Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio for additional funding to be amended into the current Five Year Capital Plan? Will he be seeking a significant portion of funding out of the next MTA 2020 - 2024 Capital Plan? Is he looking for 100 percent local or a portion of funding to come from current or future formula or discretionary Federal Transit Administration funding?

How will the MTA NYC Transit’s previously awarded contracts for $200 million to purchase and install a new bus radio system, along with $150 million for purchase and installation of a new East New York Brooklyn Bus Command Center, fit into his Bus Action Plan? They will support operations of over 6,000 NYC Transit and 1,300 MTA Buses providing service in all five boroughs. Once in use, they will help in proper dispatching and monitoring of service, which will avoid bus bunching. Transit signal improvements affording buses priority movement on streets will save riders time.

There are other issues to contend with in his proposal to introduce boarding in both the front and back of all buses. While riders are encouraged to exit in the rear, many depart via both the front and back doors. Conflicts will arise between riders attempting to board via both front and back door versus those wanting to exit. How many times have you been delayed by riders who fumble around trying to find their Metro Card, attempt to use a Metro Card with insufficient fare or look for the right amount of change resulting in more delays before the bus can depart the stop?

Just how efficient will double decker express buses really be? With one narrow staircase connecting the lower and upper level seats, how long will it take for all new riders to safely board and take their seats before the driver can leave a stop? How long will it take for riders exiting from the upper deck down the same narrow staircase to safely exit the bus before the driver can leave a stop? What modifications will be needed to NYCT bus garages to accommodate these taller buses when it comes to navigating bus washers, maintenance bays, pits or lifts along with indoor storage? What will the cost of any bus garage or bus garage equipment modifications to accommodate double-decker buses?

In 2017, the MTA awarded a $573 million contract to Cubic Transportation Systems to replace the Metro Card. New fare collection technology is anticipated to be coming on line between 2019 and 2023 to assist in speeding up passenger boarding. Will this contract require a change order for purchasing equipment to be installed in the rear of buses? If so, what is the cost and source of funding?

To this day, there has been no restructuring of routes between NYC Transit and MTA Bus to promote more efficient service. Most routes run along corridors in communities, whose development took place decades ago. Service follows demand and neighborhood density. Other lines feed customers from two-fare zones to the closest subway station. Millions have already been spent over decades looking into potential restructuring of existing and potential new services. There is little opportunity for creation of new or modifications to existing routes. Increasing frequency of off-peak service has already taken place on some routes. It costs both NYC Transit and MTA Bus $215 per hour to operate, maintain, fuel and clean each bus. How does President Byford propose finding NYC Transit and MTA Bus the additional millions in operating funding necessary to finance increasing off-peak bus service?

President Byford failed to comment on any potential operational savings and service improvements by consolidation of duplicative or overlapping routes between the fleets of NYC Transit Bus (6,000) and MTA Bus (1,300). This has never taken place. Is he even aware that MTA Bus is made up of the old NYC DOT private operator franchised Liberty Lines Bronx Express, New York Bus Service, Green Bus Lines, Jamaica Buses, Triboro Coach Corporation and Command Bus companies. Management of their equipment and garages were assumed by the newly created MTA Bus Company in 2005. The same was true for reducing deadheading costs by reassigning bus routes between MTA Bus and NYC Transit Bus to closer garages for reduction of operating costs. Work rules and contracts between different labor unions representing employees at NYC Transit Bus and MTA Bus continue preventing any changes to the status quo.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

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