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The Day | What’s in a Nog?

EAST VILLAGE mural (colors)2Gloria Chung

Good morning, East Village.

In yet another reminder that the clean-up work after Sandy continues, the East Village is set to regain its R train connection with Brooklyn before the holidays. Spare a thought too for the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. After long struggles to renovate the fabric of its old building, its heating system was taken out by the hurricane. It plans to hold a fund raiser at Joe’s Pub on Thursday evening.

The SantaCon backlash just gets worse. Meanwhile, EV Grieve continues to compile a list of impending business closures, including the distinctive (and large) Bargain Express on the south side of East 14th Street, and Whole Earth Bakery on St Mark’s Place.

Finally, to prompt a holiday mood, here’s the Village Voice’s veteran food critic Robert Sietsema on the history of that strange, sweet, sticky stuff, eggnog.

More L Train Service Starts Sunday


Trips towards Williamsburg will soon be a little less cramped. In two days the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will add seven round-trip trains on Sundays, 16 peak and off-peak round-trip trains on weekdays, and 11 round-trip trains on Saturdays, according to State Senator Daniel Squadron. It was Mr. Squadron who pressed for the increased service last year following the release of a study that found a “meteoric” increase in ridership along the L. He’ll officially commemorate the new L trains on Monday at the Bedford Avenue stop.

Transit Worker Plunges Down Shaft Near IHOP

IMG_3114Stephen Rex Brown

A transit worker fell about 15 feet in a subway ventilation shaft beneath a grate on East 14th Street Friday morning, the Fire Department said. He was not seriously injured.

Stephen Rex Brown

The worker, in his 60s, was on the ladder built into the shaft beneath the grate in front of the IHOP restaurant at 237 E. 14th Street, near the Third Avenue stop on the L around 10:35 a.m., the authorities said. He was inspecting the grate when he fell from the ladder, said Charles Seaton, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The man, whose name was not immediately released, sustained minor neck and back injuries and was being treated at Bellevue Hospital Center.

MTA Will Add More L Trains on Weekends

LMetroHallelujahPhoto illustration: Lauren Carol Smith

State Senator Daniel Squadron has announced that the Metropolitan Transit Authority will increase the number of trains running on the L line around June of next year. Mr. Squadron said that the authority had analyzed data and found a “meteoric” increase in ridership on the line. “Weekend ridership on the L train has increased by 141 percent since 1998, while service has only increased by 58 percent on Saturdays and 52 percent on Sundays,” Mr. Squadron said in a press release. Unfortunately, straphangers on the F train aren’t so lucky. The M.T.A. studied the line and determined that an increase in F trains on the weekend is not currently feasible, according to the release. City Room has more on the story.

Bleecker Businesses Say Subway Construction is a Summer Bummer

IMG_0375Marit Molin Sherwin Zabala stands in front of the construction that he says is hurting his Downtown Floor Supplies store on Lafayette Street.

Three business owners at the corner of Lafayette and Bleecker Streets say that construction on a new subway passage is warding off customers, leading to their revenue plummeting by as much as 50 percent. Workers for the Metropolitan Transit Authority have been busy since 2009, building a passageway between the uptown 6 train at Bleecker Street and the Broadway-Lafayette station. Unfortunately for the businesses at the entrance to the downtown 6 train, the latest phase of work, which according to an M.T.A. spokesman started four weeks ago, requires a construction zone that occupies parking spaces in the area and forms a barrier in front of the three store entrances. Read more…

Plan Would Add More M15 Stops

Earlier this year, we told you about the frustrations some M15 riders share regarding local bus service. In response to rider complaints, Community Board 3 tonight voted to file a joint resolution requesting that New York City Transit and the Department of Transportation consider relocating Select Bus Service stops so they are adjacent to or combined with local stops. Board members hope that riders will have quick and easy access to both local and Select Bus Service.
Chelsia Rose Marcius

Booted Off the Watchtower

James MetalarcKenan Christiansen James Metalarc, 37, taking down equipment after playing a set at Astor Place Station. The popular street musician is considering quitting because of regulations that prevent him from playing.

Last month, The Local brought you the story of James Metalarc, a street musician who plays Jimi Hendrix tunes at the Astor Place subway station.

On Thursday, Mr. Metalarc, who is also known as Jamal Butler, contacted the blog to report his growing frustrations over MTA regulations which allow police to drive him out of the subway. He added that he was thinking about quitting.

“What I do, I do for a living,” Mr. Metalarc said in a telephone interview. “I’m not hurting anybody.”

His problems arise from the type of music he plays. The MTA’s “Rules of Conduct” do not allow musicians using sound amplifiers to perform on subway platforms, citing that the noise level can interfere with subway operations. Even in the designated performance mezzanines, amplifiers must be kept below the 85-decibel limit.

“I don’t see how that is fair,” Mr. Metalarc said. “I’ve seen a guy down there banging on a full drum set. He can’t control how loud he is, but at least my amp has a volume control.”
Read more…

Riders Question Number Of M15 Stops

M15 Select at 1st AveLaura Kuhn Some riders who use the M15 bus line wonder if more stops in the East Village should be added to the route. Currently, the bus makes two stops either way in the East Village, one at Houston Street and the other at 14th Street.

One recent evening, Tanya Garrett stood at the corner of 14th Street and Second Avenue counting with frustration the number of M15 select service buses that blew past her as she waited for a local.

“I probably missed the last local bus and now I’m going to wait here forever,” Ms. Garrett said Wednesday as she watched another select bus approach, its blue lights flashing.

“They have a million of those select buses going by,” Ms. Garrett said. “It’s uncalled for.”

Since its launch in October, the M15 select bus service – which runs express routes along First and Second Avenues – has promised riders faster commutes by featuring fewer stops, designated bus-only lanes and a pay-before-boarding system that requires users to purchase tickets prior to getting on at street machines.

But for some customers like Ms. Garrett, who lives four blocks away from the nearest select bus stop, the new service has only made the ride home more difficult.

“The select doesn’t stop at my stop,” she said. “I’m stuck with the local. They need to have more locals running. They don’t need all those select buses. They come back to back and you have to stand here and wait for a local forever.”
Read more…

The Day | Bus Lanes And Bike Lanes

auburn curlsMichelle Rick

Good morning, East Village.

There’s been a lot of activity in recent days around the subject of transportation and pedestrian safety in the neighborhood and we begin this morning by taking a closer look at some of the recent coverage. DNAinfo has an informative post about five surveillance cameras that have been installed along the M15 bus route on First and Second Avenues.

The cameras will be used to help enforce a ban against vehicles riding in the lanes (exceptions are made for right turns and picking up or dropping off passengers) and drivers are subject to a fine between $115 and $150. Bowery Boogie posted a photo of a group cyclists towing rolling billboards to publicize the violations.

The benefits and drawbacks of bike lanes, a source of much debate in the neighborhood, is the subject of a piece in The Times. And over at City Room, they want to hear from readers – few New Yorkers are as well-versed in this issue as we are here in the neighborhood so go ahead and weigh in.

Examining M15 Bus Line Changes

Amid news that the MTA is working to improve efficiency on the M15 bus line, The Local East Village offers a special report on recent changes to the route. In the video above, NYU Journalism’s Alexandra DiPalma asks riders who use the service for their assessment of the changes. Bill Millard, a community contributor who frequently writes about transportation issues, offers an analysis below of whether the new system is achieving its goals.

Select Bus Service isn’t quite bus service as New Yorkers know it; it’s more a cross between buses and light rail. Like every transit innovation, it takes some getting used to. Adjusting to it boils down to three ideas: treat it like a train, stay out of the lane, and don’t expect miracles overnight.
Read more…

Plan Aims To Improve M15 Bus Service

M15 Select at 1st AveLaura Kuhn After major changes last month along the M15 bus route, MTA officials are putting new measures in place this week to improve efficiency along the line.

Last week, the MTA entered the second phase of service changes to the M15 select bus line. The move came about two weeks after changes to the First and Second Avenue express line that require riders to purchase their tickets before climbing aboard.

At first, reactions to the changes ranged from skepticism to downright anger but now the MTA is making adjustments that it believes will improve service. “Initially there was definitely confusion,” said Kevin Ortiz, spokesman for the MTA. “But we’ve had personnel to show riders how to use the machines.”

This week the MTA shifts its focus from educating riders about the new line to improving its efficiency. While cutting the number of employees helping riders at individual stations, the MTA has added three buses to its fleet of about 40 on the line. Additionally it installed an undisclosed number of cameras that will issue traffic tickets through the mail to cars and other vehicles parked in the bus-only lanes along First and Second Avenues.
Read more…

New Bus Service Hits A Few Bumps

M15Laura Kuhn Isaac Lankin prepares to board the new M15 Select Service. Some riders have complained about the new payment system.

The M15 bus line that runs up First Avenue and down Second Avenue started its Select Service on Sunday with much fanfare from the MTA and an equal degree of anticipation from customers.

But if the early days of the new service are any indication, the new system is a long way from offering the easy use that transit officials predicted.

With the new service, riders now pay fares – using coins or a Metrocard – at street machines. Instead of swiping Metrocards while boarding the bus, riders present receipts to the driver.

The idea is to save time not only by pre-collecting the fares but also by making fewer stops (only two each way in the East Village) and using an express lane.

But the system has already hit a few bumps. Despite the intermittent presence of MTA officials on the street, some riders were having trouble using the machines.

On Sunday, one man, who declined to give his name, had to insert his payment into the machines three times before receiving his receipt, only to realize the bus had left without him at 14th and Second. He stood muttering on the sidewalk while the bus heaved down the street without him.

Other riders were furious about confusing rules regarding transfers. Some worried about stops that had apparently been moved (“They changed my stop,” said one rider, Gwen Trombley, as she stood at First Avenue and 14th Street Tuesday afternoon. “I was waiting at Houston and the stop moved up to Second.”)

And already some riders were trying to figure out a way to manipulate the receipt process, which largely relies on an honor system (as one rider, Syd Lazarus, put it, “This is New York”).

Despite the $150 fine for fare jumpers, riders noted that it would be easy not to pay, especially because they can also enter at the back of the bus. “You just show your receipt,” said another rider, Isaac Lankin, as he waited for the local line at a stop on 14th Street and Second Avenue. “You could keep it for a week.”

Regardless of the complaints, some riders saw parallels between the learning curve for the new system and another new process implemented by the MTA not long ago. “It’s exactly like the Metrocard,” said rider David Lukomnik, a neighborhood resident since the 1960s. “At first everybody was still using change and it would take 20 minutes to get on the bus. But, eventually they all learned.”

What do you think of the new M15 bus service?