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Saturday, December 11, 2010

MTA Response to Complaints about 181st Street Station

About a month ago, I called Carmen Bianco, Senior Vice President for Subways of the MTA, to express my concern about the removal of the station agent from the 181st Street Station of the A Train as well as the overall condition of the station, its escalators and its elevators.  To his credit, he was gracious and promised to read my forthcoming letter with interest.  

This week, I received a copy of his response letter.  It is equally gracious, although I don't think we can expect the return of the station agent anytime soon.  But I think we can expect increased attention by the police and MTA to this station, at least temporarily.

Please look at this Gazette's prior blogs to learn about how you can make your voice heard on our neighborhood's subway issues.  Mr. Bianco's letter to me is below.

Chris Rizzo


This is in response to your letter of November 1st, in which you requested that the closed kiosk booth at the 181st Street Station on the A line be re-opened.  You stated that since the removal of the agent at the 181st Street entrance, the incidence of graffiti and unsanitary conditions, as well as loitering of teenagers and homeless individuals, has increased, causing concern for customer safety.  Another issue is the seemingly antiquated and unreliable system of elevators at the station.

We inspected the station on November 16th and found it clean, with no litter on either the platform or mezzanine.  However, we did find graffiti on the kiosk booth window on the unstaffed mezzanine; this graffiti is acetone and cannot be removed.  We also discussed with Transit Bureau District 3 previous complaints received regarding loitering individuals, and requested increased patrolling of the area.  

The MTA sponsors a social service group, MTA/Connections Outreach, which works with homeless people in the subway to identify their specific problems and to direct them to services which provide food, shelter, and treatment.  Due to the increase in the number of complaints about the homeless at this station, we have requested that MTA/Connections Outreach and the Police Transit Bureau increase their outreach to the station and enforcement of subway rules and regulations.  We will continue to work with them to address these issue and ensure a safe and secure environment for our customers.  We will also ensure managers and supervisors at the station closely monitor conditions and take corrective action, as needed.  In addition, cleaners have been instructed to pay close attention to this unstaffed mezzanine and ensure that it is clean.

With regard to the elevator service, the 181st Street Station is served by three escalators at the 181st Street end, ES 117, ES 118 and ES 119; three elevators also serve the 184th Street end, EL 117, EL 118 and EL 119.  ES 117 was out of service from May 9th through October 17th due to work to replace the critical transmission step and step chain parts.  Although the longest outage for elevator EL 119 has been 9 days, the multiple shutdowns of elevators experienced by customers over the past year have been attributable to the age of the equipment, with wiring and control relay issues as the major causes.

As you are aware, the reduced station agent presence at the station was made necessary as a result of system-wide financial constraints.

We value your patronage, and are also sorry for any inconvenience that you might have experienced.  We look forward to serving you better.

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