Study Finds “Critical Defects” in MTA’s $90M Bus Command Center

The MTA’s $90 million Boondoggle bus dispatch warroom has “critical design and workmanship flaws” that could render it unusable in the event of an emergency power outage, The Post has learned.

An external technical assessment obtained by The Post found several “single points of failure” in the backup power system at the NASA-like command center, which has been mostly empty for three years since former Transit President Andy Byford and other bigwigs one ceremonially held the ribbon there in June 2019 cut through

According to the report by energy consultant SKAE Power Solutions, several functions of the building’s backup generators could cripple the MTA’s entire bus dispatching operation if they failed.

Such a disaster is not unlikely — and indeed, one did occur at the “old” bus control center when ConEdison experienced a citywide power surge last summer, internal MTA documents show.

The outage at 8:25 p.m. on Aug. 29 severed the command center’s connection with MTA headquarters and shut down several dispatching applications — including GPS tracking of bus locations, according to a Dec. 17 draft report prepared by JFK&M Consulting .

New MTA Bus Operations Command Center, 51 Fanchon Place, Brooklyn, New York.
MTA employees are yet to work in the new command center after the facility opened in 2019.
Gregory P. Mango

The consultants said the failed router was not supported by any backup power source and was housed in an overheated room “totally unsuitable for housing a critical application.”

“The router room … should never be used as an IT router room,” the consultants write. “The room is exposed to solar heat and humidity, which makes it very difficult to maintain the right cooling temperature in the room.”

The room was so full of wires and cables that inspectors felt it was “too risky” to trace their origins, according to the report. The room’s air conditioning broke, and workers installed a window unit and kept the door open “as a band-aid,” consultants said.

Energy consultant SKAE Power Solutions claimed the MTA's command center could never
Energy consultant SKAE Power Solutions claimed the MTA’s command center could never provide “an adequate cooling temperature in the room”.

“To prevent the 08/29/21 outage, the MTA corporate router currently located in room 28A must be moved to a stable environment,” they wrote. These changes had not been made when the draft report was submitted to the MTA in December, the report said.

The MTA’s old bus command center, which houses 15 dispatcher consoles, was built in 1948 and has survived its functionality – but the new command center is already showing signs of disrepair, though it remains mostly empty.

The Post reported in October that the command center building at Jamaica Avenue and Fanchon Place faced leaks, malfunctioning heating and bug-infested bathrooms. In January, workers found one of the building’s HVAC units burned to a crisp.

An HVAC unit on the roof of the MTA's command center was blackened by an apparent fire.
An HVAC unit on the roof of the MTA’s command center was blackened by an apparent fire.
The energy consulting firm determined that the MTA's command center had weak backup generators.
The energy consulting firm determined that the MTA’s command center had weak backup generators.

JFK&M’s report noted that the heating system for the new center’s massive NASA-like “operating room” “will come under heavy pressure to properly heat the space.”

MTA executives have said full use of the new command center has been suspended indefinitely because “poor performance by the contractor” prevented the completion of a new bus radio system needed to operate the new facility.

A spokesman told the Post in October the building would open “in the first half” of 2022; On Tuesday, the authority announced that only a third of the dispatchers are currently working at the facility.

“As a result of the power outage that occurred at the RCC on August 29, the MTA commissioned a thorough review of all of its critical systems at its command centers, which identified a number of needed improvements at both the new and existing Bus Command Centers” , spokesman Eugene Resnick said in a statement.

“The MTA is prioritizing and developing a plan to address these identified improvements thanks to the rigorous work of our Transit team.” Study Finds “Critical Defects” in MTA’s $90M Bus Command Center


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