Transit Transit by alicejenny

VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 8

									     AT Y  OUR SERVICE
     ¯˘
       Public Affairs and
         Employee Communications
         2 Broadway 14th Floor
         New York, NY 10004




                                     Coney Island UK Fans                                            Transit Transit
                                      When Maintenance of Way           CABLE ACCESS                   CHANNEL              TIME SLOT

                                      engineer Peter Kumelowski         Queens Public Television       Time Warner Ch. 35   3:30 pm Sat.
                                                                                                       Ch. 56               10:00 pm Thurs.
                                      took his sons, 7 and 13, on the
                                                                        Manhattan Neighborhood         Ch. 34               10:00 pm 2nd & 3rd Sat.
                                      Spa Valley Railway in August,
                                                                        Network
                                      about 45 minutes south of
                                                                        Staten Island Community        Ch. 57               8:30 pm every other Mon.
                                      London, they received a           Television
                                      personal welcome. The historic    Brooklyn Community             Cablevision Ch. 67   6:00 pm Thurs. 10:00 am Fri.
                                      train's steam-powered             Access Television              Time Warner Ch. 34   6:00 pm Thurs. 10:00 am Fri.
                                      locomotive sported the Coney      Bronxnet                       Cablevision Ch. 67   5:30 am Sat; 11:00 am & 2:30 pm Mon;
                                      Island Yard herald above its                                                                        11:00 am & 2:30 pm Wed;
number. “A friend overseas who shares my interests is involved with     11:00 am Fri.

the Railway,” Kumelowski explains. He says the railway is fun to        Brookhaven LI Cable (TCI)      Ch. 70               11:30 pm Sat.

visit and a good ride. For information, go to                           (PATC) Great Neck/N. Shore     Cablevision Ch. 49   8:00 pm every Sun.
                                                                                                                            3:30 pm every Mon.
www.spavalleyrailway.co.uk.                                                                                                 7:30 pm every Thurs.
                                                                        Cablevision of Long Island,    Ch. 71               8:00 pm every Wed.
                                                                        Woodbury
                                                                        Cablevision of Westchester     Ch. 71               10:00 pm Thurs
                                                                        WNYE                           Ch. 25               3:30 pm Sat.



                                                                        At Your Service
                                                                        Published by MTA New York City Transit • Lawrence G. Reuter, President
                                                                        Produced by the Department of Corporate Communications, Paul J. Fleuranges,
                                                                        Vice President • Charles Seaton, Director, Public Affairs • Barbara Orlando, Editor
                                                                        Sylvia S. Isabel, Writer • Ann Feldman, Art Director • Philip J. Bartley,
                                                                        Manager Photography • Felix Candelaria, Mike Coughlan, Photographers
                                                                        George I. Watson, Director of Printing • Printing, NYC Transit Print Shop
                                                                        Send your comments to Newsletter Editor, 2 Broadway,
                                                                        Office 14A.21, New York, NY 10004.




 8   October 2005 At Your Service
   M TA
       AT YOUR SERVICE
            N e w     Yo r k     C i t y   Tr a n s i t     E m p l o y e e      N e w s l e t t e r,      O c t o b e r     2 0 0 5



                      Celebrating the Centennial of NYC Buses

Grand Avenue: CPM
Steers Buses' Big
Building Project
By Barbara Orlando, Editor
The Department of Buses has long been short of depot and shop
space, but a vast, multi-purpose building rising in Maspeth,
Queens, is designed to relieve the squeeze. Knowing that “new”
bus facilities typically have been redesigns of old ones just adds
to the building’s aura.
It is called the Grand Avenue Depot and Central Maintenance           Looking Ahead: Architects' rendering shows front corner of Grand
                                                                      Avenue Depot and Central Maintenance Facility in Maspeth, Queens.
Facility (CMF), and NYC Transit's Capital Program                     Its façade will be dark blue and gray.
Management (CPM) has been working with Buses on its
location, logistics and design since late 2000. A capital budget      “When we opened the Zerega Avenue Central Maintenance
of $260 million makes this CPM's largest investment to date in        Shop [in 2001], we knew we needed another CMF, but we also
a new building; 48% is Federally funded. Construction is about        needed another depot for Brooklyn,” explains Reilly during a
40% complete at the bustling 5.6-acre site, where the project's       Grand Avenue tour. “This place replicates East New York, but
awesome scale and complexity stand out.                               it's the biggest and best in many ways. We're looking ahead and
                                                                      getting pretty much everything we asked for.” For example, the
"This will be our largest facility by far, with a depot and a
                                                                      depot is built for diesel buses but has a methane-detection
Central Maintenance Shop with all the latest equipment," boasts
                                                                      system and fueling/ de-fueling for CNG buses if needed.
Chief Facilities Officer Bill Reilly. He is especially pleased with
the building's central location near East New York and Fresh          Reducing Overcrowding
Pond Depots, and a plan, originally from Buses, which neatly
                                                                      The new depot's staff and fleet will come from Buses' five
stacks the shop and depot plus two mezzanines in one huge
                                                                      Brooklyn depots, easing severe overcrowding. "Pick any depot,”
footprint. He also applauds its progress: “I can't believe they
                                                                      says Brooklyn Division Assistant General Manager Vito Tocco.
topped off the last steel beam in August.”
                                                                      “Flatbush has 283 buses and was built for just over 100. Fresh
Catching Up With Service Changes                                      Pond has 259 buses and a garage for 170. East New York has
                                                                      buses parked all over the area. We’re ferrying bus operators in
Buses' pressing need for Grand Avenue reflects three key
                                                                      and out.”
developments:
                                                                      Tocco adds: “Each move we're planning into Grand Avenue will
 • Ridership gains of about 20% in Brooklyn and Queens
                                                                      save money, relieve congestion somewhere else and make it
   since 1998.
                                                                      easier to manage, both operations and employees.”
 • A larger fleet, up by more than 650 buses since 1997, and
   with more 60-foot articulated buses and 45-foot express            Regarding the new Central Maintenance Facility, Bill Reilly
   models added to the standard 40-foot diesels, alternative-fuel     notes: “The current shops lack modern diagnostic and repair
   CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) buses and the hybrid-                 equipment. This one will have state-of-the-art equipment from
   electrics.                                                         A to Z.”
 • Changing technology that has made East New York's 50-                                                               continued on page 2
   year-old CMF increasingly outmoded.


          This Issue... 3 Museum Bus Festival 4 Back from New Orleans 5 Station Agent Hero 6-7                 Overseas Adoption


www.mta.info                                                                                        ¯˘¿
    Long Expanse: A walk up Grand Avenue's 567-foot-long car ramp to the roof spans one section of the building and suggests its overall scale.

    Grand Avenue continued from page 1
    He says this includes a chassis wash, chassis dynamometers and            Reaching High
    transmission, brake and engine dynamometers [testing                      With the project's basic design set, CPM was committed to an
    instruments that record mechanical pressures such as tension,             aggressively tight schedule, while still delivering its standard
    traction and torque]. Moreover, the shop will have a more                 high-performance or “green design” features and the latest
    flexible work area because all bus-service lifts will be surface          technology for Buses.
    mounted and portable, not the standard in-ground type.
                                                                              To save time and improve efficiency, Grand Avenue became a
    Design Challenges                                                         design-build project. As CPM Program Manager for Buses,
    For CPM Lead Design Manager, Bill Montanile, resolving                    Alan Marder, explains: “We give the designer of record about a
    Buses' multiple needs in a single project involved unique                 10% conceptual layout with detailed specs, then as they are
    challenges: “First, we've never combined a depot and central              working, we can fast-track construction. You only do this with
    maintenance facility. In fact, we've never built anything this            experienced consultants,” he notes; in this case architects
    large in such a compact space. Second, this is not a cookie-              Gannett Fleming, an early consultant on 100th Street Depot, and
    cutter design with parts applicable from other buildings.                 general contractor Granite Halmar which built Zerega.
    Everything about it had to be thought out.”                               CPM is also using a CCM, or Consultant Construction
    Some of the most crucial features were to counter the                     Manager, Tishman/Washington Group, for the first time. “Their
    Queens neighborhood's objections to a bus depot. “Nobody                  job is to head off problems before they occur,” says Montanile.
    wants our vehicles on the street,” he stresses, “and they didn't          Or, as Ted Dunn, one of two consultant engineers on site puts
    want us to impact traffic. The primary solution was parking our           it, “I ask questions not based on a tradition of how things were
    buses inside.”                                                            done in the past."

    In the final design, the depot's maintenance area on the first            Notable construction features include a curtain-wall system of
    floor has parking space inside for its 200 buses. There are also          10-by-50-foot pre-cast concrete panels shipped from
    150 parking spaces for employee vehicles on the roof, reached             Pennsylvania, extensive ducting to support a state-of-the-art air
    by an interior car ramp. The central maintenance shop is on the           circulation system and, says Bill Reilly, impressive steel work.
    second floor, reached by an inside bus ramp.                              “They're using bridge-grade steel, special beams, unheard of
                                                                              calisthenics in steel to gain strength, save money or space.” A
    As Montanile points out, “Entrances to the two ramps are on               high point was topping off the final beam on August 10 and
    one side street and buses enter the depot from the other side.            marking it with the American flag, a construction tradition
    The buses won't be parked on the street and also won't queue              (see photo, page 3).
    there. They will pull in and queue inside before fueling.” So is
    the community satisfied? He responds, “Buses, CPM and                     Going Green
    Community Relations worked hard as a team to address their                High performance, energy-efficient materials include double-
    concerns. We have their general acceptance.”                              paned window glass and insulated metal exterior panels in deep
                                                                              blue and gray. Two key “green” systems for energy efficiency
                                                                              are on the roof. In addition to a spacious view of Manhattan's
2   October 2005 At Your Service                                              skyline, the roof has almost invisible rainwater drain pipes
 Ceiling Work: Workers at mezzanine level          Distant Skyline: Grand Avenue's roof' reveals   Topping Off Day: On August 10, workers
 on a scissors lift, install electrical conduit.   grand view of Manhattan skyline. Workers are    "topped off" the steel by installing last
                                                   standing on the car ramp.                       structural beam, then lofting the American flag.
connected to a 200,000-gallon tank under the depot shop's floor.           heat conductors in between will warm the fresh air enough to
It is part of a system to provide 85% recycled water for bus               reduce winter heating energy by an estimated 48%.”
washers. “We spend millions for City water, so this will also
                                                                           Like Buses, CPM is pleased with Grand Avenue's progress. “We
save money,” Reilly notes.
                                                                           have a good construction company, but it's more than that,” says
The roof also houses 34 ventilation and heating units with a               Montanile. “We've had problems, but managed to resolve them
specially designed heat recovery application. “With bus fumes              quickly. In this case, everyone is dedicated to moving quickly
and exhaust, we need to constantly bring in 100% fresh air that's          because the Department of Buses needs more space for its buses
cold in winter,” explains Bill Montanile. “This system runs the            and our job is to give it to them when and where they want it as
warm air being exhausted past the cold air coming in. Metal                fast as possible.”

Museum Bus Festival Highlights History
By Tessa Metayer, Intern, Public Affairs                                    The Art Stop enabled children to
                                                                            design a bus and race it with other
The New York Transit Museum's 12th annual Bus Festival
                                                                            buses on a track. Wesley
celebrated the New York City Centennial of the motorized bus.
                                                                            Mascolbanye, 7, and his sister
Held at Columbus Park in Brooklyn Heights, the Festival gave
                                                                            Caitlin, 9, who built identical polka-
visitors and passersby the opportunity to view and climb aboard
                                                                            dot buses, were ecstatic about the
vintage buses from as far back as 1917.
                                                                            track. Children of all ages, even the
With help from the Department of Buses, the event featured the              young at heart, had a chance to hear
Museum's vintage bus fleet and historical commentary about the              bus stories at the Story Station.      Art Stop attracts children.
City’s transit history. Music from the group, Raices, along with            Museum Education Managers Laura
old ragtime jazz, blasted through the park as people viewed                 Joseph and Lynette Morse viewed
buses. The farmers' market nearby led passersby such as Greg                the children’s display as an
Steel to join in. “The music is great; so are the old wooden                opportunity to “entertain kids and
buses. Everything here is so nice,” he said.                                allow them to be creative,” as Morse
                                                                            put it. “Buses tell an important story
The main attraction was interesting old vehicles, including many
                                                                            about the whole history of transit in
of the Museum's 20 vintage buses that surrounded the park. They
                                                                            New York City. Most people think
included bus #2124, the 1938 Queen Mary from the last double-
                                                                            about the subways first and not the
decker fleet (see photo); #2969, the Jackie Gleason Bus associated                                                 Queen Mary: One of last
                                                                            buses,” added Joseph.
with The Honeymooners 1950's TV show; and #8446 from 1966,                                                            double-deckers.
part of the City's first air-conditioned bus fleet. Another attraction      Whether transporting New Yorkers to
was #M2185, the now repaired MCI express bus that was severely              school, work or for leisure, buses have evolved since the first
damaged on 9/11 near the World Trade Center.                                motorized bus ran on Fifth Avenue in 1905. For some, the Bus
                                                                            Festival prompted their own memories. “I grew up on Staten
Visitors were able to talk to historians and bus employees on the
                                                                            Island and coming here reminds me of some of the familiar
history and evolution of the buses on view. Bus Operator
                                                                            buses I rode,” said Lizanne Fontaine, who brought her son
Rich Metoussi of Long Island Bus was one of the volunteers
                                                                            Nathaniel, 17.
providing a first-hand account from an employee perspective.
“It’s important for people to know how buses came about, and                 “It’s an interesting history (seeing) the vehicles and designs over
how people got from point A to point B,” he noted.                          time. This is all just one of the elements of how the city moves,”
                                                                            says Transit Museum Director Gabrielle Shubert. “[The buses]
The Museum Store booth displayed transit memorabilia such as
                                                                            not only function as an object of beauty, but as a crucial means
bus books, mugs, bags and even the famous subway T-shirts.
                                                                            of transportation.” To learn more about the vintage bus fleet and
Visitors took photos with their faces poking through cutouts of
                                                                            Transit Museum programs, visit the Museum at Boerum Place
old-time bus drivers. There were also excursions around
                                                                            and Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn, or its website:
Brooklyn Heights aboard an authentic horse-drawn omnibus.                                                                                        3
                                                                            www.mta.info/museum.
Applause     Chairman Honors New Orleans Volunteers
              By Barbara Orlando and Tessa Metayer
             MTA Chairman Peter S. Kalikow took over Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall on September 30 to honor employee
             volunteers from NYC Transit's Department of Buses and MTA Bus who answered FEMA's call to New Orleans. An
             estimated 275 bus operators, maintainers and their guests mingled with managers, transit and union officials, and each other.
             They had come from 16 depots and driven 1,300 miles to help out in one of the country's worst natural disasters. “More than
             double the number of people needed volunteered,” Chairman Kalikow told them. “You make me so proud to be part of this
             organization.” To learn more, At Your Service asked volunteers at Grand Central and at Jackie Gleason Depot these questions:

                How did you prepare for the mission? What stands out about the drive down?
                What are your most striking memories? How do you feel about the experience?
             Shahid Chaudhry, Bus Operator                                    The first night they asked for volunteers to go to an area of
             two years, Queens Village                                        New Orleans with heavy looting and shooting. We wore bio-
                           I wouldn't have been able to go if I were not      tech gear and all. The area was actually quieter than expected.
                            working for Transit. It was great driving         I saw water everywhere and floating dead bodies. In the town
                            down, seeing people holding up signs for          we stayed in, the people protecting their property all had guns
                            us and New York T-shirts. Once we                 strapped on, like the Wild West. The sheriff had declared
                            arrived, we carried the military from an air      martial law. I saw things going on I'd rather not talk about
                            base to the Super Dome. It was a great            but will always remember. It felt good being there and I know
                          feeling being there to help.                        we helped.

             Marion Spruill, Bus Operator                                     Jose Latriz, Bus Operator, 10 years
             16 years, Fresh Pond Depot                                       Jackie Gleason Depot
                                I volunteered and didn't think twice. I was   I got a call late Friday, just packed my
                                 called at 4 a.m., picked up my luggage and   bags and left. From New Jersey on we
                                 reported to Ulmer Park by 5:30. The drive    got thanks from people with signs and
                                 was very long, but I was so excited to be    encouragement. People usually don’t
                                 able to help. When we arrived, there was     like bus drivers, but this time someone appreciated us. I went
                                nothing; no sleeping quarters, everybody      with the National Guard and NYPD to Laplace (LA). It took
                              was confused. A Quality Inn let us take         36 hours to get to Alabama and another 12 hours to
             showers. The hospitality was great in spite of the chaos. In     Louisiana because of detours. We slept on buses in an open
             the city, there was devastation everywhere. It makes you         field and a Comfort Inn nearby allowed us to use a room to
             appreciate that you can go home, to a home. I was at 9/11        bathe. It was an opportunity to go there and see what they
             transporting firefighters; with Katrina it was the military.     experienced.
             Once the water was so deep we had to turn around. I just
             thought about what I could do to help. I'm very happy I was      Eddie Ivey, Bus Operator, 6.5 years
             able to be there.                                                Jackie Gleason Depot
                                                                               I’ve never experienced or seen anything
             Michael Stivale, Chassis Maintainer, 26 years                    like that, or smelled anything like that.
             Central Road Services                                            When we got to Laplace, we didn’t see
                            I went down with a road truck. Our job was        anyone, we just moved the military in to do
                             to keep the buses running. We had                their job. We couldn’t get into the city because of flood
                             problems with just two buses. It was bad         zones. The only place we could eat was at Subway. I never
                             down there. I feel really sorry for              want to go to Subway again.”
                             the people.
                                                                              Kevin Hopkins, Bus Operator, 17 years
                                                                              Jackie Gleason Depot
             Robert Epps, Bus Operator, nine years                            After watching the devastation on TV, I
             MTA Bus (formerly Queens Surface)                                decided to go. I grabbed some clothes and
                          I threw things into a bag, and explained to         bug spray. We were assigned to help
                            my wife why I volunteered. I lost my only         evacuate victims in Jefferson Parish, but
                            brother on 9/11. I couldn't get there to help     the town was already evacuated. There
                            him, and just felt I had to do something to       were abandoned cars everywhere. I saw a
                            help people in this tragedy. That convoy          home in the middle of water on a major road. Although we
                            going down, with 40 buses, a police escort        didn’t get to do what we had expected, I got to go and do the
                          and lights flashing was something to see.           right thing. It was a privilege and honor.

   4   October 2005 At Your Service
Off-Duty Agent Halts Passenger Assault
By Charles Seaton, Director, Public Affairs
                              When Station Agent Felix        was just verbal and then one of them really threatened to
                              Santana and his wife Grace      cut her.”
                              left their Bronx home for
                                                              Santana immediately went to the conductor’s cab and had
                              Manhattan on Sunday,
                                                              the conductor radio ahead for police assistance. The twins
                              September 4, what started
                                                              had backed off a bit but continued their obnoxious
                              as a day of fun and
                                                              harangue. As long as the assault remained verbal, Santana
                              excitement ended in a
                                                              planned to stand by and watch until police were able to
                              violent struggle on a No. 6
                                                              meet the train. “My wife asked, ‘Why don’t you do
                              train. Santana came to the
                                                              something? If you don’t, I will.’” He was thinking, “How
                              aid of a young woman
                                                              can it be possible for thugs to act like this in a packed
                              being assaulted by no less
                                                              subway car?”
                              than identical twins,
                              wielding what he believed       Then suddenly, the train lurched and one twin ended up in
Modest Hero: Felix Santana    to be box cutters.              a tangle on the floor with the woman beneath him. “That
                                                              was too much for me,” says Santana. With no regard for
Santana, 54, assigned to Woodlawn Station, was going
                                                              his own safety, he jumped to the woman’s aid. He pulled
with Grace to the Brazilian Street Fair. The train was
                                                              one attacker off the floor and then collared the other one,
crowded, but he immediately noticed two young men
                                                              who was trying to help his brother while continuing the
standing at the end of the car. “They were hard to miss.
                                                              torrent of threats. At the height of the struggle, Santana’s
They were twins dressed alike, and they were speaking
                                                              wife jumped on one assailant to help her husband out.
loudly,” he recalls.
                                                              At 138th Street Station police were waiting and took the
A few stops later, a young woman came aboard and the
                                                              twins into custody. “It was unbelievable,” Santana adds.
twins immediately began to harass her verbally.
                                                              “Even while the cops had them, they were still
“Apparently, they knew one another. The guys were
                                                              threatening me.” As for the heroic couple, they never
saying things like ‘We’re gonna cut you’ and ‘I’m not
                                                              made it to the street fair, but took the next train home.
afraid to hit a woman.’ It was crazy,” says the 20-year
                                                              “I think we'd had enough excitement for one day,”
NYC Transit veteran. “They were pretty big guys, too,
                                                              he says modestly.
but she was giving it back to them pretty good. At first it




                                                                                                                             Applause
WTS Tours Caribbean's First Light Rail System
A highlight of the Women’s Transportation Seminar             transportation (it includes men). If you are interested
(WTS International) Board meeting, hosted by the Puerto       in professional development, travel and meeting
Rico Chapter, was touring San Juan's Tren Urbano Light        people, call Joanne Boiano at 347-643-5109 for
Rail shown here, the Caribbean’s first ever rail transit      membership information.
system. The 10.7-mile system (17.2 km) is fully
                                                                                           – Sylvia Isabel, Public Affairs
automated, includes 16 stations (some with connecting
buses) and serves a notably congested
city. The $1.50 fare includes a bus
transfer. The system's 74 vehicles were
built by Siemens and assembled in
Sacramento, CA. The visiting WTS
members enjoyed VIP treatment,
meeting the local architects, engineers
and others who built the historic
system. Everyone marveled at the
gleaming new trains, admired the
beautiful art installations and tile work.
WTS is the leading professional
organization for women in
                                           In San Juan: WTS members aboard new Tren Urbano



                                                                                                     At Your Service October 2005   5
The Foreign Adoption Option
More Americans are seeking the joys of a new child via                 Game” with a “Child in Limbo” card. In
international adoption. Basically, this is a private legal             late July, Cambodia was open to adoptions
matter between adopting parents and the court and                      again. Alissa flew to the capital, Phnom
regulating offices in the country they choose. Still, there            Penh, for a week while I stayed in Brooklyn
is much to learn, even with paid agencies paving the                   with Danny, 6. Luckily, co-worker and
                                                                       family friend, Joan Johnson, offered to go       Benjy Neches at one year.
way. Two proud employee parents agreed to share brief                                                                   Below, at age 4.
                                                                       with Alissa. Danny had never been separated
highlights of their adoption experiences. With thanks to
                                                                       from his Mom and Alissa and I had only been
them, and a nod to National Adoption Awareness Month                   apart for a weekend.
in November, here are their stories. — Ed.
                                                                       Danny went to day camp and I worked part time. Alissa e-mailed
                                                                       that Benjy was beautiful, smiled a lot and cried when he was
Adopting Danny and Benjy                                               footprinted for his visa and passport. Cambodians were very
By Neil Neches, Marketing Manager                                      friendly despite extreme poverty and decades of war. Many spoke
Corporate Communications                                               English. Children begged in the streets and there were countless
“We’re expecting a baby,” I told a co-worker in 2000.                  amputees because areas are still littered with land mines.
“Congratulations. When?” she asked. “Don’t know yet. Haven’t           When it rained you got drenched and water was ankle deep in
finished the paperwork,” I replied.                                    minutes, Joan noted, and crossing a street was hectic. “Everyone
She laughed until I explained we were adopting a Cambodian baby,       drives a Moped, rain or shine, and they load on as many passengers
and it would take a year, if it went smoothly. In 1995 Alissa and I    as they can. I saw a Moped carrying four people and a dog.” But
had adopted Danny, a baby from Colombia. We chose foreign              she was impressed by the culture of Phnom Penh. “The temples are
countries because American adoptions can take years, and we knew       beautiful.”
of cases where birth mothers sued to get a child back.                 With Danny missing his mother, the long week finally passed and
After reviewing websites and newsletters about adoption                we all met at the airport on August 8, 2001. We were so happy to be
organizations, we chose World Child, which has a good reputation.      together and Benjy quickly assimilated, though he suffered from
Adoption criteria vary by country, but Cambodia didn’t mind            malnutrition and muscular weakness. His adoption came just in
“older” parents. (I was 48.)                                           time. A month later, September 11 restricted American travel, then
                                                                       Cambodia revived its adoption moratorium, disappointing many
World Child’s application asked our occupations, salaries, financial   families.
holdings and property. We submitted two recommendation letters
each from friends and co-workers, one from our                         Now 4, Benjy is bright, happy and healthy. We did not give our
rabbi, and doctors’ letters attesting to our                           boys the gift of life, but we are giving them a better life. When he
good health. We provided birth certificates                            and Alissa visited friends in Marketing, “Aunt Joan” was impressed.
and marriage license, even certificates of                             She had last seen him as a gaunt baby who couldn’t sit up by himself.
good conduct from the police (who sent                                 Now he explored the offices with unbridled energy and curiosity,
our fingerprints nationwide to ensure we                               speaking to everyone. He has come far in more ways than one.
had no record of child abuse). If this
weren’t enough, Cambodia required many
                                                                                            Adoption Expenses
documents to be notarized in triplicate and                            Foreign adoptions can be expensive. Charges include the adoption
stamped with gold seals.                                               agency's application fee and processing charge, plus paying the
                                                                       child’s foster family or orphanage. We paid $400 for a social
Then we learned that Cambodia                                          worker who interviewed us and filed a report with the various
had placed a moratorium on                                              agencies. Parents also pay the country’s lawyers, courts and social
adoptions. This had to do with                                            service agencies, and maybe an escort through all the steps.
single parents, yet all                                                     Including travel, our total was roughly $25,000, but
adoptions were on hold. In                                                    circumstances and charges can vary widely.
the interim, World Child
assigned us a baby                                                              Ways to pay: If you own property, consider a home equity
whom the orphanage                                                               line of credit. You pay interest only on funds you
named Fonda Rath. (“Rath”                                                          withdraw and the interest is tax-deductible. Other
means orphan. We would                                                               options include a loan against your pension or
call him Benjamin.) He was                                                          retirement plan, or from your credit union, which may
six months old and it was                                                        offer a lower rate than commercial banks. Many adoption
June 2001.                                                                     expenses are deductible and you may be able to take a tax
                                                                             credit of up to $10,390 for qualifying expenses, so keep
We felt as if we were playing                                                          careful payment records. The adoption credit is
“The Foreign Adoption Board                                                            subtracted from your tax liability.

   6   October 2005 At Your Service
                                                                        delays. But Alexa recovered
Adopting Alexa from China                                               quickly and bonded with us
                                                                        as if we had known each
By Patricia Beach, Director, Capital Support                            other from Day One.
Capital Program Management
                                                                        Back home, we took her to
The Chinese rule of one child per family has caused many baby           a noted pediatric specialist
girls to become eligible for adoption. The idea of adopting from        for children adopted
China had appealed to me for years. My brother Bill and his wife        overseas. The next
Chris had adopted their daughter, Maura, in 1995, so when my            key thing we did
husband Robert and I made up our minds, they helped us to fast          was to apply for her
track the many forms and notarizations.                                 US citizenship,
                                                                        which took about                                     Alexa Marie Wen,
In June 1996, Robert and I, with 11 other adoptive families, flew to                                                         now 10, and with
Beijing, the first of three cities we would visit. Our agency, Spence   two months to                                        mom at 18 months.
Chapin in New York, had given lectures on supplies to bring for the     process before an
children and gifts for the orphanage. We were at breakfast in Hefei,    award ceremony on
a small central city, a few days later when someone announced,          Long Island.
“The babies are here.” Everyone ran to their hotel rooms to await       We stay in touch
their baby. Our agency insisted that babies be delivered individually   with some of the families we traveled with to
to each family.                                                         China, and share major occasions. We also attend
I’ll always remember Alexa's expression as she tentatively clung to     events by Families with Children from China,
her blanket when her Chinese caregiver and our agency                   including lectures and cultural events such as a
representative carried her in. We kept the outfit she arrived in, an    Chinese New Year’s party for the children.
oversized pinafore with mismatched booties. We were so excited          Now 10 , Alexa is thriving in the gifted Horizons Program at
at the sight of her that we didn’t notice that she was very             school and active in sports. Maura still vividly remembers, as do
undernourished, at 13 months weighing the same as the 6-or 7-           we, that hot summer day in 1996 at JFK Airport when she
month-old babies in our group. We carefully fed her the Chinese         welcomed her new cousin to America.
mixture of rice formula and boiling water, and whatever nutritious
food she could tolerate.                                                For information on international adoptions visit
                                                                        www.travel.state.gov; www.worldchild.org; or
Alexa Marie Wen also had a cough and several of the children had        www.adoption.org/adopt/spencchapin-adoption.php. For
bronchitis. The travel group shared the limited antibiotics we had,     information on local adoptions, visit the NYC Administration for
as such medicine wasn't available, and a Chinese physician              Children's Services' Website www.nyc.gov/html/acs/ and its Adopt a
checked the babies. Despite these early challenges, our new             Child link.
daughter was beautiful, alert and clearly had received one-on-one
attention from her caregivers. We learned later that interaction with
babies in an orphanage can be meager, causing developmental



Museum of Modern Art Honors
Pilot Intercom Device for Stations
This vandal-resistant intercom, part of a pilot program     connects to a Customer Services travel agent and the
for customers in subway stations, is being honored for      red (emergency) button to the Rail Control Center.
its design before its unveiling next year. Called the       The units are monitored by a CCTV system. Its
Help Point Intercom, or HPI, the device was selected        designers are Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi
by Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art for an exhibit          Moeslinger of Antenna Designs, who designed the
of outstanding design applied to improving public           MetroCard Vending Machine. The groups behind its
safety. Titled Safe: Design Takes On Risk, the exhibit      development include Capital Program Management,
runs from October 16 through January 2.                     TIS Strategic Business Planning, RTO Rail
                                                            Operations & Support, Stations Command and
The HPI, a product of NYC Transit's PA/CIS project
                                                            Customer Communication’s Travel Information
(Public Address/Customer Information Systems), is
                                                            Center. "We are delighted with the innovative design
scheduled for initial evaluation in 10 stations. Its slim
                                                            and hope customers will be as well," says TIS project
housing includes a vertical blue light above
                                                            director Andy Bata.
illuminated green and red buttons. Pushing the green
                                                                                                       At Your Service October 2005     7

								
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