Subway riders and their advocates groaned last fall when the MTA launched a pilot to remove some seats from E trains and now, nearly seven months later, the authority can’t say if the project has impacted service.
Last October, the MTA undertook two projects on the E line simultaneously: one to remove seats on some 260 cars and the other to replace every car’s “master controller,” which is responsible for the braking and acceleration of trains.
The mechanical work “attack[ed] a significant cause of failures on these cars,” while the seat removals attempted to get more riders into cars “in a more efficient manner,” MTA chairman Joe Lhota said in a statement announcing the work.
While the controller replacements seem to have paid off in limiting car breakdowns, it’s unclear if the seat removals have had any benefit to service. Shams Tarek, an MTA spokesman, said that there were too many variables that impact service to truly make a determination. He stressed that the pilot was primarily to add capacity inside E trains.
“The refurbished car pilot has been a success with the mean distance between car failures on the E line improving substantially since October,” Tarek said in a statement. “Overall line performance is also dependent upon myriad other factors including signals, track, debris, and issues on other lines that spread to others, and that incredibly broad agenda is exactly what [New York City Transit] President [Andy] Byford is focused on tackling head-on with the fully funded Subway Action Plan and his upcoming corporate plan for NYC Transit.”
E trains are running longer without breaking down since the work took place, according to data provided by the MTA. Trains on the line broke down every 216,693 miles, according to a three-month average of data leading up to last October. Those trains now break down every 306,836 miles, a 41.6 percent increase, according to the three-month average leading into March 2018.
Train sets running with fewer seats could accommodate between 80 and 100 additional commuters, according to the MTA. Adding that extra space might not have made boarding any more efficient — though the impact is difficult to divine because just 100 of the 260 cars running on the E had some seats removed.
Based on the metric Capacity Provided, the percentage of scheduled trains that are actually provided during rush hours, E service actually got slightly worse after the seats were removed, dropping from 93.4 percent of scheduled trains provided in October 2017 to 92.8 percent in March 2018, the latest data available.
And statistics from the metric known as Additional Platform Time, which measures the additional time commuters spend waiting on platforms for their trains by comparing schedules and MetroCard swipes, remained flat at 1.2 minutes when comparing October 2017 data to March 2018.
“If the MTA can’t quantify how much performance has improved or not improved due to the removal of these seats, that’s a problem,” said Jaqi Cohen, campaign coordinator at the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. “If they’re going to move forward with any other similar pilot program they should at least know measurably how well this worked.”
Tarek said the MTA is looking into differences in dwell times, or the time trains spend at stations. He declined to comment on whether the MTA is considering canning the idea of removing seats or expanding it to other lines.
After a few months in service, riders were mixed on the change.
“I never sit, so for me having that extra standing room is great,” said Joe Giuffre, a sanitation worker who commutes from Suffolk County into Penn Station, where he transfers to the E to Spring Street. “I like the split hand poles they installed, too. I’d like to see them (remove seats) from more cars.”
But riders who had to endure longer commutes on the line were less enthused, among them Ronda Justiniano, a nursing assistant who commutes to midtown from Queens.
“I have mixed feelings about it because the extra space is nice, but there are people with disabilities or pregnant women who need those seats,” she said. “It feels like a Band-Aid. We shouldn’t be waiting 10 to 15 minutes for those trains.”
When Lhota first announced that the MTA would try the idea as part of his $836 million Subway Action Plan, he cited Boston, where the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) launched a similar pilot nearly ten years ago — though to little success.
At the time, the MBTA removed all the seats from two of the 218 cars running on its Red Line. In response to rider feedback, the MBTA restored close to two-thirds of the seating in both cars, according to MBTA spokeswoman Lisa Battiston. Those cars with fewer seats, nicknamed the “Big Reds,” are set to be retired in the years to come as the authority replaces the entire fleet along the line. None of the new cars are to be delivered with any seats removed.
Marc Ebuna, the co-founder and president of Transit Matters, a transportation advocacy group in Boston, said the move to remove the seats was “widely unpopular” in the city.
“This underscores why it’s important for the agencies to focus on the big picture rather than trying some of these small fixes,” Ebuna said. “When the Big Reds were introduced the data collection at the T also wasn’t nearly as robust … so quantitatively justifying these sorts of measures is really difficult, when at the end of the day what the riders are asking for are reliability and frequency.”
New head of NYC Transit is becoming local hero
Andy Byford has headed New York City Transit for five months—normally long enough for disgruntled straphangers to start turning on him. But events this week showed that his honeymoon period isn’t over.
On the contrary: It’s just beginning.
Thursday morning, before some 400 transportation movers and shakers in an auditorium at NYU, the onetime London Tube station manager made his first public presentation of his 75-page plan to modernize the world’s largest subway and bus system.
It was a reprise of his Wednesday performance before the board of directors of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where Byford introduced his blueprint, Fast Forward. And while he didn’t delve into what he called “the elephant in the room”—its cost—he made sure everyone in the NYU auditorium knew the plan was big.
“This needs to be a complete overhaul, not a tweak,” Byford said. “We must aim higher than just stabilizing what we have today.”
In the first five years, he would shut down chunks of the system on nights and weekends to replace an antiquated signaling system on five major lines with a communications-based-train-control system. He would buy more than 650 new subway cars capable of “talking to each other” and render an additional 1,200 cars CBTC-capable. At the same time, more than 50 new stations would be made wheelchair-accessible.
The MTA is installing new signals on the 7 and L lines, which will benefit 900,000 riders a day, and working at a rate that would require at least 40 years for a complete overhaul. His plan would benefit 3 million riders, tackling “the big movers, the heavy lifters,” including the 4, 5 and 6 lines.
“There are people saying, ‘It can’t be done,'” Byford said. “Well, we’ll see about that.”
His words were such music to the audience’s ears that he got a standing ovation.
Byford received a similar response Wednesday at the MTA’s monthly board meeting.
“There was sustained applause from the public who attended the meeting,” recalled Jon Orcutt, director of communications and advocacy at TransitCenter. “And those are usually people who are there to complain about something.”
Inspiring the public—and transportation advocates—may be Byford’s first order of business as he lines up political support for a plan that The New York Times reported could cost $19 billion. (Byford said the price tag is still being worked out—and carefully, to avoid the MTA’s usual practice of blowing through project budgets.)
“He did a really good job of getting people to buy into his vision of transformative change,” said Jack Davies, campaign manager at Transportation Alternatives. “It really underscored that he is the right person at the right time to fix our transit system.”
4 Subway Lines Will Get More Trains To Cut Wait Times
The MTA plans to run 16 extra trains on four subway lines starting this fall to reduce wait times and crowding. The A, D, E and F lines will see additional trains running just before and after the typical weekday rush hours starting in November, the transportation authority announced Monday.
Seven bus lines in Queens will also see additional weekend service starting in July as officials adjust to changes in ridership and demand in the city’s transit system, the MTA said.
“We’re thrilled to add some additional service for subway and bus riders, and much bigger improvements are on the horizon,” Andy Byford, the president of New York City Transit, said in a statement.
The extra subway trips will run in the late morning, mid-afternoon and late evening, hours that don’t align with the traditional peak commuting times but still need more trains to serve riders, according to the MTA.
Eight trains will run between 7 and 11 p.m., six will run between 10:30 a.m. and noon, and two will run between 2 and 4 p.m. All the trains will make round trips, meaning there will be additional service in both directions.
Six of the Queens bus lines will see more buses through all or part of the day on Saturday, while the Q65 route will see increased service throughout Sunday. The MTA will also cut Saturday morning service on the Q29 route because of light ridership.
The announcement of increased service comes as fewer New Yorkers are riding the subways and buses while officials work to get the transit system back on its feet.
The subway’s average weekday ridership was 5.3 million in the first three months of this year, a 3.6 percent drop from the same period last year, according to MTA figures. Average weekday bus ridership in first quarter fell 7.1 percent from the prior year to 1.8 million.
Byford will likely address the transit system’s many woes in his corporate plan to overhaul New York City Transit, which he is set to unveil on Wednesday.
“We regularly tweak schedules based on changes in demand and operating conditions, and the comprehensive plan I’m announcing this week will outline the path towards even more significant improvements to service that will be felt by all of our customers,” Byford said.
Here’s a breakdown of the additional subway service, which will begin in November.
Three additional southbound A trains on weekdays between approximately 8:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
One additional northbound D train on weekdays between approximately 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Three additional northbound D trains on weekdays between approximately 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Three additional southbound E trains on weekdays between approximately 10:30 a.m. and noon
One additional northbound F train on weekdays between approximately 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Two additional southbound F trains on weekdays between approximately 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
One additional southbound F train on weekdays between approximately 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Two additional southbound F trains on weekdays between approximately 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
And here’s the plan for increased Queens bus service, set to start in July.
Saturday Q6 frequency will increase throughout the entire day.
Saturday Q8 frequency will increase in midday, afternoon and evening periods.
Saturday Q29 frequency will increase in the afternoon period.
Saturday Q47 frequency will increase throughout the entire day.
Saturday Q49 frequency will increase in the morning, afternoon and evening periods.
Saturday Q101 frequency will increase in the midday and afternoon periods.
Sunday Q65 frequency will increase throughout the day.
What To Expect From New Plan To Overhaul NYC’s Subways
Even as the MTA has tried to patch up the subways, straphangers have demanded to know how officials plan to fix them for good. The clearest answers yet may come this week when Andy Byford, the president of New York City Transit, unveils his corporate plan to overhaul the agency that helps New Yorkers get around the city.
Since taking the helm of the MTA in January, Byford has promised a “radical” plan to modernize the subway system and tackle its myriad problems. He offered a taste last month with his vision for turning around the city’s bus system, which advocates praised as ambitious.
But Byford has said the corporate plan will take on all facets of the city’s transit system, from its infrastructure to its operations.
“It will be bold. It will be wide-reaching, even controversial in its ambition,” Byford said at a Regional Plan Association event last month, according to NY1.
Transit advocates expect the plan to include big-ticket items the subways desperately need, including new signals, train cars and upgrades to make more stations accessible to the disabled. It’s also likely to tackle less splashy but still critical operational issues such as contracting and management.
But the success of Byford’s likely pricy plan will hinge on whether state lawmakers — including Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who controls the MTA — will pony up funding for improvements that likely won’t be finished until long after they’re out of office.
“For the first time in my career I actually have faith that the authority is going to do the right thing (and) come up with a comprehensive plan,” said Nick Sifuentes, the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “I have next to no faith that elected officials are going to step up to their end of the bargain, which is funding.”
The scope of Byford’s plan will likely be much bigger than the Subway Action Plan, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota’s $836 million initiative to tackle the system’s short-term problems.
It’s time for long-term fixes now that Lhota’s plan has “stabilized the patient,” Sifuentes said: “This phase two plan needs to be the open heart surgery plan.”
The idea of such a sweeping plan hearkens back to the 1980s, when the officials Richard Ravitch, Bob Kiley and David Gunn overhauled the MTA and New York City Transit by laying out clear solutions and reporting on progress, said Jon Orcutt, the director of communications and advocacy for TransitCenter.
“Some of that transformation was very visible, not day to day but year to year,” Orcutt said.
Replacing the subway system’s ancient signals will be a linchpin of Byford’s plan, advocates say. The existing system is decades old and frequently causes train delays.
The MTA has previously estimated that resignaling the subways would take 40 years. That’s too long for commuters to wait, advocates say, so Byford’s plan could include a more aggressive timeline for that work.
The subway’s trains are also getting old and many need to be replaced. Rolling out new cars and adding substations to increase the amount of electric power going into the system could boost reliability and allow trains to run more frequently, advocates said.
State officials will need to help pay the multibillion-dollar bill for that infrastructure overhaul, said Danny Pearlstein, a spokesman for the transit advocacy group Riders Alliance.
“He (Byford) can’t conjure up billions of dollars but the fact is under the state constitution, the governor is someone who can,” Pearlstein said.
Byford’s plan may also build on his pledge to make the city’s public transit more accessible to disabled riders, advocates said. About a quarter of the subway stations are currently accessible and projects to increase that number are underway, Byford has said.
Sifuentes said he wants the subways to reach 100 percent accesibility within 30 years. “We should at least try to get to the halfway mark in the next decade,” he said. Byford has promised to study how much it would cost to make every station accessible.
The behind-the-scenes aspects of the plan will be just as critical as the things commuters will be able to see and touch, advocates said.
The MTA’s contracting practices and deals with labor unions are reportedly to blame for the enormous costs of big capital projects such as East Side Access, the construction of a Long Island Rail Road station at Grand Central Terminal. Work rules also reportedly played a role in forcing trains to slow down near tracks where construction is underway.
Byford has tried to make public transit friendlier by hiring a chief customer officer, openly apologizing for failures and trying to engage more directly with riders.
But he’ll need to speed up procurement, overhaul management and change the agency’s culture for real progress to happen, Sifuentes said.
“He’s going to have to grind against the bureaucracy,” Orcutt said. “It’s been doing things its own way for a long time. But I don’t think that’s insurmountable. He’s the boss and if he says go, they have to go.”
The plan’s success, though, will depend on funding. If it’s as ambitious as Byford’s bus proposal, it could require multiple new revenue streams, Sifuentes said, including congestion pricing and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed tax hike for wealthy New Yorkers.
Advocates have urged state lawmakers to adopt congestion pricing — a proposal to toll cars entering part of Manhattan that could raise as much as $1.5 billion annually for the MTA —as a long-term transit funding strategy. The city also contributes funding to the MTA.
But the legislative session in Albany ends in about a month and has so far produced only small pieces of that plan, including a surcharge on trips in taxis and other for-hire vehicles in the recently approved state budget.
The picture seems bleak — despite the recent heat Cuomo has taken for the subway’s failures, there’s been a “startling lack of political accountability for transit over the past generation,” Pearlstein said. But lawmakers could benefit from supporting Byford’s potentially bold plan.
“If Albany can get behind it with the resources and let him work, it will end up being a great legacy for Cuomo,” Orcutt said. “As much as people have tagged the subway crisis to him, this can sort of erase that if it’s working.”
Dockless bike share pilot to begin in July
New head of NYC Transit is becoming local hero
New York could get by with fewer big yellow taxis
Entertainment3 days ago
Entertainment1 month ago
Transportation Alternatives bike month sponsored by Kiwi Energy
Uncategorized2 weeks ago
Is it possible for New York City to reach the Vision Zero goals?
Uncategorized3 weeks ago
NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez about 21st-century transportation.
Entertainment1 month ago
San Francisco is getting ready for a pot festival
Uncategorized3 weeks ago
Kilauea eruption leads to evacuation on Hawaii’s Big Island
Uber,lyft and other taxis3 weeks ago
Lyft driver sexually assaulted passenger – again!
MTA News4 weeks ago
MTA’s first female head of NYC subway