Local service from Shea nearly as painful as recent Yankee efforts


Subway Series Once again, it’s time for three regular season baseball games in the middle of May to take on some grand importance as the New York sports media fawns all over this Grand Supreme Battle for New York.

And, boy, is the MTA proud of themselves for their Subway Series service. First, they released a press release proclaiming New York City Transit “set for the Subway Series.” Then Elliot Sander, the MTA CEO himself, penned a piece for Metro’s blog extolling the virtues of taking the train to Shea. Awww. How cute. A blog.

Now, my loyal readers know to take the subway to Shea. Why would you want to battle rush hour traffic only to find that you have to park at the Unisphere, 15 minutes away from the stadium, because the Mets are erecting a new stadium in their parking lot? With, as the MTA itself proclaims, 7 trains running every two to three minutes after the game, it’s easy in and easy out.

But there’s a catch. With the MTA, there’s always a catch. These trains, running from Willets Point to Times Square, will run local all the way to the wall. That means up to 19 stops of packed-subway bliss; that’s 19 potential stops riding next to vacant express tracks while no one gets on or off the train at 111th St., 103rd St, 82nd St, and so on.

Now, this all sounds like small beans, right? No express service. Cry me a river. Well, hold on. It takes around 30 minutes to get from Manhattan to Shea when the train runs express. But that local train takes 50 minutes to an hour depending on track congestion. Since nearly everyone on the 7 from Shea heads to Manhattan or Queensboro Plaza, why can’t every other train on the express tracks and make express stops?

Well, amNewYork’s Michael Clancy asked this exact question two weeks ago, and the answer is sure to inspire frustration and madness:

New York Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said adding express service from games is easier said than done. Without increasing manpower and trains, wait times would increase on the local and express tracks, Fleuranges said. And with more people waiting to board the subway, crowded conditions would make it difficult for those trying to get to parking lots or the LIRR.

“We provide a very high level of service for Met and Yankee games,” Fleuranges said. “That’s a cost to us and we have to balance the needs of the entire system and weigh that against the needs of the entire system.”

COME ON, PAUL! The MTA is already expanding 7 service, and you would alleviate overcrowding on local trains by running express trains. Everyone destined for Queensboro Plaza or Manhattan would ride that express. Those folks bound for 74th St.-Broadway could take an empty local, and I know the platform wouldn’t be overcrowded. Problem solved.

So tonight, as your eyes start glazing over during the interminable local ride from Shea Stadium to Manhattan, just know there is no express service because the MTA is not creative. And that is just a sloppy excuse for poor post-game service.

Categories : MTA Absurdity

7 Responses to “Local service from Shea nearly as painful as recent Yankee efforts”

  1. Louis says:

    This just is not true.

    You have to understand the Willets Point Subway Station. Right now there is one exit platform from Shea, and it has a significant line, but that line goes up one of the two ramps to the local track. Nice, long ramps. The turnstile are at the top of the ramp, allowing plenty of space to line up.

    But the express track is different. The express platform is located between the express track and the local track. It is an island platform. It has stairs to its platforms, not high capacity ramps. This means that the center mezzanine of the station (the only passageway to the LIRR and parking centers) would be jammed with express riders. Turnstiles are at the mezzanine level, meaning the lines go out the station.

    But the issue is more complicated. The diffeerence between ride times is not so great. The difference between running times during after games periods would be 6.5 minutes. You say 20. These are not congested times, because people aren’t getting off and on so much. Trains don’t stop for an irregularly long time.

    If trains can run at 2 minutes on the 7 line MAX, then if you split the service, express trains would run every 4 minutes, so now our difference is down to 4.5 minutes with the extra wait.

    Now, another serious point, that you ignore completely, is that the EXPRESS TRACKS ARE NOT VACANT. They are occupied by the express service FROM Manhattan. There are still plenty of express riders from Manhattan at this time. Maybe not as many as there are Mets fans, but enough. The MTA would have to reverse the express direction for the 2nd time in one day, which is simply confusing to non-Met Fan subway customers.

    But when would you reverse them? The MTA would have to reverse them at the end of the game. It is easy to line up trains for after a game. They just wait. But you can’t wait for the just the right time to reverse the express tracks, that has to be planned in advance, because it is operationally difficult. Flushing-bound express trains would need to be re-routed along local tracks for enough time to allow the express tracks to be cleared.

    Even if this were do-able, it would mean very irregular service for Flushing-bound passengers from Manhattan. It would be inconsistent for Mets fans, because the MTA performs weekend maintenance work on tracks, meaning that sometimes there would only be express service, or only local service, and so the two-platform operation would be suspended from time to time, anyway.

    On day games, the MTA does switch the Express direction early, to allow for express service to the game. It begins at 11:30 instead of 12:30. Their modeling shows this to benefit more customers more than it hurts. (Their modeling actually shows that splitting service hurts more customers than it helps, because passengers transferring at 74th Street would have to wait 2 extra minutes at Shea, and because passengers from Manhattan would have to take a local train, making their commutes longer by at least 4.5 minutes.)

    So that’s the point by point. The MTA has been as creative as they can given the tracks. But for service, and for the overall line (not just Shea customers), the current operations are optimal. And remember, express trains would only save 4.5 – 6.5 minutes.

  2. Now, another serious point, that you ignore completely, is that the EXPRESS TRACKS ARE NOT VACANT. They are occupied by the express service FROM Manhattan.

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on the amount of time that would be saved by express service from Queens to Manhattan after Mets games. But one thing I have to point out is that the express tracks are indeed vacant after Mets’ night games. The 7 runs express from Manhattan into Queens only until 10 p.m. Since these games just won’t end before 10 p.m., the point is moot. Even if they do manage to play these games in under three hours, they could sacrifice the last few Queens-bound express trains in favor of Manhattan-bound express trains that would be much more crowded.

  3. Louis says:

    We could agree to disagree, but, really you’re just exaggerating about travel times. Express trains are scheduled to take 28 minutes. Local trains take 33-35 minutes. That’s as little as 5, and up to 7 minutes difference.

    The 7 runs express from Manhattan into Queens only until 10 p.m. Since these games just won’t end before 10 p.m., the point is moot.

    There are in fact express trains on the express track, until 10:35pm. Supposedly, it leaves Willets Point at 10:32. So, that service will have to end at least a half-hour earlier. That means at least 4 trains will be sacrificed for Queens-bound trains. One or two more may need to be sacrificed, for operational/safety reasons.

    So even if MTA did do express trains after games, it would still be inconsistent. Day games would not receive express service after the games. Weekend express service would be interrupted for weekend maintenance work. Rain-outs would not have express service anyway. So, Shea customers would have to rely on day-of-game information to know the status of express service.

    Customers at express stations would never know if express service was running or not, unless they knew if the game was over or not, or if there even was a game.

    Basically, Shea would be determining train service for the entire line.

    Is this good policy? Probably not.

    Finally, I assume you understand that Willets Point would need to be reconfigured for such a service, to avoid completely crowding the pedestrian passageway. Willets Point is not designed for crowding onto express trains. Otherwise, the locals and expresses could both run on the local track, then branch off at the interlocking just west of Willets Point. But I don’t know if this is operationally possible with the given frequency of trains. I believe it would require an additional tower operator.

    Still, you would be adding to the wait time for customers at every local stations along the route, as well as for people transferring at 74-Street.

    One of the reasons that the MTA can switch directions before a game is that they know when a game will begin. With baseball, you don’t know when it will end. In train operations, predictability is essential, otherwise before you know it the whole operation is screwed up.

  4. evidiot says:

    So here’s a thought: the MTA is spending $91 million to build an elegant Metro-North station at Yankee Stadium. Wouldn’t it be fair to spend $91 million to fund a few express trains to Shea before and after games? I highly doubt it would cost that much for even several seasons.


  1. […] the subway, I have to do some cross-promotional posting. I wrote today on my subway blog about the painful 7 ride home from Shea Stadium. It’s a local ride while the express tracks sit largely unused, taunting the tired masses on […]

  2. […] months ago, on the eve of the Subway Series, I wrote about the slooooow locals from Flushing to Manhattan after Mets games. At the time, I wondered why the MTA couldn’t offer express service. I […]

  3. […] the West Side. Up until last year, Mets fans suffered from the same problem. As I wrote in May, the lack of 7 express service from Shea to Manhattan after Mets games was one of the more infuriating aspects of trekking out to […]

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