During Monday’s MTA Board committee meetings, the Transit Committee received an update on the Orwellianly named FASTRACK program. The MTA’s overnight shutdowns have helped speed up maintenance on key subway trunk lines while saving the authority money, and after a series of treatments in the heavily-trafficked and heavily-redundant parts of Manhattan this year, the treatment will spread out of the so-called Central Business District.
The key slide from the presentation [pdf] for travelers wondering what the MTA’s future plans will be is this one:
As we see, when FASTRACK moves out of the areas of the city well covered by trains, shuttle buses enter the equation. There me be lines parallel to 8th Ave. one block east, but for some areas, service grows a bit more scarce. Notably, the MTA will have to provide some shuttle bus service in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan as well as along the Queens Boulevard route.
FASTRACK for the Lexington Ave. line through the Upper East Side is intriguing as well. The double-decked tunnels allow for some interesting service patterns in which express trains will run while locals do not and vice versa. That’s good for people heading to 86th St. and not so great for those trying to reach the stops in between. The MTA has yet to announce any 2013 dates for theses shutdowns, but they’re on the way.
Meanwhile, the 10-page document offered up some other numbers. During the first quarter of 2012, FASTRACK allowed the MTA to realize savings of over $5 million while addressing backlogged maintenance requests. Ridership drops through the CBD have been around three percent while buses have picked up some of the slack. Finally, the fourth quarter work later this year will involve removing all debris from the rights-of-way and cleaning the Joralemon, Clark, Cranberry and Rutgers tubes.
One way or another, it sounds as though we’re stuck with FASTRACK for the foreseeable future. It may mean less convenient overnight subway service now and then, but if all goes well, it should mean more reliable service overall. Fair trade?