Quiet acceptance as FASTRACK returns to 7th Ave.By
Transit’s whole FASTRACK program is starting to become old hat for New York City subway riders who rely on late-night weekday service. The merry-go-round stops on the West Side again this week as the West Side IRT will be without service for four nights beginning Monday at 10 p.m. As in the past, the MTA will be terminating all 3 service at 10 p.m. while the 1 and 2 will run only between their northern terminals and 34th St./Penn Station. West Side redundancies, however, will ease commuters’ angst.
The map, which I’ve borrowed from February’s announcement, appears above, and the changes, which last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night through Friday morning are as follows:
- The 1 will run between 34 St-Penn Station and 242 St
- The 2 will run between 34 St-Penn Station and E 180 St; Rerouted via between E 180 St and Dyre Av
- Free shuttle buses run to/from 3 stations at 148 St, 145 St, and 135 St.
- The 4 will be extended to New Lots Av early, trains run local in Brooklyn
- The 5 will run its regular route between Flatbush Av and E 180 St; Rerouted via the 2 between E 180 St and 241 St.
- 42 Street Shuttle runs all night.
As I’ve noticed in the past, the West Side routes are better equipped to handle FASTRACK than the East Side. Those who are traveling between Brooklyn and Manhattan on the 2 or 3 will be able to rely on the BMT and IND lines on the West Side or the 4 and 5 in Lower Manhattan. Brooklyn travelers on the East Side IRT won’t have to change to the 2 or 3 for local stops.
Still, although Transit has shown great results from this program, I can’t help but feel that FASTRACK is a last resort of sorts. The MTA could not accomplish this work without shutting down its 24-7-365 subway system for a few hours each day for consecutive days four days a week. Basically, for the first time in New York City history since the dawn of the subway era, the system has been shut down over night. It’s acceptable because of the redundancies in place, but it serves as an indictment of the decades of deferred maintenance.
The future brings more challenges for subway riders as FASTRACK expands. When it reaches beyond the core of Manhattan, redundancies fade away. The IND isn’t an avenue block away from the IRT as it is through most of Manhattan, and many areas are accessible via only one subway line. Still, these are lines that are just as important for mobility as the routes that snake through Lower Manhattan and into Midtown.
FASTRACK is the new normal, and it’s not going away any time soon. That said, we’ve reached this point because of a lack of political and economic support from Albany and a clear sense of construction oversight from the MTA. After an initial flurry of complaints concerning the service changes, the public hasn’t made many sounds of outrage and the media has largely ignored this every-other-week story. Will subway service always shut down periodically on a line every few weeks or can we escape this cycle? Do people care enough or are we just accepting of what is thrown our way when it comes to rapid transit during off-peak hours?