For 2013, a wide expansion for FastrackBy
Due to Hurricane Sandy, the MTA’s new Fastrack program suffered a premature end in 2012. The November treatments were canceled as the MTA worked first to restore subway service and then to repair the transit system. Despite this road bump, Fastrack will be back in 2013, and yesterday, New York City Transit unveiled to me the full schedule of work lined up for the coming year.
In a press release issued Monday, Transit touted the benefits of Fastrack. The overnight subway shutdowns allow MTA workers unimpeded access to subway infrastructure, and repairs and renovations can be completed quickly and without the same fear of passing trains. The agency used some glowing phrases to describe “an increase in productivity and significant decreases in employee accidents and maintenance costs” and cited cost savings — to the tune of $17 million — and reduced delays as reasons for a 2013 return.
“Over the past year we have found this to be an extremely effective way to maintain a subway system that operates around the clock, seven days a week,” NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast said. “We have seen concrete benefits in the way the system is being maintained through FASTRACK and we are now ready to roll it out to other line segments.”
As the 2012 version of Fastrack focused on the system’s core trunk lines in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, the new track segments venture further afield into the Bronx, Queens and Upper Manhattan. Still, the MTA assures its customers that these new routes have bend chosen because “there is adequate alternate means of transportation, including enhanced services along some bus lines during work periods.” I’d stick with alternate nearby subway lines over late-night bus service, but that’s just me.
So what are these new corridors? They include the Concourse Line (D) north of 161st St., the BMT Broadway Line (N/Q/R) between Queensboro Plaza and Court Street; the Eighth Avenue Line (A) north of 168th St.; the Queens Boulevard Line (E/F/M/R) between 5th Ave./53rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue; and the East Side IRT (4/5/6) north of Grand Central to 125th St. There will be a few one-offs during the year as well.
Each Fastrack segment will receive four treatments a year when service is shutdown overnight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for four consecutive nights. First up is the D train’s Concourse Line during the week of January 14. That will repeat during the weeks of April 8, July 15 and November 4. The BMT Broadway line will be shutdown during the weeks of January 28, April 15, June 17 and September 30. The A train won’t venture north of 168th St. during the weeks of February 25, June 10, August 26 and November 18. The Queens Boulevard work will occur during the weeks of March 18, June 3, August 12 and October 14. Finally, the 6 train will be offline during the weeks of March 25 and September 9 while the 4 and 5 tracks will be shut down during the weeks of May 20 and October 28.
But! That’s not all. In addition to this trunk line work, there are a few other overnight Fastrack happenings. Out in Brooklyn, between the D train’s Coney Island Creek Bridge and the North Stillwell Interlocking, the MTA will conduct a weekend day-time Fastrack during the weekends of February 2, May 18, September 5 and November 23. Furthermore, a series of one-offs will dot the year. The J train tunnels in Manhattan will undergo maintenance during the week of April 1 while the F train’s Rutgers Tube through to Broadway/Lafayette will be off during the week of December 2. The R train will not run south of 36th St. along 4th Ave. during the week of May 6, and the 2 train will not operate south of Franklin Ave. during the week of January 21. The A/C/D trains will not run from 59th St. to either 168th or 161st St. during the week of September 16.
That’s quite the laundry list of Fastrack, and if you’re eyes haven’t glazed over yet, congratulations. The MTA is clearly engaged in an aggressive attempt at, well, something. It’s a money-saving effort to speed up necessary and vital repairs. It’s a major inconvenience to many late-night commuters who have few alternate routes. It is, as I’ve said before, the new normal, and it’s taking over more and more of the system. It starts up again in just a few weeks, and one day soon, we won’t remember when Fastrack wasn’t a part of the normal way of things. We don’t always like it, but we live with it.