It’s been a rough week for the MTA. With two fare hikes on tap over the next few years and only a balanced budget to show for it, the public is grumbling about paying more for the same sub-par service.
But grumble no more for tonight’s news is good. Starting on Sunday night and continuing on into Monday, New York City Transit is rolling out some much-needed and long-awaited service upgrades. While the upgrades were reduced in scope, they will beef up service to under-served neighborhoods and overcrowded subway lines.
We start with the big change out in Flushing, Queens. Beginning on Sunday, NYC Transit is adding 14 additional round trips on the IRT Flushing Line between Flushing-Main Street and Times Square. As part of this upgrade, express service will commence at 5:30 a.m. — 5:33, to be precise — an hour earlier than it does now. But that’s not the only change.
Some Main St.-bound trains in the morning will discharge their passengers at Willets Point-Shea Stadium — a three-platform station — instead of at 111th St. — a two-platform station. This will, according to 7 Line Manager Lou Brusati, help the line run more regularly and smoother. At Main St. in the morning, express trains will leave from Track One every five minutes and locals from Track Two at least every eight minutes.
The Manhattan IRT lines are getting a boost as well. On Tuesday night, I spied work crews hanging up the news signs, and lo and behold, the 3 will start to enjoy more service. Starting Sunday, the 3 will become a 24-hour express train. From midnight to 6:30 a.m., 3 trains will run from 148th St. to Times Square making all express stops. NYC Transit also plans to take some pressure off the 2 by increasing the frequency of the 3 from every six to eight minutes to five to seven minutes.
“The return of around-the- clock 3 train service means people will no longer be forced to wait outside in the heat and humidity or the cold and snow for a shuttle to bring them home. It also means that those who commute late at night or early in the morning will have access to the same level of service as those who work day-time hours,” Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr., of Harlem, said while thanking the MTA for these upgrades.
Finally, we arrive at the upgrades to a few of the lettered train lines. The B, M and W lines — not nearly as fancy as the car with the same — will all see service increased in an effort to meet the MTA’s loading guidelines. For B train passengers — that’s me! — trains will now run until 11 p.m. at night, an increase of 90 minutes. Riders along the W will enjoy the same extended hours. The M will now run between Metropolitan Ave. and Broad St. from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and from Metropolitan Ave. and Myrtle Ave. from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Currently, trains stop running to Broad St. at 7:30 p.m.
In the end, these are somewhat minor but very essential upgrades, and the timing of this announcement couldn’t have been better for the MTA. While we really needed the full $45-million package of upgrades, these $8.9-million increases will have to suffice. Now we can’t say the MTA never does anything for its passengers.