Home Asides Praising the 4 express service

Praising the 4 express service

by Benjamin Kabak

Yesterday morning marked the debut of NYC Transit’s 4 express service in the Bronx. The trial run, set to last until June 26th when it will be reevaluated, features four trains from 7-8 a.m. that skip most Bronx stops. The express trains shave approximately three minutes off of commuters’ travel times and, during day one at least, helped ease congestion on the perennially overcrowded IRT line.

During the inaugural day of this service, NY1 News spoke to those straphangers who took advantage of the new service, and it earned raves all around. With more room and a speedier ride, what’s not to like? “Express service is definitely much better. Get to work quicker and the local is always crowded. I’d prefer the express to stay,” one rider said.

I have to praise the MTA for this move. At little cost to the agency, Transit is taking existing unused tracks and adding service over them. This service alleviates overcrowding and provides for a faster ride, and it doesn’t require a significant capital outlay of new tracks, new tunnels or new stations. In fact, it sounds materially similar to the F Express plan for which I had lobbied in 2007.

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Kid Twist June 9, 2009 - 1:08 pm

Yeah, but.

I don’t think they added any trains because there’s no capacity on the Lex. Which means that riders at the busy local stops get four fewer trains each morning.

Maybe the real reason for this is to get some relatively empty trains into Manhattan for riders boarding at 125th Street and south.

Still, I’m all for trying something new.

D Train June 9, 2009 - 6:11 pm

“Maybe the real reason for this is to get some relatively empty trains into Manhattan for riders boarding at 125th Street and south.”

Ding, Ding, Ding, we have a winner!

I thought the same thing, “The MTA caring about us outerborough folks? Who is this really going to benefit?” Follow the money, and there’s the answer.

Scott E June 9, 2009 - 1:11 pm

I wonder how much confusion there might have been for people who wanted to travel local (3 or 4 stops). Did they use the express “diamond” indication on the trains? Did the conductors shout “EXPRESS! EXPRESS! Next Stop is xxxxx” at the stations? The schedules and maps on the MTA website were not updated.
I’ve never understood why the signs on the side of the trains were not designed to show the circle or diamond. It’s a different type of display than the interior signs [which improvise the bullets with ( ) and ] and the exterior end-signs [which include the circle/diamond]

Marc Shepherd June 9, 2009 - 2:12 pm

The schedules and maps weren’t updated because this is just a pilot for a few weeks. If the pilot is considered successful, I am sure they will update the maps, signage, and so forth.

According to the press release, conductors were directed to make announcements on the train. Obviously any change to the service pattern will confuse some people at first, but riders quickly catch on, especially in that area, where practically everyone on the train will be a regular subway user.

Whether it’s a success will depend, in part, on whether the benefit for riders at express stops more than offsets the inconvenience to those at local stops. You can’t change the service pattern without someone complaining that it’s a drawback.

rhywun June 9, 2009 - 6:43 pm

I remember when they tried this on the W in Astoria (where I was living at the time), and it was a disaster. By some quirk of development patterns, the 2 busiest stations in Astoria have only local service, and it was maddening watching all those half-empty W’s sail by every morning. I hope the express stations are more intelligently spaced in the Bronx.


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