Train arrival boards at Nevins St., seen here last December, will remain unused for four months longer than originally anticipated. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)
When we last checked in on New York City Transit’s plan to bring train arrival boards to New York, the $200 million project was set to debut along the IRT’s numbered subway lines in December 2010. At the time, Transit warned that this date was “subject to the successful resolution of contractual issues,” and I called that language a big red flag.
Unsurprisingly, then, Transit’s efforts to bring this much-needed and decade-old technology to New York City are officially delayed. This news was hidden in the copious amounts of material the MTA Board put online in advance of Monday’s committee meetings, and Michael Grynbaum gently broke the news this evening.
Grynbaum’s story focuses around the three Bronx stations that will see their train arrival boards activated next month as part of a preview. Considering, though, that these signs have been in use along the L line since 2006, that’s hardly the big news. The delay is though, and he writes:
Still, riders may want to hold off celebrating just yet. Last month, officials said they hoped to install all clocks at 152 subway stations by December 2010; that is now expected to be April 2011.
And while the No. 6 line, with 700,000 rides a day, is the city’s busiest, the stations selected for next month’s rollout are some of the sleepiest. On average, those stations — Brook Avenue, East 149th Street and Longwood Avenue — each carry about 4,500 rides each weekday, fewer than 3 percent of the rides handled at Grand Central…“Work was completed first at those stations, that’s why they will be the first to be turned on,” said Charles Seaton, a spokesman for New York City Transit.
There is, of course, more bad news. When I first wrote about the train board project in early October, the Transit documents alleged a cost for just this IRT rollout of $171 million. Now, Transit is estimating the costs of installing this system at the 156 A Division stations at $199.6 million.
Documents say that the budget increase of nearly $30 million is due to “increased…labor costs, in-house construction, consultant services and additional work orders.” The contractors, says Transit, “believe this estimate is sufficient for current work in schedule barring any unforeseen developments.” The MTA, it seems, specializes in unforeseen developments.
And so we continue to wait for a service riders in Washington, D.C., London, Paris and even Rome have enjoyed for years. We wait for Transit to drag its 105-year-old system kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. We wait for not even half of the stations to receive a simple notification system. We still don’t know when or if the B Division will receive these boards, but for now, as with most other MTA projects, these arrival boards are behind schedule and over budget. No one is too surprised.