Home Asides A wait made longer by 30 seconds

A wait made longer by 30 seconds

by Benjamin Kabak

To better align service along the 1 and 6 with load guidelines during the summer, the MTA has reduced service along those two lines, and boy, oh boy, is The Daily News unhappy about it. In a rather lengthy article, Pete Donohue reports that the authority has reduced peak service on the 6 from 23 trains per hour to 21 and off peak service from 15 to 13. Along the 1, Transit running 16 peak-hour trains, down from 18, and between nine and 11 off-peak hours down from 10-12. In other words, expect to wait 30 seconds more for the train.

The MTA says that these adjustments are merely season as ridership slumps in the summer with school out and families head on vacation. “These are seasonal adjustments we’ve made based on declining ridership resulting from summer vacations and are similar to the seasonal adjustments we have been making along certain bus routes,” Transit said. “In most cases, customers would have to wait an extra 30 seconds for a train.” Still, that didn’t stop the News from finding irate customers along the IRT. “Whoever created the schedule should be forced to ride the 6 train all day,” rider Mary Dohnalek said in a letter, seemingly penned before service was scaled back, to Transit.

I always find it tough to stomach any service scalebacks because it always seems to take longer to restore service, but a Transit spokesman assured me that full service would be restored when school starts again. “Both of these routes have very frequent service, so the customer impact is small and there are multiple benefits, including operating more cost-effectively, reducing our energy use, which has an added environmental benefit,” a Transit spokesperson said to The News.

You may also like


notalawyer July 15, 2011 - 12:01 pm

If the MTA just published the departure and arrival times of trains into stations, we could easily time arriving at the station regardless of how infrequently the train arrives. I just don’t understand why they’d spend so much money to put in all these countdown boards in the station to inform me of how long I have to wait now that I’m already committed instead of just publishing the info to anyone who wants it (*cough* Google *Cough*) to inform me of when I have to leave the cafe, bar, work, etc to catch the train on time. It would literally cost almost nothing.

Benjamin Kabak July 15, 2011 - 12:03 pm

The arrival boards are far more useful than inaccurate scheduling information IMO. Publishing when the train is supposed to arrive won’t help much when the train doesn’t arrive.

John July 15, 2011 - 1:04 pm

I’m pretty sure he meant ACTUAL departure and arrival times, i.e the same data the countdown clocks use. Like when a 6 train leaves Station X it would get pushed out somewhere where apps could make use of that information. So like you could time your schedule to always leave your apartment when the train has just left a certain station.

Bolwerk July 15, 2011 - 1:15 pm

The information is partly available in PDF form on the MTA web site (schedules – just pick your line). Here is the 6.

The problem is they only publish it for some stations, and you have to guesstimate for stops between those.

Alon Levy July 15, 2011 - 7:35 pm

The issue is that when trains come every 5 minutes, schedules work differently from on mainline trains with lower frequency. Passengers show up and go, so maintaining constant headways is more important than maintaining the schedule. And missing a train is a small deal, making schedule maintenance even less important.

So agencies don’t focus as much on the schedule, unless they’re trying to time transfers or overtakes. And in New York, overtakes don’t happen because all express trains have their own tracks. (They should be timing overtakes on the Jamaica Line, but that’s a separate argument.)

Bolwerk July 16, 2011 - 12:44 am

It’d be nice to know schedules when headways are above 8m or so.

BrooklynBus July 15, 2011 - 12:19 pm

The question isn’t the extra 30 seconds of wait time but the fact that the trains will be more crowded, since the peak crowding guidelines allow of near crush capacity. So what the MTA is saying is instead of giving the riders a break in the summer by giving them a few extra square feet to move about because of reduced ridership in the summer, let them be just as crowded and uncomfortable in the summer as in the winter. Way to go MTA.

That philosophy will certainly encourage people to leave their cars home and take the train into Manhattan. Isn’t that the major reason why people don’t want to take the train in the first place because it is too crowded? Doesn’t the MTA want more people to ride the trains? Or do they actually want fewer riders so they can provide less service and have a lower deficit which is their only concern. Certainly makes you think. The MTA’s contempt for the riding public is clear.

Benjamin Kabak July 15, 2011 - 12:22 pm

That philosophy will certainly encourage people to leave their cars home and take the train into Manhattan.

I agree with everything you say in that comment except this statement. It just won’t. Not going to happen. I ride the 1 and 6 with some regularity, and the trains aren’t crowded enough nor waits long enough for any number of people to do that. The current load guidelines certainly aren’t ideal, but it’s far from a crush situation even with two fewer trains per peak hour.

BrooklynBus July 17, 2011 - 10:58 am

Not sure what you are saying. That comment was sarcastic. I meant the oppposite that more crowded trains will not encourage people to leave their cars at home. Are you disagreeing with that? Or are you just saying that the difference will be so minor it won’t make any difference. And you are agreeing with me that the MTA wants fewer riders? I find that difficult to believe. Please explain.

John Paul N. July 17, 2011 - 5:06 pm

The MTA knows what their seasonal ridership trends are. (It knows to suspend most service diversions the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.) It’s nice to be thinking how the MTA could attract more riders in the summer, but perhaps the MTA’s thinking is that that number of potential additional passengers is small compared to people taking a vacation from the city. Is that an unreasonable thought? And with the media in this town, emptier trains will be more fodder for the anti-transit pols.

BrooklynBus July 18, 2011 - 10:07 am

Not an unreasonable thought but i don’t think the MTA is ever thinking about adding additional riders because they know that they would just have to provide more service to accommodate them and that would cost more. They realize that the times people want to ride are not the times when service is available. That is the dilemma.

Alon Levy July 15, 2011 - 7:41 pm

The guidelines are not anywhere near crush. 110 people per IRT car is crowded, but not very much so; in Japan, trains go twice over similar crowding guidelines, and the long-term vision is to reduce peak hour crowding to only 150% of capacity.

Reducing peak hour service to comply with lower ridership is a major money saver. Peak trains are the costliest to provide: they require expensive split shifts, more complex yard moves, and, in the longer run, more rolling stock. Conversely, because peak frequency is still high, the riders who are cheapest to serve – reverse-peak ones – will see the smallest reduction in service.

Tsuyoshi July 16, 2011 - 3:12 pm

No kidding. I lived in Tokyo before I came here, and I have learned to totally disregard the word “crowded” here. The average New Yorker’s idea of crowded is not even close to what I think of as crowded.

Andrew July 17, 2011 - 8:18 pm

I enjoy empty trains on light-ridership days as much as anybody else, but the state has cut funding to the point that that the MTA no longer has the luxury to run them.

If you want emptier trains in the summer or more generous loading guidelines in general, ask your state legislators to restore the funding that they cut last year and to find a long-term stable funding source for transit.

Benjamin July 15, 2011 - 12:26 pm

It’s the off-peak times that get me most — the last few times I took the 1 or 6 on the weekend it was more crowded that it ever was during rush hour. It’s not helped by the fact there’s only been skeleton/nonexistent weekend service on the 5 the last few months.

For everyone who’s not making the rush hour commute during the summer, there are just as many kids (without jobs, given the economy) who are traveling around on the weekends, going to and from beaches and parks, and certainly plenty of tourists who fill in the gaps as well. Obviously, I don’t have access to ridership statistics, but my experience says the off-peak cuts are a terrible idea.

Steve July 15, 2011 - 12:39 pm

During the last fall, winter and spring, Southbound 1s at around 9ish AM were frequently too full to take on new passengers as of 125 St. Through the summer, that hasn’t been true (at least, not for a while). So while I don’t love the idea of any service cuts from the customer standpoint, my experience suggests that it’s more important that if any season can handle service reduction, it’s the summer.

It’d better come back in the fall, though.

Billy G July 15, 2011 - 7:06 pm

Nice, the trains are more likely to run on time then.

Usually, if it’s packed, it’s fast, if it’s empty, it’s slow.
If it’s packed and slow, walk across town.


Leave a Comment