Home Service Cuts For ‘minor’ holidays, slightly less subway service

For ‘minor’ holidays, slightly less subway service

by Benjamin Kabak

When I rode to work this morning, I found a seat waiting for me on my 3 train out of Grand Army Plaza and another on the 5 that greeted me at Nevins St. On a typical Monday morning, finding seats on both of those trains is a rarity, but today is not a typical Monday. Rather, it is Columbus Day, a loosely celebrated federal holiday during which some, but not all, New Yorkers have off. I noticed the subways were noticeably emptier this morning and so too did the MTA.

Starting today, the authority has launched a pilot program that will see service reduced on the numbered IRT lines during minor holidays. Instead of operating trains on a weekend schedule as the TA does for Independence Day, Memorial Day and the like, Transit will instead run trains at around 75 percent of normal on Martin Luther King Day, Good Friday, Columbus Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, the three weekdays following Christmas and New Year’s Eve if it falls on a weekday. Demand, says the authority, is usually 60 percent of normal during those so-called minor holidays.

As far as the nitty gritty goes, peak hour wait times will increase by at most 1-2 minutes while off-peak wait times might be a bit longer, and the initial A Division-only pilot will save the authority $200,000. Transit anticipates “significant additional savings on an annual basis” when and if the program expands to include B Division lettered trains as well.

Reaction to the new plan has been decidedly mixed, as The Post reported today. “If it ends up reducing service and causing problems for people, you really have to question whether it’s worth it. For some of these minor holidays, I’m not sure how much of a decrease there really is,” William Henderson of the MTA’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee said, citing the day after Thanksgiving as a popular day for the subways.”

On the other hand, though, the MTA says that “reduction in service is smaller than the reduction in ridership” on this minor weekday holidays, and anecdotally, the subways are often emptier during these holidays than they are on a typical weekday. So I pose this to you: Death by 1000 cuts or a service adjustment that makes sense considering the circumstances?

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Sunny October 10, 2011 - 1:46 pm

For the Day after Thanksgiving they need to run a modified schedule, not just cut across the board. The PM peak trains are almost completely empty, while the midday trips are very very crowded.

ajedrez October 10, 2011 - 11:31 pm

Let me make sure I understand how it works for the buses:

They run a Saturday schedule, but certain rush hour-only lines are allowed to operate. Correct?

So today, I caught the S89 (a rush hour-only route), but I saw some S44s (which are supposed to be replaced by S94s at that time).

Andrew October 10, 2011 - 11:32 pm

Is this for rush hours only or also middays? For the AM rush especially, it makes a lot of sense. Whatever discretionary travel takes place on holidays and semi-holidays isn’t usually at 7 in the morning.

For the record, I rode the IRT (several lines) today during both rush hours and the midday. My AM rush trains were much emptier than usual, my PM rush trains were slightly emptier than usual, and my midday trains were about typical.

If “the reduction in service is smaller than the reduction in ridership” (and that’s the case on an hour-by-hour basis and not just for the day as a whole), then Henderson is just being silly.

SpendmoreW October 11, 2011 - 1:17 am

but why was this not done 25 yrs ago? 75% service 65% at times of ridership (roughly) is tough to argue with.

Shouldda hired Walder years ago, paid him double and dumped 1000 standaround sitaround payroll tentacles, 60/40 from mgmt/labor.

Andrew October 11, 2011 - 7:06 am

Nothing against Walder, but I doubt he personally had anything to do with this.

Dan October 11, 2011 - 2:14 am

I say go for it, that kind of flexibility is good. It was the same on the N during yesterday morning rush hour. Just make people aware of it online and in some postings so we’re aware.

Al D October 11, 2011 - 8:38 am

It just makes sense to run fewer trains if they are far less crowded. For example, day after Christmas, the train are empty in the morning, so much so, that even a Saturday like morning service would work. Then as the day goes on and the trains get busy, increase the service to weekday like levels.

Norton October 11, 2011 - 1:22 pm

Service adjustments make so much more sense given that the data is already known for the slower annual ridership periodocity and that all that’s needed to implement, is nimbler scheduling changes from existing employees. Especially now, going into winter!

TP October 11, 2011 - 3:15 pm

“the three weekedays [sic] following Christmas” — wow, way to make me jealous! Those aren’t holidays!

Andrew ACG October 11, 2011 - 5:21 pm

They’re not usually paid holidays, but a lot of people (like me) take time off between Christmas and New Year’s, using their vacation days, which would reduce the demand for peak-time travel.

For some more fortunate individuals, of course, there are company shutdowns during this time period, which are basically the same thing as holidays. 🙂

ajedrez January 2, 2012 - 11:28 pm

Don’t forget teachers and students (especially students, but I’m sure some teachers take transit as well) are off, which play a noticable role in ridership. Students make up roughly 7% of the total ridership (5% on the subways and 10% on the buses), and teachers are probably another percentage point on top of that.

On a slower commute during ‘minor’ holidays :: Second Ave. Sagas January 2, 2012 - 11:03 pm

[…] few months ago, in early October as Columbus Day dawned, the MTA announced a plan to reduce service on so-called minor holidays. For some days — the weekdays after Thanksgiving and the week in between Christmas and New […]


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