Home MTA Construction Transit eying full line shutdowns to speed work

Transit eying full line shutdowns to speed work

by Benjamin Kabak

Transport for London often shuts down entire sections of Tube lines to finish up work quickly. The MTA may soon do the same. (Photo by flickr user Bluey Birdy)

Part of what makes New York the “city that never sleeps” are its subway lines. For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the subways always run. Some duplicative lines that offer extra peak-hour service shut down over night, but a straphanger can get on at any station and head to any other at any point in time. Now, according to reports, that could change.

For much of the past 18 months, MTA and Transit officials have struggled with keeping necessary maintenance on time and on budget while still offering as much subway service as possible. Yet, by starting work late at night during the week and wrapping up before the 5 a.m. rush the next day, the MTA has found progress slow and costly. In May of 2010, then-CEO and Chairman Jay Walder talked about full line shutdowns to improve work efficiency. “If you’re in London and you’re doing track work on the Jubilee Line, do you want me to tell you what the service announcement is on the Jubilee Line?” Walder said. “The service announcement is, ‘The Jubilee line is not running.’”

Even as late as last December, Transit President Thomas Prendergast expressed his desire to see such shutdowns implemented in New York. “Maybe for some of the more difficult tests, that take a long time to set up, pick one Saturday a month and do it at night, starting after five or six o’clock at night, look at things like that,” he said.

Now, according to a report in the Daily News based on MTA documents that will be presented to the authority board’s Transit Committee on Monday, the authority will shut down certain lines for “blitzes” that will look to speed up repairs. Pete Donohue has the details:

Every three months, a line segment — possibly stretching from midtown all the way to the southern tip of Manhattan or even downtown Brooklyn — would be closed for three or four consecutive weeknights, sources said. The new strategy likely will be tested first on the Lexington Ave. line between 42nd St. to the north and either Bowling Green in lower Manhattan or Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, to the south, sources said.

Trains would stop running at about 10 p.m. each night and wouldn’t start up again until about 5 a.m. the next morning. That would allow the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to get many projects and tasks done at once rather than piecemeal throughout the year. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff, one transit source familiar with the plan said.

“For a few nights, you won’t have service on a segment of a line but contrast that with work being done over far more nights and weekends with all the service diversions and train slowdowns.”

In addition to the Manhattan pilot, Donohue reports, Transit may blitz some Queens work too. The Manhattan-bound F would not run from Forest Hills to Parsons Boulevard for nine days in an effort to avoid eight weekends of construction.

The details of this plan will be, as I mentioned, released on Monday, but from prior conversations with MTA officials and various statements, it’s clear that the authority has high hopes for this pilot. Track workers won’t have to contend with train traffic that, due to necessary safety precautions, delays the work schedule. Furthermore, by going all-in during the week, the MTA can scale back weekend work as well.

With weekend subway rides on the rise, the MTA is willing to take a chance by cutting off service during the week on routes that have, as Donohue terms it, “parallel subway lines.” With ridership very low during weeknight overnight periods, the MTA is seeking a way to inconvenience fewer people while improving efficiency. It might take some getting used to this plan, but as the subways never sleep, the work must go on one way or another.

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Greg November 14, 2011 - 12:36 am

I suppose I should know this, but would an overnight shutdown of the Lexington Avenue Line between Grand Central and lower Manhattan kick into gear the implementation of overnight runs of the M15 select bus service, which usually shuts down around 10:30 am?

al November 14, 2011 - 12:48 am

The MTA and DOT should consider setting up temporary BRT service as subway replacement during weekends and late nights. When they shut the 7 down between 74th st Broadway and Main St for track panel replacement and signal work, they ran a BRT like service down Roosevelt Ave. This would be a rationale for the MTA to start buying lots of low floor articulated buses.

ajedrez November 14, 2011 - 10:57 am

No need. Since bus service is sparse at night, they can just use the existing fleet.

I mean, generally, the substitute buses are free, aren’t they? So there’s no need for temporary +SBS+ service.

Bolwerk November 14, 2011 - 12:02 pm

You ever see what happens when the L Train gets bustituted? It’s a nightmare, even (especially?) late at night. I imagine the 7 could even be worse. I don’t think SBS would really be that helpful, but at least by utilizing three doors it should improve loading and unloading.

A real solution would be to have complementary LRT services. Unlike buses, LRT could probably actually handle the loads of late-night subway service – and shit, might even improve service frequency a little. This is especially true of the Queens Blvd segment of the local 7 Train, where there is a perfectly good ROW for a trolley or LRT service underneath the viaduct, a service that in normal hours could do much to relieve the 7 Local.

(It should piss us all off: the trolleys had their own ROW, which buses of course couldn’t use. In the quest to adhere to rubber tire ideology, planners inflicted what must be significantly slower travel times on the users of what are today the Q32 and Q60 by shifting the local transit from private ROW to mixed traffic.)

al November 14, 2011 - 5:08 pm

I’ve walked the Queens Blvd section. There is a electrical substation under the viaduct west of the 40th st station. You’d need to bury it or move it. Otherwise you end up with 4 sets of slow and noisy S shaped curves.


Bolwerk November 15, 2011 - 12:01 am

That sounds less problematic than moving the parking. People will actually complain about that. There is historical precedent for service under the viaduct.

But why four noisy(?) S-shaped curves? There appears only to be room for two tracks anyway.

al November 15, 2011 - 7:59 pm

2 tracks, 2 sets of curves each. One to get out from under the viaduct, and another to get back under it.

ajedrez November 14, 2011 - 10:06 pm

But wouldn’t the fact that there are artics being used (and the fact that the M101/102/103 already run on top of the corridor) allleviate much of the crowding.

I mean, there should be plenty of artics available, since most lines use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/10 of their daytime fleet at night.

Bolwerk November 14, 2011 - 11:59 pm

That might help, but articulated buses have fraction of the capacity of a solid LRT system.

SpendmorWastemor November 14, 2011 - 12:53 am

In practice I think this will be less disruptive than the current scheme. In many cases lines run so close together that there’s an alternate, e.g the Q F N and D lines in Brooklyn provide enough redundancy that you could take any one out for a week, especially during the summer without a huge headache.

As it’s done now, trains are re-routed and/or crawl through construction zones during work hours, which can include midday. Try taking the allegedly 24hr subway at 2am for a few weeks and see how much progress the (occasional) train actually makes.

The setup we have is really designed to do the least amount of work with the greatest number of people, it’s a relic from Tammany Hall days.

They should have doubled Walder’s pay or at least stood up and saluted when he walked in. Not because the guy is Churchill, but because getting anyone who is neither corrupt or incompetent into that job is near impossible. Too many people don’t want the job to be done right; unions, contractors, upstate legislators and whiny riders who won’t accept targeted cuts.

Henry November 14, 2011 - 12:54 am

…I was not aware that there were parallel subway lines to the Queens Blvd line.

It’s a great idea, but hopefully they provide an adequate replacement service.

SpendmorWastemor November 14, 2011 - 1:15 am

Yeah, in many cases there’s no good alternate. Those lines should get full shutdowns rarely (like 1x/year), announced well in advance and with some sort of free bus service. The current proposal is for night shutdown only, so it’s not what would be called a full shutdown in other places.

Alex C November 14, 2011 - 12:58 am

I also wonder what the plans are for the Queens Boulevard regarding replacement service there. It is quite a crowded line, so I’m guessing they would have an all-hands-on-deck type scenario with the bus depots and shuttle buses. I can see this being used for CBTC installation on the line, which as far as I remember is in the current budget.

SpendmorWastemor November 14, 2011 - 1:11 am

Just read the details – this is not ambitious enough. Instead of shutting down for one shift, losing setup, equipment moving and cleanup time every day they need to close the thing for the duration of a comprehensive job.

That is, for a project needing 72 hours of work & where there is an alternate line, close the line for roughly 3 days all day and night. The crews would (ok, _might) look at it as somewhat less of a joke, cuz its’s really obvious when you’re shoveling wet sand into the tide that nobody takes your job as being worth cr@p, while if you’re building a reinforced breakwater it’s clearly meant to get work done not just keep busy.

JJJ November 14, 2011 - 1:51 am

RE: London

Saying “this other system screws over their consumers, so we should adopt their worst practices as well” is never a place to start.

Goes along with “London charges $8 for a single ride” and “London doesnt offer 24hr rail service” thus, why should we?

Thats called a race to the bottom.

Personal London experience:
They shut down the entire DLR system for the weekend when I was there. The DLR system is how one arrives to City Airport. My friend missed his flight because he arrived at the DLR transfer station to see the line was closed. As a tourist, we obviously weren’t privy to whatever advance announcements had been made to commuters.

Shuttle buses? Nope. He was completely out of luck, transit riders were given no alternative besides an expensive cab. Fortunately, the airline rebooked him at no additional cost. I’d assume he wasn’t the first with that experience.

So please, don’t look to London as the ideal for how they operate their maintenance schedule.

Alon Levy November 14, 2011 - 5:21 am

Why not? I mean, clearly adopting worst industry practice is the best option for New York. That’ll show true reform. So let’s shut down the system at 10:30 every night no matter how busy it is (Shanghai), charge for bus-subway transfers (Paris), use a vendor-locked smartcard (Bay Area), not run public transit at all on the Sabbath (Tel Aviv), and employ conductors on buses (Beijing). In exchange, we’ll bestow gifts upon those other cities, such as the two-man subway operation, the tunnels that cost over a billion dollars per kilometer, and, best of all, Albany’s governance. (Actually, if they send off all the Albany people to Jerusalem, it’ll improve the quality of government in both places. But I digress.)

Miles Bader November 14, 2011 - 2:34 am

I agree with JJJ: For a line with serious ridership, shutting down completely for an extended period (more than overnight), is only something to be done as a last-ditch emergency action (“earthquake destroyed the track”), unless there are enough high-capacity redundant routes to handle the load. Buses seem a complete non-starter, they simply don’t have the capacity.

Alon Levy November 14, 2011 - 5:13 am

I have to third what JJJ and Miles are saying. I don’t get why London is such a model here. Its opening hours are roughly comparable to those of Paris or Tokyo. In Berlin and a few other places I don’t remember, they run at all hours of the night during weekends. And yet those places have weekend service that does not horrendously blow. My recollection of riding Line 1 in Paris in the summer before last is that they truncated it in the evenings (after 8:30 pm, I think) pending installation of the new driverless system, but not for any regular maintenance.

J B November 22, 2011 - 2:37 am

I don’t get why London is such a model here.

Because it’s the only foreign city most New Yorkers are familiar with?

John G November 14, 2011 - 7:41 am

One advantage that the MTA has that the others (mostly) don’t is express service. It’s not unknown for major lines to have local-only, or express in one direction, local only in the other etc, when major work needs to be done. Full shutdown need not be an option when you can use two tracks out of four.

Chris G November 14, 2011 - 7:54 am

I am one who thinks this work should be done on a weekend for a full shut down of said section. Friday night to Monday morning. MTA/Transit must provide a bus to replace said service, but the idea of shutting down for 8 hours over night will result in about 3 of those hours being lost to set up and tear down each day. If they’re going to shut down a line, they need to do it and get it done asap.

I really believe shutting service down will help speed things only if they do it once and get the job done and then restore it while having provided a bus in between.

Caelestor November 14, 2011 - 9:06 am

The MTA should really only shut down lines with service nearby, i.e. the Lex is not something I would shut down on weeknights. Personally, the likeliest candidate for shutdown would be either one of the IND trunk lines in Manhattan, which parallel existing IRT service for most of its length. (Too bad the IND avoided decent transfers with the IRT/BMT in Midtown that could make such service changes more reasonable.)

Larry Littlefield November 14, 2011 - 10:17 am

Given that Generation Greed has bankrupted the transit system, I’d rather have periodic shutdowns than deferred maintenance. Not that we aren’t getting deferred maintenance too.

Young New Yorkers: in the future, entire subway lines will be shut down for weeks at a time. 24/7. Don’t believe me? How about that 20-year Manhattan Bridge shutdown from 1982 to 2002?

Learn to ride a bike and keep in shape. The reach of a bicycle expands the range of “paralell lines” a short distance away considerably.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 10:24 am

It’s easy to say “shut it down, there’s another line nearby”, but in actuality there are many portions of the system that are not redundant. If you shut down the Lex overnight, how exactly does one get from Grand Central to Bowling Green or Brooklyn, or uptown to the UES and the Bronx at midnight? Yes, you can take the Flushing Line to Times Square, then transfer to the 7th or 8th Ave lines downtown, but you’ll add a good 30-45 mins to your ride (on a good day). If the MTA added SBS buses on 2nd Ave that would help somewhat, but I’m always suspicious that the MTA will ever do the right thing.

And if they can institute SBS or other limited bus service to replace closed lines, why not just go all the way and run limited buses to the outer boroughs (including Staten Island) so riders don’t have to transfer at all? It’s not like there aren’t any riders on most lines at 1 or 2am. Many folks are coming home from work in this 24/7 city, even on the weekends. I’m all for shutting lines down IF, and only if, alternate bus/subway service is provided.

Jeff November 14, 2011 - 10:54 am

Additional travel time is a good tradeoff if they can get things done in a hurry and not have to have the work spread out over weeks or months.

And they’ve said that they will only be shutting down routes that have adequate redundancy.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 11:00 am

“The new strategy likely will be tested first on the Lexington Ave. line between 42nd St. to the north and either Bowling Green in lower Manhattan or Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, to the south, sources said.”

So what line, exactly, parallels the Lex from Grand Central to Downtown Brooklyn? The only thing that comes close is the “R” train, which is as slow as hell on a good day, and usually stops running to Brooklyn around 10pm. Even if they extend its hours to overnight runs, how exactly does a rider at Grand Central catch the “R”? The only alternative is to take the Flushing Line to Times Square and wait (and wait, and wait) for an “R” train to lumber down Broadway, adding a good 45 mins to any commute.

Not exactly adequate or redundant, I’d say.

Henry November 15, 2011 - 7:21 pm

Actually, i believe that you can change from an R train at 53rd and Lex to the 4 5 6.

ajedrez November 15, 2011 - 9:23 pm

A couple of points:

* The (R) stops at 59th Street/Lexington Avenue. It’s the (E)/(M) that stop at 53rd Street.

* The shutdowns will take place in the middle of the night (since they have less riders than on the weekend). So it’s the (N) that runs overnight, not the (R) (though the (R) runs until about 11:30, when the closure starts at 10PM)

In any case, it’s actually not as bad as you think. The only riders seriously affected are those traveling between The Bronx/East Harlem/UES and Brooklyn.

* Riders traveling between those areas and Lower Manhattan can take the (4) or (6) to 59th Street and transfer to the (N). The (N) takes a more circuitous route, but it isn’t unbearably slow. The real problem is for Brooklyn riders because they have to make a second transfer at 20 minute headways. To make it more bearable, they should run the (3) out to New Lots Avenue while they’re doing the work (they have to have something serving New Lots Avenue anyway)

* Riders traveling between 53rd Street and Brooklyn can take the (E) to 42nd Street and transfer to the (N) (they can just stay on the (E) if they’re going to Lower Manhattan).

* Riders traveling between Grand Central and Lower Manhattan/Brooklyn can either take a shuttle bus to Union Square or take the (7) to Times Square and then take the (N).

Hank November 14, 2011 - 10:27 am

Am I the only person here who thinks this is no big deal? If it helps keep maintenance up and costs down, I can swallow a few nights of inconvienience. However, it would be nice if, where possible, parallel bus lines were kept operating later on the nights this occurs.

Tsuyoshi November 14, 2011 - 2:46 pm

I don’t think it’s a big deal. But then again I have lived in cities that have no train service at all, and cities that had no train service at night. Take the bus, take a taxi, or don’t stay out so late. Or it might even be practical to use a car, since traffic is lighter and parking is cheaper at night.

I hear a lot of talk about New York being a “24 hour city” but really, that only describes a small portion of the city. Most of the city is pretty dead after 10PM. Ridership at night is lower than ridership on the weekends. So if we can trade night service for better weekend service I think it’s a good trade.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 10:49 am

If you don’t ride the subway home late at night, every night, it’s no big deal to you. If you’re not trying to catch a boat that runs every hour late nights and you don’t want to miss it by 5 mins because there’s no train running, it’s no big deal. If you’re looking to get home to The Bronx from East Midtown and there’s no other train on that side of Manhattan to catch, it’s no big deal. For the thousands of riders who travel the above routes, IT’S A BIG DEAL.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 10:50 am

“If you’re NOT looking to get home to The Bronx from East Midtown…

Benjamin Kabak November 14, 2011 - 11:16 am

So a few more details have emerged: The proposal would involve shutting down all trains on one line (i.e. uptown and downtown 4/5/6) for four consecutive nights from 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. once per quarter. That will impact far fewer people overall than endless diversions and weekend changes. Transit seems to consider the Broadway, 6th, 7th and 8th Ave. lines as “parallel service” to Lexington Ave. and say commute times will increase by 10-15 minutes. I’m torn on this one.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 11:33 am

Obviously whoever it is at the MTA who thinks taking the B’way, 6th, 7th or 8th Ave lines instead of the Lex will add and extra 10-15 mins to a midnight commute has never rode the subway. Taking those lines as an alternate during rush hour would add 20 mins easy, never mind during the overnight hours. More like 60+ mins, and more if you need to make another subway/ferry connection.

pea-jay November 14, 2011 - 2:24 pm

Why does the Lex have to be completely shut anyway, esp north of 42? The Express tracks are mostly in different tunnels between GCT and 96 and only run at the same level at 103 and 110. Since the express tracks are already shut at night, presumably those are maintained at that time, so why not a blitz on the local line between 125 and GCT overnight? Send the 4 and 6 express and then you only need to bus passengers to and from the UES, not the whole line. Presumably having the Second Avenue Subway operational would make this somewhat more palatable but why a whole line shutdown when the express tracks more or less exist in seperate tunnels?

al November 14, 2011 - 11:01 pm

They’re looking into shutting down the IRT Lex between Atlantic Ave and Grand Central. The section between GC and Unions Square is under Park Ave South.

They could run frequent bus service (20 bus per hr) between Grand Central and Union Square (eve/late night -> less traffic). At Union Square, one could transfer to the N for Atlantic Ave. South of Union Square, the Broadway (BMT Broadway) is a 500′-1000′ west of Lafayette St (IRT Lex). The N also links to the J at Canal St.

Scott E November 14, 2011 - 12:19 pm

That sounds OK to me; but first I would push the use of single-track-operation as much as possible. This way, stations don’t need to be closed (and secured, which might be difficult and costly). If that can’t work, then do three things.
1. Publicize the alternate routes clearly and concisely. Get the PR/communications group to write them (not the techie/engineering folks who have a hard time writing a sentence). If there’s no service between “A” and “B”, make sure we know if there is service AT those stations.
2. Increase service on the designated alternate route. We’re talking off-peak hours here, there’s room to add a few trains (but will rules and regulations allow IRT operators/conductors to work a BMT train?)
3. If there is no alternate route (i.e. the farther reaches of Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens), offer one – MNR or LIRR shuttles, buses, whatever. Keep it reasonable (it was stupid when they had alternate bus service on the (1) down Broadway to South Ferry)

Alon Levy November 14, 2011 - 5:05 pm

If they had the organizational capacity to make the LIRR a viable relief line to the Flushing and QB Lines and Metro-North a viable relief to the Lex, the system would be working far better independently of the shutdowns.

It’s similar to how Berlin’s tight integration of S-Bahn and U-Bahn service makes service better in general, and not just during the S-Bahn meltdown.

Scott E November 14, 2011 - 5:44 pm

Why can’t they? They’ve had rather complicated contingency plans for LIRR in the event of a Penn Station shut-down (admittedly, they never implemented them). It would effectively turn Jamaica Station, Atlantic Terminal/Flatbush Avenue, and Woodside into terminals for different LIRR lines (with no transfers at Jamaica to control crowds) and running special “super-express” subway service from Jamaica to Manhattan. This plan is far more complex than using the LIRR Port Washington branch to help with shutdowns on the #7.

al November 15, 2011 - 12:38 am

What? No Long Island City terminations? Surely they know the 7 can’t handle all those trains terminating at Woodside. Why didn’t they also consider a Fresh Ponds transfer to M (w/ shuttle buses)? The stops weren’t decommissioned until 1998.

On weekend shutdowns, they could have the current setup, with trains shut down west of Queensboro Plaza. After the work is done on that section, run that section on weekends, and shut the section to the east in stages.

Stage 1: shut down trains east of 111th st.

Stage 2: shut down the section between 111th st and 74th st Broadway.

Stage 3: shut down the section between Queensboro Plaza and 74th st Broadway.

Have LIRR run trains (15-20 tph) between Long Island City and Main St stations, stopping at Woodside and Willets Pt, along with regular Port Washington service. In between, run buses very frequently (120 bus per hr). 74th St Broadway will also be a major transfer pt.

Too bad Elmhurst and Corona stations are no longer in place.

Scott E November 15, 2011 - 1:16 pm

My above “contingency scenario” is from memory and I don’t claim for it to be fully accurate. I know that capacity was a concern, and Woodside has a lot more capacity than, say, LIC (diesel only, one platform, terminal station = low approach speed) or Hunterspoint (single platform, two staircases to street, narrow sidewalk to 7). And putting a bunch of LIRR commuters on the same #7 train at different points doesn’t help much, either. (But that’s not the point of this post).

Alon Levy November 15, 2011 - 3:42 am

from 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.

Unacceptable. If they want to save money, they should fire the people who think shutting down trains at 10 is ever okay anywhere larger than a village.

ajedrez November 15, 2011 - 9:27 pm

If they shut them down later, it’s that much time they lose as far as working goes, and keep in mind that these workers are probably guaranteed 8 hours pay.

Plus, they need to allow time to set up and take down the equipment. If they shut down the trains at 10PM, they probably don’t start setting up the equipment until 10:30PM, and then they probably spend an hour setting up the equipment. Then at the other end of the time span, they have to take down the equipment.

So the shutdown is from 10PM to 5PM, but the actual work is likely only going on from about 11:30PM to 3:30AM, or maybe slightly longer.

If you stopped the trains at midnight, they would only be able to do 2 hours of work, which defeats the purpose of trying to save money.

Larry Littlefield November 14, 2011 - 12:13 pm

Shutting down lines a few nights a month for maintenance is an alternative to shutting down lines every night for maintenance, which is what everybody else does. Or having endless delays for maintenance all the time, which is what overnight riders face now.

There is no alternative to Lex east of Central Park, but there would be plenty of buses available in the overnight hours if they wanted to increase bus service. One bus every 20 minutes, like the trains?

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 12:57 pm

One bus every 10 mins is better. Buses are much slower than trains, and even an articulated SBS bus can only hold 100 or so people comfortably. Many trains, especially on the Lex, have more than 100 riders on them, even at 1am.

Bolwerk November 14, 2011 - 1:08 pm

If traffic is good, and you’re up for increasing labor costs by a factor of like 10, you might get enough throughput at night to replace each single train with something like 20 buses.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 1:29 pm

It’s still better than people driving thru Brooklyn to get to/from Manhattan though. Right?

Bolwerk November 14, 2011 - 1:43 pm

What are you talking about?

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 2:57 pm

The expense of providing alternate bus service would be better than people driving into the city, even during overnight hours.

Bolwerk November 14, 2011 - 3:15 pm

Uh, why? And what do cars have to do with anything? Cars don’t just magically materialize when transit-dependent people need them. That is, unless you’re proposing the MTA rent and finance the storage/upkeep of cars for such people? I suppose there is enough quantitative illiteracy in the Wendell Cox crowd to think that’s actually a good idea, but I wouldn’t expect to find it here.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 3:26 pm

Obviously you’re memory is getting worse B! I’m surprised at you…

Bolwerk November 14, 2011 - 4:09 pm

Your confusing I with someone else my afraid. Indeed I’m memory doesn’t contain a reference to anything related to you’re insinuation that me said, which your deliberately or otherwise not being clear about anyway.

Alon Levy November 14, 2011 - 5:06 pm

Not everyone. Copenhagen single-tracks at night.

Joseph Lhota kinda sorta takes over :: Second Ave. Sagas November 14, 2011 - 12:46 pm

[…] « Transit eying full line shutdowns to speed work Nov […]

Clarke November 14, 2011 - 1:35 pm

Introduction of bike share next year will probably help mitigate some of the “there’s no redundancy” claims.

Larry Littlefield November 14, 2011 - 2:29 pm

Bicycling in general is a response by younger generations to be left with financially impared mass transit.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 3:00 pm

Yes, riding a bike home at 1am in January, especially if you live in Pelham Bay, Flushing or Staten Island, is a wonderful idea. Why didn’t I think of that years ago? So what if it’s cold, there’s a foot of snow on the ground, and truckers routinely run over bikers with impunity? We should just ditch the trains altogether and grab a bike like it’s Chairman Mao’s China! Jeeze.

Clarke November 14, 2011 - 4:13 pm

No mention of Bronx subway service being affected by this. And if you’re waiting for night service to Staten Island, even walking would be better and you’ll definitely beat the next train to arrive in Richmond County. And there will of course be bus service to complement Queens closures.

To assert that the short jaunt from, say, the Lex to 6th Ave or Broadway lines by bike is unmanageable would suggest pure laziness.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 4:18 pm

Well, just because SI doesn’t have a subway doesn’t mean many Islanders don’t take the train to South Ferry to catch the boat. And I’m sure all those 60+ year old cleaning ladies who ride the subway with me at 12:15am would love drag a bike from Staten Island to Manhattan and ride it across town in the snow. Not everyone on the subway at midnight is a 21-year-old wearing skinny jeans and a messenger bag.

Clarke November 14, 2011 - 4:43 pm

Age, gender, or socioeconomic status are not reasons to or to not ride a bicycle. Snow is obviously another issue, although I would expect to see the MTA airing on the extreme side of caution during snow storms this year after last year’s debacle (and after successful shuttering of the system during TS Irene).

Not sure why someone would be dragging their bike share bike from Staten Island when there will be likely plenty at stations downtown (especially at South Ferry).

As for South Ferry being a poor place for service redundancy…it’s probably near the best place in the city to be if a line is shut down. Access to 1/N/4 within short walk not to mention it’s three stations away from Fulton St Transit Center.

I understand you’re saying that closing lines at night will affect people and, yes, it will. However, there are plenty of other options (including buses, both train subs and regular bus service). With weekend passenger rates increasing , the MTA probably is realizing that night work affects fewer passengers. And they’re probably true.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 4:49 pm

You obviously don’t ride the subway much after midnight. Do you honestly think at 62-year-old cleaning lady wants to ride a bike from her East Side office building across town on a 30-degree night, then either drag it downstairs to the subway or find some “bikeshare” station where she has to pay to lock it up? Then hop on the 7th Ave subway to South Ferry, just in time to miss the boat and wait 30-60 mins for the next one? Or maybe she can take the M15, which only takes about 40 mins to get downtown. And if she lives in Brooklyn, then what?

Bikes are great if your’re under 30, don’t carry much with you, have great knees/legs, and don’t give a shit about getting run over by a truck on a dark street at midnight. For the other 80% of NYers, the subway is the only realistic alternative.

Clarke November 14, 2011 - 4:58 pm

You clearly don’t understand either the fundamentals of a bike share system or the role bicycles play in urban transit, so let’s not even discuss it any further. And, yes, I’ve ridden the subway plenty at night and dread it because “20 minute headways” or “30 minute headways” invariable end up being closer to forty-five minute waits, at which point it would have been faster to walk.

It’s not like closing down a line at night for a few nights is getting rid of some stellar service, nor is it like saying that your sure-fire ride to the ferry that will get you there on time won’t be there. It’s more like a weather-controlled mode of transit that may or may not come based on your luck, may or may not get you to the ferry in the same time that a bus would. We can’t pretend that overnight service is stellar, on-time, or reliable, so doing away with it for a few nights a year with the hope that it can become more on-time and reliable…that seems like a fair trade-off.

Benjamin Kabak November 14, 2011 - 4:59 pm

This bike argument is a bit of a red herring. It’s honestly silly because bike share isn’t ever going to replace late-night subway service. For some people, it’s another redundancy. For others, it’s a non-starter.

So three points:

1. The vast majority of office space in Manhattan that employes your 62-year-old cleaning personnel are, by and large, not located further east than Lexington and most are located in between 7th Ave/Broadway and Lexington. So the other subway lines aren’t that far away. People who want the 4 can take the D. People who need to get to Brooklyn can take a ton of other options.

2. The MTA is essentially making a trade-off. Is it better to inconvenience fewer people during four week nights every three months or more people every night and all weekend ad nauseum?

3. This is sort of repeating myself, but we should keep in mind that we are talking about at most four nights in a row with proper advanced notice to allow for alternate planning once a quarter. It isn’t the end of the world really. It just sorta sucks for a few days.

The Cobalt Devil November 14, 2011 - 4:21 pm

And the Bronx is affected if the Lex below 42nd St is not running. Someone getting off work at midnight in the East 20s/30s will have a bit of a hike getting to Grand Central on a cold January night.

Alek November 14, 2011 - 6:58 pm

Here is is an suggestion if they shut down the Lex Ave subway line:

Run the 42nd street shuttle overnight provide connections to 2/3 lines

3 Trains runs to New Lots Ave Overnight

Run an special shuttle bus connecting to Brooklyn Bridge/Chambers St

Run a special “J” shuttle to Atlantic Ave

James November 15, 2011 - 2:58 am

In some respects they do this already. Like with the R.

Take the NQ in Astoria as a case study. They have been doing work on the line for months, making the N express from Astoria Blvd to Queensborough Plaza. It’s a pain in the ass to ride the N up to Astoria Blvd just to go back down to Manhattan. I’d rather they just get it done in a blitz and run busses.

Now think about the cost savings for the MTA. Work really can’t get done efficiently in these situations because trains are still running on the express track and the workers have to get out of the way approx every 10 mins so the train can safely pass. Not to mention those working conditions suck. You’re bopping back and forth with potentially heavy equipment, live third rails, and you can only work in 10 minute spurts. Then the work has to be spread out over months. That sucks for the riders and it’s very expensive and inefficient.

James November 15, 2011 - 3:05 am

Also just because another transit system has its faults, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any good ideas that we could use. We aren’t exactly the model of excellence when a lightning strike can paralyze the LIRR because it’s most crucial switching point is run by a Flinstones-era mechanical computer.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines November 15, 2011 - 9:04 am

[…] MTA Experiment: Get More Track Work in By Shutting Lines Down Longer (NYT, NY1, 2nd Ave Sagas) […]

Drilling down on the line segment closure plan :: Second Ave. Sagas November 15, 2011 - 4:40 pm

[…] word leaked out on Sunday night of a looming Transit plan to engage in partial line-segment shutdowns to speed up necessary track work, straphangers wondered if this would be the end of the 24/7 subway […]

Urban Omnibus » The Omnibus Roundup – Prefab Yards, Megapolitan America, MTA Blitzes, Extending Grids and What to Do November 18, 2011 - 3:52 pm

[…] MTA BLITZES NYC Transit and the MTA are offering a new option to subway riders annoyed by weekend service delays and re-routings due to maintenance and construction. The MTA, in a plan being presented to their board’s transit committee next week, wants to experiment with shutting down full line segments on consecutive weekday nights (10pm to 5am) for repair “blitzes” that would concentrate and shorten inconvenience while speeding up construction time, improving worker safety and reducing costs. It’s a drastic change for a city used to 24/7 subway service, but a few nights of suspended service compared to weeks or months of weekend service changes seems like a reasonable tradeoff. Read more in the Daily News and on 2nd Ave. Sagas. […]

jj December 4, 2011 - 12:09 pm

This idea is way overdue


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