Home View from Underground In draft report, commission runs away from MTA reinvention

In draft report, commission runs away from MTA reinvention

by Benjamin Kabak

Earlier this year, in an attempt to save face on his lack of transportation policy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed a who’s who of global transit experts to the so-called MTA Reinvention Commission, and then, nothing happened. The commission met a few times, but the meetings were underwhelming. Then as Election Day came and went, nothing arrived from the panel. It seemed as though Cuomo didn’t want the report to discuss MTA financing ahead of Election Day.

Now, though, the report — or at least an early draft of it — is out, and well, it’s boring. Dana Rubinstein got her hands on it, and you can read the thing at Capital New York (PDF links: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Here’s Rubinstein’s take:

The resulting report suggests that the M.T.A. continue to do some things it’s already doing (make its subways more resilient in cases of flooding, partner with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to improve access to the region’s airports), and some things it’s not…If the commission’s prescriptions occasionally border on underwhelming—it recommends, for example, that the M.T.A. remove the word “bus” from Select Bus Service to distinguish it from its less-sexy bus counterparts—the report’s description of purpose is strongly worded…

The M.T.A. underpins a New York metropolitan region that “accounts for 60 percent of the population of the state and 80 percent of its tax base, and contributes nearly 10 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product,” the report says.

“Yet despite the value of the system that enables this success, even a cursory glance at peer regions around the world makes it clear that New York is significantly under-investing in its public transportation infrastructure,” it says. “The past is not prologue to the future: if New Yorkers want to continue to live in a world class region they must envision and develop a world class transit system.”

What’s Select Bus Service without the bus? Select Service? That makes no sense to anyone unfamiliar with the transit network, but I digress.

As Rubinstein notes, and as the report clearly details, the commission wants the MTA to continue its capital expansion plans, respond to the challenges of climate change, develop a next-gen fare payment system, build real BRT and, uh, do something about funding. What that something is what the commission punted on, and therein lies the problem.

Reinventing the MTA means answering very hard questions about funding schemes, transportation equity and who’s paying for and using what mode and how. It’s also about pushing politicians to take ownership over the MTA — which is a creation of the state — and it’s about building support for transit from all constituents who use it and their elected representatives. Sometimes that may mean angering smaller, more vocal constituent blocks to deliver something more beneficial to many. That’s just the reality of it.

Here, we have a commission of big names running away from the problem. It’s not clear, and probably never will be, if someone above them torpedoed the politically challenging aspects of transit support, but what we have, unsurprisingly, is a commission tasked with someone grand and delivering an obvious message on a small scale. It’s a reinvention commission that itself needs reinventing.

You may also like


Adam November 24, 2014 - 12:53 am

What is a “next gen payment system” and why is it needed? MetroCard works just fine. Sounds like a waste of taxpayer money. Better to invest in the 2nd Avenue or an LGA air train.

Brandon November 24, 2014 - 6:58 am

The Metrocard is getting too expensive to maintain, and does have lots of problems compared to a tag and go system.

“Swipe again at this turnstile”

Jeff November 24, 2014 - 9:14 am

That kind of thinking is what’s keeping this system way behind every other metro system in the world. The whole “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix” mentality.

Aside from the fact that implementing a tap-and-go fare collection system will cost a fraction of what system expansion would cost.

Larry Littlefield November 24, 2014 - 10:21 am

“Implementing a tap-and-go fare collection system will cost a fraction of what system expansion would cost.”

Will, or should?

How about “implementing a tap and go fare collection system should cost a fraction of what system expansion actually would cost.”

I’ve learned not to be optimistic.

Bolwerk November 24, 2014 - 12:07 pm

A good reason, maybe not being discussed, is hopefully it will allow POP to be implemented more efficiently on buses.

Another reason is the MetroCard machines probably have mechanical parts, which result in relatively high maintenance costs. A tap and go system can reduce maintenance costs.

AG November 24, 2014 - 5:32 pm

A relative of mine was just visiting from South Florida… She used the subway and Metro North everyday she was here. Her comment: “Why is NY – which is THE train city – still using these cards? Think of all the litter it produces throwing these things out… Plus it’s inconvenient in 2014 to have to pay separately for different systems”…
Yeah – that sums it up… Well that and the cost of maintaining the system.

lop November 24, 2014 - 1:57 am

Silver line in Boston
Healthline in cleveland
EmX in Eugene
MAX in KC and las Vegas
Orange line, harbor transitway, metro rapid in LA.
Rapid ride in Seattle.

Buses have an image problem. Not calling better bus service buses is common. If cheap different branding makes even a handful of people give better bus service a shot it doesn’t seem an offensive idea. Maybe not an idea worth the time of a group tasked with reinventing the MTA though.

Jeff November 24, 2014 - 9:18 am

Agreed. I’ve always questioned MTA’s marketing of SBS routes and why they don’t try harder to differentiate the SBS service from regular buses. Other cities plaster them on subway maps, give them the same naming schemes as subway routes, etc. while MTA just slaps a fancy paint job on the buses and add an “SBS” to the route number.

Alon Levy November 24, 2014 - 7:07 pm

Ew. The problem with relying on marketing rather than on good service is that marketing affects politicians and bureaucrats more than it does passengers. The result is that branding SBS as something special leads the MTA to neglect the usual buses. Nobody at the MTA proposes citywide off-board fare collection. Nobody proposes signal priority. Nobody proposes having hard discussions about stop spacing. SBS is a package, a set of lines on a map, and when several lines share a corridor, as on 125th Street, the resulting proposal is awkward. It says a lot about the failure of the SBS concept when New York City Transit is better at handling route sharing on the subway than on the SBS network.

Not that the MTA would realize that, with a committee whose only foreigners are from Canada (eh), the UK (meh), and Colombia (much lower wages, humongous streets for BRT in Bogota), rather than Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, South Korea, or Japan.

Jeff November 26, 2014 - 10:49 am

How about do both? Improving service and then maximize ridership awareness via good marketing? One is not mutually exclusive of the other. Nor are people stupid enough such that good marketing can convince them to otherwise stick with something that’s terrible for them.

Bolwerk November 26, 2014 - 11:25 am

For there to be a “marketing problem,” you have to suppose there is a big unmet demand for a service and that you even want to meet that demand (sometimes you don’t). AFAIK, every SBS route has been pretty successful at attracting users. Where is there a problem?

Alon Levy November 26, 2014 - 11:29 am

It’s hard to do both when doing just the useless one is actually creating new problems, like separating the B44 local and SBS routes.

Bolwerk November 24, 2014 - 12:05 pm

I don’t think they have an image problem, at least not in NYC. I mean, what’s going to happen with a re-branding? People will show up at a BRT line and be totally bummed that it’s still a bus, but then they’ll say, “ah, fuck it, I’m already here,” try it, and be jazzed that it works well anyway? That’s silly.

All things being equal, people will take their most convenient option; maybe there is a knowledge/heuristic problem, in that people don’t know the bus can help them better under some circumstances. But a lot of people are just going further than buses should reasonably be expected to take them.

More likely buses have a “bus advocate” problem. Bus advocates probably don’t want to use buses (or any transit) themselves, hence the claim they have an image problem, but they recognize there is a need for better transit. They intuit that buses are a cheap way to provide said transit, without any regard for design, and then wonder why people don’t vote affirmatively for buses with their feet.

Jeff November 24, 2014 - 1:33 pm

I think you’re underestimating the power of marketing and branding. A bus is still a bus, but as someone who’s traveled to other unfamiliar cities and gotten intimidated by multitudes bus routes and such, I definitely felt a bit more reassured taking a BRT route that was being branded differently and made to stand out above the rest of the bus routes.

Bolwerk November 24, 2014 - 2:15 pm

That’s highlighting critical services. It makes perfect sense and should be done. In most of the cases lop mentioned, the bus services are priority routes that integrate with the network of light/surface rail routes. They are all basically intermediate-capacity surface transit routes, in a similar category to SBS. Riders shouldn’t care whether they step on an LRV or articulated bus.

I’m not against re-branding – hell, shorter is usually better, if confusion isn’t added – but I wouldn’t pretend it will change much if the service characteristics are the same. If NYC added LRT to the surface transit mix, then maybe highlighting it along with the BRT would make sense.

Jeff November 24, 2014 - 2:40 pm

Here’s a case example of how rebranding without changing much of anything else (actually increasing inconvenience for some) increase ridership. The LA Metro Silver Line:

Prior to last year, the I-110 freeway corridor from San Pedro to downtown Los Angeles was served by a large number of express Los Angeles Metro bus routes, all numbered in the 440s and 450s. Last year, the Silver Line, a rapid bus line, was introduced along the corridor. The Silver Line is branded in the same way as Metro rail lines and Metro’s BRT Orange Line; it appears alongside the above lines on all Metro rapid transit system maps. As a result of the introduction of the Silver Line, almost all of the express buses that formerly operated along the route were cut back to terminate at the starting point of the Silver Line. Despite operating basically the same route as the express lines formerly operated, and despite forcing a transfer for passengers who previously did not have to transfer, the I-110 freeway corridor now carries more passengers than it did before.


Like I said, rebranding can be a powerful tool.

Bolwerk November 24, 2014 - 3:31 pm

The critical point there is service categorization. The Silver Line logically fits with the LRT and BRT in Los Angeles, so emphasizing it by putting it into that category makes perfect sense. Even putting LA’s one rapid transit subway line in the same category perhaps makes sense since it has more in common with those priority surface lines than it does with local bus service.

Everything in that “select” surface transit category in NYC is a bus without exception. I don’t see anything wrong with highlighting those routes on the subway map, if feasible, but I can’t see an iota of better service being wrung from not telling people what kind of service they’re getting. The only result I can see from that is irritating people who really are avoiding buses for some reason, good or not.

SBS can be emphasized with a thinner line or something. IIRC, only two SBS lines presently intersect, so not more than two colors would be needed.

Jeff November 24, 2014 - 5:01 pm

Yeah… I am not advocating calling the SBS lines the ‘U’ or the ‘X’ lines or anything like that. Just better differentiation than “M34 SBS” and a fancy color job. What you suggest is definitely feasible.

Eric November 26, 2014 - 4:31 am

Likely, the Silver Line has more consistent and reliable service than the hodgepodge of routes it replaced. Perhaps more frequent on average too. Those are good reasons for riders to prefer it regardless of the branding.

Larry Littlefield November 24, 2014 - 2:52 pm

“I think you’re underestimating the power of marketing and branding.”

Do you mean the average level of idiocy and egomania among the sheep?

“A bus? They are for the servant class. But I’m not on a bus! I’m on the SSS!”

SEAN November 24, 2014 - 5:31 pm

I think you’re underestimating the power of marketing and branding.”

Do you mean the average level of idiocy and egomania among the sheep?

Great remark – sharp & to the point.

“A bus? They are for the servant class. But I’m not on a bus! I’m on the SSS!”

Sounds like someone who may live in Rye Brook, but cant admit they really live in Port Chester or something like that.

threestationsquare November 24, 2014 - 8:49 pm

The speed and capacity of the SBS lines is pathetic compared to the subway; putting it on the subway map would be nothing short of deceitful. Other cities/systems in New York’s class (e.g. London, Paris, Tokyo) don’t engage in such misrepresentation. The examples you give are in small cities where only a tiny minority of trips use transit, which are the last places New York should be emulating.

Eric November 24, 2014 - 2:50 am

Off topic:

The MTA’s “Weekender” page provides neighborhood maps which show the exact location and shape of a subway station and the streets around it.

I have collated these maps into a single zoomable map which shows an entire borough at a time. Hope people will find this useful…


Nyland8 November 24, 2014 - 5:39 am

Thank you for that, Eric. It seemed quite useful the moment I saw it. Is it in a format I can use on my iPhone?

It also illustrates my point about the L Line being the better candidate than the 7 for an extension out to Lautenberg Station. The T Line will easily link with the 3rd Ave. stop on the L Line, whereas there will never be a station at 2nd & 42nd. It would be too deep, and you’d have to build 2 stations instead of 1. This makes the L Line much better for east side access for New Jersey commuters.

Eric November 24, 2014 - 6:04 am

If you download the zip file and unzip it, there is a HTML file which you can view in a web browser. I’m not sure of the best way to get the files to an iPhone, but it should be possible.

Larry 3 November 26, 2014 - 12:23 am

It would be better if you put in a pdf file. 🙂

Eric November 26, 2014 - 4:34 am

Not practical, since I only have access to the image tiles and not to the PDF (or other vector image) they were created from 🙁

Josh December 3, 2014 - 2:02 pm

These are excellent, thanks!

Nyland8 November 24, 2014 - 5:49 am

Only mildly off-topic, did anybody happen to catch the 60 Minutes segment on decaying infrastructure last night? I highly recommend viewing it on the CBS website.

Among other things, they highlight our dearth of high speed rail, our aging and inadequate freight system, as well as the plight of the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack and its critical importance to the entire region. If anybody has any new and creative ideas on how to motivate our state and federal legislators to find funding for our subway and commuter rail systems, don’t hold back.

BruceNY November 24, 2014 - 7:51 am

Yes, I saw it. It seems the main issue with funding infrastructure repairs is that the federal gas tax which is supposed to pay for these has been stuck at 18¢/gallon since 1993. Well, how much was a gallon of gas back then, and What is 18¢ worth in today’s money? This means the level of funding has been dropping in real dollars, and as a percentage of the cost of gas. Yet our government will continue to dither.

Boris November 24, 2014 - 9:09 am

The gas tax is the five cent fare of our times. Except unlike the private subway companies, our highway agencies can’t go bankrupt, so we’re in for a very long and slow decline.

Larry Littlefield November 24, 2014 - 9:31 am

The focused on Pennsylvania. Unlike NY, that state hasn’t put a dime into repairing existing infrastructure in recent years, and has kept building new roads instead. Even though it is an aging state with a stagnant population.

That state’s situation is a product of that choice.

SEAN November 24, 2014 - 5:21 pm

I saw it as well. Although the focus was in PA, you can generalize it to other states.

I did read an idea in the Atlantic’s City Lab less than a month ago – if the transportation trust fund were abolished, let or make each state pay for there own transportation needs. Personally I’m not sure if it would fly, but it was interesting to read about.

Duke November 24, 2014 - 8:28 pm

Not so much, actually. PA raised their state gas tax last year and a decent chunk of the extra funding is going towards fixing bridges. Pittsburgh meanwhile isn’t getting bridges fixed with that money since the bridges in question are mostly small ones in rural areas that PennDOT was threatening to impose severe weight restrictions on in order to extend the life of if they didn’t get funding to do maintenance instead. A good amount of money is also going to other road expansions and rebuilds but to my knowledge there are no “new roads” being built, only improvements to existing ones that are functionally obsolete or unsafe.

Meanwhile a good chunk of the money is also going to SEPTA and the Port Authority of Allegheny County, although it isn’t buying Philadelphia and Pittsburgh much other than maintaining current service levels after massive cuts were threatened.

Larry Littlefield November 25, 2014 - 9:41 am

Maybe PA has stopped building new highways. But I’m talking about the past 30 years, not the present.

PA had the head transportation funder in DC for years, and it isn’t as if he didn’t favor his home state a little. But in a particular way.


“During his time as chairman numerous transportation projects were funded, including Interstate 99, the only Interstate highway to have its route number (a violation of the usual Interstate numbering standard) written into law. The route was later named the “Bud Shuster Highway” by Governor Robert Casey. When the transportation authorization bill known by its initials as “BESTEA” was under consideration, his fellow members joked the letters stood for the “Bud E. Shuster Transportation for All Eternity Act” for its many “pork barrel” projects.”

NY hasn’t built much new infrastructure, but it did use Shuster’s money (and debt) to rebuild what it had.

Bolwerk November 25, 2014 - 11:05 am

We should probably be thankful, at least for that. If we were building new infrastructure, it would probably have been highway infrastructure, and highway infrastructure comes at the expense of precious urban space.

Better still would be money to tear down at least some of our highway infrastructure, or to convert it to transit use.

Larry Littlefield November 24, 2014 - 9:29 am

Look at the background of the people on the panel. They’ve been around a long time, and during that period all the costs have been deferred to the future. That’s a generational MO.

Did anyone think they were going to stand up and say “here is who should be sacrificed in what way to make up for the debts of the past 30 years?” I’d bet they’d feel much more comfortable being against any solutions that are proposed.

Moreover, “raise revenues” or “shift tax dollars to transportation” is dishonest without “here is what people should live without so they can may more to the government” or here is what the government should cut back on to spend more on transportation.

I wrote a whole series on this, one that probably won’t make anyone happy. What will make Generation Greed happy? Borrow $15 billion, take one revenue source to service the debt, and end up back in the same place in five years — but with that revenue source on the table. That’s the political “sweet spot,” perhaps because it solves all the problems of those with power in the only timeframe they care about. It’s known as whispering sweet nothings to power.

BrooklynBus November 24, 2014 - 9:31 am

To me “reinvention of the MTA” means change how the MTA thinks. Reduce in-fighting between departments and blame between departments when something goes wrong which reduces its effectiveness. Change the MTA culture to care more about the passengers without the budget being the overall consideration like the focus to reduce overtime when some of it may actually be necessary to provide decent levels of service like when an operator is sick so a run is not missed. Get a fair days work for a fair days pay. Reward employees who do a good job, not because they are your friends or you owe someone a favor.

It means a fair evaluation of suggestions from the public, not automatic rejection by looking for a list of excuses and providing double talk. For example any suggestion to lengthen or combine routes automatically receives the response that it can’t be done because reliability would suffer, without considering other factors, while “reliability problems” are never mentioned when a route lengthening is MTA initiated.

It generally means more consideration for its riders like not taking three to six months to solve a problem with a MetroCard, and consideration of new fare structures. It means taking a comprehensive look at changing outdated bus routes.

It means so much the MTA is not currently doing. It is not only about the Capital Budget and maintaining and expanding the system and adding more SBS lines. Changing the name of SBS? Are they kidding? Do they want it to be called SSSS? SelectSubwaySurfaceService. They won’t fool anyone. “Experts” are not always the answer. The real experts are the riders. Listen to them. Something the MTA rarely does.

Quirk November 24, 2014 - 10:25 am

Not sure why anyone is surprised. The reinvention committee are just like community boards, talk, talk and no action. They’re advisory to guys in Albany in case you didn’t know…

Nathanael November 24, 2014 - 10:47 am

We need a candidate for Governor for 2018. Cuomo is a master of the politics of avoidance, of kicking the can down the road, of refusing to take a stand. Enough.

Matthias November 24, 2014 - 10:56 am

I completed a public survey put out by the commission at the beginning of the year. I wonder if anything was done with that. I had hoped to see some bold ideas put forward by people willing to challenge politicians to fund them (to that end I’m happy that the Second Avenue Line features prominently in the capital plan, although I’d like to see the Triborough orbital line in there too). Even some reasonable improvements to bus service would be welcome (queueing at the front door and making buses pull to the kerb are pet peeves of mine).

Larry Littlefield November 24, 2014 - 12:28 pm

A little credit here. There HAS been a lot of “reinvention,” but only at NYCT!

Consider Fasttrack, which cuts the cost and safety risk of infrastructure maintenance. And the restructuring of the bus network, done in crisis but something transit planners probably wanted to do for years.

Both were done during the Walder regime. Walder stood up the pols and then moved on.

Then you have track replacement using track panels. Subway cars with easy to replace components. Buses using clean diesel.

Meanwhile, what as gone on at the LIRR?

Bolwerk November 24, 2014 - 1:06 pm

That’s more best practice than reinvention. “Reinvention” seems to mean finding NIH applications, and the committee reflects this. As international as the committee is, it selects members mostly from the English-speaking world. Toronto and London have many of our cost problems, albeit not to the same extent. Penalosa seems to be the only representative from outside the English-speaking world, and he’s just going to tell them what they already think: more buses fix everything.

BrooklynBus November 24, 2014 - 7:11 pm

I would hardly call the hastily planned bus service cutbacks as “restructuring of the bus network”. Many had to be restored.

sonicboy678 November 28, 2014 - 10:44 pm

Some of these cutbacks didn’t even make much sense in the first place because the circumstances they were under were already ridiculous. The Q89 hardly operated (one bus per hour outside of peak rush, save for the small amount of service poking into PM rush) and the Q79 didn’t have another route that would efficiently serve Little Neck Parkway. To make matters worse, neither directly connected to the subway. The B37 had no viable routes west of it until after 9th Street, and that’s only because of the B75 on Smith and Court Streets; instead, it acted as help for the R and B63, even though the latter could have received the cuts with less consequence since there are routes east of it and it straddles Greenwood Cemetery. On the other hand, I agree with folding the Q14 and M6 into other routes, thanks to there genuinely being little to no consequence of the merges. This is also why I support the current Q36 structure, as Little Neck Parkway finally has a bus route which connects to the subway (they should have done this back in 2010). Unfortunately, I can’t say anything was done to improve upon the Q89 since then.

Will November 24, 2014 - 4:18 pm

what the NYC region need is a Transit Czar like Moses. We need a leader that is ruthless and get projects done even whipping politicians to get funding or threaten their area with bulldozing or eminent domain. I’m tired of seeing the greatest city in the world have subpar transit, degrading infrastructure, a political system that is to worry about getting reelect end instead of leading and getting things done

Jeff November 24, 2014 - 5:04 pm

Bloomberg was the closest to a Moses-like figure we will get out of a politician, and even he couldn’t muster anything more than a 7 train extension.

Fact is Moses was a unique figure created by circumstances that aren’t ever going to ever happen again. Especially with the political atmosphere of today.

Alon Levy November 24, 2014 - 6:45 pm

For a country with a long republican tradition, the US sure loves naming bureaucratic offices after absolute monarchs and giving them the power to match it.

Bolwerk November 24, 2014 - 7:37 pm

Isn’t that the point of republicanism?

<condescension type=”mansplaining”>What, you never read Plato’s Republic?</condescension>

Will November 24, 2014 - 4:39 pm

Right now how MTA is being run, I won’t see the phase 2 being complete in my lifetime and I’m only 29 years old. Why extend it to 125 street and Lex and make a huge deep bored tunnel curve and spend 1 billion or you can go straight into the Bronx and connect with the old NYW and NH route parallel to NE corridor to coop city or and connect it Metro North and run it as a suburban subway like in Paris and Berlin and since it’s impossible to go under 34 street crate a ramp and go elevated before Houston. Even great world cities have elected limes like Dubai Metro, Skytrain Bangkok, Vancouver, and London

sonicboy678 November 25, 2014 - 11:06 pm

Or you could build new infrastructure into the Bronx using Third and Webster Avenues, along with Gun Hill Road to connect to Co-op City and Bay Plaza. It would also have a connection to Concourse.

AG November 25, 2014 - 11:13 pm

There are no east-west subway lines in the Bronx… The A train should be extended east to west.

sonicboy678 November 26, 2014 - 4:28 pm

Great proposal, but it’s unrelated to what I proposed.

AG November 27, 2014 - 7:47 am

I know – I was just chiming in… I think The BX needs and east/west line more than anything else. The Metro North is expanding to the east Bronx… If City Ticket were allowed at all times at all stops the East and West Bronx (Hudson Line) would be very well covered. As to the current north/south subway lines. I don’t think it’s anything CBTC capacity couldn’t solve. Both those things (CBTC and City Ticket) combined would make a huge difference. An east/west line is more necessary in my view then.

Rob November 24, 2014 - 5:14 pm

is opto too radical for ‘reinvention’? What a abt demanding real productivity on the lirr?

Brooklynite November 24, 2014 - 8:14 pm

OPTO, productivity on the LIRR and in NYCT Track Dept, bringing Capital Construction costs under control, and other such things directly involve tackling the unions. While they are all necessary, that may not be the objective of the commission – if they suggested something like OPTO the unions would ensure that none of their other ideas were taken seriously.

One actually practical “reinvention” idea I’ve been thinking about is de-interlining. For instance, switching the 3 and 5 east of Franklin Avenue (2/3 to Flatbush, 4/5 to Utica/New Lots) would untangle one of the major chokepoints of the IRT and massively increase capacity along the Lexington Express, among other places. (Yes, two switches would need to be installed, but how much does that really cost?)

Furthermore, dwell time controls should be significantly strengthened. One of the reasons the 4/5 run as infrequently as they do (combined they run less than 30 tph, while almost every line in Moscow runs 40+) is congestion in Midtown. If trains moved in and out of stations faster (to use Moscow as an example again, I think they have a strict limit of 25 seconds), capacity could be increased. No fancy signalling or new lines required!

Larry Littlefield November 25, 2014 - 11:20 am

That will only work if we get a KGB to haul people away for holding the doors.

Brooklynite November 25, 2014 - 4:25 pm

For some reason I find that image oddly amusing. Seriously though, searching up videos of any transit system in the world (besides in Japan) doesn’t show people assigned to make sure the doors close. They just do, and people will learn to stop holding them if they have force.
(To prevent the dragging issue, they could be designed to be openable to a fraction of an inch, but no further).

pete November 25, 2014 - 11:57 pm

Soviet metro cars use pneumatic actuators like really really old NYC subway cars. The doors slam with so much force they slightly bounce open again. I never once saw in 4 weeks of living in cities with Soviet metros, a person get stuck in the door, hold the door, or run for the train. I think if someone got hit by the door, they will never try again on a Soviet metro.

Nyland8 November 26, 2014 - 12:02 am

Soviet Metros ??? It’s been more than 2 decades since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

sonicboy678 November 25, 2014 - 11:36 pm

Sorry, but I can’t take your Eastern Parkway proposal seriously at all. For one, that’s a very shortsighted approach that would not meet the needs of the people. There is significant demand for service to/from Flatbush Avenue and especially for connections to Lexington Avenue; however, your proposal absolutely forces an unnecessary transfer. While you could try to use the same argument for the B/C swap back in 1998, that was really just the result of trying to best serve all involved whereas this would only make lives hellish. Another issue comes in when you begin discussing weekend service. As much as I would like for the opposite to be true, there just isn’t enough demand for four services along Eastern Parkway and certainly not for two along Nostrand Avenue. The issue then shifts to a uniformity issue with general service patterns: rather than simply being truncated to Franklin Avenue, it would then be stuck having to serve different, disconnected termini on different days for no reason. The demand is just enough to warrant having both Broadway-Seventh Avenue Express services serving Brooklyn alongside one Lexington Avenue Express; it also helps to keep service moving. Another thing: yard space is a definite issue for trains. The 2 and 5 have easy access to Unionport, 180th Street, and 239th Street Yards in the Bronx alone. They also have significant stretches of potential storage space on their ROWs, so they don’t desperately need Livonia Yard. The 4 also has access to yards in the Bronx (Concourse and Mosholu), as well as potential storage space on the ROW. It may need Livonia Yard a little more than the 2 or 5, but even it’s able to cut down significantly on that need. The 3 only has Lenox Yard and Livonia Yard, so trying to shift its southern end would be idiotic. It lacks easy access to other yards and has absolutely no potential storage space (the place where 4 trains are turned obviously doesn’t count).

If anything, a logical change would be an overall expansion of the Nostrand Avenue Line to better accommodate trains and passengers alike. This would also come with restructuring the poorly planned junction with the Eastern Parkway Line to improve all throughput.

Rob November 26, 2014 - 3:43 pm

The 3 used to go to Flatbush. Was that a problem then?

sonicboy678 November 26, 2014 - 4:36 pm

It obviously was if the 2 and 3 swapped Brooklyn termini. Did you even read what I said about the yards and other potential storage the 3 has access to? The current arrangement is only more favorable since Livonia has an inspection and maintenance facility, something Lenox Yard lacks (which is nothing new). Neither yard is particularly large, so it only plays to the 3’s benefit to have direct access to yards on both ends.

sonicboy678 November 26, 2014 - 7:52 pm

Swap “only” with “even” so the meaning isn’t lost.

Brooklynite November 27, 2014 - 12:53 pm

As I said in my longer post just below, if the 3 went to Flatbush it would just be a branch of the 2 that went to 148. Therefore it would share cars (and a yard) with the 2. This is analogous with how the W operated in its final years – ignoring the Ws to Brooklyn for a second, trains that had to become Ws just ran as Ns to Ditmars and started there. The same thing could happen with the 3 – the schedule would just need to be designed so that trains needing maintenance would end their day on the 2.

Brooklynite November 27, 2014 - 12:44 pm

Getting up and walking across the platform at Franklin is not a very significant or time-consuming transfer, and in fact being able to take the first train that comes along Nostrand instead of waiting specifically for the 5 would help negate the time passengers spend transferring. It is simply more efficient for everyone involved if the 2/3 and 4/5 are separated in Brooklyn without having to cross over each other at Franklin, as frequency can then be increased, reducing crowds. (voila, a solution to crowding!)

Basically, interlining is a fundamental weak point in any subway network. Merges introduce many problems, ranging from “we are delayed because of train traffic ahead” to the necessary reduction in frequency to the increased likelihood of switch problems. In London for instance, the Northern Line is one of the least reliable lines in the network; this is because of its two central branches and two northern branches. Even though it has flying junctions everywhere, unlike the IRT, the ripple effect of even the smallest delay makes it inherently unreliable. When the Battersea extension is finished a few years from now (a second southern branch) the line will most likely be split into two.

About the yard issue, if the 3 went to Flatbush it would simply be a 148 St branch of the 2, and could thus share cars and 239 St Yard with the 2. (The 4/5 would be able to take over Liviona if that happened). Furthermore, because the ratio of 2s to 3s could now change without worrying about the 4/5, the 3 would probably see a reduction in frequency in favor of the 2 (its two Harlem stops see much less demand than the 2 in the Bronx).

For weekend service, the 2/3 could just both go to Flatbush, just as they would on weekdays, and the 4 could cover New Lots on its own.

It’s not clear whether it would be better for the IRT to stay interlined even if Rogers Junction were made into one resembling 59 St/CC (see: Northern Line), but that’s unlikely to happen anyway. The cost, let alone the disruption resulting from closing the entire IRT Brooklyn Line to redo the junction, couldn’t justify the improvements it would bring.

sonicboy678 November 27, 2014 - 11:36 pm

So how would everything be configured? It doesn’t solve the problem, as one train can still delay the other three. It may be a bit more difficult to, but it ultimately wouldn’t make much of a difference in that regard.

Your “solution” likely would “solve” crowding, but not in the way you expect — that is, unless your goal is to reduce crowding by diverting more people to Brighton, Culver, or Fulton Street when they’re trying to reach a Lexington Avenue station, thereby putting more strain on the Fulton Street Transit Center as well as DeKalb Avenue and Cranberry Street and Rutgers Street Tubes. The problem would be lessened in Brooklyn to some degree, but the effects would have an overall negative impact on riders just in Brooklyn alone.

Your W analogy falls flat on its face. If anything, the situation is analogous to the R in 1987. Prior to May 24, the R had no access to inspection and maintenance facilities aside from completely unnecessary diversions (something the W never had to worry about). To further drive this point, the N had access to two: Coney Island (which holds true today) and Jamaica. The decision was made to swap both routes in Queens, which is why the N currently serves Astoria while the R serves Forest Hills. Although the W was (mostly) cut off from Brooklyn, no true diversions were absolutely necessary: any train could travel via Montague into Brooklyn, then either divert to Brighton or Fourth Avenue; if diverted to the latter, trains could then be diverted to either West End or Sea Beach. The connection was ultimately still a direct connection, as no diversions from the route itself were mandatory in order to access the necessary facility. The same reason for swapping the 2 and 3 in Brooklyn is the same as for swapping the N and R in Queens; swapping the 3 and 5 simply to reduce one relatively small issue would undo this entirely and revert the situation to how it was prior to July 10, 1983.

Your proposal would also give the MTA some level of incentive to close both 145th and 148th Street stations. Keep in mind that one branch would be different by exactly two stations — wait, no, make that one. Equipment swaps are sometimes performed at Flatbush Avenue for various reasons; unless the decision is made to end this practice, there will be R142s heading up to Harlem on a regular basis. These cars have an issue (which I don’t expect to be addressed anytime soon) which prevents them from properly utilizing short platforms, forcing trains made up of these cars to skip stations with short platforms. To add insult to injury, the 145th Street station is in close proximity to both White Plains Road and 148th Street while it isn’t even able to handle a whole train. As it wouldn’t make sense to end the equipment swaps and it definitely wouldn’t make sense to potentially have a bunch of trains running through there without stopping, the station would finally receive the ax (it was overdue for). Unfortunately, this just may further worsen the situation. As 148th Street station was initially just another part of Lenox Yard and there are three bus routes in that area which could probably serve the area almost as efficiently as a train and all stop in close proximity to 135th Street, that station could just be closed and handed right back to the yard. This would effectively dissolve the 3 and make those trains 2 trains, but this would potentially set up unnecessarily complicated moves of trains which originate or terminate at 135th Street. Unlike Bowling Green, Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall, and Rector Street, there is no loop connecting the southbound and northbound tracks; unlike Crown Heights-Utica Avenue and Forest Hills-71st Avenue, there isn’t enough space to turn trains around without backing into a yard (assuming that 148th Street is handed back to Lenox Yard). There is also even less demand for trains originating from one station to head to completely different termini when one branch has nearly 100% of its route shared with another that’s probably only 67% through, as opposed to two routes where there are fewer similarities between them (maybe 32% to 36%) and have different service patterns (instead of two locals, one local and one express). As low as that demand is on weekdays, it only gets worse on weekends. If you ever bothered to go to the Nostrand Avenue Line during any weekend G.O. with two routes utilizing it, you would quickly see how stupid sending the 3 there would be; bonus points if the G.O. actually involved the 3.

An extension to the Nostrand Avenue Line is well overdue; I propose a full expansion with express service and a direct connection to the express tracks for the 5. Though it may displace some, it would be far less likely to displace people on the same scale as your proposal. For one, it would only involve a partial closure of the Eastern Parkway Line: to be more specific, only between Utica and Franklin Avenues when the connection itself is being built. To work properly, this expansion would be built from south to north so the new connection can be built all at once instead of in parts.

Simply put, you’re really trying to wave away the disaster and idiocy your proposal would involve.

Brooklynite November 28, 2014 - 4:14 pm

First off, I appreciate your thoughtful post. That said, you’re really making this to be a much bigger problem than it is.

Rogers Junction is the chokepoint of the IRT in Brooklyn, simply because of the fact that the 2, 3, and 5 all share one track. This is a massive waste of capacity – every time a 5 waits for a 3, especially eastbound, it holds up the entire line behind it. Untangling the two trunk lines, with the 2/3 going to Flatbush and the 4/5 covering Utica and New Lots (a switch to the local track would be installed east of the 2/3 split to avoid conflicting movements), will reduce delays and train traffic, thus allowing more trains to operate along the Lexington Line. 7th Avenue would benefit as well, but it would run into constraints with Flatbush terminal.

The idea that riders would change their commute patterns because of a cross-platform transfer is funny, but untrue. First of all, there would still be no other line with a cross-platform transfer to the 4/5, so it will still be easiest to take the 2/3 and walk ten feet (!) across a platform. Second, this proposal will save people time.
Currently, the 5 runs every 5-8 minutes. Therefore, a Nostrand > Lex passenger waits an average of 3 minutes for the 5 to arrive. Under this proposal, even if we use current frequencies, the passenger would wait an average of 1.5 minutes for the 2/3 (combined frequency 20tph) and then an average of 1.25 minutes for the 4/5 (combined frequency 25tph), totaling 2.75 minutes. By the way, notice those numbers. 25 tph for the most crowded corridor in the country, when even the MTA’s conservative, CBTC-less estimates allow 30, is sad. Why do you think they can’t manage more than 25tph?

The W is actually a closer analogy to what I’m looking for than the ’80s R. The R had two unique terminals, so any yard visits necessarily involved deadheading. The proposed 3 would share Flatbush terminal with the 2. As a result, any competent dispatcher could construct the schedule so that cars needing maintenance ended up running (in service) on the 2 at the end of the day. No deadheading or short turning would be needed, just some swapping at Flatbush.

145 St is absolutely irrelevant.
There is no technical reason why 142’s can’t stop at South Ferry or 145 St. The issue is liability – because crews on the 2 are not used to opening only 1/2 a train, there is a chance that they will open all doors accidentally, causing possible injury to passengers. This apparently happened several years ago, and since then the 2 has ceased stopping at SF Loop.

Not sure what you’re trying to say with those percentages: if a weekday rider wants Lex so badly that they refuse to walk ten feet across a platform, they can just go north instead of west and end up … at the Eastern Parkway Line. On weekends, yes, nobody is saying that 2 trains are currently packed along Nostrand. However, the 2 currently operates every 12 minutes. The nearby Q, which runs every 10, gets somewhat crowded. If the Nostrand Line had 6-minute frequencies on weekends, this could provide some relief to the Q. Not much of a justification, I know, but what I’m saying is that the 2’s ridership on weekends is at least partly a function of its crappy frequencies.

As for calling in Capital Construction to rebuild the junction (and extend the Nostrand line), that’s all fine and dandy, but where is the money going to come from? Installing a few switches costs three or four million at most.

adirondacker12800 November 28, 2014 - 5:01 pm

No one in the past century has had these brilliant ideas?

Brooklynite November 28, 2014 - 10:00 pm

One example that comes to mind is from 1959: the TA realized that having 242 St trains run express on 7 Av and Lenox Terminal trains run local wasn’t the best use of 96th St Junction, so the service patterns were switched to prevent conflicting movements.

Another, though from London, is more current: the upcoming Northern Line split into two.

Frankly though, “it hasn’t been done yet” isn’t a reason not to consider an idea…

adirondacker12800 November 29, 2014 - 12:52 pm

I suspect that it gets considered fairly often and has a fatal flaw that prevents them from doing it.

Brooklynite November 29, 2014 - 3:08 pm

I haven’t seen it in any MTA reports – if you have, link me please.

And I must say the MTA’s definition of “fatal flaw” has some fatal flaws (a ha). If it didn’t, we’d have OPTO, ATO, and platform doors by now (while OPTO is also a union issue, there’s nothing actually preventing platform doors, at least on the A Division. See: Paris, Line 1).

adirondacker12800 November 29, 2014 - 6:40 pm

Yes after almost a century of operation and generations of workers and management no one anywhere has every thought of doing this.

sonicboy678 November 29, 2014 - 5:57 pm

Funny, that only addressed one problem when there were two. The larger problem was addressed about 24 years later.

sonicboy678 November 28, 2014 - 10:28 pm

You’re still trying to use a Band-Aid when you need stitches.

I’d be insane to deny that the junction in question is a chokepoint, especially since I have to go through there just to get to/from school. The current layout isn’t conducive to optimal service, but the solution isn’t a shortsighted move of two trains just because it’s cheap. In a practical sense, such a move is disruptive regardless of the “savings” you claim. Why? For one, dwell times vary, but often increase with a cross-platform transfer. Imagine how it would look under your proposal. A few trains MIGHT move out quickly, but what about the rest? They’ll get stuck waiting in the station for longer, an issue which isn’t necessary — especially for Lexington Avenue trains. They already deal with that crap in Manhattan and at Nevins Street, along with a few instances at Franklin Avenue. Of course, this is all assuming that the crowding doesn’t considerably deflate on Nostrand Avenue thanks to the lack of Lexington Avenue service. After all, it’s pretty easy to head over to Brighton and, to a lesser degree, Culver, from Nostrand Avenue. It’s also easy to access Fulton Street, so there are more options for people available. Let’s not forget that people just might head up to Eastern Parkway just to catch that 5 train they lost direct access to. Then you would have to worry about people flooding trains in other locations. Sure, you could potentially free up a few Eastern Parkway slots, but then what happens? Simple: crowding conditions worsen in the worst locations. Oh, by the way, this swap would indeed force people to change their travel patterns because transfers would literally be forced on people.

You’re making bold assumptions but are forgetting one very important thing: some trains to/from the Bronx serve Utica and New Lots Avenues instead of Flatbush Avenue. In other words, a Nostrand-Lex passenger probably would not have a 3 minute wait. Under current conditions, however, passengers can either choose to wait for the 5 or take the 2 to Franklin Avenue to wait for the 4 or 5 (whichever comes first). The third option is to take the B44 to Eastern Parkway and head over to Franklin Avenue for a 4 or 5 train, and the fourth option is to take any bus anywhere else and connect with a Lex service much later.

The W analogy still falls flat. First and foremost, that rides on the assumption that the demand for such a stretch actually warrants the swap from one to the other. It may be warranted between Franklin Avenue and 135th Street, but nowhere else. It also fails to consider exactly how a suitable yard (considerable space and an inspection & maintenance facility available at the same yard) would be accessed. Again, the W never truly had to go out of its way to access a suitable yard, something the R did have a problem with. What was actually done was one solution, but they didn’t need to swap routes just to access a yard. Any sane person would say that the proposal would fall flat on this account because the overflow from 239 would end up at…Livonia anyway.

You could increase Nostrand Avenue’s frequency to one train per second and still have little to no impact on Brighton on weekends. Part of the reason why the Q has crowding issues at all on weekends is because it serves parts of Brooklyn the IRT (as it stands now) can’t serve. You know what would solve this? Simple: the more expensive yet practical Nostrand Avenue expansion. Note that I’m not calling it an extension for the simple reason that more tracks would be added, as well as an expansion of the junction dedicated to express service. It may be more expensive, but it doesn’t reopen large closed wounds in order to deal with one much smaller wound.

For the record, the reason why Lexington Avenue Express runs at 25 tph maximum has nothing to do with Brooklyn; rather, it has to do with the crowding in Manhattan. Much of that has to do with transfers at hubs, which eat up considerable time. Another reason is because the general dispatching is awful, especially on southbound trains between 59th Street and Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall.

Two other things: First, 145th Street is a bottleneck in and of itself. Because of its position, southbound 2 trains become delayed if a northbound train so much as enters, never mind sits in the station. That negatively impacts the frequency on its own. Because of its position, the only reason why it’s still open is because the community wants it open, despite being a massive burden. Second, that image is not irrefutable proof, as it completely fails to show the sixth car. Don’t think that was going to slip by me, because the proof needed has to show the doors of only the first five cars being opened.

Brooklynite November 29, 2014 - 11:44 am

If dwell times increase significantly because of a cross-platform transfer, then that’s an indication of poor oversight on the MTA’s part. Conductors should not be holding for connections during rush hour at all. Yes, it is possible that dwell may increase by a few seconds if two trains enter at the exact same time, but the gap fillers at Union Square take more time than that so it wouldn’t be as critical an issue. It’s also not possible that three or four extra seconds of dwell time will be worse than an eastbound 5 waiting for ANY 7 Avenue train to cross in front of it.

About losing passengers on Nostrand, that shouldn’t be that big an issue. The Nostrand line primarily serves passengers east of Nostrand and south of Eastern Parkway. If those people want Lexington so badly, they can just go to Eastern Parkway, which will have nothing but Lex service. Even if they, and everyone else who uses Nostrand, don’t want to go to EP, Nostrand will remain the most convenient way to access Lex (because of the cross-platform transfer), and going to another line is just pointless.

Yes, there are currently 2/5s that go to Utica and New Lots. What of it? There’s still about 20tph on the Nostrand line, giving a ~3 minute wait. I’m not sure what you’re saying with the various options people have – if they are taking the 2 and waiting at Franklin, NOTHING WILL CHANGE for them (except, possibly, frequencies will increase).

I must not be explaining myself clearly. Whenever a train running on the 3 is scheduled for maintenance, it will simply become a 2 at Flatbush. Cars that do not need to be maintained that night can just stay at Lenox Yard, or keep running in overnight 3 service. If there’s not enough space at Lenox, again, the leftover trains become 2s at Flatbush and go to 239 St Yard. This is really not that complicated – any competent dispatcher would be able to make this work. (The issue with the R was that it didn’t have any shared terminals with anything, so there was no such swapping possible.)

Sure, the Brighton serves Southern Brooklyn while the Nostrand doesn’t. However, north of Avenue H, the two lines are parallel, and increasing frequency on Nostrand will attract customers who would otherwise have gone to the next line over, the Brighton. Basically, 2/3s wouldn’t be as empty on weekends as it seems.

I must say, crowding is a terrible reason to have LOWER frequencies. If Moscow can manage 40tph on every line with almost twice the ridership per mile, there’s no reason for 25 to be the limit here. Dispatching in Manhattan seems irrelevant to me – there’s no merges on the 4/5 anywhere there. Gap fillers at 14th seem to be the issue there as far as I know. Also notable about the Lex – when there’s a problem on the West Side and 2s go via Lex, there’s no major delays. That shows pretty convincingly that Manhattan is not the issue on the IRT (and also that increasing Lex frequency will not worsen delays).

Yes, the IRT made a mistake opening 145 St. From an operations standpoint, it would be ideal if both 145 and 148 Sts did not exist today, letting all West Side service continue to the Bronx. However, that is not the case. Politicians will not allow either station to close. Therefore it’s largely irrelevant to the issue of Rogers Junction. As before, 5s run via 7th without major delays, meaning that the capacity constraint is not in Manhattan. And that image is conclusive – the MTA would not have allowed the train to stop there if all ten cars had opened.
There is a fence after the 5th car anyway, so the 6th car would not be usable.
Furthermore, car 6 is not an issue – it’s not possible for car 6 to be opened and 7-10 to all be closed from the conductor’s booth. Even if car 6 were open, 145 St is six cars long anyway so that doesn’t matter.

And yes, an expansion and reconstruction of the junction would be awesome. I agree. Wake me up when you find the money for that. Until then, something is better than nothing.

sonicboy678 November 29, 2014 - 9:55 pm

Dwell times will undoubtedly increase in the event of a cross-platform transfer, especially if significant crowding becomes involved; however, the problem will only worsen if you begin to compound other transfers at the same time. Transfers are one of the major culprits when it comes to significant delays, and this goes for just about any route. This is one of the main factors as to why actual peak service is well below optimal peak service, especially for Lexington Avenue. The gap fillers don’t help, but they only affect one direction and primarily become an issue once trains get backed up due to (*gasp!*) crowding, whereas the opposite direction doesn’t have the pathetic excuse of gap fillers to worry about. Again, a large part of the crowding issue comes from cross-platform interchanges, especially when many people are moving from the first available train to a desired train.

Dispatching deals with more than just switches. It deals with all moves involving all vehicles, which includes clearance for trains to enter, leave, and run between stations. When dispatching is bad, it confounds service. Dispatching in Manhattan can affect Brooklyn to some degree; by this, I mean frequencies can potentially be negatively affected if dispatching is bad in Manhattan. Should a train be delayed in Manhattan for some reason, it may lead to a negative situation in Brooklyn. Case in point: a 5 train to Flatbush Avenue is delayed considerably thanks to train traffic. Bear in mind that this is during PM rush when people are crowding onto trains at Grand Central. Eventually, the 5 finally gets to Franklin Avenue, but a 2 train pulls in simultaneously. After both pull out, the 2 jumps in front of the 5. Had dispatchers been more diligent, this situation may not have presented itself. Unfortunately, bad Manhattan dispatching influenced Brooklyn dispatching to some degree; the rest of the problem came after it got to Brooklyn. Simply put, Manhattan can affect Brooklyn; it can only be worsened by Brooklyn.

What of the fact that 2 and 5 trains may go to Utica Avenue or New Lots Avenue? Simple: the one frequency you stated before will not directly tie into the frequencies on Nostrand Avenue; for that matter, neither would the other’s. To add to this, the aforementioned dispatching and crowding issues can easily confound the number.

Sure, crowding alone isn’t a good reason to lower frequencies, but try cramming loads of people into these smaller cars on these barely longer trains (most Moscow Metro trains are about 4 feet shorter than most IRT trains, not that it says much, especially sine the only advantage the IRT has is a slightly larger space for headroom — if even that much). I’m pretty sure Moscow is able to run trains at frequencies comparable to dwell times at Grand Central because of better dispatching and an advanced signalling system which will take us forever and a year just to get installed throughout our system. Moscow also has a lower station frequency than us, so trains won’t have to stop as frequently.

Changing what routes are available will change something: how the commuters commute. If a person sometimes takes the 2 to Franklin Avenue and transfers, something changes for that person: the alternative, which is just taking the 5, is instantly replaced with what is essentially the same thing, just with a different designation, and vice-versa for those who normally use Eastern Parkway. This can easily lead to a decrease in overall frequency because of the extremely redundant service patterns (which is also absolutely unwarranted). Just a word of warning: don’t think the B and C will help you at all, because that’s a vastly different set of circumstances.

Basically, what you’re stating is that increasing Nostrand Avenue’s weekend frequency would be beneficial to the Q. I have a better one: send out an additional couple of trains from Brighton Beach. The main issue is that by the time the Q reaches Newkirk Plaza, there are a fair number of people on the train. If the issue really is as bad as you make it out to be (which I very seriously doubt is the case, provided that there aren’t significant delays), then the issue would be resolved more logically by adding more Q trains, not more 2 trains and certainly not by adding a second Nostrand Avenue service on weekends.

The problem with 145th Street is not that it was opened in the first place, but that the spineless TA caved to a bratty community when it came to an attempt at closing the station once a suitable replacement was built out of Lenox Yard.

Under no circumstances did I say that the 6th car would be utilized at a station with a short platform; also, my statement had nothing to do with R62/As. Neither image is conclusive evidence, as the former depicts a different car on the train without a comparison to the important one right behind it and the latter depicts a different car type entirely. Opening the 6th car without opening any of the others in the back of the train requires a key, which is actually incredibly obvious.

Part of the reason for why the W was so difficult to operate post-2004 was because very few trains ended their runs directly outside of a yard with an inspection and maintenance facility; however, it always had relatively easy access to one, as it wouldn’t necessitate having to choose between a complicated reversal process further complicated by the higher day frequencies and trying to travel a ridiculous distance to a yard with one. That was a problem which plagued the R and 3 and will plague the latter again following any implementation of your proposal. (There are other inefficiencies aside from what I’ve mentioned, but they’re relatively minor, at worst.)

Brooklynite November 30, 2014 - 1:20 am

Crowding increases dwell times – that’s obvious. However, as I said before, conductors should not be holding for connections during rush hour at all. If two trains pull in at the exact same time, then sure, three or four seconds extra time may be required for people to sprint across the platform. If any more waiting is required, the train should simply leave. This only leaves the issue of crowding – which cities across the world somehow manage to work around but NYC doesn’t. As someone mentioned upthread, having the doors be un-holdable would be a huge help in getting them shut promptly.

It’s obvious that delays in Manhattan will affect Brooklyn – nobody ever said they don’t. That can’t really be fixed no matter what service pattern is used. However, isolating the lines will actually REDUCE delays. Take your example of the current 2 and 5 arriving at Franklin. The delayed 5 presumably has several trains trailing directly behind it, so the dispatcher sends it ahead of the 2. The 2, which sits in the station for the necessary two minutes, is meanwhile delaying everything behind it, and the cycle will repeat every time a 5 train arrives at Franklin.

Moscow is simply organized much better than NYC. I may be wrong, but every source I could find indicates that the Moscow Metro still uses simple block signals, no CBTC or moving block magic necessary. Despite that, they have run headways of less than 90 seconds for years. Aside from the better-designed doors (no door holding), each station is equipped with a beautifully simple device: a clock that counts seconds from departure of the previous train.
As for lower stop frequency, I wouldn’t call four stops between Brooklyn Bridge and 125 particularly frequent stops. Even the very close stops, like Bowling Green-Wall St, just mean that trains run slower, which means they can get closer together, which improves headways.

Given that I don’t have the exact headways from Flatbush (they’re hidden behind “every 5-8 minutes”) I have to approximate. If you have more precise numbers be my guest and use them, but I know Flatbush currently has about 20tph, so the calculations I posted before, showing that time is saved by going to Franklin and transferring, hold. Honestly, given how full the Brooklyn IRT is I don’t think anything there can be called redundant. And the B/C have their own issues, and aren’t directly relevant here as you said.

I’m not saying the Q is desperately overcrowded and needs instant relief. Clearly, the MTA doesn’t think so either, since they didn’t restore the 8-minute headways of several years ago during the latest increases. What I’m saying is the 2, with its 12-minute frequencies, is an unattractive service, while a 6-minute headway would attract more people. Point is, those 2/3s wouldn’t be very empty.

While irrelevant to Brooklyn, if 145 St had never opened all West Side trains could go through to the Bronx, which has significantly more demand than that sliver of Harlem ever will. Interestingly, cities like Paris that also faced this conundrum of unequal branches made the underused stubs into shuttles (lines 3b, 7b).

The R142s are perfectly capable of opening just the first five cars, and that’s what they would do if they stopped at 145. No, I don’t have a picture of precisely what you’re looking for, but if you agree that the pictured 142 did not open all 10 cars at South Ferry the evidence is relatively convincing.

You haven’t rebutted any of arguments about scheduling (other than just say “it won’t work”) so it sounds like I’ve made my point, but I’ll restate. Any time when a 3 is leaving service to go to the yard, it will simply run from Flatbush as a 2 and go to Unionport/180/239. Any competent dispatcher can make the schedule work.

In sum, if NYC conductors can’t close the doors in a reasonable amount of time, NYC passengers can’t walk ten feet for a transfer, and NYC dispatchers can’t make a simple schedule, then perhaps we deserve the service we get. But if we look to other cities and borrow what they know to fix our most glaring problems, we can improve the situation.

AG November 24, 2014 - 5:37 pm

The difference is that NY’s peers get more support from their governments

Alon Levy November 24, 2014 - 7:13 pm

Ben, your links to the report are dead. Correct links are given within the article. Here is a correct link to the first of three PDF files.

Larry 3 November 26, 2014 - 12:24 am Reply

Leave a Comment