Home Queens The son of the return of the W train

The son of the return of the W train

by Benjamin Kabak

As the public deadline for completion of the Second Ave. Subway nears, stories about the W train have been popping up with near-monthly regularity. So even though the MTA stated last month that Astoria service wouldn’t be reduced when the Q is re-routed to the Upper East Side, they were happy to reiterate this position when amNew York came a-knockin’. Although the MTA hasn’t identified just how service patterns will change or what the new Astoria service will be called, this time around, word on the street is that reviving the W is firmly under consideration.

Marc Beja’s story covers some familiar territory. The MTA isn’t saying much publicly about service patterns, but the agency has held various off-the-record conversations with rider advocates and neighborhood groups acknowledging that the current N train alone is not sufficient for Astoria subway riders. One of the ideas on the table is reviving the W — a local in Manhattan that terminated at Whitehall St. and ran to Astoria.

Reiterating the MTA’s position on subway frequency, Kevin Ortiz, a Transit spokesman, said to the daily, “The current level of service in Astoria will not decrease. Reviving the W, he said, “certainly has been discussed; no decision has been made.” That the MTA already has yellow and black W roll signs and route bullets in the BMT rolling stock is probably telling, but no decision has to be made until a few months before the Second Ave. Subway opens — which at best means next summer will be the deadline for the W’s rebirth.

While it’s always comforting for Astorians to hear that their subway service will not be worse off once the Second Ave. Subway opens, Beja’s article delves into the ins and outs of re-signing the system for a new service. In these paragraphs are some gems:

As far as communicating the W’s return, the MTA has already budgeted for new signs and maps once the Second Avenue Subway goes online. It shouldn’t create extra confusion or costs to make other changes at the same time.

John Montemarano, director of station signage since 1994 and an MTA employee of 35 years, has seen the birth of the W, V and Second Avenue Subway, as well as the death of the W, V and No. 9. Other lines have shrunk, grown and changed because of ridership shifts, budget changes, the 9/11 attacks and Sandy damage. Now, new stations are being finished along Second Avenue and the No. 7 line.

If the MTA adds or revives a line, Montemarano said he would need about four months to get the transit system ready. It would take that long for the 48 workers in his department to survey the stations, design signs, check their accuracy and then create signs in the Brooklyn shop that would be loaded into trains to carry them to each station for installation. A small station would need about 60 new signs, while a larger station like 34th Street-Herald Square will need closer to 800. Small circular decals cost about $5 to make up, while bigger signs can be upwards of $200.

This is a glimpse inside a bureaucracy at work, but there’s also a quote from Richard Barone at the RPA that highlights how cumbersome this four-month lead time for a service change can be. While the signage team says they have these types of changes “down to a science,” Transit has been loathe to experiment with different routing at different times a day. “In some ways,” Barone said, “I wish the MTA would play around with services more, sort of experiment with service changes more.”

With the need to bring online some new service in a year and a half, the MTA has a chance to play around with services. They could run the W through the Montague St. Tunnel and down 4th Ave. to Bay Parkway as supplemental local service. They could restore express service to the N while running the W local or use the W as an express in Manhattan with the N local. This is a great time to assess changing transit patterns and customer needs along a stretch of line many consider to be underserved right now. We’ll find out if the MTA’s hulking bureaucracy can think creatively for a few months as the W — or something similar — returns.

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John-2 July 15, 2015 - 12:49 am

Based on the needs of Brooklyn riders and the existing routing of the Broadway lines in Brooklyn, it would seem to be a simple tweak to restore N express service at least from Times Square to Canal and restore the W to its former role of Whitehall-to-Ditmars local (though I suppose the MTA could save on a couple of train crews and rolling stock usage by cutting the W back to just the upper level of Canal Street). Running the W express in Manhattan almost requires the line replace the N as Fourth Avenue express in Brooklyn, because to do otherwise would jam the switching between Prince and Canal streets.

Alain July 15, 2015 - 4:09 am

Alternatively, they could switch the N and R terminals in Queens, have the N run express in Manhattan and make the R run with shorter intervals. Extend the to Bay Pkwy (taking over the former ) during peak hours and have it terminate at Whitehall at other times.

No need for an extra W train then.

Stephen July 15, 2015 - 8:14 am

it was probably the result of writing a comment at 4am, but you say ‘Extend the to Bay Pkway…’

Extend the what to Bay Pkway?

vanshnookenraggen July 15, 2015 - 4:34 pm

Extend the W to Bay Parkway on the West End Line (D). The M used to run there at rush hour so the W could revive that service as well.

Yan July 16, 2015 - 11:34 am

The W does not need to go past Whitehall, sending it to bay parkway would be pointless, as it would be empty most of the time

AlexB July 16, 2015 - 2:18 pm

No, it would not be pointless. It would supplement the R train along 4th Ave. If you’re bringing back the W, extending it doesn’t cost that much more, maybe a few million annually?

Caelestor July 16, 2015 - 4:33 pm

Since the budget needs to be perfectly balanced, a few million matters. The W got axed for ~$3 million in savings.

I’m not fully convinced on extending the W either. Interlining really needs to be reduced to make the system more reliable. If the R is actually overcrowded, the obvious solution would be to add more trains on that route.

AMH July 17, 2015 - 5:29 pm

I thought more trains couldn’t be added because of terminal capacity constraints.

Yan July 16, 2015 - 8:49 pm

There isnt enough equipment for the W to go all the way to brooklyn

Phantom July 16, 2015 - 8:02 pm

The old M train ran nearly empty in most of its run from Court to Bay Parkway. There is zero need to revive it.

And the southbound M caused delays at 36th Street when it would pause before going on the express ( West End ) track.

Mario Soto July 17, 2015 - 12:58 am

Yes l agree with you because the M Train runs from Queens to Queens.

Subutay Musluoglu July 15, 2015 - 9:01 am

I doubt that the N and R terminals will (or should) be switched. Under the current routing, each line has convenient access to a shop/yard at one end of the line. If they were to be switched, the R would be without such access at both ends, which was the case before 1985, when the R went to Astoria, and the N went to Forest Hills.

Alain July 15, 2015 - 8:38 am

It was 10am local time, though I could still have been a bit drowsy 😉

I meant to write an R between brackets () – so essentially a diamond R, but the parser software apparently mistook that for a tag.

Larry Littlefield July 15, 2015 - 9:53 am

“They could run the W through the Montague St. Tunnel and down 4th Ave. to Bay Parkway as supplemental local service.”

Or at least 9th Avenue.

But that would require more cars, and more workers, and thus more money. At time when the MTA is heading toward a financial iceberg, followed by a physical one.

Alex July 15, 2015 - 5:18 pm

As a beleaguered R train rider along 4th Ave, it would be my dream to see supplemental service during peak hours. The current wait times, especially in the evenings heading south, are horrendous. But I think you’re probably right about it being pretty unlikely given the budget woes.

Larry Littlefield July 15, 2015 - 5:21 pm

Is it my imagination, or are the peak hour R train headways longer than they were before the Montingue Street tunnel shutdown?

Joe Steindam July 15, 2015 - 5:41 pm

I think they are still supposed to be 8 TPH, but the line is really subject to bunching, surprisingly or not so in Brooklyn. I find the bunching worse in the morning between 7 and 9, you’re seeing really heavy loads followed by nearly empty trains. I feel like it’s been particularly bad last week, which I attributed to some problem of not getting trains in place following Fastrack work.

Alex July 15, 2015 - 5:52 pm

They’re the same. I know this because the northbound R is actually very reliable and comes close to the scheduled interval, at least at the end of rush hour when I board, usually around 9, just before it goes to 10 minute headways. And the scheduled times did not change with the Montague Tube closure.

Of course, that regularity makes the longer headways of the R tolerable. I leave my apartment at a specific time and know I’ll make the R within 2-3 minutes about 95% of the time. Now heading south in the evening is a different story. The long slog from Queens often results in some very late and very crowded trains, at least in certain cars. Since I’m in the majority of people who use the R to get to other lines, I really miss the truncated route terminating at Court. Northbound and southbound R’s ran on time and I never had to worry about being able to squeeze onto the train in the evening at DeKalb or Atlantic.

Alex July 15, 2015 - 6:00 pm

As a side note, I’ve always wondered about the logic behind running 2 routes express and 1 local along the same line. I get load considerations, but the MTA seems to ONLY focus on load and not on service frequency. In my mind, it makes more sense to favor servicing more stations with your available rolling stock rather than provide more express trains. Of course, I’m highly biased since my commute would be 5-10 minutes shorter most days if the D ran local.

Also worth noting, given the N and D both run local overnight in place of the R, you actually have BETTER service at 3am than you do at 3pm on the weekend given the R’s 12 minute headways.

Joe Steindam July 16, 2015 - 9:03 am

If I had to guess the rationale for keeping the N and D local, I imagine it would be a combination of how much it would lengthen either service (and I get that they run local at night, but no train runs express at night) and reducing the number of switches trains have to go through in Brooklyn. I forget where the switches are to get onto the Manhattan Bridge tracks, but you can go from the 4th Ave local track to the Brighton track at DeKalb, but that would wreck the service on the B and Q. I feel like there’s a switch before Atlantic heading southbound from the express to local track, but I’m not sure. Either way, the additional switching to get to the right service pattern in Manhattan probably adds complexity that might kill service frequency.

Riverduckexpress July 16, 2015 - 1:52 pm

You got it reversed – there is a single switch southbound before Atlantic Av, but it’s from the local track to the express.

Riverduckexpress July 16, 2015 - 1:56 pm

It’s not really practical for the D to run local.

Right now, the D goes straight from the 6 Av Bridge tracks to the 4 Av express tracks. D and Q trains can pass through DeKalb Av at the same time without merging. If the D ran local, it would no longer have to merge with the N, but, it would now have to merge with the Q and R, and you’d have the B, D and Q all having to share one track at DeKalb Av, which would get messy. At night, there are less trains running so the merging isn’t much of an issue.

Alex July 16, 2015 - 5:20 pm

Ugh, you’re right. I thought there was an express to local switch before Atlantic but, as you point out above, it’s only local to express. Though I wonder if it would be any worse than the NRQ coming together at 34th. Admittedly, that’s not great either.

Well regardless, the local service is pretty sparse and running the theoretical W to Brooklyn would definitely help. I won’t hold my breath though.

JMB July 15, 2015 - 8:03 pm

I wish they would reactivate the Nassau-Montague connection and run the trains currently terminating at Broad street all the way down to 95th St to bolster 4th ave local service (at least during rush). Local trains are quite limited considering all the new population growth on stations from 45th street south to the terminal. Maybe utilize the Z train to do so – express in north BK and local in the south, while the J continues doing its thing.

Mike July 16, 2015 - 12:35 pm

I agree that if the MTA ever does decide to restore a Nassau-Montague connection, it should be to Bay Ridge via the R line. The MTA’s own ridership statistics show that the 4th Ave local stations south of 36th St have higher average weekday ridership than those north of 36th. 86th St/4th Ave in particular is a very well-used station. Terminating at 9th Ave would result in very low ridership and turning at Bay Pkwy might not be much better, given the low ridership the pre-2010 M had when it ran there.

AMH July 17, 2015 - 5:27 pm

The Z wouldn’t be much help, considering that it runs in the peak direction only with 6 s/b trains in the AM and 6 n/b trains in the PM. (Most pointless train ever?)

George July 15, 2015 - 10:08 am

I was reminded of famous Greek Astoria native John Stamos when I read the following prose by Benjamin:

“Transit has been loathe to experiment with different routing at different times a day.”

As Stamos sang at the beginning of Full House: “Whatever happened to predictability. The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV?”

Herb Lehman July 15, 2015 - 10:26 am

If it is indeed a W from Astoria to Whitehall that begins running when the Second Avenue Subway is complete in the early 2020s (people really, seriously think it’s going to be 2016?), note that the third track at Whitehall doesn’t have much capacity to turn trains. When the W ran before, it ran at 10 minute intervals (occasionally 15) even during rush hour.

The MTA would have to increase the number of N trains to ensure the same amount of service to/from Astoria, assuming that’s even possible considering I don’t think they can reduce the number of Q trains on Broadway.

No matter how you slice it, someone’s going to lose something, and I don’t think the residents in Astoria are going to be very happy to lose the Q.

Mike July 15, 2015 - 2:12 pm

If the N goes express again and the W comes back, then why would Astoria residents miss the Q? Wouldn’t they still have a Broadway express and a Broadway local? That’s what they’ve had since July 2001 (and from 1986-88, when the Brooklyn half of the B operated to Astoria).

Joe Steindam July 15, 2015 - 5:46 pm

While the service pattern will be the same, Herb’s comment is that because Whitehall is a worse terminal than Coney Island (Whitehall can only turn trains on a single track, and has to thread them between oncoming R trains from Brooklyn) it can’t match the headways of the current N train, which means it will come less often than the N does now.

JMB July 15, 2015 - 8:05 pm

Lower-level city hall could have been a contender, but I noticed they released upgraded the security around the staircase to it.

Yan July 17, 2015 - 2:10 am

Thats actually a good idea, although that area is currently used for rush hour layups of the Q and N

Christopher July 15, 2015 - 10:44 am

During the Montague tunnel repairs, the R had never been more reliable. Something about running that train the full route really slows it down. What’s the need to have local trains always run from one borough to another? Perhaps an R only in BK and a W in MNH & QNS?

Joe Steindam July 15, 2015 - 5:29 pm

I can’t pretend to be unbiased, I ride the R between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and my work is in Lower Manhattan, it’s the most convenient train to me.

As much as reliability is a worthy goal for transit, accessibility and serving destinations is a more important goal of transit. Between operating a long line that suffers from bunching and forcing all users trying to get to Midtown or Lower Manhattan to transfer, and forcing more difficult transfers on those going to Lower Manhattan, no transit agency would pick reliability. It’s one thing when the trains can’t physically run to these destinations, as was the case during the tunnel shutdown. It’s another when the tunnel is freshly refurbished and runs smoothly. It also diminishes the benefit of the transfer between South Ferry and Whitehall. I can’t imagine it’s a popular transfer to begin with, but eliminating service to Brooklyn and Whitehall will end it’s usefulness.

Granted, your comment didn’t inherently suggest no train service through the Montague tube, just no R trains. An elongated J train running the route of the former M train into Brooklyn could use the Montague tube. But that would probably also wreck the reliability of the painfully long and slow J train. If you insist on no R trains, the replacement service should be Bay Ridge-Chambers St on the Nassau Street line, although this would require significant reconstruction of switches to turn trains at Chambers to head south. You’d also want to reconstruct the interlocking at South Ferry, since you can only turn trains on the center track, which limits its capacity as a terminal.

JMB July 15, 2015 - 8:09 pm

I’d love R/J trains from 95th to Chambers. Saves us from having to endure the painful crawl from Whitehall to City Hall, plus it provides an easier, more useful transfer to the Lex. Plus Chambers is a grossly (no pun) underutilized station that should be refurbished into a nexus

Mike July 16, 2015 - 10:58 am

They could run J trains through the Montague Tunnel that short-turn at Broadway Junction. Broadway Jct to Bay Ridge isn’t that long of a route. These trains could run in addition to the regular J service and operate before the start of J/Z skip-stop service (which only runs for about an hour during each rush hour period).

Brian July 15, 2015 - 10:57 am

The simplest thing to do would be running the N every 3-4 minutes throughout the day and have it run through the tunnel as a local train 24/7, with the Q and R trains making express stops in Manhattan, and the R in Brooklyn. The R could run via 63rd Street to Queens Blvd local stations, and the M could run at all times except nights to compensate for the loss of the R at Lexington / 60th Street (which is not really lost if you consider the MetroCard transfer).

Alistair July 15, 2015 - 12:04 pm

But that would result in chaos at Canal Street as trains switch all the time.

As a general rule, Broadway trains using the Manhattan Bridge need to be express in Manhattan, and trains going downtown need to be local in Manhattan. Assuming you have four routes, you can just about violate that with one, but you’ll screw the system up to no end if you have more than one doing it.

At 57th Street, you’re going to have the Q coming off the Second Avenue Subway onto the express lines, and the NRW coming off the 60th Street tunnel onto the local lines. At Canal, you have the NQ heading for the Manhattan Bridge off the express lines and the RW heading downtown off the local lines.

So under the ‘default’ assumption, you’re going to have the N switch somewhere. You could do it at 57th, but 49th is busy enough that you really want the N serving it if you can, so you’re probably better switching it at 34th.

If, instead, you have just a double-sized N and the R coming off 60th Street, then you’re presumably saying that only the Q will run express in Manhattan, and the NNR will stay local until Canal Street, where the N will switch. But that’s a lot of trains to switch at Canal, and is it going to get through there and DeKalb Avenue without delaying everything? And do you need that many N trains in Brooklyn? And do you _have_ that many N trains available?

In contrast, if you run the W, you have room in the system to run them, because they’re just running alongside the R. Those who know more than I do can speculate on whether there’s the demand to run the W into Brooklyn or whether it should be short-turned at Whitehall.

Another possibility could be that the W provides the entire service into Brooklyn and the R instead is short-turned at Whitehall. That could improve reliability by cutting a through service in two without affecting any journey that starts or ends in Manhattan.

Jimmy Snoogans July 15, 2015 - 2:00 pm

This is an elegant solution. I like the idea of the R stopping at Whitehall to improve reliability. (As Christopher says, the R train has never been more reliable than during the work on the Montague Tube.)

Mike July 15, 2015 - 2:17 pm

But if the W were to replace the R in Brooklyn, it will have the same problem the pre-1987 R had when it ran to/from Astoria – not being near a maintenance yard.

Alistair July 15, 2015 - 2:40 pm

That’s true, but it’s fixable. The easiest way is to have a few northbound R Bay Ridge-Astoria trains magically become W trains at Whitehall (and have a few W Forest Hills-Whitehall trains run on as R trains) to get them in and out of Jamaica Yard. Couple that with some increased use of 36-38th Street Yard and you should be good.

bob July 15, 2015 - 10:21 pm

Seriously you expect the general public to make sense of trains changing their ID mid-stream?

Alistair July 16, 2015 - 10:13 am

What’s the big deal? A northbound Bay Ridge-Astoria train is announced as terminating short (at Lex/59th or at Whitehall), and at Whitehall it switches displays (with many announcements) to say it’s now going to Forest Hills. Nobody is deceived.

Southbound, it’s even easier. It’s announced as a Whitehall terminator in Queens, and somewhere (either at Lex/59th or at Whitehall) it switches blinds and says it’s continuing to Bay Ridge. Nobody who gets on it expects it to be going somewhere it isn’t.

Plus, this is only for trains going to/from Jamaica Yard — most trains aren’t. And if it’s that confusing, it can just go in/out of service at Lex/59th and run empty down the express tracks to the yard.

Anonymous July 16, 2015 - 12:50 pm

Or just do what practically every other service does when it takes a non-standard route:

“This is a Forest Hills-bound W train, via the R line. The next stop is “. (Queens-bound should be mentioned in Manhattan, except for Lex-59th as there is no station between there and the split between Astoria and QB – to make it easier for blind people)

“This is a Bay Ridge-bound W train, via the R line. The next stop is .”

No need to invent a new practice if a perfectly fine one already exists.

Robert July 15, 2015 - 2:45 pm

That would require all Broadway trains to operate on weekends. Currently, the Q doesn’t run into Queens on weekends, unless it’s supplementing a 7 train truncation. If the W were to run from Astoria-Bay Ridge, and the R short turning at Whitehall St, Queens Blvd LCL service would be impacted. The MTA would not rely solely on the M, and would probably refrain from extending the G. Running the W from Astoria-9th ave via Montague Tunnel and the 4th Ave LCL, would be best option, and perhaps during rush hours, extend it to Bay Parkway, a la the old Nassau St M train service in the late 90’s

Anonymous July 16, 2015 - 1:17 pm

The W also never ran near a yard in it’s last routing, and, if reintroduced, probably still won’t (and neither will the service on 2nd Av whenever the extension to Lower Manhattan will happen, at least according to current plans). But is it really that much of a logistical nightmare to have one service not passing a yard? And won’t a more reliable Astoria-Bay Ridge W and a Forest Hills-Whitehall R (likely still problematic because of the QBL’s ongoing issues, but in today’s situation, if the R breaks down people on the QB will still have the M train, while in South Brooklyn all services disappear. Split the route and when anything goes wrong on QBL the only thing that will happen is that the Manhattan locals will get a reduced service, which is a lot better than no service at all)

J July 15, 2015 - 1:19 pm

Talking to those who are much more knowledgable then myself:

1) What is the current difference between the N and the Q? It’s not like one runs express and one local, anyway…Right? I thought the Q was express, but it always seems to be running local.

2) Are there any connections to, say, have the W run from Ditmars to 59/Lex, then at some point diverge onto a different track, say, taking it down 6th Avenue instead of Broadway? That would ACTUALLY give more options to Astoria residents, instead of just running two trains on the same route.


bigbellymon4 July 15, 2015 - 2:02 pm

To answer question 1, the N runs local in Manhattan while the Q runs express to 34th Herald Square. The N runs via 4th avenue and the Q is Brighton lcl. Other than that, same terminals, same yards.
To answer question 2, go over to nycsubway.org and look at the track maps to help you. Here is the link: http://nycsubway.org/wiki/New_.....Track_Maps

Eric July 16, 2015 - 7:51 am

For a somewhat easier to use version of the track map:

AMH July 15, 2015 - 3:51 pm

To answer Question 2, no, there is no track connection between the BMT Astoria Line and the IND 6th Avenue Line.

James July 15, 2015 - 1:51 pm

while we are talking about new routes. Let’s start routing trains thru service at still well ave Coney Island . D and f trains could make complete loops . N and q trains the same . There are many people who live in Bensonhurst that need the Brighton line . Such thru service would cut travel times . For those who don’t know there is currently 5-10 min delays into still well terminal . Even though you can transfer , it is not a good option except for the desperate . Each train has about 30 transfers or more

adirondacker12800 July 15, 2015 - 3:08 pm

Any delay on one line then propagates around to the other line. When things go really bad you get train bunching.

Yan July 16, 2015 - 11:41 am

That would screw up service really really bad. You cant have aloop route with only one place where they loop

Chaz Antonelli July 15, 2015 - 1:55 pm

As adorable as “QT” (cutie) sounds, “Q” should be for (Q)ueens.

How about (U) train for (U)pper East Side — and add that to (T), you could get “TU” (two), which is SECOND AVE?

Get it? 😉

Does anyone know if the (Q)(T) line will DIRECTLY connect with (4)(5)(6) at 125th & Lex for a free transfer?

Jimmy Snoogans July 15, 2015 - 2:02 pm

It’s supposed to, when the second phase is completed.

Personnel July 16, 2015 - 12:15 am

….Phase 2 which will open around 2032 and phase 3? Hah don’t even go there.

Akiva July 15, 2015 - 2:04 pm

They should make another Broadway express service, as well as run the w local along 4th ave in Brooklyn

JJJJ July 15, 2015 - 8:59 pm

I was told it was at end of life? Why are they doing upgrades a year after closing at all summer?

Due to system upgrades during the dates and times listed, there will be a full shutdown of AirTrain Newark service. This temporary service disruption will not impact NJ Transit or Amtrak service and the Newark Airport Station will remain open. Free shuttle buses will be available between the Newark Airport Station and all other AirTrain stops (Terminals A, B, C and Stations P2, P3 and P4)

Duke July 15, 2015 - 9:11 pm

My concern is that one route with 7 TPH won’t suffice for the Upper East Side, especially when the 6 train is running 22 TPH. Either it will be underutilized because the headways are lousy compared to its nearby competitor, or the trains will become crowded quite quickly. As I see it, it is inevitable that the MTA is going to have to remove the 11th St cut from revenue service and run two routes to Astoria and two routes to the UES, at least until Phase 3 opens in 2096.

Given the track configuration, the best way to do this would be such:
– N and Q, via bridge, both run express (including skipping 49th), and both terminate at 96th St. At all times since there won’t be anywhere to short turn one and not the other.
– R and W both run local and both terminate at Ditmars. The no yard problem can be solved using the Nereid treatment: at times when frequencies are increasing, some inbound R trains originate at 86th St on the Sea Beach and resume their normal route at 59th. At times when frequency is decreasing, some outbound R trains leave their normal route at 59th and terminate at 86th.
– G is extended to 71-Continental at all times to replace the R.

Rick July 16, 2015 - 1:15 am

Absolutely right, Duke. Except that adequate service for the Queens Blvd line will require putting both the F and M through the 63rd St tunnel and adding a new EE Queens Blvd local to the E service through the 53rd St tunnel. The 8th Avenue line has room to accommodate that added EE service.

Riverduckexpress July 16, 2015 - 9:25 am

For what it’s worth, the Second Av Subway FEIS (published in 2004) projects 14 trains an hour during Phase 1, but I don’t know if the MTA plans on running that much service.


bob July 15, 2015 - 10:19 pm

Ben – you have to get over this fixation about the number of routes. That doesn’t matter, it’s the number of trains that does. Go back in old maps and you’ll see times when the different variations in terminals were different routes. At one point the service guide had an asterisk to explain what route was the 8th ave local by time of day: A, AA, CC, K. It can be rather confusing.

Getting down to details: I checked the current schedules. Currently Ditmars puts out: 6-7AM: 6N+7Q; 7-8AM: 7N+7Q; 8-9AM: 6N+7Q. Since there isn’t any visible reason opening 2nd ave would change ridership in Queens the key is if they will be running about 13-14 trains/hr in the morning peak. Regardless of what they are called. Plus they merge with 9-10 R trains per hour so the local track is close to capacity. (Going above 25 tph on conventional signalling is asking for trouble. And moving the switch to merge Astoria and QB trains cuts capacity.)

When the Q moves to 2nd Ave I don’t know what the service level will be, but I’d figure 10 min headway at a minimum, ie 6 trains an hour. Probably more like 10 per hour. So yes something will have to go express. But look at the track map and the obvious candidate is the 2nd ave trains. While I’m sure Astoria residents would like some trains to be express in Manhattan, keep in mind that moving a switch takes time, and that reduces capacity.

Again it’s the number of trains that counts. They could call all those trains out of Astoria N trains. Some might terminate at Whitehall during AM since outbound in Brooklyn isn’t the same demand (and by the time they get to Stillwell the AM rush is over). You could call those W if you like, that is a question of what the public will understand. Or make them diamond N, if it’s only during the peak period. You could take different routes in Brooklyn, but is that extra cost really going to benefit many people?

But this fixation about the W train is really pointless. It’s the number of trains that provide the service. The number of routes letters is a about the choices of terminals and routing, and there is a lot to be said for simplicity.

eo July 16, 2015 - 9:43 am

Unless someone can come up with a plan that is in at least one sence better than resurrecting the W while making the N express in Manhattan and no worse in any other sense, that is what I expect to see the MTA choose to do. Such configuration ran smoothly for many years. The only difference now will be that the Q will not terminate at 57th, but at 96th. For all the great (and sometimes not so great) ideas mentioned here, the MTA is a bureaucracy that favors tried and tested solutions (and given the number of people who use the subways, they probably should favor such solutions).

There is substantial publicity costs for the MTA to take on experiments with subway routes. The people who are inconvenienced by the changes are much much louder than the ones that benefit from them, so unless there is no way around it(for example, service cuts), the MTA will not want to make such changes as they do not want the wrath of all local politicians whose constituents are complaining. Therefore realistically the only stuff that is on the table are superset solutions of the resurrection of the W (i.e. for example running it into Brooklyn instead of turning at Whitehall). The unfortunate issue with these superset solutions is that they add to the operating costs, so unless the peak hour ridership justifies them they will not happen.

As bob said abive the service might not be labeled W, but diamond N or whatever — that is irrelevant. The shortest route for any trains that they add to Astoria to replace the Q is to turn them at Whitehall (unless money is really really a problem, shorther turn at Canal or elsewhere robs the added trains from servicing downtown, so it is unlikely to be chosen). As a result my money is on the MTA doing just that.

Caelestor July 16, 2015 - 4:19 pm

I expect to see a return to pre-2010 configuration as well. The only concern at this point is potential overcrowding on the UES due to low frequencies, but there’s enough capacity to allow Q train service to be buffed up to 10 or 12 tph.

ryan22 July 16, 2015 - 11:58 am

In Moscow when they add a new station (which happens at least once a year) they avoiding having to replace all the printed maps by just putting a carefully cut sticker of the updated portion of the map on top of each map. Works perfectly.


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