nerdy.nel’s new york transportation improvement plan (NYTIP): an introduction

UPDATE (03.22.2020): Updated the Concourse/Pelham line extension post. Check back often for updates!

Over the years, I’ve given much thought to New York’s transportation infrastructure and how to improve it. While I mainly focused on subways, given my love of trains, I recently began thinking beyond the rails.

It’s no secret – NYC’s subway is in crisis. NY is always stuck in traffic. NY’s highways are a chief source of pollution and misery. Politicians blame bikes for car-caused congestion. And none of it’s getting any better. So how do we fix it?

Introducing the New York Transportation Improvement Plan (NYTIP)!

What is NYTIP, you ask? Simply put, NYTIP is my informal collection of ideas for improving New York’s transportation systems and infrastructure. I’ll present these ideas in a series of blog posts.

My motivation for starting this blog series came from many places – studying transit and highway maps, researching formal subway plans, proposals from the Regional Plan Association, discussions on Transit/Urbanist Twitter, ideas from Second Avenue Sagas, vanshnookenraggen, and others, and of course, my own ideas. This post will serve as an index for NYTIP; as I publish new posts on NYTIP, I’ll link to them here.

First, a disclaimer. I am not affiliated with any transportation agencies. However, I am affiliated with transit advocates, through my Transportation Alternatives and Rail Passengers Association memberships.

Now let’s get to the fun part!


My first series of posts on NYTIP will address the broken NYC subway system. NYTIP prescribes a three-point plan for the NYC Subway, in this order:

  1. Enhance. Improve the NYC subway’s frequency and regularity by “de-interlining” subway lines, reducing merging conflicts throughout the system, and leveraging existing infrastructure.
    1. Central Park West
    2. South Brooklyn
    3. Broadway and Queens Boulevard
    4. Eastern Parkway
    5. South Bronx
    6. Enhanced NYC Subway summary
    7. Overnight service and subway maintenance
    8. The low-hanging fruit
    9. Enhanced NYC Subway service guide (Microsoft Excel file)
  2. Extend. Extend NYC’s subway lines to increase the system’s reach.
    1. UPDATED! SAS Phase 2X and LaGuardia Airport
    2. UPDATED! Concourse and Pelham line extensions to Co-op City
    3. Utica Avenue subway
  3. Expand. Build new subway lines to serve areas that the existing system doesn’t serve at all.

The goal of this three-point plan is two-fold. First, immediate improvements made possible by enhancing the NYC Subway will allow each subway line to run at least every 4 minutes during peak hours and at least every 8 minutes during off-peak hours, including weekends. Second, with additional infrastructural improvements, baseline service on each line improves to 3 minutes or better during peak hours and 6 minutes or better off-peak. Regardless of current loading guidelines or service levels, this will be the new baseline for subway service, with higher-ridership routes receiving more frequent service.

To make weekend subway service more reliable under NYTIP, most maintenance work will shift from weekends to the overnight hours through targeted line closures – essentially an expanded FASTRACK program. In exchange, each subway line that operates overnight will run every 15 minutes or better instead of every 20. Proper street management is key to making this transition a success, as line closures will require adequate substitutes (such as frequent shuttle bus service).

Later on, I will expound on buses, bikes, regional rail, roads, ferries, and freight. Stay tuned – there’s much more to come!

4 thoughts on “nerdy.nel’s new york transportation improvement plan (NYTIP): an introduction

  1. I’ve always thought that during off-peak hours, it may be inefficient for MTA to run full-length trains at higher frequency on some lines… So they should do so with half-length trains. Especially overnight. And especially on the Staten Island Railway.

    I think SIR has the potential to be much more useful if there were 2-car trains every 15 (or 10) minutes rather than 4-car trains every 30. Get the bus system to make SIR connections with these higher frequencies, and we have a framework for improving public transportation in Staten Island.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Concerning shorter trains: it might work for overnight service, but I wouldn’t consider it at any other time; off-peak daytime ridership (even with the current ridership drop) is too high for short trains.

      As for Staten Island, the forthcoming ferry route to West Midtown may catalyze SIR service/ridership increases, so they should keep 4-car trains. That said, I do wonder if SIers would trade shorter trains for more frequent service until the new ferry route launches?


      1. Even then, with the SIR, I think that they should shoot for six- or five-minute headways before forming longer trains. Frequency is useful, y’know? In time, the frequency in itself might further catalyze ridership to justify bringing back longer trains, but let’s make trains more useful now.

        With regards to the subways, how ’bout the weekends? Not for all lines (the L is fine, for example lol), but I think they can stretch it out on some lines. This weekend, both my F train and my R train ran every 12 minutes. The J is similar.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Totally agreed on high frequency being useful, and I can see the SIR being a good test case for this. Weekends get tricky. My thinking for NYTIP was running full-length trains more frequently to encourage ridership and discourage driving, but I can see the merit of your points (and as someone who once regularly used the D – hardly a paragon of frequent service! – I feel your pain).


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