UPDATE (01.13.2020): Post revised for clarity and updated with additional commentary.
Welcome back to my ongoing NYTIP series! Throughout this series, I fleshed out point 1 of my three-point plan to improve the NYC Subway – enhance. In this post, I’ll discuss overnight service and subway system maintenance.
Under NYTIP, the baseline service levels for each line are as follows:
- Rush hours: every 4 minutes or better.
- Middays, evenings, and weekends: every 8 minutes or better.
- Overnights: every 15 minutes.
- Thinking about Samuelito’s comment, half-length trains at roughly twice the frequency – every 8 minutes – could also work.
At present, the MTA performs most of its work outside of rush hours – middays, weekends, and overnights. However, continuous weekend construction and constant service diversions led to a continuous drop in weekend ridership (see page 112 in the link) that only recently began to rebound. As weekend ridership drops and riders switch to cars, traffic congestion increases (see page 116 in the link).
To resolve these issues, NYTIP proposes the following:
Shift most maintenance work to the overnight hours.
This is the first step to making subway maintenance more predictable. NYTIP proposes an overnight maintenance window from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM every day; this is why all peak-direction express services end at 10:00 PM under NYTIP. Generally, setup takes place during the first hour (10:00 PM to 11:00 PM) and cleanup takes place during the last hour (5:00 AM to 6:00 AM). This leaves at least 6 hours for core maintenance work every night. The scope of this work is essentially FASTRACK on steroids, with multiple partial line closures. (FASTRACK is MTA’s accelerated maintenance program which closes a line segment to repair multiple elements at once – e.g. station components, signals, track, etc.)
For this to succeed, the resulting service patterns should maximize connections both within the subway system and between subways and buses. For the latter, the key is ensuring that adequate connecting bus services can replace closed line segments. This requires proper street management, which includes – but isn’t limited to – the following:
- Busways and bus lanes, including makeshift bus lanes where necessary.
- Private auto/parking restrictions on certain roads.
- Makeshift bus stops with clear signage, where needed.
While these initiatives don’t necessarily preclude midday or weekend maintenance work, they should make off-peak service much more reliable and predictable, especially on weekends.
I’ll address NYC’s bus network in future posts.
In my next post, I’ll begin exploring point 2 of my three-point plan to fix the NYC Subway – extend. Until next time!