Welcome back to my ongoing NYTIP series! Over the last six posts (click here for the most recent of these), 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.
Before we begin, click here to download the enhanced NYC Subway service guide (Microsoft Excel file).
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 moving the vast majority of maintenance work to the overnight hours (generally from midnight to 6:00 AM). Preparatory work can begin as early as 10:00 PM, forming a full 8-hour shift; for this reason, all peak-direction express services end at 10:00 PM under NYTIP. The scope of this work is essentially FASTRACK on steroids, with multiple partial line closures. For this to succeed, the service changes required should maximize connections both within the subway system and between subways and buses.
Let’s take the subway lines serving The Bronx overnight (1, 2, 4, 6, B) as an example. Some line segments are easily covered by substitute buses, as follows:
- 1 train (Van Cortlandt Park, The Bronx to 96th Street, Manhattan)
- Shuttle buses via Broadway, 10th/Nagle Ave, Fairview Ave, St. Nicholas Ave, and back on Broadway.
- 2 train (Wakefield -241st Street to East 180th Street)
- Shuttle buses via White Plains Rd, Morris Park Ave, and East 180th St.
- 2 train (East 180th Street to 149th Street – Grand Concourse)
- Shuttle buses via East 180th St, Boston Rd, Southern Blvd, Westchester Ave, 149th St.
- 4 train (Woodlawn to 149th Street – Grand Concourse)
- Shuttle buses via Jerome Ave, River Ave, and 149th St.
- B train (Norwood – 205th Street, The Bronx to 145th Street, Manhattan)
- Shuttle buses via Bainbridge Ave, Bedford Park Blvd, Grand Concourse, 161st St, St. Nicholas Ave.
These are not the only possible segment shutdowns or shuttle bus routes, nor do these preclude using existing bus routes overnight (such as an overnight Bx1/Bx2 service to replace Concourse line service). The key is ensuring that adequate connecting bus services can replace certain line segments when maintenance work requires line segment closures. This requires proper street management, which may include the following:
- 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.
In my next post, I’ll begin exploring point 2 of my three-point plan to fix the NYC Subway – extend. Until next time!