NYTIP INSIDER – jump-starting the subway amidst the rona

UPDATE (03.20.2021): Post lightly edited for clarity.

The novel coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, wreaked havoc on mass transit systems nationwide. In NYC, lockdowns, telework, changes in commuting behavior, and increased wariness about transit use led to massive ridership drops on subways, buses, and commuter rail. Worse, vehicular traffic has already returned to pre-pandemic levels – and it’ll likely worsen.

With no sign of relief in sight, the MTA warned of doomsday cuts at a level not seen in decades. Given these dire circumstances, where does that leave NYTIP?

Find out on this edition of the NYTIP INSIDER.

Note: Click any image to enlarge.

Over the last two years, I’ve blogged about NYTIP – a series of ideas for improving New York’s transport infrastructure. The work-in-progress consists of both short-term and long-term strategies. With the fiscal crisis brought on by COVID-19, and federal and state inaction, some say now isn’t the time to talk about subway expansion.

Yet things like pandemics and budget shortfalls don’t seem to affect highway projects like this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one.

Among others.

Which is why I’m not convinced by arguments stating we shouldn’t discuss subway improvements and expansions. As with all things transport in NY, the question of dollars and cents ultimately comes down to politics and priorities.

And on transport, it’s clear NY does not have its priorities in order! However, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Recall my three-point plan to fix the NYC Subway – enhance, extend, and expand. The centerpiece of point one – enhance – is de-interlining, or reducing merging conflicts. This theoretically allows every line to run every 4 minutes or better during peak hours and every 8 minutes or better during off-peak hours. However, the Rona-induced ridership shock led to service cuts on several lines, with service every 12 minutes on weekends instead of every 10 minutes.

With the MTA in dire straits, let us consider a less-ambitious initial goal – service every 5 minutes or better during peak hours, and every 10 minutes or better off-peak. Then ramp up to 4/8 when ridership and funding recover, and then push for 3/6. With this in mind, let us also limit initial proposals to those possible with little to no capital investment. Given these constraints, how can we jump-start NYC subway service to encourage ridership?

Allow me to introduce NYTIP Lite.

[Figs. 1, 2, 3] Overview of NYTIP Lite. Created using Brand New Subway.

I. The Bronx

NYTIP Lite prescribes the following service changes in The Bronx:

  • Concourse line: Expanded B train service to Bedford Park Boulevard on weekdays with option for expanded D peak express service.
  • White Plains Road and Dyre Avenue lines: Split 5 service ends; all 2 trains run to Wakefield – 241st Street and all 5 trains run to Eastchester – Dyre Avenue. Option for expanded 5 peak express service.

II. Manhattan

NYTIP Lite prescribes the following service changes in Manhattan:

  • Central Park West line: B train now operates full-time to 145th Street, with extended service to Bedford Park Boulevard on weekdays.
  • Broadway line: N train skips 49th Street and runs via 63rd Street and the Second Avenue Subway.
    • N and Q trains run express via the Manhattan Bridge, while R and W trains run local via Whitehall Street.
    • N trains now operate on weekdays only.
  • F trains run via 53rd Street on weekdays and run via 63rd Street on nights and weekends.
  • M trains run via 63rd Street on weekdays.

III. Queens

NYTIP Lite prescribes the following service changes in Queens:

  • Astoria line: R replaces N and W to Ditmars Boulevard with increased service.
  • Queens Boulevard line:
    • E and F trains run express, while M and W trains run local (W replaces R on Queens Boulevard).
  • Optional capital investment: construct southbound platform at Aqueduct Racetrack station and abandon Aqueduct – North Conduit Avenue station on the A line.

IV. Brooklyn

NYTIP Lite prescribes the following service changes in Brooklyn:

  • Eastern Parkway line:
    • 3 and 5 trains swap terminals using existing tracks; some conflicts still exist, but train movements simplified.
    • Required capital investment: Convert the out-of-system transfer between the Junius Street (5) and Livonia Avenue (L) stations into an in-system transfer with a physical connection.
  • 4th Avenue line:
    • B and D trains run express, while the R train runs local.
    • B replaces R to Bay Ridge – 95th Street.
    • D replaces N via Sea Beach.
    • R replaces D via West End.
    • Required capital investment: construct switch using existing provision south of 36th Street station.
  • Brighton line: N runs express to Brighton Beach, while the Q runs local to Coney Island.

Summary

NYTIP Lite is essentially a “welcome back” package for NYC Subway riders. It includes operational improvements that reduce merging conflicts, provide service increases on several lines, and set the table for further improvement once funding – and of course, political will – materialize. Let’s not let the Rona dictate our transport priorities – for New York’s long-term well-being, #SaveTransit!

Click here to view the NYTIP Lite service guide.

2 thoughts on “NYTIP INSIDER – jump-starting the subway amidst the rona

  1. I like this plan. It’s definitely doable…assuming the will is there at the MTA (“will” doesn’t seem to work at the MTA very much). But I would like to suggest switching your B and D in Brooklyn, so the B goes to Stillwell and the D to Bay Ridge. I think it would be easier to have a B shuttle based out of Coney Island as opposed to Concourse (which would likely have to happen if the B is rerouted to Bay Ridge). Running the D 24/7 between 205th St and 95th St-Bay Ridge should be a pretty simple operation. Over in Queens, I like having the W as the main QB local, because its shorter two-borough route would be more reliable than the current R service is.

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    1. Hi Mike, thanks for your comment!

      I agree about “will” when it comes to MTA, which is sad. NY has the capability to realize a much better transit system, but that capability often gets drowned by politics.

      I will consider your suggestion regarding the B and D in Brooklyn. My thought with sending the B to Bay Ridge was to retain D service to Coney Island, but swapping them can work too.

      Like

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