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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Optional capital investment: construct an in-system transfer between the Junius Street (5) and Livonia Avenue (L) stations.
- 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.
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.