After a week full of delays and malfunctions, the MTA has announced a six-point plan to address the subway’s chronic service problems. The agency’s plan will increase testing of tracks and signals, place more emergency personnel and police officers in stations and add more cars into service at a faster rate. The first phase of the MTA’s plan focuses on the A, C and E lines from 125th Street to Fulton Street in Manhattan, and at the 149th Street-Grand Concourse and 3rd Avenue-138th Street in the Bronx. Bottlenecks frequently occur at these sites, which cause delays that spread throughout the entire system.
The Eighth Avenue line alone experiences 25 subway car breakdowns per month that last an average of 19 minutes each time, adding to track traffic. At least 50 trains every month are delayed on this line because of various incidents. Over the next six months, the MTA plans to center their efforts on Eighth Avenue, which will include doubling its use of ultrasonic technology to twice a month to check for broken sections. In response to delays caused by sick and distressed passengers, which the Eighth Avenue line alone averages 28 sick customers per month, the MTA plans to add more emergency medical technicians and police officers at stations. Additional officers will be placed at 125th Street, Columbus Circle, 14th Street, West Fourth Street and Fulton Street stations.
The agency’s interim Executive Director, Ronnie Hakim, said the constant delays are unacceptable. “We know riders are frustrated–we are too–which is why we are embracing this new plan,” she said.
The MTA also hopes to more increase efficiency in boarding and disembarking the subways, but exactly how to do that remains unclear. Some ideas include having station agents tell passengers where to stand on the platform for smoother access to the next train, or adding color-coding markings to show the best place to stand. Plus, in response to aging train cars, 70 new subway cars will be rolled out by the end of the year.
Part of the plan separates the roles of the CEO and the chairman roles. Tom Prendergast, the former head of the MTA, held both roles, but since he retired in January, Hakim has taken over as CEO and Fernando Ferrer has acted as the board’s chairman. Both positions remain temporary.
While the MTA has not released a timeline for the plan’s progress, many riders expect their commute to get worse before it gets better. This summer, portions of the M and N trains will close and the reconstruction at Penn Station will require multiple tracks to shut down. As 6sqft reported earlier this year, the subway suffered delays up to over 70,000 per month, up from about 28,000 a month in 2012 and with trains arriving behind schedule more than half the time.
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