The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is North America’s largest transportation network, and it moves approximately 2.4 billion New Yorkers a year on its subways, buses, railroads, bridges and tunnels. The MTA provides service for one-third of the transit riders in America, employs over 67,000 workers, covers an area of approximately 5,000 square miles, and moves 8.7 million customers a day. It is, quite literally, the primary engine of the largest regional economy in the richest country in the world. The region’s population is beyond 23 million, more than the total population of Australia. MTA transit ridership exceeds the next 16 largest American public transportation networks combined.

Source: keepnyontrack.org

This summer, I was tremendously grateful to have worked for New York City Transit (NYCT), within the Department of Subways, for the Division of Finance’s Performance Analysis Unit (PAU). The PAU was created to improve the performance of the subway system while remaining close to day-to-day operations. PAU specializes in adhoc studies and analyses, using databases, site visits, and interviews to determine the cause(s). They make recommendations and assist with implementation, support operations by collecting and reporting performance data, help operating divisions identify performance indicators and set targets, and evaluate high priority initiatives and pilot projects, such as platform controllers.

The view from my office! (Riel, 2015)

I am a student, so I have a lot more to learn, but I’ve already gained some experiences. I got to visit the Coney Island Overhaul Shop, Westchester Yard, and 36th-38th Street Yard, and I also became track certified, so that I could observe track work and the flagging processes with the team. I have also been on the Track Geometry Car, and I’ve been to the Rail Control Center (RCC), the Second Avenue Subway, and the City Hall Loop. Moreover, I’ve had signal training, so that I can understand the functions and operations of the signal system’s equipment. Over all, it’s been good to gain a technical understanding of the MTA’s operations, from wait assessment (WA), on time performance (OTP), headway, CBTC, and dwell time frequency issues, to how the MTA’s operations are organized in such a large public organization. As Jarrett Walker has stated, frequency is freedom for a public transit user!

I updated performance indicators for MTA.info



Source: web.mta.info/persdashboard/performance14.html



Track Geometry Car (Riel, 2015)

While I cannot share any confidential specifics, I was working with PAU in order to analyze, organize, and update reports and databases in order to improve subway performance. Broadly speaking, the great majority of delays can be attributed to three main causes—crowding and ridership, ongoing maintenance needs, and unplanned work on the right of way—and most of the increase in delays is due to changes in subway operating conditions that affect these three areas. Plus, weather contributes somewhat, since even though many segments are underground, they are interconnected with outdoor segments, and the network is interconnected. (Though, compared to airlines, weather has a marginal impact; no doubt, Hawaiian Airlines has a high OTP because Hawaii’s weather is excellent for flying).
In New York, the heydays of ridership in the 1940s have returned, and even though the city had extended platforms between now and then, the city also demolished quite a few track miles. More importantly, there is also a greater emphasis placed on safety, which is a good thing, but when it comes to doing maintenance work, it slows down trains dramatically.
  1. Crowding and ridership: 40 percent of delays in 2014. Ridership is up—way up. That’s great for revenue but tough for crowding. Even a short delay of a rider holding open a door can set a train behind schedule and cause it to bunch up with another train behind it. With 15 of 20 lines at track capacity, there’s little the MTA can do to alleviate this type of crowding.
  2. Ongoing maintenance: 26 percent. These are things like repairing aging infrastructure. Sometimes this maintenance is done during off-hours or route closures, but much of it gets done during regular service operation, which requires trains to slow down through work zones.
  3. Unplanned work: 22 percent. These delays are the result of incidents like power outages or signal failures that need immediate attention.
Also, feel free to view this public presentation, and some of its visuals below:
1 2
Ben Kabak on Second Avenue Subways also wrote a good piece:

Thomas DiNapoli has served as New York State Comptroller nearly as long as I’ve run this site. He’s outlived governors and MTA Chairs alike at this point, but he’s still chugging along. One of the problems I’ve had with his “audits” of the MTA is that, for those who pay close attention to these sorts of things, they aren’t too insightful. He hasn’t identified the key problems plaguing the agency — namely, the insanely high capital construction costs and lack of productivity for the dollars — and his reports generally take public information and condense them into soundbites. His latest audit is no different, but it’s worth spending some time with it and the MTA’s response.

In his latest report — the PDF is right here — DiNapoli took all of the MTA’s on-time performance numbers the agency shares once a month at its board meetings and determined what Transit officials have been saying for some time: The subways’ on-time performance has been dreadful, and it’s getting worse. In 2013 and 2014, Transit had set an on-time performance goal for itself of over 91 percent, but weekday trains were on time 80.5 percent of the time in 2013 and just 74 percent of the time in 2014. Instead of combatting the problem, the MTA has instead lowered its on-time performance goal to 75 percent, far below national average.

“The subways are New York City’s arteries yet on-time performance continues to be an issue,” DiNapoli said. “The MTA has actually lowered its own expectations for addressing subway delays. We’re encouraged that MTA has put more money toward improving the ride for straphangers, hopefully it will help improve on-time performance.”

The audit’s recommendations aren’t much. DiNapoli has asked the MTA to identify the sources of delays, come up with a plan to mitigate these delays and then track performance monthly. Yet again, that sounds like something the transit agency already does even if their mitigation plans aren’t particularly effective.

Things got interesting though in the back-and-forth between the New York comptroller and agency officials responding to the audit. Transit has long maintained that on-time performance — the time a train actually arrives at a terminal — doesn’t much matter so long as even headways are maintained. I believe the agency is ultimately correct, but it’s not a point that’s going to win them much sympathy from a public that, by and large, has no idea what “headways” mean. Riders will hear trains are late; nod their heads in agreement; and sigh in exasperation.

Anyway, in response, the MTA highlighted wait assessment as their primary internal metric of even and reliable service and claimed that they already know why trains are delayed. They cited fallout from record ridership, new flagging rules and ongoing maintenance, and unexpected and emergency maintenance as the main causes. “New York City Transit does not have a single policy or directive on reducing delays and improving on-time performance, nor should we,” agency officials said in response. “Providing high-quality service is our central objective, and it is inherent in everything we do…We do not wish to compartmentalize responsibility for improving service performance. Therefore, it is neither practical nor desirable to condense our performance related activities into one policy (or even several policies).”

DiNapoli, in his response to Transit’s response, noted that wait assessment has also declined and urged the MTA to attempt some sort of root-cause analysis. Of course, the root-cause analysis should recommend more subway lines and faster upgrade to a technology that allows for more trains per hour. That recommendation carries a high price tag and a multi-year lead time that won’t do much to solve the current problem. Thus, it’s not one designed to appease politicians who must run for office every few years.

Ultimately, no matter how you slice or dice it, performance has suffered, and the MTA hasn’t been able to overcome ridership that isn’t showing signs of doing anything other than increasing. DiNapoli may have pointed out the obvious, but sometimes, the obvious needs pointing out. Is it going to get better? Can it?


Investing in Communication Based Train Control Testing on 7 Line (Riel, 2015)


Investing in Communication Based Train Control Testing at Corona Yard (Riel, 2015)

20150715_140044 (1)

Signal Training (Riel, 2015)


Signals! (Riel, 2015)




I’m amazed at how complicated it can be to keep the subways running smoothly. There are so many terminologies and factors at play, but most importantly, so many people involved — from operators, conductors, dispatchers, and superintendents, to IT, track gangs, ROW, and MOW engineers, and so on and so forth. Transportation is about moving people, but it’s also about communication, which is especially necessary with an increasing urban population and increasing ridership on a system that requires constant maintenance. It is an intricate web of steel with plenty of stories, secrets, nooks, and crannies dating back to the late 19th century.

Coney Island Overhaul Shop (Riel, 2015)

Coney Island Overhaul Shop (Riel, 2015)

Coney Island Overhaul Shop (Riel, 2015)

Coney Island Overhaul Shop (Riel, 2015)


Coney Island Overhaul Shop (Riel, 2015)

Coney Island Overhaul Shop (Riel, 2015)

Westchester Yard (Riel, 2015)

Snow Removal Train at 36th-38th Street Yard (Riel, 2015)

Pump Train at 36th-38th Street Yard (Riel, 2015)

Recycling Construction Debris at 36th-38th Street Yard (Riel, 2015)

D Line at 9th Avenue and 36th-38th Street Yard (Riel, 2015)

Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) Installation on BMT Brighton Line (Riel, 2015)


Most importantly, I’ve learned a few pointers from inspirational MTA leaders:
  • To seek out and take advantage of mentoring opportunities.
  • To have a sense of responsibility and a high awareness of safety.
  • To be clear and direct and listen well.
  • To balance the coaching with the telling, and with humor.
  • To create a community and bring people in, treat them, and praise them.
  • To allow the team to have a say in the decisions and own the success.
  • To respect and inspire people so that everyone is working together.
  • To have a strong work ethic and save and invest for my future.
  • To have a sense of urgency about what I want to accomplish in life.
  • To take blame when things go wrong and allow the team to get praise.
  • To recognize talent and different perspectives.
  • To recognize factors that motivate people.
  • To realize that people are the most important asset of any organization.
  • To build trust and communicate, and have a positive attitude.
These leaders have shown me that just keeping everything moving is a feat itself, but the MTA needs to plan for its future as well. The MTA’s practical visionaries are working on grand capital construction projects, but funding for future plans is not guaranteed due to New York exceptionalism. Expansion plans are exciting, but the MTA has plenty of work to do in order to fix existing infrastructure, from track beds and accessibility concerns to station platforms and entrances. Cell service and universal, smart fare-cards would also be boons, but I think most riders just want trains to run smoothly, and all of the visions are secondary to them.
This perception is misguided. The public must dream bigger in order to renew, enhance, and expand. We must Keep New York on Track. While a crowdfunding campaign may not be effective, a Capital Plan will definitely be necessary!

East Side Access (Riel, 2015)

East Side Access (Riel, 2015)

1 Line South Ferry Re-Reconstruction Post-Sandy (Riel, 2015)

Help Point and Wi-Fi (Riel, 2015)

We have to remember that the subway was world-class in the early 20th century. Arguably no other American city had built such glamorous stations, and they were, indeed, quite glamorous before all the grit. The IRT even had soaps and towels in bathrooms (and yes, they had bathrooms). They did not have to contend with the weather, or with daily traffic issues, which were not taken for granted at the time. They were also efficient, complete with express tracks and built right below the surface, allowing for a quick entrance and exit. All of this was completed without computers. Engineers had to move countless pipes, reorganizing them alongside the subways, but a large portion of the subway was constructed in virgin soil in rural locations (unlike today’s Second Avenue Subway construction complexity), setting the stage for future development. They divided land, built, and conquered. They grounded New York, literally.


Abandoned City Hall Loop Station (Riel, 2015)

Every line has a story, and the intricacies are a little bit different at every station, depending on the era and the company responsible. The IRT, BMT, and IND all had different styles and technologies, which are still quite evident decades after unification in the A Division and B Division. So we need to keep dreaming, because the subway was built by practical visionaries, and it must be maintained, enhanced, and expanded.
The same can be said for American railroads, and for potential high-speed corridors throughout the country, such as All Aboard Florida. But can these new passenger railroads be profitable, like the IRT, BMT, and Pennsylvania Railroad, which were fueled by high ridership from dense urban centers? Can they compete with highways and airports, in a country that is a lot more sprawled and decentralized from transit hubs? Will they use real estate to help fund their operations? In Florida, it appears to be the case. In the New York metropolitan region, it’s doubtful that real estate could fund maintenance and expansion, since the MTA owns limited assets and old infrastructure.

Source: US Department of Transportation

The bottom line is that our political leadership does not care. It is that simple. We have spent trillions on wars and in order to bail out banks. We spend more to incarcerate citizens than to educate them. Our infrastructure is falling apart! Why do our leaders still not act? Instead of focusing on issues that matter, Mayor De Blasio even wants to eliminate the pedestrian plazas in Times Square, which goes against his Vision Zero policy, because he does not know how to manage public spaces. After the plazas opened in 2009, injuries fell dramatically, and business boomed. So why is a “progressive” leader going backwards? According to the New York Times, his ideas are reminiscent of the 1980s, “when New York officials refused to install benches in some city parks because they couldn’t figure out how to manage public space”…

Time and again, Mr. de Blasio leaves an impression that he understands very little about the dynamics of urbanism and the physical fabric of the city — its parks and plazas, its open spaces, libraries, transit network and streetscape, which all contribute to issues he cares most about, like equity and social mobility. Entertaining the demolition of the plazas, the mayor sends a message that New York can’t support the sort of great pedestrian hubs that thrive in competing cities around the globe.

The conversion of traffic-addled Times Square, one of the democratic crossroads of the world, contributed to making New York the most progressive city in the country, transportation-wise. Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Sadik-Khan created pedestrian plazas in underserved neighborhoods, too, which were starved for public space. Many of those places are now havens and boons for jobs and local businesses.

Mr. de Blasio should be expanding the plaza program.What the city needs is serious thinking from the mayor about planning and public space. What it’s getting is zero vision.

This has been a tough season for commuters in the New York region: the Amtrak crash in May, trains stuck in Hudson River tunnels in June, subway service disrupted by never-ending summer construction. Still, more than 5.6 million people take the subway each weekday, the most since 1949; New Jersey Transit’s ridership into the city has risen 75 percent in the past 15 years, and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor carried a record of nearly 12 million riders last year.

Why are our transit systems faltering just as more people than ever want to use them? Part of the answer lies with the way our government institutions are structured, and New York offers a case in point.

Private companies built many of our subways, commuter lines and intercity railroads in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mass transit, like long-distance rail, was profitable then, especially when combined with speculation in land made accessible by new, fast rail connections.

Then came the automobile, and publicly funded highways. Public authorities like the Port of New York Authority (formed in 1921) and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (1933) took charge of building highways, bridges and tunnels for this liberating technology.

The demand was insatiable, and authorities were granted extraordinary powers. They could borrow money without having it count toward a city or state’s general debt. They were exempt from taxes on payments made to bondholders and on real property that reduced their costs by producing income. They could ignore local politicians and zoning and land-use laws as they seized private property — as long as they paid fair market value.

And at their best, they were governed by appointed professionals who reported to independent directors and served staggered terms, which diminished political influences. If a governor tried to interfere, they could point to covenants with their bondholders and argue that they could only invest in projects that would generate a reasonable return on investment.

For a while, the politicians were held at bay. Then, in the 1950s, the federal government started building the interstate highway system, offering big subsidies to states to connect to it. The combined might of the public authorities and federal outlays was astounding. From 1950 to 1975, the tristate region built more than 1,300 miles of limited-access highways.

Unsurprisingly, mass-transit operators struggled to compete with these roads and started going bankrupt. Against the operators’ will, the authorities merged the workings of mass transit and toll roads to provide cross subsidies. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority merged with the New York City subways, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road; the Port Authority acquired the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, renaming it PATH.

And that was a problem. The addition of money-losing transit operations left the authorities more vulnerable to political intrusion in decisions. For example, tolls and fares were kept too low to raise money for capital investment. And governors started pushing investment in pet projects, rather than broad regional goals.

Which brings us to today.

The leadership of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York’s subways and buses, has asked Albany for $26.8 billion over five years, to help replace its 50-year-old signal system and outdated subway cars, start the next phase of the Second Avenue subway and finish linking the Long Island Rail Road with Grand Central Terminal.

While that seems to be a lot of money, consider the needs. Thomas F. Prendergast, the authority’s chief executive, has said that the system’s railroads and real estate represent a $1 trillion capital asset. The M.T.A. would be spending just $5 billion — 0.5 percent of that asset — each year in maintenance and repairs. At that rate, it could replace every part in the system in 200 years. Unless the new signals are designed to last a really long time, we need to spend about $25 billion each year.

And those poor New Jersey Transit riders? Because of Gov. Chris Christie’s decision five years ago to cancel a new Hudson River tunnel, they are at least a dozen years away from seeing replacements built. What are the chances that the existing tunnels will fail by 2027? Very high.

Of course, we must find money to repair and expand our subway systems, and we must sort out the interstate political rivalries at the Port Authority. But it’s our crisis-driven approach to infrastructure that most needs to change.

We can learn from others. London and Stockholm have “congestion pricing” that generates revenue for mass transit while limiting the flow of cars in their central business districts. Hong Kong’s transit agency, the MTR, is a for-profit company in which the government holds a majority stake. Because it is publicly traded, it can avoid patronage hiring. By purchasing real estate and leasing property, it acquires revenue while keeping fares low.

Those examples — superior to any American model — recognize that it is appropriate for a transit system to have diverse sources for funds. Their decision-making structures are responsive to constituents, yet insulated from politicians. They allow long-term planning.

Crumbling Hudson River tunnels have become a national symbol of aging infrastructure and political shortsightedness. They represent nothing less than our failure to keep up with the rest of the world.

The social, economic, political, and physical state of our city and country is truly quite sad. But it can get better. How do we change the hearts and minds of New Yorkers, and New York’s leaders?

Born and bred in Brooklyn, my name is Rayn Riel, and I’m a Senior Editor at PlaNYourCity. I’ve circumnavigated the world twice in order to research transportation finance and joint (real estate) development practices in 30+ countries and 25+ U.S. states. I’m a graduate student at Tufts University and I’ve designed Tufts’ only undergraduate urban planning degree, I’ve founded Tufts only undergraduate urban planning student group, and I’ve also been working as a GIS Lab Assistant. Having interned at the NYC Department of City Planning for the past two summers, I interned at MTA NYC Transit and at the MTA HQ Real Estate Department this summer. I will graduate with a B.A. and M.A. in Urban Policy and Planning in May 2016. I intend to become a “Riel Estate” professional.
Second Avenue Subway 6.18.15

Second Avenue Subway (Riel, 2015)

This post was written after the completion of the author’s summer internship at New York City Transit and is entirely independent of his duties at the MTA. Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author only. The views expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent the views of the MTA, its management, or employees, and absolutely no confidential information was disclosed. 
My Hudson Yards Photos Below (October 2015):

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63 Comments on “(Terminal)ogy”

  1. nyker December 14, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    anyone remember command bus?


    • nyker December 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      AND soon!!!


      • Metro December 15, 2015 at 10:59 am #


        WMATA… A job for life, with no incentive for safety or profit. Little dedicated revenue from DC, MD, VA… Not the responsibility of a single state… And Capitol Hill? They do not truly represent DC. Finances were not thought out properly in 60s and 70s, for maintenance and operation… Built without 3 or 4 track segments, so trains cannot be rerouted for maintenance… (Built like 2 Avenue Subway, with only 2 tracks…)… Unlike MTA, ridership has been DECREASING due to so many delays and accidents… Board reps have no transportation background and want to appease constituents; maintenance is not sexy… And the system is only a few decades old. MTA has 100 year old sections, operates 24/7, and still does maintenance work. WMATA cannot do this because they do not have express and local tracks. Shame on nation’s capital, where no one is truly responsible to DC itself… Taxation without representation…


      • 2 December 15, 2015 at 11:14 am #

        “Express vs. local is not a problem if you have a decent nighttime window. Most subway systems manage to do their maintenance, with occasional weekend closures. This is mafia-like culture, where safety does NOT come first.

        Also… tons of organizational (and probably individual) incompetence and lack of diversity

        Sounds like they need an organizational re-build


  2. nyker December 20, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    PS: Capital plan has been updated since


    With Second Ave. Subway, Cuomo Has Hands-On Role and Eye on the Future
    By EMMA G. FITZSIMMONS DEC. 13, 2016

    As governor of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo has no shortage of complex problems demanding his attention. But his ire has recently been focused on a small switch in a subway station deep below the streets of Manhattan.
    Delays with the switch, known as a shunt trip breaker, were holding up progress on the Second Avenue subway — a “demonic device that has frustrated us for months,” Mr. Cuomo said as he inspected a new station at 96th Street on the Upper East Side on Monday.
    “There’s 800 little things like shunt trip breakers that you have to get past,” the governor said. “Each station has its own little problems.”
    The notorious Second Avenue subway, nearly a century in the making, is inches from the finish line, and Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has made it his mission to complete the project by New Year’s Eve. On regular visits to the line’s three new stations, he obsesses over design details and equipment glitches at a surprising level of involvement for a governor, which some critics say seems primarily aimed at promoting his image.
    A 24-block trek with Mr. Cuomo this week through the new subway tunnels and stations offered a rare glimpse inside the long-delayed $4.4 billion project that for many New Yorkers had come to symbolize a dream that might never be realized. The shiny modern stations are filled with dozens of workers and a steady whir of buzz saws, but the line appears remarkably close to being done.
    Yet with 18 days left in the year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authorityhas not announced an opening date for this first phase of the line. Though Mr. Cuomo said he was optimistic about meeting the year-end deadline, he conceded that any problems with a series of final tests could delay the opening.
    “This fire safety test could go bad, and then you’re nowhere,” Mr. Cuomo said after climbing a ladder onto the platform at the 86th Street station, clad in work boots and khaki pants, though notably missing the hard hat worn by others.
    For Mr. Cuomo, the opening of the Second Avenue subway is part of an ambitious Robert Moses-style agenda to improve the region’s infrastructure, which includes a new Tappan Zee Bridge and overhauls of La Guardia Airport and Pennsylvania Station. He says he wants to prove that government can do big things, but the plans also appear aimed at burnishing his legacy, possibly with an eye toward seeking higher office in 2020.
    A day after visiting the new stations, Mr. Cuomo was aboveground on Tuesday, standing in front of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown to trumpet progress toward a 2018 opening. During the subway tour on Monday — at least his third trip to the line in four days — Mr. Cuomo marveled at the work it took to dig the tunnels as he walked along the train tracks to the 72nd Street station.
    “When was the last time we built something that we said, ‘Wow’?” he said. “This is wow.”
    His push to meet the deadline is an effort to improve the reputation of the often-maligned transportation authority, which runs the region’s subways, buses and commuter railroads and is known for delays on major construction projects. Beyond the required testing, workers are still racing to finish station entrances and other final work.
    “If we’re not done January 1,” the governor said, “I will stand up and say we failed to make the deadline, and I’m disappointed.”
    For months, Mr. Cuomo has held weekly meetings at his office with the project’s leadership team to address — and sometimes vent about — the latest issues and concerns. He became more involved about a year and a half ago, he said, when officials at the authority told him they wanted to push back the long-established December 2016 deadline by a year or two.
    “The meetings are not a love fest,” said Charlie Hall, a construction manager from the engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff who is overseeing the project. “The meetings started because there were issues, and things weren’t getting done. People are challenged in those meetings.”
    On an unannounced stop at the 86th Street station a few months ago, Mr. Cuomo was angered to see no one was working on a problematic escalator, Melissa DeRosa, his chief of staff, said. He walked around shouting, “Who is working on the escalator?” until the person appeared, she added.
    While many business leaders and transportation experts welcome the governor’s attention to long-festering problems, some have questioned how he will finance all of the plans and his increased efforts to influence the transportation authority, as well as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A bitter fight at the Port Authority this month over building a new bus terminal in Manhattan led the agency’s chairman, John J. Degnan, to publicly criticize Mr. Cuomo’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering.
    And after Mr. Cuomo announced plans in October to eliminate tollbooths at the transportation authority’s bridges and tunnels, some board members bristled at being asked to quickly approve the proposal with few details. James E. Vitiello, a board member from Dutchess County, expressed concern that electronic tolling could lead to lower revenue for the agency.
    The governor’s strong sway raised the question, Mr. Vitiello said, “Are we a perfunctory board, or are we really a board of independent fiduciaries?”
    Mr. Cuomo says he wants to streamline the authority’s bureaucracy. He argues he is overseeing the largest building effort in the region since the era of Mr. Moses, the hard-charging and imperial 20th-century dealmaker whose biography “The Power Broker” Mr. Cuomo says he has read “multiple times in my life.” Asked about their similarities, the governor said Mr. Moses was “dictatorial,” whereas he himself believed in a more inclusive approach.
    “You have to get it done,” he said. “But you have to get it done in a way that brings the community along.”
    Officials hope to finish testing at the Second Avenue stations by Dec. 22, giving workers a weeklong “cushion” in case there is a problem, Mr. Cuomo said. They are unlikely to set a firm opening date for the line, which will run as an extension of the Q train, before the tests are completed. Mr. Cuomo said he did not favor an idea transit officials had discussed to possibly skip any stations that were not ready, in order to say the line opened on time.
    As Upper East Side residents and transit enthusiasts eagerly await the opening, some advocates are focused on making sure construction begins quickly on the second phase of the line, which would extend it to 125th Street in Harlem. Others would like to see Mr. Cuomo devote a similar level of energy to the problems facing New York City’s entire transit system, like slow bus service and severe subway overcrowding.
    “When the governor puts his mind to something, it happens,” said Nick Sifuentes, the deputy director of the Riders Alliance, an advocacy group. “That’s what we need for the whole system.”


  3. Rayn Riel January 5, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

    Solar panels atop commuter rail trains?
    Or atop rail yards?


    In India…


  4. Rayn Riel January 5, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

    Meanwhile, in Boston:

    Out of Service: Will we ever fix the T? Two ex-governors, a mayor, the MBTA’s chief, and the secretary of transportation tell us why we’re getting exactly nowhere.


    Article seems to place the blame mainly on an old fleet:

    “Car 1650 is 47 years old. When it ran its very first lap on the Red Line, America had just landed a man on the moon, Bobby Orr still hadn’t won a Stanley Cup, and the Beatles were still together. Subway cars have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years, so this railcar should’ve been scrapped in the 1990s. Instead, Car 1650 hangs high above the ground on giant lifts inside the Cabot Yard garage near Widett Circle. A lifetime of scrapes and gashes from grinding up against passenger platforms is etched across its sides, scars from the 2 million miles it’s logged for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Like one-third of its Red Line brethren, Car 1650 will be past its 50th birthday when its replacement arrives four years from now. In human terms, it’s like changing the retirement age from 65 to 110. Car 1650 is a lot like the MBTA: outdated, obsolete, overburdened, and overstressed. It needs a lot of work just to run poorly. You could argue that it’s unwise to put much more money into the old jalopy. Yet ignoring it is costly. As rickety as this car is, it’s Boston’s only hope for making it through the winter.”


    While, like the MTA, the MBTA has been seeing increased ridership, the T shut down entirely last winter due to an outdated, obsolete, overburdened, and overstressed fleet. NYCT has a much newer fleet than the T, and NYC did not receive 8 feet of snow last winter. But MTA delays are primarily increasing due to increased ridership, increased safety measures for maintenance work, and other ROW/MOW issues (signals, signals, signals).

    Unlike Chicago, New York, and Toronto, apparently, the T had not kept up with the best practices of cold-weather transit systems. T”he elementary tools for a New England winter, such as de-icing chemicals for the rails, and trains built to plow the tracks, were nonexistent”. No third-rail heaters, no plow blades, no rail-mounted snow blower. The army was cleaning the rails with picks, shovels, and brooms. Moisture and ice were freezing brakes and doors, and causing voltage spikes that knocked out 1/3 of Red Line train engines and 1/2 of Orange Line train engines.


    • RR January 24, 2016 at 1:19 am #

      Winter Storm Jonas 2016
      NYC’s second-biggest since 1869




  5. RR January 19, 2016 at 3:22 pm #


  6. RR January 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm #


  7. RR January 19, 2016 at 6:18 pm #


  8. RR January 20, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

    America’s first metro in Oceania…

    (Honolulu Rail Transit)


  9. RR January 20, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

    One Way D.C. Metro Could Win Back Its Riders

    Expanding wireless service is something Metro has to do. It’s also something transit authorities ought to be eager to do.


    RR Image:


  10. RR January 22, 2016 at 1:11 am #

    Other ways to alleviate delays due to congestion due to capacity constraints due to increased ridership? Cost prohibitive to extend platforms and increase capacity with longer trains. But, use train data from the modern trains, delivered via WiFi, to see when doors are being held open, and put platform controllers at those stations at those times? Explore charging lower fares during non-peak hours? CBTC? Open gangway trains to increase capacity? Endless opportunities for NY to remain competitive and keep moving forward!


      • Rayn Riel January 28, 2016 at 6:45 pm #


        NEW YORK CITY’S subway system is among the most expansive, popular, and best in the world. It’s also insufferably crowded and ill-equipped to handle the rising ridership that comes with the city’s growth. But there’s hope for a subterranean transit future that doesn’t look like rush hour in Tokyo: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will experiment with open gangway cars.

        It’s a simple trick used all over the world to ease crowding and reduce delays. Like on an articulated bus, individual cars aren’t divided. In other words, the space between cars becomes usable, increasing a train’s capacity without adding length. And right now, anything that lets more people ride New York’s subway is a very good thing.

        The city’s population is expanding in Brooklyn and Queens, straining a system already at capacity. Subway ridership on the system has spiked in recent years to levels not seen since the late 1940s. The MTA saw ridership climb 2.6 percent between 2013 and 2014 to 5.6 million riders each weekday. All told, some 1.8 billion people took the subway in 2014.

        In response, the MTA has increased service and launched more bus rapid transit. It’s also expanding the subway system, building the Second Avenue line and extending the 7 line from Times Square to the west side of Manhattan. Those projects, however, are almost prohibitively expensive—the first phase of the Second Avenue project, which is expected to serve 200,000 daily riders with three new stations, will cost $4.45 billion. It should open in December, after nine years of construction.

        All of which is to say, “more subway” can’t be the only answer to dealing with more riders. That’s what makes open gangway train cars so appealing: They expand the system’s capacity without the labor and expense of expanding the system itself.

        The design also reduces overcrowding in specific cars or areas, since riders can distribute themselves more easily. London found the design can increase capacity by as much as 10 percent. More than rescuing some poor soul from being lodged in someone’s armpit, dispersing passengers can reduce what the MTA calls dwell times, when the train’s sitting in a station, waiting for everyone to push their way out of or into particularly crowded cars. There’s a potential safety benefit, too, since illegal or dangerous behavior is harder to hide in an open car.

        “There are no obvious downsides,” transit expert Yonah Freemark wrote on his blog last year. Others have gotten the message: Three-quarters of metro systems outside the US use at least some open gangway cars, Freemark has found. The design’s carrying folks around old, established systems in Paris and London, as well as through newer networks in China, Azerbaijan, Algeria, and Egypt.

        New York’s transit agency isn’t making any wholesale changes yet (in case you hadn’t guessed, it tends to move slowly). It plans to spend $52.4 million on 10 open gangway cars of two different designs to be used in a single train. The pilot project is part of the authority’s 2015-2019 capital plan. The new cars would be ordered early next year, but the MTA hasn’t said when they might enter service. They’ll be used on the A and F lines, according to The Daily News.

        “The idea behind these open gangway cars is that we really want to look at all options as we move forward with the design of the next generation of subway cars,” says MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. It’s not a change to be made lightly. The lifetimes of these trains are measured in decades, so any design that doesn’t work as well as hoped is a very longterm problem.


      • Rayn Riel January 31, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

        In Toronto, these cars also have pavements for disabled passengers:

        Riel 2012


    • Rayn Riel January 28, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

      And, alleviate platform crowding with more underground passageways?

      (Like Rockefeller Center, WTC, Penn Station…)

      Used to be more underground passageways in NYC before crime waves of the 70s and 80s. Developers did not want to connect their buildings to the subway during this time.


      In Canada, I was impressed by Toronto and Montreal, where there’re extensive underground passageways. Albeit, it’s also colder there…



    • RR February 12, 2016 at 9:45 am #

      And during nights and weekends, when there are not capacity constraints, the MTA can save money by cutting service…

      (Depending on political concerns or physical constraints, such as switch-overs for terminal stations, etc. For instance, the 3 terminates at 42nd and the 2 runs local on late nights. I think they keep the 1 going because if they terminated at 96th, then they’d also need a separate 1 from South Ferry to Chambers, and I don’t know if there are switch-over opportunities at these stops between local tracks, which are separated by express tracks in the middle. This is why the 3 can stop at 42nd, on the express tracks, because there is a switch-over that does not interfere with local revenue service. And if the Q were to end at DeKalb, it would be causing serious delays for the D, which shares the same express tracks, while the N is trying to switch-over… But just my theories!)



  11. Rayn Riel January 28, 2016 at 6:44 pm #


    Philly Transit Agency Makes Money-Saving Power Move

    Transit agencies have known for some time that capturing the energy generated when trains slow down, a process known as “regenerative braking,” can save money and reduce the need for purchased electricity, and systems all over the world have explored ways to use that energy to help run their trains.

    But in the United States, no transit system has yet attempted to use regenerative braking as a major power supply system in its own right.

    Until now, that is. Improvements in storage battery technology combined with the emergence of a competitive market for electricity have made it practical and cost-effective for transit systems to once again become their own power producers.

    One agency has decided to enter this field in a big way. The end result will be millions of dollars in savings for the agency and a way to make its rapid transit system more resilient when disaster strikes.

    Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority announced last week that it was expanding a successful pilot program that installed huge lithium-ion storage batteries in two of its power supply substations to its entire rapid transit network.

    The batteries, installed along the Frankford elevated railway section of the Market-Frankford Line, turned trains rolling through parts of Northeast Philadelphia into power generators, producing both revenue and savings for the agency, through the sale of surplus power and storage capacity.

    The expansion of the battery network will happen thanks to a public-private partnership that will give SEPTA the additional power storage capacity for free. To pay for the network, Constellation, the power supplier that will install and manage the seven new batteries, will sell some of the storage capacity to PJM Interconnection, the operator of the Philadelphia region’s power distribution system, for use when needed to even out the flow of electricity through its transmission lines. Viridity Energy, SEPTA’s power broker for its existing battery storage, will perform the same role for Constellation under this arrangement.

    SEPTA saves money and gets an internal source of reliable backup power. Constellation expands its competitive power management services capacity, and PJM increases its ability to maintain a steady flow of power across its transmission lines. The benefits to the public? Commuters should get improved transit system reliability as well as reduced strain on the public purse.

    There’s a plus for the environment too, because the regenerative braking system and the batteries reduce the need for conventionally generated power.

    “SEPTA’s sustainability program is all about finding and deploying cutting-edge innovations to reduce costs in addition to improving environmental performance,” SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel said in a news release announcing the expansion. “This project is right in that sustainability sweet spot.”

    Erik Johanson, SEPTA’s director of innovation, said that the 8.75 megawatts of storage capacity the new batteries will provide will produce upwards of 3 million kilowatt-hours of savings in electricity each year. (Added to the 1.8 megawatts the existing batteries can store, this gives SEPTA more than 10 megawatts of storage, a substantial amount and the largest under the control of a transit system.) Because falling prices for natural gas and coal mean the price of generated power is in flux, Johanson declined to provide an exact dollar amount for the electricity savings, but Constellation is also making efficiency improvements to SEPTA’s power supply network that it guarantees will save the agency $26 million annually.

    “It’s PJM’s forward-looking approach to [competitive energy] markets that allows us to do this,” Johanson said. PJM, the nation’s oldest power pool, has many years of experience managing the distribution of power from multiple sources, making it uniquely well equipped to deal with a world in which everyone from a rowhouse owner with a rooftop solar installation to a large company or agency could generate power and feed it into the grid.

    SEPTA’s new batteries are valuable for PJM because “all those rooftop solar and wind installations introduce instability into the grid,” Johanson explained. When too much power is being fed into the grid, PJM can obtain storage space from SEPTA and Constellation through Viridity, and when the input drops, PJM can then draw the power stored in in those batteries once again.

    PJM’s transmission system extends across all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia, which means that other transit agencies on its network could set up a power generation and storage system like this one. Officials at the Chicago Transit Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, both of whose rapid transit systems are fed by the PJM grid, might want to take notes. Others elsewhere may want to see if their transmission system operators are interested in similar arrangements.

    But as of now, Johanson says, “We’re the only ones doing this. Other agencies are doing things like onboard storage on vehicles and dabbling with wayside storage, but we’re the only ones doing this at scale. Our 10 megawatts of capacity puts us at the top of the list.”

    Johanson says the pilot installations supply about 8 percent of the total power consumption on the Frankford El segments they serve. Because Constellation will use some of the new batteries’ capacity, they will supply a slightly lower share: about 5 to 8 percent.

    “This is also a resilience project,” he adds. “This new source of energy will serve as a backup source of power in the event of a local outage.”


    • Rayn Riel January 29, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

      ^ To help agencies tackle the siloization of divisions and departments. To help decision-makers understand reality on the ground, visualize problems, analyze trends and patterns, streamline maintenance and communication. Keep someone responsible for the flow of information. Bridge the gap, connect the disconnect. Workers may act differently when bosses come to observe maintenance, but if they’re equipped with GPS/GIS, perhaps more informed policies and plans can be established…


  12. Rayn Riel February 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm #


  13. Mark June 25, 2016 at 5:27 pm #


    Earlier this week, the Efficient Passenger Project launched a guerilla campaign to help subway riders in New York: Without asking permission, the EPP marked platforms to indicate the best places to stand for making certain transfers. New York’s subway platforms are very long — 500 or 600 feet — and getting off a train at the wrong place can mean missing your transfer and having to wait another 5-10 minutes, or even more at night. A little more than half of all New York subway trips involve transfers.

    The reaction from the MTA was predictable. The agency told WNYC that the signs would come down:

    MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz confirmed that the transit agency was, indeed, planning on removing them. “These signs have the potential to cause crowding conditions in certain platform areas and will create uneven loading in that some train cars will be overcrowded while others will be under-utilized.” Besides, he said, “regular customers already know which car they want to get into.”

    Surprisingly, many New Yorkers agreed with the MTA that willfully depriving riders of information would improve their experience. Most publications that wrote about the signs seemed decidedly mixed on the idea, and many commentators seemed to cherish their slight edge over fellow commuters.

    Elsewhere, posting clear transfer information is a tried and true idea. It’s standard practice in Tokyo, where transfers at key stations are marked on the platform itself, in addition elaborate diagrams on the wall showing the best places to stand. Such markings also exist on platforms in Seoul, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in other cities as well.

    The theory is simple: Station access time counts. Railroads are expensive propositions, and planners will spend millions of dollars to save a minute here or 20 seconds there when designing them. One of the cheapest ways to shave off those minutes is to make stations highly accessible. That means ample and wide entrances and exits, clearly marked signs, and stations that are as shallow as possible. Saving someone 20 seconds walking to the end of the platform is like upgrading a stretch of track to allow for slightly higher speeds. In fact it’s even better, since walking through a station takes a lot more effort than sitting on a train.

    So the MTA’s claim that posting this information would cause crowding is questionable, especially since the agency has never experimented with signs like these before.

    For one, in many cases there would be no threat of crowding at all. The J, M and Z trains are notoriously roomy, so who cares if everyone crowds toward the back of the M from Brooklyn to better position themselves for a transfer to the 6 at Broadway-Lafayette? Anyone who’s ever made a transfer at an unfamiliar stations knows the feeling of stepping out of the subway car amid a crush of people, only to have to stop and look around for signs while people bump into you.

    In addition, not everyone transfers to the same place. Tokyo’s wall diagram illustrates this quite well: Each of the six cars is well positioned for at least one transfer. In New York, transfers are spread widely throughout the system. Someone coming from Brooklyn on the Q train could change to the 6 at Canal Street (stand about two-thirds of the way down the platform from the front of the train) or they could switch to the L at 14th Street (last car). Even then, most people traveling on any given train aren’t making any transfer at all.

    The MTA’s sudden interest in platform crowding also seems insincere, given that for decades it has neglected other station upgrades that would spread crowds more evenly throughout trains, in addition to giving passengers easier access to stations. The L stops at First and Third avenues in Manhattan are the best examples — unlike some far less busy L stations in Brooklyn, they have exits only on the far western edges of the platform, so people crowd toward the fronts of trains when they get on in Brooklyn. (Coincidentally, EPP chose the L train for its initial roll-out.)

    Given how crowded the L train is, you’d think the MTA would have gotten around to punching more staircases into the stations, especially since an exit at Avenue A from the First Avenue stop is the equivalent of bringing the subway one long avenue closer to transit-starved Alphabet City. But while the MTA has studied a pair of Avenue A entrances before, it has taken no action on building new staircases into the station.

    It would be a small thing, but placing signs to make transfers more efficient would mark a decent step toward making New York’s labyrinthine subway more navigable. After the hubbub dies down and enough time passes so that it can plausibly deny any pressure from the EPP, the MTA should quietly roll out the signs itself.


  14. Fred June 27, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    Capacity, capacity, capacity. All has to do with the equipment, the resources. Efficiency. Data. Best practices. Coordination. Collaboration. Relationships. Quant and qual. Advocacy. Operations, capital, press, implementation, performance, goals, expenses, users, management, technology, expertise, accuracy, methods, definitions, history, comparisons, consolidation, reliability, consistency, organization, consultants, root causes, quantifying, identifying, convenience, safety, comfort, convenience, initiatives, measurements, targets, trends, forecasts, monitor, initiatives, safety, service, speed, smiles, coordinating across divisions departments……. So much to grasp


  15. John June 30, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    All of these words are nice but it’s important to really know how things are measured, classified, identified, logged, etc… how things are actually organized… so that you can “bridge the gap” and have more communication between divisions, etc


    • Bobby July 19, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

      these numbers are all political – how are they actually calculated? route length? WA? capacity? revenue and non-revenue tracks, open cut, at grade, elevated, subway, OTP…

      some subways don’t even have 2 track segments on some portions, so they’re extra less frequent. but here, we have THREE, FOUR…

      and we have so much trash. all the arcing of the third rail, probably caused by leaky water, and boom, a fire. our stations aren’t that dirty, but the condition is bad, the fuses, insulators, circuits, wiring, all can be bad… the debris, grease, rail pads…

      we need more trash cans near passengers, perhaps transparent ones so we can see there aren’t any bombs in them, more PA campaigns, etc.


      • Mark July 30, 2016 at 7:33 am #

        cia knows our location, our connection, our routes taken, our favorite coffee shops… all from gps. satellites. cameras. recordings. everywhere. and we do not know where nyc subway trains are,lol


  16. George July 11, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    yes… the mta is a huge organization. like other organizations with tens of thousands of employees. it’s basically a city within a city, with its own power, HR, police, politics, KPIs. lots to do to streamline and simplify! it’s all about capacity and efficiency, that’s what a train is supposed to be, but the MTA can be quite the opposite. though they are ordering new cars so at least mdbf is increasing, one of the few indicators that is increasing which is a good thing – unlike delays, etc. they should put all the old unreliable trains on routes that are not as frequent or at least only frequent mainly during peak so they don’t get too worn down. http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/Subway_Car_MDBF_Data https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_Transit_Authority also they should put casinos in coney island!!!


  17. John July 12, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

    those step aside things don’t really work in ny cus no one cares. platform controllers? what do they do? i’ve seen them holding doors. PA announcements to stand clear? maybe. the new trains should take flow into account. more than some of these stations with narrow stairs. seems like it’s all one big mess, we’ve lost ‘track’ of the real purpose of trains — going from a to b QUICKLY! railroads were pioneering in the 19c, reducing friction with steam locos, across the continent, at high speed, cheaply, due to a guideway and not being single vehicles so the cost was spread across, cheaper power, cheaper crew… now, passenger rail transit is seen as a welfare service in most of the country. but not ny — manhattan, which doubles in population every day due to tunnels bridges, rail subway ferry bike walkways… too bad now, we have an inept public agency. we should have thatcher’d the subways and privatized them again like TfL but i guess thatcher had more power than reagan (states rights in US). i dunno. maybe no one wanted to take on the risk here, knowing the bmt and irt went soo bankrupt… maybe no operator had the expertise here. but… lots of problems!!!

    I had a great motorman and conductor this evening on the G! The motorman entered the station quickly, and the conductor immediately opened the doors, and then quickly closed them, and then the motorman immediately began departing the station. There was essentially no time that the train was dwelling in the station with the doors closed. I spoke with the conductor afterwards (they were being held at my station due to train traffic from the F), and he said that he only just started working for the MTA, and only just met the motorman for their current shift. He also said that it is harder to go fast on the newer models due to slow automatic announcements. He said the announcements should be made faster. This is how it should be done!


    • Bobby July 19, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

      they are also not cleaned frequently, most probably don’t even see them on the platform


  18. John July 13, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

    subway is so complex and… it’s a miracle it works every day considering how many pieces scramble to get by, how little everyone communicates across divisions… for instance who knows how much revenue is earned every day, when unl cards aren’t counted for daily revenue? and when tax revenue goes up/down depending on economy? with unstable budget, 100 y/o infrastructure, lack of resources, rising costs, rising seas, rapidly decaying signals, track beds (wood, cement, metal, gravel types…), concrete, water invasion deteriorating metal tracks, heavy cars, increasing ridership, crowding, trash… so much PRESSURE EVERY SINGLE DAY, almost impossible to get ahead, even to keep even with the problems, the track grease, signals, switches, electricity, third rail grounding… can only take care of emergencies, esp now with more technology to detect problems (track geo car), even more logged problems, will never get to them, maybe do temp fixes, but always working on only the very very serious things.

    to fix a problem? need a general order, need to reroute service, requiring posters, information to public, signals, making sure switches all working… making sure reroute is accessible for disabled passengers… most of the time spent for fixing is sending materials and workers, setting up flagging process, then working when revenue trains not running, which is hard since it is 24/7! NYC subway cannot shut down, nowhere for all trains to go, or no way to actually close stations. limited resources, they cannot fix most malfunctions until they’re critical, now with 7 ext which already leaks, NO NEW maintenance employees added! stretched to the limit! will they add more when SAS opens? hopefully… if budget, HR, unions, politicians, safety rules, equipment for flagging, all communicate, if money is there, if economy is okay…

    so much history too. innovation, cut and cover… dual contracts, city helping to pay… mta, TA, BoT.. so much history. station renovations, expansions, extensions… for instance, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_Street_Shuttle was once automated! all the art, murals, decorations, lighting, benches, over time, history… so much to appreciate. so much wild energy and hustle in this city. and fare is so cheap compared to europe. not based on distance, only 2.75 whole nyc. but it is very dirty: https://www.wired.com/2015/08/nycs-cleaning-subway-taking-away-trash-cans/

    lucky now a division has ATS for signals, so they have countdown clocks. quite convenient, esp at express stations, passengers can see if they should get out to wait for transfer. (ATS for a division means all towers abandoned, all can be seen on one screen from rcc, switches controlled from PCs, automated call numbers for trains… but B division, still has local towers, radio, switches from 1920s/30s… LOL. CBTC tho actually electronic… ) but over all, so many problems, and too few people with too many responsibilities, resources, coordination. HQ in office does not know how things work, in a city that does not forgive, where a station gets cleaned and the next day it’s dirty again. 24/7 disconnects especially with recording and documenting. the scale is just huge – even for one small change to the subway map for instance, hundreds upon hundreds of signs need to be fixed in the system, recording for data collection changed too, etc. oy.


    • George July 15, 2016 at 9:36 am #

      flagging does slow down trains. even on adjacent tracks. they need to change these rules


      • John July 15, 2016 at 9:42 am #

        good luck getting unions to agree.


    • Bobby July 19, 2016 at 9:22 pm #

      delays depend on the city, the line… the time of year, event, weather, weekday/weekend, indicator… thus obviously they are tracked to see trends/rolling values. WA, OTP, MDBF, car reliability, stations… signals, cleaning, operations…

      it’s hard to get access to the ROW. especially for long periods to fix broken rail, corroded bases, defects, switches, plates, panels, ties… third rail issues… delays, delays, delays – for passengers, for verifying, repairing, inspecting… so many ‘lil things.

      MDBF really should be shown as how many hours it is before it is broken. the longer the route, the more potential for problems.

      Proper scheduling requires coordination with the control center, interlocking towers, recording incidents, registering intervals, crew locations, car equipment, yard movements, etc.


  19. Al July 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm #


    The Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (DC) unveiled a new tool to allow riders to track their personal on-time trip performance on Metrorail. MyTripTime provides a three-month travel summary for all Metrorail trips, including an on-time score, total number of trips taken, and number of stations visited.

    “We frequently heard from customers that the existing on-time performance measures did not meet their needs because we did not offer a snapshot of an individual’s personal experience on Metrorail,” said general manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld in a statement. “With MyTripTime customers can easily track exactly how often their trips were on time and how often trains were late, without sifting through data across all operating hours and all stations.”

    In addition to helping customers track their travel experience, the tool will enable Metro planners to assess impacts on customer travel and identify necessary improvements.

    MyTripTime calculates on-time scores by comparing actual travel times — when customers tap in and out with a registered SmarTrip card — to the amount of time that trip should take when service is running normally. The tool is only available to customers with a registered SmarTrip card.

    In a related move, Metro is making real-time train location data available to developers. “We heard loud and clear from our riders that being able to easily find accurate, real-time information was important to customers during their commute,” Wiedefeld said. “This is just one way that we can give customers the information they want while simultaneously leveraging the expertise of third-party developers.”


    • dctrainfreak July 29, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

      hmm even still i wonder if their data is correct. what is a normal trip time? politics will probably make them decide a normal trip time is way longer than it should be so they look better… i do not trust any of their numbers. if they are not simply calculated wrong, then they are calculated politically


  20. Mark July 31, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

    Ridership is increasing but it is not as bad as it was in the 40s, when there was no air conditioning. We can do better, it is not an excuse.

    Now, the R32s are bad with AC units in the summer so they bring them on the J/Z, mainly above ground. And then there’s the politics of which line gets which units.


  21. Friedrich July 31, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

    it’s all about CAPACITY… few remember but station platforms used to be narrower, they were extended a while ago on some lines, to allow for longer trains. (thus making some stations obsolete/abandoned, esp on the lex, since they were too close to each other).

    (the only IRT line with 11 cars rather than 10 is the 7, because those platforms were built extra long to allow for separate fare/boarding areas, since originally, the BMT/IRT shared the astoria and flushing line.) Here is the history behind that:


    The contract negotiations were long and sometimes acrimonious. For instance, when the IRT was reluctant to the BRT’s proposed access to Midtown Manhattan via the Broadway Line, the city and state negotiators immediately offered the BRT all of the lines under proposal. This included lines that would have only been operable using IRT rolling stock dimensions, such as the upper Lexington Avenue Line and both lines in Queens. The IRT quickly gave in to the “invasion” of Midtown Manhattan by the BRT.[10][11]

    The assignment of the proposed lines in Queens proved to be an imposition on both companies. Instead of one company enjoying a monopoly in that borough, both proposed lines — a short line to Astoria, and a longer line reaching initially to Corona, and eventually to Flushing — were assigned to both companies, to be operated in what was called “joint service.” The lines would start from a huge station called Queensboro Plaza. The IRT would access the station from both the 1907 Steinway Tunnel and an extension of the Second Avenue Elevated from Manhattan over the Queensboro Bridge. The BRT would feed the Queens lines from the 60th Street Tunnel in Manhattan. Technically the line was under IRT “ownership”, but the BRT/BMT was granted trackage rights in perpetuity, essentially making it theirs also.[10][11]

    The BRT had a big disadvantage, as both Queens lines were built to IRT specifications. This meant that IRT passengers had a one-seat ride to Manhattan destinations, whereas BRT passengers had to make a change at Queensborough Plaza. This came to be important when service was extended for the 1939 World’s Fair, as the IRT was able to offer direct express trains from Manhattan, and the BRT was not. This practice lasted well into the municipal ownership of the lines, and was not ended until 1949. Both companies shared in the revenues from this service. To facilitate this arrangement originally, extra long platforms were constructed along both Queens routes, so separate fare controls/boarding areas could be established. This quickly turned out to be operationally unworkable, so eventually a proportionate formula was worked out. The bonus legacy of this construction was that the IRT was able to operate 11-car trains on this line, and when the BMT took over the Astoria Line, minimal work had to be done to accommodate 10-car BMT units

    In the original configuration, the station had eight tracks and four tracks per each level. Originally, the IRT used both sides of the current platforms, and the BMT used now-demolished platforms north of the current platforms, also double-decked. The south side of the IRT platforms was used by the Flushing Line, as today; the north side was used by Astoria trains, but instead of going through the 60th Street Tunnel, they went over the Queensboro Bridge to the elevated IRT Second Avenue Line. Double crossovers south (lower tracks) and north (upper tracks) of the platforms allowed trains from either side to switch to the other line after leaving the station.[3]

    At the BMT half, the south track served subway trains to Manhattan and the BMT Broadway Line. Trains came from Manhattan on the upper level, continued north to a merge with the lower level, and then returned via the lower level. This configuration was in place by 1924; before that trains reversed direction using a double crossover south of the platforms. Until October 17, 1949, the Astoria and Flushing Lines hosted both IRT and BMT service.[4] Since the platforms were IRT-size, the BMT used its own elevated cars to provide service on the lines, with a required transfer at Queensboro Plaza. Shuttles from Astoria came in on the west side lower track and then reversed direction to head to Flushing; Flushing trains came in on the upper track and reversed direction towards Astoria.[3]

    During the early period of dual service on the Astoria and Flushing portions, IRT and BMT trains had their own stopping marks on the platforms and the sections of the platforms were separated. Passengers had separate entrances to the platforms depending on which service they wanted. This set-up prevented free transfers between the trains of the two companies. This arrangement had to end when the IRT lengthened trains. The two companies worked out an agreement in which the revenues collected on those stations were shared.
    In 1942, the IRT Second Avenue Line closed, and the upper portion of the north side was abandoned.[3]

    On October 17, 1949, the $1,375,000 renovation of the station was completed which allowed the rerouting of trains between Manhattan and Queens. As part of the project, the Astoria Line platforms were shaved back to allow BMT service to operate through to 60th Street, and new connections were built between the 60th Street Tunnel approach and the west tracks at the east (former IRT) platforms, and the west (former BMT) platforms were closed. Once the project was completed, the IRT started using the Flushing Line only and the BMT started using the Astoria Line only. With the station’s renovation, it became easier for passengers to transfer between the IRT and BMT lines. Instead of having to climb between the upper and lower level platforms, passengers were able to use cross-platform transfers.[4][3] There was a crossover just west of the station which allowed the Astoria trains to access the Steinway tunnels. This was removed directly after the joint operation ceased in 1949.[3]

    In 1964, the abandoned northern half of the Queensborough Plaza station was demolished.[3] One set of crossovers remains on the upper level as the Flushing Line’s only connection to the rest of the system. This connection is used for non-revenue moves, specifically to transfer subway cars to the Coney Island Shops.

    Today, Queensboro Plaza is the only station in the entire system to provide cross-platform interchange between “A” Division (7 ) and “B” Division (N and Q) trains


    • Alex October 23, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      I guess the IRT thought it would be cheaper to have narrower tunnels. Just like they thought it would be cheaper to build near the surface. (And faster for commuters)

      IRT has narrower tunnels, sharper curves, so trains are narrower and shorter. They did not know there would be so much demand, and they built to the same specs as existing elevated railroads, so they have less capacity than newer, wider, longer B Division trains. Thus, IRT trains are 10-car, but shorter, with only 3 doors. If the 75-foot, 8-car B Division trains used IRT tracks, they would not fit. These trains don’t even fit on the curves of some of the B Division lines. And yes, they are cheaper because they require less components, but they are also heavier, requiring more support, propulsion, brakes, etc, and there are 4 doors for a longer car so it has a bit less capacity because of that… Plus, because they are so wide, gangway doors are shut due to the curves in tunnel. So newer trains for B Division are 10-car, a bit shorter, also 4 doors, hopefully open-gangway, less seating, for more capacity.

      The 7 operates 11-car sets since all platforms were extended to match the longer Flushing Line platforms after Queensboro Plaza, constructed to accommodate separate payment zones for BMT passengers. But these are still not as long as B Division trains. Each model is unique, unique components, quite complicated!

      Rolling stock needs to fit into all types of tunnels – boxy tunnels, tubular tunnels, all built by different companies with different methods. They need to operate in snow (when the subway was shut down due to snow a few years ago, all the trains kept running to keep the snow off the tracks), they need to deal with salty air (rockaways)…Maybe in the future they can also not produce such gusts of wind that can knock down construction workers.


  22. Alex August 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    there are fines for holding doors, evading fares, smoking, seat obstruction, messing with the ROW, trackage, rail, signal, power, communication, ventilation, power plants, stations, terminals, signs, yards, depots, repair shops, offices, real estate, etc… no weapons, vandalism, grafitti, riding outside vehicle, selling cards, gambling, sleeping, etc… but people still do it. if only everyone waited until people left the train, did not hold doors, moved to the center of the car, and did everything possible to reduce dwell time… maybe, maybe we’d have fewer delays, congestion, train traffic, piling up… but it is especially complex in New York!

    most systems do not have so many merges, such complexity. they’re just single lines, and if they mess up, they are delayed, but not a bunch of other services too. also, newer systems are automated, signals are not breaking down… and even still, these newer systems have tons of problems. huge dwell issues. and stations are so deep underground, making it take even more time to get to the station. It is all about SPEED, FREQUENCY, RELIABILITY!

    apparently in beijing and sao paulo, stations are closed sometimes because there are too many crowds inside, and people have to wait in lines… outside of the station, and before even going thru the turnstiles… to get on a train, waiting for 4 or 5 trains before you get it!

    The NYC subway IS at capacity because signals are designed for enough spacing to prevent a crash like the Williamsburg Bridge accident. CBTC will fix that, but it will take decades. Meanwhile, delays are increasing because of better data collection, and management doesn’t want to be held accountable because there are no incentives. They treat operators as MACHINES and assume they will go the maximum speed designed, but they are humans. There is variability. Dwells are long.


  23. Jo August 8, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    Silly union:


    The union representing subway operators has advised its workers to drastically reduce their trains’ speed as they enter stations, a directive prompted by the recent deaths of two people who were shoved in front of oncoming subway trains.

    In a flier distributed to operators in recent days, the Transport Workers Union Local 100 said that preventing a subway accident, “and saving yourself the emotional trauma and potential loss of income that go with it, is worth a few extra minutes on your trip.”

    Operators were urged to “enter every station as if there is a pair of yellow lanterns at the entrance,” a scenario that would call for trains to observe a speed limit of 10 miles per hour, and for operators to sound a horn.

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has opposed any speed change and said that any effort to comply with the flier would be a violation of work rules. On Saturday, the authority sent a message to Local 100 directing it to “cease posting these unauthorized notices.”

    A slower pace, the agency said on Monday, would not only hinder on-time performance but also lead to fewer trips for trains in a given day.

    “Fewer trips is going to translate into more crowded trains and more crowded platforms,” said Charles Seaton, a spokesman for the authority.

    Mr. Seaton said the authority had no evidence that operators were deliberately driving more slowly. “It would be considered an illegal job action,” he said. But John Samuelsen, Local 100’s president, said in an interview Monday that operators had already begun “approaching the stations at a more cautious speed.”

    The union also sent a letter last week to Thomas F. Prendergast, the authority’s interim executive director and the president of New York City Transit, outlining a series of safety proposals. One measure would require a posted speed restriction of 10 m.p.h. at every station entrance. Currently, trains enter some stations at roughly 30 m.p.h., Mr. Seaton said.

    Other proposals include allowing passengers on platforms to turn on a “safety warning light,” visible to train operators as they approach a station, if someone tumbles onto the tracks; holding a design competition soliciting ideas to improve platform safety; and conducting an information campaign on what riders should do if they or others fall from the platform. (The union’s answer, for the person on the tracks: lie down “in the trough” if there is no time for an escape.)

    Though roughly one person a week dies on the tracks, the two recent shoving-related deaths have placed increased scrutiny on platform safety. In the more recent case, Sunando Sen, 46, was killed on Dec. 27 after being pushed in the path of a No. 7 train at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station in Queens. On Monday, Erika Menendez, 31, was indicted by Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, on murder charges in Mr. Sen’s death after being found fit to stand trial.

    In 2012, 55 people died after being hit by trains, many in suicides. Train operators have said that a “12-9” — transit shorthand for a person under a train — can exact a powerful psychological toll.

    The authority has indicated that it would consider testing sliding doors at station platforms on a pilot basis, perhaps beginning at L train stations, though no timeline had been set on a possible installation.

    Mr. Samuelsen said on Monday that the authority’s position on train speeds “is acknowledging that rider safety is a second priority to them.”

    The authority argued that the implementation of some of the union’s proposals could decrease safety if platforms and trains became overcrowded.

    “There are other, more effective ways of making the system safer,” Mr. Seaton said.


    • tinker August 20, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

      with ATS it is harder to get away with accidents, RCC can see you… and speedometers on trains, few can trust them… so, going slower and slower


  24. tinker August 20, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    the life of a T/O… station time, grade time, signal markers, blocks, holding lights, rcc, a division, b division, signals, merges, switches, yards, interlockings, twu, civil service exams for TA (but state employees), relay rooms, towers (being dismantled on A div due to ats)… fires, ROW, MOW, debris, grease, track ties, water, electricity…



    The MTA has plans to upgrade the entire New York City Subway system with communication-based train control (CBTC) technology, which will control the speed and starting and stopping of subway trains. The CBTC system is mostly automated and uses a moving signaling system – which reduces headways between trains, increases train frequencies and capacities, and relays the trains’ positions to a control room – rather than a fixed position signaling system. This will require new rolling stock to be built for the subway system, as only newer trains can use CBTC systems

    As of May 2014, the system consists of about 14,850 signal blocks, 3,538 mainline switches, 183 major track junctions, 10,104 automatic train stops, and 339,191 signal relays.[1]

    The New York City Subway generally distinguishes its current signals into:
    automatic signals, controlled only by train movements
    approach signals, like automatic signals, can be forced to switch to stop aspect by interlocking tower
    home signals, route set by interlocking tower
    additional signals (call-on, dwarf, marker, sign, time signals)

    Insulators divide the track segments into blocks. The two traveling rails conduct an electric current, as they are connected to an electric current. If the circuit is closed and electricity can travel across the rails without interruption, the signal will light up as green, as it is unoccupied by a train. When a train enters the block, the metal wheels interrupt the current on the rails, and the signal turns red, marking the block as occupied. The train’s maximum speed will depend on how many blocks are open in front of it. However, the signals do not register the trains’ speed, nor do they register where in the block the train is located.[1] If a train passes a red signal, the train stop automatically engages and prevents the train from moving forward


    signals control the speed



    Doors on 75′ long cars like the R-46 on the F cannot be unlocked due to the large gap between each car in curves. The doors on newer trains such as the R-143 are open since they are only 60′ long. All doors on IRT trains are open since they are only 51′ long. Locked doors do pose a problem for emergency exit situations. Doors are also sometimes locked on other IND/BMT lines. shorter so can make tighter curves longer each straight so bigger curve at the curve.

    If the circuit is closed and electricity can travel across the rails without interruption, the signal will light up as green, as it is unoccupied by a train. When a train enters the block, the metal wheels interrupt the current on the rails, and the signal turns red, marking the block as occupied. The train’s maximum speed will depend on how many blocks are open in front of it. However, the signals do not register the trains’ speed, nor do they register where in the block the train is located.[1] If a train passes a red signal, the train stop automatically engages and prevents the train from moving forward

    Manh bridge — The trains, which are on the outside of the span, cause the bridge to sway and droop, which, over time, damages the bridge’s structure. Moreover, the wheels cause the bridge to vibrate (that’s the screeching noise you can hear in the park under the bridge on the Brooklyn side), which also “wears out” the bridge. The vibration increases more than linearly with the trains’ speed, so they’re speed-limited in hopes of keeping the bridge out of scaffolding for a few extra decades.


    • tinker August 20, 2016 at 2:51 pm #


      there are so many types of signals, so confusing, even to T/Os! no wonder they go so slowly, they are all afraid of BIE

      still key-by protocols, reminds me of when i was there. lowering the trip so the train doesn’t derail itself in that block, IJ before the arm… Usually, if a train goes through a red light, a switch on the track triggers the train’s brakes. But at many signals, it is possible for a motorman to “key by” the red signal, or go through it at less than five miles an hour, without tripping the brakes. Motormen are supposed to get permission by radio from their dispatchers before making the maneuver. Automatic key-by. For an automatic or approach signal (not on the unresignalled IRT) indicating “stop”, it is possible for the train to creep up very, very slowly, 1 or 2 mph, such that the front wheel of the train passes the track joint electrically separating signal blocks from each other, with still critical distance to spare between the stop and the train’s tripcock. This maneuver, automatic key-by (AK), will drive the stop and hold it clear, and the train can proceed beyond the red signal prepared to stop within vision. Since the mid 1970’s (when exactly?), this has not been permitted without special orders, on account of an accident resulting from abuse of “AK”.


    • Al August 21, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

      my motorman friend told me that the new grade time signals make crews very afraid, slows them down, because unlike other signals which are green until you near a train in a signal block nearby, these ones are red until you get close to them, then they are timed to turn green only if you maintain a slow speed, so it regulates your speed, keeps you going slower because you are afraid of tripping it, and all of this depends on the crew, adding variability, running time… and the speedometers are often wrong… so they are all a lot more careful


  25. Albequek September 13, 2016 at 7:58 pm #

    ATS did get rid of most towers but at terminals, they still need them for the crew, and for the yards. But part of the problem now is that dispatchers are all at rcc, don’t see what’s really going on! All the crowding at express stations, holding doors from intermodal connections… the yard workers know, but they are too busy dealing with stuff in the barns or walking the structure… or installing solar garbage compactors to save space! Ah, the good old days… they used to have city hall loop, south ferry loop connecting 7 ave and lex IRT… but, back then, stations were a lot shorter, now they’re all extended for longer cars. the oldest irt express stations had side platforms but they closed since people did not use them, they all used center to xfer to express. (check out 14th union square or bklyn bridge city hall, you can see through those windows into the relay rooms now)


  26. Cube September 16, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

    e tix on lirr and mnr are great

    The Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines and the New Canaan branch and all passenger rolling stock is equipped with cab signalling, which displays the appropriate block signal in the engineer’s cab. All rolling stock is equipped with Automatic Train Control (ATC), which enforces the speed dictated by the cab signal by a penalty brake application should the engineer fail to obey it. There are no intermediate wayside signals between interlockings: operation is solely by cab signal. Wayside signals remain at interlockings.[16] These are a special type of signal, a go or a stop signal. They do not convey information about traffic in the blocks ahead – the cab signal conveys block information.


  27. Frank October 11, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

    How It Works: Railroad Signals on the Northeast Corridor


    The recent derailment in Philadelphia has brought to the forefront a safety critical system that usually functions in the background: railroad signals. Although the main purpose of signal systems is to prevent train collisions, they’re also part of the foundation of efficient and safe operations. Railroad tracks are divided into segments known as blocks. Without signal systems, far fewer trains could move through each block.
    While originally intended just to inform the engineer that the track ahead was intact and unoccupied, automatic signaling systems have evolved to provide additional information, to limit train speeds, and to automatically stop trains when required for safety.
    Modern signal systems can be thought of as a pyramid, the first level of which is the trackside signals of Automatic Block Signal System. These colored lights, singly or in combination, signal the engineer to take needed actions but do not override him or her if no action is taken. The next level of the pyramid is Cab Signals, which duplicate the indications of the trackside signals. Cab Signals are helpful in bad weather, when trackside signals cannot be seen or when conditions change after a train has passed a wayside signal. Like trackside signals, Cab Signals are not designed to take control of the train if the engineer fails to do so.
    The third level of the pyramid is Automatic Train Control (ATC), which automatically slows or stops a train if the engineer fails to comply with speed reductions required by the cab signal. While this system can enforce required reductions in speed to 20, 30 or 45 mph to comply with signal indications, it is not capable of enforcing a speed restriction on a curve or stopping a train at a Stop Signal if the Engineer fails to do so.
    The top of the pyramid is Positive Train Control (PTC). Amtrak’s PTC system is known as the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES). It is currently installed and operating on 206 of the 401 miles of track that Amtrak is responsible for on the Northeast Corridor spine.
    ACSES has several components that build on the protection provided by ATC. Among other things, it can automatically bring a train to a stop at a red signal or slow it on a sharp curve. Amtrak has supported the federal requirement to make PTC mandatory on certain passenger and freight tracks by the end of this year and is on schedule to meet that deadline. No other Class I railroad in North America is as far along in installing PTC systems as Amtrak.
    Amtrak has had ATC in service for its trains on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) since it took over operations in 1976. In 1988, the Rail Safety Improvement Act required freight and commuter trains operating on the NEC to be equipped with ATC.
    In 1991, Amtrak voluntarily took steps to modify its ATC system to enforce civil speed restrictions on curves. With support of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Amtrak installed changes at locations where the maximum authorized speed approaching the curve exceeds the overturning speed on the curve. This step was taken as a result of a consensus among railroad safety leaders and stakeholders. Commuter railroads operating in Boston and the New York area made similar changes.
    Last week, FRA directed Amtrak to take the following steps:
    • Modify the ATC system at the location of the Train 188 derailment to automatically limit train speed on the curve on which the accident took place. This was accomplished before the first train moved over the curve on Monday, May 18.
    • Assess the risk at all curves on NEC: Analyze all curves on the NEC to assess risk. In areas where approach speed is significantly higher than curve speed, the appropriate technology intended to prevent over-speed derailments must be implemented immediately. Amtrak must also take a new look at all curves along the corridor and determine if more can be done to improve safety in any of these areas and report back to the FRA with its findings. The effort began promptly after notification from FRA and is on-going.
    • Increase wayside signage alerting engineers of the maximum authorized speed throughout the NEC. This effort is also on-going.
    Amtrak continues to coordinate with FRA and is committed to the highest levels of safety for its customers and employees.


    • Jeorg October 20, 2016 at 11:01 am #

      One of the problems with the NEC is the complex ownership and operating structure there, a legacy of the bankrupt Penn Central, Amtrak, freight good accommodations, and local commuter rail agencies.


  28. Webster October 14, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    It’s hard to compare different agencies. OTP? Depends on how it is defined, how many minutes late, if abandonments are counted, etc. When trains are early, they are held not just for even headways, but for OTP. When trains are late, it harms OTP and WA. They go together. Ridership has been going down, but delays are still going up! It’s not a problem of ridership, even a new PA bus terminal or a 7 line extension to secaucus won’t solve our problems. We just need to do better with what we have. Better announcements, communications of planned work, better service! We need to work harder! There’s going to be more accidents on the streets, especially in winter with longer nights, because people don’t want to take the subway.

    Plus, planned work is such a complicated task. All the announcements, schedule changes, crew changes, rolling stock movements, union rules… for instance, they are fixing a tube now, so they need to stage working trains somewhere, they need to turn the revenue trains somewhere else with at least a diamond crossover or a loop or somewhere with good terminal capacity – even Broad Street (J/Z) has a switch behind the station, so one platform can let people off, and one can let them on, decreasing dwell time… it’s all about capacity, time, switches, etc…


  29. Gilbert October 15, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    Some lines are already one man operation like the G on weekends. And track defects are not necessarily more than before. The new TGC has allowed for many more defects to be logged. The inspectors and MOW workers just can’t get to them all for preventative maintenance so only the emergencies get fixed. But over time especially with water leaks, tracks will need to be fixed… columns may get rusted, electrical equipment, signals, ties, track bed, etc…

    Unlike other networks, we have a lot of merges because if all our spur lines had their own lines in Manhattan, there just wouldn’t be enough avenues to fit them! So we need to have equitable, rational route designs, with frequency and dwell times based on loading guidelines and ridership… timetables, car assignments, based on reliable and economical considerations. Then, every day is a challenge to keep to the schedule with so many incidents – trees falling on tracks, sick customers, fights, signal issues. On top of all of that, you really expect them to be real estate developers? Hard enough dealing with the stakeholders they have, but you want them to do what? run their extra buses for tourists? get the metrocard into a visa debit program to make extra cash? (sarcasm – other agencies all do these things, and work with other stakeholders, while here, it’s a miracle that DOT’s SI ferry is scheduled alongside SIR trains, through those double turnstiles. Or that MNR has a contract with a bus operator to shuttle passengers – free metrocard transfer – to some stations…)

    Car rentals are a joke. It is so hard to be a tourist in USA without mass transit. Credit cards, insurance, extras for GPS, radio, child seats… no thanks


    • Honestalb November 23, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

      It’s hard to attribute delay causes. For instance, there’s a hole in a road that causes a bus failure. Was the delay caused by the hole in the road, by infrastructure? Or by weather that may have caused the hole? Or by operator error for not swerving around it? Or by the bus for not having good tires? See, it all depends, and it is hard to really figure it out! On top of that, we have planned and unplanned work, sick passengers, police, fire, signals, stations, water issues…

      On the subways, the same applies… and everything is in a silo. Apparently, the new subway stations are being built with lights on the edges, so to change them, flagging needs to happen… there was no thought about maintenance. The second avenue subway will have some of the lowest frequencies in manhattan because it’s just one line, not really a trunk route. Flagging may make it worse. Hopefully the stations were built right. Or else, there’ll be a lot of outage, more money spent for maintenance, etc. we really should give bonuses for trains that arrive on time, station cleaners that service stations without track fires, etc.

      Was it a sick employee, a sick passenger, a car equipment problem such as a flat wheel or bad brake or broken door or no motor power? Maybe signals broke too, power broke down, weather was also a problem. So who works on it? capital? car equipment? hr? infrastructure? police? so much can go wrong.

      The subway is a maze of infrastructure. rails, ties, columns, ceilings, all constantly being worn down or just abandoned


  30. Jupiter October 25, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

    All of your questions answered here:

    I learned that we need to remember this system is all about MERGES. More branch lines = less service on other branch lines, since they are at capacity on a lot of the trunk corridors. Timing the schedule is everything. Headways can’t always be even since it depends on the merges. The schedule is the steering wheel, for passenger demand, network and fleet capacity, load factors, route design, merges diverges, crew work rules, minimum service frequencies, etc.

    So much to running a subway… emergency calls, dispatch and control, power distribution, track maintenance, construction, admin, designations, track rail geometry inspections, switch crossing location reporting drainage vegetation lift rails derails heaters lubricators gauge alignment curve ballast crossties clearances fastening contact rail cwr defective guard rails joints spiking clips switches track types ballasts rails…

    capital program, electronics, engineering, infrastructure, mow, operations planning, support, power, signals, stations, tracks…

    And then security…

    track types… cement type is the best, for collecting garbage, dealing with leaks… letting water pass under rails, etc. but if there are leaks, the garbage gets wet and stuck, doesn’t go into the paper catchers!


  31. Chief November 14, 2016 at 5:23 am #

    Right now, railroads are literally reliant on the operator’s memory for speed restrictions and things like that. The L is CBTC, controlled from rail control, with computers and signals. And PTC for railroads is a bit less intense… But it requires a lot of coordination, since the MTA runs their trains with Amtrak, NJT, CSX, NYA…




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