Bay Ridge

MTA subway fix-up plan gets mixed reviews

May 16, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The R train station at 86th Street and Fourth Avenue is not in the first phase of subway overhaul planned by the MTA, but officials said the program could eventually spread all over the city. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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The extraordinary admission by MTA that the subways are a mess and the announcement by agency officials on Monday of a six-point plan to address the situation are getting mixed reactions from transit advocates and elected officials.

John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, called the plan “the right first step” but cautioned that it is only a first step.

“With this plan, the MTA is taking the right first step: acknowledging that riders are suffering and need immediate action to improve subway service. These short-term plans must also be matched with a long-term vision that acknowledges the scale of the problem and invests the billions of dollars we’ll need to get to reliable, quality service,” Raskin said in a statement.

On Monday, MTA announced a comprehensive plan to address the causes of subway disruptions. The first step of the plan will be put into effect in Manhattan.

Brooklyn subway riders are hoping the plan expands into this borough.

On May 9, a Con Edison power outage that took place at around 9 a.m. caused signal disruptions on the B, D, N, Q and R lines, leaving tens of thousands of passengers who rely on those trains stranded. MTA scrambled to move the affected trains to alternative subway lines.

The transit nightmare was similar to an electrical malfunction at DeKalb Avenue that took place two days earlier, on May 7, which left passengers with scrambled subway service.

The century-old subway system is vulnerable to failures because of decades of underinvestment, according to MTA officials, who said the plan focuses on the key causes of subway delays: track and signal issues, sick passengers and police activity, subway car equipment failures, loading and unloading in stations and bottlenecks that occur at points where train lines merge.

“Increasing delays are simply unacceptable which is why we have to commit to addressing the immediate problems with all the tools at our disposal. We are implementing long-term capital improvements. But we also need a comprehensive approach that focuses on reducing the system’s failures while our capital investment is underway,” MTA Interim Director Ronnie Hakim said in a statement.

“We know riders are frustrated. We are too, which is why we are embracing this new plan,” Hakim added.

The first phase of the initiative will begin on the Eighth Avenue corridor from 125th Street to Fulton Street.

MTA is expediting the delivery of 300 new subway cars with the first arriving this fall, officials said. The agency will also conduct a top-to-bottom revamp of its car maintenance procedures.

Track and signal repairs are also part of the picture. MTA has 837 track miles, more than 1,600 mainline switches and 13,000 signals. But the system was built to be fail-safe, meaning that when a sensor is tripped, everything stops. In order to limit switch failures, signal failures and rail defects, MTA will take various steps.

When passengers become ill on subway trains, the response can cause major delays because it can take time for emergency medical technicians to find the passenger. MTA plans to place EMTs at five stations.

To speed up the process of boarding trains in stations, the MTA is testing different ways for staff to better communicate to passengers the locations of less crowded cars on arriving trains.

But Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) expressed skepticism with the plan and charged MTA with ignoring southern Brooklyn.

“The MTA’s leadership once again leaves out the entire region of southern Brooklyn while discussing plans to improve the system. While I’m sure other areas are in need of improvement and have an impact system-wide, the continued blatant disregard for southern Brooklyn commuters is unacceptable,” Treyger wrote on Facebook.

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