Bay Ridge

Faster trains at 50 stations, says MTA

March 11, 2019 Paula Katinas
An R train pulls into the 59th Street station. Eagle file photo.

The borough’s subway system is getting faster, according to MTA New York City Transit.

The state authority issued a report on March 8 showing that since the late summer 2018, a committee overseeing the Save Safe Seconds Campaign approved faster speeds at 100 subway stations. To date, more than 50 subway stations have faster trains, according to transit officials.

As part of the Save Safe Seconds Campaign, the MTA sought to increase the speed of trains coming into and out of subway stations in an effort to decrease overall trip time.

For example, R trains departing the terminal at 95th Street in Bay Ridge now travel at 15 mph instead of 10 mph. R trains departing the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station are running 10 mph faster than before, at 25 mph over 15 mph.

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In certain instances, the city’s MTA is also allowing trains to speed up in between stations. No. 4 and 5 trains are now traveling 35 mph between Grand Army Plaza and the Brooklyn Museum.

More than 20 new locations have received speed limit increases since the last time transit officials updated the program on Jan. 21.

To jump start the new program, a SPEED Unit was formed last summer as part of the Save Safe Seconds Campaign launched by NYC Transit President Andy Byford and led by Senior Vice President for Subways Sally Librera. SPEED stands for Subway Performance Evaluation, Education and Development.

The unit, made up of transit workers, has looked at every mile of track in the subway system over the last several months, conducting tests to determine whether or not certain segments of track might be able to support higher speeds without compromising safety, according to MTA NYCT.


“Since I first arrived here, I have been relentless about identifying ways to improve our daily operations and bring better service to the millions who ride our trains each day,” Byford said in a statement.  “By meticulously examining places where trains can go faster safely, we are bringing tangible daily benefits to our customers.”

In addition to testing for raising speed limits, the SPEED Unit is also studying the accuracy of speed regulating signals. Since the summer, more than 95 percent of the 2,000 signals have been tested. Approximately 350 faulty timer signals have been discovered, according to transit officials, who said 105 of the signals have been recalibrated.

The goal is to eventually have all of the trains throughout the transit system running faster. Transit officials predicted that riders should be seeing noticeable improvements in their commute times.

Transit advocates applauded the program but said more needs to be done.

“Andy Byford’s speed increases are great for riders,” said Danny Pearlstein, policy director for the Riders Alliance, via email. “Now the legislature needs to pass congestion pricing to pay for his plan to actually fix the subway. New signals, subway cars, and station elevators are essential to the modern, reliable subway New Yorkers deserve.”

All speed limit changes since the program began can be found below.

Subway speed change data provided by the MTA. Click to enlarge.

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