Hey MTA, Here's How to End
the Transit Crush
In late march, T.A. joined
transit and environmental advocates calling for more subway service. Following
the lead of the Straphangers Campaign, the various groups urged the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to adopt a practical plan of
Following are excerpts from
the plea for better service, and a list of the public interest groups joining
the Straphangers Campaign call for action:
March 30, 2001
Chair, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Dear Chairman Kalikow:
We write to add our voices to
those of riders in the powerful "Subway Squeeze" series noted in the
New York Daily News, and to call on you to relieve intolerable levels of
NYC's growing population, MTA
fare discounts and system improvements, and a strong economy- have created an
explosion of ridership and crowding. Currently, there are one million more
riders on an average weekday than four years ago. This is an increase from 3.8
million riders (in 1997), to 4.8 million, per day.
We applaud steps taken by MTA
New York City Transit. These include: adding 11% more subway service; the
proposed V line; a modest planned increase in the subway fleet; and other
initiatives to ease delays, such as emergency medical technicians to help sick
passengers. We also acknowledge the serious challenges to reducing crowding.
Several lines are running at capacity, and there is a shortage of subway cars.
But much more needs to be
done given the 29% increase in subway ridership between 1996 and 2001. Below
are some suggestions to ease the subway squeeze:
- Add more service where
currently possible. This is especially necessary in the periods around
rush hours. Many trains are packed around the clock and on weekends.
Transit guidelines guarantee riders a seat except during rush hour. People
would be shocked to learn this based on their daily experiences.
- Expand the number of the
subway car fleet. More subway cars are needed to run more service. On 10
lines-the 1/9, 6, A, C, G, J, L, M, N and R- more rush hour service is
possible, with the addition of more subway cars. The MTA plans to buy
1,130 new subway cars in the next five years. However, these cars will
replace old cars, not expand the overall fleet. In total, the system will
only gain 200 additional cars. You need to: (1) Buy more subway cars; (2)
Delay the retirement of still good cars; (3) Speed up delivery of 660
subway cars scheduled to arrive in 2005.
- Increase the level of
service standards. Official "loading guidelines" give riders
only three-square-feet of standing room during rush hours. On most of the
subway lines, scheduled rush hour waits are six minutes or more. Some
trains-the B, C, G, M and branches of the A-come eight to ten minutes
apart during rush hour. If one train goes out of service, riders can
easily wait 20 minutes. In other world cities, such as Paris and Tokyo,
there is no more than a four-minute scheduled wait during rush hour on all
- Make delays and re-routing
less painful. Crowding is made worse by disruptions caused by needed
repairs. But there's much the MTA could do to lessen the blow. Take the
repairs to the Manhattan Bridge, which will cause the virtual closing of
the Grand Street subway station in Chinatown for more than three years.
Community leaders are right to ask for beefing up nearby M train service
and providing more shuttle bus service. For lesser fix-up projects, the
MTA needs to do a better job of letting riders know what's going on
through better written notices, clearer announcements and e-mail alerts.
Committee For Better Transit
New York City Transit Riders Council
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Support the Straphangers
Campaign, www.straphangers.org or
the latest news on this subject.