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New York - Transit Plan: End Overnight NYC Subways To Speed Up Repairs

Published on: November 30, 2017 07:31 PM
By: AP
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FILE - Passengers wait inside a stopped C subway train in New York City after a power failure stopped multiple subway lines during the morning commute in New York, U.S., April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid FILE - Passengers wait inside a stopped C subway train in New York City after a power failure stopped multiple subway lines during the morning commute in New York, U.S., April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

New York - Shut down the subway overnight in the city that never sleeps?

That was among the recommendations made Thursday by an influential think tank, which proposed ending New York City’s vaunted 24-hour subway service as a way to help save a public transit system groaning with age and in dire need of costly upgrades more easily performed on silent tracks in the dead of night.


“The era of 24-hour subway service has come to an end,” said Tom Wright, president of the Regional Plan Association, which included the recommendation in a broader set of proposals to shore up outdated infrastructure in and around the nation’s biggest city.

The initial reaction of many New Yorkers? Fuhgeddaboudit.

“Stand clear of the awful idea!” said the Daily News, in a nod to the ubiquitous conductor announcements advising passengers to stand clear of closing train doors. It said the plan would “snuff the pride of New York,” which has long looked down at cities — especially Boston — that halt trains and buses late at night.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota called the proposal “a bit draconian” and said a full weeknight shutdown would be “inappropriate.” He added the MTA already occasionally halts service on some lines on nights and weekends for repairs.

Dedicating overnight hours entirely to repairs would help shorten the time frame for repair and replacement work, Wright said this week.

Subway delays have soared in recent years partly because upgrading decades-old equipment is difficult on tracks that always are humming with activity.

The Regional Plan Association said a combination of expanded bus service and ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft could make up the difference for the estimated 1.5 percent of riders who use the system during overnight hours.

The Regional Plan Association released its master plan Thursday. Other recommendations contained in the 382-page document include restructuring New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and creating a national park in New Jersey’s Meadowlands to combat sea level rise.

Steven Graham and George Johnson, who work as messengers in Manhattan, took a pragmatic approach to the recommendations.

“The work has to be done, and it can’t be done in the daytime,” Johnson, who lives in Queens, said as he sat outside the subway stop at 96th Street and Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Graham, a Bronx resident, suggested officials look at which lines are used the most and shut down night service for lesser-used routes.

Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, a transit advocacy group, said the proposal raises questions about how much the extra bus service would cost and how longer subway lines like the A train, which stretches more than 30 miles from northernmost Manhattan to near Kennedy Airport in Queens, would be handled.

The plan released Thursday is the fourth released by the RPA in its 95-year history. The first was issued in 1929 and the last in 1996.

The association doesn’t have a direct input into policy decisions, but its recommendations often are forward-thinking. For example, the 1996 plan included recommendations for major projects that are either now being built, like new tunnels to let Long Island Rail Road trains use Grand Central Terminal, or are now talked about at the highest levels, like a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. They are ideas that “no politician supported” at the time but that since have entered the mainstream, Wright said.

The plan also recommends congestion pricing for cars entering the city and adding tolls on area highways to pay for infrastructure projects. It echoes a recommendation made last summer to build a new bus terminal in the basement of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on New York’s west side, instead of building a new terminal near the current one at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue as is currently under consideration.

The Meadowlands in northern New Jersey, home to MetLife Stadium and the future American Dream retail and entertainment complex, was inundated with water during 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, which sent the Hackensack River flooding into towns north of the stadium.

An extensive park system would help maintain the area’s wildlife and ecosystem as well as protect the area from sea level rise, according to the plan. Just one additional foot of sea rise could permanently flood Teterboro Airport by mid-century, Wright said.



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Read Comments (5)  —  Post Yours »


 Nov 30, 2017 at 10:09 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

Yep. If you want to fix the system it will take time and money. I suppose the time from midnight to four would be about the best time to spend on vital repairs. New Yorkers will have to pay the price for skimping on the subway for so many decades.


 Nov 30, 2017 at 10:46 PM Liepa Says:

It certainly doesn't make any sense or business logic for 98.5% of riders to suffer through the day, with so many train breakdowns and signal malfunctions, just so the other 1.5% of passengers, who use the MTA overnight could have service even though it's not cost effective.


 Dec 01, 2017 at 04:17 AM Anonymous Says:

Why not close the subways entirely for two weeks, during the Summer, to make badly needed repairs? New Yorkers went without train service for almost two weeks, in January,1966, during a transit strike. If they survived then, in the dead of winter, then they could survive now. Incidentally, having 14 hour subway service is a waste of money, and is tantamount to having Saturday delivery service of the U.S. mail. As far as I know, no other city in North American, which offers subway service, as well as other cities throughout the world, do not offer 24 hour subway service. New Yorkers have been spoiled rotten for almost 100 years, with round the clock subway service. By the way, I was one of those New Yorkers who survived for almost two weeks without subway service, in 1966.


 Dec 01, 2017 at 09:30 AM Anonymous Says:

If the subway closes overnight, people can get stranded if they miss the last train.


 Dec 01, 2017 at 01:40 PM The_Truth Says:

Whats the uproar about? This article seems to just skim the surface and misses out on 381.5 pages of the report!
Why cant subway lines provide alternate bus service during the night for the particular lines that are shut down? Thats what they already do, at weekends, and often during the weekday, while they do emergency repairs. Only the buses at night would be quicker at night due to less traffic, and with less passengers so fewer buses needed.


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