Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The New York Subway Delays

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There is a brilliant article in the New York Times drawn to my attention by a tweet from Jeffery Tumlin. “With amazing graphics, the Times explains how rapid transit works – and why well intentioned but uncoordinated decisions can make it fail.”

There is only one concern that I wanted to raise – and the NYT no longer wants comments. It is about these paragraphs

As the M.T.A. adopted more safety rules, the share of overall delays attributed to planned track work increased from 20 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2014, despite a similar amount of work each year.

Protecting workers is an important part of the M.T.A.’s mission, but the tracks are still dangerous after these new rules. In the last five years, three more workers have died on the tracks, and near misses are not uncommon.

The London Underground, a system of similar size and age, has had no track worker fatalities since 1998.

Piccadilly Line Barons Court  20051201

It may be of similar size and age but there is a huge difference in its configuration and how it operates. In London the system shuts down overnight – or rather it used to – it now runs at night on some lines at weekends. Most of the system has two running tracks. There are a few places where there are four parallel tracks (Piccadilly/District in West London and the Metropolitan main line). Many of the lines are in deep level tubes – with only a single track in each tunnel.

New York’s subway is mostly in cut and cover shallow trenches with multiple tracks – at least in Manhattan. In the outer boroughs many lines are elevated. Many lines operate with both local (stops at all stations) and express services (limited stop) and they work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Maintenance can be undertaken by switching trains between express and local lines while work is underway. Maintenance in London can mostly be carried out overnight when there are no services running. (Which is also the practice in Vancouver.)

N Train at 36th Ave, Queens

Written by Stephen Rees

May 9, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Transportation

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