The four Bay Ridge subway stations on the R line have been shuttered for almost 20 percent of the weekends in 2017. Is it for a broader renovation project? Is it for regular maintenance operations? How many more shutdowns remain, and when? Nobody knows! Because the MTA won’t say.
These four stations serve an average of about 32,000 people every weekend, according to 2016 ridership data—or, a little less than half of the neighborhood’s roughly 70,000 residents. Furthermore, these statistics show only rider entry, not exit, so they don’t include residents coming home late Friday night or early Saturday morning, who would have been forced to ride a shuttle bus (or walk, or grab a cab at 36th Street) to complete their trips.
The shutdowns started on the last weekend of April. Weekend service has been cancelled for nine weekends this year.
|September 30-October 1|
Actual service is even worse than that, because these dates only reflect total shutdowns of the four Bay Ridge subway stations for weekend work. These dates don’t include:
- The six-month closure of the Bay Ridge Avenue station
- Closures on other parts of the line, as when the R skips local stations between 59th Street and Atlantic Avenue—another common occurrence in 2017 that makes local weekend travel difficult
- The “Fastrack” maintenance program that shuttered these same stations for eight weeknights over two weeks in November
- All those times it seemed like service was canceled but was just badly delayed
An analysis of weekend service advisories showed that there weren’t any complete shutdowns in 2016.
A loss of 20 percent of weekend service needs a little explanation, so we reached out to the MTA with questions. A spokesperson checked in with us to see what our deadline was, but did not respond by that deadline.
Here are the questions we sent to the MTA:
1. What is the exact nature of the work being done (i.e. track and tie replacement, signal inspection, signal replacement, etc.)? Is this the same work that was done during this year’s earlier shutdowns?
2. Is this part of a broader project with a start and end date?
If yes, how many more closures are planned, through what date?
If yes, how long until this project has to be repeated once finished?
3. If this is instead part of regular maintenance operations, how many weeks apart does New York City Transit believe is the ideal amount of time between closures to adequately perform the needed work?
4. I also reached out to Councilmember-elect Justin Brannan, who expressed frustration that his attempts to get information on the nature of the project and an advance shutdown schedule hasn’t been fruitful. What is the MTA/NYCT policy on communicating advance shutdown schedules to the public?
5. It is public perception that the number of shutdowns this year has far exceeded the number of shutdowns last year. Is this accurate? Does NYCT keep track of such information? [Author’s note: I was able to determine this on my own by looking over 100 separate weekend service advisories archived on the MTA web site.]