Streams

Report: Signal Problems Cause Most Delays in NYC Subway

Wednesday, May 09, 2012 - 10:06 AM

Side view of an old school NYC subway signal. (Photo by mementosis / Flckr creative commons)

(New York, NY - WNYC) More than a third of all long subway delays are caused signal problems, according to an analysis  of 3,000 text alerts sent by the NY MTA last year by the Straphangers Campaign.

The report tallied "significant incidents that often generated subway delays" of 8 minutes or more and found signal problems caused 36 percent of such delays, followed by mechanical problems at 31 percent. Rail and track problems caused a combined 19 percent of long delays.

Straphangers spokesman Gene Russianoff said he's not surprised, given what he saw of the signals at one location. "The MTA took us on a tour of the West 4th Street Station, where 7 lines and hundreds of thousands of riders go through every day and we went to the dispatcher's office where the signals are kept and they were built in 1932 and looked like the controls on the deck of His Royal Majesty's ship, the Titanic," he said.

The report only looked at delays in the control of the MTA and not incidents such as police actions and sick passengers. The lines with the most delays were the 2 and 5 trains, which each had 8 percent of total delays. The line with the fewest delays was the G, which connects Brooklyn and Queens and is the only line that does not go into Manhattan.

Manhattan had the most delays at 43 percent. The Bronx had the fewest with 11 percent.

The MTA said it is upgrading signals, tracks and subway cars as part of its capital construction program. The authority launched its free text alert system in November 2008; it has more than 76,000 subscribers.

The Straphangers Campaign is a public interest research group that advocates for improvements in mass transit.

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