Alex Goldmark is the senior producer of New Tech City, a storytelling show about how technology is changing society. Subscribe here to get New Tech City shows delivered right to your devices. Follow him on Twitter @alexgoldmark.
NY MTA Tries to Make G Train Less Annoying
Monday, July 15, 2013 - 06:10 PM
Riding the G train could make a little more sense by the end of the year and wait times could drop if proposals released Monday by the NY MTA are implemented.
The Comprehensive Review of the G Subway Line makes clear, the G is special.
For one, it is the only line that doesn't pass through Manhattan making it "a feeder/distributor" as the MTA puts it, meaning that most riders transfer at least once before reaching their destinations. In fact, G Train riders make twice the number of transfers as the average subway rider. That's partly why the waits for a G seem so much longer than the waits on other lines. Also, they are actually longer: about 10 minutes on average at peak times. Ridership is also low compared to the rest of the system, making calls for more frequent service harder to support in a cost-benefit analysis.
But the most special of all G train quirks is "the G Train sprint." Some G trains are shorter than the platform, which leaves passengers unclear where the train will stop. So when the four car train pulls in a third of the way down the platform, two car lengths from where passengers are waiting, they run, fueled by the fear of waiting another eon to catch the next train.
That's tiring, annoying, and it slows the train down too. It also costs just about nothing to fix.
So the MTA says it will make a few changes to eliminate the G Train sprint by the end of the year.
To reduce wait times, well that costs money, but the agency has some ideas if it can rustle up $700,000 to pay for it.
Longer trains are not in the cards however. The report notes: "Given that increasing the length of G trains to 600 feet at current ridership levels would be a misallocation of NYC Transit resources and could lead to reduced service frequency and crowded transfers, other means were examined to address concerns associated with short trains."
The proposed changes are:
- By mid-2014, increase the frequency of service during the afternoon peak period from 6 to 7½ trains per hour between approximately 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. By reducing average headways from 10 minutes to 8 minutes, G service would mesh more effectively with the F timetable, evening out wait times and passenger loads.
- Revise the timetable to make wait times more even and consistent between Hoyt-Schermerhorn and Court Square.
- By the end of 2013, adjust the train stopping positions to make weekday and weekend stopping positions uniform.
- By the end of 2013, install signs on G platforms to better communicate train stopping positions to customers.
Elected officials including State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malavé Dilan have been calling for better G service for months now. With this MTA proposal, the agency is saying life along the G can get better, but service can only expand if there's money to pay for it. The MTA is a state agency.
G train ridership, as measured by Metrocard swipes, grew 19 percent between 2005 and 2012.
The timetable and frequency proposals in the report are separate from Sandy repair work that will shut portions of the G line for 12 weekends in 2013 and for five weeks in the summer of 2014.
Read the full report here.