Saturday, December 08, 2007

How would you run a subway?

An interesting article from The NY Times I found over at The 13th Floor...
New York City Transit is not going that far. But it does have a new plan to decentralize the way it runs the subways. The agency announced plans yesterday to subdivide the octopuslike system and make the manager of each line responsible for everything on that line, from bunched-together trains to unintelligible public-address announcements.

Howard H. Roberts Jr., the president of New York City Transit, said this week that giving each line autonomy would lead to faster responses to riders’ complaints and, ultimately, better service.

He said the No. 7 and L lines would try out the new way of doing things, in part because they already have a certain degree of autonomy: They do not share their tracks with any other lines. He said that makes it easier to keep tabs on whether conditions actually improve.

So the idea yesterday was to ask passengers on the No. 7 and L lines what they would do if they were put in charge.

On the No. 7, several passengers said they would order bigger cars. Never mind that subway-line managers’ check-writing authority may not be as big as the passengers’ imagination might want.

Jay Diaz, a piano technician who works in Long Island City, echoed Ms. Muccio: He wants a more dependable schedule on the No. 7. But he is going in the opposite direction — toward Queens in the morning, when Ms. Muccio is heading to Manhattan. Mr. Diaz lives in Washington Heights, so he takes the A train to Times Square and changes to one to Queens.

“I don’t trust the 7 to get me to work the way I trust the E,” he said. “So the first thing I would do is make the 7 more consistent as far as departure times and arrival times.”

On the L, Jeffrey Griffith said he would redesign the cars. “In Japan,” he said, “all the seats on trains flip up. The conductor latches the seats up so at rush hour there is standing room only.”

He also said he would move the poles away from the doors because “people get packed in around the poles—it causes congestion.”

Other passengers on the L said they would put a priority on bringing reality to signs that are supposed to tell riders how long before a train is due. Passengers complained that the signs sometimes say a train will arrive in one minute. They said 15 minutes can tick by before the white eyes of a train appear in the darkness beyond the platform.

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