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Via Garibaldi 8

Queens subway meltdown spanning 5 hours to be investigated, Andy Byford says

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Commuters in Queens were faced with extensive subway delays Tuesday morning, Feb. 20, 2018. (Credit: @mieletpiment via Twitter)

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Queens subway meltdown spanning 5 hours to be investigated, Andy Byford says

By Vincent Barone and Nicole Brown   vin.barone@amny.com, nicole.brown@amny.com February 20, 2018

New York City Transit president Andy Byford promised a full investigation into the cause of a cascade of delays that constituted a full subway meltdown on Tuesday morning, wreaking havoc on commutes across at least five subway lines.

“Today is kind of typical of this, performance is nowhere near good enough. We are still struggling with far too many interruptions to service in particular,” Byford said at a Tuesday committee meeting, telling reporters afterward that “days like this morning drive me crazy.”

As workers returned from a long, holiday weekend, signal problems at the Fifth Avenue-59th Street and Queens Plaza stations crippled commutes beginning at 7:30 a.m., with widespread delays plaguing E, F, N, Q, R and W trains for the next five hours.

Photos on social media showed commuters packed onto every inch of subway platforms in Astoria and a long line of riders wrapped around a block, waiting for alternative bus service.

Byford, the newly minted head of the MTA’s Transit branch, which oversees subway, bus and paratransit service, defended the measures the MTA is taking to improve service. But he also pledged to look at making a complete overhaul to how Transit operates and criticized the long-held belief among Gov. Andrew Cuomo and MTA brass that “overcrowding” was a main cause of train delays.

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Devika Krishna Kumar@Devikakrishnak

After 30 mins of being stuck, @MTA now wants us to walk 4 blocks to all take the 7 train - now the only option to get into Manhattan. We can’t even get down the stairs. Nightmare.

8:46 AM - Feb 20, 2018

While there were a “number of factors” at play in Tuesday morning’s meltdown, Byford pointed to what he believed to be a main issue: four successive signals went out near the Fifth Avenue-59th Street station in Manhattan. Without the signals’ guidance, the MTA was forced to implement safety rules that required it to move trains much more slowly through the area.

Tuesday’s issues, combined with middling performance metrics in recent months, led MTA board member Carl Weisbrod to question whether the agency must adjust its Subway Action Plan, the $836 million strategy that chairman Joe Lhota unveiled last summer to improve service.

The plan, while already being applied, remains in funding limbo as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo argue over pumping more money into the MTA for the program.

“Essentially, the needle hasn’t moved at all,” Weisbrod said to Byford at Tuesday’s meeting, regarding subway service. “Does the Subway Action Plan itself need tweaking given the fact that we’re now roughly seven months into it and, in terms of the output, there doesn’t seem to be yet any change?”

Byford defended the plan, crafted before his arrival, as one that addresses the “right things.” It relies on the hiring of thousands of new workers to tackle core subway components: track and signal maintenance, car reliability, subway safety and cleanliness, and customer communication.

DWe6DyXUMAA8V8J.jpg

 

Devika Krishna Kumar@Devikakrishnak

After 30 mins of being stuck, @MTA now wants us to walk 4 blocks to all take the 7 train - now the only option to get into Manhattan. We can’t even get down the stairs. Nightmare.

8:46 AM - Feb 20, 2018

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nataly@nataliy150

What is the excuse now MTA? this is the mess in astoria

9:27 AM - Feb 20, 2018

“To a certain extent, there was always going to be a lag between undertaking this work, a lot of which is unseen, and seeing the improvement in performance,” said Byford. “Without question, absolutely [the work] will come good. As I’ve previously said, had this plan not been here when I got here, I would have instituted such a plan. Because the critical thing about improving service on any transit system is understanding the underlying route cause over what is causing delay.”

To that end, Byford did buck from MTA tradition. He called “overcrowding,” a delay category that officials have for years pointed to as the leading cause of poor subway service, “not particularly meaningful” because it obscures the root of what went wrong. Essentially, overcrowding is a symptom, not a cause, of the subways’ decline.

“It’s important if we’re to truly improve service that we offer, you have to get to the underlying root cause,” Byford said. “So therefore I don’t want to see overcrowding. I want to see what caused that overcrowding. What is the absolute root cause? So we’re dissecting all of that. We’re re-looking at how we categorize delays.”

Source: https://www.amny.com/transit/mta-subway-delays-queens-1.16881452

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Stupid question: why don't trains have brake lights so the operators behind them know the train is stopping?

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Will this investigation amount to something besides "shit's broke yo"? We've had a few of these massive meltdowns for one reason or another lately and time and again, the results of the "investigation" behind the event haven't exactly led to any real change.

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Infuriating.... And I don't think the MTA really understands how helpless a feeling that is, to be standing within a massive crowd that all knows that they are going nowhere, nowhere fast.... What's never told is that heated squabbles b/w passengers often ensue in these situations, due to the frustration (some people have very quick tempers)... This is why I tend not to say a damn thing to anyone whenever a train goes OOS or whatever... Whenever I'm asked a question, I don't even say the words "I don't know", I shrug my shoulders instead.... The guy pacing back & forth on the platform cursing like a madman possessed, that's the guy you better make space for (if you don't want no type of shit to go down)....

Anyway.... Yeah, I'm going to revert back to my conspiracy theory regarding sabotagery..... Mighty funny how it went from "Cellll-a-brate good times - Come ON !!! We have record breaking subway ridership".....

...to the amt. of these so-called meltdowns that have taken place, in such a short amt. of time.

There is something to be said about that.

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If I saw a line that long for the M60  I would have either, get an Uber across the bridge, walk across the RFK bridge, walk down to Queens Plaza/21st Queensbridge, or take the M60 to LGA to the Q70.

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1 minute ago, N6 Limited said:

If I saw a line that long for the M60  I would have either, get an Uber across the bridge, walk across the RFK bridge, walk down to Queens Plaza/21st Queensbridge, or take the M60 to LGA to the Q70.

Depending how far up the Astoria line I am, I'd probably walk over to 21st & catch the Q69/Q100 for the (7) or something, or like you said, walk over to Queens plaza.....

Of course I'm not excusing any of this madness that went on yesterday, but I find that a lot of NY-ers still don't know how to get around/know the system.....

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5 minutes ago, N6 Limited said:

If I saw a line that long for the M60  I would have either, get an Uber across the bridge, walk across the RFK bridge, walk down to Queens Plaza/21st Queensbridge, or take the M60 to LGA to the Q70.

I imagine most folks didn't because other folks were in Uber/Lyft, or weren't interested in that surge. (One time I got caught up in that and the surge made the fare from Port Authority to 148th St $90.)

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3 minutes ago, B35 via Church said:

Depending how far up the Astoria line I am, I'd probably walk over to 21st & catch the Q69/Q100 for the (7) or something, or like you said, walk over to Queens plaza.....

Of course I'm not excusing any of this madness that went on yesterday, but I find that a lot of NY-ers still don't know how to get around/know the system.....

That's one of the problems, they don't know the system well enough to get around (sometimes simple) service disruptions. 

Somewhat of a side note, I remember there was an Issue on the LIRR Babylon Branch, and a lady was being interviewed on the news on Old Country Road stating that she was trying to go to Long Beach from Penn Station and she was "stranded" in Mineola while standing near the N15 bus stop. I was like :rolleyes: .

1 minute ago, Deucey said:

I imagine most folks didn't because other folks were in Uber/Lyft, or weren't interested in that surge. (One time I got caught up in that and the surge made the fare from Port Authority to 148th St $90.)

There were tons of people, would Uber Pool have made a difference?

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Just now, N6 Limited said:

There were tons of people, would Uber Pool have made a difference?

Not if they're surge pricing. 

Say the situation is like that time I worked in Ramsey, got off the Shortline, and needed to go from NJ 17 at Lake Street to 100 Williams Drive in a blizzard - roughly 1.5 miles total road distance. The Uber fare I was quoted for the surge was $100.

 

If the same thing happens to folks in Astoria trying to go from 31st/Astoria Bl/GCP to 59th and Lex or to 125th/Lex, sure that'd be $25 each, but that's still "excessive" for many - especially since many folks here are paycheck-to-paycheck.

If it had to be done, it'd be done, but I think it doesn't happen for most commuters because their bosses are stuck in the same shutdown they are, so no harm no foul.

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1 hour ago, N6 Limited said:

If I saw a line that long for the M60  I would have either, get an Uber across the bridge, walk across the RFK bridge, walk down to Queens Plaza/21st Queensbridge, or take the M60 to LGA to the Q70.

There was a Über surge price in that area yesterday. To get either across the Triboro bridge to the Bronx or Manhattan which requires a toll and depending where you are going in the city. You are looking at least $60.00 just for less than 5 miles.

You wonder why there are so many Übers and Lyfts vs (MTA) buses that can provide shuttle bus service when situations like this arises or add additional buses during the rush hour.

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This was nowhere near as bad as when Dekalb Avenue lost power two times in row that week, that crippled the whole entire southern divison.

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53 minutes ago, Lawrence St said:

This was nowhere near as bad as when Dekalb Avenue lost power two times in row that week, that crippled the whole entire southern divison.

Try telling that to the people that were stuck in this mess. I hate that I give myself an extra hour now to get to work with the express bus, but it's still better than that nonsense.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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18 minutes ago, Future ENY OP said:

There was a Über surge price in that area yesterday. To get either across the Triboro bridge to the Bronx or Manhattan which requires a toll and depending where you are going in the city. You are looking at least $60.00 just for less than 5 miles.

You wonder why there are so many Übers and Lyfts vs (MTA) buses that can provide shuttle bus service when situations like this arises or add additional buses during the rush hour.

Two different animals entirely. It's quite easy to flag an Uber or Lyft car when practically everyone and their mother are drivers. Initiating emergency shuttle bus service on the other hand, requires a bit more effort. First, there's the lack of drivers. At any time when the agency needs additional buses to run, they have to call in drivers who weren't on duty at the time. I don't know about you, but when I'm off, I'm not hanging out at my job waiting for the possible call. Then there's the issue of equipment. There may be some spare buses laying around out of service, but the majority of them are in fact in service, more so on weekdays when this meltdown occurred. "Does the nearest depot have enough buses to cover this operation?" and "If not, where else can we can get some in a timely fashion?" are questions that have to be answered. That also leads to my next point of how long will this service change last. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback this when we have the knowledge that this whole thing lasted for five hours. At the time of the incident, I'm sure that information wasn't readily available, thus making the call for shuttle buses a bit harder. That's why it usually takes a couple of hours of a massive incident before they start calling for shuttle buses. Of course, I'm sure Transit maintenance workers were saying it would be fixed shortly, which doesn't help in the slightest. That's why we need better communication across the board. As soon as the maintenance guys survey the problem, it should be conveyed to RCC and whomever else what the problem is and how long it will take to fix so that the MTA can adequately provide necessary replacement service as soon as possible.

11 minutes ago, Lawrence St said:

This was nowhere near as bad as when Dekalb Avenue lost power two times in row that week, that crippled the whole entire southern divison.

That's like saying the shit I took this morning is better than the shit I took last night. It's well past ridiculous that these incidents keep causing massive disruptions across the board. We shouldn't have lines of people waiting for a train wrapping around city blocks like this is an iPhone release event. We also shouldn't have to deal with such recurring system failures on a regular basis. That's why I've shifted my stance on full-time closures. If it takes a week or two of no service to get the signals and tracks in better shape, this need to be looked into post haste.

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6 minutes ago, Lance said:

It's easy to Monday morning quarterback this when we have the knowledge that this whole thing lasted for five hours. At the time of the incident, I'm sure that information wasn't readily available, thus making the call for shuttle buses a bit harder. That's why it usually takes a couple of hours of a massive incident before they start calling for shuttle buses.

That's why I can look outside the office window and think on one hand how stupid it is that the Q32 goes from the middle of Queens to pass by 49th/Madison, but on the other hand makes me wonder why there aren't more bus routes that parallel subway routes in regular service.

Granted, you have the fact that in most cases,buses that duplicate rail service tend to be low-ridership lines if they exist at all. But running these lines so when there is a train disruption planners can pull rolling stock and run buses as limited stop/super expresses until the disruption ends seems like a smart contingency investment.

But in (MTA)'s defense, can't do planning like this if their money is always short.

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5 hours ago, Deucey said:

Stupid question: why don't trains have brake lights so the operators behind them know the train is stopping?

That seems pretty dangerous IMO. Trains aren't like cars (or to a lesser extent buses) where they can just stop on a dime after applying the brakes. In a scenario where the train upfront has to suddenly stop the train behind wouldn't have enough time to safely stop.

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@DeuceyI think it's the fact that most of these buses would carry air is the reason more subway-paralleling routes don't exist. In incidents such as this, yeah, it makes sense, but when things are running smoothly on the subway (yeah, I know, novel concept), that would seem really wasteful. Then again, the bus network is not my area of expertise, so what do I know?

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10 minutes ago, Deucey said:

That's why I can look outside the office window and think on one hand how stupid it is that the Q32 goes from the middle of Queens to pass by 49th/Madison, but on the other hand makes me wonder why there aren't more bus routes that parallel subway routes in regular service.

Granted, you have the fact that in most cases,buses that duplicate rail service tend to be low-ridership lines if they exist at all. But running these lines so when there is a train disruption planners can pull rolling stock and run buses as limited stop/super expresses until the disruption ends seems like a smart contingency investment.

But in (MTA)'s defense, can't do planning like this if their money is always short.

With the way these delays are piling up, I think many are thinking twice about opting for the subway as their regular commute.  Despite the slower express bus, I still see people getting on and others are opting for Uber or Lyft.  You give yourself extra time and you'll likely be fine at least until the Spring comes when traffic turns into a Pandora's box.  These meltdowns always happen during rush hour when people need the service the most.  The whole thing is very alarming.   People were scoffing at the idea of using Metro-North over the subway for travel in Manhattan. Well I bet they aren't now, especially with the hell that has been going on.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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Just now, Lance said:

@DeuceyI think it's the fact that most of these buses would carry air is the reason more subway-paralleling routes don't exist. In incidents such as this, yeah, it makes sense, but when things are running smoothly on the subway (yeah, I know, novel concept), that would seem really wasteful. Then again, the bus network is not my area of expertise, so what do I know?

Too true, but then I think of Bx1/2 and the M5 and they're packed for their trips paralleling a subway.

Same with B38/Ltd. Not so much with B25. B48 tends to be empty or full as it parallels Franklin (S). And then Eastern Pkwy has no buses on it.

I think it'd be a better idea to have one on QB going from 71st/Continental to 59th/Lex at least, but then that's a 2 hour bus ride, and that's saved only for Manhattan.

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1 minute ago, Deucey said:

Too true, but then I think of Bx1/2 and the M5 and they're packed for their trips paralleling a subway.

Same with B38/Ltd. Not so much with B25. B48 tends to be empty or full as it parallels Franklin (S). And then Eastern Pkwy has no buses on it.

I think it'd be a better idea to have one on QB going from 71st/Continental to 59th/Lex at least, but then that's a 2 hour bus ride, and that's saved only for Manhattan.

If they tweaked some lines I'm sure they would work.  The Bx1/Bx2 run on the Concourse and a lot of people don't want to deal with the stairs and the subway. It's easier to take the bus, not to mention those damn hills off of the Concourse and on the Concourse itself. They're brutal. I get the impression that despite living in a hilly area of the Bronx, you somehow managed to avoid them...

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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4 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

If they tweaked some lines I'm sure they would work.  The Bx1/Bx2 run on the Concourse and a lot of people don't want to deal with the stairs and the subway. It's easier to take the bus, not to mention those damn hills off of the Concourse and on the Concourse itself. They're brutal. I get the impression that despite living in a hilly area of the Bronx, you somehow managed to avoid them...

I was all over Bx1/2 when I would visit as a teenager (Grandmother's house was on Findlay Av/168th).

I made the mistake using Bx1/2 last summer when I missed the (D) by 30 seconds - rode to Fordham to go visit the cousin in Fordham Hill Oval. A 20 minutes 1.5 mile trip took 63 minutes.

If ever there was a need for low-floor exclusive fleets, bus lanes and service as or more frequent than LACMTA's Metro Rapid 720, it's Bx1/2. (MetroRapid 720 has a bus every 2 minutes.)

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1 minute ago, Deucey said:

I was all over Bx1/2 when I would visit as a teenager (Grandmother's house was on Findlay Av/168th).

I made the mistake using Bx1/2 last summer when I missed the (D) by 30 seconds - rode to Fordham to go visit the cousin in Fordham Hill Oval. A 20 minutes 1.5 mile trip took 63 minutes.

If ever there was a need for low-floor exclusive fleets, bus lanes and service as or more frequent than LACMTA's Metro Rapid 720, it's Bx1/2. (MetroRapid 720 has a bus every 2 minutes.)

Whoa... I'm guessing you took the Bx1 LTD and got the slowest driver ever?  Funny thing is I have never used the Bx1 or Bx2 aside from when I walk down the hills and get the Bx1 at Riverdale and 231st to the (1) subway or the (4) at Mosholu Parkway. I wouldn't dare use it along the Concourse given how long it is and how many people get on and off.  I always get the BxM4 along the Concourse.

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@Via Garibaldi 8 was probably Bx2 - I got on at 175 or 176th (was showing that apartment on Teller Av I told you about in PM). Three wheelchairs and two walkers on one of the high floor New Flyer bendy buses.

Only saving grace of that trip was I didn't have to eat my cousin's cooking. (I always say anyone who cooks rice so long it looks like popcorn will NEVER feed me.) But the fact it took that long to get to the Oval (including missing the Bx12 Local that stops at the Oval's main entrance so I didn't have to walk) - yeah, buses in Bx suck unless it's an express or the Westchester bus (the latter doesn't suck until you get to Cross-County mall).

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3 minutes ago, Deucey said:

@Via Garibaldi 8 was probably Bx2 - I got on at 175 or 176th (was showing that apartment on Teller Av I told you about in PM). Three wheelchairs and two walkers on one of the high floor New Flyer bendy buses.

Only saving grace of that trip was I didn't have to eat my cousin's cooking. (I always say anyone who cooks rice so long it looks like popcorn will NEVER feed me.) But the fact it took that long to get to the Oval (including missing the Bx12 Local that stops at the Oval's main entrance so I didn't have to walk) - yeah, buses in Bx suck unless it's an express or the Westchester bus (the latter doesn't suck until you get to Cross-County mall).

lol!  You took the Bx2... No wonder... The Bx1 is bad enough... I've done that trek from Mosholu Parkway on the so-called "limited" and wanted to pull my hair out. lol@about cousin's cooking.  I don't have to deal with the subway until next Sunday (I think) and boy will I be looking at all ways possible to limit my use of it.  

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2 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

lol!  You took the Bx2... No wonder... The Bx1 is bad enough... I've done that trek from Mosholu Parkway on the so-called "limited" and wanted to pull my hair out. lol@about cousin's cooking.  I don't have to deal with the subway until next Sunday (I think) and boy will I be looking at all ways possible to limit my use of it.  

Worst feeling in the world is that I now have to go to GCT daily and deal with the slowdowns on the Lex Line.

I miss Brooklyn already. Get off at Dekalb or Nevins, ride the B38, and I'm showing apartments 20 minutes later.

Damn day job making me go to Midtown.

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1 hour ago, Lance said:

Two different animals entirely. It's quite easy to flag an Uber or Lyft car when practically everyone and their mother are drivers. Initiating emergency shuttle bus service on the other hand, requires a bit more effort. First, there's the lack of drivers. At any time when the agency needs additional buses to run, they have to call in drivers who weren't on duty at the time. I don't know about you, but when I'm off, I'm not hanging out at my job waiting for the possible call. Then there's the issue of equipment. There may be some spare buses laying around out of service, but the majority of them are in fact in service, more so on weekdays when this meltdown occurred. "Does the nearest depot have enough buses to cover this operation?" and "If not, where else can we can get some in a timely fashion?" are questions that have to be answered. That also leads to my next point of how long will this service change last. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback this when we have the knowledge that this whole thing lasted for five hours. At the time of the incident, I'm sure that information wasn't readily available, thus making the call for shuttle buses a bit harder. That's why it usually takes a couple of hours of a massive incident before they start calling for shuttle buses. Of course, I'm sure Transit maintenance workers were saying it would be fixed shortly, which doesn't help in the slightest. That's why we need better communication across the board. As soon as the maintenance guys survey the problem, it should be conveyed to RCC and whomever else what the problem is and how long it will take to fix so that the MTA can adequately provide necessary replacement service as soon as possible.

 

The First bold part: I AGREE 110% WITH YOU ON THIS ONE! I'm just like you on this one. Not hanging around for a phone call especially on a day off.

For the next bold part: I totally understand that we have a major bus shortage so saying that on my part wasn't wise thinking on my part and not to compare and contrast the distances between the 2 depots that service the area for adequate buses for a shuttle.  Yes, the communication has got to get better with Maintenance and the RCC.  However, whatever happen yesterday on the (N)(Q)(W) should of been handled a bit differently.  My hope and prayer is that Mr. Byford handles things differently than his predecessors when it comes to delays and so-forth. 

 

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