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Via Garibaldi 8

Audit shows the MTA has let its signal system rot

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Audit shows the MTA has let its signal system rot

By Natalie Musumeci

October 17, 2018 | 4:44pm | Updated

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Brigitte Stelzer

 

The MTA has failed to inspect, maintain and test its rotting subway signal system — a main cause of train delays — in a timely fashion, perpetuating issues on the beleaguered system, according to a new audit.

The audit, released Wednesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, found between Jan. 1, 2015, and Oct. 31, 2017, signal devices sampled at four sections of the subway tracks were not properly maintained.

Out of the 51,603 annual inspections with complete information performed from Jan. 1, 2016, to May 16, 2016, the auditors found that 39,194, or 76 percent, of them were done late.

In addition, 2,345 of the devices were not inspected by a supervisor during that time period, according to the report.

At the inspected locations, the auditors found that workers did not always perform maintenance, inspection and testing of its signal equipment within the required time intervals.

For example, at the locations of Howard Beach in Queens and Pelham Bay in the Bronx, 35 percent of signal maintenance required from Jan. 1, 2015, to May 16, 2017, were not done within the correct time period.

“When asked why MIT [maintenance, inspection and testing] was not always performed…the Maintenance Supervisors for Pelham and Howard Beach told us that they lack resources, and that stringent flagging rules dictate what work can be performed daily,” the audit reads.

Recommendations made by the comptroller’s office to the MTA, include a review and allocation of “resources to ensure that all signal devices are maintained and tested in accordance with applicable procedures and standards.”

DiNapoli said in a statement: “Faced with staff shortages, MTA put off inspections of one of the most critical components of the subway system. Transit acknowledges that malfunctioning switches and signals are one of the main causes of train delays and badly in need of repair, but it gave short shrift to preventative checks that could save riders aggravation and inconvenience.”

“The MTA needs to do better. Riders are voting with their feet and leaving the subways for other transportation,” the comptroller said.

MTA spokesman Shams Tarek responded to the audit in a statement, saying: “This audit reports on prior processes that have long since changed and predates major improvements in signal maintenance, and also ignores a significant path forward for millions of transit riders: The Subway Action Plan.”

The $836 million plan, which was announced in July 2017 and not fully funded until this summer, “has dramatically increased signal maintenance and repair, stabilizing and beginning to turn the tide in reliability, and [New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford’s] Fast Forward Plan, if funded, will bring about the complete overhaul of the entire signal system,” Tarek said.

Under the Subway Action Plan, 123 positions have been added to the Signal Division, including 91 for maintenance and repair and the rest for emergency response teams. In addition, more than 11,000 signaling locations have been inspected over 660 track miles, according to the MTA.

Source: https://nypost.com/2018/10/17/audit-shows-the-mta-is-letting-its-signal-system-rot/

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How can the spokesman say that the audit is "outdated" when it ran until October 31, 2017?  Give me a break.  If they're shutting down service so frequently, they need to be getting in there and getting the work done. Enough with the excuses. The trains crawl on weekends and late nights and you have to give yourself at least an extra 30 minutes. If people have to sacrifice on their commutes, it would be great to know that something is getting done with these constant shutdowns.

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5 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

How can the spokesman say that the audit is "outdated" when it ran until October 31, 2017?  Give me a break.  If they're shutting down service so frequently, they need to be getting in there and getting the work done. Enough with the excuses. The trains crawl on weekends and late nights and you have to give yourself at least an extra 30 minutes. If people have to sacrifice on their commutes, it would be great to know that something is getting done with these constant shutdowns.

Preach. People in the agency need to start talking to each other about these things. You can't give signals a weekend of work on QB and track the next one -- they should use the same f*cking slot. They also need to make sure that people are actually out doing the things they say they're doing. The number of times work gets cancelled/delayed because some contractor doesn't have their shit together, or because some flagger doesn't show is an affront to the city. This inattention towards productivity can't go on. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we need to plan work around outages, not outages around work. Give all departments, say, one weekend a month of full shutdowns on some line, and force them to do everything (or at least as much as is physically possible) in that time frame. Et voila -- predictability, enforced collaboration, and no flagging to boot. 

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I'm with you on this. It's like each department works in a vacuum without any interaction between each other. I'm not sure riders will stomach weekends with absolutely no service and little to no alternatives like there are whenever 6th Avenue is fully shut down, but I'm sure something can be ironed out because it's quite obvious the piecemeal approach is not working any more.

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2 hours ago, Lance said:

I'm with you on this. It's like each department works in a vacuum without any interaction between each other. I'm not sure riders will stomach weekends with absolutely no service and little to no alternatives like there are whenever 6th Avenue is fully shut down, but I'm sure something can be ironed out because it's quite obvious the piecemeal approach is not working any more.

So there's this thing Sacramento County does that - when I was a resident there - irked the holiness out of me.

They'd repave the street (or milling, as NYC calls it), widen it, and then three months later tear it up again to lay a cable or something, and now we're enduring potholes destroying rims and rocks cracking windshields.

I feel like (MTA) perfected this practice.

I remember how years ago there's be this YUGE announcement about FastTrack and the related shutdown, and then there'd be reroutes later to fix something they didn't do during FastTrack.

And now there hasn't been a FastTrack in what - 2 years?

Seems to me that (MTA) probably tenders contracts piecemeal and then just shuts down a line for work just to save on operator salaries instead of shutting down the entire line and FastTrack'ing every possible repair.

Or maybe they do that to justify their admin salaries by always having "work" to plan for.

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9 hours ago, Deucey said:

So there's this thing Sacramento County does that - when I was a resident there - irked the holiness out of me.

They'd repave the street (or milling, as NYC calls it), widen it, and then three months later tear it up again to lay a cable or something, and now we're enduring potholes destroying rims and rocks cracking windshields.

I feel like (MTA) perfected this practice.

I remember how years ago there's be this YUGE announcement about FastTrack and the related shutdown, and then there'd be reroutes later to fix something they didn't do during FastTrack.

And now there hasn't been a FastTrack in what - 2 years?

Seems to me that (MTA) probably tenders contracts piecemeal and then just shuts down a line for work just to save on operator salaries instead of shutting down the entire line and FastTrack'ing every possible repair.

Or maybe they do that to justify their admin salaries by always having "work" to plan for.

Same thing here. DOT came and milled and paved several streets, and now ConEd has torn up just about every one of them and we’re right back to square one. I am furious about it. Not only is it a waste of money, but it’s just horrible planning on many levels.

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I feel they do that crap everywhere. You'd think they were gang members guarding their turf with the lack of coordination between public works and the utilities. And the problem is, they don't have to endure the mess they leave behind; we do.

15 hours ago, Deucey said:

I remember how years ago there's be this YUGE announcement about FastTrack and the related shutdown, and then there'd be reroutes later to fix something they didn't do during FastTrack.

And now there hasn't been a FastTrack in what - 2 years?

They still do FASTRACK. It's just been diluted so much that it's no different from the other types of diversion explanations these days. When FASTRACK started out in 2012, they would take out a line for a week or two and then not have to touch it again for months. Obviously, that is not the case these days. For example, late last month, 6th Avenue was taken out of service for FASTRACK repairs. During the early years of the program, that would mean 6th Avenue wouldn't need general maintenance repairs for another few months. However, as we are well aware, 6th Avenue has been out of service more often than not lately.

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18 hours ago, RR503 said:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we need to plan work around outages, not outages around work. Give all departments, say, one weekend a month of full shutdowns on some line, and force them to do everything (or at least as much as is physically possible) in that time frame. Et voila -- predictability, enforced collaboration, and no flagging to boot. 

Wasn't this what that 53rd Street outage last December was supposed to demonstrate? I think that was pretty successful except for that "(M) to Chambers but we'll call them (J)" screwup..

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If I recall correctly, Byford got a lot of pushback on that when he first arrived early this year, so full shutdowns like 53rd Street last December are not being considered at this time. Which is funny because how many weekends have there been when 6th Avenue was completely closed on weekends again?

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1 hour ago, Lance said:

If I recall correctly, Byford got a lot of pushback on that when he first arrived early this year, so full shutdowns like 53rd Street last December are not being considered at this time. Which is funny because how many weekends have there been when 6th Avenue was completely closed on weekends again?

Took the subway this morning to Brooklyn. Was LATE as usual. Crawled on the (2) train. Coming back the (3) was tolerable, but I switched to the (N) which was PACKED and terribly slow. Crawled to Canal, and crawled to 42nd. Missed my connection...

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On 10/19/2018 at 12:22 PM, Around the Horn said:

Wasn't this what that 53rd Street outage last December was supposed to demonstrate? I think that was pretty successful except for that "(M) to Chambers but we'll call them (J)" screwup..

53 was a good concept but was operated terribly. It was a 5-day GO, but (IIRC) instead of just operating it as such, they just ran two weekend plans — meaning they pulled the equipment out and put it back in after day 2. 

2 hours ago, Lance said:

If I recall correctly, Byford got a lot of pushback on that when he first arrived early this year, so full shutdowns like 53rd Street last December are not being considered at this time. Which is funny because how many weekends have there been when 6th Avenue was completely closed on weekends again?

I think the pushback was much more to weekday shutdowns than it was to weekend shutdowns. And it is in the latter that I think the solution can be found — run 6th ave closure equivalents for every line segment with some predictable frequency and with decent alternatives. Schedule work Christmas-tree style in those windows. 

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