Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Higher Subway Ridership Translates to Longer Wait Times

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If you've noticed you're waiting longer for the subway, you're not alone. Ridership is growing, and that means longer on the platform—but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is devising ways to address the problem. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

It's a big city that's getting bigger, with more than a million people expected to move here over the next 20 years.

With subway ridership at its highest levels in more than half a century, what's the transit system to do?

"We will be in deep doo-dads if we are not in a position to give people the kind of service that they expect," says Charles Moerdler.

New Metropolitan Transportation Authority statistics show that on weekdays, riders are waiting longer for trains on every line except the N, Q and R.

"You can only fit so many sardines in a sardine can. We've reached that point. And we'll reach it beyond the breaking point in the not too distant future."

Annual ridership last year shot up to 1.7 billion for the first time since 1949, a number likely to keep rising.

Riders we spoke with say they can feel the squeeze.

"It's so crowded sometimes, I can't even enter the train. I have to wait for the next train," one rider says.

"Trying to get a seat is really difficult, especially with a small child. Because, just to get a stroller on to the subway train around the number of people who are there is already so challenging," says another rider.

Transit officials say meeting the growing demand is high on the MTA's list.

"We've got to figure better ways to move our customers. We've got to figure out better ways to distribute them along platforms," says MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco.

One thing the MTA says will improve matters for riders is expanding its more modernized signal technology beyond the L line. The next line scheduled to get it is the 7, and beyond that, the MTA hopes to take it system-wide.

The upgrade will allow more trains to be run per hour.

"But that's a long-term fix. I mean, that's not something that's going to be in next week," Bianco says.

Then there's Phase One of the Second Avenue Subway, set to open in December 2016.

"Building up the system moving forward into the future is something that we're well aware of and something that we're addressing as we speak," says MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

And while you wait.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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