Bring On The Express


Source: Bill Sweeney / Flickr

Source: Bill Sweeney / Flickr

Allan Rosen is on vacation this week. Filling in for him is John Rozankowski, Ph.D., a long-time community activist with a keen interest in mass transit issues, who has contributed to Sheepshead Bites in the past.

THE COMMUTE: Frequently, when the subject of express service is discussed, MTA officials love to point out that other cities don’t have it. When the F train was re-routed to 63rd Street and the V train took over its original run via 53rd Street (2001), MTA spokesperson Paul Fleuranges indicated this and added that “New Yorkers are spoiled (by express service).”

The implication is that if other cities don’t have express service, New York City doesn’t need it either; that express service is something extra rather than an integral part of the subway system. It reveals a very casual, if not dismissive attitude to express service, which is discernible in MTA policies over the years:

Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal (2008) would have dramatically increased ridership. In response, the MTA offered more trains on the #1 line and longer trains on the C line but no extra express service. And if congestion pricing had been approved, the MTA didn’t suggest using revenues for enhanced express service anywhere.

In the early 1990s, the MTA made a strong effort to entirely eliminate the #7 express, the A express from 59th Street to 168th Street and the D Bronx express. The most devastating express eliminations with the widest impact, however, were at night, which will be the focus of this article.

Yet, express service is the feature that makes the New York City subway system the greatest in the world and a blessing for its riders. When the agency considers express service, it focuses on time savings. Subway riders, however, don’t follow the trains with a stop-watch. Reducing the number of station stops is what makes a world of difference.

Some riders read their iPads while others actually sleep, but the overwhelming majority travel with that blank subway stare so familiar to New Yorkers. For them, numerous station stops distort their perception of time. A trip of 30 minutes seems like an hour and 30 minutes. Doing this every night, five days a week and some 50 weeks out of the year becomes absolutely exhausting. In contrast, an express makes time go faster, the ride less monotonous and far more tolerable.

Nightmare At Night

When New York City ran its own subways, nighttime express service was initiated with enormous fanfare on May 16, 1946. The #2 (replacing #1 on February 6, 1959), #4, A, D, N, and Q (formerly QB) were express in Manhattan at night. Both E and F trains were express on Queens Boulevard. Today, all have been downgraded to local except the D and Q in Manhattan and the F in Queens.

The following list shows what a nighttime rider traveling (from…to) must endure:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Clearly, express service would markedly reduce the number of station stops and result in real time savings as well. There are no capacity issues or merging problems with nighttime hours offering full operational flexibility.

Each line must be looked at individually. The MTA will indicate that the Queens Boulevard line has the F express at night. The E train, however, originates from a different area of Manhattan and runs to a different terminal than the F. The F express offers no advantage to most E riders. Both are needed.

Furthermore, it’s not new services that are being discussed. It’s a restoration of services, depending on the line, which riders have enjoyed from 30 to 50 plus years. The big losers in the current arrangement are the long suffering outer borough riders, who regularly get the shaft from the MTA because their trips to or through Manhattan are generally longer. Why wouldn’t they use a car if given the chance?

Likewise, jobs are growing in the outer boroughs, including nighttime jobs, and the exhausting crawl hinders residents from Brooklyn and the Bronx traveling to jobs in each other’s boroughs. Originally, the MTA tried to justify its cuts by blaming low ridership. Today, ridership is surging dramatically.

In the past, people would go to a station and blindly wait for their train. With publication and easy access to subway schedules, more and more people are targeting their arrival at a station to the anticipated arrival of their desired train. Countdown clocks, available on the East Side IRT and West Side IRT, give them up-to-the-minute information so that they know when their train is about to come. As a result, subway schedulers have far more leeway in planning services. With a return of nighttime express service, riders would finally be given a choice. It’s a certainty that if someone wanted to catch a particular train, they would do everything in their power to do it.

Responding to criticism of its unwillingness to provide more express service, the MTA masks its aversion to express service by exhibiting a sudden care for riders waiting at local only stations. Looking at the Lexington Avenue line, for example, the current set-up means 10 minute waits for nighttime trains at every station. If the #4 express was restored, local only stations would get a train every 20 minutes.

First of all, this is nighttime and there is room for adding extra trains. In the above example, if three #4 trains went express, three #6 trains/hour could be added to fill the gap or two #6/ trains/hour, if the wait on local-only stations was extended by two minutes to 12 minutes. In either case, the resulting surge in ridership might more than offset the cost of the extra trains.

So why doesn’t the MTA restore express service at night? It’s simply that the agency, thinking that it “spoils” riders, doesn’t want to.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA / NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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  • fdtutf

    “First of all, this is nighttime and there is room for adding extra trains.”

    And that’s free, right?

    • fdtutf

      Sorry for the self-response, but:

      “In either case, the resulting surge in ridership might more than offset the cost of the extra trains.”

      Unless the farebox recovery ratio magically rises above 1, that’s not likely to happen. Even at the margins, I don’t think it’s anywhere near that high.

      • John Rozankowski

        I believe that the MTA doesn’t give sufficient weight to what a real service improvement can do.
        Consider. In the mid-1980, the MTA floated the idea of tearing down the #4 elevated in the Bronx, north of 161st St. because of poor ridership. Then, they introduced the R62 cars which were kept graffiti-free and ridership soared to the point that the #4 “el” was saved.
        I am convinced & I’m not the only one that an improvement like adding express service at night would cause a surge in ridership. How much? Why doesn’t the MTA do a pilot on the Lexington line to find out?

        • fdtutf

          I doubt that anything would cause a “surge” in overnight ridership. Why? Simple: Most people are sleeping. And many of the people currently using overnight service are doing it because they have to; there’s certainly value in improving their experience, but to put it crassly, they’re captive riders and the MTA doesn’t have to spend a dime to keep them.

          That leaves only overnight riders by choice. I believe there are very few of those today and very few potential ones who currently don’t ride, so the upside potential seems very small to me, and certainly unable to outweigh the additional cost of added service.

          Disclaimer: These are obviously guesses; actual numbers would need to be looked at before a sound decision could be made about this.

          • BrooklynBus

            You forget one thing. People look for employment depending on how easy or difficult it is to get there. Not everyone works during the day. Hospitals for example have overnight shifts. Express service through Manhattan might make some Brookynites consider employment in the Bronx and vice-versa. I think the latent demand is greater than you think.

          • Andrew

            There are only so many jobs that are available, and in this economy, there aren’t large quantities of jobs sitting unfilled because some late night trains are running local rather than express. The number of people who would be attracted to more frequent service in the middle of the night is negligible; it wouldn’t come anywhere close to covering the cost.

            Meanwhile, running the 2 and 4 express in Manhattan would make late night employment near Manhattan local stations less attractive to Bronx and Brooklyn residents (and vice versa), whose commutes would now require an additional transfer at late night headways. Many if not most of Manhattan’s major hospitals are located closest to local stations – Mount Sinai at 96/Lex and 103/Lex, Weill Cornell at 68/Lex, NYU at 33/Park, Bellevue at 28/Park, VA Medical Center at 23/Park, St. Luke’s at 59/Broadway all come to mind. Currently, employees at these hospitals have direct service on the 4 or 2 lines to Brooklyn and the Bronx; with this proposal, they’d all have to make an additional transfer, at late night headways.

  • winson

    All trains run every 20 minutes at night, so express service would be close to pointless due to the long waits negating any time an express train saves. The 2 ran express at night along 7th Avenue until it was shifted to local in 1999 due to complaints from local residents about long waits, though now the 3 does that north of 42nd Street. The Q runs express in Manhattan at all times so it can stay on the express tracks from 57th Street-7th Avenue to Canal Street the whole way instead of switching back and fourth. Same for the D along 6th Avenue (which only has two local stops anyway). It runs express along Central Park West at night to avoid delaying the A at the 59th Street junction. The F runs express along Queens Boulevard at all times to avoid delaying the E at the 36th Street junction (and until 2010, the G ran local with the E on this line during late nights, so there was no need for three locals on one line).

    • John Rozankowski

      As I indicated in the column, the difference today is that subway schedules are published and easily accessible. People no longer have to wait for their train on the platform and in increasing numbers they don’t.
      One of my points is that if someone really wants an express, they will make a strong effort to get that train. Instead of the operator i.e. MTA making the choice, give that option to the riders.

      • fdtutf

        True, but you assume that the time saved by not having to wait on the platform will be useful to riders. That’s not necessarily the case. Particularly with 20-minute headways, you’ve got that little bit of time that’s long enough to be annoying, but probably too short to be genuinely useful in any sense. (And I mean “useful” in the broad sense; I could also have said “enjoyable.”)

        • John Rozankowski

          I would leave that to the ingenuity of the riders. It could mean slightly adjusting a work schedule, walking more quickly or slowly or getting a cup of coffee. Whatever. The point is that the rider would make the choice and not be a “captive rider,” as you mention above.
          Your term “captive rider” (in your above comment) is right on the mark. But they are captives only to a point. When the MTA needs more money, when groups such as the Riders’ Alliance want go out for public support, there is very little to be found.
          In contrast, a policy with a “more human touch” would attract more riders, raise enthusiasm and yes, secure more funding.
          I would argue that a pilot should be done on one of these lines, the Lexington perhaps, to see exactly what the consequences would be.

          • fdtutf

            I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think any of those things would be attractive enough to enough people, *at that time of night*, to bring about a “surge in ridership.” I just don’t think the potential is there.
            To be clear, I think a valid argument can be made for providing express service in order to improve the experience of current overnight customers, but I don’t think any improvements in overnight service are going to result in hordes of new riders.

          • Andrew

            Ingenuity of the riders? In other words, you don’t have an answer to the question of how longer waits translate to shorter trips – because, quite simply, they don’t, and they can’t. Most late night workers don’t have flexible schedules, and most late night workers simply want to go home when they finish work, not kill time drinking coffee.

            And what happens when, in addition to the long wait for their initial train, they then also miss their connection – the one they currently don’t need to make, because the 2 and 4 run local – by 2 minutes, and have to wait on the platform another 18? More ingenuity?

  • Subway Stinker

    Time should not be the only factor in this discussion. As matters stand, the Q train is overcrowded heading back to Brooklyn well after the Rush Hour is officially over. Various sporting events, concerts and night shifts keep the Q in a SRO mode. 24-hour B service would make the ride faster, more comfortable and move more people in less time. Some of you reading this ‘over analyse’ the problem and get swallowed up in silly-ness like saying that express makes things “seem” to go faster’. Not very persuavsive, even for me who agrees with most of your column.

    • John Rozankowski

      I’m delighted that you agree with most of my arguments. As for your point on “express makes things seem to go faster,” perhaps it’s a matter of semantics.
      I have been a subway rider over half a century and I constantly hear fellow riders complain: “I can’t take all of these stations.” It is very tiring if done on a regular basis and the express does significantly reduce the number of station stops as you can see in the chart. Is it a case of an express making things go faster? Perhaps you can come up with a better expression.

    • Andrew

      The Q train is not crowded through the entire night. The B already runs until 11 PM, not only during rush hours, and by 1 the Q has plenty of seats to go around. Much as I’d like it myself, running the B all night would be a waste of limited resources.

      • BrooklynBus

        The B train does not run to 11PM. Maybe the last few trains reach the terminal by 11 PM.

        • Andrew

          The last southbound train reaches Brighton Beach a few minutes after 11.

          • BrooklynBus

            So it is still misleading to claim it runs to 11 when in upper Manhattan you can no longer get one shortly after 10 PM.

          • Andrew

            I said that the B runs until 11. It actually runs until a few minutes past 11. What’s misleading about what I said?
            (The last northbound B reaches 145th a few minutes before 11, but I thought we were discussing Brighton service, not Central Park West service.)

          • BrooklynBus

            Because when I waited for it at 10:45 last year at Broadway-Lafayette, I already missed the last one going to Brooklyn. According to your statement, I still should have been able to catch it since you said it runs to 11.

          • Andrew

            I never said that it serves every stop on the line until 11. If all was running according to schedule, you missed the last train by about 10 minutes (10:33 at West 4th, 10:37 at Grand).

          • BrooklynBus

            You are splitting hairs again. Saying a service runs until 11 PM implies it is available at any stop until 11 PM. Now you are putting qualifiers on your statement. If you wanted to make a statement that was not misleading, you just should have said that it runs to at least 10 PM. Then there would be no confusion. But I forgot, you are always right all of the time. And you claim to never backtrack. This is a perfect example.

          • Andrew

            No, saying a service runs until 11 PM means that it runs until 11 PM, no more and no less. The topic of discussion, which apparently you have forgotten, is adequacy of overnight Brighton line service, not the best way of getting from Harlem to Brighton Beach in the late evening. The southbound Brighton express runs until 11.

    • Kriston Lewis

      Express service is mainly for additional capacity. The time savings (apart from a few exceptions which ironically, the Brighton Express is one) are actually really small if you compare schedule data. It’s more of a psychological boost than anything.

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  • Guest

    There isn’t necessarily room for more service during the midnight hours. If you’ve ever taken the train then, you may sometimes notice that you might come to a crawl, or hear a horn going off every now and again. That’s due to there being workers on the tracks.

    The extended periods between trains allows them to get work done, more so than they would if the trains ran any more frequently during that hour, and to keep service running as normal as possible.

    The point of having (almost) everything run local in Manhattan at night is to have a 10 minute headway at most stations in the CBD.

    • John Rozankowski

      Work is not done on every line every day. The purpose of the Fast Track program was to consolidate the work, which is why the public has accepted it.
      Please note that in my example on the Lexington line, I proposed two scenarios. One, that you could add three expresses which would not affect the local stops. Or, you can add three expresses and stretch the waiting time at local only stops by only two minutes and save some money.
      In the present scenario, riders from the outer boroughs have a horribly long commute.

      • Andrew

        The purpose of the FASTRACK program is to address a backlog in maintenance that largely developed under the Howard Roberts presidency. It is not applicable everywhere, and there will always be maintenance flagging delays at night, for unpredictable durations at unpredictable underground locations.

        If there are operating dollars available to add service, I can hardly think of a worse way to spend them than by increasing late night subway service frequencies.

        • BrooklynBus

          I really doubt that you can attribute the few years Howard Roberts was President to the massive amount of work that is needed now. The deferred maintenance started long before Roberts became President. You are blaming him, just because you didn’t like him.

          • Andrew

            I am referring to routine maintenance that generally takes place under traffic, not to major capital work.

            Roberts placed his line managers in charge of everything including maintenance, and he then instructed them to do whatever was necessary to maximize OTP. In the short term, maintenance causes delays, so the line managers were essentially being instructed to suppress maintenance work so that trains could run faster.

            This generated a backlog of maintenance work that has still not been cleared.

          • BrooklynBus

            I think you have a point about Roberts, but I still find it difficult to believe that the backlog created was so huge that after years of Fastrack which accelerated maintenance, the backlog still persists after more than four years.

          • Andrew

            To be fair, FASTRACK is also probably addressing issues that hadn’t been addressed in many years. But the basic approach wouldn’t have been necessary if not for Roberts.
            If you’ve been following the program, you’ll realize that it targets a different area each week, and many parts of the system are simply not compatible with the idea of FASTRACK. This week, for instance, is the first week that the local tracks between Atlantic and Franklin are shut down, and the approach of closing two tracks out of four only works when the local and express tracks are on different levels. (It’s also been used on the Lex between Grand Central and 125th.)

      • Kriston Lewis

        That was actually a draft of my comment, I don’t know why it posted, I meant to delete it.

  • Kriston Lewis

    There isn’t necessarily room for more service during the midnight hours. The extended headway between trains allows for maintenance and repair work to get done, while normal service is kept without resorting to diversions or closures.

    Late night local service also maximizes one seat rides and reduces some transfers, which could have a huge time penalty at that hour.

    The intent is good, but the idea is unworkable.

    • John Rozankowski

      I am very grateful that you acknowledge that the intent of my proposals is positive.
      As I responded above, work is not done on every line all the time.
      The nighttime express setup worked from 30 to 50 years, depending on the line. If it was workable all these years, it’s still workable today.
      I will fully address some of the issues raised by the commentators in a future article.

      • Andrew

        Nobody said that late night express service wasn’t workable. He said that increasing service significantly isn’t workable (and I’ll also add that there are much better ways to spend limited operating dollars). Late night express service would yield relatively small benefits to some riders and large disbenefits to others; it would be a net loss overall, on most if not all lines.

        • BrooklynBus

          Please answer why late night express service worked well for over 50 years with few complaints.

          • Andrew

            Who says it worked well, and who says there were few complaints?

            Did you realize that, leading up to the late 90′s, only the 4 ran on the Lex at night? The 6 ran as a Pelham shuttle, terminating at 125th. When the late night 6 was extended to Brooklyn Bridge, the 4 remained a local in order to better serve the market of riders between local stops and the outer boroughs, who would otherwise have had a transfer added to their long commutes.

            The late 90′s extension of the 6 hurt no one and benefited many. Had the 4 gone express, it would have also hurt many.

          • BrooklynBus

            The Lex ran express from the 1920s through the 70s and perhaps 80s and early 90s. I don’t remember what year the 6 was cut to a shuttle. That’s at least 60 years where no one saw a need to run all trains as local. If there were many complaints as you suggest, the night express would not have lasted that long. Were the nighttime headways ever more frequent than every 20 minutes when the expresses operated?

          • Andrew

            According to Wikipedia, the late night 6 was cut back to 125th in 1979 and extended back to Brooklyn Bridge in 1999.
            Planning by complaints is not a sound method of planning, nor, as I said, do you know how many people complained (or complain now). You’ve somehow concluded that no change was made because nobody complained, and then when a change was made, you’ve concluded that there still were no complaints!

            I’ve explained why running express service at night hurts many outer borough riders far more than it helps. Rather than addressing my content, you’ve brought up a complaint record that you can’t possibly know anything about.

          • BrooklynBus

            “Planning by complaints is not a sound method of planning”

            I guess that means we should ignore all complaints. What I was saying is if running nighttime expresses for about 60 years was such a bad idea, people woud have complained and something would have been done about it. I asked you ifthe headways were more frequent then to make it work better. Guess you don’t know. And I never stated that there were no complaints after a change was made. No one was happy about cutting the 6 back to 125 Street, but complaints were ignored for 20 years.

            You only suggested that nighttime express service could hurt more outer borough residents than it helps. You haven’t proved anything. Without specific numbers or a trial, you can’t prove anything, although you may be right. But on the other hand, you may not be right. Bottom line, you are still guessing. Planning by guessing is less sound tan planning by complants.

          • Andrew

            Serious enforcement against people taking risks with other people’s lives – as I said, “There also needs to be serious enforcement, so that motorists understand that taking risks with other people’s lives is not acceptable.” Going after jaywalkers, who already have very strong incentives to be safe (because whatever risks they take are with their own lives), will not solve anything. Despite your repeated (yet unsourced) claims to the contrary, most pedestrian fatalities and injuries occurred when the pedestrian, not the driver, had the legal right of way.

            Cooper Stock was killed while crossing the street with the light, by a taxi driver who broke the law. Alex Shear was killed while crossing the street with the light, by a bus driver who broke the law. An unidentified woman lost her leg while crossing the light at 68th and 2nd, by a cement mixer driver who broke the law. On Friday, three unidentified people were injured by a taxi driver who jumped the curb at 86th and 3rd. Just a few recent examples.

            I was at 96th and Broadway, for all of a minute, the day after the jaywalking crackdown that resulted in the unnecessary assault on an 84-year-old man. The police were out in force, ensuring that absolutely nobody crossed against the light. Meanwhile, a driver that had run the red light was bearing down on a crosswalk full of pedestrians crossing with the light, and the police didn’t bat an eyelash.

            The law is clear about when drivers are required to yield to pedestrians. Wardrobe choice is not a factor. I’ve already explained how I was taught to make turns in a way that virtually ensures that I don’t “overlook” a pedestrian.

            I’ve crossed the street enough times to know that, more often than not, drivers who fail to yield know quite well that pedestrians are crossing – they just don’t feel like waiting, so they shove the pedestrians out of the way. I see it every day. It’s plainly illegal, and it kills.

            http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/treat-reckless-driving-like-drunk-driving/

            Watch this video, taken on November 25, of a 72-year-old woman being killed by a careless driver. She was not wearing black, she waited for the light, she looked both ways – and the unlicensed driver who killed her was only charged with 30 days and a $500 fine.

            Stop blaming the victim.

          • Allan Rosen

            First of all you are in the wrong thread. Second, your insistance on just arguing which you love to do is just unbelieveable. The gist of the article was that safety is everyone’s responsibility. You seem to have a problem with that believing only motorists need to be careful and pedestrians can just do whatever they please. I can also recite a litany of recent deaths where the pedestrian was at fault not the motorist, but you just choose to ignore those cases. I also did not advocate going after jaywalkers, yet you seem to believe that is what I said. First learn to read, then perhaps you can argue intelligently. And don’t respond in this thread where your comments do not belong.

          • Andrew

            Gah! Either I responded in the wrong place, or Disqus got totally confused – not only is this the wrong thread, but it’s the wrong website entirely!

            This response belonged on this DNAinfo article, not on Sheepshead Bites at all.

            I haven’t responded to your Monday post yet.

          • Andrew

            Who said anything about ignoring complaints?

            I simply find your circular reasoning amusing. There couldn’t possibly have been many complaints when overnight service ran express, because otherwise service would have been changed. And then service changed, but why did service change if nobody was complaining?

            John Rozankowski, who presented the argument, is on the hook for the numbers. I simply explained why the numbers he finds are unlikely to support his argument. You (inadvertently) supported the status quo of local 2 and 4 service at night by bringing up the good example of hospitals, which have 24/7 coverage and a good deal of late night commuting, since so many hospitals are closest to IRT local stations.

          • BrooklynBus

            There is no question why the express was eliminated. It had nothing to do with complaints. The shuttles were instituted because of budgetary considerations and no one was happy about it. I guess the 6 was reinstituted 20 years later because the budget situation eased somewhat or the MTA got tired of 20 years of hearing complaints. Don’t think they consulted with anyone when they brought back the 6, keeping the 4 as a local. Funny you accuse me of circular reasoning, when that is what you are doing. First you state that you shouldn’t plan by complaints, and then insist that the nightime 6 was cut back at night and the 4 made a local because of complaints, ignoring all other reasons for service changes like budgetary considerations. Okay, I’m ready to hear you backtrack again, so you can continue to argue over nothing. You notice I didn’t respond to your statement about hospitals serving local stations, because I think you might have a point there, but without a trial we don’t know. I don’t argue just for the sake of arguing like you do.

          • fdtutf

            “Funny you accuse me of circular reasoning, when that is what you are doing. First you state that you shouldn’t plan by complaints, and then insist that the nightime 6 was cut back at night and the 4 made a local because of complaints, ignoring all other reasons for service changes like budgetary considerations.”
            Saying that something WAS ACTUALLY DONE because of complaints is not the same thing as saying that planning by complaint IS SOUND.

          • Andrew

            On the East Side, the 4 started running local in 1979 because nothing else was running on the line at night. But on the West Side, both the 1 and 2 continued to run overnight. The 2 ran express until 1999, when it was moved to the local track at night to provide better service at local stations.

            I will spell out your circular reasoning again. You declared that there hadn’t been many complaints about overnight express service for decades. When I asked how you knew, you responded that the service would have been changed if they had been complaints. That’s a circular argument: you “know” that there hadn’t been complaints because service wasn’t changed, and therefore service shouldn’t have been changed because there hadn’t been complaints.

            But the service WAS, in fact, changed, in 1999 – perhaps in response to complaints? (Or perhaps not – I’m just trying to follow the line of your own argument.)

            There is no need to run a trial to determine how many people use each station at night. There is no need to run a trial in order to realize that operating the 2 and 4 express at night would impose additional transfers on a significant portion of the ridership, with an additional wait of up to 20 minutes for each.

            There is also no research, as far as I am aware, to support Mr. Rozankowski’s assertion that the number of stops (as opposed to travel times) is perceived as particularly onerous. There is, however, quite a bit of support for the perception of waiting time at a station as significantly more onerous than time on board the train. At night, when service is infrequent, minimizing transfer requirements is far more important than minimizing running time or number of stops.

    • Andrew

      Both very good points.

      In addition to most likely being infeasible, increasing late night service by 67% (from 3 tph to 5 tph, as Mr. Rozankowski recommends) would increase overnight operating costs by about 67%, while the increase in fare revenues would be tiny – as fdtutf has pointed out, ridership is very low at night because most people are asleep, and even increasing service 100-fold would have little impact on ridership.

      With service running on a 20 minute headway, reducing the need to transfer, where it can be done at little to no cost, is far more important to the riders than reducing ride time on board the train.

      • fdtutf

        “With service running on a 20 minute headway, reducing the need to transfer, where it can be done at little to no cost, is far more important to the riders than reducing ride time on board the train.”
        +1. I would just add that this argument applies not only to transfers, but also to reducing the initial wait time for the train; many of those initial waits happen at local stations, as discussed above.

        • Andrew

          Certainly, but I was focusing on the benefits of local 2 and 4 service to riders to and from the outer boroughs. The point you make is of primary benefit to intra-Manhattan riders, between Chambers and 96th and between Brooklyn Bridge and 125th. (Some outer borough riders do benefit, in particular those transferring at Columbus Circle, Bleecker, and 51st to and from the IND.)

          • fdtutf

            I was thinking that, since there are no magical sources of money, express service would have to cannibalize local service, leading to longer waits for local trains. That wouldn’t only affect intra-Manhattan riders.

          • Andrew

            No magical sources of money? Come on, use your ingenuity!

  • Subway Stinker

    after reading all the back and forth and hair splitting, the bottom line is that the B should be expanded at least until 1 a.m. and on weekends. Do any of you ride the Q on the weekends and notice the rush-hour like crowds? NYC and Brooklyn specifically have grown larger populations over the decade and we need additional capacity on our subway lines. Why do some of you readers not grasp that, but instead argue over what 11 pm means… last train or final train? You know, it all depends on What Is is? How sad that some of Sheepshead Bays finest minds get bogged down like this.

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