In January, Andy Byford, the new president and CEO of the NYC Transit Authority, will start tackling Gotham’s subway system head-on. He has called his new assignment “arguably the toughest job in transit right now” — and he’s not wrong.
There are some 75,000 subway delays each month, up 237 percent since 2012. The average number of work hours lost by commuters has spiked by 45 percent in that period. According to NYC’s Independent Budget Office, subway delays have cost riders $307 million worth of annual losses in work time. In July, Gov. Cuomo declared that the MTA was in a state of emergency.
So, what should Byford do to turn the whole mess around? Fixing a behemoth founded in 1904 with more stations than any other in the world and the oldest trains still in service (the C trains from 1964 keep running) won’t be easy. But four consultants, thinkers and innovators gave their ideas to The Post.
Control crowd size on the platforms
Gabriel Sanchez, MIT lecturer and research associate with a specialization in public transportation, systems, data and operation
We’ve all been on rush-hour platforms trying to squeeze onto a newly arrived train as fellow commuters push for entry and block doors from closing. This causes massive delays.
According to Sanchez, platforms should be prevented from getting over-crowded in the first place. “In London, they meter the flow of passengers,” said Sanchez. “Once there is the critical threshold of people on the platform, access to the platform is shut off — by temporarily keeping passengers on the other side of the turnstile. You shut off the turnstile and make an announcement that it is temporarily closed.”
An attendant, either at the platform or at a central location, watches via closed-circuit camera and decides when to reopen the turnstiles, making the announcement to start moving again.
Sanchez said this approach not only makes platforms and subway cars more comfortable, it cuts down on train delays.
By not overcrowding the train, “you can save one-fourth of the time that the train usually spends in the station,” Sanchez said. “It creates consistency between when the train leaves the platform and the next one arrives. It prevents trains from getting bunched up.”
Switch to levitating trains
Kevin C. Coates, transportation and energy policy consultant who formerly worked with Transrapid, the…