It was a veritable Christmas in July for some local commuters last week, when the MTA-New York City Transit increased service on nine subway lines.
Riders on the 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, B, M and W trains saw permanent service enhancements that began July 27. Four of the lines – 3, 4, B and M – rumble through Brooklyn.
The agency said the service improvements will mean less crowding and more frequent trains.
Deirdre Parker, an MTA-NYC Transit spokesperson, said the changes come in response to higher ridership and increased travel demand.
The expanded service is being implemented at a cost of $8.9 million annually, and is being funded by “several internal savings initiatives that are included in NYC Transit’s July 2008 financial plan,” the agency stated.
On weekdays, B service will operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. instead of stopping at 9:30 p.m. as it does currently.
Evening Manhattan-bound M service will run to Broad Street from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and to Myrtle Avenue between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“Recent subway ridership growth has resulted in several routes operating with loads that at certain time exceed the MTA’s loading guidelines at certain times. To bring subway loads within the guidelines, MTA NYC Transit is making service adjustments to the B, M and W lines,” the agency stated.
Rush hour service on the W, which runs local on Broadway, and in Queens, will be increased from every 10 minutes to every eight minutes between 8:15 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. W trains will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. – an extension from its current 9:30 p.m. end time.
Parker said the agency has no plans to expand B service to the weekends.
In Brooklyn, the B runs express on weekdays from Brighton Beach to Dekalb Avenue, and the M travels from Myrtle Avenue to Marcy Avenue.
The expanded hours are expected to ease overcrowding on the Q, N and J lines, providing “a more simplified and consistent service to our Queens and Brooklyn customers,” the agency stated.
“Increases in service are great,” said Greenwood Heights resident Cate Contino, an M train rider.
“I think they are trying to provide more frequent and regular service on the lines where they have that ability. It is an expense that will directly benefit riders,” said Contino, the campaign coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign, a commuter advocacy group.
The early weekday rush hour service (from 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.) on the 4, the Lexington Avenue express, will see a significant increase from every 15 minutes to every 10 to 12 minutes northbound and from every 10 minutes to every 7 to 8 minutes southbound, the agency stated.
In Brooklyn, the 4 runs from Borough Hall to East New York.
Weekday 4 early afternoon rush hour service (3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.) will increase from every 5 minutes to every 4 minutes. Weekday 4 evening service (7 p.m. to midnight) will increase from every 10 to 12 minutes to every 7 to 10 minutes. Weekday 6 evening service (9 p.m. to midnight) will increase from every 6 to 12 minutes to every 5 to 8 minutes.
Changes to the 3, which runs from East New York, to Brooklyn Heights, to Harlem, are also in store.
Beginning Sunday, 3 train service operated between Times Square-42nd Street and Harlem-148th Street overnight on weekdays and weekends for the first time in several years, during which customers headed to 145th and 148th Street were required to transfer to buses.
In Brooklyn, the 3 runs from Brooklyn Heights to East New York.
This service change will ease congestion on northbound 2 trains, reduce waiting time for 2 and 3 customers, and accommodate the ridership growth at Harlem-148th Street and projected growth in Harlem in general.
Additionally, scheduled waiting times for the 3 will decrease on weekdays in the late morning from 9:30 to 10 from every six to eight minutes to every five to seven minutes to alleviate overcrowding on the 2.
Commuters should enjoy the ‘holiday’ while they can.
The MTA is seeking to raise fares and tolls by eight percent, marking only the second time commuters have been forced to bear an increase in consecutive years. Fares were last raised in March. The agency faces a reported $900 million shortfall. If approved, the higher fares will take effect next July.
“Given the fairly bleak outlook on the MTA’s finances, if they are adding service, I’m going to guess that they triple checked the numbers,” Contino said.