Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NYCT's mess on May 2-5 - the F train derailment and Brooklyn 2/3/4 lines

MTA New York City Transit has a lot of questions to be answered for the incidents this past weekend of May 2-5, not only about the F train derailment in Queens but also for a General Order in Brooklyn (transit jargon for trackwork) which ended 90 minutes late.

On Friday May 2, at approximately 10:40 AM, six of the 8 cars of a Manhattan-bound F train derailed just west (railroad south) of the 65th Street/Broadway station in Queens, injuring 19 passengers.  The first and last cars of the derailed train did not jump the tracks.  The cause of the accident was a broken rail which was in one of the five most trouble-prone track hotspots in the NYC Subway system with 205 broken rail incidents between 50th Street/8th Ave in Manhattan and 71st Ave/Forest Hills in Queens, all along the busy 53rd Street and Queens Blvd corridors.  The cracked rail was installed only 3 months ago, in February which is puzzling since the Track Inspection Car detected the crack shortly before the derailment.

Due to the F train derailment, from Friday afternoon through 5 AM Monday morning, E and F trains were running local in Queens, with overnight shuttle bus service between Queens Plaza/21st Street Queensbridge and Roosevelt Ave.  R trains were not running north of 57th Street in Manhattan and 71st Ave/Forest Hills in Queens, while Friday afternoon/evening M service was running only between Essex Street and Metropolitan Ave.   Weekend work on the 7 and J/M lines were cancelled due to a massive mobilization by NYC transit crews in re railing the derailed F train and making track repairs along the E/F Manhattan-bound express where the derailment occurred.. 

To make matters worse, the information about these service changes is fair on the MTA website - - at one point, they posted that certain bus lines were being diverted due to work related to the F train derailment, see my screenshot below

As you can see, all but the Q53 bus route would be affected since it runs partially on Broadway where the derailment took place (and the Q53 runs a few blocks away).  The Q60 runs along the entire length of Queens Blvd while the Q1/2/36/43 and 77 bus routes run between Jamaica and points east - - about 6 miles away from the derailment site.  Absent from his service advisory is the Q70, the new limited bus route between Woodside and LaGuardia Airport, which runs on 39th Ave.  Therefore almost none of the bus routes listed above would be affected by any delays related to this derailment.

I was in the trenches Sunday evening on the weekend after the F train derailment and it was ugly - - no platform conductors or announcements at the Lexington Ave N/R platform  (there was no R service at this station) and 6 line conductors mentioned nothing about no R service at 59th Street. 

That's not the only thing which happened that weekend - on Monday morning, service on the well publicized Brooklyn 2/3/4 lines  south/east of Franklin Ave were supposed to be restored  by 5 AM Monday morning after a planned 55 hour weekend shutdown.  Instead, the shutdown continued until 6:30 AM, 90 minutes late while shuttle buses had to be kept on the road - - along with very few of these buses because they didn't anticipate the trackwork to run past 5:30 AM.  The overrun cause a ripple effect on the entire length of the 2/3/4/5 lines because the 3 line starts running from New Lots at 5:40 AM with a special 5 train from New Lots (the first 5 train originating in Brooklyn) shortly afterwards at 5:50 AM.  Regular 5 service from Flatbush Ave would start at 6:07 AM.  The problem with running this G.O. late is that many of the early AM trains which have to be placed in service from Flatbush or New Lots Ave are stored in Livonia yard which was cutoff due to the late trackwork as well as other trains from the Bronx and Manhattan are coming to Brooklyn with limited options to turn at Franklin or Atlantic Aves.  My 5 train from the Bronx had to the turned at Bowling Green (through a loop track from the southbound side to the northbound side) because of the mess and chaos on the IRT mainlines, all caused by this late clearance.

Obviously, NYC Transit had nothing to say about why thousands of customers along the 2/3/4/5 lines were inconvenienced - - they should explain why the construction project didn't end until 6:30 AM.

And there are 4 four more weekends of this 2/3/4 Brooklyn shutdown, good luck. 

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