Friday, January 9, 2015

NYCT Cold Weather Plan 1/7/15 - - Grade D

On Wednesday, January 7 NYCT implemented Cold Weather Plan 2 for the night, due to below zero degree wind chills and possible icing conditions in outdoor subway yards (yes they do have a few indoor subway yards but only enough storage for about 3 percent of their fleet). This is NYCT's first Cold Weather Plan for 2015.  That said NYCT tells us in their most recent press release that The most up-to-date information on MTA service status is always available at For immediate notice of service changes, sign up for email or text alerts at   NYCT's Facebook page have a link to their email notification system. 

As I monitored the service updates posted on the MTA webste and in their social media websites such as MTA New York City Transit's Facebook page or @NYCTSubway twitter accounts, I will grade them a D - - one step above a total failure - - no different then 2014 when I posted about NYCT withholding winter service changes.  Only when I tweeted and posted pictures during the course of the evening did NYC Transit start to post the correct (somewhat) service change information. 

The winter plan is not a thing which service changes happen on a whim - - they are planned since NYCT makes the determination of the winter plan at 11 AM.  Posters like these on the B and 6 lines are installed in the appropriate stations.  Modified (or what they call "supplemental") schedules take effect at a certain time in the afternoon or early evening so as to ensure crews are properly placed in their runs and where their trains will be laid up in underground tunnels.  Early AM crews who normally report at 5 or 6 AM to pull trains out of yards will report to different locations as early as 3 AM to pull their train out of a subway tunnel instead.  So there is more then enough time to inform customers, through text, email, web or Twitter about these service changes as they start to take place.  The news media is also involved because many outlets such as 511, 1010WINS or NY1/News12 report traffic and transit delays/changes (though not necessarily all of them, but at least they try to get the message across.)    NYCT stressed to monitor the MTA website, or sign up for text and/or email alerts but at the end of the day, they have withheld a lot of information or posted it 2-3 hours later than they should have. 
I already was armed with the email alerts from NYCT so I get every email on every service change  from every single subway line - - straight to a dedicated folder for my easy retrieval.  I focused on my way home to see about the posters (the B and 6). 

 At home, I used the MTA Subway time application/webpage for the numbered lines 1 throughh 6 which happens to be more useful than what NYCT posts (or refuses to post) because you can click on any local station in Manhattan and Bronx and you will when the next 2 or 3 express train stopping at a local station.  For example, I can select 18th Street on the 1 line and it will tell me right away if a 2 or 3 train would arrive a few minutes away.  The same test was applied to the Bronx portion of the 6 line where trains to Pelham Bay Park normally run express in the PM rush from 3rd Ave/138th Street to Parkchester until 9 PM while trains to Parkchester run local.  A check on the same MTA Subway Time application at any of the ten local stops on the 6 line would reveal that a Pelham Bay Park train arriving in a few minutes would clearly indicate that 6 express service is suspended for the rest of the evening.  (The same test was applied in the early AM on 6 trains from Pelham Bay Park to Manhattan - - a train every 3-5 minutes would indicate that all 6 trains run local as every other 6 train (usually from Pelham Bay Park) runs express towards Manhattan.   I also constantly monitored the MTA website service status on their homepage, used Trip Planner+ for a test on the B train and also made a telephone call to the Travel Information Center.
Here is the timelime - - all times are approximate.
11 AM - - NYC Transit activates Cold Weather Plan #2 - - emergency center is activated  - - all construction projects for the night of January 7 through 8 (except for the long term 6 and A line station closures in Queens and Bronx), are cancelled.
Afternoon of 1/7:  MTA website updated, Presss release issued, Facebook post made
6:15 PM  last Pelham Bay Park 6 train leaves middle express track at 3rd Ave/138th Street.  Express service suspended, all 6 trains run local.   However the 6 running local in the Bronx is not posted until 9:34 PM - - over 30 minutes since the last < 6 > express train was scheduled to arrive in Parkchester, a 3.5 hour delay in reporting
6:45 PM - - no planned service alerts posted
7:10  Final northbound B train departs Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.  20 minutes later, final southbound B train leaves 145th Street.  However, the service alert for the suspension of B service does not take place until 9:18 PM, more than 2 hours later.  Looking at TripPlanner+ it's not updated either.
At approximately 9:10 PM, I asked Mr. Bethel of the Travel Information Center about the status of the B train towards Manhattan.  He told me it was running and even gave me the next departure times of 9:19 PM and 9:30 PM from Newkirk Ave.  hen I told him that the B was not running, he wasn't told about the Cold Weather Plan. 
8:30 PM - - at this time, the 2/3/4/5/A/D/E/F/N and Q lines are running local in certain portions - - out of a possible 10 service changes, including the B suspension and < 6 > local, only one service change was posted - - A local in Brooklyn. 

9:30 PM, the "planned" service changes are finally being posted - - but not 100 percent correct - - as the 2/3/4/5 trains are running local south of 42nd Street, if you know where to look in MTA Subway Time and not on the MTA website which has incorrect information.


In the end, NYCT gets a grade of D from me because of the intentional lies, failure to post these service changes within 15 minutes and refusal to inform staff such as agents at the Travel Information Center, as well as refusal to let news media outlets know.  Now only that, it's dangerous what they do, by making customers wait in the freezing cold on the Brighton Line for a B train.  or not telling them about delays due to all trains running on the local tracks.  NYCT Carmen Bianco simply does not care about informing customers.   

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