NYTIP INSIDER – forthcoming changes to the enhanced nyc subway

Over the last several months, I’ve revised my plans for the enhanced NYC subway in an attempt to formalize them. I wanted to take the plans out of beta (latest: v0.7.0) and mold them into something official (v1.0.0) – as official as a lay transit advocate’s plan can be, anyway.

Although the updates are nearly complete, recent subway developments have given me pause.

For the first time since COVID-19 ravaged the world, the NYC Subway recorded over 1 billion rides. The data are current as of December 29th; with just 2 days left to count, it looks like 2022 subway ridership will hover around 60% of pre-pandemic ridership.

Unfortunately, there is already talk of service cuts and fare hikes in 2023 due to the familiar “budget shortfalls” song, which somehow doesn’t apply to gas tax holidays or highway expansions (two separate links).

Which is why I call bullshit.

Assuming the gas tax holiday ends tonight, it would’ve cost NY some $600 million for little benefit. For less than half that price, NY could run all subways and the 100 busiest bus lines every 6 minutes or better all day – a cost that would pay for itself if it attracts 91 million additional riders. Even if the cost of 6-minute service was $300 million, it would pay for itself with less than 110 million additional riders; adding 110 million to the projected 2022 total represents less than 67% of pre-pandemic ridership.

In other words, #6MinuteService is not only trivially achievable, but the ridership such would encourage would offset costs and trim MTA’s ballooning deficit.

So how does all this tie in to NYTIP? I hedged on some of my plans for v1.0.0 of the enhanced NYC subway due to discouraged ridership on some corridors, resulting in a conservative overall plan. But this may be the wrong approach to address discouraged ridership. Indeed, given depressed ridership, this may be the best time to redesign the NYC Subway to maximize benefits to all riders. As a result, this will be my plan for the enhanced NYC subway under NYTIP going forward:

  • Complete all remaining updates as a revised beta (v0.8.0) instead of v1.0.0.
  • Propose a more radical redesign of the NYC subway for v1.0.0.
    • All posts for v1.0.0 would be new posts instead of updates to existing posts; the older posts would serve as a basis, however.

The radical redesign I have in mind is similar to Alon Levy’s plan, but with a few key differences – chief of which is retention of express service on both the Inwood and Concourse lines, which I’ve incorporated in every iteration of NYTIP.

I can’t wait to publish the new stuff! Here’s to 2023 – a year that hopefully gives me more time to do this, as I generally don’t have much free time floating around. Happy New Year, y’all!

discuss respectfully!