NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On a day when riders on at least seven subway lines experienced delays due to “signal problems,” a new report blames the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the massive delays and cost overruns.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, calls continue to mount for repairs on the out-of-date system.
“Many, many delays,” said Michael Van Winkle of the Upper West Side. “I actually came from 139th Street and I had to take an Uber to 96th Street in order to get here. Always delays – delays, delays, delays. I’m very angry. It’s cost me more money than it should.”
Van Winkle was one just one of the many riders stranded – delayed because of signal problems on each and every line represented by a number – the No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines.
The problems Wednesday came on the heels of a scathing finding by the Independent Budget Office that the MTA is many years behind in fixing the 1930s-era subway signal system that causes the frustrating delays that infuriate riders.
“They’re doing very badly,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “It would be 2045 before they would complete the signal upgrade modernization.”
Brewer requested the study, which discovered, among other things, that:
• Nineteen of 33 signal upgrades in the two previous capital plans were either delayed or are still unfinished;
• Eight of the 14 projects scheduled to being this year are delayed.
What riders see are the red, green and yellow lights that tell the train conductor when to move. But it is way more complex than that – a defective signal can stop a train and ripple through the system.
The MTA admitted that it desperately needs to change its current hard-to-repair “fixed-block” signal system, which is so old that the only way the agency can get parts is to manufacture them itself.
An MTA video shows how the system limits the number of trains it can run by automatic spacing that keeps the trains far apart, and can bring the system to a standstill.
The system is enforced by stop arms that can activate the brakes of a train.
In the video, the MTA concedes that there are many limitations, no precise location of speed control, and no way really to know where trains are.
“Lot of delays on the 2, 3 trains these past couple of months,” one woman said.
“Frustrating – I try to take the express bus as much as possible,” said Alex Parker of Co-Op City, the Bronx.
The MTA said it is working hard to upgrade the signals, including a new communication-based train control system that would allow them to run trains closer.
On The Lexington Avenue line, such a system would mean three more trains an hour to ease overcrowding.