Dear MTA Board Members,
For starters, I would like to thank you all for what you’re doing for public transportation and allowing there to even be an alternative for people to commute. But it’s honestly not enough. As a train rider, I’m speaking on behalf of myself and other passengers I witness who are also fed up with the MTA when I say that train delays have become major issues. Train delays take place during any time the subways are in service. They last from as short as five minutes to as long as forty five minutes based on my experiences. But I’m pretty sure that others have experienced worse. During service hours when a train all of a sudden stops moving, most people boarding the train start sucking their teeth or shaking their heads right before the conductor states, “we’re experiencing delays due to signal malfunctions, we’ll be moving shortly, thank you for your patience.” Do we really end up moving shortly though? No. Sometimes we do but often times we don’t and that is not okay. There is nothing more disappointing than hearing that the train is delayed when you have somewhere you really need to be. It also annoys some passengers that the MTA never explains what signal failures are, why they go wrong, and things that can be done to avoid them. They just stop the train, give an excuse about signals, and expect passengers to comply with it.
After doing research of my own, I found out that just like roads, railways have signals which are traffic light devices that inform train drivers if it’s safe to proceed. Signals are positioned at the beginning of each track and divided into sections to ensure that trains don’t collide. In a particular section, only one train should be in service. Sometimes these signals breakdown and the signal turns red causing train drivers to stop driving. Signals turn red because of problems with track circuits and axle counters. If anything goes wrong with these devices, its not safe for a train to proceed. And if one train doesn’t proceed, it will hold up the train behind it which will cause train traffic. These devices fail because the proper maintenance that tracks need to function efficiently is not being provided enough. On top of that, recent studies found out that “For all intents and purposes, the subway uses the same signaling system that was installed when the first subway line opened in 1904.” (Gordon 1). So basically, the subway uses the same century old technology, more specifically signaling system which is a key factor as to why trains experience delays. If passengers have to deal with the annoyance of train delays due to signal problems, they should at least know the reasons why these signals fail. The way the system operates hasn’t appropriately changed since it’s establishment. This results in trains being held in stations longer than intended. And if trains don’t proceed on their proper schedules, things could get hectic really quickly. Things such as electrical supply faults, track circuit failures, broken rail joints, blow signal lamps, or train stop faults which are referred to as these signal problems could all be prevented if more track work gets done.
A few suggestions gathered that may help prevent delays include meetings that should be held with railway engineers discussing steps that need to be taken to ensure that proper track maintenance takes place and engineers that actually live within the borough they work for should be the ones being hired. This way they can get to their job destinations quicker and develop solutions to technical problems quicker. New products to enhance track duration should also be open for discussion and development. Rumor has it that the subway fare is going up soon, if this is true people shouldn’t have to pay more for commutes that are twice as long than usual. It’s just simply unfair! Thank you for your time.