Discouraging Signs in the Subway

June 24, 2007

With 6,200 cars, 840 miles of track and an average weekday ridership of 4.9 million, New York City has one of the largest, busiest and most complex subway systems in the world.

Unlike the systems in many other cities, New York’s subways operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. That means all service and repairs must take place while the trains are running.

In an attempt to cause the least disruption to riders, most planned maintenance and construction work (as opposed to emergency service) is scheduled for weekends. As a result, getting around the city on Saturdays and Sundays can be challenging for even the most savvy New Yorkers.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) says that they issue service advisories to “provide information about planned service changes on weekends that are needed for their Capital Plan work such as construction projects.”

Many city dwellers try to stay informed about temporary service changes and interruptions by checking the MTA’s Web site, subscribing to special e-mail and text message alert services (such as those offered by HopStop and the Straphangers Campaign), and/or following local newspaper and television reports for updates on the latest service advisories.

Any of those approaches is more effective than just showing up in a subway station and hoping to locate and make sense of the printed advisories that are posted every weekend.

Today every station I entered had at least a few advisory signs taped to the walls, but these were the most discouraging, disheartening and headache-inducing of the bunch.

Service interruptions at Times Square station
Today’s Service Advisories posted in the Times Square station

Sign in Pelham Bay Park station
Sign in the Pelham Bay Park station

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
MTA Service Advisories
MTA Guide to Weekend Travel in Lower Manhattan
MTA Subway Facts and Figures
New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign
Transportation Alternatives
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
HopStop New York

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