Discussion relating to the past and present operations of the NYC Subway, PATH, and Staten Island Railway (SIRT).

Moderator: GirlOnTheTrain

  by Jeff Smith
Realistic? Let's see what our inside experts say....

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Here’s the idea: Drivers and dispatchers have their idiosyncratic habits to adapt to rising ridership and signal breakdowns. Crunched and harried as they make round trips, they’re also losing minutes to meet their basic needs. The tiny delays this creates can cascade into bigger ones later in the day, feeding a more general system-wide collapse.

It’s the human side of the subway’s problems that no one is talking about. And it might be a lot cheaper to fix than new subway cars.
But there’s another, largely overlooked element that is worth paying attention to, some operators and analysts say. Even in the absence of signal failures, door-holding, and sick passengers creating delays, drivers are struggling more than ever to stick to the scheduled running times on the busiest lines. Not only do timetables measure delays (i.e., whether trains are arriving “on time”), they may also be causing them—because people are not machines.

As conductors hold trains a little “too long” to accommodate rush hour crowds, operators run out of scheduled time at the end of the line. To maximize efficiency, timetables generally allow no more than a handful of minutes of “recovery time” for trains to turn around and head back into service. That’s usually when operators are supposed to receive breaks.
But if a train arrives at its terminus significantly later than scheduled, the operator still has to depart for her return trip on time. That means she might have to forgo her break—which can wind up dragging down trains further down the line.

“Let’s say I’m halfway through my return trip, and I absolutely have to go the bathroom,” says Noah Rodriguez, an MTA train operator on release from his regular route on the 6 train, one of the worst-performing lines in the system. (Rodriguez currently works for TWU Local 100, which represents operators.) “I’ve got to get off the train, secure it,” he says. “Now, that train has to wait for me.”
The union has taken note. Kia Phua, the vice president of rapid transit operations at TWU Local 100, says unbreathable schedules have become a performance issue in the past two years. Operators pressed to keep driving without rest might run at slower speeds, accidentally hit emergency brakes, or fail to read signals correctly. Some have filed grievances with the MTA.

“We’re human beings,” says Phua. “We’re not robots.”
  by railfan365
With regard to schedules being too difficult to maintain, I've experienced impromptu cases of local trains running express for part of a trip to make up time - which is an advantage to some passengers and a hindrance to tohers who have to get off and wait for the next train that will be hitting the regular stops. I've seen it ridiculed when on time performance is improved by revising the schedule.HOWEVER, between the human element of runnning tains being what it is, and the fact that chronic inability to keep to a schedule sometimes means that the schedule is unreasonable (such as not adequately allowing for prolonged loading times during rush hour), changing some of the schedules as such is probably a good idea. On a final note, since the present rush service is bogged down in part by trains being hindered by prior trains delays on top of their own, longer wait times might be mad eup for by trains running faster.