MTA alerts of delay-causing incidents to subway riders increases

subway new york city platform
A report by the Straphangers Campaign found an increase in the number of MTA alerts notifying subway riders about delay-causing incidents.
Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An increase in electronic alerts notifying subway riders about delay-causing incidents signals that service is worsening, a transit advocacy group said Tuesday.

The number of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority alerts, issued to more than 90,000 subway subscribers, increased 35 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to a report released by the Straphangers Campaign. 

“The increase in alerts is a troubling sign that subway service is deteriorating,” Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the group, said in a statement.

Email and text alerts are issued whenever incidents might significantly impact service, by 8 to 10 minutes or more, according to documents provided by the Straphangers Campaign.

Leaving out “uncontrollable” incidents like sick passengers or police activity, the group found that 3,998 alerts for “controllable” incidents on the system’s 20 subway lines were issued last year.

At 1,411 alerts, the leading cause of those incidents was mechanical, followed by signal, rack and switch problems. The F train had the most alerts issued in 2013, while the J and Z trains had the fewest, according to the report.

By comparison, there were 2,967 alerts issued to subway riders in 2011. Data from 2012 was not cited in the report because those numbers were significantly affected by Superstorm Sandy.

Despite the alert increases, MTA New York City Transit spokesman Kevin Ortiz said in a statement that the amount of time subway riders have waited for a train has remained the same since 2011.

Transit officials believe the alerts are a “powerful tool” to alert customers of any incidents impacting their commute, Ortiz said.

“However, the cause of such incidents can quickly change upon further investigation which is why the alerts were never meant to serve as a performance metric,” Ortiz said. “Our wait assessment metric, which includes BOTH controllable and non-controllable incidents and measures the amount of time customers have had to wait for a train, provides a more comprehensive picture of service quality.”

Delays are noted for multiple lines sharing track with one incident in the report. For instance, if a incident in Manhattan affects four trains, the report counts that incident four times.

Cate Contino, the coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign, wondered if there was a relationship between the number of significant incidents and whether a line shares its right-of-way.

“The MTA’s electronic alerts paint a picture of the problems that affect riders, but they also raise further questions,” Contino said in a statement.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders


US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.


Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.


After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.


'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.


'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.


'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…


Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…


Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.


Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.


2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)


2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…


Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…


Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…