Fastrack? New Yorkers say the MTA is on the wrong track.
Starting tonight, the MTA will begin an unprecedented repair program called “Fastrack,” in which a large swath of the 4,5,6 subway line will be shut down in both directions.
The 6.7-mile chunk of the line between Grand Central and Atlantic Avenue will be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night this week, until Jan. 13. As part of the plan, the MTA will shutter 15 stations along the route.
Fastrack will enable the MTA to perform repairs in a quicker and safer manner for track-workers, transit agency officials said.
But some riders who depend on late-night trains will be left out in the cold — literally.
“I’m really screwed,” said Pamela Wiznitzer, 27, a bar manager and student who lives on the Upper East Side. “I go to NYU and I need the 6 train. I don’t want to have to take a $12 cab every night.”
While the MTA says commuters will only suffer 20-minute delays, Bill Henderson, of the MTA’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, worries the real delays will be much longer.
“If you miss a couple of connections, theoretically, you could add 40 minutes onto a trip,” said Henderson.
Safety is another concern. Wiznitzer, like many others in the service industry, gets out of work at midnight on weekdays and carries hundreds of dollars in tips.
“We have a lot of cash on us and people can just follow us from the restaurant,” she said. “We’re a prime target if we’re stuck waiting outside.”
Losing faith in 24-hour service?
Today marks the first time the MTA has ever shut down large sections of a subway line for maintenance.
“It’s a very big change for a 24-hour subway system,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.
Bill Henderson, an agency watchdog, worried the new plan would tarnish the reputation of a subway system meant to run 24/7.
"There is a real sense in the system that you can rely on it to go anywhere you need to go 24 hours a day," said Henderson, “This chips away at that a little bit."
The following line segments will be closed this winter for track work:
The 1, 2, 3 from 34th Street to Atlantic Avenue will be the next to close nightly, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Feb. 13-17.
The F, D and B from 59th Street/Columbus Circle to West Fourth Street will be closed nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Feb. 27 to March 2.
The A, C, E from 59th Street/Columbus Circle to Jay Street/MetroTech will be closed nightly from March 12-16.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.