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


Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.


Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.


Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…


U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…


Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.


Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…


Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.


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.


Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…


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.…


Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…