Amid Communications Improvements, MTA Weekender Stagnates

Eh, I’m trying something a little different. Perhaps I’ll continue as I see fit.

Recently, the MTA (and I suppose Governor Cuomo as well since all good things MTA-related come from his office apparently) has been on a kick of announcing their plans to improve communications with the general public. Their latest entry is the testing of the next-train countdown clocks and displays at several stops along the Broadway line. This push to get the MTA agencies into the 21st century got me wondering why such communication efforts have not been made toward clearly illustrating how the trains are running at any given time, especially during weekends when service changes dramatically due to planned construction work. After all, it is the reason why I have been maintaining this site for the past four years. While the MTA clearly sees their Weekender as the best thing ever, especially since it’s the first link on the MTA website every weekend, in reality, it’s about as useful as the 1972 map it’s based on. Much like its predecessor, the Weekender map is more of an art piece than a useful tool of conveying service patterns during weekend construction. A diagrammatic map with blinking dots for stations is not any better than a standard map showing normal service.

While I consider the maintenance of this site as something of a personal accomplishment, this is something the MTA should be doing in-house. Something I mentioned in a letter to them some time ago, which only resulted in the standard form letter that stated they appreciate my concern and are  looking into the issue. Or something like that; after all, it was a few years ago. But I digress. That was then and this is now. And nowadays, riders want to know just how their train is running, or if it’s running at all. With all the technology prevalent throughout the subway and the new technology that’s coming in the next few months and years, there is no reason why riders should deal with inferior maps or should have to turn to outside sources like myself to see the planned service patterns, even if I do appreciate your patronage.

And the thing is, creating these maps is not a complicated process in the slightest. I’m not sure how long you folks think I take creating a map every week, but let me assure you, it’s probably much less than you think. On average, it takes about a hour from start to finish manipulating the base map to properly illustrate how the trains are running. Sometimes it’s a bit more if there are new service changes or if there are a lot of them, but if this is something I can do in my spare time on a Sunday morning, there is no reason why somebody in the MTA offices couldn’t whip up something similar within the same amount of time, if not less. I’m sure they would have much more resources available to them than I could ever acquire. And yet, it seems they’re either unwilling or unable to do something that’s relatively simple. Few people expect them to create maps showing service for every unplanned service change, much like they did following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but it shouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for riders to get a real subway map PDF showing weekend service as it is affected by construction.

This post is not a knock at the MTA Weekender. It’s a okay tool and a great starting point, but much like the 1972 map it’s based on, it would work even better as a companion piece to a regular map modified to show real weekend service. Something this simple would go a long way towards improving communications with the average rider.

Subway Weekender – Four Years and Still Going

It has come to my attention that this weekend marks the four-year anniversary of me taking over for Shawn Lynch and continuing the Subway Weekender. It’s amazing how fast the time flies. And it’s amazing how far my skills at Adobe Illustrator have come in the intervening years. We’ve gone from my first foray with vector manipulation in my first post. I mean, look at that map; it’s so busy what with the streets retained from the official MTA map to my crude manipulations of the so-called bus bubbles that used to be prevalent on the PDF version of the subway map to show the service information. I feel that’s a far cry from what I give to you nowadays.

While I’m not usually one for self-congratulations, I feel that this is a a bit of an accomplishment, especially for someone doing this in their spare time for no money. After all, it’s not as though I have to do this. However, since the MTA will not or cannot come up with something similar to what I present almost every weekend, I will continue to illustrate just how the subway lines are affected by weekend construction. Thanks for sticking around for the past few years. It’s greatly appreciated.

As always, enjoy and stay safe.

Weekend of Aug. 6th

Good evening. It’s more of the same with a few more added for for good measure. 2 train service is still split at E 180 Street. A, C and E trains are rerouted due to Sandy recovery work. 1 and 3 train service is truncated to 14 Street and Utica Av respectively. Speaking of truncations, 4 train service is still not running to Brooklyn, but they are running express to Bowling Green.

For the full list of service changes, check out the map.

Map for 08.06-08.08
Enjoy the weekend.

Weekend of July 30th

Good evening. This weekend’s subway disruptions will not be as bad as they were last weekend. There are still a few ongoing service changes that continue to carry over. 2 train service is still split at E 180 Street with mainline service running to/from Dyre Av. 4 trains are still not running into Brooklyn. Finally, Fix and Fortify work affects service on the A, C and E lines.

The other major service change in place this weekend is along the Queens Blvd line. All Queens-bound service is express-only, while all Manhattan-bound trains will run local through the entire line. For the full list of service changes, check out the map below.

Map for 07.30-08.01

Enjoy the weekend.

Weekend of July 23rd

Good evening. With this weekend set to be quite a scorcher, you do not want to wait on the platform for a train that’s not running. Once again, Fix & Fortify work will affect service on the 4, 5, A, C, and E lines. The 4 and 5 will be cut back to Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central respectively, with the former running local throughout the entire route. A and C trains are rerouted via the Rutgers tunnels while E trains are running on the F-line between Roosevelt Av and W 4 Street.

There are a few other service disruptions to contend with as well. 3 train service is suspended between Utica Av and New Lots Av. On the A-line, there is no service on the Lefferts branch, with trains rerouted to Rockaway Park. All service along Queens Blvd is local only. There is also a reduction in service on the 6-line between 3 Avenue and Pelham Bay Park.

For the full list of this weekend’s service changes, check out the map, which is correct this time.

Map for 07.23-07.25
Enjoy the weekend and stay cool.

Weekend of July 16th

Good evening. It’s another weekend with more of the same service changes. 1 trains are not running beyond 14 Street. 4 train service is suspended in Brooklyn. Also, there are no L trains running between Myrtle Av and Rockaway Pkwy.

For the complete list of service changes, check out the map.

Map for 07.16-07.18

Apparently in my haste to post this weekend’s service changes, I uploaded the map for next weekend.

Here is the correct map for this weekend: Correct map for 07.16-07.18
Enjoy the weekend.

Weekend of July 9th

Good evening. This weekend, the locals reign supreme. 4 and 5 trains are running local throughout Manhattan. E and F trains are also running local between 71 Avenue and either Queens Plaza or 21 St-Queensbridge.

There is also a slew of other service changes to contend with. 1 trains are once again suspended between 14 Street and South Ferry. 2 and 3 local trains replace normal service through Chambers St while shuttle buses run the rest of the way down to South Ferry. There is no 5 train service between E 180 Street and Dyre Av. A and C trains are cut back to 168 Street and 145 Street respectively. Speaking of the A and C lines, both are running via the F-line between W 4 Street and Jay St.

For the full list of changes, check out the map.

Map for 07.09-07.11

Enjoy the weekend.