Friday, July 20, 2012

MTA restores or enhances service offerings

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New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority Thursday said it would add or extend regional rail, subway, and bus services, most of which had been curtailed or discontinued due to earlier budget crises.

MTA pointedly noted, "Ridership growth is especially pronounced outside of the traditional rush hours, prompting increased investment in night, weekend and off-peak weekday service."

To that end, MTA bolstered service on two sister regional railroads, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road. Metro-North Railroad will enhance service on the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven lines, east of the Hudson River, to reduce crowding and better serve growing off-peak and weekend ridership with increased half-hourly frequency.

West of the Hudson River, a new round-trip peak train will be added on the Pascack Valley Line to serve points in Rockland County, N.Y., north of the New Jersey/New York border, and including a stop at Secaucus Junction on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Metro-North's West-of-Hudson services run to and from Hoboken, N.J., combining with NJ Transit rail services. 

LIRR will provide increased service on the Ronkonkoma Branch from Ronkonkoma, in Suffolk County, every 30 minutes on weekdays after the morning rush and during some weekend periods. Extra trains will accommodate increased rider demand on the Long Beach, Port Jefferson, and Montauk branches. Trains from Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, where a new sports arena will be home to the NBA Brooklyn Nets beginning this fall, also will be extended until 2:00 a.m.

"As the New York metropolitan region grows, the MTA's 8.5 million riders increasingly rely on transit not just for commuting, but for getting around at all times for all reasons," said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. "The service investments we are announcing today will give our customers more connections to where they want to go, more options on nights and weekends, and more reason to stay out of their cars and take buses, subways and commuter trains instead."

MTA said the additional services will cost $29 million per year, but it hopes to cover much if not all of the cost through increased ridership and revenue, paired with what MTA called "savings from the MTA's continued rigorous efforts to contain costs."

MTA New York City Transit will add five new bus routes, restore one route, extend 13 existing bus routes, and add midday, night, or weekend service on 11 bus routes in all five boroughs. On the subway system a "temporary extension" of the G Line to Church Avenue in Brooklyn made during reconstruction of the Smith/9th Street Station will become permanent, due in part to vocal support from subway riders who requested the move be made.

The service investments still must be formally presented to the MTA Board during its regular monthly meeting next week and, assuming the Board approves, will be included in the MTA's 2013 Budget and Four-Year Financial Plan.