Sunday, August 3, 2008

RIDERS SHOULDN'T STAND FOR IT



NYC Transit planning to experiment with seatless subway cars at rush hour
BY PETE DONOHUE DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, August 2nd 2008, 4:00 AM
Tama/Getty
Rush hour will mean more riders but no more seats on some subway train cars under a pilot program.
It will be standing room only - literally - when NYC Transit runs some subway cars without any seats, hoping to squeeze more riders inside.
The agency is planning a pilot program featuring a train with flipup seats in four of 10 cars.
The flipup seats will be locked in the up position during rush hours, meaning everyone inside the car will have to stand, the Daily News has learned.

"Each car will be able to carry more people," NYC Transit President Howard Roberts said of the no-sitting strategy. "It means more capacity. It gives the ability to pick up more people, and have fewer people left on the platform waiting for the next train."
After rush hours, workers will unlock the flipup seats for riders to use, Roberts said.
The pilot program, hatched by Roberts and his senior vice president of subways, Steven Fiel, is expected to start in five to seven months, when the first retrofitted train arrives.
Subway bosses have not decided which line will get the no-seat cars - or when they might go into wider use.

Some riders said they would welcome the plan with open arms - because 18% more passengers would be able to get inside.
"Most people stand anyway," said Kathleen Sia, 19, a college student from Washington Heights. "I'd rather be on time than be comfortable."
"It's totally worth it," added John Holton, 37, of the upper West Side. "I am on the train to get somewhere, not to sit around."

But not everyone was on board.
"I understand why they are doing it, but I don't think it will be popular with riders," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.
The biggest complaints may come from riders who board a near-empty train at the first stops, only to find they have to stand, Russianoff predicted.
The move comes as the agency tries to grapple with several challenging realities.
On several lines, the agency can't run more trains per hour safely because of the current signal system's limitations.

The agency faces huge budget gaps and long-term solutions like upgraded signal and communications systems are extremely expensive.
Ridership continues to rise - along with delays spawned by frustrated riders trying to squeeze into packed trains.
The tactic of having some cars without seating during peak travel times has been used on some aboveground trains in Tokyo since 1990, but is not in use in the United States.
pdonohue@nydailynews.com
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