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MTA should increase frequency of subways during off-peak hours: report

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A new report by Comptroller Scott Stringer shows the lack of service off-peak disproportionately affects service industry workers

Transportation Advocacy Group Study Shows Public Transit Ridership Fell Every Major Public Transit City Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The subway system’s decline has had an appreciable effect on the city’s economy—a study by the Independent Budget Office last fall found that the constant delays cost residents about $864,000 per day in lost wages, and a study by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office noted that the figure could add up to $389 million per year if the transit system is not brought into a state of good repair.

Now, a new study by Stringer drills down into some of the workers most affected by the system’s meltdown, namely those in the service sector—including healthcare, hospitality, retail, and food services workers.

Per Stringer’s report, titled “Left in the Dark: How the MTA Is Failing to Keep Up With New York City’s Changing Economy,” those industries “account for 40 percent of private sector jobs in New York City,” and yet they’re among those hardest hit by the subway’s decline. The reason? There are fewer trains running at off-peak hours, when those workers are more likely to use the subway, and the MTA has not kept up with growing ridership between the hours of 5 and 7 a.m., or 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.

“From 2010 to 2016, ridership in and out of the Manhattan hub jumped by 14 percent in the early morning and by 13 percent in the evening. The number of trains supplied by the MTA, however, did not keep pace, falling by three percent between 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and rising by a meager three percent between 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.,” the report reads.

Stringer’s recommendation, unsurprisingly, involves increasing the frequency of both subway and bus service at what has traditionally been considered off-peak hours, both to serve current commuters and “to lure those riders who avoid public transit on account of paltry off-peak service.”

But that’s not all; the report also calls for a review of the MTA’s scheduling priorities, and adjust accordingly. “At the moment, these service standards are entirely reactive to existing ridership, providing additional service only when subways and buses are overcrowded,” it reads. “This fails to consider latent (or “induced”) demand that accompanies an increase in frequencies.

You can read the whole thing here.