Signal Problems Lead to Hours of Subway Disruptions — Again

It was the fourth time in a few weeks that signal problems caused hours-long service disruptions

What to Know

  • Signal problems yet again forced a suspension of part of the C line from Brooklyn to Manhattan
  • This time, the signal problem was at High Street, which has seen the same issue in recent weeks
  • The MTA has been plagued by train breakdowns, signal problems and other issues as of late

Signal problems mucked up subway travel on the A and C lines from Brooklyn to Manhattan for more than four hours Thursday, the fourth time in just a few weeks that such issues have snarled service.

The MTA said the problems at High Street had been cleared by about 2:15 p.m. (an initial advisory about the service changes came shortly before 10 a.m.) and A and C service had resumed with delays. 

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For much of the day, some northbound A and C trains had to run on the F line from Jay Street-Metro Tech to West Fourth Street-Washington Square because of the issues, which are becoming an all too common blight for straphangers.

Last Friday, the MTA was forced to shut down the entire C line for hours because of signal problems at Jay Street-MetroTech. Late last month, a similar signal problem at High Street also shut down the line for hours.

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Riders have become increasingly frustrated by power outages, signal problems and other breakdowns. According to the Associated Press, the number of delays in the city's subway system has tripled in five years. 

And on Thursday, the Citizens Budget Commission suggested signal probems may have actually worsened when the MTA focused more energy on new projects like the Second Avenue Subway than maintaining the current system. The group says the MTA itself estimated that it needed $20 billion on subway maintenance -- but has wound up spending just $12.4 billion.

The MTA, according to Jamison Dague, director of instrastructure studies for CBC, is $7 billion short when it comes to good repair. Dague says that the MTA could modernize its nearly 80-year-old signal system more quickly.

"A faster pace of work and installation of this is possible," he said. 

But the MTA pushed back, responding, "The CBC's report is a superficial glance at MTA spending that ignores the $32 billion record investment after decades of neglect will both expand service and make essential repairs and upgrades." 

Gov. Cuomo has previously conceded the subway system is "at its breaking point." He says decades of underfunding and inattention to maintenance created the current situation, but promises changes will come with the $32 billion modernization plan. 

Riders say they just want better service.

"Five minutes is a lot. Everything is about time, efficiency," said Toran Miller of Crown Heights. "Five minutes is a big difference." 

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