By­ford toots horn over sub­way re­pairs, but com­muters de­cry de­lays

New York Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN RIVOLI With Kerry Burke and Ju­lianna Her­nan­dez

Fed up with be­ing jammed in like sar­dines on over­crowded trains? Tired of won­der­ing if the sta­tion ceil­ing will fall on you? Bugged over con­duc­tors say­ing your train is de­layed be­cause of who knows what the heck up ahead?

Buck up, cus­tomers! The MTA says the sub­way is get­ting bet­ter.

“We are be­gin­ning to turn the cor­ner,” NYC Tran­sit Pres­i­dent Andy By­ford de­clared Mon­day at an MTA board meet­ing as his staffers of­fered up a slew of num­bers and statis­tics to show how they’re fix­ing the trains.

MTA crews have sealed 2,000 ceil­ing leaks. They’ve cleared 340 miles of drains. They’ve vac­u­umed up 285 miles of track — that’s less than half the sys­tem’s to­tal track­age, but the MTA says that its vac­uum trains at least hit ev­ery sta­tion.

But rid­ers — “cus­tomers,” to MTA bosses — aren’t notic­ing any im­prove­ment yet.

“Re­ally?” said Mike Basil, 37, an au­toworker from Brook­lyn who waited pa­tiently Mon­day night for an R train in Bay Ridge. “Noth­ing seems to be fixed,” said Basil. “Have they rid­den the sub­way?”

“I don’t know what sub­way they’re rid­ing,” said Anita Stu­art, 57, a typ­ist from the Bronx as she boarded a Man­hat­tan-bound D train at 36th St. in Brook­lyn. “The de­lays are still here. You look at the clocks that say [a train will ar­rive in] one minute. But 10 min­utes later, there is no train.”

Even as he touted the sys­tem’s im­prove­ments, By­ford con­ceded that MTA cus­tomers are still un­happy.

“We are as frus­trated as any­one that we’re not yet see­ing the sea change, the break­through in per­for­mance, that we all know that we have to have,” he con­ceded. “We’re go­ing to stick at it.” The MTA’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of sub­ways, Sally Li­br­era, out­lined some of the work com­pleted by crews since Gov. Cuomo de­clared a state of emer­gency on the sub­ways in June 2017.

Crews have fixed more than 13,000 track de­fects and in­stalled 30 miles of new rail. They’ve in­spected sig­nals at 11,000 lo­ca­tions in the sys­tem, and cleaned 8,7000 in­su­lated joints on sig­nal wiring.

Me­chan­i­cal sys­tems on more than 1,600 train cars — a quar­ter of the fleet — were re­paired. In­spec­tions were com­pleted on all 6,418 sub­way cars, and 800 doors got up­grades.

The re­sult: cus­tomers faced shorter waits on sub­way plat­forms — in June, waits av­er­aged one minute and 11 sec­onds.

The data “show that we have turned the cor­ner on our wors­en­ing re­li­a­bil­ity,” Li­br­era said.

“We know that we haven’t won it back yet and that we have more to do … We’re not declar­ing vic­tory to­day by any means,” she added.

But not ev­ery­thing is rosy, MTA data show.

Ma­jor in­ci­dents in­volv­ing at least 50 trains are vir­tu­ally un­changed. In Au­gust 2017, there were 63 such in­ci­dents. In Au­gust 2018, there were 62 — a drop of one.

Carl Weis­brod, an MTA board mem­ber ap­pointed by Mayor de Bla­sio, said the in­ten­sive re­pairs have at least sta­bi­lized the sub­way’s woes.

But he said the data touted by By­ford and other MTA staff show only a “mar­ginal im­prove­ment.”

Many rid­ers don’t even see mar­ginal changes.

“There’s still a sig­nif­i­cant amount of de­lays,” said Flora Choi, 30, an artist ot look­ing for­ward to the shut­down of the L train next year.

“I feel like a lot of New York­ers learn to live with it,” Choi said.

NYC Tran­sit Pres­i­dent Andy By­ford says sub­ways are get­ting bet­ter. Most straphang­ers, how­ever, would beg to dif­fer.

It feels like sar­dine city to straphang­ers, no mat­ter what NYC Tran­sit Prez Andy By­ford (be­low) says.

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