MTA Raises Subway Speed Limits at 24 Locations

The speed limit increases are part of NYC Transit's Save Safe Seconds campaign, which aims to efficiently and safely reduce travel time for subway customers.

The MTA New York City Transit recently announced it has implemented increased speed limits at 24 of the 68 locations where increases were approved by a safety committee. The transit agency called this progress in its ongoing efforts to safely increase subway speed limits and move customers more quickly throughout the system, reporting that it has also identified approximately 320 inaccurate timer signals and has recalibrated 59 of them. A new speed sign at the City Hall station on the R Subway line more than doubled the speed limit there from a system-wide low of 6 miles per hour to 15 mph.

The speed limit increases are part of NYC Transit's Save Safe Seconds campaign, which aims to efficiently and safely reduce travel time for subway customers. A team of employees known as the "SPEED Unit," which stands for Subway Performance Evaluation, Education and Development, was assembled in 2018 and has traversed almost every mile of track , conducting tests to determine whether or not certain segments of track might be able to support higher speeds than currently permitted. The team also tested the accuracy of speed regulating signals called "grade time signals" or "timer signals," with 95 percent of some 2,000 such signals tested since the initiative began in summer 2018. Approximately 320 faulty timer signals were discovered.

"I have directed my team to identify and resolve every root cause of delay; in doing so, we can then implement the right fix, often for little or no cost," said NYC Transit President Andy Byford. "The SPEED Unit continues to examine hundreds of miles of track to find areas where we can safely increase speeds. Their work is absolutely essential and demonstrates that New York City Transit employees are fully committed to making tangible changes that will improve service for our customers. I look forward to announcing additional improvements soon and commend all of our workers who are doing their part each and every day to 'Save Safe Seconds' for our customers."

The committee includes members of NYC Transit's Office of System Safety, as well as other personnel who work on operations planning, service delivery, and track and signal maintenance and repair.

On Jan. 24, in a similar move, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city will speed up buses citywide with dedicated NYPD teams towing cars parked in bus lanes in all five boroughs. The city has set a goal of boosting bus speeds by 25 percent by 2020, using increased enforcement and street redesign. "It shouldn't be so hard to get around the greatest city in the world," de Blasio said. "Buses are a critical link in our public transportation system, but too often they are painfully slow. I hope all New Yorkers get the message that we have to keep bus lanes clear to get people moving and to work on time."

Meanwhile, MTA Metro-North Railroad announced Jan. 22 that nine of its employees have been recognized for working together to save an unresponsive customer on board a train. Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi thanked the employees for their extraordinary efforts and teamwork at a meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board's Metro-North Committee.

The incident happened on Dec. 20, 2018, on the 5:17 p.m. train from Grand Central bound for Wassaic. A customer cried for help because a fellow passenger was lying prone on the train floor; it looked like he had stopped breathing, and his face was blue. General Foreman Jason Tiller, who was on the train platform, placed a radio call to the MTA Police Department and Metro-North's Fire Brigade, and Assistant Conductor John Hagan cleared a path so first responders could get to the customer in distress as quickly as possible.

After receiving Tiller's call, Laurence Jacobs, Grand Central Terminal Fire Brigade assistant chief; Sohail Peter, a Grand Central Terminal Fire Brigade volunteer; and MTA Police officers were at the scene. Jacobs and Peter took the reins from an off-duty Emergency Medical Technician who happened to be on the train and was performing manual CPR on the victim.

Jacobs and Peter moved the man from the aisle into an open space in the car and then administered two shocks to his chest with a defibrillator. "You approach every emergency scene with confidence, ready to help and with good thoughts for the person's recovery," said Peter, who works as a custodian for Metro-North and has been volunteering for the Fire Bridge for 17 years. "Shortly after we started working to resuscitate the man, we felt a pulse, and he started breathing again. That was the greatest moment."

MTA Police officers waved down an ambulance, which transported the man to the nearest hospital. He has since been released and has made a full recovery, MTA Metro-North Railroad reported.

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