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Ask the MTA | Improving station access and explaining N/R/W train service


amNewYork Metro, in conjunction with the MTA, present “Ask the MTA,” a column where MTA officials answer your questions about transit service in New York City. If you have a question for the MTA about subways, buses, commuter rails and more, email askthemta[@]amny.com.

Q: Would you be able to install an escalator or elevator for the F train station at McDonald Av? I’ve been climbing up the stairs for 30 years now, and I’m very tired. It’s hard for me. — Sarah Alacan

A: That station is not currently scheduled to receive an escalator or elevator, but elevators are on the way for the nearby Avenue I station as part of our historic 2020-2024 Capital Program, which includes an unprecedented $5.2 billion investment in accessibility. The current goal is to make sure that riders are never more than two stations away from a station with an elevator.

Our 117-year-old subway system was designed many decades before the Americans with Disabilities Act, so there’s a lot catching up to do, and we’re working hard to get it done. The MTA has installed elevators and other ADA upgrades at 14 stations since the start of the pandemic and awarded contracts for another 16 projects in 2021 alone.

We look forward to building on this momentum in future capital programs and appreciate your support for making the 18th Av-McDonald Av station accessible.

– Quemuel Arroyo, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer

Q: I travel to and from work Monday thru Friday. I board the N train at Kings Highway and exit at 34th St-Herald Square. My question: Why are there Brooklyn bound R & W trains every 4 minutes and N trains every 18 minutes on my return trip? The N train is packed, and the R and W trains are practically empty. Please explain this to me. — James

A: To give you an idea of the schedule, Brooklyn-bound N and R trains are scheduled to operate an average of every 6 minutes at the 34th St-Herald Square station during the afternoon rush. W trains are scheduled a little less frequently than that, at roughly every 8½ minutes. So, R and W trains combined are meant to be pulling in every 3½ to 4 minutes. While we try to run an on-time railroad, delays do sometimes happen.

As for how heavily loaded the trains are, we schedule rush hour service based on how many people are riding at the most crowded point along a line.
The N line, which takes a faster route to Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge than the R, picks up most of its Brooklyn-bound riders during the afternoon rush hour in Midtown and is generally most crowded leaving Canal St.

The R line, however, takes a longer route via Whitehall St and picks up most of its Brooklyn-bound riders in Lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn; it is generally most crowded at Jay St-Metrotech. As a result, the R is less crowded than the N at 34th St-Herald Square since it’s still on its way to pick up most of its riders.

As for the W, it doesn’t go to Brooklyn, so it stands to reason that downtown W trains would be less crowded at 34th Street than Brooklyn-bound N trains.

– Allyson Bechtel, NYCT Director of Operations Analysis

Send us your questions at [email protected].



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