F Line Tops The List of Subway Lines With Preventable Delays


On the heels of a terrifying derailment that left 19 commuters injured–four of them seriously–on Friday, comes a report confirming, yes, subway service has definitely deteriorated in the last two years. The F line, where Friday’s derailment occurred, tops a list of train lines with the most delay-causing problems.

According to an analysis by the Straphangers Campaign, delay-generating “incidents” in the subways jumped 35% between 2011 and 2013. An incident, says Gene Russianoff staff attorney for the advocacy group, can be “a mechanical problem, a switch that doesn’t work, police activity, sick passenger — it’s sort of the litany of bad things that can happen to you or your train while you are traveling.”

For this study though the Straphangers Campaign eliminated police activity and sick passenger delays, only factoring in incidents that the MTA could conceivably have prevented. There were 3,998 of those delays on all subways lines in 2013, up from 2,967 in 2011.

The line with the most delays was the F but, Russianoff cautions, the fact that most problems occurred on that line that doesn’t necessarily mean Friday’s accident was related to those problems.

“We’re in no way saying that just because the F is the train with the most delays that that had anything to do with the derailment,” Russianoff says. “They’re still trying to figure out what caused it and what needs to be done to deal with it.”

The stretch of F line where Friday’s accident occurred is also one of five stretches identified during a Capital Program Oversight Committee meeting in February as “critical rail break corridors” (see below map). Those five locations had the highest concentration of broken rails over the past 8 years. But, Russianoff insists, that doesn’t necessarily mean much either: “We’ve concluded that its unlikely but not impossible that the fact that this was in a rail break area contributed to the accident. It looks unlikely.”

More likely, in Russianoff’s opinion, is the potential that the derailment may have been tied to new railing installed in the area in February 2014. “It’s a brand new rail, so to me that’s the question: why does a brand new rail err to derailment? It shouldn’t. It raises questions about whether or not an adequate job was being done replacing rails.”

After the jump, the top five most delayed and top five least delayed lines…

Train Lines With the Highest Number of Preventable Delays

1. F
2. 4
3. 2
4. N
5. 5

Train Lines With the Lowest Number of Preventable Delays

1. J/Z
2. G
3. C
4. M
5. 1

As in past years, mechanical problems were by far the cause of the greatest number of delays last year, making up 35%, or 1,411 of incidents. Signal issues caused 1,230 delays — the second largest group in 2013. Delays related to track problems doubled over two years, increasing from 254 in 2011 to 510 last year.