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R-evisionist: MTA fixing schedules, not R trains

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The trains do not run on time. The trains have always run on time.

In an apparent display of double-speak, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority honcho said the Authority will make tardy R trains run on schedule — by adjusting the schedule.

“We are, however, in the process of revising the weekday schedules on all of our subway lines to better reflect current operating conditions. These revisions include the R, which we expect will allow us to provide more reliable service,” wrote New York City Transit president Carmen Bianco in a Dec. 31 response to a Ridge politician’s call for an audit of the R line.

The petitioning pol likened the response to something out of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece “1984.”

“It’s not only Orwellian, but it’s almost an admission that we’re right,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), who called for an audit of the R line in October. “ ‘More reliable service’ implies that service is not reliable.”

But a spokesman for the transit agency defended the schedule revision as a long-overdue update.

“The fact of the matter is that scheduled running times for lines have not been adjusted in nearly 20 years,” Kevin Ortiz said. “Much has changed in the past 20 years — skyrocketing ridership, more aggressive maintenance, and ongoing rebuilding and construction that must be factored into running times. We are now moving nearly 6 million people a day (with more trains) instead of approximately 3.5 million back in 1994.”

Bianco told Gentile that the Authority is reviewing the A and C lines and doesn’t have the resources to conduct a concurrent review of the R line. He did not commit to conducting a review at a later date.

Straphangers and Bay Ridge politicians say that service has gone downhill since the Montague Tubes reopend late last year.

The Authority closed the R’s connection between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 13 months in August 2013 to repair damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy. The tunnel re-opened in September — on time and under budget.

But the honeymoon was brief, and riders soon reported worse service than before the project began.

Bianco said the Authority put more trains on the tracks after the repairs, which could have lead to delays.

“In terms of scheduled service, the peak frequency of R service was increased from nine to 10 trains per hour with the reopening of the Montague Tunnel, slightly increasing the likelihood of delays due to congestion,” he wrote.

A recent Daily News review of Authority data showed one-quarter of subways arrive late — meaning they reach the end of the line more than five minutes after scheduled — but Bianco said R trains are on time.

“During the am and pm rush hours, R service now runs every six minutes on average, as it did prior to the Montague Tunnel closure,” he wrote.

Gentile is compiling evidence that the line is poorly served and is asking riders to share their R train stories via his Facebook page.

“I’m going to continue to press them on this issue,” he said. “I want specific info — ammo — from riders.”

The Authority is expected to vote on a fare hike later this month.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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