NYtick: weekends to be slightly less miserable on subways, and always check service advisories

The New York Times reported this week a plan to move some of the soul-crushing weekend subway service disruptions to blocks of weeknights. Potentially bad news for night owls and night shift workers, but a relief to weekend tourists.

Tourists are often overwhelmed by New York’s subway network and the mystifying signage at stations do little to help.  They are often totally unprepared for the torture of ‘planned service disruptions.’ Most subway systems in the world do not operate 24 x 7 so use the down time to conduct maintenance. New York’s runs 24 x 7 so maintenance is squeezed in through endlessly shifting service disruptions, generally on weekends. These can take many forms, from diversions to other lines to shuttle bus services. The MTA homepage prominently displays disruptions, planned and unplanned, with links to details.

A typical example is, for the 1 train:

No trains between 168 St and 242 St

trains, M3 and free shuttle buses provide alternate service
Weekend, 12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Nov 19 – 21

service operates between South Ferry and 168 St.

The advisory then goes into complex details about the shuttle service, but the message is clear: avoid the 1 train in the directly affected northern section and assume there may be delays throughout the line.
Notices posted in stations have recently improved but it is best to research in advance to avoid frustration, especially since maps are sometimes difficult to locate within stations, and the notices can be hard to decode without a map to reference.
Generally, if at all possible, The Rapid Traveler avoids any line with a service disruption. He takes an alternate line or finds alternate transport.

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  • It isn’t just tourists affected on the weekends. Back in the day the ridership numbers were dramatically lower on the weekends so it made sense to do the work then. These days there is not nearly as much of a drop on the weekends so the impact is enormous. Doing the work late-night rather than on the weekends will likely affect far fewer customers.