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F Train Weekend Disruptions Necessary to Replace 1930s-Era Equipment: MTA

By Danielle Tcholakian | February 21, 2017 3:43pm
 The signal equipment on the Sixth Avenue line dates back to the 1930s, the MTA said.
The signal equipment on the Sixth Avenue line dates back to the 1930s, the MTA said.
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DNA/Stephanie Keith

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The service disruptions that have plagued the F train for the past few weekends were necessary to replace the Sixth Avenue line's 1930s-era signal equipment, MTA officials said at a meeting Tuesday.

MTA Department of Subways Senior Vice President Wynton Habersham said roughly 30 percent of the subway system's signal infrastructure was installed before 1965 and has never been updated. Signals along the Sixth Avenue line, for example, date back to the 1930s, he added.

"To improve service, we have to impact service," Habersham said.

The past few weekends' service changes on the F line were scheduled to allow the MTA to replace the Sixth Avenue line's signal equipment and control towers with a new master tower "that will improve our ability to monitor and control service, as well as reduce signal-related failures on the Sixth Avenue corridor," Hambersham said.

Habersham noted that signal failures are "a considerable cause of subway delays." 

MTA data consistently shows overcrowding is the top cause of subway delays, and transit advocates have said that the most effective solution to that issue would be updating the subway system's antiquated signal technology to facilitate moving more trains through the system.

READ MORE: Overcrowding Is Top Cause of Weekday Subway Delays, MTA Stats Show

Habersham noted Tuesday that the MTA is investing "more than $1 billion to install CBTC" — a more modern signal system known as Communication-Based Train Control — "which will allow more trains to run more closely together."

There will be at least one more "planned outage" on the Sixth Avenue line to finish upgrading the signal system, Habersham said.

"If we're going to improve the system in a meaningful way, the planned outages are necessary," he said.