Next month the MTA is trying out a new approach to maintenance work, shutting down much of a subway line overnight during the week so workers can inspect, fix and replace equipment like signals and switches. A line segment will stop running at about 10 p.m. each night until about 5 a.m., and will be closed for three or four consecutive weeknights. And some New Yorkers are already loving it!

Transportation Alternatives has just released a survey showing that an overwhelming majority—66 percent—of those surveyed prefer weeknight shutdowns from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The poll was conducted among participants in the Rider Rebellion, a group whose mission is "to pressure elected officials to stand up for riders and provide stable, long term funding for subways and buses." Because the survey was limited to people who are already active in demanding transit improvements, it's probably not a representative sampling of the full spectrum of working stiffs and fallen aristocrats who ride the rails each day.

But it's still interesting, because these are the opinions of people who have gotten so disgruntled with the MTA that they've decided to actually get involved. Out of the 748 respondents, over 81 percent were opposed to weekend service changes, while only 13 percent supported a 24/7 shutdown on an entire line for a few days. So come next month, instead of multiple weekend service disruptions for weeks at a time, subway lines will be closed at night for up to two or three weeks. The first shutdown will happen on Jan 9th -13th on the Lexington Ave 4,5,6, from Grand Central to Atlantic Avenue. Here are the other shutdowns on the horizon:

  • 7th Ave 1,2,3: 34th St to Atlantic - Feb 13 -17, 2012
  • 6th Ave B,D,F,M: 59th St to W 4th St -Feb 20 -24, 2012
  • 8th Ave A,C,E: 59th St to Jay St -Mar 12 -16, 2012

The survey results were sent in a press release with the headline "Shocker: MTA Does Something Riders Like." Naturally, we forwarded this to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, who told us, "Since we operate around the clock, it's always a challenge to find time to do work on the tracks, especially as ridership continues to increase on weekends. So, we are thinking outside of the box seeking new ways to minimize rider inconvenience, maintain worker safety and reduce the overall time it takes to complete major track and signal repair work. Carefully planned, such closures would only be employed where alternate service is available."