How MTA Prepped for the Montague Tubes Closure

The Fix&Fortify reconstruction project currently underway in the Montague Tubes required a restructuring of R Subway service, affecting 65.000 customers each weekday.  To give workers uninterrupted access to the tubes for the next 14 months, there is no R Subway service beyond Court St. on the Brooklyn side and the line ends at Whitehall St. in Lower Manhattan.

Prior to the start of this temporary service plan, an enormous amount of work had to be performed.  From planning the service to the creation of the subway maps, staff at MTA New York City Transit worked to take some of the sting out of what will be a major inconvenience for thousands of subway riders daily.

“Planning and execution for this project has been a major collaborative effort among the departments and divisions of NYC Transit.  Everyone has been working with an eye toward keeping our customers informed while completing this project as efficiently as possible,” said Carmen Bianco, Acting President, New York City Transit.

The project’s complexity called for a decision by Capital Program Management that would determine if the job would be best accomplished under a series of shutdowns or the complete closure of the tubes.  By alternately closing and opening the tubes, reconstruction would have gone into 2017, a period when systems and components would only deteriorate further.

Once it was determined that work would be done under a complete shutdown, Operations Planning went to work developing an alternate service plan.  This meant creating two new terminals for the R Subway -- Court St. in Downtown Brooklyn and Whitehall St. at the southern tip of Manhattan.

For 14 months R Subway trains will have four terminals rather than the normal two.  Creating new terminals required extensive signal and electrical work which essentially transformed a normally through station to the end of the line where trains would switch tracks on one and be blocked from going any farther on the other. 

Changes to informational signage were also required as well as shifts in personnel to support the new service. For this project, a total of 528 entry, way-finding, and platform edge signs were adjusted at 60 stations.

Additionally, until riders become accustomed to the new travel patterns, employees will be in the system to direct R Subway riders to alternate services.  Attention was particularly paid to other lines that would see increased ridership during the shutdown, including additional personnel and increased inspections. 

Months in advance of the service changes, the Marketing Division of Corporate Communications began preparing printed materials that would alert customers to the changes and describe the work to be done.  With the project now underway, customers can expect regular updates on accomplishments via monthly posters and weekly web entries.  “Our customers deserve to know what we are doing as this job moves forward and we are telling it using a combination of words and pictures,” noted Paul Fleuranges, Vice President of Corporate Communications.

NYC Transit’s office of Government Affairs and Community Relations and the MTA Press Office were also out ahead of the closures, notifying elected representatives, local community boards and the press, who would go on to disseminate the information via television, radio and newspaper.

Like most of the work done at New York City Transit, the Montague Tubes Fix is a cooperative effort bringing Departments and Divisions together with the single goal of providing safe and efficient transportation for our customers.


Train Service Supervisor Anthony Seymour Assists Customers
Brochures on Service Changes Available