The NYC subway is one of the most heavily used metro systems in the world, and ridership has been increasing. It has the most stations and tracks of any subway system world-wide. Unfortunately, it is also one of the oldest systems and has serious needs for maintenance and repairs, replacements, and modernization: more than 1/3 of mainline signals have past their 50-year useful life, and more than 1/4 are over 70 years old. (PDF p.5). Also, during times when ridership was down, more than 100 entrances/exits to existing stops were closed. Now, overcrowding and delays at some of the busiest stops could be improved if these additional entrances/exits were reopened. These needs in existing lines and stations are on top of projects to expand into new service areas.
The originally proposed $32 billion MTA 2015-2019 capital plan (PDF, p.16-17,66-67,136-37) included the following work:
- install "tap and go" contact-less payment technology to speed fare collection
- replacing old signal systems with automated CBTC technology that will allow more trains per hour; also station "countdown clocks" for incoming trains. CBTC technology is one way MTA hopes to reduce delays that have reached record levels.
- replace 940 Division B cars, which are nearing the end of their useful life
- bring 20 existing stations into SOGR, and do backlogged repairs at 150 more
- structural work at Times Square and Grand Central-42d St. Stations; repair of structural defects in 11 tunnels; emergency exit rehabilitation
- more ADA handicap accessibility work
- electricity network repairs, track and switch repair/replacement, tunnel lighting
- repairing and improving the Staten Island Railroad, including new power substations, customer info signs and track replacement.
- continued expansion of Harlem/Bronx section of Second Avenue subway
The most controversial change in the recently revised $29 billion plan (PDF) is to substantially delay work on the East Harlem portion of the new 2d Ave. subway line. The 67% cut in the originally proposed budget surprised transit experts and critics, including Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez, point out that the decision disproportionately affects less affluent neighborhoods with serious public transit needs.
Some, including the Citizens Budget Commission, have criticized the MTA for not devoting relatively more resources to replacing and upgrading existing equipment and facilities (PDF), but obviously there is competing pressure to extend service into underserved areas. And delays in delivery of new cars have frustrated many transit officials and advocates, since old cars increase MTA maintenance costs and contribute to service delays.
The Move NY Fair Plan proposes to reduce subway crowding by funding more trains on the JZ,1,QN,G,L and C lines, as well as increasing frequency of trains (although the ability to do this depends, at least in part, on deploying the new CBTC technology, as well as reducing breakdowns through replacement of track and cars). It also proposes funding station and platform upgrades that allow faster, and more accessible, movement of commuters. (Transit Capacity PDF.)
►What would you identify as the priorities for MTA? If you do use the subway, would you be willing to pay higher fares to get those improvements?
►If you don't use the subway, why not? Are there improvements that would make subway use more attractive to you?
Did you know that beginning in July 2016, many NYC employers will have to offer employees the option of purchasing up to $130 of transit passes each month with pre-tax income? By not having to pay federal tax on this money, the average employee can save $400 a year--and many people will save even more. (Employers also save by not having to pay payroll taxes on this money).