, Today, November 22, 2017
Photo via Wikipedia
After a wide-ranging investigation by the New York Times into the failures of the New York City subway system, the MTA is trying to step up its game, announcing that Andy Byford will become the next president of New York City Transit, the MTA agency responsible for subways, buses, para-transit services, and the Staten Island Railway. (Talk about pressure.) Byford, however, has a good track record after five years of reducing delays, improving rider satisfaction, and modernizing the Toronto Transit Commission. The MTA’s plan, according to the Times, is to change up leadership to “restore accountability and change a culture that for years has left the system lacking adequate funding or support.” But they’re already dealing with a high rate of turnover, as this will mark the agency’s fifth full-time leader in the past ten years.
He still faces massive challenges
Image © 6sqft
The crumbling of New York City’s subway system didn’t happen overnight. According to an investigation by the New York Times, the system’s current problems stem from nearly three decades of underinvestment by transit officials and elected politicians, who, despite its aging signals and equipment, have actually directed funding away from much-needed repairs. Now, New York’s subway has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world when looking at the data of the 20 biggest systems. Only 65 percent of weekday trains reach their destinations on time, the lowest rate since the transit crisis of the 1970s.
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MTA customer service ambassadors, photo courtesy of MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann
The first phase of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to modernize the subway focuses on improving communication between workers and riders. Last week, the MTA announced it would distribute about 230 iPhones to platform workers and train operators to pass along helpful information to straphangers about train problems and also provide alternative routes. Now, according to amNY, customer service ambassadors will roam subway stations to offer assistance, instead of staying in the booth. Over the next several weeks, ambassadors will be selected, trained and then placed at busy stations, especially those with a lot of tourists like Grand Central Terminal and Times Square.
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The 7-train will be getting the biggest boost in service this spring, photo via Wikimedia
In an attempt to increase subway ridership, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority next spring will add trains to six lines: the 2, 3, 7, N, W, and Q trains. The boost in service comes after data released by the MTA revealed that riders are opting for alternative transportation, like Uber, Lyft or Citibike, instead of dealing with the often delayed and disrupted subways and buses. According to amNY, the additional trains, which will cost the MTA $5 million annually, will run on nights and weekends, times when the authority believes demand is not being effectively met.
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Amtrak workers setting concrete on track 10 at Penn Station this summer, image via Amtrak
Amtrak announced on Monday its plan for the second phase of track renewal projects for Penn Station, set to begin this winter. Between January 5 and May 28 of next year, there will be continuous single-track closures, affecting Amtrak and commuter train operation at the Midtown transit hub. While similar to the infrastructure repairs that took place for eight weeks this past June, dubbed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the “summer of hell,” the impact will be less severe for commuters and most of the work will take place on the weekends.
Image via WNYC
Not only would the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new electronic fare payment system make commuting more efficient, it might also save money for low-income straphangers. According to amNY, advocates and experts say the new “contactless” technology could make the system more equitable through a policy called fare capping: riders pay per ride until the daily or weekly capping rates are reached, with every ride being free after that.
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According to the annual financial outlook report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, recent and much-needed improvements by the MTA may mean fare increases could come sooner than the ones that are already scheduled, Newsday reports. DiNapoli’s report pointed out that even if it gets the hoped-for additional government funding, recent improvement efforts that address subway performance could add up to $300 million annually, requiring an unscheduled fare and toll increase of about 4 percent. Currently, a 4 percent hike is planned for 2019, and another for 2021.
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The first ever MetroCard design by Runs With Scissors via Flickr/Creative Commons
No New Yorker’s life is complete without a MetroCard slipped into their wallet. For $2.75, it’ll get you from Brooklyn to the Bronx, and everywhere in between. But the lifespan of the MetroCard is perhaps shorter than you might think–the flimsy plastic card, complete with the Automated Fare Collection turnstiles, only became an everyday part of subway commuting in 1993. And in recent years, all signs point to the card becoming extinct. The testing phase of a mobile device scanning and payment system began this fall with plans to roll out a fully cardless system by 2020. And so in honor of the MetroCard’s brief lifespan as an essential commuter tool, 6sqft is delving into its history, iconic design, and the frustrations that come when that swipe just doesn’t go through.
E-train at the World Trade Center station, via Wikimedia
In a pilot program aimed at improving communication with commuters, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will give some of its workers iPhone 6s devices. The MTA will distribute about 230 phones to platform workers and train operators by the end of the week, as the Daily News learned. Text messages from the rail control center will be sent to the workers, detailing the cause and severity of delays. Workers will then pass on the information to riders, which will include available alternative routes.
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Photo courtesy of the MTA on Flickr
On Friday, the MTA unveiled custom doors designed to protect the city’s subway system from future floods. In October of 2012, Hurricane Sandy crippled Lower Manhattan, as well as most other parts of the city, with a 13-foot surge of water. Now, five years later, the MTA is installing custom-made, marine doors, equipped with inflatable gaskets to seal out water to be installed at the bottom of the subway’s stairwell (h/t WSJ). In addition to these doors, other stations will get metal hatch doors below street subway grates, fabric curtains to block flowing water and a system of interlocking stop logs at the entrance of some stations.
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