MTA Subway Plan Includes Pilot Program That Would Remove Some Subway Seats To Increase Capacity

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Straphangers are sounding off on the MTA’s new $836 million plan to stabilize the beleaguered subway system.

Straphangers packed a room at MTA headquarters in Lower Manhattan for a board meeting, where Chairman Joe Lhota got an earful over the subway overhaul plan.

“I would like to know from this body, what you thought of the new MTA head’s proposal for fixing public transportation,” activist Tony Murphy asked the audience, who yelled out “Boo” and “No.”

“It really took the summer of hell for someone to get on TV and talk about something that should have been done decades ago,” Murphy said.

Protesters carried glow sticks and illuminated signs mocking Cuomo, demanding that he stop spending millions on what they call “pretty lights on bridges” and fix the city’s subways, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Queens) was among them, demanding that the highest earners step up and pay for the crumbling subway system.

“We are at a historic moment of wealth concentration in this country. The wealthy are wealthier than ever and the worker people are working harder just to stand still,” he said. “The last thing we’re going to want to do is have those people who are already suffering at the hands of the subway system suffer even more by asking them to pay for the fixes that are necessary.”

Daisy Szeto, of Astoria, said the plan is nowhere near where it needs to go in order to work.

“Come on MTA chairman Lhota help us out, really. We’re all New Yorkers here, we’re trying to get to work, trying to get to where we need to go,” she said. “I rely on the R train, I rely on the ferry and on the buses. I can’t swim across to Staten Island. Help. Us. Out.”

The first phase of the plan will focus on signal and track maintenance, car reliability, system safety and cleanliness, customer communications and management.

“New Yorkers are rightfully frustrated with the current state of the subways, and their demands for better service have been heard,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said.

The plan also includes adding cars to some subway trains where station platforms can handle it and a pilot program for standing room only cars — subway cars with no seats — to increase capacity by 25 riders per car.

The Times Square shuttle and the L trains will be the first to get it. But some riders say they’re skeptical.

“Standing? Oh no,” said Brooklyn resident Wisly Desalmours. “What if it’s delayed or a long ride?”

“Wow, I think that’s a last-resort type of thing,” said Williamsburg resident Adam Omeljaniuk.

“I think it’s s little bit crazy because what about people who require a seat so I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Amira Sargeant of the Bronx.

Others say they’re willing to give it a chance if it means fewer delays.

“Everyone just shoves in and stands, more people will get here,” Lynbrook resident Emily Berger said.

The MTA is also promising a cleanup of the entire system with accelerated track repairs with 31 specialized teams and getting response times to incidents to be cut down by two-thirds.

The chairman also says littering laws need to be better enforced. NYPD transit cops only issued 80 tickets last year.

Lhota said the second phase of the plan would focus on modernizing the system, a much more massive and costly undertaking, and would be outlined in the coming weeks.

But who should pay for it? Lhota is asking the city to chip in.

“The city owns the system, they’ve given it to us to run. I’m here to run the system as efficiently and as effectively as possible,” he said. “I’m going to go to my partners at the state and at the city and ask them to help fund the first year.”

But Mayor Bill de Blasio, so far, isn’t making promises.

“The MTA has to spend the money it has effectively, efficiently and on a real schedule,” he said.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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