NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Transit President Andy Byford hosted an online chat Thursday morning with commuters.

The new chief of subways took questions on Twitter for 90 minutes via the #AskNYCT hashtag to @NYCTSubway.

Byford said it’s important to have regular and direct contact with transit riders. He used to hold tweet sessions with riders in Toronto when he ran the city’s transit system.

Questions ranged from the simple customer service issues (getting refunds on subway fares) to the obscure (what’s your favorite Smith’s song).

JGoldny: #AskNYCT @SarahMeyerNYC how do we get a refund when we swiped a metrocard, went downstairs, and then the trains stopped? Do we need to file a complaint with @nyc311 @NYCDCA

@NYCTSubway: Hello Josh, so sorry for the inconvenience. Please speak to a station agent and request a “block ticket” to gain access to another station. @SarahMeyerNYC is revisiting our refund procedures to make things easier and faster for our customers. Stay tuned for updates. #AskNYCT ^ABNYCT Subway

@JustinBrannan: #AskNYCT What’s your favorite Smiths song

@NYCTSubway: Great question, Justin! Thank you for your service. The Smiths are my favorite band. I love There’s a Light That Never Goes Out, Panic, and This Charming Man. #AskNYCT ^AB

@nevona: Hi Andy (@NYCTSubway) – is there a definitive plan to introduce open-gangway subway cars? Any timeline in place? #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: We’ve just let a contract for new R211 trains that includes two open gangway trains that we will trial. I am a fan of such technology, but it is important that we ensure that it can be deployed on New York’s demanding subway infrastructure. #AskNYCT ^AB

@SpicyKicy: #asknyct You plan to raise fares next year, can you promise better service with the fare increase?

@NYCTSubway: Any fare raise will be for the MTA Board to determine. Regardless of what happens, I have come here to improve service in every aspect of our operation. #AskNYCT ^AB

@leslieehrlich: #AskNYCT Have you, ^AB, reviewed the L Train shutdown plan and do you think it is adequate? How do you see the good, the bad, and the ugly? @NYCTSubway @2AvSagas

@NYCTSubway: Hi Leslie, I have reviewed the plan, and there is no question that the L train shutdown will be a huge challenge. That said, there is still time to refine the plan, and we are working closely with the City and NYPD to provide smooth service throughout the closure. #AskNYCT ^AB

@summvee: #asknyct who schedules track work and maintenance?lately getting in &out of Queens has been a nightmare. two stations are closed on the N line, R trains will be express in both directions. it doesn’t seem like a larger picture is looked at before scheduling interruptions.

@NYCTSubway: Hi Summer. I’ll ask my team to look at the specifics, but the broad answer is that our Operations Planning team works with the Rail Control Center to schedule and manage maintenance work. We’re catching up with decades of underinvestment, which makes this challenging #AskNYCT ^AB

@JarekFA: .@NYCTSubway Can you do something about the ridiculous headways on weekends? In London they run nearly as many trains on weekends as on weekdays. Here, due to service work, if I need a transfer, it almost always means I’m taking an Uber. #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: The challenge we face is tackling decades of underinvestment that is manifesting itself in poor subway reliability. For this reason, a huge amount of work is being undertaken at quieter periods, but we try to balance this to still provide service. #AskNYCT ^AB

@Thisours2k16: #AskNYCT Andy, In your travels, What improvements can be made in customer service(Human interaction) ?

@NYCTSubway: I am very encouraged with the quality, professionalism, and passion of NYC Transit frontline staff that I have met to date. We intend to further equip our staff with training and tools to provide even better service. #AskNYCT ^AB

@ohheysarahc: Why are you shutting down several stations on the Upper West Side for major renovations and NOT making them handicapped accessible? #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: These stations require work to address infrastructure problems and while we are onsite, we will make further improvements. Installing elevators will be address via a separate program and I have made this a top priority. #AskNYCT ^AB

@PetroPubPolicy: #AskNYCT The delays going in and out of DeKalb interlocking at rush hours can be a mess. How can we fix it? Is it a matter of signals, or more/better dispatching? Or eliminating branching service?

@NYCTSubway: I’d say it’s a bit of both in terms of signals and dispatching. Fundamentally, we need to upgrade signals, switches, and other equipment. In parallel, I need my team to be on the ball with timely, decisive dispatch of trains. #AskNYCT ^AB

@parryriposte: #AskNYCT Why are you not addressing the questions regarding the unreliability of unlimited metrocards and the delay in having them replaced? The #MTA holding 28 days of funds on a defective 30-day unlimited card is not helpful for folks of limited means who rely on their cards.

@NYCTSubway: MetroCards have served us well, but are now old technology. For that reason, we are migrating to contactless payment whereby you can pay for fare using your phone or a credit card. In the meantime, we’re looking at ways to speed up refunds or card replacements. #AskNYCT ^AB

@SarahMaslinNir: Why doesn’t the L train shutdown plan, which calls for closing and renovating the Manhattan L stops, include making them accessible to the disabled during the renovation? With just 23 percent of NYC’s subway system accessible, do you feel this is a missed opportunity? #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: Hi Sarah. Ideally, we would do that, but there’s a limit to how much work can be done during the shutdown. Some accessibility work will be done, and I have initiated a survey of the remaining inaccessible stations as I want to make them all accessible. #AskNYCT ^AB

@IriseStillKing: #AskNYCT why cant the tellers just issue you a new card when the horribly ineffecient machines take your money? why do we have to mail out a form and wait a month for something they should be able to issue you immediately?

@NYCTSubway: I totally agree, Maleek. I think it is outrageous that customers should have to wait for a refund when we have let them down. It will take a bit of time, but we’re working to change procedures so that problems can be resolved on the spot. #AskNYCT ^AB

@glambykari: Is there a way to have a scheduled review of the trains prior to dispatching them for rush hour? The delays due to “mechanical malfunction” is absurd. Our cars have to pass an inspection test every year. What about trains? #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: Hi Karina, trains are maintained on a regular basis, including overnight monthly and annual inspections. We’ve stepped up our door and other mechanical inspections to make trains more reliable. They should certainly not be entering service with mechanical defects. #AskNYCT ^AB

@kimfunk: To NYC Transit President Byford: what riders want is consistent, reliable service without daily delays on majority of lines. This is not what is being offered. There are CONSTANTLY “signal delays”

@NYCTSubway: Two things:
1. The Subway Action Plan is tackling a huge backlog of maintenance to make the existing system work more reliably.
2. I’m pressing for the funding and political backing to completely renew the entire NYC Transit signaling system. #AskNYCT ^AB

@bronxmatthew: #AskNYCT There are some who have argued that the Subway should not run 24/7. Thoughts on that terrible idea?

@NYCTSubway: I think it’s great that our city has 24/7 service, and there are no plans to change that. That said, if we are to resignal the subway, which we must, we will need to suspend service on occasions to allow work to take place. #AskNYCT ^AB

@PharmerNolan: @NYCTSubway #AskNYCT Hi Mr. Byford, – Any thoughts on subway conductor announcements when
1. The intercom is low volume / muffled
2. The conductor talks too fast / cuts off transmission because of intercom button mishandle
3. Conductor unable to annunciate effectively?
Thanks

@NYCTSubway: Hi Nolan. There are a number of factors that influence the audibility of announcements. We are working to improve the technology and in parallel, my Chief Customer Officer @SarahMeyerNYC is training conductors to help them make excellent announcements. #AskNYCT ^AB

@RachelNobel: #AskNYCT As someone who commutes from central Queens to downtown Manhattan every day, my feedback is that I would 10000% rather you spend money on fixing the signal system and getting me to work on time rather than brand-new countdown clocks that are inaccurate much of the time.

@NYCTSubway: I don’t think it’s a case of either or. Since day one, I’ve said that the most critical project is to completely resignal the subway, and I am pressing for funds to do just that. But accurate information is also needed, hence the clocks. #AskNYCT ^AB

@kimfunk: I guess I did not phrase this as a question. What are you doing to provide consistent, reliable service and end the epidemic of signal delays? @mta @NYCTSubway @straphangers #AskNYCT #nyctsubway

@NYCTSubway: Two things:
1. The Subway Action Plan is tackling a huge backlog of maintenance to make the existing system work more reliably.
2. I’m pressing for the funding and political backing to completely renew the entire NYC Transit signaling system. #AskNYCT ^AB

@SDJohnson515: Why are the station restrooms filthy? Where is staff to keep them clean? #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: Decent, clean restrooms are a basic. We are revising the way we run stations to provide much more focus on ensuring that all aspects of our stations are improved, and this includes provision of clean restrooms. #AskNYCT ^AB

@bronxmatthew: #AskNYCT There are some who have argued that the Subway should not run 24/7. Thoughts on that terrible idea?

@NYCTSubway: I think it’s great that our city has 24/7 service, and there are no plans to change that. That said, if we are to resignal the subway, which we must, we will need to suspend service on occasions to allow work to take place. #AskNYCT ^AB

@SDJohnson515: Why are the station restrooms filthy? Where is staff to keep them clean? #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: Decent, clean restrooms are a basic. We are revising the way we run stations to provide much more focus on ensuring that all aspects of our stations are improved, and this includes provision of clean restrooms. #AskNYCT ^AB

@ReelTalker: Are subways equipped with cameras? What are you doing to help prevent physical attacks and unsolicited performances on the subway? #asknyct

@NYCTSubway: We’re working very closely with NYPD and with @MTAPD to increase the visibility of police in our system. One element of my soon-to-be-released modernization plan will be steps to make the system even safer and more secure. #AskNYCT ^AB

@kristenrapp: @NYCTSubway Thanks for reaching out to us here on Twitter — are there plans to reach out to other audiences? Maybe something like a subway town hall? #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: Hi Kristen, you read my mind. I’ve already spoken with @SarahMeyerNYC, our new Chief Customer Officer about other ways to engage with customers, including on stations and subway town halls. Watch this space. #AskNYCT ^AB

@Aoiferocksitout: @NYCTSubway #Disabled riders want to know when the study into making all stations accessible will be completed, we want seats on trains, benches in stations, what will you do to let us be able to ride our own subway? #AccessibilityMatters #DisabledRightsAreCivilRights #MTA

@NYCTSubway: The survey is just getting underway now. It will take two years to survey the whole system, but I intend to provide quarterly progress updates in public, to the Board. Accessibility is one of my four equal priorities. #AskNYCT ^AB

@merrymarymare: What about the homeless and children who do not have either of those items? What do people do when they lose their phone and do not have CCs? I know plenty of adults who chose not to own a credit card. #AskNYCT

@NYCTSubway: Our contactless payment system will include the option to buy a single trip with cash. #AskNYCT ^AB

@kerrryann: #AskNYCT Do you have a better solution to upgrade subway systems without suspending lines or stations for a long period of time?

@NYCTSubway: We are looking at ways to minimize the inevitable disruption that complete resignaling of the subway will entail. That said, it’s impossible to avoid any line closures as crews need access to the tunnel when trains are not moving. #AskNYCT ^AB

“Job one – the most important thing – is to re-signal this railway. That has to happen,” Byford told reporters as he rode the rails after the Q&A. “For that, we need the money, we need the political backing, and we’ll need New Yorkers patience while we do that.”

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