NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The head of New York City’s Transit Authority was on the hot seat Tuesday, as city council members demanded an update on the progress of the “Fast Forward Plan.”
Andy Byford testified before the council’s Transportation Committee, and provided an update on the MTA’s state of emergency as well.
WATCH: Andy Byford Testifies Before City Council Committee
During his presentation, Byford said the agency is making progress.
“I set my team a target of cutting the number of delay incidents by 10,000 every month,” he said. “For the third month in a row we have beaten that target.”
The Fast Forward Plan, said Byford, will modernize the city’s subway system in ten years. He admitted there was much more work left to do, namely upgrading authority’s ancient signal system. Once that’s sorted out, he said the next step would be expanding the fleet.
“New subway cars, new buses, we could make more than 50 additional stations accessible,” Byford said. “That’s a doubling of the current rate.”
Byford said the MTA would redesign all 321 bus routes within the first three years of the plan, and completely renovate 300 subway stations within ten years.
The authority would also introduce a new fare payment system, eliminating the MetroCard. The Fast Forward Plan is ambitious, so the big question from City Hall Tuesday was how Byford plans on paying for it.
Byford said a fare hike will be up to the MTA board, but he says he hopes controversial congestion pricing will be adopted.
“Riders can’t afford to pay more for services continuing to decline,” Nick Sifuentes from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign said.
The transit chief said the key is to now convince stakeholders in Albany, New York City, and Washington that it’s a worthwhile investment.
“It’s good for New York, it’s good for the state, and I’d argue it’s good for the United States,” he said.
Byford called the more than $30 billion Fast Forward Plan a golden opportunity to keep riders on mass transit instead of jumping in a car.
The MTA is in the midst of holding public hearings to discuss subway, bus, rail, and toll hikes to raise the estimated $60 billion needed to get the entire mass transit system back on track.