NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced his office has learned that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will likely miss its deadline to install Positive Train Control (PTC).
Schumer said the agency plans to ask, as early as Monday, for a two-year extension on its federally mandated deadline to have PTC put on trains by Dec. 31, 2018.
Schumer told reporters that while the New Year’s ball drops in New York’s Times Square, local rails will “have dropped the ball” again on making trains safer. New York’s senior U.S. senator added that the agency has had more than enough time to upgrade its trains and argued that an extension is not needed.
“The money is there. Why the heck is the MTA, Metro-North, LIRR, NYC subways taking so darn long to get this done? There is no good excuse,” Sen. Schumer said.
The MTA quickly responded to Schumer’s charges.
“Metro-North and the LIRR have met all Federal PTC requirements for 2018. Nationwide, we are in line with the majority of our peer commuter railroads’ PTC implementation timelines. We expect to complete our systemwide roll-out in advance of the two additional years we’ve qualified for under FRA rules. Metro-North and the LIRR are extremely safe ways to travel in New York, and our work implementing positive train control will only make them safer,” an agency spokesperson said.
The deadline to install PTC by the end of 2018 was imposed after several deadly train derailments in the Tri-State Area and around the country.
Schumer, standing in New York’s Grand Central Station, made the announcement just days after the five-year anniversary of the deadly Spuyten-Duyvil train derailment in the Bronx.
Four people were killed and more than 60 were injured when a Metro-North train went through a 30-mph zone at over 80 mph and careened off the tracks. The train’s conductor claims he fell asleep due to “obstructive sleep apnea.”
In recent months, an inexplicable number of minor derailments and service issues involving LIRR and MTA trains have crippled the rush-hour commute throughout the New York area.
CBSNewYork will have more on this developing story as more details emerge