NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has unveiled a mega-plan for creating a mass transit system for the 21st century, proposing to spend more than $50 billion to upgrade subways, buses and commuter rails.
An average of 5.7 million people ride New York City subways every day and just about every one of them has a complaint.
“There are so many things, I don’t know where to begin,” said Cindy Smith of Harlem. “Delays on the train, the rats running around.”
“[The trains] don’t work well on the weekends,” another person said.
“In the summer time, it’s very hot and in the winter it’s just so crowded,” added Carmen Bustos of Midtown.
But if you believe MTA executives, who admittedly have a lot to prove, help is on the way. The agency is planning to spend a whopping $51.5 billion to fix subways, buses, Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road.
“This a historic, transformational customer-centric investment at historic levels,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said.
Those are a lot of big words for a plan that reaches for the stars, like finally opening the 15-years-behind-schedule East Side Access Project in 2022 so that 160,000 LIRR commuters can travel to Grand Central Terminal instead of Penn Station, saving up to 40 minutes a day on their commute.
Like expanding service on Metro North by building four new stations in the Bronx on the New Haven line, incorporating 2,400 new buses, 500 of which would be electric, and redoing the signals on key parts of six subway lines, including the Lexington Avenue line from the Bronx to Brooklyn so 50% of riders can get more frequent trains and more reliable service.
Better signals mean you can run more trains. When the MTA fixed the No. 7 line, for example, “We added four trains per hour to the service. We’ve gone from 25 trains per hour to 29 trains per hour,” NYC Transit Authority President Andy Byford said.
In addition, 70 stations will be made handicap accessible, 78 elevators will be replaced, and 65 escalators will be redone.
And while the agency is committed to using the latest technology to do the fixes, well, there will be no gain without pain. There will be some construction-related inconveniences.
“Let’s be clear, re-modernizing, re-signalizing the subway is going to take the patience of New Yorkers,” Byford said.
A big chunk of the money will come from congestion pricing and the new taxes that were passed along with it. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will review the plan to make sure it spends money wisely and that the latest technology is used.
The Riders Alliance said it’s the first big test of the governor’s promise to modernize mass transit.