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MTA announces comprehensive plan to tackle subway delays

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A fix may be in for the subway’s never-ending problems

Power Outage Affects MTA Subway Service Citywide Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The subway’s ever-worsening service problems have been the subject of much attention lately, and there’s chance that Governor Cuomo is finally listening to disaffected straphangers across the city. Yesterday, the MTA announced a six-point plan to get subway service back on track, with a series of action items that should—in theory—lead to better reliability and fewer delays.

The action items in the plan include:

  • Expediting the delivery of of 450 new subway cars, with all expected to arrive by September 2018, and by revamping its car maintenance procedures to reduce failures in air conditioning, heating, and doors.
  • Improving tracks and signals by doubling its ultrasonic testing, and by expanding its rapid response teams to quickly address track issues.
  • Employing more EMT staff at key stations to aid sick passengers.
  • Finding ways to streamline passenger on-boarding and off-boarding to reduce the amount of time trains spend in the station.
  • Better management of busy stations and tunnels where line merge and diverge, creating “bottlenecks” that cause delays.

The Eighth Avenue line (so, the A/C/E) will be the first to see these improvements.

“We know riders are frustrated—we are too—which is why we are embracing this new plan,” Attacking the five key causes of subway delays enables New York City Transit to take a targeted approach that can produce results,” said MTA interim director Ronnie Hakim.

The chorus of voices decrying the relentlessly bad service on the subway has been growing louder lately; just last week, a rally was held outside of Cuomo’s Midtown office to denounce the plague of prolblems that have struck the city back-to-back in recent weeks. The Riders Alliance, who organized Thursday’s rally, recognized the MTA for responding to customer concerns, but ultimately noted that a permanent fix will require “sustained attention” from Governor Cuomo.

“These short-term plans must also be matched with a long-term vision that acknowledges the scale of the problem and invests the billions of dollars we’ll need to get to reliable, quality service,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance, in a statement.

And they’re not wrong: As Second Avenue Sagas’ Ben Kabak noted, these responses will only go so far if the larger issues—i.e., an outdated signal system and a lack of investment funds to fix it—aren’t addressed.

For what it’s worth, the MTA claims that the new plan of action was not in response to the recent problems, as AM New York’s Vincent Barone notes: