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MTA lags in its repairs to subway escalators and elevators

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City Comptroller Scott Stringer called it a “complete maintenance mess”

Max Touhey

Following a class-action lawsuit alleging that the MTA discriminates against people with disabilities, Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office undertook its own audit of a random sample of the subway system’s escalators and elevators. What they found was that about 50 of the 65 machines in their study hadn’t undergone their scheduled maintenance, according to the New York Post.

Per the study, 34 percent of the 849 total service jobs scheduled between December 2014 and July 2016 either weren’t completed on time or, in some cases, not at all. The three worst maintained machines among the audit were found on the B and Q line at atlantic Avenue-Barclay Center and on the 1 line at 168th Street station as well as on the 191st Street-St. Nicholas Avenue station.

Stringer called the situation a “complete maintenance mess” during a press conference held to discuss the audit findings. “[MTA officials] are not planning, they are not holding accountable people in the agency,” he stated. “They are not creating work orders that would trigger repairs. And when they do a repair or they don’t, there’s no tracking system.”

MTA officials have refuted the audit results, with an agency spokesperson telling the Post that the study relied on “faulty methodology” and “excluded from its sample all machines installed after 2011,” causing the results to reflect machines that are more liable to break down. “[P]lanned maintenance was carried out 96 percent of the time—not the 20 percent as the audit implies,” per an MTA memo.

This report came right on the heels of a detailed New York Times dive into the MTA’s outdated signal system, which you’ll know from the much-hated signal problems that seem to cause most of the subway’s delays lately.

Per the Times, “two decades after the agency began its push to upgrade signals, work has been completed on just one line.” In 1997, officials said that all lines would have been computerized by this year; now the deadline has been extended to 2045. If things continue at that pace, according to the Times, transforming all of the subway lines won’t be complete for another 50 years at a cost of $20 billion. Yikes.