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City unveils recommendations for MTA’s anticipated overhaul of NYC subway

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The mayor’s office called for more accountability and transparency in the MTA’s subway overhaul

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It’s been almost a month since Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the New York City subway, which means it’s also close to the deadline for MTA chairman Joe Lhota to deliver a plan for transforming the ailing transit system.

Ahead of that—and just one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio called on Cuomo to step up and fix the subways—the city has released its own recommendations for what Lhota’s plan should include. The suggestions, per a press release from the mayor’s office, are “basic steps that are required of public agencies everywhere: set high standards, report on performance, use every available dollar wisely, and hold managers accountable.”

And these are indeed very basic suggestions: they call for the immediate implementation of fixes “that can improve service and reliability now”; setting “public performance goals and standards,” using other cities’ similar measures (like London) as a guide; more accountability from the MTA; an “efficient and fair” MTA budget that prioritizes the subway; and more transparency from the state on what it’s doing to help subway riders.

The budget one in particular is noteworthy, considering that, as the mayor’s office noted, 93 percent of the MTA’s ridership uses the city’s subway and buses. “A fair plan would also involve ensuring New York City subway and bus riders get a larger share of resources already available to the MTA,” per the release.

Another organization with a stake in the MTA’s operations—the Transit Workers Union Local 100, which represents many MTA employees—also released a proposal for improving the subway. The TWU’s 10-point plan, called the “Work Boots on the Ground” plan, offers more concrete suggestions on how service can be improved in the short- and long-term, with recommendations including things like inspect signals more frequently, increase the frequency of subway car maintenance and refurbishment, and implement a bus rapid-transit system to alleviate subway crowding.

“The lesson that needs to be learned is that you can do all the long-term investment you want in a capital plan, but you can’t forget about day-to-day reliability of the system,” John Samuelsen, the president of the TWU, told the New York Daily News.

Whether or not Lhota’s plan will take either of these proposals into account remains to be seen; he’s teased that it will be released this week, but a specific day has yet to be revealed. Fingers crossed that some of these recommendations make it.