The Second Avenue Subway debuted in a late-night ceremony on December 31, 2016, just barely meeting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s promise to the public that the much-anticipated rail line would premiere before 2017. But another, unspoken pact officials made with the public has gone unfulfilled since the Second Avenue Subway’s debut: that the new train line would meet safety guidelines.
Amid the pressure to finish the line on time, the New York Times reports, the Second Avenue Subway failed to undergo the extensive safety testing that would allow it to obtain its final safety certificate. That certificate is expected to be obtained in November.
After obtaining oversight reports tracking the Second Avenue Subway’s progress through a Freedom of Information Law request, the Times learned that the MTA agreed to fix outstanding problems within 60 days of when the line opened. That deadline was then extended to April 2015, but by the end of May, the most recen oversight report obtained by the Times, there were still 7,264 defects that had not been addressed.
Cuomo and the MTA both faced mounting criticism as the Second Avenue Subway’s timeline for completion dragged on. The revelation that safety procedures were not completed in full before the line’s debut calls into question Cuomo’s motivations. “It would be better to wait a couple more months and get it right, rather than prematurely have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to benefit the governor,” a former official at the Federal Transit Administration told the Times.
The Times also goes on to insinuate that the MTA might have done some slight truth-bending to receive a sign off for the line’s opening:
On New Year’s Day, the first phase of the Second Avenue subway opened on the Upper East Side of Manhattan after nearly a century of planning and delays. Hordes of giddy riders flocked to the stations to be a part of history.
But the authority had not revealed that final testing for the fire alarms at each station was not finished. On Dec. 29, 2016, a safety committee at New York City Transit issued a certificate that allowed the stations to open on a temporary basis. One committee member did not sign the certificate, the reports note, though they do not identify the member or provide a reason for the omission.
But the MTA maintains that the procedures that the stations have yet to undergo are merely minor, and include work on issues like door closures and signage.
“The stations on the new Second Avenue line are completely safe and they have been since the day they opened,” a spokesman for the MTA told the Times. “They feature state-of-the-art technology for fire protection, closed-circuit monitoring and new public address systems—any suggestion that safety was at all compromised to meet the deadline to open is patently false.”