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Is MTA’s subway action plan doing enough to fix its aging signals?

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Only 15 percent of the MTA’s action plan funds are going toward fixing its biggest problem

Allen.G /

Is the MTA doing enough to address one of the biggest problems impacting subway service right now? A New York Times piece is questioning whether the agency has invested enough funds to modernize its signal infrastructure, one of the key causes of delays and disruptive service today.

The Times’s digging revealed that the MTA has set aside $58 million to address the signal problem as part of the Emergency Action Plan unveiled last summer. The MTA was hopeful that the city would contribute half of the $836 million action plan, but due to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s opposition to this proposal, the $58 million is coming from the $378 million the MTA has acquired for the emergency plan so far.

Even though that seems like a small fraction of the funds, MTA officials that the Times spoke with said many other aspects of the emergency repair plan would also ensure that the signals function properly. For instance track repair work and ensuring fewer leaks would also mean fewer signal failures, according to the officials.

Transit advocates that the Times spoke with remained unconvinced, and questioned why it’s taken so long to fix the signal system even though the MTA has acknowledge its drawbacks for quite some time now. Benjamin Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas told the Times that the current spending simply constituted a “token” amount, and a Regional Plan Association report from 2014 claims that at this speed it could take 50 years to modernize the signal system.