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MTA’s Subway Action Plan leads to only modest improvements one year later

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The MTA’s plan to improve subway service hasn’t led to a large change

Incident On NYC’s Subway Snarls Morning Commute Into Manhattan Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It’s been a year since the MTA rolled out its Subway Action Plan in response to the meltdown of the city’s underground rail system, and anecdotally, at least, it’s hard to pinpoint what has improved. Riders still experience regular delays—perusing Twitter during a random evening rush hour makes that clear—and trains are still slow.

But what does the hard evidence say? As it turns out, that’s not great, either: Separate reports in the New York Times and the New York Daily News dig in to the MTA’s stats on subway performance, and reveal that there has been “minor progress in some areas, but no major boost in reliability, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on repairs,” as the Times puts it.

The “on-time rate for trains hovers near 65 percent on weekdays,” according to the Times—a number that has remained unchanged since the implementation of the subway action plan.

Granted, there has been some improvement: Major disruptions in June were down from the same time last year. And NYCT chief Andy Byford, who was appointed to his post last November, told the NYDN that one of his immediate goals is to ensure that, by the end of this year, 10,000 trains make it to their destination with no delay. NYCT is working to make that happen by fixing signal timers, which can lead to subway delays. Per the NYDN, some of the areas being looked at are along the 4 and 5 lines in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan; in all, the agency will ID 20 areas affected by timers.

“I really want customers to notice a difference, tangible difference, by year end,” Byford told the NYDN. “Preferably before, but by year end.”

But as transit advocates emphasized to Curbed earlier this month, “the temporary fixes that have been made since then will be meaningless without a concerted effort to modernize the subway system.” That concerted effort—namely, Byford’s Fast Forward plan—will require a heavy investment; the estimated cost of the plan is $19 billion, and as of right now, a dedicated source of funding has yet to be implemented.