Now’s your chance to weigh in on the abysmal state of the subway (outside of your own Twitter rantings, that is): The MTA announced that it will host the first of several planned town hall meetings to discuss the Fast Forward plan, which New York City Transit chief Andy Byford unveiled in May.
The first meeting will be held this Tuesday, August 21, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at York College in Queens. According to a MTA press release, the purpose of the event—in addition to Byford presenting his proposal to the public—is “speaking to customers and soliciting feedback on how the Fast Forward Plan will affect their commutes and how NYC Transit plans to improve accessibility and customer service.”
“The future success of New York City depends upon the success of this comprehensive plan to modernize our transit system, and we’ll be out there in every borough making the case,” Byford said in a statement.
But even Byford acknowledges that Fast Forward is a “massive undertaking”: The plan calls for making immediate changes to the aging signal system, improving bus service, and improving accessibility in both the subway and through services like Access-a-Ride. In terms of specifics, the first five years would focus on signal improvements along the 4/5/6 and A/C/E lines, the installation of 50 elevators across the subway system, the creation of a new payment system, and the addition of 650 new subway cars, among other additions. Other upgrades involve creating bathrooms at stations, and doing general repair work at 150 stations.
Of course, this is all contingent on funding: Byford estimates that the plan will cost $19 billion in its first five years. And as Alon Levy wrote for Curbed in May, “the main question is whether the political system will support it—specifically, whether Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature will fund it.”
While Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a millionaire’s tax to help fund these crucial transit repairs, Cuomo has pooh-poohed the idea (most recently in a lengthy New York profile). A more progressive solution—though one that has received only lukewarm support from both the mayor and the governor thus far—is congestion pricing. It remains to be seen what will actually end up happening, or when, even as the transit crisis gets worse.
If you can’t attend Tuesday’s town hall in person, the MTA encourages you to submit questions or other feedback via its website.