MTA’s New Tap-To-Pay System Starts Replacing MetroCards Next Week!


Before you get too distraught–you’ll still be able to swipe (and “swipe again”) your MetroCard until 2023. But for those techier New Yorkers, as of May 31st you’ll be able to take advantage of the MTA’s new tap-to-pay fare system when a pilot launches at 16 Manhattan and Brooklyn subway stations on the 4, 5, and 6 lines between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, as well as all Staten Island buses. The new payment system, called OMNY (One Metro New York), will employ e-readers that can accept contactless credit, debit, or reloadable prepaid cards, along with digital wallet apps on mobile phones and wearables. Additionally, Google announced that they’ve teamed up with the MTA to enable Google Pay as a payment option.

The new $574 million system was developed by Cubic Transportation Systems, the same company that replaced subway tokens with MetroCards over 30 years ago. OMNY is projected to be available throughout the entire subway, bus, and commuter rail systems by late 2020. Until then, it’s only available on a full-fare, pay-per-ride basis. Free transfers will only apply if transferring at another OMNY-equipped station; otherwise, you’ll need to keep using your MetroCard.

When the 2020 milestone arrives, the MTA will add additional fare options such as weekly and monthly passes and reduced and student fares. There won’t be a cash option initially, but starting in 2021, the MTA will sell contactless transit cards at retail locations. In 2022, they’ll be available for sale through 2,000 vending machines in subway and commuter rail stations.

Google Pay’s partnership with the MTA is part of a larger initiative in which Google is working with transit agencies in 30+ cities around the world. In NYC, they will also have a real-time Google Assistant feature that will tell you the ETA of the next train and walking directions to stations. In the next few weeks, Google Maps will also note which subway stations accept Google Pay.

As Bloomberg reports, the impending MetroCard phase-out has banks working overtime to update their cards to feature contactless technology. Currently, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp, and Wells Fargo & Co. have the tap-and-go technology for all of their credit and debit cards. JP Morgan leads the pack, having issued 20 million contactless cards thus far. And by the end of 2020, Visa predicts the number of contactless cards in the U.S. will triple to 300 million.

To manage the new payment system, OMNY will have accounts where riders can access a personalized dashboard showing 90 days of travel and transaction activity and manage their payment methods. The OMNY app will be available for iOS and Android by late 2019.

If all this information has your head spinning, keep in mind the MTA’s inspiration behind the OMNY moniker. “[OMNY] is based on the prefix ‘omni,’ which means ‘all’ or ‘of all things.’ We believe that transportation is an essential service that connects communities and brings the diversity and energy of New York together. OMNY is the newest way to experience all that our region offers.”

MTA Approves Discounted MetroCards For 7- And 30-day Passes


Reduced MetroCards are coming to New York City in January, but the discounts only apply to weekly and monthly passes. New details about the Fair Fares program, which was officially included in the city budget in June, were released on Tuesday during an MTA board meeting. According to meeting minutes, the MTA will not be providing single trip discounts when the program kicks off next year. Instead, low-income New Yorkers who are living at or below the federal poverty level, or a household income of $25,000 for a family of four, can buy half-off 7-day or 30-day passes.  

“We always envisioned riders being able to purchase any fare type at half price and hope that this flexibility is added as the program rolls out,” David Jones, MTA board member, said in a statement to Gothamist. “Choice is important to all customers, especially for those who are financially constrained.”

A pilot Fair Fares program will launch in January and will run until June. As 6sqft previously reported, the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to provide roughly $100 million in funding six months of the program, fully subsidizing the cost during the test run.

Original estimates found nearly 800,000 New Yorkers would benefit from the discounted subway and bus fares. But it’s unclear as of now how many straphangers will benefit without a reduced fare for single trips. Since it’s kicking off as a pilot program first, details are still being worked out.

Report Shows Subway Platform Temperatures of OVER 104 Degrees

Are subway platforms really as hot as the inside of a rotisserie, or does it just seem that way? On Thursday, August 9, 2018, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) sent out an intrepid task force of staff and interns to measure the temperature in the city’s ten busiest subway stations. The temperature outside was 86 degrees. The data they collected helped to inform a report titled, “Save Our Subways: A Plan To Transform New York City’s Rapid Transit System.”

Above ground high temperature (above ground): 86 degrees
Highest temperature recorded on a platform: 104 degrees (14-Street Union Square
Downtown 4/5/6 Platform)
Average temperature recorded on platforms: 94.6 degrees

The oppressive heat in underground subway stations isn’t just a nuisance, it poses a serious health risk–for subway workers as well as paying customers. According to the NYC Health Department, “A heat index above 95°F is especially dangerous for older adults and other vulnerable individuals.” The city issues a heat advisory when the heat index is expected to reach 95 to 99 degrees for two or more consecutive days, or 100 to 104 degrees for an time at all.

According to a 2015 Academy of Sciences report, the average temperature in New York City has increased by 3.4 degrees between 1900 and 2013. It’s definitely time to turn down the heat on subway platforms. The RPA report suggests several ways the MTA could leverage modern technology like regenerative braking and CBCT–which they are already in the process of installing–to cool off subway platforms by reducing the heat generated by trains.

3 Subway Stations Will Close For 6 Months

NEW YORK, NY — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Friday when three Manhattan subway stops will shutter in July for six months of repairs.

The 57th Street station on the F line, the 28th Street stop on the 6 and the 23rd Street station on the F and M will receive structural repairs and upgrades during the sixth-month period and are expected to reopen in December, said MTA officials.

The MTA is staggering the closures with the 57th Street stop shuttering on July 9th, followed by 28th Street on July 16 and 23rd Street on July 23, said transit officials. PATH service at the 23rd Street station will be not be affected.

More than 70,000 straphanger use the three stations on a given week day with roughly 15,700 riders swiping into 57th Street, over 24,000 commuters hoping on the subway at 28th Street and approximately 31,000 customers using the 23rd Street station, according to MTA data. 

The improvements are part of a $124.9 million contract to update a total of five stations sorely in need of repairs. The 28th Street station is among the oldest in the subway system since opening on the day that service began in October 1904. The 23rd Street station began operating during World War II in December 1940 and the 57 Street station welcomed straphangers in July 1968, prior to the construction of the East River subway tunnel to Queens.

In addition to structural repairs, the new and improved stations will feature tech upgrades including digital signage with real-time information, countdown clocks, and brighter, more energy-efficient lighting.

Turnstile areas will be upgraded with glass barriers, security cameras, and new information centers featuring digital dashboards. Platforms will also receive a cosmetic and functional boost with new platform edge warning strips, accessible boarding areas, new seating, digital dashboards and countdown clocks.

After 17 Years Cortlandt Street Station Will Reopen Since 9/11

Nearly 17 years after it was severely damaged in the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, and then temporarily shuttered, the Cortlandt Street station is set to open this October. Running on the 1-line, the new station, expected to serve thousands of workers and tourists visiting the site, will boast Ann Hamilton’s artwork, featuring words from the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of Independence (h/t Daily News). Cortlandt Street station was meant to open in 2014, but funding disputes between the Port Authority and the MTA delayed its completion until this year.

Located directly under the World Trade Center site, the station was crushed by the collapse of Two World Trade Center. In order to restore service to Rector Street and South Ferry stations, workers demolished the rest of Cortlandt and built walls where the platforms stood. The line was able to reopen a year after 9/11, with trains bypassing the station.

In 2008, the Port Authority and the MTA reached an agreement about the station’s reconstructing, which said the MTA would pay the Port Authority to rebuild Cortlandt under the WTC Hub contract. Seven years later, the MTA took over the project and faced more delays, stemming from design changes and slow contractors. Since May 2015, workers have installed finishing touches, including new tiles and lighting.

The $182 million WTC station will bring more convenience to commuters and less time spent walking outside between stations. Jessica Lappin, the president of Downtown Alliance, told the Daily News, that the number of private-sector jobs in Lower Manhattan has returned to pre-9/11 days at 242,000 jobs.

“This is the right moment, where people want the connectivity and they want to be able to take the 1 train south of Chambers,” Lappin told the Daily News.

[Via NY Daily News]

MTA Will Most Likely Raise Fares In 2019

Without another option to bring in revenue to the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority, straphangers will most likely have to pay higher fares next year. The fare hike would be the sixth since 2009 when the state legislature approved a financial rescue plan that included increasing fares every other year. While funding for the financially-troubled authority continues to be negotiated among lawmakers before the state’s budget deadline next month, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota told the Daily News he did not see a scenario where the fares could remain the same.


The fare hike options in 2017 via MTA

The exact percentage of increase in fares remains unclear as of now. Increases are expected on all subway, bus and commuter rail fares. Last year, the MTA voted not to increase per-ride costs, but instead upped the price of weekly and monthly MetroCard prices, from $31 to $32 per week and from $116.50 to $121 per month.

MTA board members do not support another fare and toll hike, especially because of the system’s poor service. One board member, Mitchell Pally, told amNY: “In these times of difficulties on the system…to ask our riders to pay more now, in my opinion, would be a grievous mistake. It’s March. We have time ’til December to solve that problem in some way — hopefully with our funding partners.”

A congestion pricing plan, advocated by Governor Andrew Cuomo, is an option currently being debated in Albany that could raise revenue quickly for the MTA. While the authority’s board considered approving a resolution to call for a congestion pricing plan, it never came to a vote.

MTA Hit With Federal Lawsuit Over Lack Of Accessibility

The MTA has found itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit by the feds for failing to make its subway stations wheelchair-accessible. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney  Geoffrey Berman joined a lawsuit accusing the agency of not adding assistance for disabled riders when renovating stations, the New York Post reports. The suit began in 2016 when a civic agency in the Bronx accused the MTA of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not creating wheelchair access at the Middletown Road station. The suit should come as no surprise; as 6sqft previously reported, fewer than 1/4 of New York City’s subway stations are fully wheelchair-accessible–only 117 out of 472. In fact, NYC ranks the least accessible out of the country’s ten largest metro systems–all of LA’s 93 stations and DC’s 91, for example, are fully accessible.

Berman said, “There is no justification for public entities to ignore the requirements of the ADA 28 years after its passage. The subway system is a vital part of New York City’s transportation system, and when a subway station undergoes a complete renovation, MTA and NYCTA must comply with its obligations to make such stations accessible to the maximum extent feasible.”

Disability advocates have spoken up on the subject at every monthly MTA board meeting for the past year. The agency’s official response is that they are, in fact, working to add more accessibility, but that the cost of making every station wheelchair accessible has proven insurmountable. MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said, “The MTA and NYC Transit are committed to adding and maintaining accessibility for the century-old subway system, and working hard to do so by investing more than a billion dollars over the current five-year capital plan alone.”

An aging system is often to blame when cities fail to offer sufficient accessibility. The London Underground, which dates to 1863 and is the world’s oldest metro, has only 50 fully accessible stations out of 260. Paris, where the metro opened in 1900, is even worse with only nine fully accessible stations. Barcelona, considered the most accessible system in Europe, boasts 129 of 156 stations classified as fully accessible. The metro there began operation in 1924, and as of 1992 all stations built there must be made accessible.

Subway Map Designer Massimo Vignelli’s UES Apartment Hits The Market For $6.5M

The Upper East Side home of iconic designer-duo Lella and Massimo Vignelli will be listed for $6.5 million, according to the New York Times. The 3,900-square-foot three-bedroom duplex at 130 East 67th Street features super high ceilings, wide plank oak floors and a beautiful library. The Italian-born couple first bought the home in 1978 for $250,000, and it served as their first New York abode. While best known in NYC for his 1972 design of the subway map for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Massimo, who died in 2014, is also credited with creating iconic branding for companies, like the big brown bag logo for Bloomingdales. His wife, Lella, who died in 2016, was a licensed architect and created furniture and tableware for Vignelli Designs.  According to the son of the late couple, Luca, the apartment served as a “cultural hub for artists and designers.”

The listing says the home “is a prime example of the iconic couple’s aesthetic of modern minimalism and timeless elegance.” The living room boasts nearly 20-foot high, coffered ceilings, original double-height lead glass windows, stunning oak floors and a wood-burning fireplace. Much of the furniture and other elements in the apartment were designed by the Vignelli’s.

Located next to the living area, there is a spacious eat-in kitchen and a bedroom with its own private entrance. Natural light fills the spectacularly simple library, which connects to a study and/or dining room. In total, the apartment boasts more than 600 linear feet of bookshelves.

The upper floor includes a spacious gallery that overlooks the gallery as well as a master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. The third bathroom also boasts its own bathroom; the windowed dressing rooms could be restored to the original fourth bedroom.

Besides the conversion in 2000 of the dining room into a library and the den into an office, the duplex has remained the same since the couple first moved in. The Italian-Renaissance style building on East 67th Street was designed by Charles A. Platt in 1907 and was later converted into a co-op in 1959.

Could Legalizing Marijuana Be The State’s Solution To Fixing The Subway?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to present the state legislature this week with ways to fund the financially troubled Metropolitan Transportation Authority. On Tuesday, he released his $168 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year 2019, which includes a proposal for charging vehicles for driving in the busiest areas of Manhattan during peak hours, with the money raised going to mass transit. According to the Daily News, a Republican gubernatorial candidate has a different idea. Joel Giambra, a former Erie County executive who announced his bid for governor last week, said he wants to legalize marijuana to fund the city’s desperately-needed transit repairs.

Giambra’s formal proposal for legalizing weed will come later in the campaign. A source close to the candidate told the Daily News, “Adult use of marijuana can produce revenue for the state that can rebuild the MTA and our roads and bridges throughout the state. Many of our neighboring states now allow for adult use and New York will miss out on billions in revenue and further expand the black market.”

Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, and New Jersey’s new governor, Phil Murphy, supports it. While medical marijuana is legal in New York, Cuomo has previously called it a gateway drug that leads to other drugs.

Cuomo’s stance on pot might have slightly changed; on Tuesday, the governor called for the funding of a study on a regulated marijuana program. While little details are known now, Cuomo’s budget proposal says the impact of legalizing pot on health, the economy and on the state’s criminal justice system will be the focus of the study. All of the proposals within Cuomo’s budget must be approved by the legislature by April 1.

[Via Daily News]

MTA Rolls Out New Electric Buses For 3-Year Pilot Program 11


The MTA is gearing up to modernize its bus fleet and has launched a three-year pilot to test out 10 all-electric buses that not only reduce emissions, but also enhance customer experience by offering modern conveniences like Wi-Fi and USB ports.

Following the successful completion of a four-year study of global best practices for electric buses, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the MTA will test out 10 zero-emission buses and possibly order 60 more, given all goes well with the pilot program. (h/t Untapped Cities).

“This new program helps the MTA secure a cleaner and greener future while leveraging the latest in innovative enhancements to push New York’s transit systems into the future,” said Governor Cuomo in a press release.

The MTA commissioned two vendors to manufacture the new buses: Proterra will provide five buses that will operate on the B32 route in Brooklyn and Queens while New Flyer will provide five that will run along the M42 and M50 routes in Midtown.

As part of the pilot program, both vendors will have to install new charging stations at various bus depots. New Flyer will install two within Manhattan’s Michael J. Quill bus depot and Proterra will provide six between Manhattan and Brooklyn depots.

Additionally, the MTA has ordered 110 new Compress Natural Gas buses to replace older buses that operate in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Data collected during the pilot will be passed along from the MTA to electric bus manufacturers to determine what will work best for the city.

MTA To Introduce ‘Customer Service Ambassadors’ On The Platforms.


The first phase of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to modernize the subway focuses on improving communication between workers and riders. Last week, the MTA announced it would distribute about 230 iPhones to platform workers and train operators to pass along helpful information to straphangers about train problems and also provide alternative routes. Now, according to amNY, customer service ambassadors will roam subway stations to offer assistance, instead of staying in the booth. Over the next several weeks, ambassadors will be selected, trained and then placed at busy stations, especially those with a lot of tourists like Grand Central Terminal and Times Square.


The pilot program, expected to last one year, allows 355 current station agents to volunteer for the new customer service role. If selected, the worker would receive at least $1 more in wages per hour. Ambassadors selected for the new job will receive special training and wear recognizable uniforms. Their job will be to roam the stations, positively engage face-to-face with customers and give real-time information to the system.

After negotiating terms of the new job, the Transit Workers Union Local 100 and the MTA agreed to a set number of station agents and the wage increases for participants of the pilot program. Plus, any worker that leaves the booth to test out the ambassador job will be replaced by a new employee.

Tony Utano, president of the union, called it a mutually-beneficial agreement. “Riders will get better customer service and our members will get access to new, better-paying jobs.”

[Via amNY]

MTA Approves $574m MetroCard-Replacing eReaders

MTA chairman Joseph J. Lhota said, “Today’s vote is a tremendous win for New Yorkers, paving the way for flexible payment options, a streamlined trip through the region’s public transit, and updated equipment that will help save money in operating costs. Together with Cubic, we look forward to building the MTA of tomorrow.”

New videos show how the readers work, with a swipe of a credit card, mobile phone, smart watch or, yes, a MetroCard. Riders will still be able to use the cards during the transition, and they won’t be completely phased out until 2023.

The new system will allow customers pay using credit and debit cards and mobile devices at the bus or turnstile–including seamless access to Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro-North Rail Road–instead of using a separate fare card. For riders without a bank card or who prefer not to use one, a contactless card option will be available. Customers will be able to create personalized transit accounts to check ride history and balances, add value and report lost or stolen cards via mobile phone.

The system will allow riders to move through the transit system more quickly. It will also
reduce costs for the MTA by significantly reducing the dispensing of fare media, streamlining fare calculation and allow the phasing-out of 20-year-old equipment becomes more costly to maintain each year.

Cubic will handle the design, integration, supply and implementation of the fare system and associated services including hardware and software maintenance and transition services like call center support. Cubic’s partners statewide will provide manufacturing, call center and marketing services to the MTA. Transport for London (TfL) and financial giant Mastercard are also Cubic partners in the contract.

AM New York reminds us that there’s no word yet as to what the new system will be called; Some cities have given more playful names to their all-access cards: London has the Oyster Card; the Bay Area has the Clipper; Boston has the CharlieCard. MTA board member Veronica Vanterpool said, “I think it would be nice to have something fresh and new. The MetroCard identified a time and era in MTA that’s soon to be history–much like the token. It might be a great time to go with something new.”

Subway Platform Doors Pilot Slated For L train Station

By Vincent Barone October 24, 2017

The MTA will test platform doors on the Third Avenue station along the L line following months of advocacy from board members and experts.

“We’re in the design planning stages and working to overcome structural challenges for a small platform screen doors pilot at the Third Avenue Station along the L line,” said an MTA spokesman in a statement.

The agency had no further details, like what materials the doors will be made of, or whether they would stretch from the platform to the ceiling. It’s also unclear when such a pilot would start, though the Third Avenue station is one that will be closed during the L train shutdown, which begins in April of 2019.

Platform doors are fairly common among other transit agencies, which use them for improved safety and track cleanliness. MTA board members — most vocally Charles Moerdler — as well as organizations like the Regional Plan Association, have pushed the agency to bring the feature to New York.

“It’s a marvelous opportunity to test their value in providing an important additional measure of safety and crowd control while helping to limit the fire hazard of refuse on the tracks,” said Moerdler in an email. “It proves as well that persistence pays off when sound ideas are offered to advance the interests of the riding public.”

The MTA has been historically unreceptive to a widespread roll out of platform doors. It had argued in the past that, given the age of the system and its lack of uniformity among stations and train cars, installation would be costly.

The MTA on Tuesday outlined four main obstacles in the way of installing platform doors: space for an equipment room; curved tracks at stations; obstructions, such as columns, within five feet of the platform edge and adequate power. The Third Avenue station was selected because it presents few of those challenges for a pilot, according to the agency.

Yonah Freemark, a transportation blogger who has written about the benefits of platform doors, said that other old systems in cities like Paris have been able to install doors, including at curved stations, and that the feature has allowed for trains to pull into stations faster.

He also offered a few other clues for the MTA’s testing choice. L train cars are all the same model and the line features automated signaling, which should allow for easy alignment between the train and the platform doors, he said.

“Generally, [platform doors] are an important element of making the system safer and more effective, especially in stations where the subway lines have been upgraded from a signal perspective,” Freemark said. “The MTA can coordinate the signals with the doors to make sure that they open appropriately and the train stops in place. It’s something that’s not possible among all lines at the moment.”

MTA Begins Testing Of New Subway Fare System


With the goal of eventually phasing out the use of MetroCards in the New York City subway system, the MTA has begun the testing phase of a mobile device scanning and payment system. Untapped Cities reports that the first trials of a new mobile fare system are being installed at points where Metro-North commuters transfer to the subway, as an expansion of the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road’s eTix app. At specific stations, riders can make the transfer with turnstiles fitted with scanners that allow them to swipe their phones. The new turnstiles have already been installed in the Bowling Green and Wall Street Stations in lower Manhattan for a test run; the expansion is a pilot for the eventual phasing out of MetroCards altogether.

The cards, which replaced the token system in the 1990s, are becoming increasingly obsolete as many cities have adopted modern payment options via apps or bank cards. Using the updated payment methods eliminates the cumbersome drawbacks of cards such as the dreaded “please swipe again” notice at turnstiles. 6sqft has reported on plans to bring the subway’s payment system into the future, including Gov. Cuomo’s vows to install contactless payment by 2018.

Nick Sifuentes, Executive Director at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, explained to AM New York that the MetroCard has “outlived its usefulness. Cities from London to Los Angeles are definitely, at this point, ahead of the MTA in terms of fare technology and it’s good that we’re thinking of how to catch up.”

According to NY1 MTA officials hope to make it clear that the new payment system is only a test, and that the methods eventually adopted may be different from those being tested (NY1 also offers video of the new scanners in action). The new mobile scanners will be installed in 14 stations city-wide, including Penn Station, Grand Central, the 14th Street-7th Avenue station and the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station, before the year’s end.

MTA Short-Term Fix Will Cost $836 Million

The MTA will remove some seats in train cars on the L line and hire thousands of new workers as part of its vast, $836 million short-term plan to improve New York City’s failing subway system.

MTA chairman Joe Lhota unveiled the agency’s highly anticipated plan on Tuesday at MTA headquarters, promising more than 30 short-term projects to, in part, accelerate the repair of the MTA’s ancient signal system; overhaul its fleet of cars; and redevelop a strategy for communicating with passengers.

“There is no doubt that ... we are failing our customers,” Lhota said. “We’re having a record number of customers. We also have ancient infrastructure, combined with a lack of capital investment over the long haul. ... These three issues alone are the reasons why the subway system is failing its customers.”

Following the lead of other cities, like Boston, the MTA will begin a pilot program to remove seats from “some” cars of the 42nd Street Shuttle and L train, the latter of which has experienced a rapid growth in ridership due to the development around the line in Brooklyn, according to Lhota. The chairman estimated that removing seats will increase capacity by 25 riders per car.

Where possible, the agency will also be adding cars to traditionally shorter trains, like the C, to boost capacity as well.

“We need to find a way to get more people off the platform and into the subway cars,” Lhota said, noting that the seat removal pilot won’t start in the coming days or weeks. “We want to test it and we want to understand the best way to reconfigure our cars.”

Delays in the subway system have soared by about 200 percent in the past five years. The MTA’s short-term plan involves five core components — track and signal maintenance, car reliability, subway safety and cleanliness, customer communication and creating a critical management group — that together aim to address 79 percent of the major incidents that lead to delays.

That involves the hiring of 2,700 new workers to ramp up maintenance of tracks and train cars and improve response times to minor infrastructure breakdowns and incidents like sick passengers.

Here are the highlights from the MTA's short-term plan:

- The plan will start immediately and customers should see improvements within the year.

- 2,700 new workers will be hired to facilitate the execution of the MTA's plan.

- A new public, online dashboard will be set up so that riders can track subway improvements.

- "Raising fares is not an option" to pay for the plan, Lhota said.

- To offset overcrowding, cars will be added to trains on lines where platforms are long enough, like the C. Each additional car can hold about 145 more passengers. 

- The MTA will launch the seat removal pilot program on some L trains and 42nd Street Shuttle trains, which Lhota said would add 25 riders per car.

- To reduce breakdowns, the MTA will move to a new "seamless track." Only 50 percent of the system is currently using this type of track, Lhota said.

- The plan aims to cut incident response times from the current 45 minutes down to 15 minutes.

- A dedicated team will execute an expedited repair program that will fix 1,300 signals that were determined to be the most problematic by the end of 2018.

- The MTA will launch an emergency Water Management Initiative. Special teams will seal leaks, clean 40,000 street grates and eliminate debris clogging drains.

- Crews will clean the entire underground portion of the subway system to remove debris, reducing fire hazards.

- Track repairs will be expedited using 31 specialized teams to target places with the highest incidents of issues.

- An "aggressive" public awareness campaign will aim to educate riders on the consequences of littering, which can result in a fine as well as delaying trains.

- To reduce sick passenger delays, Lhota wants to add seven station EMTs, bringing the total up from five to 12.

- The MTA will revise communication protocols in order to provide clearer, more timely information to customers. Part of this plan will include an "overhaul" of digital platforms so they offer more personalized information on service changes.

News of the plan reignited the long-standing feud between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA, a state agency, over financial support. Lhota and Cuomo have pressured de Blasio to split the $836 million price tag — a mix of new capital and operating funds — but the mayor has insisted that he would not give the MTA more city dollars until the agency spent its money more wisely.

The state has already pledged $8.3 billion toward the MTA’s five-year, $32 billion capital plan, while the city has offered $2.5 billion. De Blasio insists that the agency must do a better job prioritizing spending on subways and buses, which account for 88.8 percent of MTA riders.

“The MTA has to spend the money it (already) has effectively, efficiently and on a real schedule,” he said at an evening news conference on Tuesday, adding that money the state siphoned off for bridge light shows should be returned “immediately” to the agency’s budget. “The MTA has a huge amount of funding that is not being used effectively.”

Advocates are torn on who should foot the bill for the subway turnaround plan. John Raskin, the executive director of the Riders Alliance, said that since Cuomo oversees the MTA, he should provide the necessary funding or seek the money through new taxes or fees that could be instituted through the State Legislature.

Gene Russianoff, the chief spokesman for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said that, though governors are traditionally on the hook for the MTA, the subway’s service crisis makes matters “complicated.”

“It’s an inconvenient truth for Governor Cuomo,” said Russianoff, who was at MTA headquarters for the plan’s unveiling. “But it’s not unreasonable for a governor to say, ‘Look, in this crisis, let’s do this ... let’s get these programs out and then we’ll work things out long-term through the whole system.’ ”

The fight over funding goes without addressing the long-term second phase of the MTA’s subway improvement plan, which would be an $8 billion effort to more quickly modernize trains and signals.

Along with changing the culture within the agency, Lhota’s short-term plan calls for completely “transforming” how the MTA communicates with its riders. Ultimately, the chairman would like the agency to end the use of recorded announcements like “train traffic ahead” and “police activity,” which are sometimes used inaccurately as blanket excuses for train delays.

“We’re not doing a good job at all on a timely basis, a reliable basis in informing our customer for what they deserve,” Lhota said. “Let’s tell the people. They deserve to know exactly what’s causing the delay.”

Though leaving some wanting for details, advocates and board members agreed that the short-term strategies are proper steps toward improving service and the overall commuter experience.

“I am impressed by what’s been put forth in this plan. These are key quality of life issues that subway riders face,” said Veronica Vanterpool, executive director at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and MTA board member. “It’s putting forth ideas that everyday users of the system can relate to and identify as real solutions.”

MTA Considers Ban On Subway Eating.

After an upper Manhattan track fire this week reminded them that trash catches fire, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is considering limiting the all-too-familiar practice of stuffing one’s face with hot, messy food while riding the subway. The New York Times reports that MTA chairman Joseph J. Lhota said Tuesday that he’d like to curb inappropriate eating as a way to eliminate fires caused by the ensuing litter.

Lhota recounted an experience he’d had where a fellow straphanger attempted to scarf down a tray of Chinese food on the 2: “Inevitably, the rice fell,” he said. “It was all over the place. I want to avoid things like that.” The MTA has noted that cities like Washington, D.C. have deep-sixed the ricefall threat by completely banning metro meals due to “the labor and cost associated with maintaining the cleanliness of the transportation system as well as for safety reasons.” NYC’s current rules allow it though they prohibit–but don’t really enforce–a rule banning open-container liquids.

Though the number of subway track fires has dropped 90 percent since 1981, the authority is working to reduce them even more; to that end, subway officials are considering a recommendation that that riders eschew messy foods while in transit. Packaged goods, Mr. Lhota said, are “less disruptive.””It may be an education program about what types of foods really shouldn’t be brought on,” though he wasn’t ready to rule out the idea of a ban.

In 2012, Lhota, in a previous stint as MTA chairman, delicately sidestepped a similar ban saying he’d seen children eating breakfast on the train and that he feared a ban would affect minority communities. Gene Russianoff, leader of rider advocacy group Straphangers Campaign, thinks a ban on subway scarfing would be about as hard to enforce as a nail-clipping ban: “It’s not like I would hand out individual slices to Pizza Rat on the subway. But there are people who have no choice–they’re going from work to school.”

Cuomo Declares A ‘State Of Emergency’ For NYC....

Cuomo declares a ‘state of emergency’ for the NYC subway, gives MTA $1B for repairs


During a press conference Thursday, Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and announced that he would sign an executive order to expedite the process of fixing the system. The governor’s announcement comes just two days after a subway train derailed at 125th Street, injuring over 30 people. His plan includes committing an additional $1 billion in the MTA’s capital plan and reviewing the system’s decades-old equipment.

Speaking at the MTA Genius Transit Challenge Conference, Cuomo described the subway system as “decaying rapidly.” Cuomo recently hired Joseph Lhota as the chairman of the authority which oversees the subway, a position that hasn’t been filled since his predecessor left in January.  Lhota previously held the same role from 2011-2012. The governor said Lhota will provide a reorganization plan for the agency within a month to fix the “long-standing bureaucracy that has evolved over time” at the MTA. The governor also wants a review of the capital plan, the cars and the physical equipment, which he wants to be completed within 60 days.

Cuomo hopes to accelerate the MTA procurement process, saying: “We want to do business, we need to do business, and we will do it quickly.” According to the governor, New York State will commit an additional $1 billion to the capital plan so the MTA has necessary resources. He said that subway cars are made to be on the tracks for 40 years, but that more than 700 cars have been used for longer. Some of the oldest subway cars now have been in use for over 50 years.

As 6sqft recently covered, the main cause of the subway dilemma’s is overcrowding. As more and more people move to New York, the outdated subway system cannot handle the dramatic increase in ridership. Overcrowding now accounts for more than one-third of the nearly 75,000 subway delays across the system each month. To really address the subway’s problems, in addition to upgrading its decades-old infrastructure, the system needs to expand its capacity to stop train delays and disruptions

Citywide Ferry Coming Soon!

For the first time in 100 years, ferry service will be available to all five boroughs as part of a two-year $325 million initiative by Mayor de Blasio.  As the Wall Street Journal reported, the plan will add at least 200 jobs to the city’s economy. Half of these available jobs will pay at least $50,000 per year or more, according to the mayor. The plan for the citywide ferry service, launching this summer, will be managed by the Economic Development Corporation and Hornblower Cruises, who will hire deckhands, captains and other crew members.

Over a period of two years, six new waterway routes will be constructed, reaching all five boroughs.

Set to begin this summer, the first phase of the ferry expansion will include the Astoria, South Brooklyn and Rockaway routes. Construction is already underway at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for a 56,000-square-foot space that will include enough space for 25 boats, maintenance facilities and the restocking of food and drinks.

Each boat, which will carry 150 passengers, will be equipped with Wifi and sell food and alcohol. The cost of a single ride will remain the same as the subway costs, $2.75. With 20 vessels operating at 21 landings in NYC, the city estimates about 4.6 million trips will be taken per year across the six waterway routes.

Currently, 11 full-time jobs are listed on the Citywide Ferry’s website, with additional part-time jobs expected to be listed as needed. The service has already hired 50 positions, including its first round of captains, who are currently in training in the Gulf Coast for sea trials.

The exact date of the ferry’s summer launch will be announced this April.During a press conference, de Blasio said: “For the price of a subway ride, Citywide Ferry service will connect millions of riders to jobs and homes all along New York City’s waterfront.”

Bookworm Emma Watson Is Hiding Literature In The Subway

Did you just find a Maya Angelou novel on the subway? Did it improve your commute? If so, you should thank Emma Watson.

The “Beauty and the Beast” star hit the underground this week to encourage straphangers to put away their phones and open up a good book. With a rucksack of books and a camera, Watson hid Maya Angelou’s “Mom & Me & Mom” behind pipes and in corners — a book she describes as “one of my favorite books of all time.”

How about here?

Or here?

“So if you’re on the subway, and you find a copy of this book, read it, please, and then bring it back for someone else to find. Pass on the good deed and the love. There’s a new library happening!” Watson told Vanity Fair, which organized the stunt along the 23rd Street C and E line.

In 2015, Watson joined the organization Books on the Underground, a London-based organization that secretly plants books on public transport, which inspired here to do the same in NYC.

Removing Garbage Cans Led To More Trash On The Tracks and Tack Fires

For those who thought removing subway station garbage cans as a means to decrease litter and rats seemed counterintuitive, you were right. The Post looks at how things have fared since the MTA took out cans in 39 stations in 2012, and since this tactic was nixed by the state Comptroller’s Office in 2015. Despite the latter attempt to course correct, a new state report shows that the situation is still just as bad in many stations, with the amount of litter on the upswing and an increased number of track fires.

As 6sqft previously reported, “This past May the MTA recorded 50,436 subway delays, 697 of which were caused by track fires that could have been ignited by the 40 tons of trash that are removed from the system every day.” The build up of garbage isn’t exactly rocket science; with nowhere to dispose of their waste, subway riders end up leaving things like coffee cups and newspapers on benches and stairways or throwing it onto the tracks.

In response, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said, “The clearest progress in the MTA’s pilot program so far is that they’ve returned garbage cans to some of the stations,” referencing the seven stations where they were replaced on the mezzanine level when track fires there had “become rampant.” However, there are still no garbage cans in high-trafficked stations like the Eighth Street stop on the R line in Manhattan, Flushing-Main Street stop on the 7 line in Queens, and all the above-ground stops on the J, M and Z lines in Brooklyn and Queens. And the MTA doesn’t have a system in place for alerting riders about which stations don’t have trash cans.

“Five years after they started this experiment, there’s still no evidence that it’s benefited riders by reducing trash or rats in stations,” DiNapoli continued, despite the MTA’s assertations that workers have had to pick up less trash in those stations targeted by the initiative. The agency also cites the success of their “Operation Trash Sweep.” Under the three-phase initiative, the agency employed a more vigorous cleaning schedule, instituted a system-wide cleaning blitz during which all 469 stations were completely cleaned over just two weeks, and, most recently, tested individually-operated Mobile Vacs that allow workers to quickly suck up trash. MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said track fires decreased at the targeted stations by 41 percent since the Sweep began.