Amid a summer where outrage over the busted New York City subway system has rained down like so much filth-water, the state Metropolitan Transit Authority has finally answered riders’ cries with a plan to fix things. Sort of. And they haven’t actually secured funding for it. Hey! Fun times.
Anyway, the plan is this: fewer seats on certain trains, and getting you people to litter a lot less, presumably causing fewer fires.
“We’re here today because of the deterioration of the quality of service and the performance of the NYC subway system,” MTA head Joe Lhota told reporters at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “There is no doubt we are failing our customers.”
Lhota announced a series of short-term plans to help fix the trains, which includes removing seats from select cars on the Times Square Shuttle and L line, which could increase passenger capacity by 25 riders per car.
Have fun standing, seniors and pregnant women.
Lhota also called for more NYC police officers at subways to get tough on litterers. Accumulated trash causes most subway fires each year, but the MTA says only 80 people received violations for littering.
The subway seems to be falling apart this summer, due to years of limited investment in maintaining the subway and exponential growth in ridership. Subway woes aren’t just annoying—delays are causing New Yorkers their wages and jobs.
Aside from the bizarre seat-removal plan, many short-term fixes aren’t terrible, but funding the solutions could get testy. Other maintenance programs Lhota announced include dispatching 31 specialized teams to areas with high rates of incidence, hiring a team to fix 1,300 of the most problematic signals and a new Water Management Initiative to clean 40,000 street grates and seal leaks with chemical grouting.
Lhota said “raising fares is not an option” to pay for the plan (thank god), but asked the city to pay half of the $836 million plan—except that New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio said earlier this week he won’t pay for fixes.
The MTA is a state agency, so even though city representatives have seats on the board, it’s ultimately up to Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration to fix the transit system.
Everyone is very enthusiastic about that:
Cuomo and DeBlasio have already been taking shots at one another over who’s at fault for the subway’s catastrophic mess. Cuomo declared a state of emergency on the subway system last month and promised to give it more state funds, but since then he’s been MIA. DeBlasio, meanwhile, rode the subway to chastise the governor after Cuomo accused DeBlasio of not helping enough.
Even though the MTA said last month it’s doing an A+ job conveying info to passengers, Lhota said the MTA has “not been doing a good job at all” to communicate delays. The solution includes launching a new integrated app and deploying customer representatives at high-traffic stops to help riders IRL.
Albeit tardy, the fixes Lhota announced seem solid—but there’s no sign that agency and the city will reach an agreement to properly fund the plans.
The New York City subway: it’s making a hell of an argument for cars.