NYC Transit president Andy Byford released a comprehensive, ambitious plan to fix New York’s subways and buses this morning at the MTA board meeting.
Intending to deliver on his promises, he laid out a plan with four core areas: fixing the subways (mainly through signal modernization), reimagining the bus network, accelerating accessibility and engaging and empowering employees.
The plan calls for immediate action. In the first five years alone, NYC Transit would add 650 new subway cars, make more than 50 stations ADA accessible, buy 2,800 new buses and redesign the bus network in all five boroughs, starting with Staten Island, (which is already underway) then to the Bronx, followed by the other boroughs.
The plan would cut the 40-year timeline for CBTC signal installation timeline by 75%, upgrading over 60% of the subway system (track miles) and covering the majority of the riders, within 10 years.
The plan was immediately praised by Regional Plan Association, other advocates, and the MTA board members. “Having a leader release a comprehensive roadmap to modernize a giant bureaucratic agency and the transit system it runs is not something that happens everyday. This is a historic day.” See my testimony this morning here, and read a group statement here.
Byford’s plan is smart because it recognizes you can’t fix the subway and bus system without fixing the internal culture at the MTA. Today he called the NYC Transit employees “miracle workers” for moving so many people daily through the city, and called for better engaging staff, making them more accountable and clearly (and publicly) tracking progress.
If some of the ideas in the plan seem familiar to readers, it’s because many elements in the plan are consistent with RPA proposals and recommendations. We have long advocated for acceleration of CBTC installation, for new ways to deliver projects, for making one entity accountable for capital projects from start to finish, for accelerating accessibility improvements, and use longer shutdowns to allow faster and cheaper modernization.
Implementing the plan won’t be easy. It will come with a giant price tag, and will be hard on riders who have to endure increasing weekends and overnight closures. But as many advocates and MTA board members stated today: the status quo is painful, the system is not working, and NYC can’t be a world class city without a world class transit system. The full Fast Forward plan is here.