The head of New York City’s transit agency on Tuesday unveiled an $836 million plan to stabilize the beleaguered subway system, and promised that riders would see progress within the next year.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota said it was the first phase of a larger subway action plan to modernize the system.
“New Yorkers are rightfully frustrated with the current state of the subways, and their demands for better service have been heard,” Lhota said.
The first phase will focus on signal and track maintenance, car reliability, system safety and cleanliness, customer communications and management.
The plan includes cleaning the entire underground system to remove debris and cut down on fire hazards, adding cars to some subway trains where station platforms can handle it and removing seats from others to add room to get more people inside.
The standing-room only cars would accommodate about 25 more riders than current carriages, which hold roughly 150.
It comes as riders have dealt with delays, mechanical failures, power outages and even derailments.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “encouraged” by the plan unveiled by Lhota, who recently was appointed chairman of the agency. The Democratic mayor has been critical of the MTA, saying the agency allowed the system to disintegrate.
“Today was a step in the right direction,” de Blasio said, as he reiterated his stance that the city shouldn’t be burdened with the bulk of the costs to fix the system.
Lhota said the second phase of the plan would focus on modernizing the system, a much more massive and costly undertaking, and would be outlined in the coming weeks.
The subway system dates to 1904. It operates 8,000 trains daily over 655 miles of track. There are more than 1,600 mainline switches and 13,000 signals that control train movements.