SUBWAY RESCUE PLAN

Could the “Days of Delays” finally be a thing of the past? The MTA unveils an ambitious ten-year plan to modernize your commute. We have the details.

Aired on May 29, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO METROFOCUS.

I'M JENN AIRE FLANAGAN.

WE BEGIN TONIGHT WITH THE NEW INITIATIVE TO OVERHAUL THE CITY'S DECAYING SUBWAY SYSTEM WITH COMMUTERS FEARING IT WILL BECOME A DECADE OF DELAYS.

THE MTA SWEEPING PLAN AIMS TO INCREASE THE MODERNIZATION OF THE SIGNAL SYSTEM, IMPROVE WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBILITY TO PLATFORMS AND RESTRUCTURE THE DEPARTMENT'S MANAGEMENT.

UNDER THE PROPOSAL WHICH IS A FRIGHTENING THOUGHT TO ALL NEW YORKERS ENTIRE SUBWAY LINES COULD BE TAKEN OUT OF SERVICE ON OVERNIGHT AND WEEKEND HOURS.

AND FOR THOSE UPGRADES, ACCORDING TO 'THE NEW YORK TIMES,' THE PRICE IS GETTING PRETTY STAGGERING.

JOINING US NOW WITH INSUITING IS TOM WRIGHT, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE REGIONAL PLAN ASSOCIATION, AN INDEPENDENT URBAN PLANNING RESEARCH ORGANIZATION.

TOM, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

SO FIRST TELL US -- I KNOW THAT WE ALL KNOW WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING.

RIGHT.

THAT'S CLEAR.

WE HAVE TO.

SO A FEW MONTHS AGO THE MTA HIRED A NEW PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, ANDY BYFORD.

HE COMES HAVING WORKED AROUND THE WORLD AND DONE TURN AROUNDS OF SYSTEMS.

HE BRINGS THE FRESH PERSPECTIVE AND OUTSIDER POINT OF VIEW THAT WE NEED IN NEW YORK AND HE LOOKED TOM TO PALM WITH THE TEAM HOW WE DO THE SIGNALS AND BY OUR CARS AND FIX THE STATIONS AND MONITOR THE SITUATION.

AND HE IS LOOKING INTERNALLY TOO THE MTA IS IT STRUCTURED AND ARE THE STAFF EMPOWERED TO DO THINGS?

IT'S NOT A POLITICAL PLAN HE PUT TOGETHER.

HE DIDN'T PIVOT FOR A CERTAIN PRICE TAG OR SOMETHING.

HE SAID THIS IS THE WHICH TO GO FORWARD.

IT'S A 15-YEAR PLAN WITH KIND OF FIVE-YEAR ININCREMENTS.

WHAT HE IS TRYING TO DO IS EXPEDITE THE SYSTEMS WE NEED, THE RECLE SYSTEM, THE SIGNAL SYSTEM, THE NEW CARS, THE STATIONS.

PRIORITIZING THE PIECES OF THE SYSTEM THAT BENEFIT THE MOST RIDERS FASTEST AND REALLY PUTTING AN AGGRESSIVE PLAN OUT THERE WHICH IS WHAT WE NEED.

OF COURSE AN AGGRESSIVE PLAN MEANS IF THE PENDULUM SWINGS ONE WAY IT SWINGS THE OTHER.

THAT MEANS PAIN FOR US AS COMMUTERS AND OF COURSE THE PRICE TAG.

RIGHT IT'S COSTING A LOT OF MONEY BUT WE HAVE TO COME UP WITH THE MONEY.

AND IT'S GOING TO MEAN THE RIDING PUBLIC IS GOING TO HAVE TO ACCEPT IN THE SHORT TERM THAT THINGS ARE GOING TO CHANGE.

THERE'S BEEN A KIND OF BARGAIN THAT WAS SOLD TO NEW YORKERS THAT SAID, WE CAN KEEP AND MAINTAIN THE SYSTEM.

YOU CAN RIDE IT 24/7.

YOU'LL NEVER NOTICE US DOING REPAIRS OR OTHER THINGS AND JUST KEEP GOING.

AND THAT BARGAIN HAS BEEN BROKEN.

IT'S FALLEN APART.

AND NEW YORKERS KNOW THAT BECAUSE WHAT WE SEE NOW TODAY IS KIND OF THE SYSTEM BREAKING DOWN ALL AROUND US.

AND WE DON'T KNOW WHEN IT'S GOING TO FAIL, HOW IT'S GOING TO FAIL, HOW LONG IT'S GOING TO TAKE.

I THINK THAT THIS PLAN WHICH HAS SCHEDULED CLOSURES, WHERE YOU CAN PLAN AROUND IT.

YOU CAN SAY I KNOW I WON'T RIDE THIS LINE ON THE WEEKEND OR I KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE SHUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

AND I'M NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT BUT I'D RATHER DO THAT FOR A YEAR OR TWO OR THREE THAN CONTINUE DOWN THIS PATH OF JUST NOT KNOWING IF I CAN RELY ON THIS SYSTEM.

WELL, I'M GLAD YOU BROUGHT UP THE INITIAL PROMISE THAT WAS MADE BETWEEN I GUESS YOU KNOW THE CITY, STATE AND OF COURSE COMMUTERS.

BECAUSE IF THAT'S BEEN BROKEN WHAT REASON IS THERE FOR PEOPLE TO TRUST THIS PLAN?

WHEN YOU SAY IT'S ONLY FOR THREE YEARS OR ONLY OVERNIGHT, HOW DO I KNOW THE A TRAIN DOESN'T JUST DISAPPEAR TOTALLY FOR TWO YEARS.

THAT'S A VALID -- LOOK THE MTA TRACK RECORD OF DELIVERING PROJECTS ON TIME AND BUDGET ISN'T GOOD.

THAT'S WHY GOING ALL IN ON THIS PLAN.

ANDY BYFORD AND HIS TEAM SAY HOLD US ACCOUNTABLE.

IT'S NOT JUST A PLAN ABOUT MAKING INVESTMENTS BUT IT'S ABOUT RESTRUCTURING THE MTA CREATING MORE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PEOPLE IN STATIONS WHICH AS ANDY LIKES TO POINT OUT HIS FIRST JOB AT THE TUBE IN LONDON.

HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT.

AND SO IT'S REALLY ABOUT AN EMPOWERING THE STAFF AT THE MTA, THE 50,000 PEOPLE WORKING THERE.

HE IS ALSO LOOKING -- NOT JUST ABOUT THE SUBWAYS.

ALSO PLANS FOR UPGRADING THE BUS SYSTEM, REDESIGNING ROUTES, BUYING NEW VEHICLES, CHANGING THE WHICH WE PAY FOR IT AND GETTING PRIORITIZATION.

THE BUSES -- EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING ON THE SUBWAY -- IT'S BEEN WORSE ON BUSES BECAUSE THEY'RE STUCK IN TRAFFIC WITH ALL THE OTHER CARS.

OF COURSE.

SO KIND OF ADDRESSING THAT IS PART OF THIS SYSTEM TOO.

I DON'T THINK WE HAVE ANY ALTERNATIVE.

THAN GOING DOWN IN ROUTE.

AND WHAT WE HAVE NOW I THINK IS A LEADER IN PLACE WHO SAYS, HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.

I'M GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT I'M GOING TO DO.

I'M GOING -- HE IS GOING TO START REPORTING ON THE PROGRESS ON THIS EVERY THREE MONTHS.

SO IT'S GOING TO BE A VERY KIND OF OPEN, TRANSPARENT ACCOUNTABLE MTA.

THAT'S NOT BEEN THE CULTURE OF THIS AGENCY.

NO, IT HASN'T.

I THINK THERE IS A LOT OF TRUST TO BE MADE UP WITH FOR NEW YORKERS.

THAT'S TRUE.

IS THERE ANY PLAN HOW THE PLAN IS BEING RECEIVED FROM ENTITIES PAYING FOR IT.

WE'RE GOING TO ALBANY AND TALK TO THE LEGISLATORS.

AND SOMETIMES YOU WONDER IF THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON IN NEW YORK CITY AND HOW IMPORTANT WHAT HAPPENS IN NEW YORK IS FOR THE REST OF THE STATE, THE REGION, THE NORTHEAST UNITED STATES.

SO -- AND I THINK THAT OUR POLITICIANS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO STEP UP.

THERE IS A LITTLE BIT OF TREP TAGS ON THEIR PART ABOUT THIS BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO COME UP WITH THE MONEY.

AND THAT'S -- IT'S GOING TO BE A LOT OF MONEY.

YES.

BUT THEY DON'T HAVE ANY ALTERNATIVE TO THIS.

AND DELAYING THIS ONLY MEANS IT'S COSTING MORE LATER.

IT MEANS THAT NEW YORKERS ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE MORE OF THE DELAYS AND DISRUPTIONS THAT THEY'RE SEEING NOW.

LET ME THROW THIS OUT QUICKLY BEFORE WE RUN OUT O TIME, WHAT ABOUT THE POPULAR OPTION FROM ALBANY, THE PIECEMEAL, A PIECE HERE AND THERE.

THAT WOULD JUST BE A DISASTER.

OKAY.

HE IS THAT'S NOT GOING TO WORK.

THE SYSTEM IS AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM.

YOU CAN'T PULL A PIECE OUT AND DO ANYTHING SIGNIFICANT WITH IT.

AND SO I MEAN THE BIGGEST THING HERE IS ACTUALLY BUYING THE NEW CARS AND IMPROVING THE SIGNALS AND MODERNIZING THE SIGNAL SYSTEM SO THAT OUR TRAINS CAN RUN MORE CLOSELY TOGETHER.

UM-HUM.

AND IN A SAFER WAY.

WELL LISTEN, TOM THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US AND GIVING US AT LEAST HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.

THANKS ZPLA BUT UNFORTUNATELY I THINK A LOT OF US ARE A LITTLE SKEPTICAL.

WE'LL WAIT AND SEE.

UNDERSTOOD.

THANKS FOR GIVING ME A CHANCE TO TALK TO YOU.

Funders

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