By Philip Newman
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come up with a far-reaching plan to push the often beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority into the 21st century, including a complete overhaul of 30 subway stations, “contactless payment” from straphangers as they board subways and buses and WiFi in all stations by the end of this year.
The MTA and the transit head of the union representing more than 30,000 transit workers hailed the blueprint.
“The MTA is absolutely vital to the daily functioning of New York City, but for too long it has failed to meet the region’s growing size and strength,” Cuomo said “This is about doing more than just repair and maintain – this is thinking bigger and better and building the 21st century transit system New Yorkers deserve. We are modernizing the MTA like never before and improving it for years to come.”
“The MTA is committed to meeting Gov. Cuomo’s challenge hands-on eliminating every possible inefficiency to deliver these improvements faster, better and at a lower cost,” said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast. “We’ll accomplish this by incorporating the governor’s suggestions” in improving the transit system.
The governor’s plan would remodel 30 subway stations, including seven in Queens.
“These cleaner, brighter stations will be easier to navigate with better and more intuitive wayfinding as well as a modernized look and feel,” Cuomo said.
The Queens stations to be remodeled are: 30th Avenue on the N, Q line; Broadway on the N, Q; 36th Avenue on the N, Q; 39th Avenue on the N, Q; Parsons Boulevard on the F; 67th Avenue on the M, R; and Northern Boulevard on the M, R.
In September the Citizens Budget Commission identified 33 stations in the subway system in need of repair, nearly half of which were in Queens. Six of the 10 worst stations were in the borough.
The 52nd Street station in Woodside/Sunnyside on the No. 7 line was called the worst in the city, but it does not appear on the governor’s rehabilitation list.
“Stations will be closed to give contractors unfettered access with a singular focus – get in, get done and get out,” according to the plan. “Work on the majority of these 30 stations will be completed by 2018 and all will be finished by 2020.
On average station redvelopments from start to finish will be reduced to take between six and 12 months.
“Once again Gov. Cuomo is stepping up on behalf of transit workers and transit riders,” said Jon Samuelsen, president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers union.
The plan to overhaul the MTA was among Cuomo’s list of improvements, including a new plan to resume work on the stalled Javits Center, including a new Pennsylvania railroad terminal, a Hudson River tunnel as well as upgrading of highways and bridges, many upstate.
The governor also called for addition of a third track to part of the Long Island Rail Road’s Main Line in Nassau and increased educational opportunities in prisons.
The governor’s proposal also accelerates the process of bringing mobile payment methods to subways and buses, allowing riders to pay their fares by waving a cellphone, a bank card or another payment device over contactless reader devices. This will speed up payment and boarding. Non Contact boarding is scheduled to start in 2018.
All 277 underground subway stations will have Wi-Fi service by the end of 2016 and cellphone service will be available in all of them early the following year.