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Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit
MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford and Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer were on hand at the Fresh Pond Road station on April 30 to welcome customers back to a fully restored M train line.

Major changes could be coming to the MTA over the next 10 years under a new plan proposed last week by New York City Transit President Andy Byford.

At the MTA Board meeting on May 23, Byford presented his plan titled “Fast Forward: The Plan to Modernize New York City Transit,” a comprehensive overview of the changes that he plans to implement during his tenure. In the opening text of the plan, Byford was not subtle about the amount of work that needs to be done to improve the city’s subway and bus services.

“As I said when my appointment was announced, what is needed isn’t mere tinkering, a few tweaks here and there,” Byford wrote. “What must happen is sustained investment on a massive scale if we are to deliver New Yorkers the service they deserve and the transit system this city and state need. … Now is the time to think big and transform our network so it works for all New Yorkers.”

While Byford avoided placing a price tag on that massive investment during the presentation, published reports have estimated the cost could be anywhere from $19 billion to $43 billion.

The plan is divided into two five-year sections. During the first five years, five subway lines would receive a state-of-the-art signal system; 50 new stations would be made handicap accessible; state-of-good-repair work would be done at more than 150 stations; more than 650 new subway cars would be added to the fleet; more than 1,200 communications-based train control modified cars would be implemented; the bus routes in all five boroughs would be redesigned; a new fare payment system would be developed; and 2,800 new buses would hit the road.

During the second five years, six more subway lines would receive a state-of-the-art signal system; more than 130 more stations would be made handicap accessible; state-of-good-repair work would be done at 150 more stations; more than 3,000 new subway cars would be rolled out; and 2,100 new buses would be added.

So what does this plan mean for Ridgewood and the rest of Community District 5?

For starters, there are seven subway stations along the L and M trains that are either in Ridgewood or along the border with Bushwick. Only the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues station and Middle Village-Metropolitan Avenue station have wheelchair accessible features.

Since track repair work was already performed on the M train, and the major repair of the Canarsie Tunnel was already planned before this, it’s unlikely that Byford’s plan would involve more track work in the area other than the enhanced cleaning of the tracks.

The bus system changes are likely to have the most substantial impact on the area since most of CD5 is in the transportation desert between subway lines. The plan states that during 2018 there would be targeted corridor improvements made on 12 priority bus routes. With the Q58 being the busiest — and perennially the slowest — bus route in the borough, it is likely that changes to the route could be in store.

Other changes to the bus system listed in the plan include all-door boarding, traffic signal priority and increased enforcement of bus lanes. While all-door boarding would have to involve a new tap-and-go payment system that is also mentioned in the plan, signal priority and enforcement present more challenges that have already proven to be controversial on the Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service route.

According to Community Board 5 Public Transit Services Committee Co-Chair John Maier, Byford’s plan may necessitate some kind of congestion pricing system for drivers into and out of Manhattan. Congestion pricing — which was proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year — would not only help pay for Byford’s plan, it would also influence more people to use public transit rather than their own vehicles, thus clearing the roads more for buses, Maier said.

In the end, Maier added, Byford’s plan will at the very least force him to dip his toes in the political waters and negotiate with Cuomo  who appointed Byford and now must decide if his plan is feasible. When Byford announced the plan, Cuomo was dismissive about the potential costs, according to multiple reports.

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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. June 01, 2018 / 08:11PM
Both the city and the state should pay half and half of the fast forward plan, since the city owns the streets and the subway while the state operates the subways and the buses. Both congestion pricing and a Millionaire's Tax are a permanent ways to go for the reliable sources of funding for the next decade and beyond.
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