Public transportation in New York City may finally be moving in the right direction. Last year, New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford announced Fast Forward, a plan to modernize and fix NYC Transit. It prioritizes increased accessibility, reliability, and capacity.
Fast Forward will be partially funded through congestion pricing, which was recently passed. The program will create a tolling system for Manhattan’s central business district, below 60th street. Congestion pricing will reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve air quality. It is expected to generate up to $1.1 billion annually to fund public transportation.
The MTA is currently working on their next five-year capital agenda, which will be released this fall. NYLCV, along with other groups including Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives, has been advocating for the goals of Fast Forward to be incorporated into the concrete, budgetary terms of the capital agenda using funding from congestion pricing.
We are calling for the modern signals, subway cars, bus routes, station elevators, and other improvements that are part of Fast Forward to be included in the 5-year agenda. These improvements would make public transportation more reliable, encourage New Yorkers to leave their cars at home, reduce emissions, and improve air quality.
Recent incidents have emphasized the need for improvement. An MTA outage in the middle of a July heatwave stopped several NYC subway lines during rush hour. Thousands of riders were impacted by a delay of up to 90 minutes. A train car went up in smoke on the East Side, causing subway delays that morning. A switch malfunction caused mass service disruptions on numerous lines.
Fast Forward can minimize these types of incidents by adding over 650 new subway cars, repairing over 150 stations, including making them accessible, and creating a new signal system for the busiest lines within the next 10 years, which would make the system more reliable and reduce delays.
One of the other foundations of Fast Forward is resiliency. The plan aims to increase resilience to flooding by ensuring new projects adhere to guidelines established after Hurricane Sandy, improving operation responsiveness during storms, and implementing protective measures at 3,500 subway station openings.
Fast Forward would also improve accessibility by increasing the number of subway stations with elevators, creating steps-free access to 50 additional stations in the next 5 years. Currently, only 118 out of 472 are accessible. The proposal aims for no rider to be more than two stops away from a step-free access station.
In addition to subway improvements, Fast Forward plans to improve the bus system. In the next 5 years, it would redesign the bus routes in all 5 boroughs, put 2,800 new buses on the road, and begin the transition to clean transportation with 60 new electric buses. The redesigned and efficient bus routes, combined with low-emission buses, will help make the bus system more reliable and improve air quality.
Fast Forward can revolutionize public transit in New York City. That’s why NYLCV will continue to advocate for these improvements to be included in the MTA’s next capital agenda.