May 23, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The head of the MTA’s New York City Transit division announced a sweeping 10-year plan today that aims to modernize the city’s entire subway system, including the G line, which could undergo major improvements—hand in hand with extended closures—in the next few years if the plan is approved.
The plan, prepared by NYCT President Andy Byford and titled “Fast Forward: The Plan to Modernize New York City Transit,” calls for a massive and rapid overhaul of the subway in a variety of areas, including installing modern signal systems on lines, growing the number of accessible stations, repairing stations, and beyond.
The plan is essentially divided in half to note what can be accomplished in the first five years and in the latter five. Among the highlights of the first five years, according to Byford, is the full installation of state-of-the-art signal systems on five lines, including the G, which runs from Court Square in Long Island City, through Greenpoint, and down to Kensington in Brooklyn.
The Communications-Based Train Control system, the modern signaling system that allows for faster and more frequent train service, would be installed from Court Square down to Hoyt-Schermerhorn on the G line in the blazing-fast timeframe of five years. The CBTC system has typically taken close to 10 years to install, which has led many to estimate that it would take over 40 years to implement the system across all train lines.
Byford’s plan, however, would aim to install the signal systems and more in a quarter of the time. The NYC Transit chief, who just passed the 100-day mark at his new post, said expediting the replacement of the old signal system is the most “transformative thing we can do to improve subway service.”
But the plan require major sacrifices to get done in the allotted time.
To get the system in place on the G line and the four other lines within five years, extended closures and service changes on nights and weekends would be needed for at least two and a half years, according to the plan. This approach, Byford says, would allow for work to be done quickly, rather than waiting for weekends to do it, as has been typically done. There would be no full-line closures on weekdays, however.
Along with installing the communications system, the plan calls for power systems to be upgraded to accommodate for a larger volume of trains that the modern signal system will bring, and making all cars in the subway fleet CBTC-equipped.
Other components of the plan include making more than 50 stations accessible, bringing more than 150 stations to a state-of-good-repair, introducing a new fare payment system, and adding nearly 3,000 new buses. A new station management model would also be introduced by the end of the year.
MTA Board members applauded Byford for his “bold” plan, but many asked about the price tag for the overhaul, which will need to be approved by the state to go forth. While no number was given at the presentation, multiple reports place the price tag between $19 and $37 billion.
If approved, the work and cost for the first five years of the plan will be included in the MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Plan.