Riders Alliance Seeks More Urgency and Accountability in Subway Repairs, Reported by The New York Times

Posted on November 30, 2017

Rebuild New York Subways Under New Leadership, Report Urges

Originally Posted by The New York Times on November 30, 2017
Written by Winnie Hu

According to a new report from an influential urban research and advocacy group, fixing New York City’s subway crisis will require taking the drastic step of creating a state-controlled corporation dedicated solely to rebuilding and modernizing the city’s teetering subway system. The Regional Plan Association, whose board includes business and civic leaders, called on Thursday for a “subway reconstruction public benefit corporation” that would have “a focused mandate, streamlined authority, and sufficient funding to rebuild the entire subway system within 15 years.” It was one of the key proposals in a sweeping new report that addresses the many problems confronting a growing New York region, including decaying transportation and infrastructure, a shortage of affordable housing and the threat posed by climate change. Nowhere are the problems more urgent than in the city’s subways, which have been crippled by constant breakdowns, soaring delays and overcrowding. The city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, recently estimated that subway delays were costing the city economy as much as $389 million annually in lost wages and productivity. Scott Rechler, a real estate executive who is the chairman of the Regional Plan Association and also a board member of the transportation authority, said a more efficient and focused organization was vital to lead the subway overhaul. While details would be worked out later, he said that the new subway corporation could operate with more flexibility than traditional government agencies, which are often bound by outdated rules and regulations. The report’s to-do list for the subways includes building new subway lines to underserved areas and reducing crowding at stations by creating larger entrances, enlarging corridors and mezzanines, and moving nonessential structures such as newsstands from platforms. It also advocates for increasing access for riders with disabilities and making subway stations more bearable through better ventilation and more natural light. Though the authority has already started to make some improvements, such as updating signals, the report said the pace is so slow it could take decades to finish. “The key to repairing the subway is creating a sense of urgency and accountability, not just for Governor Cuomo but also for the governors who come after him,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance.

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