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New Study: Five Cheap Ways to Improve NYC Subway Operations

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press release

New Study: Five Cheap Ways to Improve NYC Subway Operations

July 30, 2020

NEW YORK, NY — In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, MTA ridership fell to a tenth of its normal levels and has not yet recovered fully, and the city and state will lose massive amounts of tax revenue that previously went to subsidize operations. Already beset with problems—chronically late trains, a backlog of maintenance projects, high operations costs, and a $16 billion budget deficit with spending cuts planned for years to come—the New York City subway system needs sound solutions now.

A new Issue Brief by Manhattan Institute policy analyst Connor Harris details five improvements that the MTA can make for little up-front cost that would save money and improve performance.

Harris’s suggestions include:

  • Making the current Covid-19 related nightly shutdowns permanent to conduct needed track maintenance in order to reduce daytime slowdowns. 
  • Installing plexiglass barriers between tracks and platforms—like many other nations have—to prevent accidental falls, track fires, and suicides. 
  • De-interlining the complicated reverse branching system of subway lines that run between Manhattan and outer boroughs to eliminate the ripple effect of delays they cause. 
  • Incorporating station renovations into upcoming ADA compliance related construction, as a cost-effective way to improve passenger flow and reduce platform crowding.
  • Reevaluating speed restrictions to enable even small increases to top speed at select intervals for overall system performance. 

For New York City to have a modern, reliable subway system, these problems need to be fixed, and the MTA can use this unprecedented moment in time to consider and plan for these solutions.

Click here to read the full report.

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