Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed details of his plan to make over the city’s aging transit system.
The New York City subway system has been struggling to handle the increasing volume of people that use it. But lack of capacity isn’t its only problem: The aging transit network is badly in need of upgrades and design tweaks that make the experience of using it a little less unpleasant.
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled details of a $27-billion redesign plan that would address some of these issues. “New York deserves a world-class transportation network worthy of its role as the heartbeat of the 21st-century economy,” Cuomo said in a press release. “The MTA design team developed a bold and visionary reimagining of the quintessential commuter experience, incorporating best practices from global transit systems, and focusing on our core mission to renew, enhance, and expand.”
His 5-year expansion plan adds 1,025 new subway cars with a variety of new features: wider doors, LED headlights, digital signage, USB chargers, seats that flip up, and wi-fi. Of these, 750 cars will have an “open gangway” design, meaning that commuters will be able to move freely along the length of cars on an accordion-like train. The point of many of these changes is to fit more passengers inside the cars, and allow for swifter flows between the train and the platform. Both of these goals, if achieved, would help reduce wait times for trains and overcrowding in subway stations.
Here are renderings of the exteriors and interiors of these new cars, the first of which might be ready by 2020:
In the second part of the plan, 31 stations spread across the five boroughs will get makeovers, complete with better lighting, improved signage, easy-to-understand information about service, countdown clocks, better cell-phone reception, wi-fi, and even contemporary art. Through these design elements, the city’s transit agencies hope to make the navigating the subway system a little less confusing and a little more comfortable.
“We will preserve the historical features of the stations while modernizing them,” Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim, the president of New York City Transit, said at the press conference.
The bidding process for the contract to renovate three stations in Brooklyn—Prospect Avenue Station, 53rd Street Station, and Bay Ridge Avenue Station—will start this week. For the rest of the stations, bidding processes will be rolled out within the next 12 months. “We have an aggressive timeline,” Hakim said. “We are keeping the mantra of ‘get in, get done, get out.’”
Here are some renderings of the proposed subway redesign: