Getting New York’s Subways Back on TrackAging infrastructure and antiquated technology have contributed largely to the biggest issues plaguing our subway system. Recently, New York’s subway system has seen a major decline in service, with a steady increase of subway car breakdowns, subway cars that are filled beyond capacity with riders, and delays that have more than doubled in the past five years alone.
For several years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has reassured riders it was prioritizing capital funds to move the system to a “state of good repair.” The MTA says it was caught flat-footed by the widespread problems in 2017, but in fact, it took specific steps that brought the system to its current state of disrepair. For example, transit managers have reduced standard maintenance cycles on subway cars. The MTA has also not replaced C train cars, which, at 45 years, have gone well past their useful life; as a result, they break down more regularly than any line in the system.
New York City’s subway system has suffered from both financial divestment and political neglect. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to advocate that the MTA prioritize funding projects that will return the subway system to a state of good repair.
Reimagining New York City’s BusesAt 2.5 million trips each day, New York City’s bus system is far and away the largest in the country, providing more trips on an average weekday than Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia combined. The City also has the slowest buses in America — a fact that bus riders here know from bitter daily experience. The buses are so slow, in fact, that the Straphangers Campaign gives annual "Pokey" awards for excellence in slowness and unreliability.
Recently, the Straphangers Campaign partnered with a group of transit-oriented organizations dedicated to improving local bus service city-wide to form the New York City Bus Turnaround Coalition. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to work as a member of the Bus Turnaround Coalition by urging the MTA and New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) to adopt solutions to slow and unreliable bus service.
Creating Affordable Access to TransitMass transit is a great equalizer. Robust transit systems connect community members to jobs, schools, libraries, health care, civic centers, and other resources — increasing economic, political, and social opportunity beyond an individual’s immediate surroundings.
Despite being a crucial resource, many New Yorkers face difficulty accessing subway and bus service, especially low-income New Yorkers who often cannot afford the fare. Public transit shouldn't burden low-income riders, who rely on mass transit to pay the bills and access other resources necessary for their day-to-day lives. The Straphangers Campaign is a proud member of the Fair Fares coalition, and will continue to advocate for New York City to provide half-priced MetroCards to New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line.
Improving Transit AccessibilityAccess-A-Ride Reform
Access-A-Ride, the MTA’s paratransit program required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, is notorious for offering a poor level of service to its riders. While it is a critically needed service, Access-A-Ride is plagued by long wait times, high unreliability, poor communications with its customers, and many missed appointments. The thousands of New Yorkers that depend on Access-A-Ride service deserve quick and reliable transportation options to connect them with their jobs, homes, schools, and other resources. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to push the MTA towards adopting new methods of providing Access-A-Ride service that works for riders.
New York City Transit is responsible for one of the largest subway systems in the world, but its system is by far the least accessible out of every major American city. Out of 472 subway stations, only 117 (around 24%) are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As stations across the system undergo maintenance and receive upgrades funded by the Capital Plan, the Straphangers Campaign will urge the MTA to actively seek ways to upgrade stations with elevators to increase the number of accessible stations, as well as conduct proper maintenance and repairs for elevators already in use.
Funding the MTAThe MTA has two budgets. The first is the operating budget, which covers the day-to-day operations of the Authority and includes things like payroll and health care for transit workers, electricity, cleaning supplies, etc. The second is the Capital Program, which funds station renovations, new subway cars and buses, and large-scale constructions projects like the Second Avenue Subway and installing modern signals (known as Communications-Based Train Control) on subway tracks.
Funding revenue for the MTA’s Operating Budget and Capital Program remain at risk, with dedicated transit funds often falling victim to raids by the state to pay for non-transit priorities. As ridership on New York City’s transit system continues to grow, investment in public transportation must grow as well. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to push for solutions enact a stable funding revenue source to pay for improving and modernizing public transit.