On May 24th, Public Works Partners attended A New Vision for New York City Transit at NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation. The event featured a presentation from the New York City Transit (NYCT) president Andy Byford on their new Corporate Plan, Fast Forward: The Plan to Modernize New York City Transit.

The plan outlines the goals for the future of transit in NYC, which is currently in a state of emergency because of aging infrastructure, bureaucracy, and lack of funding. It proposes ways to transform both the subway and the bus network, and also emphasizes accessibility and empowering NYCT employees.

Essentially, the plan involves achieving 40 years of upgrades in ten years. Byford explained that changing the subway’s signaling system is the key to this ambitious goal. There are a few other ways to accelerate the work, including fixing multiple lines at once, stopping the customization of products that are proven to work off the shelf, looking at capacity instead of just age to determine repair timing for a station or line, and simplifying communication between contractors.

The accessibility plan is the most ambitious part of the plan proposed by NYCT, with the goal to have New Yorkers never farther than two subway stops from a station that can accommodate disabilities. Understandably, this announcement was wildly applauded by the audience.

Byford emphasized that this type of overhaul will require a lot of commitment from NYCT. He wants there to be a stronger focus on customer-centric services and a continuous improvement approach throughout the agency. This can be achieved by a plan that includes extensive stakeholder engagement, a new mobile app, and real-time information screens to keep New Yorkers in the loop. A big takeaway from the event is that NYCT can’t do this alone – to be successful, the plan will also require support, patience, and input from high-level stakeholders and the general public. Without buy-in from all stakeholders, changes will be difficult to make.

As commuters of all modes of transport and urban policy geeks, we at Public Works are excited to see NYCT’s vision for improving the City’s aging public transportation infrastructure. We are also excited to learn the NYCT plans to engage stakeholders and are open to being held accountable to complete these tasks in a timely and thorough fashion. NYCT is demonstrating a commitment that we share and believe is essential for project success:

  • Engaging stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle
  • Focusing on the end user needs
  • Continuously improving
  • Working toward equity and accessibility across the community

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash