One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as President of New York City Transit is that I get to hear directly from passengers – what you love about the subway and bus system and especially what that you don’t like. Whether through online surveys, public comments at MTA board meetings, or, lately, in-person discussions about transit, New Yorkers are never shy about saying what they think, and I appreciate their candor.
I make it my mission to foster an environment of action, where our team at Transit not only listens to these concerns, but we also do something about them. For example, we’ve heard a lot about weekend service lately. Customers want to use public transport to get around anytime, but have a harder time on some weekends when service can be limited due to ongoing maintenance and construction.
My job is to find the middle ground, where we can meet the needs of riders today while continuing to do important track work to ensure long-term service reliability. That’s why I’m appointing a Weekend Service Czar to plan, coordinate, and implement a service plan that can thread that needle. With changing traffic patterns, we need to be nimble. Weekends are recovering much stronger than post-COVID weekdays, so the old game plan to minimize disruption won’t work. I know we can do better.
We apply the same goal to upgrading accessibility throughout the metro system, which has long been another priority for riders. It was announced in late July that a new street elevator is on the way to Queensboro Plaza in Long Island City. A nearby private developer building will pay to install and maintain it on the north side of the station. This is the second transit improvement award to be approved by the Planning Commission under Zoning for accessibility and it marks the first use of ZFA outside of Manhattan.
The new, privately funded elevator will complement the MTA’s ongoing capital work at Queensboro Plaza, which includes the installation of two more elevators that make the station fully accessible, one connecting the street to the mezzanine of the station and the other connecting the mezzanine to the platforms above. We are using every possible strategy to make the system more inclusive for New Yorkers with disabilities, parents with strollers, seniors with mobility issues and more.
Achieving near 100% accessibility won’t happen overnight, but we’re not losing sight of the little things in pursuit of our big vision, like ensuring all subway cars have working air conditioners. Currently, only 0.1% of cars are found to be hot on any given day, even during recent heat waves. There were 45% fewer hot cars in June compared to June 2021, and we continue to identify and inspect cars for working air conditioning before they go into service. We’ve identified the types of cars with the most common A/C systems that fail, are 35-40 years old, and have become better at identifying faults in the workshop and fixing them before they go back into service.
There’s no issue too big or too small to tell us about, so please give us your feedback. This helps our transit team serve.