Op-ed | Tackling the MTA’s biggest challenges

There’s no scarcity of challenges dealing with the MTA as of late – from our precarious monetary scenario to subway security. However regardless of what some might imagine, there’s really so much to be hopeful about, largely as a result of the MTA is attacking massive points head on.

Certainly one of the most vital challenges the MTA has struggled with for many years is find out how to make a 117-year-old subway system totally accessible in accordance with the People with Disabilities Act. It took 30 years simply to get the first 100 precedence stations constructed out. The turning level got here after we adopted the historic 2020-2024 Capital Program, which incorporates an unprecedented $5.2 billion funding in accessibility and a dedication to get 70 stations finished.

Lo and behold, we began renovating quicker than ever – including 15 accessible stations to the map simply since the begin of the pandemic. That’s greater than the whole seven-year interval from 2012 to 2018. And in the final two years, we’ve awarded contracts for one more 23 stations. Sixteen extra are in procurement proper now. All instructed, 79 accessibility initiatives are presently in improvement.

Final week, we took the subsequent nice leap, along with our companions in the incapacity advocacy neighborhood, by signing a authorized settlement that commits to sustaining this identical degree of funding in future MTA Capital Packages till no less than 95% of stations are outfitted with elevators or ramps. We’re keen to maneuver ahead quickly in order that no New Yorker will ever must contort their journey plans or skip a enjoyable occasion as a result of a subway station isn’t ADA accessible.

One other massive concern the MTA is taking up, with help from Governor Hochul, is congestion pricing. We’ll by no means be capable to obtain our local weather or air high quality targets, or actually prioritize road area for the sorts of automobiles that we will need to have – like buses, police, hearth and sanitation automobiles, and Paratransit – till we now have a system that disincentivizes personal single occupancy automobiles from clogging up the Central Enterprise District.

Congestion pricing is the finest reply. We’re now working by points with the federal Division of Transportation so we will start implementing this historic program as deliberate subsequent yr.

The MTA can be prioritizing Buses – under-appreciated heroes of public transportation – by redrawing service maps for the first time in 100 years with our borough-by-borough Bus Community Redesigns. It’s no secret that buses are engines of fairness. They’re the solely mass transit possibility out there in some neighborhoods, and so they have to be quicker than strolling!

Our new plan for Bronx service launched Sunday. Subsequent up is Queens, the place we’re presently working with the neighborhood to realize consensus on the newest draft proposal.

However our biggest problem but could also be fixing Penn Station.

Individuals have been debating the finest strategy to do it virtually since the present model opened in the Nineteen Sixties. Now we’re lastly pushing forward with the Governor’s plan to knock out the Amtrak concourse degree and create a shocking new station with ceiling heights and open area like Grand Central Terminal and Moynihan Practice Corridor. A Request for Proposals for the new design was issued earlier this month; the subsequent step is to type by submissions this summer season.

None of those points have simple options. However below my management, the MTA gained’t be kicking the can on robust points. By working collectively, we will do massive issues and create the fashionable twenty first century transit system New Yorkers deserve.

Janno Lieber is MTA chair and CEO.

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