NYC Transit Chief Says Subway Can Be Modernized in 10-15 Years: Reports

What to Know

  • The new NYC Transit chief says new signals could be installed across the subway system in 10-15 years
  • He told the Wall Street Journal it would require many weekend service shutdowns and billions more dollars for the MTA
  • Every line except the L line uses an antiquated signal system

The new head of NYC Transit says it’s possible to overhaul the subway’s antiquated signal system in a fraction of the time – if straphangers are willing to sacrifice.

Andy Byford told the Wall Street Journal that he believes a new signal system could be installed across the city’s 27 lines in about a decade, but he warned the plan would need money, time, political will and “the forbearance of New Yorkers.”

“It will not be without inconvenience,” Byford told the Journal, adding that he hopes to have his final plan released in May.

Recent estimates put the time it would take to resignal the entire system at 40 years, but Byford said it can be done in 10 to 15 years, the Journal reports.

Riders would suffer “many more weekend outages” under the plan. And Byford estimates the total cost of the effort would be between $8 billion and $15 billion – an amount that would prove a challenge for the MTA.

One subway line – the L line – already has the modern “communications-based train control,” which allows subway trains to be spaced closer together, increasing the number of trains that can run every hour.

The rest of the subway system uses a half-century-old “block-signaling system” in which the track is divided into sections that only one train can enter at a time.

The MTA has been installing CBTC on the 7 line and hopes to have it up and running this summer – after seven years of work.

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