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Op-ed | A strong summer for the MTA

Fair Fares
The turnstiles at the 28th Street station on the 6 line.
Photo by Dean Moses

School’s not back in session for another couple of weeks but New York City Transit has been making the grade all summer long – maintaining reliable service while increasing frequencies and delivering critical State of Good repair projects that support our ‘Faster, Cleaner, Safer’ mandate.

Average subway on-time performance for 2023 is hovering around 84%, a nearly 20-percentage-point improvement over just five years ago. Service is better than ever during discretionary travel periods like weekends thanks in part to the $35 million investment funded by Governor Kathy Hochul and the Legislature in this year’s New York State Budget. 

That money has allowed us to make the N and R lines the seventh and eighth routes — after the 1, 6, C, G, J and M lines — to see increased frequencies, with midday wait times on the N and R decreasing from every 10 minutes to eight minutes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays. An estimated 180,000 riders across Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan stand to benefit from the latest service increase – riders who have made loud and clear in Customer Count surveys that the key to improving satisfaction is less time spent waiting for trains to arrive. We wholeheartedly agree and can’t wait to spread that benefit with additional service increases coming next year. 

Subway performance will also see a boost once we finish ongoing State of Good Repair and accessibility projects. Crews are replacing 25,000 feet of track along the F line between 63rd Street-Lexington Avenue in Manhattan and 21 Street-Queensbridge that will improve reliability and mitigate leaks to prevent future tunnel corrosion. And on the 7 line, additional work is underway to increase efficiency and renew seven stations with rebuilt platforms, upgraded drainage and waterproofing and other structural repairs. 

A separate project will see elevators installed at Queensboro Plaza for the first time. It’s one of 31 ADA projects in construction right now, nine of which are expected to be completed by the end of the year. We’re adding new accessible stations to the map at an unprecedented pace, cutting the ribbon on three in the last month alone.  

We hope these upgrades will help break new ridership records this fall as folks return to schools and offices. Since the summer started, we’ve been carrying about 3.5 million customers a day on the subways. I know we can do better. Four million and beyond, here we come! 

Richard Davey is MTA New York City Transit president.

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