It’s been more than a year since Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the nation’s busiest subway system and MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota announced a “subway action plan,” promising improvements in service, reliability and communication.
But for most subway riders, little has changed.
On Sunday, the Riders Alliance advocacy group reported that in August, there was just one day without signal problems during the morning rush.
Beyond that, the MTA’s own performance dashboard shows little improvement from last year to this year in everything from the number of major incidents to customer wait times to how long a subway car travels before it breaks down.
What’s more, the dashboard’s latest data are from June. Why isn’t the dashboard up to date?
MTA officials argue that they’ve been trying to stabilize the system, that the lack of horrific incidents like last year’s derailment in Harlem is itself a sign of improvement. And we certainly don’t know how much worse it could have been without the subway action plan.
But that’s an awfully low bar.
Even if Cuomo and the MTA are maintaining a strong sense of urgency regarding subway service, clearly more needs to be done.
New York City Transit President Andy Byford’s ambitious and important Fast Forward plan — the longer-term effort to modernize the subway and its signals — needs to be funded. But MTA officials also must assess whether the smaller, simpler changes they promised last summer on everything from how they deal with sick passengers to how they handle track repairs, maintenance and debris removal, have worked and what additional changes in procedures need to be implemented.
The subway system is still failing its riders, and the state and MTA have to do better.
If they’re ever going to get an A from riders, it’s not going to be for meeting a standard that’s just a bit better than Awful, Atrocious or Appalling.