Op-ed: MTA on a roll as 2019 winds down

MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye (Photo courtesy of MTA)


The holiday season is a time for reflection and thanks, and I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight what the MTA’s 74,000 employees have delivered this year for millions of New Yorkers.

Topping the list, we’re seeing a sustained upswing in subway on-time performance. November was the sixth straight month that it surpassed 80%, reaching 81.7%. That’s nearly a 17% increase from the year before. And the results are paying dividends as more and more riders are coming back to the system. Average weekday subway ridership climbed to 5.77 million people in September, up from 5.43 million in 2018. These gains are critical as we work to rebuild public trust.

We’re looking to build on that progress with major resignaling projects on six subway lines as part of our historic 2020-2024 Capital Program. Updating this technology means we can run more trains more often, allowing us to serve more riders and get them to where they’re going faster. 

One of our biggest successes in 2019 was on the 7 line, where modernization completely transformed the customer experience. On-time performance skyrocketed to over 90% within four months of the new system’s installation.  Resignaling also enabled us to increase the number of trains per hour to 29 during the morning and evening rush, up from 25-27. To put that in perspective, that helped us to serve thousands of additional riders per hour. 

Our successes this year extended to buses as well. The rollout of the 14th Street Busway, together with the use of Automated Bus Lane Enforcement, has proven to be a model for the system. On the M14, it once took an average of 15 minutes to travel between Eighth and Third Avenues, now it takes just over 10.  And customers are noticing too – since the busway was launched in October in partnership with the city, ridership is up 17% compared to the same time last year.

The coming months promise even more significant and impactful improvements for customers. Next week we’re rolling out the OMNY fare payment system at dozens of new stations. The introduction of OMNY has been a major success for the agency. We reached our three millionth tap in November, and we’re just getting started.

With a new year and new challenges on the horizon, we remain laser-focused on our core mission: providing safe and reliable service to keep this city and region moving. 

Pat Foye is the Chairman and CEO of the MTA.