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Subway performance, MetroCards among concerns during Twitter chat with transit boss

Shutting down lines is sometimes "necessary" to "get the subway reliability back to where it needs to," Andy Byford said.

NYC Transit president Andy Byford fielded questions live

NYC Transit president Andy Byford fielded questions live on Twitter on Thursday. Photo Credit: MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann

MTA Transit president Andy Byford took questions about subway performance on Twitter on Thursday morning, and promised to hold regular tweet-chats to hear riders’ complaints and answer questions.

Using the hashtag #AskNYCT, Byford, along with the MTA’s new chief customer officer Sarah Meyer, answered questions from the MTA’s Rail Control Center via the agency’s official @NYCTSubway handle.

Byford fielded several off-topic questions such as his favorite band (the Smiths), whether he roots for the Yankees or Blue Jays (Yankees, even though he came from Canada), while also addressing some of the more contentious issues around subway performance.

Liam Jeffries, tweeting as @Ljeff1000, asked if there were plans to install elevators by the 4, 5, 6 lines in Union Square. Byford promised that “I've made this an immediate priority of my tenure and initiated a survey of all remaining inaccessible stations to establish how much it would cost to make the whole network accessible. Union Square will be included within this exercise.” Just about one quarter of the MTA subway system, roughly 112 stations, are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Someone with the handle @UWS_cyclist asked Byford why the MTA works on so many lines on the weekends simultaneously “instead of concentrating the work, and workers, on fewer lines? That way, fewer riders would be inconvenienced, and work on lines would get done faster. Thanks.”

Byford said while he doesn’t like shutting down lines, “it's necessary if we are to get the subway reliability back to where it needs to be. We will continue to ensure that viable alternatives are provided.”

When asked, Byford said he had reviewed the plan to shut down the L train between Manhattan and Brooklyn — slated to start in April 2019 and last for 15 months to make repairs on the Superstorm Sandy damaged tunnel — but admitted it would be a “huge challenge.”

“That said, there is still time to refine the plan, and we are working closely with the City and NYPD to provide smooth service throughout the closure,” he wrote.

Byford also addressed issues like homelessness in the subway system, elevator maintenance, and replacing the MetroCard with contactless payment methods.

Byford, who joined the MTA in January, held similar sessions in Toronto where he was the head of the Toronto Transit Commission. Next month, Byford will field questions on bus and Access-A-Ride service. Other Transit officials also will host subsequent sessions, according to the MTA. 

With Vincent Barone

 

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