Millennial-friendly amenities will be introduced into the subway system, 30 stations will be redesigned and phone chargers will be installed in train cars and buses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA announced Friday.
Wi-Fi will also be installed in all stations by the end of 2016, moving up the timeline by a year, and new countdown clocks on letter lines and the No. 7 will also be installed on an accelerated timeline, they said.
Finally, the MetroCard will be replaced by a digital fare system beginning in 2017. They will initial roll it out at transit hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central that have rail-subway connections. It will replace the MetroCard by 2018.
“The future is mass transit,” Cuomo said in a speech at the Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn, which does not have Wi-Fi or cellphone reception.
Cuomo’s remarks were geared toward younger passengers that expect the subway to be more modern.
He said riders should have a subway system that is reliable, accessible, and comfortable. “I don’t want to be a sardine on the train for an hour and a half,” he said. “This will be part of the MTA of tomorrow.”
The originally proposed MTA capital plan, which had not been submitted to a state board yet for approval, called for renovations at 20 stations. It did not include an architectural overhaul of 30 stations, including chargers for tech devices, which is part of the new plan. Buses will also get Wi-Fi and charging devices.
The MTA also planned originally to have Wi-Fi in all underground stations by 2017, but officials said Friday it would be speeded up to 2016.
Countdown clocks on the No. 7 line will also come this year, and the governor has asked the MTA to see how it can accelerate the installation on other lines.
The Riders Alliance, a transit advocacy group, said it was concerned about the MTA’s capital plan being approved by a state board, as well as funding for Cuomo’s transit ideas, and said the source of the $8.3 billion the state has agreed to give the MTA for capital funding hasn’t been identified yet.
“These are valuable projects, but they need to come with real money to pay for them,” said John Raskins, the advocacy group’s executive director. “And in order to make it all work, Gov. Cuomo need to bring the MTA capital plan up for approval so the MTA can get started on the work.”
The MTA chairman, Thomas Prendergast, said the state authority would completely overhaul how it renovates and repairs subway stations. Overhauls will be done through a process called “design-build,” where a contractor both designs and builds a project, rather than follows a government-created design.
They will also be done in bursts with short-term closures or partial closures of stations to get work done quickly, rather than on weekends and late nights, officials said.
“Here in New York, we are stuck behind,” Prendergast said. “That ends today.”
The announcement followed other big transportation ideas pitched by Cuomo this week — — such as the redesign of Penn Station, spending more than $20 billion on roads upstate and adding a new rail to the LIRR between Floral Park and Hicksville.