The MTA board on Wednesday unanimously approved a $26.1 billion capital plan in its largest capital plan in history, signaling its push ahead in a months-long fight of political disagreement.
At the heart of the 2015-19 program were the much needed “necessary” changes across its entire transportation system with thousands of new subway cars and buses, upgrades at stations, efficient through points for better signals and less delays for subway riders.
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Additions to the MTA plan include the Livonia Avenue-Junius Street transfer—a long-awaited change where commuters have been forced to pay two fares to switch from the L to 3 train.
Also being streamlined is the Times Square shuttle, which will move from three tracks to two, and become ADA-accessible, as well as a Utica Avenue line extension study.
“I think the message to subway riders is just wait, things are going to get better and in a major way now that the state and city have committed to doing that,” Andrew Albert, board member and chair of NYC Transit Riders Council, told Metro.
Board members acknowledged the “parsing over details" with financial and political wrangling. Remaining optimistic that the plan will give much needed relief to commuters, the plan gears up to go before the state's Capital Program Review Board for final approval.
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With the plan centered on “renew, enhance and expand” MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast told the Board Wednesday the implementation of the work would be the hardest, adding that it was necessary to look at delivering the program “faster, cheaper and better.”
“[The meeting] was fairly transparent so people know what they’re getting money for and what’s not being funded. Basically most of everything we were hoping for is there, maybe not as much of it as we wanted but there are years in the future,” board member Susan Metzger told Metro.
But with time constraints, Metzger said ultimately it was “at the point where we needed to start funding some of the next aspects of things that are already in the works, like the 2nd avenue subway, like East side access.”
Sticking points such as ways to move forward from the aging Metrocard towards more efficient ways to pay for fares through smartphones and countdown clocks for trains, were topics brought up frequently at Wednesday’s board meeting.
“[The message is] that the city and state of New York care about its riders, and they’re putting their money where their mouth is to make things better,” Albert said.
In a statement Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the developments a "huge win."