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June 26, 2018
by Adam Roberts
Andy Byford, MTA New York City Transit President. Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin.

The poor state of the subways has become one of the most pressing political issues in New York. To address this, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Andy Byford the new President of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCT), the division of the MTA that oversees the subway and buses.

Only a few months after his hiring, Byford released the Fast Forward Plan, which pledges to accomplish four goals: modernize subway signals and stations, improve accessibility, reorganize the bus network, and restructure NYCT’s staff. Ambitiously, Byford seeks to accomplish all of this within 10 years.

The core of the plan is fixing the outdated subway signals and stations. Decades-old signals need to be replaced to allow trains to run with greater frequency. Meanwhile, many stations have been poorly maintained to the point of being dangerous, as shown by the recent ceiling collapse at the Borough Hall station.

Cost estimates range from around $19 billion to $37 billion. As of now, there is no dedicated source of funding for the plan. While Governor Cuomo did eventually come out in support of it, far more political maneuvering is needed to ensure enough funding is found to see this plan to fruition.

AIA New York has come out publicly in support of the Fast Forward Plan. Its statement of support, co-written by the AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and provided as testimony to the MTA at its June board meeting, can be found here. AIANY will continue to take a strong stance in support of fixing the subway and bus systems, as good mass transit is integral to New York City’s thriving built environment.

Pulse Points:

  • There is now only one more year left to comply with Local Law 26 of 2004, which mandates that sprinkler systems be installed in existing buildings by July 1, 2019. The 14-year report must be submitted by July 1, 2018.
  • The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission gave approval to Selldorf Architects’ expansion of the Frick Museum. The expansion opens up the historic second floor interiors to the public for the first time ever, while maintaining the Beaux-Arts style of the exterior. AIANY released a statement in support of the expansion, which was provided to LPC as testimony. More information can be found here.
  • The initial hearing was held last week regarding the potential landmarking of the exterior of 550 Madison Avenue, Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s “Chippendale Building.” LPC has not voted on the designation yet. AIANY will continue monitoring the status of the building as well as upcoming plans for the building’s use.

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