Plan Adds 1,025 Subway Cars, Including Up to 750 with "Open Car End" Design; New Features to Reduce Wait Times and Increase Capacity
Reveals Key Architectural Elements for Renovation of 31 Subway Stations throughout New York-Metro Area; Request for Proposals for First Three Stations to Be Issued This Week
High-Res Renderings of State-of-the-Art Subway Cars and Stations Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the design features of 1,025 new and reimagined subway cars – including vital enhancements to the exteriors and interiors of regular cars, wider doors, as well as the addition of up to 750 “Open Car End” designed-cars, which will reduce wait times and increase capacity. The Governor also previewed key elements that will be featured in the renovation of 31 subway stations throughout the New York Metropolitan Area, and announced that the first of several Requests for Proposals will be issued this week. The MTA is using design-build contracts to expedite the process and ensure the shortest timeframe for project completion. These vital investments are part of the $27 billion, five-year MTA Capital Program to renew and expand the MTA network. Governor Cuomo unveiled the ambitious design-plan at the Transit Museum in Brooklyn. More information is available here.
VIDEO of the Governor’s remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Thank you very much, it is a pleasure to be here. First, Chairman Prendergast and Ronnie Hakim, congratulations on a great presentation. Let’s give them a round of applause. To my colleagues, I thank you for joining us. We have Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, Stephen Levin from the Council and two board members, Fernando Ferrer and Norman Brown.
This story, you see the continuing evolution of the MTA. Some themes that have been consistent now for the past couple of years. First, the importance of the MTA and the importance of the MTA’s evolution. The MTA is the circulatory system for the metropolitan area. If you want to grow the metropolitan area, if you want to sustain the metropolitan area, the answer cannot be that people get in their cars and commute to work. That just does not work. Coming in this morning, an hour and a half delay at the Lincoln Tunnel, an hour at the George Washington Bridge. The volume just cannot be handled by the current road transportation system. The MTA is going to have to increase their capacity to manage that higher volume. Now, the MTA system itself was designed at a much, much different time. For a fraction of the number of people. Literally a fraction. The basic system is all the same. The subway tubes are basically the same. The basic capacity is the same. The challenge with the MTA is how do we increase that capacity with fundamentally the same design and then how do we do it quickly.
Now first, it requires money and that is why I am very proud that we have appropriated $27 billion. How much is $27 billion? It is a lot of money. That we can agree to. But it is hard to put these terms in context relatively. It is the largest amount of money ever invested in the MTA capital plan, period. The money is there, the funding is there. The challenge is then twofold: the design element and then the implementation element. On the design element, the new cars are very exciting to me. Crowding is a problem as we all know because the number of riders is way up, again, on basically the same system. But crowding, you hear about it all the time. My daughters were home for the weekend, they came up to Westchester and I got the lecture about the MTA. I keep telling them, “Call Tom. Call Tom. Leave Dad alone.” What they keep bringing up is the crowding. It has been a real problem for the MTA for obvious reasons. It is good news but it is also bad news. Wider doors and the open cars, the MTA estimates that it will reduce the loading time by a third. The open cars means that you can walk from one car to the other, much like an articulated bus now. You can just walk from one side to the other so people can have much more movement among the cars themselves and they can help equalize the load.
Right across all the redesigns for the MTA you see the two new elements, which are always aspects of innovation. First, on security because this is a different world. It is a different world almost every day. There is another crisis and there is another situation that takes your breath away. The MTA system has to design that in their plans for the future. Security cameras on cars, yes. Security cameras in stations, yes. Not just, by the way, underground and in the subway cars. When we are redesigning the Penn Stations, the LaGuardia Airports of the future, the Tappan Zee Bridges of the future. This all is going to have a security element that we could not even have imagined before. We will soon be announcing the redo of tunnels and bridges. Security is now a daily concern. That is going to have to be designed into the new structures. Technology, use of technology, people want to work, they want their device to work 24 hours a day. They do not want to have to look up. You get on the bus, you want to go right to work. You get off the bus, you walk into the subway station, there has to be Wi-Fi and there have to be charging ports. That is the way and this new system will have all of that.
I am excited about the design. I am excited about the innovation. The challenge now is to get it done. That is a phenomenal challenge for the MTA as it is for every government agency. The world moves much faster now. It develops faster. Private sector moves faster. Innovation moves faster. A device that comes out today is obsolete in three months. Government, the challenge for government today, is to move as fast as society is moving and move as fast as society dictates. The old rhythm of government, “Well we have to talk about it, we have to think, it’s going to take six months, and then we are going to have a meeting, and then we are going to have another meeting, and then we are going to go through a process.” That does not work anymore. It just does not work, you cannot keep pace with the times. These projects have to happen and they have to happen now. It is not just the MTA, it is every state agency, it is every federal agency, and it is every city agency. You have to find a different way to do business because the old machine cannot do it.
Thirty one stations are going to be bid, and built, in a way we have never done before, which is what? Design-build. What is design-build? Government gets out of the business. The old business was government designed and then government constructed, or government designed and then government bid out the construction to a developer. That system never worked well and it was never fast. We have had enough experience to know the best way to do this now is contract the entire project to a private sector developer who does this, who can design the project to your specifications, can build the project, is incentivized to get it done quickly, and is penalized if they are late. These endless construction projects, that just go on and on and on, and they seemingly have no end, have to stop. We need a different way to do business which is design-build. We have done it on the Tappan Zee Bridge between Westchester and Rockland. They estimated the bridge would take ten to fifteen years to build. It is going to take about four years to build. Design-build. We put out the plan, we had an international competition, and we have the fastest bridge building company on the globe, one. The bridge is coming out of the water. Government could never have done that. If they were doing the design and the construction. Why? Because we don’t build bridges. It is not what we do. There are companies that build bridges. In the private sector, they will tell you all the time, “That is not what I do, stay to your proficiency, stay to your core proficiency and let somebody else do what they do.”
For the MTA, congratulations to Ms. Hakim. Thirty one stations are going to be put together in packages, sent out to the private sector, ask the developers who has the best price, who can get it done the fastest, and who will accept our terms or penalties if you are actually delayed.
Also, rather than keeping the station in semi-operation for a long period of time, there will be a period of closure where we will close the station. People will be inconvenienced for a short period of time and will need to access another station, but we will actually get the construction done. Rather than prolonged delays, there will be a period of closure and then the station will reopen and the station will be done. I am very excited about the new methodology because the money is there, the ideas are there, the design is there, the new technology is there, the new security protocols are there, now we have to get it done. We have to get it done faster than we have ever gotten it done before. Again, that is not just the MTA, that is all across the board, except the borough of Brooklyn which is already beating everybody by lightyears.
Congratulations to Chairman Prendergast, congratulations to Ronnie Hakim. It is exciting, it is a massive challenge running the MTA. I thank the board members, I thank the chairman, and I thank the president. It is a massive challenge to build a new MTA while you are operating the old MTA and that is exactly where we are. Thank you all very much and let me ask the Chairman and Ronnie Hakim to join me for any questions.