A new way to bring riders back to NYC Transit

Richard Davey speaks to the press on his first day as New York City Transit President in Jackson Heights, Queens, May 2.
Richard Davey speaks to the press on his first day as New York City Transit President in Jackson Heights, Queens, May 2.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

To bring New Yorkers back to the subway we are throwing out the old playbook as we reimagine ways to strengthen our relationship with customers. Frequency of trains and reliable service are paramount, but they are not the only things that contribute to a good experience.

Track crews have “piggybacked” capital projects with maintenance work and vice versa before. Highly visible station improvements are now going to be included in that mix.

We did a survey to ask you where we could do better. Your response was to improve the station environment. That’s why we are launching a station refresh program in the Bronx during the next phase of the Grand Concourse Line reconstruction, taking advantage of ongoing work to accomplish more work while there.

In years past, when we shut stations down over the weekend for maintenance and improvements, you would return to the same station on Monday morning and perhaps not notice any visible change.

You would return to improved service, sure, but you would also return to that same lightbulb being out, that same bench that is in desperate need of a replacement, or the tile stains along the wall from water leaks. The refresh program aims to change that.

From now on, when your weekend commute is altered, it will usually include improvements you can both benefit from and see. For example, on over 11 upcoming weekend outages along the Grand Concourse line, New York City Transit crews will be in stations doing more than ever before.

Crews will repair signals, clean tracks and tunnels to provide reliable service. And at the same time, we will deep clean stations, repaint staircases and platform pillars, install new benches and tactile warning strips on platforms, put in new lighting where needed, and repair tiles along the walls so it does not look like someone spilled the biggest cup of coffee and never bothered to clean it up.

The most important part of this program is all that work will be done without subjecting Bronx riders to further closures. Weekend ridership has helped lead transit’s recovery and New York City Transit will do everything in its power to give customers more reasons to come back.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can go the longest way toward putting a smile on a rider’s face. This is the new playbook at New York City Transit as we continue to be the gold standard of public transit.

Richard Davey is president of MTA New York City Transit.

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