According to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York City subway system is about to receive $27 billion in funding towards the revamping of its car and station design. The initiative is part of the larger and even pricier five-year Metropolitan Transportation Authority capital plan. While the subway will have to wait for more serious updates, like the much-needed transportation technology improvements to be made to the signal systems of its Second Avenue line, which date back from the 1930’s, the attractive bandaid fixes to be applied to the subway are much needed, and will be much appreciated.
New Yorkers may benefit from the project as early as 2020, though many aspects of the MTA won’t be brought to fruition for years afterwords. The appearance improvements set for the system will include 8-inch wider doors, a new exterior, and new LED headlights. While today’s car are a muted silver color, the new 1,050 cars will have blue and yellow highlights. The wider doors are meant to help people in wheelchairs, parents with strollers, and anyone else who could go without squeezing through bodies on the Subway during rush hour. There will be new digital displays inside the cars, which will host open gangways instead of being closed off from car to car. That means 10 percent more people will be able to fit onto each Subway train, and that people can spread out more easily when that train is at full capacity.
Perhaps the best news for smartphone-equipped riders is that there will be USB charging ports. While a recent report found that the majority of transit riders would prefer faster cars to ones with convenient amenities like charging ports and Wi-Fi, if you can’t have one, you might as well have the other.
“Many of the young people using our system today grew up with a smartphone in one hand and a tablet in the other,” the MTA chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast explained when he originally released the new designs for the trains last March. “They’re demanding more Wi-Fi, more real-time information, more charging stations, connectivity, more apps, and more screens. They aren’t luxury items anymore.”
Subway platforms will also be spruced up; the revamped platforms will have easier-to-clean surfaces, better lighting, and countdown clocks to help perform those waiting for their trains exactly how much longer they have until they can catch their train. Platforms will also have better signage and even more USB charging ports. Perhaps most helpful, the stations will be equipped with new neighborhood maps and service announcements to keep riders informed and headed in the right direction.
Finally, the signs above the stations will be improved as well with bright designs and service announcements at the street level. Some New Yorkers have already expressed regret at the new signs, saying that they’ll miss the classic street-level globes of yore. All in all, however, these new improvements are likely to make the New York City subway a more navigable, safe and convenient place to travel in a connected world.