Search results for "MTA"

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At MCNY

New exhibit explores 50 years of public art in New York City
Whatever your feelings about public art, there's a lot of it in New York City. A new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York reflects on the origins and future of the city's public sculptures, murals, and more ephemeral works, fifty years after artists and curators brought art out of the galleries and into the streets. Of course, New York has always had civic statues and monuments, but the public art movement really took off in the 1960s with Sculpture in Environment, a 1967 Parks Department exhibition that brought work by 24 artists to parks and buildings in Manhattan. The installations were the city's attempt to beautify itself in the face of disinvestment and decay, as well as a response to changing urban conditions that coincided with Kennedy-era positioning of American art and culture as a worldwide export. A timeline in the forecourt of Art in the Open gives a concise and colorful overview of public art from the 60s to today, with "Go See It!" stickers affixed to work that's endured, like Isamu Noguchi's Red Cube in front of 140 Broadway. A walk in the gallery is a greatest hits parade, organized by theme. A red Keith Haring mural, Crack is Wack, greets visitors who enter Art in Public, the opening category that engages the role of art in shaping shared spaces. Art in Place features site-specific works like The Gates, the 23 miles of orange banners Christo and Jeanne-Claude threaded through Central Park; A Subtlety, Kara Walker's arresting installation inside the Domino Sugar Factory; and a throwback, Wheatfield—A Confrontation, Agnes Denes's amber waves of grain in front of Minoru Yamasaki's World Trade Center. The third and final grouping, Art in Action, is devoted to performance and interactive installations. Tania Bruguera's Immigrant Movement International, a community center for migrants in Corona, Queens, and Rudy Shepherd's Drawing Cart, a table in front of a Harlem laundromat where the artist drew with neighbors, are thoughtful exceptions to the blockbusters. Exhibition curators collaborated with the city's major public art organizations to realize Art in the Open. There's art from MTA Arts & Design, the transit arts program that brings straphangers mosaic murals and Poetry in Motion, video stills and ephemera from Creative Time, the nonprofit behind A Subtlety, as well as many other works featured. The Public Art Fund, the group behind Ai Wei Wei's current citywide installation, shared its archives with MCNY for the show. Full-scale photographs of the art in situ contextualize the work, most of which (if decommissioned) is scaled to the sky, too massive to fit inside the gallery—a tension the show highlights. There's a lot to take in, and for New Yorkers, the show will jog memories of art that shapes the city, love it or hate it. Art in the Open: Fifty Years of Public Art in New York, is on view tomorrow, November 10 through May 13, 2018.
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Reflection zone

African Burial Ground memorial and mixed-use development approved for Harlem
While completing work on the Willis Avenue Bridge in East Harlem in the early 2000s, an unexpected discovery was made. A building adjacent to the bridge – a bus depot operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) – seemed to have been built on top of a colonial-era African burial ground. In 2011, the MTA hired a consultant to complete a formal archaeological study (Phase 1A), which found that the depot grounds had indeed been an active burial site from the late 1660s to at least 1856. In 2015, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) completed a Phase 1B archaeological assessment and the depot was shut down, its operations relocated offsite. The nearby Elmendorf Reformed Church – a descendant church of the burial ground – were involved in the extraction of more than 140 bone fragments from the site, which will be preserved and reinterred within a memorial. As the MTA and NYCEDC discovered, the site had been the cemetery for descendants of Africans in the colonial era when the neighborhood was a Dutch settlement called Nieuw Haarlem. An adjacent cemetery for white parishioners was relocated to the Bronx when its attendant church moved, but the ground holding the Africans' remains was repeatedly resold and developed over, its history obscured and desecrated. Yesterday New York City Council approved a zoning application giving developers the go-ahead to construct a memorial at the historic burial ground, as well as a mixed-use housing and commercial complex including about 730 residential units, 80 percent of which will be made affordable. Before development begins, additional archaeological work will be conducted by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPS), supervised by the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force (HABGTF), which has advocated for the site's formal recognition since 2009. The development, intended to be about two-thirds residential and one-third commercial, will center itself around the outdoor burial ground memorial and include up to 15,000 square feet of indoor memorial or cultural center space. The memorial itself will be allocated about 18,000 square feet, a wedge-shaped area near First Avenue. The overall site will span the entire city block. In the HABGTF's original design proposals for the memorial, the names of the deceased are carved into walls of black granite surrounding a reflecting pool with its ripples illuminated onto the ceiling by internal light fixtures. Reverend Doctor Patricia A. Singletary of the Elmendorf Reformed Church managed to find the names in the church's records. The promenade, also etched with quotes from black luminaries like Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr., can double as a presentation space for guest lectures "pertinent to the site's history and larger issues concerning the legacy of slavery and colonization." The memorial corridor, lined with bronze sculptural reliefs depicting scenes of slavery and Native Americans, extends out onto an open, public lawn dotted with fiber optic lights that illuminate the grasses at night. The NYCEDC plans to issue an RFP for development proposals for the site in 2018, with the final team selected in late 2018 or early 2019. The site is scheduled for construction on a tentative timeline from 2020 to 2023.
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But It's Farley From Over

New renderings revealed as Moynihan Train Hall reaches major construction milestone

Moynihan Station today, 10:45 a.m. – Dramatic stage lighting in New York colors illuminates bare steel trusses, a backdrop to the podium where the governor will talk up the new train hall, any minute now. Tables in the far back of the room, behind a crowd of hundreds of construction workers and sweaty guys in suits, are loaded with Penn-Farley coasters and free cider donuts. It's humid, dark, and a little dusty, but despite the large gathering, there was just a little news at the former post office today: The project's about to start full-on construction.

Governor Andrew Cuomo was in the city to announce a construction milestone at the Penn-Farley complex, the soon-to-be bigger and (hopefully) better train station on Manhattan's West Side. This was the last time the James A. Farley Post Office, re-christened as the Moynihan Train Hall, will be open to the public before it's transformed into a transit hub by SOM. Contractors had just knocked out the McKim Meade and White–designed hall's second-floor mezzanine, a move that allows the major interior build-out to begin.

In June, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) inked a $1.6 billion deal with a developer-builder team to transform the structure into a retail-office complex and train station. The three companies—Related Companies, Skanska, and Vornado Realty Trust—will contribute the largest share ($630 million) towards the project, with New York State kicking in $550 million. Money from Amtrak, the MTA, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and federal grants round out the project costs.

The 255,000-square-foot station will serve Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak riders. Like the World Trade Center Oculus, or its slightly older cousin at Fulton Center, Moynihan's skylit concourse will be ringed by retail, more than 700,000 square feet of it. To make transfers easier, the just-completed West End Concourse will connect Moynihan to Penn Station, just across 8th Avenue. Construction began in September and the train hall is expected to be complete in 2021.

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Taking Its Toll

Governor Cuomo proposes congestion pricing as a way to fund transportation repairs

With New York City’s subway system in a dire state—extensive delays, people getting trapped in subway cars, derailments—public officials have been scrambling to find a way to repair its aging infrastructure. Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a "millionaire's tax" for wealthy city residents that would pay for infrastructure upgrades and reduced fares for other riders.

Now, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo revealed his own plan to raise funds and ease traffic at the same time: congestion pricing.

Congestion pricing was brought up by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg ten years ago but was quickly shut down because of concerns that it favored Manhattan residents. Cuomo is bringing it back as a solution to the city’s current transit crisis, according to The New York Times.

By putting tolls on roads and bridges leading into Manhattan, a constant funding stream will be created. It will also help to reduce traffic flowing into the city and on gridlocked streets. Congestion pricing is already in place in other cities like London, Stockholm, and Singapore.

Cuomo is piggy-backing on Bloomberg’s failed plan to create a new congestion pricing scheme that will win crucial support from stakeholders, including the State Legislature. “Congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come,” Cuomo said to the Times, though he added that his plan would be significantly different from Bloomberg’s.

Move NY, an independent transportation group, revealed its own congestion pricing proposal, offering a glimpse of what Cuomo’s plan may look like. Drivers would pay a toll of $5.54 in each direction for the four bridges that cross the East River into Manhattan, and also a toll to cross 60th Street in Manhattan northbound or southbound. The plan also proposes lowering tolls at other crossings. Move NY estimates that this system could yield around $1.47 billion in annual revenue, of which most would go towards repairing infrastructure. Alex Matthiessen, leader of Move NY, told The Times that group is talking with Cuomo's administration about developing the proposal.

While both de Blasio’s tax plan and Cuomo’s congestion pricing proposal have been getting attention, it does not solve the immediate issue of raising $800 million for emergency funds to finance immediate repairs on the subway. The state has already contributed $400 million and expects the city to fund the rest.

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Ride On

NYC to add more bike lanes in response to surging demand

New York City streets are a decadent mass of pedestrians, cabs, delivery trucks, and the crosstown bus, all scooting somewhere quickly. But even as rideshare apps are pushing more cars on the pavement, there's one green and steadfast transit option that's seeing a surprising surge in popularity.

Right now, the city's streets host 450,000 bike rides per day, an increase of 280,00 trips from 2005. To meet accelerating demand, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) promised on Monday to add 50 miles of painted bike lanes and ten miles of protected paths each year.

Over the last decade, New York has seen an explosion of bike infrastructure. Crain's reports that cyclists now cruise over 1,133 miles of bike lanes, up from a little over 500 miles in 2006. Of those, around 40 percent are shielded from automobiles by concrete or other physical barriers. These are the gold-standard tracks because of the protection they provide relative to painted paths.

But even this relatively robust network can't stop bike fatalities. Nine in ten cyclists killed while riding are killed outside of bike lanes. In response, the DOT plans to ramp up safety efforts in three Queens and seven Brooklyn neighborhoods where many bike fatalities and injuries occur.

Still, officials are optimistic that bikesharing, which was introduced only four years ago, will become further enmeshed in New York's urban fabric. City Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez, who represents Upper Manhattan and serves on the council's transportation committee, would like to one day see free transfers between Citi Bike, the city's bikeshare system, and the MTA. (An annual Citi Bike membership costs $163.) Citi Bike broke ridership records with more than 70,000 riders on one day in June of this year, while last year, the system logged more than 14 million rides.

Despite their low cost relative to cars, and emissions-free crunchy-green aura that renders bicycles anodyne in most quarters, New Yorkers haven't embraced bike culture universally. On the Upper East Side last year, residents objected to bike lanes near a school, worried that speeding cyclists could mow down young ones. Though those crosstown lanes were ultimately approved, out in Corona, Queens, longtime Community Board 4 member (and unrepentant xenophobe) Ann Pfoser Darby called bike lanes in her neighborhood a waste of money, claiming they would be empty after President Trump deported the area's undocumented immigrants.

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Growth Plan

Midtown East rezoning gets unanimous approval from land use and zoning committees

Following several key revisions, Midtown East’s rezoning plan was unanimously approved by both the City Council Land Use Committee and the subcommittee on zoning and franchises today.

The rezoning of Greater East Midtown has been in the works for five years and has been making its way through the public review process. The plan, which hopes to rejuvenate and attract businesses back to the area, will pave the way for more than six million square feet of new office buildings. It allows developers to increase the floor-to-area ratio (FAR) of their buildings, provided that they either make specific transit infrastructure improvements or buy landmarked air rights.

Several amendments were made to the proposal during the zoning committee meeting before it was approved.

A hotly contested topic, the sale of air rights from landmarked buildings, was one of the main changes. The mandatory public contribution decreased to $61.49 per square foot, down from $78.60 since it was last presented to the City Council, according to The Real Deal. The money from those sales will go towards a public realm improvement fund that will deal with aboveground infrastructure, and the city has committed $50 million to kick-start the fund.

“This is what we call a fair compromise,” Councilman David Greenfield said at the land use meeting, defending the decision to lower the air rights minimum. “When everyone around the table is not happy, it means we probably got it right.” The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) had asked for a much lower minimum, claiming that even with the new minimum, the price point was too high to attract and induce deals.

Under the revised plan, five blocks from 46th to 51st streets along Third Avenue will be left out, following opposition from Turtle Bay residents who said that their neighborhood was mainly residential and should be excluded. Other changes include the requirement that for any building larger than 30,000 square feet, developers must improve Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS). This will bring an estimated 16 new POPS to the area.

Transit infrastructure improvements were specified in this new proposal as well—if developers choose to go this route, they will have to create new street-level exits and widen staircases for subway stations in the area. The city estimated that $500 million will go towards these improvements.

Councilman Daniel Gardodnick, one of the project’s main supporters, proclaimed “East Midtown is back,” on the steps of City Hall after the subcommittee approved the vote. "This is a plan that will re-establish East Midtown as the crown jewel of our business districts, as an economic engine for our city and and will strengthen its future for many years to come.”

The full council, which usually adheres to the committee’s decision, is expected to meet for the final vote on August 9.

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Action Plan Onboard

Subway service stinks and the MTA has a new plan to fix it
[UPDATE 7/26/2017: This article was amended to include a statement that MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota made at the press conference on 7/25/2017 regarding his and the MTA's accountability for the plan outlined here.] This afternoon MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota laid out a short-term plan to improve declining service across the New York City subway system. Lhota began by outlining some of the causes of the current deterioration of service, including a record volume of customers (6 million riders a day, due in no small part to increased number of tourists), lack of capital investment, and aging infrastructure. The first phase of the MTA's efforts will tackle the causes behind 79 percent of major delays. While medical incidents, track fires, car malfunctions, water damage, and station malfunctions were each the blame, more than half of the major delays were due to signal, track, and power problems. Lhota's list of countermeasures was extensive, but included:
  • Speeding up the replacement of the 1,300 most troublesome signals (40 percent of signal mechanisms are more than 50 years old)
  • Starting a Emergency Water Management initiative to seal leaks and clean grates
  • Increasing the number of train car overhauls from 950 to 1,100 per year
  • Creating a new MTA app and a separate online dashboard to keep riders informed on MTA activities and improvements (the dashboard will be available in the next month to six weeks)
  • Initiating a pilot program to remove some seats from select cars on the Shuttle (S) train between Grand Central/42nd and the L train
  • Adding seven more EMT teams at various stations to handle sick customers
  • Initiating a public awareness campaign to stop littering on the tracks, which can lead to track fires
  • Increasing the rate of station cleaning from every six weeks to four weeks
  • Adding 12 emergency teams to 12 locations to speed up incident response times
  • Eliminating recorded announcements on subway cars
The cost will be a challenge—this yearlong "stabilization" phase will cost $456 million in operating costs, plus $380 million in a one-time capital. Without access to funds from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, the federal government, or increased fares, the city and the state will have to food the bill. Lhota said that he and Governor Andrew Cuomo are proposing the two entities split the cost evenly. In discussing the ever-prickly funding issue, Lhota, echoing Cuomo, made sure to note that the MTA runs the subway, while the city owns it (the mayor's office disputes this interpretation of the subway's rules). Phase Two will include implementing the designs of the MTA Genius Transit Challenge, new subway cars, and an entirely new signal system. Lhota stated this second phase may cost $8 billion. During the conference, Lhota said the MTA would take responsibility for executing this plan. "Hold me accountable for everything that I've talked about today," he stated in response to a reporter's question, "because I do believe the responsibility begins here and ends here with everyone at the MTA and everyone at the transit authority." Hours after the press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio held his own presser inside the City Hall R/W station to address Lhota's remarks. He called the agency's plan a "positive" and "important" first step to getting subway service back up to par, noting that the state needs to apply the resources it already has at its disposal. "The MTA is finally beginning to own up to its responsibility," he said. All good, right? Less than two hours later, Lhota issued a salty response to de Blasio's comments, fanning the flames of a city-state saga that's already sardine-packed with petty jabs, light shows, messy snacking, and a whole heap of grandstanding:
“It is befuddling that the Mayor praised the MTA repair plan, but said he would not agree to fund it 50/50 with the State. One-half of a repair plan won’t make the trains run on time. The MTA is looking for the city to be a funding partner that assists the 6 million New Yorkers, the mayor's constituents, who use the subway."
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Summer of Hell

Governor Cuomo’s bridge lighting plan draws criticism amid MTA stalls and shutdowns
Last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo excitedly discussed plans to illuminate seven bridges across New York City with multicolored LED lights choreographed to music. Those bridges, along with the Empire State Building and One World Trade, were first slated for installation in winter 2017. Now, among massive stalls and shutdowns at MTA stations across the city—dubbed “the summer of hell” for commuters and tourists alike—critics are gearing back up to question how the city is spending on public infrastructure. A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo, Jon Weinstein, emailed Politico to say the bridge lighting project “is definitely NOT being paid for by the MTA,” indicating the costs could be split between the New York City Power Authority and Empire State Development. The MTA and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) seem to think otherwise: In March, the NYPA’s Board was shown a $216 million estimate for the plan with the MTA picking up the tab, although this was an unaudited financial plan with the project cost as a placeholder. Critics have been quick to distinguish cosmetic from reparative lighting—for instance, bridge and tunnel fixtures repaired after Hurricane Sandy. For example, recent upgrades to one of these post-Sandy projects, the rehab of the tunnel and exit plaza on the Manhattan side of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, included $7.3 million in additional funds to create a decorative blue-and-gold tiling pattern that reflects the state's official colors. Additionally, the Port Authority has officially withdrawn the George Washington Bridge from the lighting portion of the collective plan, which has been dubbed New York Crossings. However, that initiative doesn’t end with its lights. The governor's office has framed New York Crossings as a public art project that would address a number of other civic concerns: incorporating automatic tolling designed to reducing commute times, increasing checkpoint security (through facial recognition software at these stations), seismic updates to each bridge (the plan also incorporates reinforced concrete armoring units underwater), and sustainability (introducing LED units wherever possible). The projected end date for New York Crossings is currently May 2018, even as the governor's office claims the MTA is spending no money on the initiative. An independent review by watchdog group Reinvent Albany estimated the agency has spent roughly $40 million on the decorative towers and LED lighting so far.
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Trains, Planes, Automobiles

The Port Authority is seeking bids for JFK airport's $10 billion overhaul
The latest stage in John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)'s renovation began on Tuesday as The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey started seeking proposals for a new master plan. JFK is the busiest international airport in the U.S., serving 59 million passengers in 2016, and is expected to reach capacity in the next decade as it continues to grow. According to DW, the renovation addresses this rapid growth through connected and expanded terminals, improved road and parking access, a ring road to reduce congestion, increased AirTrain capacity, and new, updated amenities. The project is expected to cost $10 billion, of which $7 billion will come from a private investment, according to Bloomberg. The Port Authority is only considering firms that have, within the last ten years, completed a master plan worth at least $5 million for a major airport serving a minimum of 15 million passengers. This would include firms such as KPF, HOK, and Gensler, which have all done large-scale airport projects. While this project has been moving ahead, not all the Governor's infrastructure projects have been progressing without criticism. Governor Cuomo recently caught some flack for funding road and bridge projects while ignoring much-needed subway improvements. Additionally, JFK has already been in the news this year as construction began on the adaptive reuse of Eero Saarinen’s iconic terminal.
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Universal Design

Mayor de Blasio announces the Second Edition of the Inclusive Design Guidelines
The second edition of the Inclusive Design Guidelines (IDG)—a set of parameters that assist designers in ensuring their work is fully usable by any and all—has been announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Office for People with Disabilities published the first edition seven years ago. This latest version will expand on the minimum requirements laid out in the 2010 edition, which consolidated design guidelines from around the world. The publication has also been distributed across the globe, allowing New York to be seen as a city striving to make itself accessible to all. That said, as many of those with disabilities will tell you, the city still has a long way to go, especially with regards to its transportation services. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), fewer than 20 percent of subway stations are accessible to all. Change is coming, albeit slowly. A 1979 lawsuit means that by 2020, 100 stations must include elevators. That still only means that less than a quarter will be wheelchair accessible. The problem persists above ground, too. In 2014, a report by the Center for Independence of the Disabled found that 806 curb cuts of 1,066 sites surveyed south of 14th Street in Manhattan were inaccessible. Crumbling concrete, potholes, barriers, and damaged slopes (or no slopes) were the main issues. If you find somewhere that has inadequate disabled access, you can file a complaint by calling 311. (Note: Buildings built before 1987 are exempt). More information on that can be found here. However, the new IDG will continue to foster multisensory environments that, according to the Mayor's office, will "accommodate a wide range of individuals with physical and cognitive abilities of all ages." De Blasio's announcement comes in the month marking the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), the first legislation passed in the U.S. that sought to provide rights to those with physical and cognitive disabilities. “New York City is a place of inclusion where every single person who resides here should be able to navigate daily life without accessibility being a concern,” said Mayor de Blasio in a press release. “We are excited to launch this 2nd edition of inclusive design guidelines as a tool to help make our city even more welcoming, convenient, and enjoyable for ALL New Yorkers.” Meanwhile, Victor Calise, commissioner of the Office of People with Disabilities, added: “The IDG is proving to be an important tool for designers to create welcoming, Comfortable and usable environments.... Locally, the IDG is helping to make New York City the most accessible city in the world.” The IDG Second Edition can be found here.
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Link Up

L.A. Metro takes multi-pronged approach to improving aging Blue Line
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) is working toward making a series of modest but necessary improvements on the 27-year-old Blue Line light rail line connecting Downtown Los Angeles with downtown Long Beach. The 22-mile-long transit link was the first modern transit line built in the region and with 83,612 boardings per day, is considered one of the transit system’s workhorse lines. The LAMTA recently approved a $81.5 million contract to move forward on several practical improvements to the line that would boost efficiency, shorten disruptions caused by maintenance work, and speed up overall travel. The biggest item on the list of improvements for the line consists of the addition of four new interlocking segments to the route. Interlockings provide opportunities for trains to bypass certain segments of track in the event of a stalled train or while maintenance work is being performed on a certain section of track, for example. The transit line currently features only six such interlockings, a situation that can create waits of up to 40 minutes when track maintenance is being performed. These delays typically disrupt service for several hours after the fact, when they do occur, snarling the transit system’s already spotty on-time performance throughout the day. The new interlockings are expected to reduce these types of delays substantially, allowing trains to run every 15 to 20 minutes or so, while maintenance work is performed. The transit authority has also begun switching out the line’s aging fleet with new rail cars. The line’s train fleet has not been substantially upgraded since the early 1990s, so the aging Kinkisharyo P865 trains will be replaced by newer P3010 trains, the same locomotives that run on the system’s Gold and Expo Lines. The first of the new trains went into service in May of this year and are going be completely rolled out by the end of 2018, according to The Source.   Long Beach is also working toward implementing a long-delayed light synchronization improvement plan throughout the line’s final stretch in downtown Long Beach, Longbeachize reports. The improvements would coordinate traffic signals along the parallel and intersecting streets that run around the transit line in order to assure Blue Line trains hit green lights at each intersection, speeding the line’s passage through the downtown area. Delays along this stretch due to the lack of synchronization reportedly increase travel times by between five and 30 minutes. The transit authority has also studied creating express lines between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach but has not released any plans to implement such measures.
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$1 Billion Life Line

Cuomo declares state of emergency for New York's subway system

The cheek of it. Governor Andrew Cuomo waltzes into a press conference and announces he is going to save the subway. After years of denying the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) the funds to upgrade the subway, Cuomo on Thursday declared that the system was in a state of emergency and pledged $1 billion to fix the issue. But a knight in shining armor he is not. New Yorkers know how overdue this is, and so does he.

According to the New York Times, Cuomo fled the scene immediately, revealing no details as to where that money would come from. The New York State Governor will also reportedly sign an executive order to usher in repair work and new gear to bring the subway up to speed.

The announcement comes after an A Train derailed earlier this week, leaving 17 hospitalized and others with minor injuries. Other subway horror stories abound. This is the culmination of a beleaguered 112-year-old system that has been crying out for help for decades since its popularity boomed in the early 1990s. As more and more use the system, the worse it gets. In 2007, 94 percent of 1 Trains were on time. Fast forward ten years and that performance meter has dropped to 70 percent. That's better than the rest of the subway's lines which, on average, are punctual 59 percent of the time. The problem is overcrowding (which accounts for more than a third of delays today) and, of course, this means more delayed passengers angrily tweeting venting their frustration—so the more we hear about it. (The Architect's Newspaper recently spotted this poster at the 49th Street N/Q/R/W subway stop.) Signals, way outdated and faulty beyond belief, are also the source of other delays, as are faulty tracks and switches.

Though ironically delayed, Cuomo's rhetoric will be welcomed by subway riders more accustomed to hearing about train traffic ahead of them. “We need new ideas, delivered faster," the governor told reporters and entrepreneurs who attended the speech. “It will no longer be a tortured exercise to do business with the MTA,” Cuomo continued, announcing an ideas competition to improve the subway.

Put in place to oversee to all this is the new chairman of the MTA, Joseph J. Lhota. "The governor has made it clear he wants a new MTA, a new approach," he said. “We know what we need to do. He mentioned the subway’s aging signal system. We live in a digital age. Our signal system isn’t even analog. It’s mechanical.”

Lhota now has 30 days to change the turn the MTA into an agency that "performs a function." In addition to this, Lhota, who only heard about the $1 billion pledge at the conference himself, must review the MTA's capital plan within 60 days. Though deriding the subway system as it is, Lhota is optimistic. "I know what the subway system was, and it can be the crown jewel of New York,” he said. “No idea is too crazy. No idea is too ambitious.”