Statement on MTA's "Fast Forward" Plan
Fast Forward, a plan to modernize New York City Transit presented by President Andy Byford today, is a serious and praiseworthy plan to improve the region's mass transit network. A highlight is the important role subway signal modernization plays in this plan; it is the single best way to improve subway reliability and safety and allow more trains to run on capacity-constrained lines. The faster pace of new signal installation using proven technology outlined in the plan is feasible and desirable, and well worth any short-term disruptions it will entail.
Other elements of the plan are promising, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) should explicitly relate the measures identified to progress toward achieving a state of good repair for all system components including stations, track, and line equipment such as vent fans and pumps. Equal attention should be given to the more hidden elements of the system that are vital to reliability and safety.
Another interesting new feature of Fast Forward is its ten-year time frame for setting goals; this suggests the MTA might benefit from moving from the current system of five-year capital plans to a ten-year capital plan that is revised every five years.