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MTA Tailors Subway Development Plans Around Habits Of Millenial Riders

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TWC News: MTA Tailors Subway Development Plans Around Habits Of Younger Riders
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As the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shapes its strategies for the next 20 years, it is taking a close look at the wants and riding habits of younger straphangers. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Tech-savvy millenials want their subway wi-fi.

"Back in the days when there wasn't no really no wi-fi, and it was annoying. But now I'm on my phone," said one subway rider.

They also want more countdown clocks telling them when the next train is coming.

"The countdown, I need that too. Right now, I'm on my way to work," another subway rider said.

Owning a car isn't their thing, nor is riding the subway to work during the usual morning rush. But they will pack the trains late at night.

These younger straphangers are whom the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is tailoring its plans for the next generation around.

In a speech at New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management on Thursday, the agency's director of planning spelled out some of the traits that set millenials apart from older riders.

"What they know is a transit system that shows up, that's providing more and more information about how the service is provided. And they want to be able to use their electronic devices and know when the trains are coming, and they're ready to use transit more and more," said MTA Director of Planning William Wheeler.

This means moving more riders during off-peak hours to jobs in developing fields and in and out of ever-expanding neighborhoods.

"Try getting on the L, which is one of my favorites, at 1 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday or a Sunday or even a weeknight, and look at the number of people that are on the platforms," Wheeler said.

Wheeler says meeting the needs of the millenials could give an even bigger lift to subway ridership, which is already at its highest levels since the early 1950s.

"If we succeed, it's the greatest era of promise, I think, in the history of the MTA, in terms of the use of the transit system," Wheeler said.

With average weekday ridership at 5.3 million and rising, adjustments will have to be made.

"We think a new normal is being established here, and it's going to provide even more challenge to the transit system," Wheeler said.

But at least there's a countdown to more letter line countdown clocks - three to five years.

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