Continuing his preview of his State of the State speech next week, Governor Andrew Cuomo focused on the city's subway system Friday, saying he wants to improve technology and amenities underground. State House Reporter Zack Fink has the details.
The governor has already signed off on a $26 billion capital construction plan for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Friday, he announced the next step as part of his 2016 agenda: improving the travel experiences for mass transit riders by expediting Wi-Fi service and other improvements.
"Frankly, the MTA system has to be better than it is today. It has to be more reliable. It has to be more comfortable," Cuomo said. "We want people getting out of cars and getting into mass transit."
Cuomo promised to deliver Wi-Fi service to all 278 underground subway stations across the city by the end of the year.
Ports for charging smart phones would begin showing up on buses and subways this summer, and the timeframe for rolling out countdown clocks to inform riders about wait times for trains would also be sped up.
"We need to step into the 21st century and bring technology into a system that at its original design and construction did not consider that," said Tom Prendergast, the chairperson and CEO of the MTA.
But critics say the improvements aren't totally new, even if the expedited timetable for implementing them is. They say the money for these improvements would be better spent elsewhere.
"You need to be thinking about expanding, how to get more people into the system, and then you also have to think about where else the system should be going," Ben Kabak, a blogger for "2nd Avenue Sagas," said. "Can you build more of the Second Avenue subway? Can you build better inter-borough connections? There are all these ideas out there that should get more of a look."
Cuomo has managed to do events each day this week in the lead up to his State of the State address, which will be held in Albany next Wednesday, Jan. 13