Kewho Min weighs in on NYC Subway Major Makeover

The New York City subway will soon get a makeover. Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a detailed plan to transform and technologize the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway cars and stations. The transformation will include:

  • Wider Doors The MTA announced that the doors will widen from 50 inches to 58 inches, an amount that, reportedly, will cut down a third of the time that a car spends at a station while passengers board.
  • Open Gangway. What is a gangway, you ask? Well, it has nothing to do with gangs in the pseudo criminal sense. But it does have everything to do with the free movement of crowds of people–namely, open gangways on NYC’s subway will mean that riders can move easily between cars. The Atlantic’s Citylab blog says, “Open pathways between connected cars allow passengers to move freely from one end of the train to the other, which means no more darting in and out of entrances to switch to a less crowded car. The design has been in use, by one count, in over three-quarters of metros outside the U.S.—from Toronto to London to Tokyo.”
  • Wifi and USB Ports Cuomo’s $27-million dollar plan (which is projected to be completed by 2020) also includes integrating new technology features into the riding experience. USB ports will be installed in subway cars and at stations. As many as 1,025 cars will also be Wifi-equipped. (That means working web access while you’re underground for for sending those “I’m running late” text messages and/or emails.)
  • Enhanced lighting. When you’re inside a station waiting for a train, you’ll see better overhead lighting as well as state of the art LED headlights on the train’s exterior.
  • Glass barriers. No more jail-like bars separating the platform from the vestibule. Glass barriers will make the waiting experience feel more elegant.

So much has already changed about New York City subways over the years. The currency used has transitioned from coins to tokens to cards. (Fun fact, by the way: BuzzFeed reports that MetroCard swipes, which are tracked electronically, have provided provable alibis to acquit the accused.)

It’s not clear yet how the new changes will be executed–or by whom. Yesterday’s unveiling also marked the beginning of the request for proposal process for the lofty project. With such a high-profile endeavor, the competition will be steep.