Tell Governor Cuomo: End the MTA’s signal failure.

Tell Governor Cuomo: End the MTA’s signal failure.

Every day, New Yorkers wait in near-agony for subway trains running far behind schedule, late for work, for school, for doctor’s appointments. As the New York Times reported in anepic story on the subway crisis this Sunday, every single subway line has worsened dramatically (except one, more on that below). On-time performance has fallen far below every other major city (only Mexico City is even close).

What’s the number one cause of subway delays? Signal failures (even the MTA says so).

What’s the most important long-term fix for the subways? Modernizing the signal system. The Regional Plan Association says so. The MTA says so. The New York Times says so. And New Yorkers say so.

Unfortunately: Governor Cuomo and the MTA have not gotten the message.

The subway “rescue plan” developed by MTA Chairman Joe Lhota does not include any additional funding for signal modernization. Even worse, as the Times revealed this weekend, the MTA has cut half-a-billion dollars from signal projects under Governor Cuomo. The subway crisis is Governor Cuomo’s signal failure.

That’s why we are launching I hope you’ll check it out today, see how signal failures are harming New Yorkers, learn what we can do to modernize our signal system, and sign the petition calling on Governor Cuomo and the MTA to fix the signals. is a new online tool that my office developed to call attention to the need to fix the signals. We are launching it today, together with New York State Senators Liz Krueger and Kevin Parker, and Assembly Members Robert Carroll, Richard Gottfried, Jo Anne Simon, Assemblymember and Senator-Elect Brian Kavanagh   -- and hopefully you! -- to demand that the governor and the MTA to make modernizing the subway’s signal system their top long-term priority.

The #SignalFail website:

  • Documents how signal failures are disrupting New Yorkers’ commutes, with weekly information not readily available on the MTA’s website (despite the launch of a new dashboard, the MTA fails to provide up-to-date accounting of the volume, frequency, or impact of signal failures).

  • Outlines a plan for how the MTA should implement communications-based train control (CBTC). With new revenue of about $800 million per year, the MTA could get modern, communications-based signals on all 22 NYC subway lines in half the proposed time. The #SignalFail website offers four options to find this funding.

  • Offers New Yorkers an opportunity to join the call to fix-the-signals. Please sign the online petition. Share it with friends. And tweet about it on social media using #SignalFail #FixTheSignals #FixTheSubway.

It doesn’t have to be this way: London has already installed a computerized signal network on four of its 10 main subway lines, with work is underway on four more. Paris has modernized many of its lines, and has plans to have their entire system completed over the next 15 years.

Of New York’s 22 lines, however, only 1 has an advanced signal system (the L train, and yes, that’s the only one line that has not seen a dramatic drop in performance). A second line (the 7 train) is underway; the targeted completion date of this year will not be met. At the MTA’s current pace, it will take over 50 years to modernize the entire system. And that’s if the money were in place. Replacing the signals is estimated to cost $20 billion. Right now, just $2 billion is allocated -- leaving an $18 billion shortfall.

Despite this gap, and the clear importance of fixing the signals, the MTA rescue plan offered by Chairman Lhota does not increase funding for signal modernization by $1. Even worse, during Governor Cuomo’s tenure, the MTA has cut half-a-billion dollars from signal projects. To add insult to injury, at a City Council hearing in August, MTA officials hedged on communications-based train controls,saying maybe a better idea for the subway signals will come along.

New York City straphangers don’t need wishful thinking. We need a concrete plan.

Please check out today. Sign the petition to Governor Cuomo and the MTA. Share it with friends and on social media.

Together, we can get our subway system back on the right track.


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