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Transit advocates accuse MTA of planning subway upgrades in secret

2019-08-15

Riders Alliance political director Rebecca Bailin holds a rally with transit advocates outside of MTA headquarters. (Clayton Guse)

Transit advocates on Thursday demanded the MTA tell the public more about its plan to fix the subway.

The agency is in the final stages of forming its next five-year capital plan, which is expected to cost upwards of $40 billion, the most expensive in its history.

But unlike previous capital plans, advocates say, the public has had little input into what will be included — leading them to fear riders’ voices will be ignored.

Riders Alliance, TransitCenter and Straphangers Campaign are launching a survey to find out how riders believe the Metropolitan Transportation Authority should allocate its capital money.

“We need to hear from real riders about what they need fixed on the subway and how the problems impact their lives,” said Riders Alliance member Lola Vieira.

“I just heard from a young mother who was stuck in the recent meltdown during the heatwave and was an hour late to pick up her young child from childcare," Vieira said. "That was not only stressful but she had to pay more for overtime.”

“No one can afford for the next capital program to shortchange subway and bus riders,” said Colin Wright, an associate at TransitCenter.

“If Gov. Cuomo funds the budget with 50 accessible stations, modern subway signaling, and new cars, riders will spend less time stuck on the platform and more time with their families and friends,” Wright said.

The groups will collect the survey responses via text and at a website dubbed CuomosMTA.com. They’ll send the responses to the MTA next month, just before agency officials finally release a draft of the capital plan.

MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said the agency’s capital planning process is “careful and thorough” and that it takes public feedback into account.