Give him signals or give him death.
Gov. Cuomo said Sunday the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to overhaul the subway’s outdated signaling system is not ambitious enough.
“The current plan for the MTA is to put in a new signal system, which we desperately need, and the current schedule is roughly 15 years and multiple billions of dollars,” the governor said during a tour of the L train tunnel. “I’m probably going to be dead in 15 years. I don’t want to wait 15 years to have a new signal system.”
Cuomo, 61, will likely live much longer than that — a report released by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in June shows the life expectancy of New Yorkers is 81.2 years. Still, his call for speedier signal upgrades shows that he is fed up with the MTA’s slow pace of construction.
The MTA plans to install modern signaling called communications-based train control, or CBTC, on six stretches of track over the next five years as a part of its proposed $51.5 billion capital plan. The signals safely direct train traffic on the subway, and the majority of the existing system runs on World War II-era technology.
According to Cuomo, even the CBTC technology is also outdated and too hard to install. He repeated a comment he made earlier this year, calling the system “basically a 1970s, 1980s technology that’s been modified since.”
At the governor’s request, the MTA is looking into a futuristic new kind of signaling technology called “ultra-wideband,” which is not yet safety-certified by federal regulators and is viewed by many transit experts as an enhancement to existing CBTC systems. The technology is currently being tested on the L and No. 7 lines.
“I believe there may very well be a better way to do signals,” said Cuomo. “I don’t know if it’s ultra-wideband. I don’t know if it’s Google automobile tech.”
“By the way, what is a signal system?” the governor asked. “You’re on a track. There’s a train in front. There’s a train in back. You’re not talking about automated vehicle technology.”
MTA spokesman Andrei Berman said the agency’s new strategy to “package, perform and price work” will help speed up re-signaling work moving forward.