MTA’s Own Study Confirms Decrepit Conditions of NYC’s Subway Stations

A study conducted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s own advocacy organization for transit riders, the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, found that nearly half of the subway stations examined (23 out of 50) need more attention, and that the worst stations had decrepit conditions, including water damage, exposed wires, rodents, foul odors, clogged track drains and general filth.

The report, cleverly titled Unwelcome Mats New York’s Subway Stations in Disrepair , identified the five worst stations surveyed as the Beach 90th Street on the A and Rockaway Shuttle lines in Queens; the 149th Street-Grand Concourse station on the No. 4 line in the Bronx; the 138th Street-Grand Concourse station on the Nos. 4 and 5 lines in the Bronx; the Jay Street-Borough Hall station on the A, C and F lines in Brooklyn; and the 103rd Street station on the No. 6 line in Manhattan.

These findings are particularly significant due to the fact that they come from inside the MTA itself. They are also significant because of their uncanny similarity to the report “Safer Subways“, released by Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) to and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. The report concluded that close to 65% stations had severe safety hazards.

The New York City Transit Authority said, in response to the MTA’s report, that it would adopt two immediate steps. It said that the new line general managers who had been appointed to oversee the No. 7 and L lines as part of an experiment to manage all aspects of subway operation by line, rather than separate departments for tracks, subway cars and stations were working to analyze how best to improve station conditions. The agency also said it had proposed a $71 million fund to address station infrastructure problems immediately, rather than waiting until a station is due for a full rehabilitation, which can take years to schedule.

For the study, members and staff of the New York City Transit Riders Council, an arm of the advisory committee, inspected 50 of 422 stations and station complexes over a period of several months late last year and early this year. The sample was selected to represent the spectrum of stations from the most heavily trafficked to the least used. At each station selected, the study examined the street-level entrances, the so-called control areas around turnstiles, and the platforms.

The Committee offered some general strategies to improve the station environment including increased and predictable support by the State of New York of MTA operations so that maintenance and repairs of stations in New York City are not problematic, contributions by the City of New York to the capital improvement of stations in those areas where it seeks to improve economic development, such as the South Bronx and downtown Brooklyn.

The suggested strategies also included imposing station impact fees on new development or substantial redevelopment projects within a quarter-mile of a subway station, fostering an Adopt-A-Station program whereby neighborhood-corporate partnerships are formed to financially support capital improvements and maintenance of stations; creating a Water Intrusion Taskforce due to the prevalence of water damage to the subways, acceptance by the City of New York of responsibility for those areas where their actions have precipitated leaks into the subway stations; acceptance by the owners of those properties above or adjacent to the station of water damage that is the result of defective conditions of such located; establishing criteria for placement and timely removal of service notices; repairing or replacing deteriorated tactile warning strips in all stations; improve the consistency of communicating information to subway riders in stations; and establishing criteria for numbers and placement of trash receptacles in stations because there is frequently a lack of trash receptacles in larger stations leading to substantial trash accumulation.

The Committee was created under state law in 1981 as the official voice for the authority’s riders. The committee had conducted similar surveys in 1994 and 2003.

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