Good morning, I am Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC.
On Monday we heard exciting news about the pace of elevator installations in stations around New York City. Yesterday marked the first time a Staten Island Railway station was made accessible with elevators. These aren’t just any elevators, they’re equipped with technology-enhanced safety features. Later this week, we’ll hear about even more projects. Yes, we have a ways to go to make 95-percent of stations accessible by 2055, but we’re finally seeing a pace of installations that makes that realistic, and that’s great news for riders. Come on Mets-Willets Point!
In the coming weeks, we’ll see the Twenty-Year Needs Assessment, which will provide the path to the next capital plan. The fusion of state-of-good-repair work, station enhancements and accessibility work, network expansion plans, and safety and reliability projects will ensure a smoother ride, including new train cars and buses. All transit is local, and everyone wants their voices heard, so we are looking forward to robust public comment opportunities.
The tie that binds this together is congestion pricing. It will help provide a big chunk of the funding to pay for the projects that will ensure we have a 21st century transit system for our 21st century region. Getting people out of their cars means that transit must be the more attractive alternative – aside from the obvious benefits of cleaner air, less traffic and funding for critical improvement projects. Meeting the demands of increasing ridership is key, and the service increases announced for weekend and off-peak travel on subways is an excellent start. The fare free bus routes that are starting Sunday will also offer a lifeline to people who may not be able to afford the fare, though we must note that not all transit is free, of course. Thanks to the Governor and legislature for providing the necessary funding in the budget.
Our thanks also go to Cathy Rinaldi for the unfathomable amount of work you put in running two railroads. Your efforts were, and are, appreciated, and the perspective you bring to both will continue to help shape synergies. Rob, we look forward to working with you in your new role as well.