Transform the Subway

To continue to allow New York City to attract business and talent, maintain its economic vitality, and support the regional economy, we must increase capacity and improve reliability. Resignaling lines is critical to that task.

We propose doing in 10 years what was previously scheduled to take more than 40, including major progress in the first 5 years. This means lines that are currently capacity-constrained will be able to carry more people, more smoothly and reliably.

New signal segments

  • 5 line segments within 5 years.
  • Additional 6 line segments in the following 5 years.

Accountable station management

  • New station management model by end 2018.

Subway Action Plan

  • Stabilization phase complete in 2018.

New subway cars

  • Over 650 cars within 5 years.
  • Additional 3,000 in the following 5 years.

New fare payment system

  • New open fare payment system in 2020.

A higher-capacity, more reliable subway system

Communications-based train control (CBTC) is a state-of-the-art signal system that includes new signals and modernized interlockings. CBTC requires additional power on some lines, new or upgraded subway cars, and expanded shops and yards. It will be a major leap forward for our system. Trains will be able run closer together and more reliably, allowing for future increased capacity.


Pressing fast forward on CBTC implementation

We are accelerating the rate of implementation on lines requiring additional capacity or signal replacement by more than 3 times—the fastest we can go without closing major subway lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for months at a time.

What's driving our timeframe?

There are limits to how quickly we can transform the subway, though emerging technologies such as ultra-wideband could, if proven, reduce our timeline further.  There are three key factors driving the timing of this Plan:

  • The more we close the subway, the faster we can work. But we still need to ensure people can get where they need to go. This means working on nights and weekends instead of closing on weekdays, when the subway is most crowded.
  • To benefit from modernized signals, we need thousands of new or refurbished subway cars. We will challenge the industry to help us meet our goal. This Plan stretches industry capacity to the limit and places heavy reliance on a limited number of subway car manufacturers.
  • We need time to do proper planning, design, and procurement and, where necessary, to get permits for street work or acquire property. We can’t move so quickly that we increase risk of cost overruns, missed deadlines, or unsafe conditions.

From more than 40 years to less than 10


First 5 Years

Following 5 Years

Cumulative #of daily riders
on CBTC lines

Lines upgraded

3 million


  • 4, 5, 6 – 149 St-Grand
    Concourse to Nevins St
  • E, F, M, R – Jamaica 179
    St and Jamaica Center
    Parsons Archer to 50 St
  • F – Church Av to West 8
    St NY Aquarium
  • A, C, E – Columbus Circle
    to Jay St MetroTech
  • G – Court Sq to Hoyt
  • 7 – Flushing Main St to
    34 St-Hudson Yards

5 million


  • 1, 2, 3 – Jackson Av to
    Atlantic Av – Barclays Ctr
  • B, D, F, M – 59 St Columbus Circle and 21 St Queensbridge to Dekalb Av and Jay St MetroTech
  • A, C – Jay St MetroTech to Ozone Park Lefferts Blvd
  • A, S – Rockaway Blvd to Far Rockaway Mott Av and Rockaway Park Beach 116 St
  • N, Q, R, W – Queensboro Plaza to Dekalb Av

Upgrade critical infrastructure

Why? Because outdated infrastructure causes delays and frustrates our customers. In contrast, state-of-the-art communications-based train control (CBTC) delivers greater reliability and allows for future capacity growth.

  • Accelerate the pace of signal upgrades to fit CBTC on 5 lines in 5 years, including using proven signaling technology with minimal interfaces for faster installation. If tests of innovative approaches such as ultra-wideband technology prove viable in our system, these timeframes may be reduced.
  • Upgrade and increase our power systems where needed to support the greater volume of trains CBTC will allow and bring all outdated power to a state of good repair in 10 years.
  • Update and increase the size of our subway fleet to be CBTC-equipped, by both replacing cars and upgrading existing cars. In 10 years, all cars will be CBTC-equipped. We will also evaluate opportunities for open-gangway designs.
  • Replace and refurbish other critical infrastructure and facilities, including shops and yards.



Drill down for immediate reliability improvements, expanding on Subway Action Plan initiatives

Why? Because even without big infrastructure improvements, there are things we can do today to improve reliability and lessen wait time for our customers.

  • Improve our process to identify root causes behind subway incidents so we can prioritize the most critical problems, building on work underway as part of the Subway Action Plan.
  • Review potential route changes to reduce reliance on critical interlockings.
  • Review and revise service management strategies to improve running times.
  • Identify locations where signal modifications have increased running times and optimize service while maintaining safety.
  • Work with the NYC Police Department and the NYC Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services to address police incidents and medical emergencies while keeping the system moving.
  • Implement new approaches to keep the trackbed clean and prevent track fires, including the introduction of special vacuum cars.

Reorient maintenance to “fix before failure”

Why? Because proactively monitoring, managing and maintaining our assets, rather than just fixing them once they break down can substantially improve reliability. This holds true for all of our operations.

  • Practice reliability-based maintenance across all disciplines, including increased data-driven decision-making regarding maintenance requirements.
  • Transition from fragmented paper-based processes to an integrated enterprise asset management system by automating data collection to facilitate analysis and inform maintenance planning.
  • Provide the training and tools that staff need such as mobile devices that can both record the state of assets and provide up-to-the-minute information for better decision-making.
  • Focus on enhanced preventative maintenance of critical switches that impact multiple subway lines.

Revitalize the station experience

Why? Our 472 NYCT stations and 21 Staten Island Railway stations have served us well, but 3 out of every 4 stations have elements in serious need of repair.

  • Introduce a new station management model that appoints a Group Station Manager for stations in the same geographic area to ensure clear accountability for all aspects of a station, from cleanliness to customer service.
  • Advance work to bring stations to a state of good repair. Work on more than 150 stations in the next 5 years, with an additional 150 in the following 5 year period.
  • Introduce a new state-of-the-art fare payment system so customers throughout the bus, subway, and paratransit system can tap-and-go, including smart cards that can be purchased with cash.
  • Redeploy staff to provide more mobile, proactive customer support throughout stations.
  • Enhance our cleanliness regimen including targeting stations for deep cleaning.

Enable the completion of more work, faster

Why? Because we have a lot of work to do to modernize the system and improve service.

  • Increase coordination of work by conducting multiple repair, cleaning, and/or maintenance projects simultaneously wherever possible.
  • Review processes, protocols, and technology surrounding track access to maximize work time, make best use of available resources, and ensure worker safety, while balancing the impact on customers. This includes planning, predictability of access, and clear resource requirements for third-party and in-house projects.
  • Increase internal resources to support construction, including engineering resources and work trains that carry equipment and materials to work sites within the subway system.