Plan for modernizing New York City subway system to be unveiled at MTA meeting

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Transit Authority President Andy Byford will unveil his anticipated plan to modernize the New York City subway system at Wednesday's MTA board meeting.

The plan, which early estimates put at costing tens of billions, will dramatically increase the speed of the modernization of the antiquated signal system.

The signal system is blamed for many of the delays that test straphangers' patience.

Five lines that carry half (about three million) of the subway's ridership would be completed in just five years.

The subway system moves millions of commuters around the city every single day. It is a 24/7 operation. But it is also aging and desperately in need of improvements. The problem is, there is no way to upgrade the ride without short term pain.

The 4, 5,and 6 Lexington lines, the C and E blue lines, the F and the G are all slated for an ambitious five-year upgrade.

Modern signaling on the No 7 line is almost completed and the L line already has Communication Based Train Control.

After the first stage of the work, plans are to tackle almost the rest of the system for the following five years, decades ahead of previous estimates.

But it could mean a decade of shutting down the popular subway lines during nights and weekends. Riders who travel during those off-peak hours will suffer the most inconvenience.

Byford will also outline improvements to buses and para transit, and detail plans to install elevators at 50 subway stations over the next five years to improve wheelchair accessibility. Currently only one quarter of the 472 subway stations are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

The MTA declined to comment on the report and said cost estimates may be premature because they will ultimately come out of the capital plan.

Internal estimates are the Byford Plan will cost $19 billion in the first five years alone, and nearly as much over the next five

The de Blasio administration has repeatedly balked at the price tag in favor of a new revenue source identified by the state.

"While the devil is always in the details, early reports suggest the MTA is finally focusing on the infrastructure riders need to get around," said a mayoral spokesman. "If that turns out to be true, that's progress."

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