While Governors Christie and Cuomo continued to show their true transit colors, we ended 2014 arguing about the best use for a long-abandoned right-of-way in Queens. As the MTA quietly celebrated 110 years of the New York City subway system, they finally opened the Fulton St. Transit Center while the 7 line didn’t open. Sen. Lanza continued his assault on SBS lights while the Senate waited until June to confirm Tom Prendergast as MTA CEO and Chair. Oh, and the R train reopned after Sandy repairs wrapped early. It was not a dull year.
So what’s next? In a way, 2015 is year of waiting. If all goes accordingly to plan, in less than two years, we’ll be riding the Q north from 57th and 7th Ave. all the way to 96th St. and 2nd Ave. So the next 24 months will represent the home stretch — if the MTA can open the project on time. But there’s much to anticipate for the year ahead.
1. Fare Hikes. You would hardly know that fare hikes as just a few months away as the biennial increases hardly seem to rile up New Yorkers any longer. The hearings over the last few weeks were sparsely attended, and even the outrage seems muted. We’ll find out if the base fare goes up and the bonus sticks around or if the bonus goes while the base fare stays. It’s hardly a huge choice, but it is yet another fare hike. It arrives this spring.
2. The 7 Line. When will the 7 line open? Will the 7 line open? The MTA had hoped to open the extension in February, but recent reports indicate that it may be more likely that April is the revenue service start date. The inclined elevators and fire alarms remain an issue, and the line will not open until 14-16 months after Mayor Bloomberg’s photo-op/faux-ribbon cutting ceremony.
3. Sandy Recovery. The MTA will be closing the Cranberry St. Tunnel this year for Sandy-related repairs, and the work will force weekend service changes for A and C train riders. The F train’s Rutgers St. Tunnel is further down the line, and the most inconvenient work on the 2/3’s Clark St. Tunnel and L train’s tubes loom. I’ll be discussing the Sandy Recovery efforts in depth at the Transit Museum in late January.
4. The Future of the MetroCard. Will 2015 be the year the MTA starts to roll out its next-gen fare payment plans? Some MTA sources have indicated to me that new pilots involving a smart card of sorts may be on the horizon. Watch this space.
5. Capital Plan. How could we enter 2015 without a nod to the capital plan? Somehow, someway, Albany is going to have to address that huge funding gap, and the MTA needs to get the money to ensure the system can meet growing demand and record high ridership. It’s going to involve uncomfortable conversations about spending priorities, details for Phase 2 of the Second Ave. Subway and perhaps the Move NY plan.
So stick around; it’s never boring around here. And have a happy and safe New Year.