Ambitious subway system overhaul unveiled but cost unclear

- New York City Transit on Wednesday unveiled a plan for a massive overhaul of the city's subway and bus system. The plan is called Fast Forward and could be completed in 10 years—30 years earlier than previously estimated.

Acknowledging that riders are "fed up," NYC Transit president Andy Byford presented the MTA Board with a plan to modernize the signal system and improve wheelchair accessibility. The signal system is to blame for a number of delays.

In the first five years, communications-based train control, also known as CBTC, a modern signaling system, will be installed on five lines: F, G, Lexington Avenue, 8th Avenue, and Queens Boulevard, benefiting 3 million daily riders.

"That critical system, which adds capacity and exponentially improves reliability," Byford said.

Also in the first five years, we'll see over 650 new subway cars, 2,800 new buses, upgrades to stations, and more than 50 new stations will be made wheelchair accessible.

The following five years, another six lines will have CBTC installed and more than 130 additional stations will include elevators to improve accessibility. Most of the work will be done at night and on the weekends.

Riders Alliance executive director John Raskin called the plan "bold, ambitious and realistic." So who will fund it? Raskin is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step in.

"Now we need Governor Cuomo's leadership and we need the state Legislature's help to pass a funding source so this plan can become a reality," he said.

Some reports indicate the project could cost more than $19 billion. However, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said those reports are incorrect and that the agency still doesn't have a price tag.

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