Throughout history, the advancement of technology has improved the overall accessibility and convenience of the subway system. Most of these upgrades took place in the late twentieth century and early twenty first century. These various structural upgrades have improved safety, prevented flooding, and provided an aesthetically appealing environment to subway riders. Although these various renovations were costly, they have been more than beneficial to New York City's overall functionality.
Major Improvements to the Subway System
In 1982 NYC transit establishes graffiti-free bus and subway fleets
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the MTA began the process of automating the subway
The September 11th attacks resulted in service disruptions on lines running through Lower Manhattan which ran directly underneath the World Trade Center between the Chambers Street and Rector Street stations. Sections of the tunnel, which was directly underneath the Twin Towers, were severely damaged by the collapse and had to be rebuilt, requiring suspension of service on that line south of Chambers Street. Ten other nearby stations were closed while dust and debris were cleaned up. By March 2002, seven of those stations had reopened.
In 2003, the MTA signed a $160 million contract with Siemens Transportation Systems to install digital next-train arrival message boards, called Public Address/Customer Information Screens (PA/CIS) at 158 of its IRT stations
Since the majority of the system was built before 1990, the year the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect, many New York City Subway stations were not designed to be handicapped-accessible. As of June 2011, there are 89 currently accessible stations; many of them have AutoGate access.
Since 1992, $357 million has been used to improve 269 pump rooms. As of August 2007, $115 million has been earmarked to upgrade the remaining 18 pump rooms. Despite these improvements, the transit system continues to experience flooding problems.
On August 27, 2011, due to the approach of Hurricane Irene, the MTA suspended subway service at 12:00 noon in anticipation of heavy flooding on tracks and in tunnels. It was the first weather-caused shutdown in the history of the system. Service was restored by Monday, August 29.
In 2012, the MTA introduced a new maintenance program, FASTRACK, to speed up repair work. This program involves a more drastic approach than previous construction, and shuts down an entire trunk line in Manhattan for four consecutive weeknights. According to the MTA, this new program proved much more efficient and quick than regular service changes, especially because it happened at night and not the weekend, when most transit closures had occurred before.
After Hurricane Sandy, subways throughout New York City suffered countless costly damages. Mayor Bloomberg and the city's Rehabilitation Committee decided to implement a five year plan that would not only restore the current subway tracks, but also improve the overall utility of the our future subway system.
Future Improvements to the Subway System
Replacing obsolete signals with new technology
Providing innovative and enhanced subway service
Communicating real time information
Implementing new fare and toll payment options
Improving access for the elderly and physically challenged
Optimizing system links
Maximizing investments in commuter rail stations in NYC
Implementing strategic corridor improvements to improve service
Several planned stations in the New York City Subway may possibly feature platform screen doors to prevent suicides