The MTA is going full throttle when it comes to running trains faster. And Gov. Cuomo is backing it, full speed ahead.
"This issue really affects riders and their commute time,” said Cuomo at a new conference on Tuesday. “And if we can improve this, people will feel it immediately and dramatically."
Trains run much slower than they did decades ago, before deadly train crashes in the '90s at 14th Street Union Square and on the Williamsburg Bridge dragged speeds down in the name of safety.
Riders say they'd welcome a zippier ride.
"You have delays, then you got signal, then you got to wait for this train to cross over and that train to cross over,” said Melvin Taylor, a commuter who uses the trains often. “It's unbelievable, they should have had this upgraded years ago.”
For the past year, Andy Byford, the MTA executive who oversees subways and buses, has overseen a program he called Save Safe Seconds, where the speed limit got a boost at 170 locations. In order to do that, crews fixed more than 200 faulty signals that dragged down trains.
To Cuomo, a new speed limit sign is meaningless if a train operator won't drive as fast as possible. But now he says the union is on board.
"If you're a union operator, you don’t know what signals are wrong in the system,” said Cuomo. “You have no alternative but to drive slower everywhere, which is what they have done.”
The MTA this summer formed a task force, which includes an engineering firm that'll cost the transit agency $250,000 to study the 1, 2, 3 lines from 14th Steet to 34th Street-Penn Station, and on the 7 line in Manhattan to see how train crews can move faster around curves and avoid bottle necks.
The task force will now figure out how to set the right speed limits across the system.
"We believe by correcting some of these current issues, train speeds can ultimately be increased by as much as 50 percent in certain locations," said Ronnie Haim, the MTA director.
The task force's report is due at the end of the year. It'll be sent to the MTA CEO and Chairman Pat Foye for final approval.