Increasing Capacity and Reliability of the Subway System

TOP Increasing Capacity and Reliability of the Subway System
Improve the NYC Subway Signal System
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The existing fixed-block signal system was designed over a century ago and now requires constant repair. The current $29.5 billion MTA Capital Plan includes more than $2.75 billion for signals, with more than $1 billion for installation of Communication Based Train Control (CBTC). Other signalization investments include roughly $850 million to modernize six signal interlockings and $250 million to upgrade conventional signals. 

The improvement in signalization is designed to increase the number of trains at peak periods. This competition is seeking to accelerate the implementation of these solutions to bring better and more reliable signal service to the system faster.

Possible solutions may include:

  • Rapidly deploying CBTC systems or other signaling solutions
  • Addressing the aging signal system to enable the MTA to expand the number of trains per hour during peak periods
  • Other concepts or proposals to improve the system’s reliability and capacity
Deploy Modernized Subway Cars Faster
Deploy Modernized Subway Cars Faster
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Subway car doors open and close roughly 7 million times daily – and doors are the primary cause of car-related failures. Currently, the fastest a new car can be built is three years. The MTA is expediting the delivery of 300 new R179 subway cars with the first arriving fall 2017 and delivery to be completed by September 2018. Additionally, New York City Transit will accelerate the delivery of 450 new R211 cars. 

The car renovation project is looking for strategies to obtain newer, more modern subway cars more efficiently, or refurbish existing cars in order to increase reliability, prevent breakdowns, and reduce delays.

The MTA's recently announced six-point plan tackles frequent issues that cause disruption to service and discomfort to riders – including stuck doors, master controller systems, and heating and air conditioning. The transit system needs a more comprehensive, diagnostic data-driven approach that allows for predictive maintenance rather than corrective maintenance.

Possible solutions may include:

  • Addressing the subway system’s aging cars
  • Refurbishing current subway cars
  • Upgrading existing systems
  • Improving maintenance programs and protocols
  • Expediting delivery of new cars, a process which currently takes six years
  • Other concepts or proposals to more rapidly deploy newer, more modern subway cars to the system
 
Increase Connectivity in Subway Tunnels
Increase Connectivity in Subway Tunnels
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Last year, the MTA succeeded in delivering cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity to every station in the system. However, connectivity in subway tunnels is still unavailable. Subway tunnels are narrow, which presents challenges in running cable and other necessary Wi-Fi equipment. Standard industry strategies would require completely shutting down train service to install Wi-Fi in tunnels. However, these are necessary improvements that will bring New York public transportation into the 21st Century.​

Possible solutions may include:

  • Designing communications technology for cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity that can be installed throughout the entire subway system, including tunnels
  • Identifying and overcoming barriers to the installation of communications equipment in subway tunnels
  • Other concepts or proposals to improve subway communications infrastructure