Building Bright Signals for the Future of Transit

Published in the New York Daily News – February 12, 2019

Congratulations to the transit professionals at the MTA for signaling a bright future by hiring Pete Tomlin (World-renowned subway signal guru hired to speed up NYC’s trains, February 4). Working for Andy Byford, he joins a long list of skilled transit pros on both sides of the Hudson who’ve consistently delivered for customers despite the fits and starts of policy and politics.

Let’s look back. The MTA reconditioned seven subway tunnels ahead of schedule after Superstorm Sandy. Some fixes required full shutdowns. Others, partial closures. After New York City Transit completely shut down the N and R train tunnels for extensive repair and fortification, the project wrapped up a month early and $30M under budget. Elsewhere on the subway, night and weekend tunnel repairs restored service a week early to 2 and 3 train customers.

Similarly, the Port Authority’s PATH train pros choreographed three overlapping projects: removing Sandy’s corrosive saltwater residue, upgrading the entire signal system, and fortifying the downtown tunnels against future storms like Sandy. PATH completed the signal upgrade ahead of schedule, with a bonus: countdown clocks to provide real-time train arrivals for customers. The agency achieved this while maintaining 24/7 service and accommodating a three-year, 11% increase in customers (Upgrading the PATH System, The New York Times, January 24, 2019).

It’s great now to see Tomlin ready to roll up his sleeves in the long tradition of public transit service. Skilled transit professionals are ready to proceed. Let’s equip them and fund them. Let’s trust them to do the job!

Stewart Mader
Mr. Mader is Chair of the PATH Riders Council. Opinions expressed in this op-Ed are the author’s alone, and do not represent those of any other entity.

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