$800 Million MTA Rescue Plan Proposes To Remove Seats

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Chairman, Joseph Lhota, announced his plans yesterday to fix the city’s troubled subway system — including an idea to remove seats to make room for people to cram in.

At a press conference at the MTA’s Lower Manhattan headquarters on Tuesday, July 25, Lhota outlined his long list of fixes for the system including expediting repairs on 1,300 signals; increasing track cleaning to reduce the risk of fires; overhauling and repairing train cars; adding more cars to C line trains, and hiring 2,700 new employees, according to WNYC.

Lhota added that an increase in police presence at stations would address the issue of homelessness in the subway system as well as litter on the platforms and tracks, the article states.

Perhaps the most controversial point on the MTA plan is the proposed removal of seats from some train cars to make more room for passengers—25 more people per car, according to the New York Times.

The MTA will implement a pilot program on the shuttle between Times Square and Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan and the L train. Officials would like to launch the pilot program later this year, the Times says.

The removal of seats was an approach tried by Boston’s MBTA subway system, according to the article, however according to an MBTA spokesperson, only two cars on the system’s Red Line had “most of their seats removed back in 2008.” He noted that approximately half of those seats were eventually “added back.”

The cost of Lhota’s plan rings in at $456 million with $380 million in capital investment, and Lhota wants the city to pitch in for half of the hefty price.

At a press conference following Lhota’s announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio countered the MTA Chairman, insisting that the city has contributed enough, having given the MTA $2.5 billion and stating, “Very, very little of that money has been used,” according to WNYC.