I know. I know. We just had a fare increase. It was only a month ago! That's not long at all. But now that there's a new MTA chairman, there's going to be some significant changes going on. Including, probably, a fare increase in 2015. So that totally sucks. But, as the Daily News reports, "The Metropolitan Transportation Authority faces an unprecedented amount of work replacing system components damaged by superstorm Sandy and bolstering the infrastructure against future storms."
And who better to confront these challenges than the new MTA chief, Tom Prendergast? Well, I guess it doesn't even really matter if there's someone better or not, because this is our man. Prendergrast has also served as "president of the NYC Transit division since late 2009 and former president of the Long Island Rail Road" seems to be well-suited to the job at hand, but, unfortunately, the job at hand is pretty grim. Here are some of the main changes that we need to expect in the next couple of years. Brace yourselves.
Yeah, this is almost definitely going to happen. We'll have a little while longer to enjoy our cheap, cheap monthly-unlimited cards which, for some people, are the biggest monthly expenditure other than rent. But not much longer. Fare increases will probably go into effect again in 2015. Prendergast puts it pretty bluntly: "[We] have a deficit that has to be made up with revenues but you try and get that deficit as small as possible. It's our job to do what we can to keep the need for additional revenues as small as possible." In other words, they need to make money somehow, and it's not like we can all just boycott public transportation, so look forward to paying up!
More Countdown Clocks(!)
So this will be a welcome addition for those of us who live on lettered lines that are not the L. Prendergast pledges "to have a significant number of lines wired-up in three to five years" and says that the "MTA is developing a strategy to provide next-train information to the lettered lines quicker and more cheaply." This would be huge for me because I am like a child when it comes to waiting (and perhaps when it comes to many other things as well) and can handle anything as long as I know how long it will take. I just need information. We all do.
Hurricane Sandy is like the gift that never stops giving, only instead of giving us something good like chocolate, it gives us something bad, like rabies. Basically, the MTA is still reeling from the effects of Sandy and her salt water-induced devastation. The News reports that the "MTA has to do $4.7 billion worth of repairs and component replacement work. It also plans another $4.1 billion in projects to barricade the system against future flooding." And not only will it cost a lot of money, but it means that lines that were most affected, like the R and the A, will face long closures. Awesome.
Depending on how ready you are to bow down to our computer overlords, this could be exciting or terrifying news. But it seems like a lot of Prendergast's plan revolves around getting rid of ultra-fallible humans and replacing them with robots.He wants to make sure that more trains run with only one conductor, which is something that "the transit workers union has successfully blocked" before now. He also wants to institute more "robotrains" which will operate with a system "based on a much more sophisticated signal and communications network with computers essentially driving trains."
Welcome to the future of the MTA, everyone. It'll be more expensive, have less human interaction, and lots of construction. But! We'll have countdown clocks. And so that makes everything ok.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen