(Re)New Your City, New York City: European Best Practices for NYC



After waiting for three trains to enter and to leave Fulton Street before I could fit inside (there were delays), I had one more example to use when explaining why we need better public transportation. But what does better transportation mean? It depends on our geography, our culture, our economy, our politics, and our history.

Nevertheless, after being fortunate enough to spend a semester abroad studying urban planning in Europe, I’d like to share some of the “perks” of riding on their networks. Perhaps, some of these perks can be implemented here in the Big Apple and in other American cities. However, some of these perks probably cannot be implemented, such as honor systems used in some (but not all) Western European and Northern European countries, such as in Germany (Berlin), Austria (Vienna), Denmark (Copenhagen), and on the DLR in London (U.K.). Plainclothes officers randomly check for validated tickets on trains, and issue hefty fines to those who don’t pay. Plus, since arguably almost everyone pays in these places, the fines may even bring more revenue back to the agency than otherwise possible. While “proof-of-payment” honor system methods are used on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, and even on Select Bus Service routes, we have turnstiles whenever possible, including on our underground subway (and so does London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Barcelona, Brussels, St. Petersburg, and Istanbul). Indeed, for better or worse, Berlin, Vienna, and Copenhagen historically tend to have relatively more collective trust, cultural homogeneity, and non-individualistic identities and ideologies when compared to New York and the U.S. (By the way, there are perks that we enjoy as well, which would not be implemented in many of these places, such as a 24/7 network).

Before I get to the slideshow, I’d like to clarify that, of course, there are many plans for improving New York’s transportation network. So many people have dedicated their professional lives to the cause, and they’ve definitely accomplished a lot.  The 2nd Avenue Subway is coming relatively soon, and so is the East Side LIRR Access project, the 7 Line Extension, Calatrava’s PATH hub, and the Fulton Center hub, which is definitely designed well except for the area above it (i.e., the MTA is definitely NOT taking advantage of real estate potential and the millions it could be receiving in additional revenue). These are some of the better publicized projects, but so much work is carried out every day, keeping the city running.

Moreover, plenty of other proposals have also been recycled through the years: one series of ideas promotes more peripheral lines that directly connect outer boroughs and provide for new business corridors; another series of ideas advocates for more regional routes, such as an LIRR connection from Atlantic Center to the Fulton Center, and then into New Jersey or Staten Island. And let’s not forget subway extensions into New Jersey, the light rail proposals for Staten Island and Bayonne, and countless other exciting and promising ideas. All roads (and rails) lead to Rome, and it’s the same in the NY Metropolitan Region, which has around as many people as there are in Australia. Indeed, all roads and rails lead to Manhattan, for better or worse.

But let’s fuggedaboutit for now, and focus on the perks of some of Europe’s transportation networks. While these systems have problems as well — and some could even learn a bit from the MTA — hopefully this article will help people to realize what we’re missing out on, and what we should be demanding in a (re)newed city.

There are three sections: the first, with efficiency examples; the second, with accessibility, convenience, and connectivity examples; and the third, with design examples. All perks come with a picture and a short description including the city.

Do you think some of these can be implemented in New York? Which ones would you like implemented sooner rather than later? Feel free to comment and discuss!



Countdown clocks & smart card ticketing for automatic trains in Copenhagen, Denmark

Countdown clocks in Rome, Italy

Platform screen doors in Copenhagen, Denmark

Platform screen doors in St. Petersburg, Russia (The first in the world)

Automatic, efficient, punctual trains in Paris, France

Electric car sharing in Brussels, Belgium

Electric bus in Vienna, Austria

Smallest car (ever?) in Berlin, Germany

Bus lane in Barcelona, Spain

Part of an electric bus lane in St. Petersburg, Russia

Congestion pricing in London, United Kingdom

Universal Oyster card (i.e., one MetroCard for subways, commuter rails, etc) in London, U.K.

Universal payment system for ferries, trains, and trams in Istanbul, Turkey

Pre-board turnstiles for light rail in Istanbul, Turkey

Quick tapping (or, lining up to pay once all are fully inside tramin Amsterdam, Netherlands

Europe-Asia Marmaray rail tunnel in Istanbul, Turkey

On-board honor system payment method (pay on machines inside tram) in Krakow, Poland

Pre-board payment method and honor system on trams in Bratislava, Slovakia

Individual doors open if needed (with green buttons) to save energy in Berlin, Germany

Biking traffic lights in Berlin, Germany

Deutsche Post delivery bike in Berlin, Germany



Bike storage area and Wi-Fi location on commuter rail train in Copenhagen, Denmark

Bike, baggage, wheelchair, and baby carriage storage area on S-Bahn in Berlin, Germany

Bicycle rails to help people carry their bikes in Copenhagen, Denmark

Rails for bikes, strollers, and wheelchairs on subway staircase in St. Petersburg, Russia

Bike racks on a ferry in Berlin, Germany

Bicycle parking in Amsterdam, Netherlands

More bicycle parking in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Underground bicycle parking next to subway station in Copenhagen, Denmark

Raised bike lanes in Copenhagen, Denmark

More raised bike lanes in Copenhagen, Denmark

Bicycle parking spaces in Vienna, Austria

Bicycle sharing in London, United Kingdom

Disability pavement in Paris, France

Easy regional connections (commuter rail on left, subway on right) in Paris, France

Easy international connections (Eurostar to Paris) in London, United Kingdom

Easy local connections via walking and biking maps in London, United Kingdom

Re-opening of public space by removing highways in Barcelona, Spain

Smart underground parking network in Dresden, Germany

Above the underground parking (elevator entrance on left) in Dresden, Germany

Underground parking, bike lanes, and countdown clocks in Vienna, Austria

Pedestrian only zone in Bratislava, Slovakia

Bicycle parking laws in Malmo, Sweden



Beautiful stations in St. Petersburg, Russia

Tubes of light from above in Berlin, Germany

Placemaking U-Bahn stations in Berlin, Germany

Free electronic reading room in Orly airport in Paris, France

Free video games in Orly airport in Paris, France

Public park on former Tempelhof airport in Berlin, Germany

Biking along the Tiber River in Rome, Italy

Lit-up station for current location on map in Brussels, Belgium

Magazines to read in U-Bahn in Vienna, Austria

(Clean) emergency clearance area in St. Petersburg, Russia 


I’m sure that a lot of these relatively “simple” fixes are already written about, and indeed, the MTA probably has a whole list of projects to work on. Countdown clocks may seem simple, for instance, but the MTA had to do a lot of work to install them for the IRT stations (and the L) that they’re installed. The agency first had to know exactly where these trains were in the tunnels. Also, platform screen doors sound simple enough, but trains have different lengths and widths (especially between A Division and B Division trains), and doors on one version may fit while others may not.

Nevertheless, in all seriousness, how long would it take to finishing adding cell service? Or to install bicycle rails so people don’t have to lift their bikes up stairs? Or make it easier for people to enter through turnstiles with their bikes? And how much money is involved in adding pavements for disabled people to be able to feel as they walk, so they can be safe in stations and find their way to elevators and train doors? Why haven’t these relatively simple fixes been completed? Is it because of a lack of funding? Poor leadership? Unions? Design regulations? American NIMBYism? Racism? Classism? A quintessentially American distrust of government? A culture of suing (and a lawsuit for tripping on a bike rail)? Or, lastly, bloated bureaucracies that refuse to streamline and unify themselves (i.e., the MTA’s countless sub-companies, NJT, and PANYNJ)? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and with any ideas that you may have about how the MTA and the region should improve, and with any additional information!

In the end, there’s no doubt that the MTA has improved the subway quite a lot in the past few decades. It’s cleaner, it’s safer, it’s brighter, it’s (more) punctual, it’s easier to understand, and it’s being expanded. Many, many, many stations have been renovated, and infrastructure is constantly being repaired throughout the network, especially now with FASTRACK. There’s Wi-Fi, interactive help points, artwork, and placemaking in select stations, and the MTA is also upgrading infrastructure to prevent future flooding. Moreover, the MetroCard has been around for quite a while now, MTA Bus Time rocks, and Select Bus Service is a great program (with express service, pre-board payment, and *sometimes* bus lanes)… (However, SBS requires inconvenient slips in order to board with proof-of-payment, which take time to get on the sidewalk; indeed, a bus could easily be missed even if one already had MetroCard money, but didn’t yet have time to get a printed slip before the bus departed… It would be more convenient to have ample room inside the bus for people to line up to pay, once everyone is fully inside so the bus/tram can be moving, or tapping a future “smart” MetroCard… This is done in countless places, including Sao Paulo…).

20140717_152716    20140801_004851

L: Too many “Help Point” locations at Grand Army Plaza in wealthy Park Slope, BK? There are SIX in total: 2 devices on each side of one platform repeated 3 times on the platform… while many stations have none at all yet… these are definitely not going to be used much, especially if the MTA is also adding cell service everywhere… and this is definitely evidence of an unsustainable fiscal “gap” in (G)rand (A)rmy (P)laza… 

R: New interactive screen coming soon to Jay Street…


Flood walls (post-Sandy) on IND Rockaway Line 

These are just a few of the (usually helpful) things that the MTA has been doing to improve our massive (and old) system, which is undoubtedly the best in the U.S. and better than some systems in Europe in certain ways (i.e., frequency and extensiveness). But, the MTA still has a long way to go. Why is Europe generally better and greener than America with public transportation? That’s a long story for another time.


(Another delayed train with no more standing room… but, there’s a countdown clock on the platform, the train is relatively new, there’s tactile paving, there’s elevators, and the station is relatively clean!)


(There have been SO MANY delayed trains lately, but this one here went out of service entirely during rush hour)

Rayn Riel is a student at Tufts University studying international urban development, his self-crafted major. Interested in transportation, he is the founder of Tufts’ only undergraduate urban development student organization and was an intern at the NYC Department of City Planning in Brooklyn in order to work on transportation accessibility and mobility in East New York. A writer on PlanYourCity, he has had planning work and research experience in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe, as well as in the United States

(All photos are taken by Rayn)

Additional ‘soup’ of my photos in Europe…


Tempelhof Airport, Berlin

Rome Metro

Paris Metro

Arch de Triumph in Paris

Paris ‘Love Locks’

Montparnasse Train Station Joint Development in Paris

Paris Metro

Paris CBD

Paris Metro

Green Design in Malmo, Sweden

Copenhagen Bike Lanes

Fascist Protesters in Copenhagen

Copenhagen and Øresund Bridge

Copenhagen Central Station

Istanbul Metro

Istanbul Metro Station on Bridge

Istanbul Tram to Taksim Square

Historic RR Terminal in Asian Istanbul

Amsterdam Central Station

Vienna Trams

Vienna Metro

Shared Space in Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava Central Station

Communist Planning in St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg Trams

St. Petersburg Electric Bus

St. Petersburg Metro

St. Petersburg Metro

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg Outskirts

The People’s Metro Station in St. Petersburg

Russian Intercity Train

St. Petersburg Intercity Train Terminal

Greenery in Barcelona


Barcelona Terminal

London DLR Value Capture


Bus Lane in London

Parliament Security at Tube Entrance

London Tube Congestion

King’s Cross and St. Pancras in London

London Double Decker Bus

Pedestrian Bridge in London

London Ferries

London Cable Car

Public Space in Brussels

Tram in Brussels

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49 Comments on “(Re)New Your City, New York City: European Best Practices for NYC”

  1. Eugene M. Riel III June 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Pretty comprehensive and thought-provoking overview. I liked the Dresden “smart” underground parking. Reminds me of the underground parking under a park in Boston. but in NYC it’s granite! oops! Well, hover-cars are coming, then we can just fly across the rivers!


  2. Colleen June 19, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    You raise a few compelling arguments but let’s face it, NYC transit is old and our city is really, really dirty. That being said, the rails on staircases for bikes and strollers is something that could be done here! Also, the raised bike lanes are a great idea and I think a trial run should happen here. I wonder, though, have you considered population in your recommendations? We’ve got over 8 million residents (accounted for), let alone the daily commuters from other states, that ride on public transit. This makes everything a very, very tight squeeze and change much harder to conceptualize.


    • Rayn Riel June 19, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

      Thank you for your input, Colleen! I agree, these two obstacles are definitely hindrances. But I’m not sure if the fact that the subway is old is a good excuse, because many European systems are just as old, if not older. London is around the same size as NY and the Tube is definitely older, and the TfL (Transport for London) has managed to pull off a few things that we cannot seem to accomplish.

      The Tube has the Oyster card, platform screen doors, and a lot more countdown clocks… and TfL has a lot more of an ability to get things done, because it controls a lot more than the MTA controls. Imagine if you didn’t have to pay to transfer from the subway to the PATH, because there was one card and one authority. (The Tube is a lot more expensive though, and they have zones…)

      I think it is definitely harder to create massive change when there’s many people in a place. Small European countries (like the Baltic states) can create reforms a lot more easily, and they’re also *relatively* less culturally diverse, so it’s arguably easier to come to a consensus than in our gridlocked country. But I think the real problems are less structural in terms of (old) physical infrastructure, and more structural in terms of social, economic, and political infrastructure, if that makes sense.

      For instance, maybe we haven’t added rails on staircases for bikes and strollers, because suing is a lot more popular here, and the MTA is afraid that people will trip and create lawsuits.

      What do you think?


  3. Syed S. Ahmed July 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    A very good post, I also wondered why the simplest things can not be incorporated by MTA to make the experience of traversing through their extensive system more comfortable?


  4. Rayn Riel July 24, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    PS: I recently discovered a NYC Department of City Planning (Transportation Division) report on the subject of transportation best practices, written in 2008. Feel free to check it out:



  5. Rayn Riel August 28, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

    Post updated 8/28!


  6. charlie June 2, 2016 at 11:28 pm #

    the proof of payment system would not work in USA. we have unions for conductors… also, they like to keep the seats expensive so people on long-distance trips can have them!


  7. chafles June 2, 2016 at 11:29 pm #

    double decker buses in london… why not just articulated ones? like ny? becaude they are so iconic i guess… but also a lot slower to load and unload. probably not as good for the disabled. but they are FREQUENT, RELIABLE, and CHEAP.


  8. John June 30, 2016 at 10:58 pm #

    Why always comparing the US to European countries. There is a huge differential in population, economy, land mass, etc. They have historically been far more homogeneous populations, without the legacy of slavery, the migration north, jim crow, and ongoing discrimination. They do not have the level of poverty that we have in this country, and their small economies could not support the needed benefits for a country like the US. Also, check out the Nordic countries in 5 years, they are having a very difficult time absorbing refuges and immigrants. Let’s see how long the “social democrats” stay in power, as these countries try to take in large numbers of people like we have always done.


  9. George July 15, 2016 at 9:18 am #

    my favorite part about the subway is all of the layers of history — the old light sockets, old IRT and BMT and IND art deco tiles (IND had a diff color for every area b/t exp stations)… the old and new yellow lines, paint, track beds, artwork, train cars, turnstiles, fares, station renovations, track extensions/connections…

    and like the subway, NYC has tons of artwork.


    One of many pieces of art in the city… given permits…



  10. Al July 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    Look at all the garbage in this garbage catcher. Doing a good job keeping trash out of the tunnels.


    • Al July 25, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

      And not a good job of keeping out rain. leaks right down onto platform where doors are

      Will mess up everything.

      People avoid doors, cause incr dwell time. Water damage. etc


  11. Bobby July 19, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

    not easy to retrofit a 100 year old system for accessibility – wheelchairs, luggage, baby carriages… esp with all those columns on the platforms…



    Nice canopies to protect from rain, but, 23rd does not include PATH signage?


    Increased visibility, lighting, a neighborhood map, countdown clocks, art, wayfinding, USBs, clean, glass barriers, service announcements, wider doors, LED headlights, digital displays, WiFi, wider doors, open gangway, grab bars… all the best practices of the world, to improve passenger flow. yes!

    design-build to expedite process with one firm, to ensure short timeframe and communication.


    • Bobby July 19, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

      Our current newest train cars are already pretty nice. The screens show SBS and airport bus connections, for instance. But:
      “The MTA yesterday unveiled key elements of its initiative to create a new, improved design standard for subway stations, and to undertake extensive renovations at 31 stations from across the five boroughs. The 31 stations included in the program build upon a larger campaign designed to improve the customer experience that will include component and renewal work at more than 170 other stations.

      Design elements include dramatically improved lighting; improved signage to make it easier for customers to navigate stations, including digital signage providing updates on on-time performance at the subway entrance, before customers even enter the station. The renovated stations will also offer amenities such as improved cellular connectivity, Wi-Fi and new art.

      The new cars will feature wider subway doors will reduce delays associated with customers blocking the car entrance. According to a computer simulation of passenger flow conducted on behalf of the MTA, in crowded scenarios wider doors can reduce a train’s ‘dwell time’ in the station by 32%. Up to 750 of these new cars will also feature an open-end car design, allowing riders to walk freely and safely between cars.

      The station renovations will also be sensitive to the architectural legacy of each station, retaining historic elements even as the stations are improved.

      The announcement was made at the New York Transit Museum by MTA Chairman & CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and NYC Transit President Veronique Hakim, who were joined by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

      “We asked the MTA design team to completely reimagine their customers’ experience, incorporating best practices from transit systems around the world, and focusing on our core mission to renew, enhance and expand,” commented Governor Cuomo. “These plans are a giant step forward for the MTA, and will make a real difference for everyone who rides the subway.””



    • James H July 21, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

      it all depends on where the switches are — for rerouting service, etc etc.


  12. Gabe July 22, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    Good pedestrian plaza/sidewalk extension near S Ferry — nice pavement, way-finding, CitiBike, benches, trees, plantings, sheltered…

    we need more info!! look at beacon commuter railroad station, nice new train countdown info:


    • John July 22, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

      partly possible because els demolished — too old, blocking light, noisy, many built prior to subway and would require $$$$ to be enhanced to support weight of subway cars built below since making most els redundant… improving real estate with their demolition. subway is way to go in city to avoid congested streets. brought underground the streetcars in boston, later a subway itself… not at grade.. modern marvel of engineering efficiency… hopefully soon, the commuter railroads will be completely grade separated.


  13. 7linearmyny July 27, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

    surely platform screen doors will help reduce track fire, which causes delays, and improve safety, improve dwelling… fewer track fires means fewer injuries, disruptions, damage, evacs… maybe we can even have air conditioning in our stations! But, would need the screen doors to WORK! and mta often can’t even get doors on the trains to open. or AC on the trains to work.

    here’s an article i found:

    “You know, that was a disappointment,” Richard Barone, the director of transportation programs for the Regional Plan Association, told me. “We were surprised that that wasn’t going to be happening.”
    There are already platform screens—glass walls that screen platforms from tracks with doors that open in sync with the subway’s own—on the AirTrain.
    Seoul’s Metro has them, and Paris has been installing them in its aging subway system.
    New York City’s subway system has none.
    “The doors are really the solution to prevent [subway falls] from happening,” said Barone, which will presumably be an ever-greater concern as crowding on platforms continues to increase.
    He also said they “prevent garbage and other debris from falling onto the tracks,” preventing the fires that result when debris comes into contact with the electrified third rail. And by keeping trash off the tracks, they could reduce the costs of sending workers out every day to clear debris.
    Such screens could allow the M.T.A. to air-condition the platforms, as crazy as that sounds.
    “It is something that I strongly feel needs to be on the table,” said Barone. “Especially in places that are high-traffic and high-volume and very congested.”
    There are people at the M.T.A. who share Barone’s enthusiasm for platform screens, among them, Tom Prendergast, the president of New York City Transit.
    “The primary reason is safety,” he said earlier this year. “The second is environmental control and the third is to have a better means of getting the train into the station, doing the loading and unloading, and getting the train out of the station.”
    But Prendergrast’s boss, M.T.A. chairman Joe Lhota, is more equivocal on the matter.
    “They’re quite expensive and given the 496 stations, I think that’s the number, it’d be quite prohibitive,” he said in March.
    Installing them in the system’s hundreds ofstations is one thing, but installing them in the handful of new ones the M.T.A. is in the process of building on Second Avenue and at the 7-train extension on the far west side is another.
    Barone argues that by installing them in the new stations, the M.T.A. would essentially create a pilot program and learn about the operational issues and benefits of the platform screens.
    In a statement, M.T.A. spokesman Aaron Donovan said, “Platform edge doors are not currently planned for the new stations on the Second Avenue Subway or the 7 extension. They would present operational challenges and incur long-term maintenance funding costs.”
    Donovan also wrote that the variety of subway cars would present a challenge, since “there are multiple types of car classes that don’t have uniform door locations.”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2012/12/no-seoul-style-platform-doors-for-new-york-subways-even-in-new-stations-000000#ixzz4FX23y0dp


  14. Al July 28, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    MOSCOW — Above ground, Moscow is littered with crumbling Soviet institutions. But the capital’s underground showcase of socialism still inspires devotion from its millions of users.
    The Moscow subway has survived a world war, the collapse of the Soviet Union and huge budget cuts–and still sends trains speeding through its tunnels every 85 seconds.
    The “metro” system hasn’t been immune to Russia’s instability, but it would still make its designers proud.
    Riders used to the subways of New York or London would be unlikely to notice the dirt that now occasionally finds its way to the once-spotless crevices in the Moscow stations’ ornate marble columns.
    Graffiti and litter are still rare, and even during the city’s extended slush season, hundreds of cleaners keep the stations remarkably mud-free.
    Marina Sergeyeva, a pensioner who has been riding the metro since it opened in 1935, says she has never waited longer than five minutes for a train–a statement that might raise eyebrows among passengers in other nations.
    And although increasing reports of accidents have caused concern about the metro’s safety, it may be because Soviet authorities almost never report breakdowns of any kind.
    The cost of a metro ride, after remaining at 5 kopecks for 56 years, has soared 12,000-fold to 600 rubles–about 12 1/2 cents–since prices were freed in 1991.
    Crime is only beginning to seep into Moscow’s metro. Old women still travel alone at night.
    In fact, the biggest threat to the underground monument may be its popularity.
    Metro trains carry nearly 9 million people daily, three times the volume of the New York subway, even though Moscow’s 145-mile system is less than half the size of New York’s. Ridership on the world’s busiest subway soared 22.5% in 1993 alone.
    “We’re like cattle. Look at us, pushing ourselves into these cars until we can barely breathe,” said Sergeyeva, shaking her head at the hundreds of people stuffing themselves into one of the blue and green cars.
    Nearby, subway guard Yelena Kurichuk scolded a teen-age boy for leaving his empty soda can on a carved wooden bench.
    “The biggest problem with our metro today is that people have forgotten how to treat others with respect,” Kurichuk said as she carefully dusted off the already spotless bench.
    The cream-colored stone columns beside Kurichuk rise gently to meet domed ceilings decorated with elaborate mosaics of scenes from Belarus, the former Soviet republic for which the station–Belorusskaya–is named.
    Ever since former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of “glasnost” opened the floodgates of criticism, Muscovites have grown fond of bashing the metro’s increasing inefficiency, breakdowns and grime.
    They wait years to get apartments and telephone lines and can spend hours in line to buy gasoline. But Muscovites hold their metro to such a high standard that a three-second delay for trains causes concern.
    Recent press reports say the frequency of trains has slowed from a previous average of 82 seconds to an agonizing 85 seconds.
    “It’s shameful,” said Sergeyeva.
    But beneath their new cynical veneer, many Muscovites revere and cherish the metro. They argue that no other subway system in the world inspires such devotion.
    Valentin Bolotov grew up dreaming of driving a metro train, celebrated the day he received his first uniform, and recites from memory the exact opening date of each of the metro’s 150 stations.
    “I am proud of our system, proud of my work, proud of the great accomplishment that was made for the millions of people in this city,” said Bolotov, a 51-year subway employee and now director of the Moscow Metro Museum.
    Bolotov sounds a bit like a Soviet propaganda film when he describes the history of the metro. But the story is an impressive one.
    Construction began in 1932 and has not ceased since, despite political and economic turmoil.
    “The chandeliers, the handrails, the floor tiles,” said Bolotov. He didn’t even mention the stained glass, the mosaics or the hundreds of representations of Lenin that adorn everything

    similar to St. Petersburg…


    • Friedrich July 31, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

      to be fair, NYC subway is cleaner now than it has been in the past few decades.


  15. Gtrainnerd July 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm #


    What we need is more artwork, murals, exciting place-making… music…
    But, not to interfere with reliable service, crowding, etc.

    Sometimes musicians will make so much noise you can’t hear announcements!


    The MTA is proud to support and promote the arts and musical performances. Any musician is welcome to perform in the New York City subway system as long as they follow the Transit Rules of Conduct.

    Section 1050.6 (c) of the New York City Transit Rules of Conduct permits “artistic performances” within the subway system, provided the performances do not impede transit activities and are conducted in accordance with the Rules of Conduct. The term “artistic performances” includes musical performances.

    A series of specific rules governing musical performances are set forth in the subparts to Section 1050.6 (c) of the Rules of Conduct. These specific rules:

    Prohibit the use of particular locations within the transit system for musical performances. Musicians are not allowed to play:

    at any location where the musical performance would interfere with or impede transit services or the movement of passengers;
    when on or within a subway car; a bus; or, in any area not generally open to the public;
    within 25 feet of a station booth, or a fare media sales device including but not limited to a fare media vending machine;
    within 50 feet of the marked entrance to an Transit Authority office;
    on a platform where there is construction, renovation or maintenance work underway (including any such work in or near track areas), or near the staircases, escalators, or elevators leading to such platform or track area at which there is such construction, renovation or maintenance work underway;
    at a location where their presence interferes with access onto or off of an escalator, stairway or elevator.

    Restrict sound levels of musical performances:

    On subway platforms, musicians are not permitted to use amplification devices of any kind, electronic or otherwise.
    Musical performances must not create excessive noise or emit noise that interferes with transit operations.
    The emission of any sound in excess of 85 dBA on the A weighted scale measured at five feet from the source of the sound or 70 dBA measured at two feet from a station booth is excessive noise and is prohibited.
    Musicians using a sound production device may not begin or continue the use of such sound production device during any announcement made over the public address system or by a New York City police officer or by a Transit Authority employee.


  16. Mark July 31, 2016 at 9:33 am #

    NYC beats all these cities for its express tracks, grid, and so many skyscrapers.


    Almost all of the new tall buildings being built in the world that are being built in the US, are being built in NYC



  17. Friedrich July 31, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    In Europe, it is a lot more common to have good transit. Even in NYC, I was shocked at how dirty the subway was. Many stations did not seem to be touched since they were built. The old yellow lines were so gone that a blind person could easily just fall into the tracks. (Newer stations have bumps on those materials to help people navigate… and even better stations have platform screen doors and bumpy materials next to where doors will be, for disabled people). And also, in NY, many stations don’t have cell service, no countdown clocks, so people have no idea what is going on. No information. So hot, disgusting, dirty. Quite sad, the lack of pedestrian flow… narrow staircases, and so on so forth. I guess it is dirty because trains run 24/7, apparently no room for all of them in the yards! And no way to close stations. So they become homeless shelters at night.


  18. Alex August 6, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    Good news! But people will always find something to complain about… even though they clearly need new trains, especially with new second avenue subway, and retiring of old fleet… MDBF on those trains is really bad. bad mdbf = more maintenance costs.


    The MTA has releases its preliminary 2017 budget and four-year financial plan, continuing to raise targets for administrative and managerial cost savings across all agencies and making a number of investments to improve service quality and customer experience. The agency now expects to identify additional annual recurring savings of $50 million per year starting in 2017, pushing total annual recurring savings to nearly $2 billion by 2020.

    The MTA’s 2017 budget and four-year financial plan also proposes more than $1 billion over four years for initiatives to improve customer experience, increase service and service support, increase support for the MTA Capital Program, enhance safety and security, and invest in necessary maintenance and operations.

    The four-year financial plan provides $195 million from 2017 to 2020 to support capital projects that will improve the customer experience. This year alone, the MTA will equip 200 buses and 200 subway cars with Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, and digital screens. Next year, an additional 400 subway cars will have these amenities. MTA New York City Transit will also:

    • Renovate 31 subway stations throughout NYC
    • Introduce Wi-Fi to all 278 underground stations by December 2016
    • Introduce a new “contactless” fare payment technology to subways and buses by 2018

    The MTA will also invest $36 million in new service, including new Select Bus Service routes in Queens: the Q52/Q53 and Q70. The Long Island Rail Road is restoring its weekend North Fork service to a year-round operation is adding summer trains to connect with Fire Island ferries, relieving congestion on Hamptons-bound trains. New York City Transit and the MTA Bus Company will also make up to $21 million in additional enhancements to the base level of service on subways and buses.

    Investments in service support of $21 million will allow NYC Transit to enhance and expand its Lexington Avenue Line platform controller program. MTA Bridges and Tunnels will increase funding to meet increased demand on E-Z Pass New York Customer Service Center operations.

    Consistent with the MTA’s long-standing practice of applying debt service savings towards capital funding, some $566 million of debt service savings from lower interest rates (both realized and projected) and from the Hudson Yards lease securitization have been found.
    The MTA is proposing to invest an additional $46 million in safety and security initiatives over from 2017 to 2020 to augment existing measures designed to ensure the safety of pedestrians, customers and employees. These investments include upgrading railroad crossings, adding onboard vehicle cameras, “Help Point” intercoms, and security operations throughout the MTA.

    The MTA continues to take steps to improve the reliability, efficiency and performance of its infrastructure, facilities and fleet, investing $145 million over the plan period. While these investments may not be as obvious to our customers as some of our other projects, they are essential to the operation of our system. Investments are being made that will improve the performance of certain buses, subway cars and commuter railroad cars. Additional investments are being made to structures and track, including expediting the LIRR’s West Side Yard expansion.

    As a result of the cost savings found, the MTA expects to be able to limit the previously announced 2017 and 2019 fare and toll increases to no more than 4%. The increase is projected to provide the MTA with an additional $308 million in annual operating revenue, allowing for projected balanced budgets through 2019; however, a $371 million deficit is projected for 2020.

    The MTA’s preliminary budget will be available for public review and comment until it is adopted by the MTA Board; the final proposed budget will be presented to the MTA Board in November and adopted by the MTA Board in December. In the fall, the MTA will present specific proposals for the 2017 all-agency fare and toll increases and will hold a series of public hearings to seek public reactions to the proposals.


    Testing on countdown clocks for lettered-subway lines has begun, as well as digital screens for MTA buses. Governor Cuomo made the announcement on Thursday regarding the 90-day test of countdown clocks in eight subway stations along the N, Q and R lines, with the aim of installing the clocks in all 269 lettered-line stations. In addition, the MTA today awarded three contracts to perform a pilot program on 131 buses for the installation of digital information screens – to ultimately be installed on a total of 3,600 buses. These vital investments advance Governor Cuomo’s plan to transform the MTA into an innovative, state-of-the-art system with improved customer service and first-class amenities, and are part of the $27 billion, five-year MTA Capital Program.

    “These actions are the latest steps toward rebuilding and transforming the MTA into a unified, state-of-the-art transportation network that will meet the needs of current and future generations of New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this new and updated technology, we’ll help ensure riders have the information they need to get where they need to go.”

    Testing for Countdown Clocks:

    Testing will be performed at the 23rd Street; 28th Street; 34th Street; 42nd Street; 49th Street; 57th Street; 5th Avenue/59th Street; and Lexington Avenue/59th subway stops, and will include two countdown clocks with enhanced LCD screens. The LCD screens, which look much like computer screens, have the added capability of exhibiting public service announcements and other content – a step forward from the LED digital display screens currently in use. Countdown clocks currently serve 176 stations, including the L line’s 24 stations, and will ultimately be installed throughout all 269 lettered-line stations.

    • New Technology For Countdown Clocks: The new clocks rely on technology that is straightforward, cost effective to deploy, and does not require large infrastructure. The system uses the existing wireless network in the stations and cloud computing, and involves four Bluetooth receivers placed in each station, two at each end of the platform. These receivers communicate with four Bluetooth devices that have been installed in the first and last cars of each train set running on the line. As the train enters and leaves a station, the system uses its arrival and departure time to estimate the time at which the train will reach the next stop in the line, and display the arrival times on the two LCD display screens that have been installed at each station.

    • Proof of Concept Phase For Countdown Clocks: During the 90-day test of the clocks, the MTA will work to identify and correct any issues with the new system. The goal is to evaluate the accuracy of location data, performance of Transit Wireless infrastructure, performance of the LCD displays, physical and network security of Bluetooth devices, security of data being transmitted, and internal access and use of data being generated.

    MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said, “Governor Cuomo challenged the MTA to develop an aggressive approach to putting countdown clocks on the lettered lines, and our technology team’s response has been phenomenal. In very short order they developed an easy to deploy, cost-effective system that we think will play a central role in bringing this essential service to more and more of our customers. We look forward to learning from this test, as well as to developing a roll out plan based on our findings.”

    Digital Information Screens Pilot Program:

    MTA today awarded three contracts for a new pilot program to install digital information screens on 131 buses, with the aim of extending to 3,600 buses, as part of Governor Cuomo’s plan to fully transform, renew and expand the MTA network.

    The digital screens will offer audio and visual route information and display next stop information, service advisories and travel information, including transfers. They will also have the capability to display geo-specific advertising, enabling the potential opening up of a new avenue of advertising revenue for the MTA. The contracts total $1.6 million to three vendors for the installation and maintenance of digital information screens on three routes:

    • The M15 SBS, a Manhattan route that goes from East Harlem to South Ferry
    • The B46 SBS, a Brooklyn route that travels from Williamsburg Bridge Plaza to Kings Plaza Shopping Center.
    • The S79 SBS, which goes from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to the Staten Island Mall.

    Under these contracts, 131 buses will be retrofitted with these screens for the pilot, which will test and evaluate the designs and technology for use on NYC Transit’s fleet of diesel, hybrid and articulated buses. The MTA is in the process of identifying a fourth vendor for the pilot. Each bus will be retrofitted with vibration-proof digital screen technology that can simultaneously control two to three digital screens on the bus, depending on its size (standard 40 foot buses will each have two screens, while articulated buses will have 3 screens). Each system includes a video processing unit and a content management system to allow remote programming.

    Beginning in 2017, new buses delivered to the MTA will also come with digital information screens. Over the next five years, more than 2,000 of these state-of-the-art buses will replace nearly half of the MTA’s current bus fleet, and the existing fleet will be retrofitted with digital screen technology. The pilot for digital screens on buses is part of a larger $2 billion investment in its bus system, including $1.3 billion on the new fleet for local and express service.

    Elements of the broader enhancement program that were previously announced include:

    • The introduction of 2,042 state-of-the-art new buses with WiFi and charging ports to the MTA fleet over the next five years.
    • Pilot programs for new technologies aimed at improving customer and passenger safety, including a pedestrian warning system, will be installed on 200 buses, and a new collision avoidance technology system will be installed on 145 buses. After the successful completion of this test, the technologies will be installed on 1,600 buses starting in mid-2018.
    • The relaunch of the Q70 Limited bus service as “LaGuardia Link” with a distinctive new look designed to help customers and tourists quickly find their way between LaGuardia Airport and two regional transit hubs in Queens that connect to five subway lines, Long Island Rail Road and seven bus lines.

    The route, nicknamed the “LaGuardia Link,” will also become a Select Bus Service which employs convenient off-board fare technology that allows customers to pre-pay their fare and enter and exit through any bus door, eliminating the need to wait to pay at a single fare box, and decreasing dwell time at stops. The LaGuardia Link will also continue to offer travelers convenient luggage storage racks.


  19. Alex August 6, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    It’s all about managing and maintaining assets.

    When the MTA took out trash cans to see if people would take trash with them and make stations less dirty… they said it “worked” because they “removed less” garbage… if they fired station cleaners, they would also “remove less” garbage… truth is, they have a bad way to clean stations. probably no central database, probably not up to date, or shared with anyone. do they even measure how many bags they take? or all of the peeling paint, broken tiles, leaks… all of that water on the tracks causes fires from the 3 rail, dampens trash, makes it heavier, harder to collect, more expensive… we are lucky we have some open cut and elevated stations since the trash just blows off. but they need more bins, more courtesy campaigns, on metrocards, announcements, everywhere…

    The crews are often the ones throwing trash onto the tracks, anyways. And the station cleaners throw trash down on the tracks for the track cleaners to get! haha


    Operation Track Sweep is in full effect. The MTA announced that it has initiated a multi-pronged plan to dramatically reduce the amount of trash on subway tracks, and in the process improve the station environment, and reduce track fires and train delays.

    “Operation Track Sweep is a critically important part of our overall effort to create a transit system that’s faster, more efficient, and more customer-friendly,” commented MTA
    Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “There’s no question that a concerted and sustained effort to limit trash on subway tracks will have a significant impact on the efficiency of subway service – getting rid of trash on the tracks helps us decrease the number of track fires, and that means fewer delays. Just as importantly, this initiative will also have a positive effect on how people feel about their daily commute – when there’s less debris, the entire station looks and feels cleaner, and the ride is more enjoyable.”

    “Operation Track Sweep represents an entirely new way of thinking about how we can improve service, and provide an enhanced customer experience,” said Veronique (Ronnie) Hakim, President of NYC Transit. “We’re approaching this as a sustained effort to get the tracks clean, and keep them as clean as possible over the long haul. Even as we redouble our efforts, it’s important for everyone to realize that riders have a critically important role to play as well – keeping the tracks clean means that everyone has to pitch in by disposing of trash properly.”

    Operation Track Sweep Program will be rolled out in four complementary phases:

    Phase 1
    The MTA has implemented a new cleaning schedule that re-prioritizes stations based on the amounts of trash usually removed, and increases the frequency of station track cleaning from 34 station tracks every two weeks, to 94 station tracks every two weeks. This new, more aggressive, cleaning schedule commenced in June.

    Phase 2
    Starting on Monday, September 12th, the MTA will launch an intensive two-week, system-wide cleaning during which more than 500 workers will remove trash and debris from the tracks at all of the system’s 469 stations – more than 10 miles of subway station track. The clean-up work on underground stations will be done at night, when ridership is at its lightest.

    During the day workers will clean tracks at outdoor and elevated stations. During this phase of Operation Track Sweep, signs will be posted at each station noting the date and time that the tracks were cleaned.

    Phase 3
    The MTA is also working with two manufacturers on the development of a powerful – but portable — track vacuum system that can be quickly deployed, operated from platforms, and moved easily from one station to the next. Prototypes of the new vacuums are slated to arrive in the November/December time frame.

    Phase 4
    In addition, the MTA has ordered a trio of powerful new track vacuum trains, with the first two trains arriving in 2017, and a third in 2018. Vacuum trains can remove up to 14 cubic yards of trash every day.

    The MTA is also purchasing 27 new refuse cars to move debris out of the system more quickly and support the new expanded cleaning effort. The cars are equipped with special railings to secure and transport wheeled garbage containers that are collected at subway stations.


  20. Michal August 8, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    I don’t know why you all continue to compare the US to the Nordic countries. There is a huge differential in population, economy, land mass, etc. They have historically been homogeneous populations, lots of oil, without the legacy of slavery, the migration north, jim crow, and ongoing discrimination. They do not have the level of poverty that we have in this country, and their small economies could not support the needed benefits for a country like the US. Also, check out the Nordic countries in 5 years, they are having a very difficult time absorbing refuges and immigrants. Let’s see how long the “social democrats” stay in power, as these countries try to take in large numbers of people like we have always done.


    • Alex August 8, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

      The closest it could be is Canada…

      Many consider Canada to be just like the United States, but – gasp – it is not an American territory, even though it almost became part of the country. The U.S. tried to annex Canada during the American Revolution and in the War of 1812, but British North America remained British. Most Loyalists fled there, and the French, while ousted from control of the territory, were allowed by Britain to continue to practice Catholicism and speak their language in Quebec, which they feared would be suffocated by an American annexation. Thus, Canada remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and along with Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, it gradually gained independence from the Crown. Contempt for Britain never reached levels that caused a revolution, even though at times, Canadians were equally split regarding joining the U.S., especially in British Columbia, surrounded to the south and north by the U.S. Since America had just recently bought Alaska from Russia, which did not want to sell to the British Empire, at that time in the mid-19th century, the U.S. could have ended up controlling the Pacific Coast from California to the North Pole. (Russia also had colonies in Hawaii and California, and in Alaska, the Orthodox Church has preserved a few historic buildings).

      If the U.S. had never become independent, perhaps it would look like Canada today, with more gun control and universal health care, and no U.S. holidays and no U.S. currency; in fact, Queen Elizabeth is on their currency. There would be no measurements in Fahrenheit or MPH, and the country would spell with British English norms and use military time. Maybe we would have more poutine and Tim Hortons, and hockey would become more popular. Our mass transit would make announcements in English and French and we would have more bilingual cities akin to Montreal or Ottawa.



  21. Ralpe August 12, 2016 at 3:25 pm #


  22. performta August 23, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    You were in Copenhagen??? Did you check out


  23. Kalino August 24, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    NYC is better than any other city. Grid, express tracks, 24/7 subway. Chinese cities – even still, don’t have as many tall buildings. Also http://www.vagabondjourney.com/why-chinese-men-grow-long-fingernails/


    • Ben August 24, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

      But secure bike storage is sorely needed. Well lit, cameras…


  24. Ramma October 2, 2016 at 10:38 pm #

    FYI, CitiBike continues to improve, expand. = Fewer car parking spaces, but more bicyclists, potentially fewer drivers?




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