June 11, 2019 By Shane O’Brien
The MTA held a town hall meeting in Long Island City last night and its leader Andy Byford told the audience that the agency will be installing a new system designed to catch falling debris.
Byford, speaking at an MTA Fast Forward event at LaGuardia Community College, said that the system will go up on a trial basis in four locations across the City and may involve protective netting. He did not say where the locations would be, just saying one would be under the elevated 7 train.
If they system—which is expected to implemented over the summer– proves successful it will be added to other locations.
At the meeting, Byford was confronted by attendees upset about the falling debris that has struck cars underneath the 7 line near the 61st Street station this year.
He unequivocally apologized for the incidents and said there was no way to ‘sugar coat’ it.
He said that putting up a new system is not straight forward, since it is important that workers can inspect the line on an ongoing basis.
“What we don’t want to do is put up a system that actually potentially makes it less safe than it already is,” Byford said. “Because any system must still give the inspection crews the ability to see what is going on beneath the elevated track, but also must be robust enough to catch anything that does fall off.
“We have been extraditing the process to get companies to design prototypes… As soon as that is done, we will get started in four separate locations, one of which will be on the 7 line,” he concluded.
Byford also said that 7 train service has improved since the completion of a modern signaling system last year.
The Flushing line was upgraded to the Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) system and Byford was keen to emphasize the difference in performance.
“On the 7 line, we’ve already increased the number of trains. We were running at 25 trains per hour, we’re now running at 29 trains per hour. I think we could potentially squeeze a bit more out of the system.”
Sally Librera, a senior vice president at MTA NYC Transit, said that the agency has seen wholesale improvements since Byford took the reins in January 2018 and the system can handle more riders.
“We’ve raised on-time performance by 20 percent,” Librera said, referring to the entire system. “That enhances capacity. The more reliable the system is and the more regularly it operates, we get capacity gains in many different ways.”