MTA says congestion pricing money needed to complete subway signal upgrades

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NEW YORK — How does the MTA plan to spend the money raised by congestion pricing? Officials say a big priority is modernizing the subway with the latest signal technology. 

MTA leaders say Communications Based Train Control, known as CBTC, is the “saving grace” to running trains closer together, meaning faster service. 

The agency has been working to replace its nearly century-old signal system, but officials warn some lines are at risk of not finishing the installation due to pending congestion pricing lawsuits

The MTA says A & C trains in Brooklyn and B, D, F & M trains in Manhattan will see the impacts. These lines were near the top of the list for “least on-time performance” in 2023, according to recent data.

“Which is why the Fulton Line and the Sixth Avenue Line being in jeopardy is really tragic,” said MTA President of Construction and Development Jamie Torres-Springer. 

More than 1.5 million daily riders in some of the most transit-dependent neighborhoods rely on those lines, officials said during a recent Capital Committee meeting. CBS New York’s Elijah Westbrook asked the committee whether there’s a Plan B and what else can be done to get the project up and running. 

“No,” MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber replied. “It’s a real concern.”

The agency says congestion pricing makes up more than 50 percent of funding for its capital program, and it’s unable to use money it doesn’t have, adding there’s just enough to make emergency repairs. Leaders say congestion pricing is expected to collect $1 billion a year to help fund these projects. 

The new toll, however, faces harsh criticism. It’s a hard sell for some New Yorkers.

“It’s not worth it, and the trains are not safe. This is the dumbest idea the city has ever had,” said one resident.

Congestion pricing is expected to start in June, pending the results of the ongoing legal cases.

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