New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged $8 billion to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in order to outfit all of New York City’s underground subway stations with wireless Internet by the end of the year.
In what he hailed as an effort to “modernize and fundamentally transform” the MTA, Mr. Cuomo announced plans Friday to upgrade one of the world’s busiest rapid transit rail networks.
“The MTA is absolutely vital to the daily function of New York City, but for too long it has failed to meet the region’s growing size and strength,” Mr. Cuomo said. “This is about doing more than just repair and maintain — this is thinking bigger and better and building the 21st century transit system New Yorkers deserve.”
The MTA had already allocated $26.1 billion towards renovating at least 30 stations across New York City during 2018, but the Democratic governor’s pledge of an additional $8 billion will aim to ensure that riders are able to surf the web by the end of the year from any of the system’s nearly 300 underground stations.
Only 140 underground stations are currently equipped with Wi-Fi, but Mr. Cuomo said all 278 will be outfitted with wireless Internet by 2017. The city’s subway cars and buses are also slated to get USB charging ports the following year, and roughly nine of 10 city buses will be upgraded with modern surveillance cameras thanks in part to the state’s pledge.
“We want people getting out of cars and into mass transit … which is the future of New York,” Mr. Cuomo said at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn last week. “We are not going to continue to grow downstate New York with people getting into cars and commuting. It’s numerically impossible. We aren’t going to build more roads. … We shouldn’t build more roads.”
The New York City subway system has more stations than any other system in the world and hosted 1.7 million riders during 2014. Above the ground, meanwhile, the city plans on retrofitting antiquated pay phones with Internet hot spots starting this summer, with hopes of eventually replacing about 7,500 kiosks with free Wi-Fi hubs.
“The MTA is committed to meeting Gov. Cuomo’s challenge head-on, eliminating every possible inefficiency to deliver these improvements faster, better, and at a lower cost,” MTA CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said in a statement.