Recently, the MTA made an amendment to the 2020-2024 Capital Plan. This amendment saw the addition of many different projects, alongside the removal of many others. One of the Capital Plan changes involved installing new Communications-Based-Train-Control (CBTC) signaling technology throughout the system. Initially, the plan called for the installation of CBTC signaling tech on the Lexington Avenue, 8th Avenue, and Astoria Lines. According to the MTA, these lines were prioritized because of a need to expand capacity to accommodate growing ridership. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, these lines, especially Lexington Avenue, saw heavy overcrowding.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, ridership patterns have shifted, with many people opting to work from home. Even more than two years after the beginning of the pandemic, ridership still has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Because of this, the MTA's 2020-2024 Capital Plan was amended to advance signal modernization for lines that have the greatest state-of-good repair need. Lines like 6th Avenue, Fulton Street, and Crosstown are all examples of this and were chosen for CBTC installation. With the Lexington Avenue Line CBTC project being pushed back, the introduction of new subway cars for the A-Division of the subway (the numbered lines) has been pushed back as well. With this, the MTA is looking into retrofitting some of the existing fleet with new technology since they will stay in service for a longer period of time.
The installation of CBTC across the system allows for trains to run closer together, decreasing wait times for passengers and delays due to signal failures. Many of the lines in the system rely on signals that can be up to 90 years old (yes, our system is very old), and are very unreliable, so the installation of new signaling technology is very important for the system.