New York City Subway Upgrades to Add Wi-Fi, Charging Ports and More

The city's five-year plan involves a lot of tech.

by / July 20, 2016

New York City’s subway system, a key piece of the city’s transportation network, is going to get a lot more techie during the next five years.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced on July 18 that during the next five years, the agency will add electric charging stations, Wi-Fi, improved cellular service, better lighting and a suite of design upgrades to the system’s stations and subway cars. As part of the project, MTA will buy 1,025 new subway cars, upgrade 31 stations, and conduct “component and renewal work” at 170 other stations.

MTA has a little more than 6,000 subway cars and 469 stations, so the new cars will represent about 16 percent of the fleet and the redesigns will affect about 6 percent of stations.

The new cars will offer riders USB ports to charge electronics, Wi-Fi, door opening alerts, security cameras, and digital information displays and advertisements, according to Cuomo’s announcement.

The cars will look different too, with LED headlights and wider doors to speed up exiting and entering. As many as 750 of the cars will have a new “open end” design that will eliminate doors between cars to give passengers more space.

The station redesigns will include outside-the-station signs giving real-time information on whether trains are on time, improved lighting inside the stations, countdown clocks and new artwork.

The MTA has put out requests for proposal to have the work completed on a design-build basis, meaning the same firm designs and performs the construction, in order to speed up the process.