Our Issues

The Straphangers Campaign fights for safe, reliable, and affordable New York City mass transit, offers critical information to the public, and helps riders express their views to relevant policymakers.

7 Train

Getting New York’s Subways Back on Track

Aging infrastructure and antiquated technology have contributed largely to the biggest issues plaguing our subway system. Recently, New York’s subway system has seen a major decline in service, with a steady increase of subway car breakdowns, subway cars that are filled beyond capacity with riders, and delays that have more than doubled in the past five years alone.

For several years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has reassured riders it was prioritizing capital funds to move the system to a “state of good repair.” The MTA says it was caught flat-footed by the widespread problems in 2017, but in fact, it took specific steps that brought the system to its current state of disrepair. For example, transit managers have reduced standard maintenance cycles on subway cars. The MTA has also not replaced C train cars, which, at 45 years, have gone well past their useful life; as a result, they break down more regularly than any line in the system.

New York City’s subway system has suffered from both financial divestment and political neglect. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to advocate that the MTA prioritize funding projects that will return the subway system to a state of good repair.

Reimagining New York City’s Buses

At 2.5 million trips each day, New York City’s bus system is far and away the largest in the country, providing more trips on an average weekday than Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia combined. The City also has the slowest buses in America — a fact that bus riders here know from bitter daily experience. The buses are so slow, in fact, that the Straphangers Campaign gives annual "Pokey" awards for excellence in slowness and unreliability.

Recently, the Straphangers Campaign partnered with a group of transit-oriented organizations dedicated to improving local bus service city-wide to form the New York City Bus Turnaround Coalition. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to work as a member of the Bus Turnaround Coalition by urging the MTA and New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) to adopt solutions to slow and unreliable bus service.

Creating Affordable Access to Transit

Mass transit is a great equalizer. Robust transit systems connect community members to jobs, schools, libraries, health care, civic centers, and other resources — increasing economic, political, and social opportunity beyond an individual’s immediate surroundings.

Despite being a crucial resource, many New Yorkers face difficulty accessing subway and bus service, especially low-income New Yorkers who often cannot afford the fare. Public transit shouldn't burden low-income riders, who rely on mass transit to pay the bills and access other resources necessary for their day-to-day lives. The Straphangers Campaign is a proud member of the Fair Fares coalition, and will continue to advocate for New York City to provide half-priced MetroCards to New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line.

Improving Transit Accessibility

Access-A-Ride Reform
Access-A-Ride, the MTA’s paratransit program required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, is notorious for offering a poor level of service to its riders. While it is a critically needed service, Access-A-Ride is plagued by long wait times, high unreliability, poor communications with its customers, and many missed appointments. The thousands of New Yorkers that depend on Access-A-Ride service deserve quick and reliable transportation options to connect them with their jobs, homes, schools, and other resources. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to push the MTA towards adopting new methods of providing Access-A-Ride service that works for riders.

Subway Accessibility
New York City Transit is responsible for one of the largest subway systems in the world, but its system is by far the least accessible out of every major American city. Out of 472 subway stations, only 117 (around 24%) are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As stations across the system undergo maintenance and receive upgrades funded by the Capital Plan, the Straphangers Campaign will urge the MTA to actively seek ways to upgrade stations with elevators to increase the number of accessible stations, as well as conduct proper maintenance and repairs for elevators already in use.

Funding the MTA

The MTA has two budgets. The first is the operating budget, which covers the day-to-day operations of the Authority and includes things like payroll and health care for transit workers, electricity, cleaning supplies, etc. The second is the Capital Program, which funds station renovations, new subway cars and buses, and large-scale constructions projects like the Second Avenue Subway and installing modern signals (known as Communications-Based Train Control) on subway tracks.

Funding revenue for the MTA’s Operating Budget and Capital Program remain at risk, with dedicated transit funds often falling victim to raids by the state to pay for non-transit priorities. As ridership on New York City’s transit system continues to grow, investment in public transportation must grow as well. The Straphangers Campaign will continue to push for solutions enact a stable funding revenue source to pay for improving and modernizing public transit.

In the News
Subway and Bus $65M 'Fair Fares' Reduction Deals Latest Blow to Transit System  (The City, July 1, 2020)
'At the edge of an abyss': Transit advocates plead with Schumer to get MTA financial aid   (Bronx Times, June 30, 2020)
The Budget Pain: Mayor's Fair Fares Cut Falls Heavily on Lower-Income Transit Riders  (Streetsblog, June 30, 2020)
Transit advocates plead with Schumer to get MTA financial aid   (QNS.com, June 29, 2020)
New Yorkers prepare to venture into subways again   (CNBC, June 8, 2020)
De Blasio announces 20 miles of new bus service for coronavirus reopening  (New York Post, June 8, 2020)
Mayor Creates More Busways — And Makes 14th Street Permanently Car-Free  (Streetsblog, June 8, 2020)
With thousands returning to work, New York City and state at stalemate on mass transit plans  (Politico, June 7, 2020)
Everyone to Mayor: We Need 40 Miles of Dedicated Bus Lanes Now  (Streetsblog, May 28, 2020)
New Push to Let Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens Ride Rails for Less  (The City, May 11, 2020)
Face Masks and Crowd Control: The Race to Make Your Subway Ride Safer  (New York Times, May 3, 2020)
Transit Watchdogs: Raiding MTA Taxes Will Threaten A Federal Bailout  (Streetsblog, April 30, 2020)
Advocates: MTA Must Redistribute Service To Protect Low-Income, Essential Workers  (Streetsblog, April 8, 2020)
Commuters bemoan Spuyten Duyvil accessibility  (The Riverdale Press, April 5, 2020)
MTA Leads Multiple Agencies in Demanding $25B from Congress  (Streetsblog, March 23, 2020)
MTA in Free Fall: Low Ridership Numbers Could Mean Massive Debt, Cuts  (Streetsblog, March 18, 2020)
M.T.A., Citing Huge Drop in Riders, Seeks $4 Billion Virus Bailout  (New York Times, March 17, 2020)
The NYC Subways' New Tap-To-Pay System Has A Hidden Cost - Rider Data  (The Verge, March 16, 2020)
Comptroller: MTA Debt Could Mean Fare Hikes, Service Cuts  (Streetsblog, March 12, 2020)
MTA's Andy Byford Leaving Role That May Be Derailed  (The City, February 21, 2020)
Public Statements
NYPIRG Announces Gene Russianoff Retires  (July 24, 2020)
Statement on Resignation of Andy Byford  (January 23, 2020)
Statement on Changes to Access-A-Ride Pilot Program  (November 12, 2019)
Testimony at MTA 9/25 Board Meeting on Access-A-Ride E-Hail Pilot Program  (September 25, 2019)
Statement on the MTA's Draft 2020-2024 Capital Plan  (September 16, 2019)
Statement on Governor Cuomo's Canarsie Tunnel Rehabilitation Plan  (January 3, 2019)
Congestion Pricing Coalition Statement on Governor's 30-Day Amendments  (February 16, 2018)
Statement on Newly Appointed MTA Chair/CEO Joseph Lhota  (June 22, 2017)
Statement on MTA Management Restructuring Plan  (May 15, 2017)
Statement on Governor's Plan to Cut $65 Million in Promised Funds to the MTA  (February 21, 2017)
Statement on the MTA’s Fare Increase Proposal  (November 16, 2016)
Comment on MTA Five-Year Capital Program Proposal  (July 23, 2015)
Statement on Record Ridership  (April 20, 2015)
Statement on MTA Capital Funding  (March 25, 2015)
Response to MTA's Statement on 2014 Subway Report Card  (July 31, 2014(PDF))
New York City Transit Fare Facts  (July 2014)
Group Statement on Scoping of Proposed Rezoning of the Vanderbilt Avenue Corridor  (July 16, 2014)
Statement on Appointment of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to MTA Board of Directors  (June 20, 2014)
Statement on Mayor de Blasio's East Midtown Zoning Proposal  (May 30, 2014)
Statement on Mayor de Blasios First 100 Days on Public Transportation  (April 29,2014)