MTA Press Releases

Press Release
January 3, 2007
MTA NYC Transit 1996 - 2005 A Decade of Accomplishments

Under the leadership of Lawrence G. Reuter, MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit) played an integral role in New York City's economic resurgence during the 1990's, and in the City's recovery from the World Trade Center attack in 2001.

At the same time, Mr. Reuter led the agency through a series of agency-wide initiatives to improve safety for customers and employees, while expanding efforts to make New York's bus fleet the cleanest in the nation.

Reducing the Cost of Travel for New Yorkers

Between 1997 and 1999, NYC Transit implemented a series of revolutionary changes in its fare structure:

  • Free transfers between subways and buses, benefiting hundreds of thousands of customers and saving customers in former two-fare zones $750 annually.
  • The MetroCard bonus program, offering a ten-percent bonus on MetroCard transactions of $15 or more (the bonus was enhanced in 2003 to provide a 20 percent bonus on MetroCard transactions of $10 or more).
  • Unlimited-ride passes, which can be purchased for one day, seven days or 30 days of unlimited travel.
  • Free transfers between NYC Transit, MTA Bus, and MTA Long Island Bus.
  • Reduced express bus fares from $4 to $3 (subsequently increased to $4 in 2003 and $5 in 2005).

The average fare paid by customers has declined from $1.38 in 1996 to $1.27 in 2005 (an eight percent reduction), even after the impact of the 2003 and 2005 fare increases. This decline has resulted in more disposable income for New Yorkers.

Ridership Growth and Service Improvements

Between 1996 and 2005 NYC Transit's annual subway ridership increased by 31 percent to 1.45 billion, the highest level since 1953. Bus ridership grew even faster, as annual ridership increased by 53 percent to 736 million, among the highest levels in the past 30 years.

In 2005 NYC Transit operated more service than at any time in its history as a five-borough subway and bus operator (except for 2004, due to the impacts of the strike). Between 1996 and 2005, NYC Transit increased subway service by 11 percent and bus service by 31 percent, at an annualized cost of $280 million (including service support). During this period, NYC Transit increased service on 24 of 26 subway lines, carrying 98 percent of subway customers, and on virtually all of its 243 bus routes.

NYC Transit has improved service reliability during this period of unprecedented growth. Subway mean distance between failures was 178,085 miles in 2005, more than two and a half times greater than the 1996 results and a more than 20-fold increase over the early 1980's.

To improve service between Brooklyn and Midtown Manhattan, NYC Transit restored N service to Stillwell Avenue terminal after that station's four-year reconstruction. The N, along with the B, D, and Q routes, resumed normal four-track service across the Manhattan Bridge in 2004 after an 18-year construction period. The Manhattan Bridge service plan provides more service via the Bridge to Midtown Manhattan at all times (including a peak hour increase from 27 to 40 trains), offers more direct connections, reduces travel times, and has reduced crowding.

In December 2001, NYC Transit opened the 63rd Street Connector, with a new V route from 71st Avenue-Forest Hills to Lower East Side-2nd Avenue. The connector enabled NYC Transit to increase Queens-Manhattan capacity by 22%, and has reduced crowding on the E and F routes.

Customer and Employee Safety

NYC Transit also introduced high-tech train and bus simulators for operator training with realistic, computer-generated virtual reality situations that surround trainees and challenge them to improve driving tactics, situation awareness, and decision-making skills. The results have been dramatic; between 1996 and 2005:

  • The rate of employee lost time and restricted-duty accidents declined by 56 percent.
  • The rate of subway customer injuries declined by 21 percent.
  • The rate of bus customer injuries declined by 36 percent.

9/11 Response and Recovery

NYC Transit was hard hit by the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, but responded extremely well during a period of unprecedented crisis. A 1,500-foot stretch of the 1 subway tunnel under the World Trade Center (including one station) was destroyed, eliminating service to South Ferry, and service on other lines near the World Trade Center site was disrupted for months.

As a result of these efforts, restoration of subway services proceeded faster than anyone predicted, with the return of NR (now RW) service through Lower Manhattan only a month and a half after the attack and the restoration of E service to its World Trade Center terminal in January 2002. In February 2002, NYC Transit awarded a contract to rebuild and reopen the damaged section of the 1 route through the World Trade Center site, and the section was re-opened on September 15th, 2002.

Clean Fuel Bus Plan

Introduced the use of Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel fuel on all buses.

  • Accelerated the retirement of older two-stroke diesel engines, which emit significantly higher emissions than modern buses with four-stroke engines. All two-stroke engines have been replaced; the last ones were retired in 2005.
  • Installed catalyzed particulate filters on 2,769 older diesel buses, and received 875 new buses with filters.

These actions have reduced particulate emissions from NYC Transit's diesel bus fleet to levels virtually equivalent to compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.

NYC Transit is also breaking ground in the use of alternative fuels. By the end of 2005, NYC Transit was operating 479 CNG buses as well as 324 hybrid-electric buses. Together, these buses represent 18% of NYC Transit's bus fleet.

Capital Program Progress

During the 1996-2005 period, NYC Transit completed projects valued at over $16 billion. Major accomplishments included:

  • Ordered 2,502 subway cars (2,060 normal replacement, 442 for fleet growth); 1,842 were accepted by the end of 2005.
  • Received 3,239 new buses (1,259 clean diesel, 630 articulated, 575 express coaches, 450 CNG, 325 hybrid), remanufactured 110 buses; bus fleet size increased by over 900 buses since 1996.

Completed 116 station rehabilitations, including the $280 million Stillwell Avenue terminal reconstruction, on schedule; restored F and Q service to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue in May 2004, followed by N service in May 2005.

Completed the system wide installation of the AFC/MetroCard system. To make MetroCards easier to purchase, NYC Transit has installed 1,635 MetroCard Vending Machines and 596 MetroCard Express Machines.

Continued the renewal of NYC Transit's vast network of infrastructure, including 75 miles of track, signal modernization on four subway lines and the Staten Island Railway, construction of two new bus depots and a new bus maintenance facility, and 15 substations.

Cost Effectiveness

As a result of an aggressive program of cost reductions (achieved primarily through administrative streamlining and productivity improvements), the cost per passenger (in constant dollars, excluding paratransit) declined by 8% from 1996 to 2005, despite adding $280 million in increased subway and bus service during the period.


NYC Transit's accomplishments have received national recognition:

  • In 2001, NYC Transit received the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) Outstanding Achievement Award for large transit agencies. The award was based on NYC Transit's outstanding performance in the areas of customer service, operations, safety, policy initiatives, financial management, minority and women advancement, and community relations. This was the first time NYC Transit has won the industry's most prestigious award.
  • In 2002, NYC Transit President Lawrence G. Reuter received APTA's Outstanding Public Transportation Manager award for his leadership during NYC Transit's period of growth in ridership and service, and for NYC Transit's response to and recovery from the World Trade Center attack.
  • In 2002, NYC Transit's Department of Subways was one of 11 government agencies that received the Sloan Public Service Award from the Fund for the City of New York. The Sloan award, which was given for the first time to entire agencies rather than individual employees, recognized the agencies' critical role in responding to the attacks against New York City on September 11, 2001.
  • NYC Transit received a "Clean Air Excellence Award" from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2001 for its Clean Fuel Bus Program. The award cited NYC Transit's efforts to develop and deploy hybrid diesel electric buses and the aggressive implementation of clean diesel technologies, including ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, diesel particulate filters, and engine repowering. The EPA was particularly impressed that NYC Transit's plan not only has resulted in significant reductions in bus emissions from our own fleet, but it has also paved the way for others to achieve similar results by helping to commercialize several new technologies.
  • NYC Transit became the first public entity in the United States and the first transit property in the world to be formally certified as a fully accredited International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 (Environmental Management) agency. ISO 14001 is recognized globally as the benchmark of sound environmental management practices. NYC Transit has implemented environmentally friendly design and construction practices, which consider environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of facilities and equipment. These initiatives exemplify NYC Transit's commitment to improving the environment for all New Yorkers.
  • Following up on its ISO 14001 certification, in 2004 NYC Transit received Green Building Design Awards from the City of New York for the Roosevelt Avenue/74th Street station rehabilitation and for the design of the Second Avenue Subway. The Roosevelt Avenue/74th Street project, which involves two connecting subway stations and a bus terminal, was noted for its use of natural light and ventilation, photovoltaic roof panels to capture solar energy, and "greened" construction included recycling 90% of demolition materials and equipment that uses ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. The Second Avenue Subway design was noted for positioning station entrances to take advantage of natural light and increase tunnel ventilation, incorporating alternative energy sources such as a geo-thermal exchange system and fuel cells, and use of an aluminum third rail engineered for greater energy efficiency. In addition, NYC Transit received a Green Building Design Honorable Mention for the new Corona maintenance shop, which features photovoltaic roof panels and green construction methods.
  • Numerous projects have received awards for their design and/or construction, including the Zerega Avenue Central Maintenance Facility (2002 American Society of Civil Engineers design-build project of the year) and the Stillwell Avenue Terminal (2005 Brooklyn Building Award for Public Work, 2004 GE Edison Lighting Award for Sustainable Design, 2004 Pittsburg & Corning Award Circle of Design Excellence).

In 2005, NYC Transit received a Blue Sky Merit Award, an international accolade presented annually at the California Transportation Energy Future Conference. The award, which is given to "companies, organizations or individuals selected for making outstanding marketplace contributions to clean air, energy efficiency and an advanced, sustainable transportation industry," recognizes NYC Transit's development of the hybrid-electric bus from an untested technology into a tested urban vehicle with a proven track record.