Hakim’s remarks are not anti-modernization per se, according to Rich Barone, vice president for transportation at the Regional Plan Association and the main author of the report on the MTA’s signals. Hakim indicated that the goal of exploring other technologies would be a faster and more efficient implementation of a new signaling system, which Barone agrees would be all well and good.
Still, Barone is concerned that using a new and unproven technology will have the opposite effect and will actually slow things down while increasing costs. One reason CBTC implementation has been slow and costly in New York — as opposed to other century-old systems like Paris and London, which have already converted roughly half their systems to CBTC at a fraction of the cost — is because the MTA insisted on building its own version of CBTC that uses radio frequencies instead of fiber optics (ostensibly, Barone said, so people couldn’t steal the wires). To do this, the MTA spent years and billions of dollars testing a radio-based system that wasn’t used anywhere else in the world and needed to pass extensive safety checks before implementation.
Read the full article in the Village Voice.