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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


DiNapoli: Too Many Subway Stations Need Repairs

Only 51 Stations Were in Good Repair

October 2, 2014

Too many New York City subway stations are in disrepair and New York City Transit’s repair program is progressing too slowly, according to a report issued today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Only 51 of the city’s 468 stations were free of defects, and just 1-in-4 had most or all of their station components in good repair.

“New York City Transit reports it is making progress on repairing stations but the pace is too slow and much more work needs to be done,” DiNapoli said. “Worn or damaged stairs and platform edges pose risks for riders, while broken tiles, lights and peeling paint leave riders with a low opinion of the transit system.”

DiNapoli’s office examined data from New York City Transit (NYCT), a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which determines station conditions by surveying “structural” components — such as stairs, columns and platform edges, as well as “architectural” components — such as tile, paint and lighting. The survey rates components on a scale of 1 to 5. NYCT considers those it rated under 3 to be free of defects and in a “state of good repair.” Components rated 3 or higher are worn or damaged. The survey does not consider cleanliness, routine maintenance needs or the condition of elevators and escalators.

According to the latest survey, more than one-quarter of all structural components had defects. At 94 stations, at least half of the structural components needed repairs. The subway stations in Brooklyn and Queens had the largest percentage of components with defects (one-third).

Nearly half of all platform edges (43 percent), which are important to rider safety, had defects in need of repair. While 33 percent of platform edges had a moderate level of deterioration, 10 percent exhibited serious defects. 

NYCT data also showed that 27 percent of station components — such as ceilings or columns — needed to be painted. Also, the tile or other finish on one-third of all subway platform walls and floors did not meet the NYCT’s minimum standards and needed to be repaired. 

Over the past three decades, NYCT had renovated 241 stations from top-to-bottom at a cost of $4.5 billion. However, NYCT did not commit resources to maintain the newly renovated stations, which have deteriorated over time. Starting in 2010, NYCT changed the way it addresses station conditions by giving priority to the most deteriorated structural components. NYCT estimates that it needs to invest more than $5 billion over the next 20 years to bring the stations to what it considers a state of good repair.

NYCT surveys station conditions every five years. If the survey reveals a condition that poses an imminent safety risk, NYCT reported that it immediately makes a temporary or permanent repair. DiNapoli’s report is based on NYCT’s 2012 survey, which is the latest available data on station conditions. 

Major findings of DiNapoli’s report include:

  • In 1999, NYCT planned to fully renovate all 468 subway stations by 2022, but that goal will not be achieved;
  • One-third of all platform components, such as ceilings, floors, and columns, were structurally deficient;
  • 2,722 architectural components (13 percent) were in need of repair and 2,031 components (27 percent) needed to be painted;
  • At 83 stations, including major stops like Rockefeller Center and Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, at least 25 percent of their tile, paint and lighting components needed repairs; 
  • Just 51 stations (11 percent) of the subway system’s 468 stations met NYCT’s minimum standards for both structural and architectural components, although another 67 stations had most of their components in good repair. In total, only one-quarter of the City’s subway stations had at least 90 percent of their components in good repair;
  • NYCT reports that the percentage of structural components with defects declined from 32 percent in 2007 to 27 percent in 2012, and that the percentage of serious defects (those rated 4 or worse) declined from 5 percent to 4 percent;
  • Nearly one-in-five of the subway system’s 176 escalators and 217 elevators are beyond their useful lives and need replacement. More than half of these outdated elevators serve six deep stations in Upper Manhattan;
  • NYCT had planned to replace all outdated escalators and elevators by 2001, but that has been pushed back to 2019 for elevators and 2024 for escalators; and
  • There were 2,646 elevator and 6,354 escalator outages during the second quarter of 2014. While NYCT estimates that the elevators and escalators were available more than 95 percent of the time, the average elevator outage lasted seven hours and the average escalator outage lasted three hours.

For a copy of the report visit: