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New transit chief pledges to clean up subway stations

MTA, meet Mr. Clean.

NYC Transit’s new chief Thomas Prendergast is looking to give the system’s stations a good scrub, arguing that basic maintenance has been neglected.

While the new subway cars still look pristine, recently overhauled stations already show their age, including dirty tiles and dusty fixtures, Prendergast said. “There are sections of stations, you know they haven’t been touched in over a year,” Prendergast said during a transit forum last week. “We have to figure out what’s gone wrong and right it.”

Prendergast, a former top official of the subway system and president of Long Island Rail Road, was recruited to take over the NYC Transit earlier this month as part of a management shakeup. He most recently ran TransLink in Vancouver, a sophisticated, automated transit system.

NYC Transit, in contrast, has lagged behind in bringing technology to riders, said Prendergast, echoing the sentiments of new MTA chief Jay Walder. “The toughest issue is adding technology,” said Prendergast, who lambasted the agency for taking 16 years to get countdown clocks on the L train.

Prendergast pledged to:

- Speed up the addition of technology in the system, in part, by getting MTA engineers to be more flexible

- Better maintain the subway stations by consolidating oversight of heavy cleaning work

- Crack down on fare beating in the 104 stations without high turnstiles that lost their clerks earlier this year

“His grasp of the issues at hand is pretty comprehensive,” said Karyl Berger, research association for the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “He’s very approachable and he’s willing to listen.”

The return of the “doomsday” budget has darkened his first weeks on the job, but Prendergast vowed to stay at the MTA “for the long term.”

“It’s absolutely (my job) to take care of those people who are dependent on transit,” Prendergast said.

Thomas F. Prendergast:


Top official of city subway system from 1990 to 1994; president of Long Island Rail Road from 1994 to 2000; chief of TransLink in Vancouver since 2008

Originally from Chicago

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