Squadron: Short-Term Fixes at East Broadway Station Best Strategy For Now

Part of the crumbling ceiling of the East Broadway station.  Photos courtesy of SPaCE.

Part of the crumbling ceiling of the East Broadway station. Photo courtesy of SPaCE.

In the past week, we caught up with State Sen. Daniel Squadron to talk about local efforts to cajole the MTA into making repairs at the East Broadway subway station.

After meeting with a small group from the SPaCE Block Association, Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and City Council member Margaret Chin wrote a letter to MTA Chair Thomas Prendergast June 20. Rather than calling for a full renovation of the neglected station, the elected officials asked the agency to focus on two maintenance issues: poor drainage resulting in large pools of water that collect in stairway landings and other areas and peeling paint.

The residents, who started a petition back in February, said Squadron had told them the piecemeal approach would likely be more effective because the MTA doesn’t do complete station renovations anymore.

In an interview last week, Squadron said the new efforts are a natural extension of this past winter’s push to get the replacement escalator at the East Broadway station working after months of delays.  The MTA’s next capital plan, covering the the years 2015-2019, is due October 1.  While it might be possible to address a wide-scale renovation of the station in that budgeting process, Squadron said the best strategy right now is to zero in on a few select maintenance issues.  “We want to get quick action,” he said. “It’s about short-term improvements.”

State Sen. Daniel Squadron with U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at a rally on the Lower East Side; January 31, 2014.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron with U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at a rally on the Lower East Side; January 31, 2014.

Squadron, who represents Lower Manhattan and a swath of Brooklyn in the state Senate, has made improvements in the subway system a top priority during his tenure. At his request, the MTA conducted “full-line reviews” of the F, G and L trains with an eye toward service improvements. The agency recently launched reviews of the A and C lines. Squadron said his office is taking the lessons learned from those reviews to inform the East Broadway station situation, as well as other MTA issues raised by constituents.

The focus on this particular station was a direct result of SPaCE’s advocacy. “Here you had a group that came together and started pushing,” said Squadron.  if there are other stations within the 26th Senate District that need attention, he encouraged residents to get in touch with his office.

Looking at the big priorities heading into the MTA’s capital planning process, Squadron said it’s obviously critical that the agency continue to focus on hurricane-proofing the subway network.  Another priority, he added, is expanding train monitoring technology to increase the efficiency of the transit system. But concentrating on “quality of life issues impacting the rider experience,” including the condition of aging stations, is also important, Squadron said.

In the past few days, the MTA appointed members of a “reinvention commission.” the group will hold public hearings throughout the summer with a short-term goal of advising the agency on its new capital plan.

The elected officials are awaiting a response from the MTA regarding their requests at the east Broadway station.