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New York City’s subway cars to get high-tech makeover

With nearly six million riders hitting the New York City subway daily, that’s a whole lot of people who’d be really pleased if the authorities upped its game and gave the system a serious makeover.

Well, a major revamp looks to be on the cards after Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday revealed plans to pump $27 billion into the city’s mass transit system over the next five years.

Focusing on the subway network, improvements include the introduction of more than a thousand flashy new cars, each one offering Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, digital displays showing travel information and ads, and illuminated door-opening alerts.

Cuomo told reporters on Monday, “People want to work, and they want their device to work 24 hours a day,” adding, “There has to be WiFi, and there need to be charging ports.”

In line with other major subway systems around the world, London’s tube network among them, most of the new cars will also incorporate “open car end” designs that allow riders to move more easily through the train, a feature that should help ease overcrowding. Wider doors – their width increasing from 50 inches to 58 – should also ensure the more efficient movement of people inside stations, in turn reducing a train’s dwell time.

The money will also be spent on giving more than 30 stations a much-needed makeover. Expect to see improved cellular connectivity and Wi-Fi, countdown clocks, and “new art” throughout stations to brighten up your journey.

Better signage is also on the way, some of which will include digital displays showing real-time updates on on-time performance at subway entrances so users can decide whether to enter the station, hail a cab, or open their Uber app.

“New York deserves a world-class transportation network, worthy of its role as the heartbeat of the 21st century economy,” Cuomo said. “The MTA design team developed a bold and visionary re-imagining of the quintessential commuter experience, incorporating best practices from global transit systems, and focusing on our core mission to renew, enhance, and expand.”

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The downside to the modernization work? Disruption, of course. Cuomo said the station renovations will be so extensive that some could be shut down “for as long as six months,” according to the the NY Times.

The governor pointed out that New York City’s subway system was designed “at a much, much different time for a fraction of the number of people,” adding, “These projects have to happen, and they have to happen now.”