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The future rides with us

The 20-Year Needs Assessment is a broad, comprehensive blueprint that outlines the MTA region's transportation capital needs for the next generation. It provides an extensive, long-term view based upon rigorous data analysis across all the MTA agencies. It's also an opportunity to look beyond today's constraints to envision the possible future of the system if the right investments are made.

A pivotal moment

Over the past century, New York's transit network has successfully powered the region into global prominence. Today, a series of existential forces are converging—including aging infrastructure in need of ongoing repair—making this a pivotal moment for the MTA and the future of New York.

Over the next 20 years, we will be forced to confront three major challenges:

Aging infrastructure

A vast and aging transit network largely built more than a century ago could experience catastrophic breakdowns without intervention.

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Aging infrastructure

Our system is old.

Our transportation system has served the region for more than 100 years—and much of it is now in desperate need of replacement.

Over the next 20 years, we will be celebrating some milestone anniversaries: 200 years of the Long Island Rail Road, 125 years of the subway system, 125 years of Metro-North's Grand Central Terminal, and 100 years of MTA Bridges and Tunnels.

Our system is vast and there's a lot you don't see.

What riders see is just a fraction of all the parts and systems that support your ride.

This hidden infrastructure rarely commands attention—but is essential to safe and reliable transit service. It includes the power substations that provide electricity to the tracks, the shops and yards that allow us to store and repair our railcars, and the signal systems that ensure trains move safely.

Over the next 20 years, many of these assets will age well beyond their expected lifespan. As these overlooked elements begin to break down, their contributions to the reliability of the system will become painfully visible.

New York's future is riding on us keeping up with investment.

Without investment, the reliability of our system is at risk.

With $1.5 trillion in assets, keeping our system in a state of good repair is essential—but our investment has not kept pace with comparable infrastructure like private railroads. Aging assets require increased maintenance attention and can become obsolete, resulting in higher costs to keep them operational and more disruptive shutdowns for repairs.

We can't uphold our commitment to reliable service if critical components can no longer work as they should. And without reliable and safe service, New York's region is at risk.

Climate change

Climate change is imperiling infrastructure that was not designed to withstand extreme weather events.

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Climate change

The threat posed by climate change is here—and we must continue to prepare.

Over the next two decades, climate change projections indicate that the New York region will experience more frequent and intense coastal storms, more than twice the current number of torrential rainfall events, and triple the current number of extreme heat days over 90 degrees. Meanwhile, sea levels will rise approximately 2.5 feet by the 2050s and almost 5 feet by the 2080s.

MTA infrastructure was not built to withstand these conditions.

Over the past decade, we have experienced severe weather events with increasing regularity. In 2012, coastal flooding from Superstorm Sandy devastated our system, inundating nine under-river subway tubes, the Queens-Midtown and Hugh L. Carey Tunnels, and dozens of other critical facilities. In more recent years, flash floods caused by heavy rains have repeatedly wreaked havoc on our infrastructure, overwhelming municipal sewers and pouring into subway stations and train yards, as well as washing out exposed sections of our track.

While we've already made significant and unprecedented investments to fortify the system against severe weather, the severity of the risk and the scale of vulnerability requires us to do even more.

Despite progress, multiple threats presented by climate hazards—particularly floods and extreme heat—mean there is much more to be done. For example:

  • Over 400 miles of New York City's subway track are underground or below grade and potentially vulnerable to inland floods caused by torrential rainfall.
  • Over 50% of the Metro-North Hudson Line is vulnerable to coastal surge from storms today. Exposure will grow as sea levels rise and as coastal storms become more frequent and intense.
  • Multiple LIRR stations will likely experience regular, damaging tidal flooding by mid-century due to sea level rise.
To protect our system, we must prepare for the threats we know are coming. The MTA will proactively act on these current and future risks through data-driven approaches that inform climate resilient infrastructure investments.

Changing rider needs

A profound societal transformation around travel, work, and what riders expect from a transit experience is underway. Our region is projected to grow by over 1 million residents and nearly 1 million jobs by 2045. We must be ready—or risk stifling a new generation of growth.

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Changing rider needs

Millions of New Yorkers commute daily and depend on us keeping up with service.

The MTA network was originally designed for a traditional commute to Manhattan, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For millions of New Yorkers, this need hasn't changed. Even with the uptick in remote work, the vast majority of New Yorkers commute, including especially essential workers, and need the transit system to run frequently and reliably. These commuters include some of our city's most vulnerable people who depend on us every day to maintain a high level of service.

Millions more have a choice—and the region's economy hangs in the balance.

With the disruption of the pandemic and the rise of remote work, others have a choice on whether to ride our system or not. This is borne out by the data; while weekday peak ridership remains the busiest time in our system, off-peak and especially weekend ridership has recovered faster as a percentage of its pre-pandemic levels.

Continuing to attract riders is essential to the economic future of our region. It is more important than ever that the MTA offer reliable, safe, and convenient service.

To support a new generation of growth, we must adapt to our region's evolving needs.

Although Manhattan is still important, and traditional peak travel times are still the peaks, new demands are emerging that we must address. These needs include:

  • Increasingly dispersed business districts outside of Manhattan. While Manhattan continues to have the largest concentration of jobs, the emergence of business districts around the region is resulting in more intra- and inter-borough travel, as well as reverse commuting. Population growth is fastest in the outer boroughs, creating a cycle of economic and residential growth outside of Manhattan.
  • More varied commute times as work schedules evolve. With the region projected to grow by nearly 1 million jobs over the next two decades, some of the fastest growing industries, such as healthcare, accommodation, and food services, require travel at all times of day and an in-person workforce.
  • Increase in off-peak travel. In the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, growing numbers of New Yorkers were choosing transit for trips during off-peak times. Subway off-peak ridership increased by 24%. Off-peak ridership on LIRR increased by 18%. Metro-North off-peak ridership increased by 24% (2001-2018).

    New Yorkers are increasingly taking subways and buses during off-peak hours for health care, shopping, social gatherings, and recreational trips.

    Traditionally, the MTA has used these off-peak hours for repairs, projects, and maintenance. It is more important than ever to keep our infrastructure in a state of good repair to minimize disruptions and provide the services that our riders need, to keep the region on its path toward growth.

If we ignore these threats ...

We risk the survival of the system itself—and New York with it.

Without more aggressive intervention, the deteriorating structural beams holding up the 110-year-old Train Shed at Grand Central Terminal—that supports Park Avenue and provides a roof for trains—is at risk of failure, suspending Metro-North service into Manhattan.

In 20 years, more than 75% of the New York City subway major power substation components will be more than half a century old, risking extended power outages across the system and potentially shutting down multiple lines.

As climate change accelerates and extreme weather events become more common, we risk asset failures and system shutdowns without targeted climate resilience protections.

We've been here before. Revisit our history.

If we face these challenges ...

In our vision of the future, we will bring riders back to transit and we will build for the future. We will accommodate our region's expected jobs and population growth of over 1 million in the next 20 years. In this vision, we will serve more than 8 million daily riders.

The MTA of the future will be ...

More frequent. We will deliver more frequent subway, bus, and commuter rail service.

More reliable. Customer journey time and on-time performance will exceed 90%.

More accessible. 95% of all commuter rail and subway stations will become accessible by 2045 and 2055, respectively.

More climate-ready. Greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 85% and vulnerable infrastructure will be protected against extreme weather.

Our choice

New York has demonstrated throughout its history that investment in transit is the key to unlocking economic growth for the region—and that failure to do so has dire consequences. Now it's our turn to confront upcoming challenges and secure the future for the next generation.

We've been here before ...


After transit investments more than 100 years ago made modern New York possible, unleashing more than two generations of growth, by the 1970s the system had been allowed to fall into disrepair. As the transit system deteriorated, the city's population and economy plummeted with it, pushing New York to the brink of bankruptcy.


In the 1980s, a historic investment reinvigorated the system—and New York's fortunes revived with it. More recently, we nearly repeated the cycle as disinvestment in the early 2000s brought us to the "Summer of Hell" in 2017 when, once again, our transit infrastructure began to break down.

Revisit our history

We are on the right track—but we're not done.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature made a historic investment in transit service as part of the 2023 New York state budget, recognizing the essential nature of transit service to millions of New York residents and businesses.

But operating the service is only half the picture—building and rebuilding stations, tunnels, signals, elevators, electric buses, rail yards, bus depots, and other infrastructure is also critical.

Our system is vast—and has a lot of needs

The recent $55 billion 2020-2024 Capital Program acknowledged the scale of the task ahead. But there is a lot of work still to be done.

The MTA is ready to meet this moment

The integration of all capital work under the MTA's Construction & Development (MTA C&D) agency is enabling projects to be delivered more effectively and quickly, beginning with the historic $55 billion 2020-2024 Capital Program. In 2022, MTA C&D completed $6.2 billion of work and initiated another $11.4 billion in new projects—delivering a historic level of investment into keeping our system in a state of good repair.

Explore how MTA C&D is delivering projects better, faster, and cheaper

How the MTA is addressing New York's high construction costs


Under a unified agency, we can improve at scale—from implementing delivery models that take advantage of design innovation, to instituting smarter project management, to modernizing our approach to signals and systems. This has led to the completion of major projects—from 10 miles of Third Track, to repair of the L Train Tunnel, to transformation of the LIRR Concourse at Penn Station—all on time and on or under budget.


We have ramped up the pace of our investment to a historic level—including more than doubling the number of stations accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in this capital program compared to previous years. We are also getting projects done faster, with our innovative contracting incentives saving an average of four months compared to the estimated schedule in 2022.


New York's density, high wages, significant ridership, and complicated logistics all mean that the region is inherently high-cost. Nevertheless, we deliver our state-of-good-repair projects, more than 80% of our capital plan, at costs on par with peers across the country. With a heightened focus on cost containment, our construction contracts came in $345 million under estimate in 2022.

See how we're committed to reducing costs

Structural reforms

In 2019, we an independent forensic audit of its capital planning process. Performed by Crowe, a leading accounting firm, the audit assessed the performance of the MTA's capital program development processes, specifically evaluating project selection for the five-year capital plan. The recommendations of that audit are being implemented rapidly, highlighted by:

  • A unified planning approach: With the creation of MTA Construction & Development, capital planning, development, and delivery are being undertaken by a single, purpose-built capital agency.
  • A focus on state of good repair: Despite these factors, costs for MTA's state-of-good-repair projects, more than 80% of the current capital plan, are largely in line with peer systems across the country. While recent subway expansion projects have high price tags, they are highly cost-beneficial with low cost per rider.
  • A smarter approach to data: As the audit recommended, the MTA has undertaken a thorough effort to modernize and standardize its data collection, establishing detailed inventories of all assets, including asset age and surveyed condition and integrated Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) where possible. As part of the assessment, we incorporated additional essential metrics including performance, criticality, parts obsolescence, and compatibility with modern systems.
The 20-Year Needs Assessment provides the path toward a resilient, reliable, and modern transit system that is safer and more efficient. These investments will unlock a new generation of prosperity for the region.
See how

Our goals

The 20-Year Needs Assessment is a broad, comprehensive blueprint that outlines the MTA region's transportation capital needs for the next generation. It provides an extensive, long-term view based upon rigorous data analysis across all the MTA agencies. It's also an opportunity to look beyond today's constraints to envision the possible future of the system if the right investments are made.

Rebuild our system so it will last another 100 years

  • Replace antiquated signals, switches, and interlockings—on subways and on commuter railroads—that contribute to lengthy delays and upgrade our power systems to meet our needs into the future.
  • Reconstruct the crumbling infrastructure that leads to Grand Central, avoiding catastrophic shutdown of Metro-North Railroad (Metro-North) service.
  • Continue to rebuild our 200-year-old Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), especially tunnels, to maintain Brooklyn service.
  • Use innovative technology like dehumidifying our bridge cables on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to extend its useful life.

A look at two possible tomorrows

Before and after image slider

Use the slider to envision a system without proper investment (left) and with proper investment (right).

Explore a future with proper investment

A future with proper investment