Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Subway-Station Naming Rights May Be Sold in NYC to Pay for Fixes

  • For $600,000 donation, company would pay for improvements
  • The proposal would spread the money throughout the system

New York’s deteriorating subway stations may be getting makeovers sponsored by companies that would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the opportunity to promote their brands at stops along the 700-mile system.

For $600,000, a donor may participate in an “adopt-a-station” program and help pay for amenities such as WiFi and stepped-up cleaning, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday during a Manhattan breakfast speech to business leaders. For $250,000, a firm could join a “Partnership Council,” that would help raise money for improvements without attaching its name to the station.

The appeal for private contributions to the city’s crumbling subway system comes after months of breakdowns and delays that have contributed to the first decrease in ridership in more than 20 years. The city’s economy has lost about $15 million for every hour of delays, according to research conducted by the Partnership for New York City, a civic group of corporate executives.

“Businesses can enhance those stations, enhance maintenance, enhance security, enhance aesthetics,” Cuomo told the gathering sponsored by another business group, the Association for a Better New York. “We want to bring the private sector in as a full partner.”

Better Service

Joseph Lhota, chairman of the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subways, said any company that sponsors a highly trafficked station in Manhattan would also be asked to take responsibility for stops in far-flung residential neighborhoods. 

“We’ll require that if you do one in the central business district, you have to do some outside the center,” Lhota said. “All people in the city deserve the best subway service possible.”

The plan is still in its early stages, Lhota said.

Lhota this week unveiled a plan to fix the subways that includes adding cars on trains to ease overcrowding, removing seats from some cars to increase capacity and prioritizing door maintenance. There will be more police in subways to reduce littering and the presence of homeless people on the trains, and more cleaning and better maintenance of elevators and escalators, he said Tuesday.

Cuomo during his speech called on President Donald Trump to act on a $1 trillion infrastructure program he promised during the campaign. 

New York and New Jersey are depending on the federal government to make good on a promise to provide half the cost of the $20 billion Gateway Project, a system of two train tunnels under the Hudson River to protect the region from the risk from existing tunnels worn with age and damaged from flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

When the new tunnels are completed, crews could make repairs to the existing tubes, doubling the region’s capacity to move rail traffic between the two states. The tunnels serve a region with 70 percent of the U.S. population and 22 percent of the nation’s gross national product, Cuomo said.

“Gateway is probably the most critical infrastructure project on the East Coast,” Cuomo said. “If those existing tunnels go down, it will be a catastrophe.”

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.