Turnstile at refurbished subway station; Turnstile at refurbished subway station;

MTA Enhanced Station Initiative , New York, NY

An ambitious station modernisation program for New York’s subway system

Each and every day, New York’s subway lines move millions of residents and visitors between 472 stations across all five boroughs, like a giant urban vascular system carrying the lifeblood of the city. To safeguard the health of this vital public resource, and with a goal of improving the user experience, Governor Cuomo called for the renovation of dozens of subway stations in his 2015-2019 Capital Program.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI) Program was launched in February 2016 in response to the governor’s mandate. Led by the New York City Transit Authority (NYCT), the ESI Program is a major investment in MTA infrastructure. The program covers the modernization of up to 33 stations, some of which have been in operation for more than a century. When complete, the stations will be equipped to meet the challenges of climate change and increasing ridership, and will feature:

  • LED lighting providing brighter, safer spaces

  • Renewed finishes

  • Improved wayfinding

  • Enhanced communications (including real time service information via platform countdown clocks, digital displays providing system, station and location specific information, etc.)

  • Additional passenger amenities (including new furniture, USB charging ports, and artwork)

  • Necessary structural repairs and waterproofing.

As the ESI’s Program Facilitator, we are working hand-in-hand with the client from a single dedicated project office to develop the bridging and bid documents, oversee the architectural and engineering design, scheduling, cost, construction packaging and procurement of all program work.

Project Summary


27 subway lines comprise New York City's subway system

33stations selected for modernisation

9 separate construction contracts

Design-Build approach that emphasizes excellence and accountability

The ESI Program is a massive undertaking, requiring the execution of multiple, concurrent projects at numerous locations throughout the city. To ensure quality while also promoting cost savings, an aggressive schedule and efficiency, Arup helped the client divide the work into nine construction contracts, eight of which are Design-Build. Under this procurement model, each firm awarded a contract is responsible for satisfying the client’s design excellence criteria and meeting all schedule, cost, and performance targets.

A sequenced plan to safeguard service

ESI Program upgrades necessitate either full or partial closure of up to 33 stations, the first time in which NYCT has utilized full-station closures for station rehabilitation work. To help NYCT keep these closures from exceeding six months, Arup designed a carefully sequenced, highly coordinated schedule, including bid document development, procurement, design and construction. This involved collaborating closely with NYCT to sync up the closures required under the ESI Program with other planned closures within the network to minimize disruptions to service.

The Digital Dashboard

To help further enhance coordination, Arup’s Digital Insights team developed the Digital Dashboard, a “smart” web-based platform that unites a wide array of project resources under one umbrella, making them easily accessible to the entire team.

The Digital Dashboard’s features include:

  • Design features: expedites the site investigation and design process by offering time-saving tools, such as 360 panoramic site photos and LIDAR models

  • A shared calendar: facilitates scheduling and transparency by making the project calendar available to all

  • Interactive mapping: provides searchable, filterable maps to quickly find information

  • A project schedule: allows team members to view concurrent project schedules

  • Contacts: enables one-click email or phone access to all team members to foster open communication

  • A document management system: provides a library of downloadable, version-controlled project documents, ranging from project reports, to meeting notes, to ESI compiled bid documents

  • RFI tracker capable: able to show users the number of open RFIs, the details of each, and response time.

By merging data from programs including Microsoft Outlook, Primavera, and ProjectWise onto one, user-friendly platform, the Digital Dashboard helps reduce common issues, such as communication bottlenecks, lack of coordination, and version control issues. The MTA found the product so useful, the agency commissioned Arup to create an in-house version to help them manage on-going work.

Building on what we've learned

Arup is currently synthesizing a wealth of available station data (including information on planned works, budget, scale-of-work by station, etc.) and building an algorithm to help NYCT identify stations most suitable for future phases of station upgrades.