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Much of the signal equipment at that station, at West Fourth Street, is decades beyond its life span, and it is one of the main culprits plaguing the overburdened subway.As New York City’s sprawling subway faces a deepening crisis over delays, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says that modernizing the signals is a top priority.The opening of the Second Avenue line and its ornately decorated stations in January was a high point for the agency, but the signal system — the least visible yet perhaps greatest challenge of all — remains mired in an analog era.Signal problems account for about 13 percent of all subway delays, and are the second most common reason for weekday delays, after overcrowding, according to statistics from the agency. is also safer because trains can be stopped automatically.State and city leaders feuded over the agency’s current capital plan for a year, and the agency still does not know how Mr.Cuomo will finance much of the billion he committed toward the pared-down .5 billion five-year plan.As ridership exploded on the L line, which runs between Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan, the agency did not have enough train cars built to communicate with the new signals.“It took way too long, but it was a confluence of things that made it take a while,” said Richard Barone, a vice president at the Regional Plan Association, an urban policy group that has studied New York’s signals. 7 line work in 2010, but Hurricane Sandy struck two years later, damaging subway tracks and delaying the project.
By 2005, they had pushed the deadline to 2045, and now even that target seems unrealistic.At a subway station deep under Manhattan, a dingy room is filled with rows of antique equipment built before World War II.The weathered glass boxes and cloth-covered cables are not part of a museum exhibit, however — they are crucial pieces of the signal system that directs traffic in one of the busiest subways in the world.The London Underground, known as the Tube, opened in 1863 and is the oldest subway system in the world.It now carries about five million people each day, its highest ridership ever.