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The Regional Plan Association (RPA) late last week unveiled a proposal for sweeping changes to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) subway and commuter-rail services in the New York City area.The association recommends that the MTA expand the subway system into neighborhoods with densities to support fixed-rail transit, particularly in low-income areas where residents dependent on public transit. For example, in Queens, fewer than four in 10 residents live within walking distance to the subway, according to the report.One proposed extension is the 5.7-mile Jewel Avenue subway line, which would bring service from the existing Queens Boulevard line to the "transit deserts" in central Queens. The RPA has also called for building a new yard to extend the Astoria Line west to the East River in Queens."New York City has one of the world's biggest subway systems, but some areas of the city are poorly served," RPA officials said in the report, which is known as the Fourth Regional Plan. "While better bus service has helped, there are still parts of the city, including low-income neighborhoods dependent on public transportation, that are out of reach of any transit."The RPA also suggested combining the agency's three commuter-rail systems into one network. The region's three commuter railroads — MTA Long Island Road, Metro-North Railroad, and New Jersey Transit — are an amalgamation of rail lines that were mostly built by private railroads more than a century ago."This aging system was designed to get people in and out of Manhattan when the metropolitan area was less than half the size it is today," RPA's report stated. "It poorly serves job centers outside of Manhattan, leaves many places without any rail service at all, isn’t configured to serve today's 24-hour, multi-directional travel patterns, and is straining to serve the number of riders it has today, much less tomorrow."
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