Brooklyn Boro

Subway stations are about to get a lot brighter

February 23, 2024 Raanan Geberer
The exit area inside the Lafayette Avenue station, showing the new, enhanced lighting.
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In the beginning, there was the incandescent lamp. Then came fluorescent lights. After that, compact fluorescents were the newest thing.

But now, there are LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which are more energy-efficient than either incandescent or fluorescent lamps and offer a brighter light for the same wattage. And on Tuesday morning, the MTA chose Brooklyn’s Lafayette Avenue station on the C line, serving Fort Greene, to announce a plan to convert all 150,000 fluorescent light fixtures in the subway system to LED lighting by mid-2026.

The announcement was made by MTA New York City Transit Vice President of Subways Demetrius Crichlow. He was surrounded by the hard-hatted members of the system’s Facilities Team, who are doing the actual work. Crichlow emphasized that the project would brighten formerly dim corners of the city’s subway stations, including the locations of the system’s 150,000 security cameras.

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Demetrius Crichlow, MTA New York City Transit vice president of subways, and members of the system’s Facilities Team. MTA photo by Marc A. Hermann

Thus, he said in response to questions, the lighting upgrade would protect subway riders and MTA staffers alike. “It’s simple: A brighter station is a safer station,” he said.

The project has already gotten under way, and two other Brooklyn stations have already been retrofitted — Bergen Street and Carroll Street on the F and G lines, serving Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, respectively. And the next station to be done, Crichlow said, will be Clinton-Washington Avenues on the G train, serving Clinton Hill.

“These four are being done according to a schedule,” Crichlow said. “Going forward, we’re looking at stations with darker or more dimly-lit corridors as well as stations scheduled for Re-NEW-Vations.” Under the Re-NEW-Vations project, selected stations undergo upgrades, deep cleanings and repairs, with 13 more stations scheduled during the first quarter or 2024.

The MTA also sent out a video of crews changing lighting lamps over from fluorescent to LED. The new lamps appeared to fit into existing fixtures with little effort, although some ballasts had to be re-wired.

The exit area inside the Lafayette Avenue station, showing the new, enhanced lighting. MTA photo by Marc A. Hermann

After the news conference, other MTA executives weighed in on the project.

“By upgrading the lighting at each of our 472 subway stations, we are not only making our stations brighter and safer for customers but also reducing our costs and emissions,” said New York City Transit President Richard Davey.

“It’s simple: a brighter station is a safer station. Transit crews have already upgraded the lighting at every station where we’ve completed a Re-NEW-Vation, and customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Soon, these benefits to the customer experience will be felt systemwide as we supercharge LED deployments in 2024,” said Davey.

“Increasing safety and enhancing the customer experience in stations remains a top priority for the MTA — by switching over to LED lighting, we are providing a brighter and safer look and feel to station environments for customers and transit workers,” said MTA Chief Customer Officer Shanifah Rieara. “Riders should rest assured that every subway station will have this brightened makeover.”

In addition to making stations safer, the project is also expected to generate an estimated $5.9 million in annual recurring energy and material cost savings, according to MTA New York City Transit.

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