Metropolitan Transportation: A Program for Action, also known as simply the Program for Action, the Grand Design, or the New Routes Program, was a proposal in the mid-1960s for a large expansion of mass transit in New York City, created under then-Mayor John Lindsay. Originally published on February 29, 1968, the Program for Action was one of the most ambitious expansion plans in the history of the New York City Subway. The plan called for 50 miles (80 km) of tracks to be constructed, and more than 4⁄5 of the new trackage was to be built in the borough of Queens. The $2.9 billion plan also called for improvements to other modes of mass transit, such as the present-day Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad commuter rail systems, and further integration between mass transit and the New York City-area airport system.
Transport improvements built under the Program for Action were supposed to relieve overcrowding on existing transit modes in the New York City area. However, even though many of the lines and transport connections proposed in the Program for Action were approved, New York City nearly went bankrupt in 1975, causing all but two of these projects to be canceled due to a lack of funds. The remaining projects, the 63rd Street and Archer Avenue lines, were both dramatically truncated from their original lengths, and both lines opened much later than originally projected. In total, only six stations and 15 miles (24 km) of tracks were added under the Program for Action.
In the 1960s, the New York metropolitan area had 18 million residents across 13,000 square miles (34,000 km2), and the area's population was expanding greatly at the time, especially in the suburbs, to where many city residents relocated. In 1965, the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (MCTA) was created by the New York State Legislature to operate the bankrupt Long Island Rail Road. Two years later, voters passed a $2.5 billion bond issue that would pay for transport infrastructure in New York State. The MCTA's chairman at the time, William Ronan, said that any extensions of the New York City Subway that were funded using the bond issue would not be complete for at least another 5 years.
In 1968, the MCTA absorbed the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA or TA) of New York City, and began a long-term lease of several lines of the Penn Central that would become the Metro-North Railroad. That year, US$600,000,000 (equivalent to $4,323,000,000 in 2018[a]) was made available to the MCTA, as part of a $2.5 billion (equivalent to $18,012,000,000 in 2018[a]) bond for transportation passed by the New York State legislature. The city was already intending to build line extensions in all four boroughs so that most riders would need at most one transfer to get to their destination. The original plan was to tear down the IRT Third Avenue Line in the Bronx; build the Second Avenue Subway in Manhattan and the Bronx with a 48th Street spur; extend the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn; build a 63rd Street Tunnel for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR); and create a LIRR rail link to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens.
On February 29, 1968, the MCTA published a 56-page report for New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, and in it, proposed several subway and railroad improvements under the name "Metropolitan Transportation, a Program for Action" (alternatively called the "Grand Design"). Executives involved with the proposal included New York baseball executive William Shea. The Program for Action was put forward simultaneously with other development and transportation plans under the administration of Mayor John Lindsay. This included Lindsay's Linear City plan for housing and educational facilities, and the projected construction of several Interstate Highways, many of which were originally proposed by Robert Moses. On March 1, a day after the release of the plans, the MCTA became the MTA.
In its rationale for the Program for Action, the MCTA stated, "By 1985, this region will have 25 million people. … The prospects, based upon the best available projections, are that the population growth will take place principally in the suburbs. New York City is not expected to grow much by 1985. Its dwelling population will redistribute somewhat, however, with the outer areas of the city — Staten Island, Queens, parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx — growing, while the older areas closer to the core remain relatively stable in population." The city was expected to gain 2.5 million jobs in these two decades, and the 8.6-square-mile (22 km2) Manhattan central business district already had 7.8 million employees.
The two-phase Program for Action would cost $2.9 billion (20.9 billion in 2018[a]) in total. The MTA had over $1 billion on hand allocated for the program, and a large portion of this money had come from the bond issue in 1967.:233 A lot of this funding would also come from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, which was running large surpluses of $25 million per year.:234 As part of the Program for Action, existing elevated structures considered obsolete or dilapidated were to be replaced with new subways, in part to encourage development in those neighborhoods. The eastern end of the BMT Jamaica Line in the Jamaica, Queens business district was to be replaced with the BMT Archer Avenue Line, while the remainder of the IRT Third Avenue Line in the Bronx was to be torn down in favor of a new subway line running adjacent to the Metro-North Harlem Line tracks under Park Avenue. As with the city's original plan, new subway lines would provide transit access to areas previously underserved by public transport, while railroad improvements would improve