NYC Subway Crisis: yes, it needs repairs, but ridership is also up 2,000,000 a day

The NYC subway system carries an average of 6 million riders per day on weekdays. That’s a mind boggling success story. It’s up from the around 4 million per day the system was handling 20 years ago. So take that Uber!

Former Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Peter Kalikow uses valuable space in The NY Times to air his personal issues with former MTA chairs he didn’t appreciate, and give a wet sloppy one to current Chairman Joe Lhota (who was  DeBlasio’s GOP challenger in 2013).

The problems of a 100 year old system that has been benignly and not so benignly neglected for decades, and now enjoys (suffers) the success of exploding ridership are legion. People are rightfully furious at delays, cramping, crowding, breakdowns and safety issues. Kalikow’s subtext is there’s plenty of money, but it’s been wasted. Okay.  We can’t really go back and reapportion money’s possibly unwisely spent in the past. Maybe expansion wasn’t a good idea when maintenance was inadequate. But really don’t we need both? Can’t it also be true that the system has been underfunded since the bankruptcy of the mid-70s?

Yes, too much corruption. Yes, theft and inefficiency. Yes, maybe bad allocation too. But you can’t ignore that 2,000,000 per day ridership increase any more than you can overlook Superstorm Sandy or other massive strains on a system that is essentially the arteries of a great metropolis everyday.

For all of the national wealth generated in this area of the country we sure have to scrimp and save and bargain a lot. Whether it’s arguing over upgrading signals vs. the 2nd Avenue extension, or the cancellation of much needed new tunnels under the Hudson for dubious cost overrun concerns (not done with you yet Christie!) we NY/NJ commuters are asked to put up with a host of inconveniences even as we shell out hundreds a month in fees. NJ just recently finally increased its lowest in the nation gas taxes that hadn’t changed in decades. That alone represents billions not collected that could have gone to tunnels, bridges, signals, potholes, etc.

Oh and let’s not forget that our airports are neglected third world pits too.  The patterns are too clear. We’ve needed larger commitments both of money and public service in this region for decades. People on both sides of the Hudson and the aisle, and our friends in D.C. have to come together and treat the citizens, businesses and visitors of this area better.

To much of the world we represent America. Our airports, transit hubs and trains should be the best in the world. Period!

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