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Why Public Transit Matters in NYC

October 21st, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

As most of you know I loathe the MTA. The subways in New York are a dysfunctional mess and an embarrassment to the greatest city in the world.

On Monday night I was returning home from the MET just past midnight after sitting through an exceptionally long production of der Rosenkavalier. Needless to say, one cannot get a cab in the post-opera crush. But even if one could, I prefer to take the subway. After hours of sitting its nice to surf home on a swiftly moving subway train.

Of course, that’s a fantasy. The reality is a wait of 15 minutes for the A train to come. Its running local. At West 4th street the F is running over the A line (though there are no signs posted or announcements being made to that effect) so the nearest one can get to 2nd Avenue is to take the BD to B’way-Lafayette and walk. This is easier said than done because the BD comes once every 6 years at night.

The MTA loves to blame people holding doors for the frequent delays we all endure. But who can blame the guy who sprints to jam himself into a closing set of doors when he suspects the next train might not come for fifteen minutes or longer? Thus a vicious cycle of delays is created further exacerbating the existing problems. In Moscow the trains come every minute and the doors close with the force of a set of jaws-of-life clamps itching to free an unconscious passenger from a burning vehicle. No one holds doors. Why risk life and limb (ho!) when you know the next train is moments away?

Our crappy subway system isn’t merely an inconvenience. In a city that exemplifies the axiom of “time is money” our frequently delayed commutes are quite literally collectively costing us millions of work hours each year. That extra ten minutes spent on a stalled train or waiting for a subway that is delayed more often than not is ten minutes not spent making a deal, ironing out a contract, cleaning someone’s house, or looking for gainful employment. It decreases our productivity and our earning power. And with that decrease comes a commensurate decrease in taxable income that directly affects the City’s bottom line.

Fast, safe, reliable, and affordable mass transit is not a luxury; it is a necessity to keep our economy, literally and figuratively, moving. If and when Bloomberg is elected to a third term, he must focus his considerable intellect and political might to fixing our pathetic system of mass transit. It should and must be priority number 1 until meaningful and permanent change is implemented.

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  1. Phyllis Wheelan
    October 27th, 2009 at 17:07 | #1

    Good God Man- the Silent Life may be a bully pulpit, but politics may well be- no should be- your arena. For a guy who knows the Silent Life, this was well said! Hear hear! Just remember, we Democrats (ahem, ahem) know best!

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