The Sole Force Holding Our City Together is Barely Holding On
We’ve all been there…Next 6 train arrival time = 48 minutes
Oh cool, I guess I’ll just do cartwheels down Lexington avenue because that will probably be faster and an overall less painful form of transit. The chance of getting trapped, derailed, running into a track fire, or being delayed due to the catch-all “incident” seems to grow everyday. The New York Times released a shockingly in-depth look at the New York subway system: from its archaic composition, to its rudimentary technology, to the insurmountable costs for a remedy, to the political puppeteering controlling the fate of city, selfishly focused on short term results.
The New York Subway System played a transitional role in the city’s history, perfectly bridging the transformation from individualism into the urban mecca we know now; connecting the farms of the outer boroughs with Manhattan’s teeming streets. The subway has been the one constant and a crucial part of the solution to any financial trepidation; notably the recovery from the fiscal calamity of the 1970s and the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after the 9-11 attacks.
Carrying 6 million people every day, a figure that is double the population of Chicago, it’s an understated phenomenon that day in and day out, brings people together then spreads people out. Its never been segregated, is always open, the fare is the same no matter how far you go. It truly keeps the city alive and going.
But the system is crumbling before our eyes and its decay couldn’t be more evident. The MTA pumps 13 million gallons of water out of the subway on a good day, every inch of the 665 miles of track is manually checked twice a week to reduce track fires, and mechanical construction parts are so obsolete that the majority of them must be made by hand. Due to overcrowding and reducing train speeds due to sharp turns, average train speeds are slower than they were in the 1950’s. Fewer than one in five stations is handicap-accessible and 3,000 of the 6,400 train cars date back to the 60’s.
With the absolutely insane cost of construction in New York City, the task at hand to fix the subway system is still daunting. Rough numbers pan out as follows:
Renovating 30 stations = $14 billion
Dealing with sharp turns that exponentially slow speeds = $5 billion
Adding 61 miles of track = $62 billion
Replacing the human-operated signal system = $27 billion
With each car clocking in at $2 million, to buy all new cars = $3 billion
Adding in platform doors to reduce trash and suicides = $111 billion
On the other side of the coin, losing the subway for a month (in the case of a hundred-year storm surge) would cost the city $60 billion.
The demise of transit system poses a grave threat to our economy, as it carries the social equilibrium of New York on its back. I would definitely urge you to read this article, either for personal enlightenment or to spark an idea of how to remedy this. The United States is being surpassed by so many other international cities in regards to public transportation and it’s inevitable that neglecting this crucial piece will have a residual effect on our economy.