Excelsior. Ever upward.
The invigorating one-word motto is emblazoned on our State crest and flags. However, these days, if you were to use the Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway system for your journey ever upward, it would come complete with extended waits, crowded cars, and ancient infrastructure.
Put simply, the city’s subway system is a putrid mess, with no saving grace in sight.
The latest well-publicized incident comes courtesy of the vaunted F Train. On Monday around 6:20 p.m. – peak rush hour – the southbound subway lost power, leaving an F train – and hundreds of straphangers – stalled in a tunnel between stations for at least an hour.
“S/b F train stuck for over an hour w/o light and air just rolled up-passengers dripping with sweat begging to get off #mta @MTA#effedtrain,” rider Chelsea Lawrence tweeted on Monday.
No lights. No air conditioning. No wonder some commuters reportedly came close to passing out due to the thick underground heat.
“The situation on the subway is no longer inconvenient; it’s now dangerous and scary. New York is trying to run a global capital on third-world infrastructure, and that’s clearly unsustainable,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance. “What is Gov. Cuomo’s plan to fix the subway? We’ve heard big talk but no actual plan from the governor, and it’s clear that rhetoric can’t fix this problem.”
While the City contributes to MTA funding it exerts zero control over the system. That’s why Mayor Bill de Blasio lately has understandably deflected questions to the capital and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, because the MTA is a State agency that answers to Albany.
So, the proverbial ball is in your court, Gov. Cuomo. Whenever you’ve wanted a political feather in your cap – marriage equality, statewide $15 minimum wage – you have relentlessly pushed your people to get it done. The time has come to make the MTA your number one priority. Because as it stands now, the decaying system is nothing short of a global embarrassment. It is not the public transportation operation befitting the greatest city in the world.
“We know what we need: new subway cars, new signals, emergency attention to MTA operations, and leadership from the governor to make it all happen,” Raskin added. “Until Gov. Cuomo produces a real plan, riders will continue to sit and wait and fume as breakdowns and delays multiply. What will it take to get Gov. Cuomo to take action?”
Last month, days after distancing himself from the beleaguered agency, Cuomo said he was throwing down the gauntlet, issuing a “challenge” to the MTA “to modernize the New York City subway system and increase the number of trains at peak periods to relieve crowding and reduce delays.”
We’ll see what that produces.
Until then, whenever the letters “M-T-A” are uttered in front of any number of vexed straphangers, expect a certain, single finger on their hands to quickly flip ever upward.


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