Fix Them All
This is how to fix the New York City Subway
I am currently abroad. I am visiting some family in France. As I walk down the perfectly cobblestoned street each morning, rolling my ankle left and right which each step, screaming in pain, and then yelling “Sorry—uh, I mean, Pardon” to the owner of every single perfectly-sculpted cheekbone I grab onto to steady myself, I spend time contemplating some of the many differences between American and French society, an activity that has never before been undertaken.
French people eat snails; American people eat chickens. French people wear scarves; American people wear shirts. French people buy bread; American people buy goods and services. In many ways, we’re not that different…
However, there is one massive difference, insurmountable, which is that French people don’t have to wait for the metro.
I could spend time talking about car-centric-urban-design, and how the American automobile lobby has doomed as all, but I won’t do that. Not because I don’t believe it, but because it’s preachy and uncool. Suffice it to say that the only city in the US with a public transit system worthy of like, an actual city, is New York, and even that shit sucks.
There are many reasons the New York subway sucks: lack of funding, lack of vision, state-level control, ballooning construction costs, too many layers of “general managers,” 50 years of deferred maintenance, and it’s so fucking stinky and hot on the platforms :(
But the number one reason the New York Subway sucks, ever, is that trains don’t come often enough. This is true because of a number of factors that have coalesced around “stopping me from getting somewhere on time,” but I don’t care about any of them. Those factors feel insurmountable and people have written about them to death. This post is more of an exhortation to a higher power: Every train needs to come every five minutes. I do not care about “not enough trains” or “not enough operators.” Just make every train come every five minutes.
If every train came every five minutes, no one would care about platforms being nasty, because they would be off the platform in less than five minutes. If every train came every five minutes, people would opt to take the next train if the one that arrives is too crowded. If every train came every five minutes, transferring trains wouldn’t be a complete nightmare. When I transfer trains, I spend 15 minutes on the platform waiting for the new train. During the first 3 minutes, I’m frantically calculating whether it would be faster to leave the station and take a Citibike instead. Once I’ve decided that I should stay on the platform, I spend the rest of the time despairing that I am not moving, the worst possible state for a shark or human.
Dear Governor Kathy Hochul, please do what I am asking. I no longer care about logistics. Just do what I’m asking please! Do not say anything about signals.
The MTA is always talking about how to get riders back on the trains after Covid. I have the solution: If you run every train every 5 minutes, people will flock to the subway in droves, because it would not be annoying to take it anymore.
Kathy Hochul: I know you subscribe. Listen to me. This will make you the best governor New York has ever had. Your desk chair will forget the memory of Andrew Cuomo’s rancid ballsack. It will be the apotheosis of gubernatorial competence. Hear me well.
This should be the “comptroller’s” job. Always wanted to use that word in a sentence. Comptroller.