Readers Sound Off on Fixing the Subways

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. Today we’ll sample the ideas you sent us for fixing the transit system in New York.

We asked what you’d do to fix the transit system in New York. You responded. We’ve been reading your ideas.

Today we’ll sample your thoughts about the transit system’s financial picture and about cleaning up the subways. There was frustration in your responses — frustration that an amazing system is not working that well — but there was also pragmatism: Your ideas for making the M.T.A. work were practical, not fantastical.

Many of the responses we received said ridership would increase if the stations or trains were cleaner. You’re also concerned about fare-beaters and about homeless people in stations and on trains. Some of you made other suggestions — about distance-based fares, for example. That’s an idea we can look into on another day.

We not only heard from you, we heard from the M.T.A., asking us to “balance” Friday’s New York Today — the newsletter you responded to — “with current realities, rather than simply recalling a dated stereotype.”

A spokesman for the authority said the subway system’s on-time performance in January and February of this year was the best in 10 years. “That means millions of riders getting where they need to go faster,” he said, adding that the statistics from the transit agency’s customer satisfaction surveys were up 13 percentage points since last June.

But there aren’t as many riders as 10 years ago. That is the price of the pandemic. The subway carried 1.81 million fewer people in January than in January 2013 and 1.94 million fewer in February than in February 2013.

Thanks for sharing your ideas. We’ve excerpted some responses and trimmed some, and we expect to publish more later on.


Dear M.T.A.,

Why are you perpetually “cash strapped?” Even before the pandemic, this was the common refrain. New York deserves better. Better service, less complaining about not having enough money and a cessation of efforts to allocate funds for subways that weren’t generated by the subways, like congestion pricing. Why should motorists pay more because the M.T.A. is seemingly incapable of balancing its capital and operating budgets? Congestion pricing shouldn’t happen (people pay enough to drive in and around the city as it is), but if it does, the money should go to repair roads and bridges, not the subways.

Why are capital projects typically way over budget and take much longer than anticipated? The Second Avenue subway is obviously the best example.

Why not crack down on fare beaters. Start with keeping the rear bus doors closed so that people can’t simply walk on. Post officers at major subway stations to enforce against turnstile jumping.

Raise prices if you must. A bus or subway fare is still far lower in New York than a comparable city like London.

— David Barwinski

The subway system needs a profound amount of money to be improved. The money should come from charging New Yorkers for parking on the street, as is done in London. Even a modest charge of $50 a month would raise billions. No one would be discriminated against, as with congestion pricing. It would be a level charge for all.

Lloyd Westerman

Keep the M.T.A. out of Albany. Cuomo’s ego kept Byford from doing his job. (Andy Byford resigned as in 2020 in a feud with Andrew Cuomo, the governor at the time, who supported a reorganization plan that included scaling back Byford’s responsibilities.)

Victoria Robinson

Make it free (and also safer)

First of all, the subway should be free. You have to construct cities for the people who live there and what is conducive to their lifestyle.

But OMNY is a joke: 12 trips and then you ride free after that? That’s not a deal. Don’t insult New Yorkers, make it 10 trips and then ride free on the weekends at least.

Matthew Gorog

Yes, make it free. You’ll save money on staff, tech and policing. With more riders it should be safer. But some of the savings should go into blanketing the stations and trains with cameras.

Paying for it can be accomplished with the savings and creating a tax for all workers and all travelers through the local airport, based on length of stay. Socking it to drivers (only) through congestion pricing is not fair.

— Jeff Katz

Make getting to the airport cheap and easy on transit. Why is it that if I take the J.F.K. air train:

From terminal to terminal, it’s free

From terminal to parking, it’s free

From terminal to car rental, it’s free

From terminal to transit, it costs $8.75 plus the $2.75 for the subway

This is the opposite of how it should work. Getting to La Guardia Airport via the free transit link bus is not perfect (need better bus land infrastructure and enforcement) but that is the right track

Tim Burke

Learn from other countries.

First idea: free for city residents and hotel visitors. Example: Switzerland. When traveling there, you are given a pass from your hotel. Bus and subways are included.

Second: Do a better job at making it safer. In the United Kingdom you can’t hop the gates, the way people do in New York

Dave Tait

Clean the system

It’s impossible to keep trains and stations clean and do maintenance work when the system runs 24/7. Stop the trains at least a few hours at night. That wouldn’t solve everything, but it would help a lot.

Miayko Marque

Take the A train up to 190th Street or 181st Street and see the brown crud creeping down the walls, the white tiles looking like an ancient excavation of early humans. Cleaning the cars is cursory, once again, with crud accumulating in all the corners if you just take your eyes off your screen long enough to look. And the windows are so filthy you can barely see the outside them.

Nancy Bruning

I think they should have a citywide subway cleanup volunteer day. New Yorkers care so much about the city, but after multiple bad decisions around transit, we’ve turned our backs on helping out. I feel residents would come together to help clean up the stations and the city can rebuild our trust from there.

Michael Boccia

Fewer cars, lower costs

Run shorter, one-person-operated trains (four to six cars) more frequently. People won’t have to wait as long for a train, and the M.T.A. can reduce its maintenance and labor costs.

David Briggs

Eyes up on patrol

Require the police who are currently responsible for security to stop chatting in groups and constantly viewing their iPhones.

I realize that the officers might be receiving information on the iPhones, but from what I notice, they seem to be making social use of them as well.

One policeman or policewoman moving through the cars or observing activity on platforms inspires confidence; a group conversing and looking at phones without keeping an eye on the surroundings inspires anger or ridicule.

Margo Viscusi


Enjoy a partly sunny day near the high 50s. The evening is partly cloudy, with temps around the mid-40s.


In effect until Friday (Eid al-Fitr).

The latest New York news

Santos re-election: Representative George Santos, who has admitted to lying about parts of his biography and is facing several ethics and criminal inquiries, announced that he would run for re-election in 2024.

Trump civil trial: A Manhattan judge denied former President Donald Trump’s request for a one-month delay in the trial of a lawsuit against him by the writer E. Jean Carroll.

House hearing in Manhattan: The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee heard from witnesses who said New York was decaying and blamed Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, who brought felony charges against Trump.

Less meat: Mayor Eric Adams called for reducing meat served in public schools and city-run hospitals and prisons as he released data showing that in New York City, food consumption rivals transportation as a source of planet-warming gases.

Not a Police Department station house: The F.B.I. arrested two men in connection with a secret police outpost in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood. Court papers said it was operated by Chinese security officials.

Native American mascots ban: The New York Board of Regents is expected to approve a policy barring school nicknames like “the Warriors.”


Opening doors

Dear Diary:

When my daughter was little, we used to go to the grocery store up the street. When the automatic doors swung open, she would always say, “Thank you, door!”

She is away at college now, and I miss her. The other day, I needed a couple of things from the grocery store, and when I went in, I said, “Thank you, door.”

From behind me I heard an older woman’s voice.

“Door says you’re welcome,” she said.

— Andrew Morse

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.

Source: Read Full Article