On Sunday night, a fire crippled a signaling system on a major subway line, causing a horrendous commute for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. This happens to be our main subway line. Working from home on Monday, I was blissfully unaware of the havoc raging all over the city, as an entire line went out of service, causing stranded commuters to jam onto already-crowded alternate lines.
On Tuesday morning, we awoke to the shocking news that the MTA estimates it will take three to five years to fix the signals. Three to five years?? That's longer that it took to build an entire subway line! How could it take that long to fix anything? What are people supposed to do in the meantime? And what about the ridiculous span of that estimate - they can't get any closer than a two-year difference?
We went out last night and took our "alternate line" home. It was disgustingly overcrowded at 11:30 p.m. I can't imagine what it looked like at rush hour. Yoo-hoo uptown folks, your already inhuman commute just got a little more inhumane.
But hey, who cares about us. We're not tourists. We're not the Olympics or a new sports stadium. We're not a corporation threatening to leave the city. And if you don't fall under one of those categories, the City says fuck you. You don't count. You only live here. Pay taxes. Keep this city alive on a daily basis. You are only the heart and soul of this city, why should we give a fuck about you. (OK, this is not the MTA. This is New York City under Giuliani and Bloomberg. And Koch. And...)
Now, guess what? This morning we are greeted with an about-face. Oh, did we say three to five years? We meant six to nine months. Sorry about that. And now we're supposed to be relieved. Like when they say they're raising the fare to $2.75, you're supposed to happy when it only goes up to $2.00. Try selling that to the tourists.
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From the New York Times this morning (emphasis added):
The new time frame for repairs will still mean months of confusion and inconvenience on two lines that have an average weekday ridership of 580,000, and hardly diminishes how the fire underscored the vulnerability of a signaling system based on electromechanical switches that were first developed in the 1870's.That would be luxurious new offices for MTA officials, inane, condescending ads telling subway riders how to behave, and American flag decals for all the trains.
Several former transit officials said yesterday that the agency has repeatedly acknowledged over the past 20 years that the signaling system was obsolete or unreliable, but nonetheless chose to devote the vast majority of its limited capital funds to other projects. Reports after two fatal crashes, in 1991 and 1995, recommended improvements in the signal system, though neither blamed the system for the deaths.
These stories from the Daily News capture the mood around town. We are pissed.