On Monday, the New York Daily News published a report covering internal strife at the MTA over the disastrous state of the organization and the service it (supposedly) provides.
The article, “MTA ignoring ‘abysmal’ on-time performance of subway trains”, claimed that leadership at the MTA is just straight up not worried about arrival times and the MTA is now divided into two camps, “one saying service has to be evened out for passengers’ benefit, the other saying on-time performance would cut down on riders’ waiting time.”
From the Daily News,
“’They’re not that worried about service,’ a source familiar with the internal report said of agency brass. ‘They just think that it’s not really that bad. They’ve convinced themselves they don’t need to worry about abysmal on-time performance.’”
MTA Conductor on the Q Train, 9:13 AM, telling us about delays: "Start calling your bosses, because we're gonna be delayed for a while."
— Jon Muñoz (@jonathenmunoz) May 22, 2017
According to the report, the powers that be at the MTA are more worried about ‘spacing out the trains’ in an efficient manner. Yes, the main priority of the MTA is spacing out trains… as opposed to travel time.
Again, from the Daily News,
“While on-time performance takes a backseat to trying to evenly space trains to close gaps, riders frequently will be told there’s ‘train traffic ahead’ — a brushoff that can mean anything from a delay due to a sick passenger or a signal problem a borough away that’s rippling through the system. The amorphous phrase delivers practically no information, leaving already unimpressed riders more steamed and bewildered.”
Any NYC resident knows that harrowing phrase “train traffic ahead”, which is truly the worst possible thing to hear on the morning commute. As for the MTA’s philosophy to “evenly space trains to close gaps” there’s nothing about this idea that makes sense. They’ve been actively spacing out these trains and train performance is just getting worse.
it's 90 degrees on the platform, the N,R, & W aren't running but good thing you guys installed all this wi-fi, am I right? @MTA
— Rikky! Rikki! Rikkè! (@rwxoxo) May 19, 2017
Instead of looking at the faltering system and concluding “wow we need to work on arrival time” like normal people, the MTA allegedly wants to eliminate arrival time as a statistic altogether.
“MTA officials actually have a ‘high level of interest’ in simply eliminating ‘on-time performance’ from the public operation reports they release every month.”
This is total insanity. The MTA has looked at the growing pile of problems their system faces and decided that on-time performance should be scrapped as a tracking statistic.
If it’s not ignorance, it’s a downright malicious attempt at hiding information from the public about how shitty their system has become.
Of course the MTA faces a ridiculous (growing) list of issues that the Daily News documents,
“Aging cars and track equipment, new cars that struggle to perform as well as well as older ones, and an ancient signaling system, with parts dating back to Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency.”
Franklin Rosevelt’s presidency. Man what.
According to those that know what’s good (not people at the MTA) the signaling system is really at the heart of the issue. The New York Times published a story earlier this month addressing this signaling system.
The MTA: "This train is being held in the station. We should be moving momentarily"
— Tall Paul (@anunlikelybrit) May 19, 2017
It doesn’t look good.
From the Times,
“The signal system is the hidden, unglamorous backbone of the subway, controlling when trains can move down the tracks. But it is so outdated that it cannot identify precisely where trains are, requiring more room between them. And when it fails, trains stop, delays pile up and riders fume.”
According to the Times, the MTA began the process of revamping the archaic signal system twenty years ago and has finished work on ONE line. As the Times points out, this is not an ideal pace, “At the current pace, transforming every subway line could take half a century and cost $20 billion.”
It’s almost comical how bad the trains are in the second biggest city in the world and an institution in the MTA that makes a reported $14.6 BILLION in revenue every year.
Go to any other developed country in the world, public transit functions seamlessly, runs on time (there’s even a schedule!), and provides passengers with real information if there are any delays.
I’ve lost hope of ever having a good commute ever again. Just this morning, the F train I take every day (with usual delays and random mid-tunnel stops) was simply “not working”. No explanation, no solution, no nothing.
That the New York City subway system is so awful is a stain on the city, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and all the lawmakers in Albany and a complete failure of state and city legislature to provide taxpayers with the best service possible.
Overseeing MTA is one of the most important responsibilities of the governor of New York. It's gross that Cuomo acts like it's not his job.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) May 19, 2017
Combined with the fact that the MTA continues to raise fares, shit is downright criminal. The entire performance of this great city relies on the basic functionality of a subway system, people can’t afford to just not have working trains.
As the MTA is controlled by New York politicians, there’s undoubtedly some sort of paper trail to private contracts and corruption at the center of this whole thing. Am I accusing unknown politicians of broad corruption without proof and linking to an article from 2004 as evidence? Yes, yes I am.
I want Andrew Cuomo to run for President because NYC seeing national investigative reporting to rip into the MTA would be amazing
— Ben Walsh (@BenDWalsh) May 23, 2017
If city and state politicians don’t intervene and completely revamp the MTA’s structures, the system will only continue to crumble like the rest of this once great empire.
I don’t hold out much hope, though, as Cuomo and co. are offering $1 million to anyone who can solve the problems facing the MTA, which is probably not a great sign.
If you’re a New Yorker with a vested interest in working trains, keep it locked. We’ll keep the MTA updates coming.