March 20, 2005

Last week was an inauspicious one for the NYC subway system, with two different lines experiencing serious disruptions in service on two consecutive days. On Wednesday, the Lexington Ave. line (4-5-6 trains) was out of service for three distinct periods during the day between 125th st in Manhattan and Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. On Thursday, the 7 train experienced disruptions and stranded riders in the Steinway tunnel under the East River. NY Times: Hole That Halted the Subways Continues to Puzzle the City

All of this comes on the heels of raising the fares for regular commuters. So the result is New Yorkers are paying more to get less service.

WABC News wonders if the system will experience more trouble: Bigger Problems In The Subway's Future?. New York magazine worries about The Coming Subway Crisis, with the transit authority unable to adequately maintain the subway.

In an editorial, the NY Times recommends forgoing construction on the Second Ave. Subway, East Side Access and 7 line extension projects in order to spend more on preventative maintenance. Care for an Aging Subway:

System disruptions like these should send a graphic signal to Washington, Albany and City Hall that this 100-plus-year-old network needs tender, loving care and a lot of money to go with it. And the message to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority should be simple - no new projects until we fix what is already there. No East Side access or Lower Manhattan train for Gov. George Pataki. No Second Avenue subway for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. No No. 7 extension for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

While the system can not scrimp on maintenance, perhaps the Times takes the wrong attitude. Perhaps thinking big and securing funding for capital improvements will also convince the state and federal governments to help fund the system. Capital improvements will help to alleviate any problems. If there was a second subway line running down the east side, then an outage on the Lexington Ave line might not have quite the same effect.

It's starting to look more and more like the Second Ave subway will remain only partially constructed for decades to come.

See also: NPR: After 80 Years, NYC Second Ave. Subway Still Elusive

Previously: Subway Centennial

Posted by Andrew Raff at March 20, 2005 10:50 PM
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