Is it Too Much to Ask for NYC Mayor de Blasio and New York Governor Cuomo to Work Together to Fix New York City Subways?

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As reported in the New York Times on February 4, 2018, the New York City subways are “doddering.  Should they collapse, which on any given day does not seem a preposterous thought, the city would come treacherously close to having to put up a ‘going out of business’ sign. The state might as well then summon the clergy to perform last rites on its own economy.  But instead of desperately needed unity, we have two leaders and their surrogates engaged in a fruitless back and forth over who is historically responsible, who owes how much money, and who got us into this mess.

But the tough-guy act performed, each in his own way, by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio is singularly corrosive because the welfare of nearly six million daily subway riders is at stake”.
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Why is Vero Communiqué writing about the NYC subway system?  For one thing we think it is fascinating since it is in decay and Wikipedia estimated 1,756,814,800 people rode the subway in 2016.

And many of our readers surely have ties to NYC.  Sergio Mota, one of the members of our Board of Directors, lives in New York City has been feeding us information about the subway system.

  • Did I tell you a rat went past my feet.  I have never seen a rat on the platform.  They are always on the tracks.
  • Today I saw a man with feather clipped to his hair making obscure dog and bird noises.
  • I witness many sleeping almost falling from their seats in the subway.
  • I witnessed a fight between a drunk police officer and a fire fighter.
  • Governor Cuomo has a political ad hidden in an ad for organ donation
  • It stinks

Sergio Mota, a student at Hunter College, formerly of Sebastian, Florida

One question is who controls the subway system, the State of New York of the City of New York?

In fact it is owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority (Metropolitan Transit Authority – MTA).

But it is broadly assumed that New York State controls the system. Once again, according to The New York Times, “Indeed, Cuomo said as much last December (2017) upon opening the first three stations of the Second Avenue Subway. Mayor de Blasio concurred last month (January, 2018). ‘If you like something happening in our subways or don’t like it’—and there’s a lot not to like lately, with delays crippling entire subway lines for hours on a regular basis —“you talk to the governor. He’s in charge and he should just own up to it.”

In 2017 Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo introduced a $ 1 billion plan to renovate 33 stations and add amenities like better lighting, countdown clocks and even USB ports.

The improvements, Governor Cuomo argued were needed to make the antiquated and seemingly dangerous system more “hospitable,” even as the Authority worked on the ancient infrastructure, including signals and tracks.

The Atlantic wrote on July 13, 2017 that “there’s the old—so very, very old—infrastructure. “In fact it’s so old that the MTA can no longer buy replacement parts from the manufacturer.

The 1960s-era Brightliners, those stainless-steel C-train cars, break down constantly—every 33,000 miles on average, The New York Times recently reported. That’s compared with the average subway car, which breaks down every 400,000 miles, and the newest cars, which break down every 750,000 miles, according to the newspaper.

Then there’s the signaling system… On top of being ancient and unreliable, signals are inspected far less frequently than they were a decade ago. They’re languishing despite sorely needed upgrades that could otherwise improve efficiency to accommodate the growing throngs of riders.”

The majority of all subway delays are caused by signal problems. Whenever a track circuit stops working, all of the signals which are affected by it turn red, as it is uncertain whether there is a train in that section, and the system properly reverts to a safe state.

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The New York Times reported on January 24, 2018 that “Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mr. Cuomo’s longtime foil, questioned the $1 billion station improvement plan. In essence, the argument that the mayor and other city officials made boiled down to whether spending so much on bells and whistles was justifiable at a time when the system’s infrastructure was failing.”
Mr. de Blasio’s representatives stopped the Transit Authority board from approving a billion-dollar plan to spruce up 33 subway stations with countdown clocks, better lighting and other amenities.
But on January 24, 2018 the board of the Authority, which oversees the subway, delayed a vote on the governor’s plan after members appointed by Mr. de Blasio objected.
The board’s decision according to The New York Times “ratcheted up the feud between the governor and the mayor and raised concerns among riders that the desperately needed turnaround of the crumbling system was at the mercy of two politicians who seemed to devote so much energy to their verbal war.”
When the Authority delayed their vote, Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Authority said “The city claims no financial responsibility for the subway system that it owns and polices and is the lifeblood of the city’s economy,” he wrote. “The mayor’s answer is simple — and he should just say it — he doesn’t want to fund the subways and help riders. So be it.”

But Governor Cuomo shot back and said: “We just lost eight months, because the city wouldn’t pay half of the subway action plan. It is nonsensical, nonsensical.”

And then there are the rats.

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Man sleeping

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On July, 2017, The Atlantic reported that Mayor de Blasio, again declared war on the city’s rat population, pledging $32 million to kill as many as possible. “We want more rat corpses,” the mayor said. That’s a small sum compared with the $20 billion estimate for a complete overhaul of the subway system.  For now, the rats of New York have this in common with the city’s subway cars: They aren’t going anywhere.
Here is a post on TripAdvisor on February 22, 2017:

“Ok I know I will probably get ridiculed, however I am planning a trip to New York with my daughter for her 21st Birthday. Someone at work was talking about the very large rats he saw whilst on the new york subway.

I am very rat phobic and last time I saw a movement that was a rat had a very severe asthma attack and was almost hospitalised.

I know they are everywhere but as long as I do not see them I can keep my breathing and panic attacks to a minimum.

So my question is are there rats in the subway and how prevalant are they?”

An immediate reply was: “If seeing a rat is a matter of life and death, I say just don’t use the subway. You probably won’t be able to prevent yourself from looking down at the tracks. Take city buses, taxi, uber, and walk. The subway is “best”, convenient, economical but it’s not the only way to get around NYC.

Do you now carry a rescue inhaler for emotional/shock asthma attacks? If not, see your doctor and get one. That could make a world of difference.”

Matt Combs, a doctoral student from Fordham University, has been avidly studying rats for years. In his recent study, he found a rat was is just shy of 1.5 pounds.

And they can get even bigger: Combs says New York’s rat species, Rattus norvegicus, can grow to be as large as two pounds.

According to Mr. Combs, fortunately, in New York City, humans still edge out the rats with an 8.4 million lead to their estimated 2 million.

In another article in The Atlantic on November 29, 2017, “when Combs looked closer, distinct rat subpopulations emerged. Manhattan has two genetically distinguishable groups of rats: the uptown rats and the downtown rats, separated by the geographic barrier that is midtown.

It’s not that midtown is rat-free—such a notion is inconceivable—but the commercial district lacks the household trash (aka food) and backyards (aka shelter) that rats like. Since rats tend to move only a few blocks in their lifetimes, the uptown rats and downtown rats don’t mix much.

When the researchers drilled down even deeper, they found that different neighborhoods have their own distinct rats. “If you gave us a rat, we could tell whether it came from the West Village or the East Village,” says Combs. “They’re actually unique little rat neighborhoods.” And the boundaries of rat neighborhoods can fit surprisingly well with human ones.

Here is a pole dancing rat.

And then, with regard to Mr. Mota’s comment that “Governor Cuomo has a political ad hidden in an ad for organ donations,” note that the Metropolitan Transit Authority has an Advertising Policy that it “will not accept any advertisement for display in or on the Property if it falls within one or more of the following categories:

“Is political in nature… prominently or predominately advocate or express a political message, including but not limited to an opinion, position, or viewpoint regarding disputed economic, political, moral, religious or social issues or related matters, or support for or opposition to disputed issues or causes.

Does this advertisement violate the MTA Advertising policy?

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We appreciate the contribution to this article by our board member, Sergio Mota.

How does Governor Cuomo know about subway switches?

2 thoughts on “Is it Too Much to Ask for NYC Mayor de Blasio and New York Governor Cuomo to Work Together to Fix New York City Subways?

  1. Pingback: Is it Too Much to Ask for NYC Mayor de Blasio and New York Governor Cuomo to Work Together to Fix New York City Subways?Is it Too Much to Ask for NYC Mayor de Blasio and New York Governor Cuomo to Work Together to Fix New York City Subways? | KCJones

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