Where New York’s Subway System Went Wrong

Decades of state and local disinvestment has taken its toll on New York City’s transit system, reveals The New York Timeslatest exposé, “How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways.”  Apparently, only 65 percent of the infamous subway system’s trains arrive on time. In comparison, the Baltimore transit system experiences 95 percent on-time performance.

An examination by The New York Times reveals in stark terms how the needs of the aging, overburdened system have grown while city and state politicians have consistently steered money away from addressing them.

The average total compensation for subway managers has grown to nearly $300,000 annually, and yet the system has cut mechanic positions, resulting in equipment failures occurring twice as frequently as a decade ago. Daily ridership has doubled over the past 20 years, but the track mileage is lower than it was during World War II. Nearly 17 percent of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.)’s goes to paying debt service now, rather than system operations or capital improvements.

…[P]oliticians and transit leaders have not acted on a series of chances to turn things around sooner. They ignored decades of warnings from state and city comptrollers. They failed to pass a congestion pricing plan in 2008. They chose not to give mass transit much of the proceeds from large settlements with banks after the financial crisis. They brushed aside the findings of the M.T.A. Transportation Reinvention Commission, a 2014 panel of transit leaders from around the world.

And through it all, The Times found, the M.T.A. has used sloppy data collection and accounting games that hide from the public the true causes of the subway’s problems.

The story is reportedly the first in a series. Read the first analysis here.

Maryland has experienced its own to-do over transportation investment throughout the last several years. Following last year’s political firestorm over how the State should prioritize transportation spending, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has new plans for scoring major projects in its Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) – and MDOT Secretary Pete Rahn will unveil that draft plan and solicit input from county officials first at the MACo Winter Conference session, Workshop: An Overview of the New Transportation Scoring Law.

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference: