It’s been a century of subway rides between Manhattan and Brooklyn on Brooklyn Rapid Transit. That means 100 years of trips through tunnels and over bridges — and 100 years of waiting, jostling and grumbling.
After a century, it’d be nice to be talking about a vast modernization of the system, or how much better it is.
Instead, talk is of fare increases, service declines, worn trains and unreliable tracks, and improvements that are elusive because of an unfunded five-year MTA capital plan.
It’s time for New York City to pay its share. The bulk of MTA’s riders are city residents and subway users. A better system would give them more for their MetroCards.
The subways need the most work, including new tracks, signals, trains and wheels. There must be improvements to safety, accessibility, platforms, and service. New lines, like the Second Avenue Subway, are critical.
The MTA wants to spend $30 billion on major projects over the next five years but it’s still missing $11.5 billion.
This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo committed to putting in $8.3 billion of state funds to help close the gap. MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast suggested that the rest — $3.2 billion — should come from NYC.
In the latest salvo in his tussle with Mayor Bill de Blasio, Cuomo, too, pushed for the city to pony up. But de Blasio balked, saying he wanted a guarantee Cuomo’s commitment was real and more influence over MTA funding decisions before putting his dollars in the pot. The spat between state and city reached a new level Tuesday, when in a strongly worded letter to de Blasio, Prendergast suggested that the MTA “brought [the subway system] back from the brink of collapse” during the city’s financial crisis, and that it was time for the city to do its part.
Yes, it’s a huge increase from the $657 million the city committed in May. But nearly half would go to the Second Avenue Subway line. And the rest is desperately needed.
The city should make hard choices and help fund the capital plan. Then, everyone has to stop scrambling and start thinking. Create a steady cash stream for future capital needs, stop pricey work rules, and raise revenue in new ways. That way, perhaps, riders can have a subway system worth celebrating.