THE STATE OF YOUR COMMUTE

March 23, 2019 at 5:15 am

How’s your commute going? Rider complaints are being heard, but are they being addressed?  We have an update.

Aired on March 22, 2019.

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>>> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS," I'M JACK FORD.
SO HOW WAS YOUR COMMUTE THIS
MORNING?
MOST OF US HAVE A STORY BEHIND
THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION.
IT IS NO SECRET.
NEW YORK CITY'S SUBWAY AND BUS
RIDERS HAVE ENDURED YEARS OF
SUBPAR SERVICE AS WELL AS A
DYSFUNCTIONAL AND UNDERFUNDED
MTA.
ISSUES THAT BOTH CITY AND STATE
OFFICIALS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO
REPAIR.
SO ARE ANY OF THE FIXED
PROPOSALS DECENT, AND WILL THEY
FINALLY HELP MAKE TRAINS RUN ON
TIME AND KEEP THE MTA ON TRACK?
HERE TO GIVE THE ROUNDUP OF LIFE
ON THE RAILS IS TRANSIT REPORTER
FOR "A.M. NEW YORK" VINCENT BAR
OWN.
ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU
HERE WITH US.
WE FEEL LIKE WE LEARN A LOT WHEN
WE CHAT WITH YOU.
SPEAKING OF LEARNING A LOT, AND
IT MIGHT BE PAINFUL, BUT TO SET
THE STAGE FOR THE CONVERSATION,
LETS FOR US WHAT ARE THE MAJOR
-- LIST FOR US WHAT ARE THE
MAJOR ISSUES THAT THE MTA IS
FACING?
>> SURE, TO START, AS ANY NEW
YORKER KNOWS, THE MTA IS FACING
A SERIES OF SERVICE CRISES WITH
RELIABILITY OF THEIR SUBWAY AND
BUS SERVICE AND COMMUTER RAILS,
THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD AND
METRO NORTH.
ON TOP OF THAT, THEY'RE ALSO
FACING VERY LARGE BUDGET GAPS
FOR OPERATIONS AND FOR CAPITAL
EXPENSES, THE BIG, NEW PROJECTS.
>> WHY HAS THAT HAPPENED?
>> A LOT OF IT I THINK IS DUE TO
-- AND EXPERTS THINK, AS WELL --
IS DUE TO JUST MISMANAGEMENT.
ON THE CAPITAL EXPENSE SIDE WITH
PROJECTS, THEY COME IN LATE,
OVER BUDGET.
THEY'RE WILDLY MORE EXPENSIVE
THAN IN OTHER PLACES OF THE
WORLD.
ALSO MANAGERIALLY AND THE
GOVERNOR AND OTHER FOLKS AT THE
MTA HAVE MADE THIS PLAIN, YOU
KNOW, THERE ARE REDUNDANCIES IN
THIS BLOATED BUREAUCRACY AS THE
GOVERNOR CALLS IT THAT NEED TO
BE ADDRESSED IN TERMS OF, YOU
KNOW, EFFICIENTLY RUNNING THINGS
THERE.
>> YOU LEAD ME NICELY TO THE
NEXT QUESTION WHEN YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT BUREAUCRACIES.
WE SAW VERY RECENTLY THAT CORY
JOHNSON, COUNCIL SPEAKER, CAME
OUT WITH A PROPOSAL.
THE PROPOSAL WAS LET NEW YORK
CITY TAKE OVER ALL OF THIS.
THANKS, NEW YORK STATE, BUT YOU
KNOW WE'VE GOT TO FIX THIS, AND
WE THINK WE CAN FIX THIS IF
WE'RE RUNNING IT OURSELVES.
FIRST OF ALL, A LOT OF PEOPLE
MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT
THAT NEW YORK CITY IS NOT
RUNNING IT THEMSELVES.
WHAT IS THAT PART ALL ABOUT?
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
I MEAN, IT'S KIND OF THE DESIGN
OF THE MTA IS TO OBSCURE
ACCOUNTABILITY.
ULTIMATELY IT'S A STATE
AUTHORITY.
IT'S FEGIVELY CONTROLLED BY THE
-- EFFECTIVELY CONTROLLED BY THE
GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK, GOVERNOR
CUOMO.
AND REALLY I MEAN, NEW YORK CITY
TRANSIT IS ONE OF SIX AGENCIES
THAT'S UNDER THE STATE CONTROL.
AND THE IDEA OF A MUNICIPAL
CONTROLLED SUBWAY SYSTEM AND BUS
SYSTEM HAS BEEN KICKED AROUND
FOR YEARS.
IT WAS TALKED ABOUT DURING THE
MAYORAL RACE BACK IN 2013.
BUT YOU KNOW, SINCE THEN
SERVICES HAVE ONLY GOTTEN WORSE.
THE BUDGET NEEDS OF THE AGENCY
HAVE ONLY INCREASED.
SO THE SPEAKER'S COMING OUT WITH
THIS NEW IDEA THAT THEORETICALLY
WOULD MAKE ACCOUNTABILITY -- IT
WOULD BE MORE CLEAR WHO IS IN
CHARGE, AND THAT WOULD BE THE
MAYOR AND A NEW BOARD OF TRANSIT
EXPERTS.
>> JUST TO THE SIDE, I DON'T
KNOW IF YOU KNOW THE ANSWER, I
DON'T, ARE THERE ANY OTHER MAJOR
CITIES IN THE COUNTRY THAT DON'T
RUN THEIR OWN TRANSIT SYSTEM,
WHERE THE STATE HAS AS MUCH OF A
ROLE AS IT DOES HERE IN NEW YORK
CITY?
>> IT'S HARD -- IT CAN BE HARD
TO DRAW COMPARISONS BECAUSE
THERE ARE OTHER REGIONAL
ENTITIES THAT CONTROL.
>> RIGHT.
>> BUT IT IS A LITTLE BIT
PECULIAR.
I MEAN, CONSIDERING THAT SO MANY
NEW YORKERS RELY ON THE SYSTEM.
OBVIOUSLY PEOPLE COMING IN FROM
OTHER PARTS OF THE REGION USE
IT, TOO.
AND THAT'S WHERE PEOPLE WOULD
ARGUE IT'S GOOD THAT IT'S A
STATE THING BECAUSE PEOPLE FROM
UPSTATE COME INTO THE CITY, RIDE
THE SUBWAYS.
IT'S A REGIONAL SYSTEM.
PEOPLE FROM LONG ISLAND.
BUT YOU KNOW, THE CITY IS SAYING
AND THE ARGUMENT THAT CORY
JOHNSON IS MAKING IS THAT THE
CITY RELIES SO MUCH ON A
FUNCTIONING SUBWAY AND BUS
SYSTEM THAT IT'S UNFAIR THAT
IT'S OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE
LOCAL LAWMAKERS HERE.
>> AND I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE
IN THE CITY WOULD BE ATTRACTED
TO THAT ARGUMENT.
SAY, WE'RE GOING TO MESS IT UP,
LET'S MESS IT UP OURSELVES.
IF WE HAVE TO FIX IT, WE'LL MAKE
TAKE A SHOT AT FIXING IT
OURSELVES.
NOW THE GOVERNOR RESPONDS AND
SAYS, ALL RIGHT, YOU TAKE THIS
OVER, YOU'RE GOING TO FORFEIT
ABOUT $10 BILLION WORTH OF STATE
FUNDING.
DOES THAT HAVE TO HAPPEN?
>> THEORETICALLY, I WOULDN'T
THINK SO.
BUT BASICALLY THE BIGGEST
CONCERN WITH A CITY-RUN SUBWAY
AND BUS SYSTEM IS FINANCING IT
FROM WHAT I'VE HEARD FROM
EXPERTS.
AND RIGHT NOW THE STATE
CONTRIBUTES FAIRLY LARGE PERCENT
OF THE CAPITAL PLANS THAT THE
MTA RUNS.
THOSE, AGAIN, ARE PLANS WITH BIG
PROJECTS LIKE THE 2nd AVENUE
SUBWAY, STATE OF GOOD REPAIR,
NEW TRAIN CARS, NEW BUSES,
THINGS LIKE THAT.
SO BASICALLY WHAT THE GOVERNOR
IS SAYING IS THAT IF YOU WANT TO
TAKE THE SUBWAYS AND BUSES, YOU
CAN KISS THE MONEY GOOD-BYE.
THAT MAKES IT KIND OF DIFFICULT
BECAUSE THE SPEAKER'S PLAN DOES
HINGE ON THAT STATE MONEY
FLOWING.
>> LET'S FOCUS ON THE BUSES.
AND WHY -- WHY IT'S SO
SIGNIFICANT TO THE ECONOMY AND
SOCIO-ECONOMICALLY TO THE
ECONOMY, THAT SO IMPORTANT THAT
THEY RUN, THAT THEY RUN ON TIME,
THAT THEY BECOME RELIABLE.
>> RIGHT.
ALMOST TWO MILLION PEOPLE RIDE
THE CITY'S BUSES EVERY DAY.
THAT'S A HUGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE
WHO ARE, YOU KNOW, MAYBE PUSHED
TO USE CARS, PRIVATE VEHICLES,
OR TAXIS OR OTHER TYPES OF CABS.
THAT'S A PROBLEM FOR THE CITY
THAT'S TRYING TO MANAGE ITS
CONGESTION.
AND WHILE THERE'S BEEN FOCUS ON
THE SUBWAYS THE LAST FEW YEARS,
I THINK IN THE LAST ONE OR TWO
YEARS THERE'S BEEN A CONCERTED
EFFORT TO LOOK AT THE BUS SYSTEM
WHICH IS SHEDDING RIDERSHIP
REALLY QUICKLY, EVEN FASTER THAN
THE SUBWAYS.
AND SO THAT'S A BIG PART, AND
ALSO THE FOLKS WHO RIDE BUSES,
THEY TYPICALLY ARE OF LOWER
INCOME, THEY'RE COMMUNITIES OF
COLOR, AND THEORETICALLY THOSE
ARE THE PEOPLE THAT THE CITY AND
MAYOR ARE TRYING TO UPLIFT.
>> TRYING TO KEEP THEM.
TRYING TO KEEP THEM IN THE CITY.
>> RIGHT.
>> IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU COULD END
UP WITH A VICIOUS CYCLE WHICH IS
SERVICE IS BAD, PEOPLE STOP
TAKING THE BUSES, SO YOU'RE
GOING TO GET LESS MONEY INVESTED
IN THE BUSES BECAUSE LESS PEOPLE
ARE TAKING THEM, AND IT STARTS
CIRCLING THE DRAIN.
IS THAT A POSSIBILITY?
>> RIGHT, RIGHT.
I MEAN, THAT'S LIKE A DEATH
SPIRAL THAT A LOT OF ELECTED
OFFICIALS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT.
AS RIDERSHIP DROPS, YOU KNOW,
THEY DON'T WANT TO SEE A
DECREASING INVESTMENT.
THEY FEEL THAT AN INCREASED
INVESTMENT, A LOOK AT REFORMS TO
THE AGENCY, WHETHER CITY
CONTROLLED OR JUST ON THE STATE
SIDE, YOU KNOW, THAT NEEDS TO BE
THE KEY TO BRING PEOPLE BACK TO
TRANSIT AND KEEP PEOPLE RIDING
OR GET PEOPLE RIDING AGAIN.
>> I SUSPECT THAT YOU AND I WILL
STILL BE TALKING ABOUT THIS DOWN
THE ROAD.
WE'LL BE DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU
COME IN AND AT LEAST MAKE US
FEEL SMARTER WHEN WE TALK ABOUT
IT.
ALWAYS GOOD TO TALK WITH YOU.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH, A
PLEASURE.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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