Metrofocus: May 5, 2022

As part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Asian Comedy Fest is returning to New York City. Asian Comedy Fest is the largest national comedy festival dedicated to elevating diverse voices within the AAPI community. The inaugural ACF featured a wide array of comedic acts including superstar and AAPI icon Ronny Chieng. ACF is now returning for its third annual edition on May 6th and 7th, 2022 in New York City. This year part of their proceeds will go to the nonprofit organization, Hearts of Dinner, which supports New York City’s elderly Asian community by proving meals and working to fight food insecurity, a large problem as a recent report shows that one in four Asian adults in New York City were living in poverty in 2020.

If there’s one thing just about every New Yorker can agree on, it’s that the subway is a mess. A new documentary titled, “End Of The Line,” which premiered at the Doc NYC film festival, explores how years of under investment and lack of political leadership have caused the New York City subway system to crumble. Tonight, “End Of The Line” director Emmett Adler joins us to discuss his documentary and the state of the subway.

 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, LIGHTS, CAMERA, LAUGHTER.

THE ASIAN COMEDY FEST IS BACK AT NYC, AND WE'VE GOT YOUR PREVIEW OF THE NATION'S LARGEST COMFY SHOWCASE ELEVATING AAPI VOICES.

> AND THE MESSY 'L' TRAIN FIX AND WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT THE STATE OF OUR SYSTEM.

'METROFOCUS' BEGINS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING.

AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW, THE ASIAN COMEDY FEST, THE NATION'S LARGEST ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER COMEDY FESTIVAL WILL BE RETURNING TO NEW YORK CITY.

THE FESTIVAL WILL FEATURE TWO NIGHTS OF STANDUP COMEDY, IMPROVE, AND MORE, AND WILL ALSO SERVE AS A FUNDRAISER TO HELP NEW YORK'S ELDERLY ASIAN POPULATION FIGHT FOOD INSECURITY.

HERE'S A QUICK PREVIEW OF WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FEATURING ONE OF THE FESTIVAL'S PERFORMERS, DYLAN ADDLER.

AND I SAW THIS RUMOR THAT LIN, THE WRITER OF 'HAMILTON', MIGHT DO A CHRISTMAS DUET WITH MICHAEL BUBLE.

WHICH IS, YEAH, IT'S KIND OF COOL, BUT A WEIRD COMBINATION OF PEOPLE.

I WAS TRYING TO IMAGINE, WHAT WOULD THAT DUET SOUND LIKE.

MICHAEL BUBLE WOULD GO LIKE THIS.

♪ WHAT A BEAUTIFUL TIME, WE'RE HAPPY TONIGHT ♪ ♪ WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND ♪ IN THE MEADOW WE CAN BUILD A SNOWMAN ♪ ♪ HE'LL ASK US IF WE'RE MARRIED KWMS NO ♪ ♪ ARE YOU READY FOR THE REVOLUTION?

> AND JOINING ME NOW TO DISCUSS THE UPCOMING ASIAN COMEDY FEST IS THE FESTIVAL'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AND THE COMEDIAN YOU JUST SAW IN THE CLIP.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS' TO BOTH OF YOU.

HI, THANK YOU FOR HAVING US, JENNA.

ABSOLUTELY.

YOU FOUNDED THE ASIAN COMEDY FEST A FEW YEARS AGO.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO DO THAT?

WE HAD BOTH BEEN WORKING IN MEDIA AND TELEVISION, IN VARYING CAPACITIES, AND WHILE WE WERE WORKING ON THE COMEDY SCENE THERE WAS A LOT OF SORT OF WANTING THIS TYPE OF SHOW, WANTING ARK API CENTRIC SHOWS, SO WE WERE ALREADY DOING OUR OWN THING WITH VARIETY SHOWS, SMALL THINGS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY, WITHIN COMEDY IN GENERAL.

AND THEN A COUPLE OF OTHER PRODUCERS AND THEATER, THEY SORT OF REACHED OUT AND WANTED TO SAY, WHY DON'T WE MAKE THIS MORE LIKE A FESTIVAL.

LET'S BRING THINGS WE ALREADY KNOW ARE HAPPENING.

AND KATE AND I AND ANOTHER PERFORMER AND PRODUCER AT THE TIME WERE POSITIONED IN A WAY THAT WE WERE ALREADY SORT OF MAKING OURSELVES KNOWN WITHIN THE COMMUNITY FOR DOING THAT, AND WE WERE BEING BROUGHT TOGETHER IN THAT SENSE TO BE LIKE, LET'S MAKE THIS A LITTLE BIT BIGGER.

LET'S TRY TO PUT OUR CONCERTED EFFORT INTO ONE THING, INTO ONE FESTIVAL, AND THAT'S KIND OF HOW IT CAME ABOUT.

SO, DYLAN, FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WORKING AS A STANDUP COMIC, I THINK AT THIS POINT IT'S VERY WELL UNDERSTOOD THAT IS A DIFFICULT JOB.

BUT IS THERE SOMETHING SPECIAL OR UNIQUE OF BEING PART OF A FESTIVAL THAT CELEBRATES YOUR HERITAGE, WHO YOU ARE.

THERE IS SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY.

IT'S ACTUALLY LIKE -- I'VE DONE THE FESTIVAL TWO TIMES IN A ROW, AND IT'S PROBABLY ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES OF THE YEAR, BECAUSE I GET TO SEE AND TALK WITH SOME INCREDIBLE ASIAN COMICS, SOME OF WHOM I KNOW, SOME OF WHOM I KNOW OF, AND SOME OF WHOM I JUST MEET THERE.

AND IT FEELS REALLY, REALLY -- HAPPENED, I WAS JUST ECSTATIC, AND I JUST GOT TO MEET ALL OF THESE INCREDIBLE ASIAN COMICS WHO I WAS FAN OF AND WHO I KNEW OF, AND IT JUST BROUGHT TOGETHER SUCH A WONDERFUL SENSE OF COMMUNITY, AND THERE WAS KIND OF AN UNSPOKEN KIND OF SENSE OF BOND THAT I FEEL LIKE THE AUDIENCE MEMBERS, WHO ARE A LOT OF ASIAN AUDIENCE MEMBERS, AND THE PERFORMERS, WERE JUST THERE -- BECAUSE USUALLY A LOT OF THE TIME YOU CAN BE THE ONLY POC OR ASIAN PERSON ON A LINEUP AND YOU HAVE TO KIND OF EXPLAIN AND, YOU KNOW, CERTAIN THINGS AREN'T QUITE AS UNDERSTOOD.

BUT IT WAS JUST SO LOVELY THE TWO YEARS I'VE DONE IT, AND I REALLY CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS YEAR.

YOU KNOW, WE'VE DONE A LOT OF CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF VISIBILITY, AND NOT ONLY JUST VISIBILITY, BUT COMMUNITIES BEING ABLE TO HAVE A SPACE WHERE YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT EXTRA TRANSLATING.

SO HOW MUCH DOES THAT FACTOR IN, AS DYLAN JUST SAID, THAT OFTEN AS AN ASIAN STANDUP COMEDIAN, YOU CAN BE THE ONLY ONE ON A LINEUP.

WHY IS IT SO UNIQUE TO HAVE THIS SPACE WHERE THERE'S OTHER PEOPLE THERE THAT YOU NORMALLY WOULDN'T SEE?

I THINK DYLAN MADE THE POINT PERFECTLY ABOUT, YEAH -- AND THIS HAPPENS FOR ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR AT SHOWS SOMETIMES.

COMEDY IS ANTIQUATE IN THE SOME WAYS, AND PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT IT AND SAY, WELSH WE CAN'T HAVE MORE THAN ONE AAPI, ONE BLACK AMERICANS, MORE 'X,' BECAUSE IT MIGHT BE PERCEIVED AS WE'RE DOING SOME SORT OF DIVERSITY SHOW.

GOD FORBID THAT WOULD BE THE CASE BECAUSE, WHATEVER.

SO I THINK IN THOSE CASES WE'RE ALMOST TRYING TO CREATE -- IT'S ALMOST LIKE AN INCUBATION THING.

PEOPLE COME IN AND HAVE THIS SPACE AND OPPORTUNITY TO NOT ONLY, LIKE DYLAN WAS SAYING CONNECT WITH OTHER COMICS AND TALK ON THINGS WITHOUT GIVING AS MUCH CONTEXT, BUT THE OTHER THING THAT HAPPENS, WHICH I THINK IS INTERESTING, IS PEOPLE ARE HEARING, YOU KNOW, THESE TYPES OF JOKES OR SHARED EXPERIENCES THAT ACTUALLY END UP BEING VERY SIMILAR.

SO IN THAT WAY IT STRENGTHENS THEIR OWN MATERIAL.

THEY'RE LIKE, OH, I HAVE BEEN TELLING THIS JOKE THIS OTHER COMIC IS DOING SIMILARLY.

I HAD NO IDEA.

AND IN THIS WAY, IT ALSO HELPS THEM UNDERSTAND, THIS IS KIND OF LIKE THE COMMUNITY AND WHAT PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

AND IT ALSO STRENGTHENS MATERIAL THEY ALREADY HAVE OR FIND A NEW TAKE ON IT.

IT'S BOTH WAYS.

IT'S NOT ONLY THAT YOU'RE GETTING TO BE IN A SHARED SPACE, BUT FINDING, OH, I COULD HAVE A NEW TAKE WHILE BEING MYSELF, BUT DOING CONTENT THIS WAY.

OF COURSE.

DYLAN, NOT ONLY DOES THIS GIVE YOU AN OPPORTUNITY TO INTERACT AND SEE THE ACTS OF OTHER STANDUP, BUT IT SEEMS LIKE THIS WOULDBY THE PLACE TO APPRECIATE THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE THAT MAKE UP THE ASIAN COMMUNITY.

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH NOT FITTING INTO WHATEVER STEREOTYPE YOU MAY HAVE FELT THAT YOU WERE PUT INTO AS A COMIC?

YEAH.

I FEEL LIKE, YOU KNOW, GENERAL, THE COMEDY SPACES THAT I HAVE, YOU KNOW, EXISTED IN AND PERFORMED FOR AND STILL PERFORM A LOT FOR ARE VERY, WHITE PREDOMINANT SPACES.

AND THERE'S SORT OF -- I THINK THERE ARE -- SO, I SOMETIMES WOULD, LIKE, WHENEVER I TALKED ABOUT ASIAN CULTURE OR EVEN LIKE IF I'M IN A PREDOMINANTLY NOT QUEER SPACE AND I TALK ABOUT QUEER CULTURE, THERE WAS A DISCONNECT.

I WOULD NOT SAY THE JOKES.

I WOULD THROW THEM AWAY.

I WAS LIKE, THERE'S A DISCONNECT BETWEEN ME AND THE AUDIENCE.

BUT THERE'S SHOWS LIKE ASIAN COMEDY FESTIVAL AND OTHER SHOWS WHERE I CAN REALLY DO THOSE JOKES, AND THEY'RE REALLY, REALLY UNDERSTOOD, AND IT FEELS REALLY GOOD.

I REMEMBER EVEN LAST YEAR WHEN -- WHEN I DID IT FOR THE FIRST TIME, I WAS LIKE, IS THIS HOW WHITE PEOPLE FEEL ALL THE TIME?

THIS IS DOPE!

I LOVE THIS!

IT'S GREAT.

BUT, YEAH, I THINK THAT WAS KIND OF MY EXPERIENCE.

THERE WERE CERTAIN, LIKE, TOUCHSTONES THAT I WANTED TO EXPRESS OR TALK ABOUT THAT CERTAIN AUDIENCES ONLY GOT.

CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT ONE OF THOSE TOUCHSTONES MIGHT BE?

YES, SO I GUESS -- ONE EXAMPLE, THERE'S A JOKE ABOUT MY -- OH, LET ME THINK.

I SOMETIMES HAVE A SONG ABOUT BEING A GAY ASIAN PERSON IN THE QUEER COMMUNITY AND SOME OF THE RACIST THINGS I'VE EXPERIENCED ON DATING APPS LIKE GRINDR.

A LOT OF TIME WHEN I PERFORMED IT IN FRONT OF ASIAN AUDIENCES, I FELT LIKE, OH, MY GOSH, THEY'RE GETTING IT.

THEY HAVE BEEN THROUGH IT.

BUT WHEN I DID IT FOR WHITE AUDIENCES THERE WAS JUST A DISCONNECT.

LIKE, THEY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT OR, OH, THIS IS -- THEY WERE JUST, LIKE, TOO AFRAID TO, LIKE, RESPOND.

AND THEN I ENDED UP, LIKE, NOT REALLY PERFORMING THAT SONG AS MUCH.

BUT AT THE ASIAN -- SO I GUESS THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF SOMETHING WHERE I WOULD --

NO, I THINK THAT'S A VERY CLEAR EXAMPLE.

AND I'M WONDERING, AGAIN, FOR A FESTIVAL LIKE THIS, IS THAT THAT PURPOSE TO NOT ONLY BE ABLE TO WORKSHOP A JOKE LIKE THAT WITH OTHER COMICS IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE, AND THEN SECONDLY, I GUESS WHAT KIND OF AN AUDIENCE?

LIKE, IS THIS A KIND OF AUDIENCE WHERE IT'S GOING TO BE LARGELY ASIAN AND OTHER PEOPLE ARE TOTALLY WELCOME?

BUT WE'RE PLAYING TO OUR HOME GROUP, IF YOU WILL.

OR, I MEAN, IS IT SOMETHING ELSE?

I MEAN, I THINK, YOU KNOW, MY -- OUR STANDPOINT HAS ALWAYS BEEN WE WANT TO PUT AAPI PERFORMERS ON THE STAGE AND SHOW THE FULL DIVERSITY, AND THAT CAN BE ANY -- WE'RE MINDFUL TO SAY PERFORMERS, IF YOU IDENTIFY AS PART OF THE AAPI COMMUNITY, BECAUSE THERE'S MULTICULTURAL GROUPS WITHIN ANY GROUP.

WE DON'T WANT TO DEFINE IT SO HARSHLY EVEN WITHIN THE TITLE OF A FESTIVAL THAT'S CALLED ASIAN COMEDY FESTIVAL.

BUT WE WANT PEOPLE TO CLEARLY UNDERSTAND AND SEE AND PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT OUR PERFORMERS ARE AND THE PEOPLE WE'RE CHOOSING AND PEOPLE WE'RE DECIDING TO PUT IN FRONT OF THEM.

WE DECIDE THEY'RE ALLIES ALREADY, PART OF THE ARK API COMMUNITY, OR WANTING TO SEE SOMETHING NEW AND DIFFERENT THEY HAVEN'T EXPERIENCED BEFORE.

SO, YES, WE WOULD NEVER SAY WE'RE TRYING TO CREATE A BUBBLE AND ONLY HAVE PERFORMERS -- AN AUDIENCE THAT CAN ONLY TALK TO EACH OTHER AND THEY'RE ALWAYS DOING THE SHARED EXPERIENCE THING.

THAT'S CERTAINLY NOT WHAT WE WANT, OTHERWISE IT'S NEVER GOING TO GET OUT THERE, IN A SENSE.

BUT WHAT WE REALLY ARE HOPING FOR IS ONE, WE ALREADY HAVE PEOPLE LIKE DYLAN.

HE'S ALREADY CRUSHING IT IN BIGGER LARGER SPACES.

HE'S ALREADY MAKING CONNECTIONS AND PEOPLE ARE ALREADY TALKING ABOUT HIM EVEN OUTSIDE THE AAPI SPACE, BUT WITHIN IT, AND WE WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT AND SEE IT.

AT THE SAME TIME WE WANT PEOPLE TO COME IN AND SAY, MAYBE THIS IS THEIR FIRST TIME SEEING COMEDY IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM, AND THEN THEY GET TO SEE ALL THESE PEOPLE THAT IN SOME CASES ARE JUST ON THE CUSP OF BLOWING UP.

MAYBE THEY'RE DOING COMEDY TWO YEARS IN AND THEY'RE FIGURE IT OUT.

OR SOMETIMES WE GET SOME PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY BIG, AND THEY ARE A BIG NAME ALREADY.

LIKE, I GET TO SEE THE FULL BREADTH OF WHAT IT IS.

THAT'S THE GOAL OF ANY FESTIVAL, COMEDY SHOW WHATSOEVER.

AND OURS IS NO DIFFERENT IN THAT REGARD.

WE'VE UNFORTUNATELY RUN OUT OF TIME.

THE FUNDRAISER IS AN EXCELLENT CAUSE, RAISING MONEY FOR FOOD INSECURITY FOR ELDERLY ASIANS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU FOR THE SPACE.

THAT GROUP IS CALLED HEART OF DINNER.

YOU CAN GET TICKETS.

THE SHOW IS HAPPENING ON MAY 6th AND 7th, THIS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, AND YOU CAN GO TO ASIAN COMEDY FEST.COM AND FIND ALL THE SHOWS AND TICKETS THERE.

THAT'S WHERE IT IS.

PERFECT.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING US.

GOOD EVENING.

I'M RAPHAEL PI ROMAN.

IF THERE'S ONE THING EVERY NEW YORKER CAN AGREE ON, IT'S THE SUBWAY IS A MESS.

'ENT OF THE LINE' EXPLORES HOW LEADERSHIP CAUSED THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY SYSTEM TO CRUMBLE.

THE FILM FEATURES INTERVIEWS WITH MULTIPLE MTA OFFICIALS.

ALSO EXAMINES HOW MAINTENANCE CAN IMPACT LOCAL COMMUNITIES.

HOW THE COVID PANDEMIC AFFECTED THE AMBITIOUS PLANS TO MODERNIZE THE TRANSIT SYSTEM, AND A ROLE THAT ANDREW CUOMO PLAYED IN FIXING OR NOT FIXING THE SUBWAY.

HERE'S A PREVIEW.

THIS IS JUST ANOTHER COMPLETE DISASTER.

EVERYBODY READY?

WE ARE NOT EMPTY SUITS.

THE CURRENT STATE OF DECLINE IS WHOLLY UNACCEPTABLE.

THE 'L' TRAIN IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE.

THE 'L' TRAIN ISSUE GOES TO THE HEART OF ALL THE PROBLEMS.

YOU HAVE AGING INFRASTRUCTURE, LACK OF MAINTENANCE, THE RISING SPECTER OF CLIMATE CHANGE, AND POLITICAL TENSION -- YOU KNOW, WHO'S RESPONSIBLE FOR IF I CANNING IT, FOR PAYING FOR IT?

WANT TO PROBLEM SOLVE RIGHT NOW.

THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY SYSTEM IS AN ACHIEVEMENT, BUT ITS DECLINE IS VERY MUCH OF A SYMPTOM OF US AS A SOCIETY AND AS A COUNTRY.

ON TRANSIT, THE U.S. SCORES A D MINUS.

THE NATION IS LOOKING AT CRUMBLING ROADS AND RAILROADS.

RANKS AMERICA 16th IN THE WORLD.

TRAVELERS STILL DON'T HAVE ONE OPTION AROUND THE WORLD FOR NEARLY HALF A CENTURY -- HIGH SPEED RAIL.

AND JOINING US NOW SO DISCUSS HIS NEW DOCUMENTARY AND THE CURRENT STATE OF THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY SYSTEM IS THE DIRECTOR OF 'END OF THE LINE', EMMETT ADDLER.

WELCOME.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO TALK TO YOU.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE ON MY ENAS WELL.

YOU CAME ON THE SHOW IN JULY OF 2018 TO TALK ABOUT THIS FILM WHEN IT WAS STILL PRIMARILY ABOUT THE PLANNED 15-MONTH SHUTDOWN OF THE 'L' TRAIN AND THE DEVASTATING EFFECTS THAT WOULD HAVE ON MANY NEW YORKERS.

AT THE END OF 2018, GOVERNOR CUOMO MADE AN ANNOUNCEMENT SAY, NEVER MIND, WE FIGURED OUT A WAY TO FIX THE 'L' TRAIN TUNNEL WITHOUT CLOSING THE 'L' TRAINLE YOU'RE THE FIRST PERSON I THOUGHT ABOUT WHEN I HEARD THAT.

I WAS WONDERING, HOW DID YOU REACT WHEN YOU HEARD THAT?

AND DID YOU HAVE A PLAN 'B'?

NO, WE DIDN'T HAVE A PLAN 'B.'

I DIDN'T THINK IT WAS POSSIBLE THE 'L' TRAIN SITUATION WAS GOING TO BE REVERSED.

AT THAT POINT THE MTA HAD BEEN TELLING THE PUBLIC THIS WAS GOING HAPPEN FOR THREE YEARS.

THEY HAD GONE THROUGH EXTENSIVE PUBLIC OUTREACH EFFORT.

AND YOU KNOW, YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO THOUGHT OF ME FIRST.

MY PHONE STARTED BLOWING UP.

I WAS ON MY POST-NEW YEAR'S VACATION, AND IT WAS A MOMENT OF SHEER PANIC.

FOR US FILMMAKERS WHO HAD BEEN COVERING THIS SINCE 2016 AND WERE HEAVILY INVESTED.

MOMENTARILY WE THOUGHT, MAYBE WE DON'T HAVE A FILM ANYMORE.

WHAT IT BECAME WAS AN INCREDIBLE PLOT TWIST.

THAT WAS VERY INTERESTING AND YOU WORKED IT OUT WELL.

BUT YOU ALWAYS HAD THE INTENTION OF LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE.

BUT AS YOU SAY, FOR THREE YEARS ALL WE HEARD FROM THE MTA, THERE WAS NO SAFE ALTERNATIVE.

THIS IS WHAT IT HAS TO BE.

YOU'VE GOT TO SWALLOW THE BITTER PILL.

CUOMO SAID, I TALKED TO EXPERTS, ESPECIALLY TWO FROM COLUMBIA AND CORNELL, AND THEY TELL ME THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE, SO WE'RE NOT SHUTTING IT DOWN.

NOW, WHY HADN'T THE MTA SPOKEN TO THESE EXPERTS?

OR WAS THAT JUST A SMOKE SCREEN BY THE GOVERNOR TO COVER UP A POLITICALLY MOTIVATED MOVE?

WELL, I THINK THE MTA, IN THE WORDS OF THE GOVERNOR AT THE TIME, THE MTA'S PERSPECTIVE IS REBUILD THE TUNNEL TO ITS PREVIOUS STATE.

SO, YOU KNOW, IT'S POSSIBLE THEY WEREN'T LOOKING AT THIS PROBLEM CREATIVELY, THEY WEREN'T WEIGHING THE ECONOMIC IMPACTS THAT THE TUNNEL CLOSURE WOULD HAVE ON THE COMMUNITY.

I MEAN, I DON'T REALLY KNOW FOR SURE.

ANOTHER THING THAT THEY SAY IS SOME OF WHAT THE GOVERNOR PROPOSED, THAT THESE ACADEMICS BROUGHT UP, WERE ACTUALLY INNOVATIONS IN KIND OF TUNNEL BUILDING TECHNOLOGY.

YOU THINK THE MTA WOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS.

BUT IN ANY EVENT, AS WE SEE IN YOUR FILM, THE THEN-PRESIDENT OF THE MTA, IF I HAVE HIS TITLE RIGHT, WASN'T CONVINCED THIS NEW PLAN WAS SAFE, SO HE COMMISSIONED A STUDY TO MAKE SURE IT WAS SAFE.

BUT THE BOARD OF THE MTA WAS CONTROLLED BY CUOMO NIXED IT.

IT NEVER HAPPENED.

SO MY QUESTION IS, WAS THE WORK DONE ON THE 'L' TRAIN SAFE?

IS THE 'L' TRAIN SAFE TO RIDE NOW?

DO WE KNOW?

THE TRUTH IS, THERE ARE, YOU KNOW, ENGINEERING EXPERTS, I BELIEVE, WHO HAVE SIGNED OFF ON THIS.

THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE MORE QUALIFIED THAN ME TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION, I THINK.

I THINK ANY TIME THERE'S A SUDDEN FLIP LIKE THIS, IT'S DEFINITELY QUESTIONABLE.

IT WAS A HUGE CONCERN AT THE TIME ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THEY WERE GOING TO BE RUNNING TRAINS WHILE THEY WERE DOING CONSTRUCTION.

SO IT RAISED A CONCERN OF SILICA DOES BEING KICKED UP, SOMETHING THE NEW YORK PUBLIC IS VERY SENSITIVE TO AFTER 9/11 AND THE EXPOSURE THAT HAPPENED THERE.

YOU KNOW, I'M NOT IN A POSITION, I FEEL LIKE, TO SAY, YOU KNOW, TO THE PUBLIC ONE WAY OTHER THE OTHER, BUT I THINK IN SOME WAYS IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN, YOU KNOW?

THE MTA HAS TO LOOK AT THINGS, TIME LINES IN 50 OR 100 YEARS.

THIS HAPPENED TWO YEARS AGO NOW.

RIGHT.

THE CLASH BETWEEN CUOMO AND BIFORD OVER THE 'L' TRAIN WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR ANYBODY.

YOU KNOW, AS YOUR FILM SHOWS, AFTER THIS, GOVERNOR CUOMO SYSTEMATICALLY TOOK AUTHORITIES AWAY FROM HIM TO THE POINT HE HAD TO QUIT IN TWO YEARS.

MY POINT IS, IF WE COULD MAKE THIS BRIEF, WHY IS BIFORD THE RIGHT GUY FOR THE JOB?

WHY DID CUOMO HIRE HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE?

AND WHAT DID HE ACHIEVE IN THE TWO YEARS WITH THE MTA.

HE WAS THE TOP TRANSIT EXPERT EXECUTIVE IN THE WESTERN WORLD.

STILL IS TODAY, REALLY.

HE HAD COME UP IN THE BEGINNING OF HIS CAREER IN LONDON IN THE LONDON TUBE.

HE HAD WORKED IN SYDNEY RUNNING THEIR SYSTEM IN AUSTRALIA.

AND THEN HE HAD TURNED AROUND THE SYSTEM IN TORONTO AND ACTUALLY WON THIS VERY PRESTIGIOUS AWARD, THE APTA TRANSIT AWARD AND TURN IT INTO ONE OF THE BEST SYSTEMS IN THE WORLD.

THIS GUY IS FLYING HIGH COMING INTO NEW YORK.

SOME OF THE THINGS HE DID WAS SHORE UP THE OPERATIONS OF THE MTA.

HE HAD A THING CALLED SAFE SECONDS, WHERE THEY KIND OF LIKE REVERSED SORT OF UNNECESSARY SPEED LIMITS THAT HAD BEEN SET ON TRAINS.

AND WHILE HE WAS THERE, THE ON-TIME PERFORMANCE WENT UP TO, LIKE -- FROM 60% TO THE MID 80s.

THE STATS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES.

THE GOVERNOR WOULD SAY HE DID THAT, AND THAT WAS KIND OF WHERE THEY BUTTED HEADS.

HE WAS IMMEDIATELY HIRED BY LONDON TO RUN THEIR SUBWAY SYSTEM AGAIN, SO OBVIOUSLY THE MAN KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING.

AS YOU SAID IN THE FILM, WHEN WE COMPARE OUR SUBWAY SYSTEM TO THE CITIES ACROSS THE GLOBE, IT'S PRETTY DEPRESSING.

WHY ARE SUBWAYS IN CITIES LIKE HONG KONG AND LONDON SO MUCH MORE EFFICIENT THAN OURS?

HOW COULD CHINA BUILD UP A STATE OF THE ART SUBWAY STATIONS IN 25 OF THEIR CITIES IN ABOUT 30 YEARS WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE WE CAN'T EVEN EXTEND ONE LINE FOR TWO STOPS IN THAT PERIOD OF TIME.

I'M EXAGGERATING, I KNOW, BUT WHAT'S THE SECRET, AND WHAT ARE WE DOING WRONG?

THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION IN MANY WAYS IS OUR DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT MOVE AS FAST AS SORT OF AUTHORITARIAN COMMUNISM.

SO WHEN, FOR EXAMPLE, THE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA WANTS TO BUILD A CALIFORNIA BULLET TRAIN FROM L.A. TO SAN FRANCISCO, HE'S GOING TO RUN IT THROUGH ALL THESE COUNTIES.

IN EACH OF THE COUNTIES THERE'S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT POLITICS AND DIFFERENT POLITICIANS WHO ARE GOING TO WANT DIFFERENT THINGS, AND THAT PROCESS SLOWS IT DOWN, YOU KNOW.

SO IT'S THE GIFT AND THE CURSE WHEN IT COMES TO BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE IN CHINA.

WHAT THEY'LL DO IS THEY'LL JUST TAKE YOUR LAND AND THEY'LL BUILD THEIR TRAIN, AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.

YOU KNOW, SO IT'S A BALANCE OF FREEDOMS AND REALITIES.

SO YOU THINK THAT'S IT.

OKAY, OKAY, I'LL TAKE THAT BALANCE.

ALTHOUGH SOMETIMES HE DENIES IT, OR HE DENIED THAT HE HAD THE POWER OVER THE MTA WHEN IT WAS POLITICALLY CONVENIENT, GOVERNOR CUOMO REALLY DID HAVE TO POWER MUCH MORE THAN BILL DE BLASIO DID TO AFFECT THE MTA.

WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, DO YOU, FROM WHAT YOU KNOW, WHAT YOU'VE COVERED ALL THESE YEARS CAN GORNER CUOMO AFFECT THE SUBWAYS MORE POSITIVELY THAN NEGATIVELY OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND?

ULTIMATELY -- HE DO MORE GOOD THAN BAD?

THAT'S A TOUGH QUESTION.

BY THE WAY, I DON'T WANT TO GIVE US A FULL PASS ON, IT'S JUST BECAUSE OF DEMOCRACY.

THERE IS A LOT WE COULD BE DOING BETTER.

BUT LET'S MOVE ON.

WHEN YOU READ IT, CHINA AND AMERICA -- BUT ANY WAY.

CUOMO TOOK OVER AS GOVERNOR IN 2011 AND PRETENDED HE DIDN'T -- OVER THE SUBWAY.

IT WAS HORRIBLE.

OUR ON OF THE TIME PERCENTAGE IN 208 WAS 58%, WHILE LONDON WAS IN 90% AND HONG KONG 90% SOME TO ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN IS UNFORGIVABLE TO SOME DEGREE.

AFTER THAT HE -- WITH THE REVERSAL OF THE 'L' TRAIN, HE SET IN MOTION A SERIES OF EVENTS THAT BASICALLY ALLOWED HIM TO CONSOLIDATE POWER OVER THE MTA AND DO A HUGE SPATE OF BUILDING.

THAT'S WHY NOW, YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE THINGS LIKE THE EAST SIDE ACCESS UNDER WAY, THE REVITALIZATION OF PENN STATION.

I THINK CUOMO, IF HE HAD BEEN ABLE TO STAY IN POWER, WE WOULD HAVE SEEN MASSIVE BUILDING AND WE STILL MAY.

BUT THAT'S SORT OF WHAT HE WAS DOING.

OKAY, EMMETT, WE ONLY HAVE A COUPLE MINUTES LEFT AND I GOT TO TALK ABOUT COVID.

I MEAN, IN 2020, YOU WERE FOUR YEARS INTO THIS FILM.

COVID HIT.

I'M GUESSING THAT WAS A MOMENT WHERE YOU HAD TO RECONFIGURE AGAIN YOUR THINKING ABOUT YOUR FILM.

BUT IN ANY EVENT, WHAT WAS THE IMPACT OF COVID ON OUR SUBWAY SYSTEM?

IT WAS HEMORRHAGING BILLIONS DURING -- WHEN THE CITY WAS CLOSED DOWN.

IS IT STILL HEMORRHAGING BILLIONS?

AND THE $50 BILLION PLUS, ANDY BIFORD CAPITAL PROJECT THAT WAS STILL IN THE WORKS, WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT?

THE ANSWER IS IMMEDIATELY DEVASTATION BEYOND WHAT ANYONE COULD HAVE EVER PREDICTED.

RIDERSHIP DROPPED COMPLETELY.

THEY WERE LOSING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY DAY.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAME TO THE RESCUE IN MANY WAYS, BUT I THINK THEY'RE STILL GOING TO BE RECOVERING FROM IT FOR A LONG TIME.

WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE BILL, IT DOES GIVE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE, AND HOPEFULLY THEY'LL FIND A WAY TO SHORE UP THEIR FINANCES AND REBUILD RIDERSHIP.

I'M SORRY, CAN YOU GIVE ME THE BACK END OF THAT QUESTION ONE MORE TIME?

NO, I MEAN, YOU ANSWERED IT -- WHAT WAS THE EFFECT OF COVID?

WELL, THE BACK END WAS THE $50 BILLION CAPITAL PROJECT.

THAT'S A GOOD ONE.

ONE THING THIS SITUATION DID -- SO ONE OF THE MAIN FUNDING MECHANISMS OF --

WE'VE GOT ABOUT 30 SECONDS.

OKAY.

CONGESTION PRICING.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT IT, NEW YORKERS.

IF YOU CARE ABOUT TRANSIT, THE PANDEMIC CREATED A CONFUSING LANDSCAPE WHERE THAT COULD ALL BE WASHED AWAY, AND IF YOU CARE ABOUT TRANSIT, WE HOPE IT WON'T BE.

, SO QUICKLY, WE HAVE ABOUT TEN SECONDS LEFT.

YES OR NO.

DO YOU THINK THAT WE WILL SOONER RATHER THAN LATER SEE THE SUBWAY SYSTEM NOT JUST SURVIVE BUT THRIVE?

TEN SECONDS.

IN THE WORDS OF THE MIRACLE METS, YOU GOT BELIEVE.

OKAY, WE'LL HAVE TO END WITH THAT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, EMMETT.

THANK YOU.

♪♪

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

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