Thursday, August 09, 2007


In this post five months ago, I wondered if New York City had "a growing quality of life problem." After something no one could have predicted -- a heavy rainstorm during the summer -- shut down the city's transit system on Wednesday, I think the answer's pretty clear. If you don't know the details, here's one NYT report. A few of the comments posted by the paper's readers on this message board:
  • I am stunned how unreliable the New York Transit system is. For the price it must be the most poorly run system in the world; For half the system to be knocked out by a night of heavy rain is embarrassing. I won’t even mention how dirty and broken the stations are.

  • The MTA is a joke. it is by far one of the worst subway systems i have experienced. Some third world countries have better transportation.

  • It took my girlfriend 2 hours to go from 181st st. on the A to 103rd st. only to be stranded there. MTA is a total joke! No one communicated what was happening which leaves a very sick feeling about what would occur if this were a terrorist event. Can we please stop rebuilding Iraq and like, invest in decent drainage and communication systems for our largest commuter subway system?

  • I’m disgusted and appalled by the city, though very impressed by the fortitude and endurance of the people who live here. My advice to them: move! It’s not worth it.

  • It is just terrible. I ran back and forth from one station to the next, stood inside the train station for three hours and nothing. The MTA workers dont know anything. They keep on saying "We dont know."

  • My biggest problem was that the MTA website was completely down!

  • I’ve lived in Bombay where the conditions were much worse and yet the trains managed to run on time.

  • I have been in Tokyo during (not the morning after, but DURING) a typhoon and neither the above ground nor below ground trains were a second late.
Go take a look at the hundreds of other comments. The Bloomberg is off the rose, to put it mildly. Keep in mind this happened on one of the hottest, most humid days of the year. If you blindfolded me and told me I was in Lagos or Kinshasa, I would have believed you.

Listen, I've never been a fan of those "we could build X number of schools with all the money we spend on Y" arguments. But it's undeniable: While we're pouring blood and treasure into policing a civil war, this country's critical infrastructure -- New Orleans, Minneapolis, New York, and who knows what next -- is crumbling around us. New York City can't even keep its transit information website up and running during a thunderstorm. Six years on, think we're ready for the next 9/11? It's outrageous.

Some good news: We can probably trim the budget for homeland security a bit. The terrorists know now that to paralyze the world's financial center, all they have to do is fly a twin-seater over Manhattan and seed the clouds.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, yeah, but... that's "Jew York City", as they (still) call it in the Redstates. New Orleans -- known primarily for dark-skinned and French-speaking people. Even Minneapolis, proud Progressive home of filthy liberals from Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone to Russ Feingold. Which conservative personality was it who wished that "we could give San Francisco to the terrorists"?...

Just wait till a spate of insane weather wipes out one of the gated communities in Northern Virginia where our "representatives" escape the unpleasantness of urban Washington DC, or a tsunami denudes Palm Beach, or Scottsdale sucks its last vestiges of groundwater dry. THEN we'll see how fast the Department of Homeland Security can step up and repair the damage to America's heartland!...

Nah, I can't even believe that any more. Grover Norquist has achieved his dream; our national government (apart from the ever-expanding components of the military-penal industry needed to protect the new corporate princeling caste) has been starved to the point where it can be drowned in the bathtub. And the people who were happy to assist in that starvation will scream like scalded divas when they find out -- as they will, and probably in the next Friedman Unit or three -- that it's a lot easier to destroy a city, or a republic, than to build its replacement up from the rubble. -- Anne Laurie

8/09/2007 6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All those pesky infrastructure projects aren't as "cool/sexy/mach" as wars. They are long term (i.e. no immediate photo-op) for the pol who gets them started. It's like a new roof. You can put it off and put it off. Then it rains and your need for an umbrall inside goes up. Then you have to spend even more money fixing all the damage caused inside because of the leak. Or you can spend thousands of dollars on something you can't see. You know it is good for you but still....

8/09/2007 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, ease off. We're rebuilding the infrastucture over there, so we don't have to do it here!

8/09/2007 9:09 AM  
Blogger Reality-Based Educator said...

Mayor Moneybags Bloomberg finagled an 8 block expansion of the 7 train to the tune of $1 billion dollars (and perhaps more by the time the project is completed.) The project was part of Bloomberg's $600 million dollar stadium giveaway to the Jets (which mercifully was killed) and rezoning giveaway to his real estate buddies (which continues unabated...the West Side in the 30's is turning into a huge swath of luxury buildings that will pay no taxes for at least the first 20 years of their existence thanks to sweetheart deals with the city.)

Think the $ 1 billion+ used for the 8 block subway expansion could have been used to fix the existing infrastructure so a freaking rain storm doesn't knock it out?

I do and I bet it would help. But fixing infrastructure isn't sexy (or profitable.) Rezoning huge swaths of Manhattan for real estate cronies is.

The priorities of the current NYC administration are screwed up. If they want to build more subways, try building one on the East Side to reduce the huge crush on the 4,5,6 lines instead of building an 8 block expansion meant to help out the projects of real estate cronies.

8/09/2007 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's flyover country and so who cares, but Russ Feingold is actually from the great state of Wisconsin. Other than that, excellent rant!

8/09/2007 12:11 PM  
Blogger Rudi said...

To be "fair and balanced", Gore and Clenis did address our failing infrastructure,but ignored the "brick and motar" for the virtual one. That Y2K threat of a screwed up birthday for gramps was more important than a bridge in Alaska or Minnie. Gore made a fortune on Googles IPO, that infrastructure is safe.

8/09/2007 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Yorkers sound exactly like we do in Chicago every time a CTA train catches fire in the tunnel under the river, or shuts down w/o telling people riding or trying to get on a train. Funny, though, no one blames Daley for any of it.

8/09/2007 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the same vein as the first anon., at least NY has express trains, which pratically no large cities have (As a current resident of Chicago, I'm looking at you, Daley the Lesser) or shut down when there's a little bad weather.

Frankly, NY's public transit is pretty bad, but less bad than the others.

8/09/2007 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's flyover country and so who cares, but Russ Feingold is actually from the great state of Wisconsin.

My apologies, Gus! -- Anne Laurie

8/09/2007 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No apologies necessary, Anne. My apologies for being snotty about it.

8/10/2007 2:36 PM  
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