Speak of the Subway

By Will Robin

The summer of 2017 in New York City has brought heat, rain, and subway delays.

Almost three-quarters of subway riders experienced delays, according to an unofficial survey conducted by NYU Precollege Journalism students.

Almost 90% of subway riders from the survey answered Yes when asked if the subway service could be improved.

The service has not been significantly improved; only minor repairs have been done to this 112 year old system, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Within a 25 year span from 1990 to 2015, the number of subway riders has doubled. In 1990 there were a billion riders annually. Now there are just under 2 billion riders annually.

During these 25 years the New York City Transit system has added only 27 cars to their 6,391 car fleet even though the ridership has almost doubled, said Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman Joe Lhota.

The over 2 billion people has caused major overcrowding, Lhota said.

This overcrowding has caused over one-third of the delays, according to the New York Times.

Many New Yorkers including Joseph Riccio, of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, say that the subway does pretty well for the amount of people that it serves. Although there are also New Yorkers including Michelle Benoit, of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, who say the subway has declined significantly in the past five years.

According to a Times article, there were 75,000 delays in the month of June alone.

These delays don’t only hurt the city’s reputation but they also hurt the city’s income as people might choose not to take public transportation, according to Chairman Lhota.


Food Underground

Allowing food on the subway has been cited as the cause of track fires, rats, and the lack of cleanliness in the subway system, Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman Joe Lhota said.

Banning food on the subway is becoming a controversial topic, in the opinion of subway riders.

Some 52% of subway riders said that the subway should ban food and 48% said that food should be allowed, according to an unofficial survey conducted by NYU Precollege Journalism students.

Subway rider and native New Yorker Joseph Riccio said that there should be food on the subway because people need to eat before and after work and that the subway is often the first place they go after work.

Chelsee Marks of Glen Cove, N.Y., however, said that it’s disgusting and people should wait until they get home or to a restaurant to eat.

People who answered that food should be banned on the subway said it would help with cleanliness, eliminate the chances of a track fires and rats.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority tried to ban food in 2012. Police officers were stationed in the subway and instructed to distribute tickets to individuals who were eating food. This did not last for long as the ban was reversed weeks after it began.

Plan of Attack: Subway Renovations

The Metropolitan Transit Authority is failing its customers, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said at the opening of his presentation on the current state of the subway.

The problems that are the most significant are the aging infrastructure, lack of capital investment, and the record number of customers. Lhota said this in a presentation that was streamed online through the MTA’s Facebook page.

When the subway opened in 1904, only 73 million people road it annually. Now almost 2 billion people ride it annually.

The 15% increase of customers over the past 10 years has been caused by many factors, one of which being the significant increase in tourism, Lhota said.

There has been a 38% increase in tourism within the past nine years, Lhota said.

Chairman Lhota said the subway is the only system globally running 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it’s the largest in the country with 472 stations.

The 850 miles of tracks throughout all five boroughs of the subway are an average of 41 years old.

His plan of attack for the renovations is comprised by a set of five key steps.

  • Track Maintenance
  • Car Reliability
  • Safety and Cleanliness
  • Customer Communication
  • Critical Management

Will Robin is a senior at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, New York.