Editorial: Slow Train To A Solvent Subway System

The state of financial peril that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority finds itself in is a topic opined on by many including yours truly. Today’s New York Daily News continues down that path with an editorial by Joshua Greenman:

Right now it looks like there’s no light at the end of the fiscal tunnel for mass transit in New York. Over the long term, putting the MTA on solid footing is going to require something in very short supply: courage in Albany, in the form of car tolls on the East River bridges or some other sustainable funding stream.

In the meantime, in the interest of helping the Metropolitan Transportation Authority start to dig itself out of its half-billion-dollar-plus shortfall, here are a few humble, outside-the-booth suggestions for creative revenue-raisers:

Make every MetroCard a lottery card. The New York City subway system averages 5 million rides per workday and nearly 3 million each weekend day, carrying more passengers than all other rail mass transit systems in the United States combined. If every 100th card sold yielded a month of free rides, the increase in ridership would more than cover the 1% hit. The same would be true if every day, one of the 5 million riders took home a $1,000 prize.

Open the stations to more stores. The system has some 468 stations, but with precious few exceptions, all you can buy are newspapers and magazines, sodas and candy. In the past 20 years, airports have experienced a retail revolution with better food, tons of stores and even high-end vending machines. It’s time to take that underground and sell everything from headphones and MP3s to Yankees gear.

Figure out how to give trains cell and Wi-Fi service. Two and a half years ago, there were plans to give every station wireless access, raising about $50 million for the transit system over 10 years in the process. Somehow, it’s still stalled. San Francisco and Boston are already getting underground wireless coverage; what’s wrong with us?

Click here to read the complete editorial.

Joshua presents some ideas that make a lot of sense & would help drive dollars towards the MTA’s way. However a “but” does exist & that comes from reality. While his ideas have noble intentions, one has to wonder how realistic they are. This is not because the good ideas are far-fetched. The problem lies with the execution of them.

Can we really expect the MTA, who is behind schedule in all sorts of ways, to be able to execute such radical changes? This is the same transit agency who is years behind in equipping stations with real time information boards for subway arrivals. If something like that is so far behind schedule, what makes Joshua or anyone think they could execute something more dynamic?

As far as the gambling & rat idea goes, I won’t really comment much on those. I can find the unfortunate humor (due to system conditions & not Joshua himself) about the rats. Gambling is something that will be a slippery slope & prime for illegal activity. The MTA does not need to engage in anything of that nature with all the challenges it faces now.

In the end, the real solutions need to start with the City of New York, & Albany itself. We need to elect officials who understand & give a damn about our public transportation policy. If we do not, can we really expect or deserve the MTA & our fortunes to change?

xoxo Transit Blogger

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That would be cool if there was wifi.Your like disconnected from the world underground.No cell service,radios wifi etc..

oh and that’s very funny abot the rats!it would be great.

Yes, it would be nice if Wi-Fi existed underground. In today’s day & age where such connectivity is expected, it is a shame that the MTA has not caught up with the times.


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