If you have spoken to someone from New York City in the past, I dunno, six weeks, you might have heard that the subway system in our fair metropolis is a mess. Earlier today, an A train derailed in Harlem, causing significant delays; passengers had to climb from the car and exit through the subway tunnel. This is, somehow, no longer unique. Every day, the MTA’s subway system find a new way to break, delaying commutes, and stranding passengers in the dark — often literally. Every day, we’re treated to a new stream of cell-phone photos and videos broadcasting subway crises on social media in real time.
Something else you should know: The City of New York is not responsible for funding the MTA, the state of New York is. That means that ultimately, the buck stops with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has become, justifiably, the object of every New Yorker’s hatred. While he’s out there testing driverless cars, people are yelling at him to fix the damn subways. (Cuomo, for his part, is pretending that he has no authority to do so.)
Perhaps the most darkly comic part of this whole fiasco is that, when it comes to getting yelled at online, Cuomo has nobody but himself to blame. Before six months ago, if you wanted to talk about how much Cuomo was mismanaging the situation, you’d have to wait until you emerged aboveground again. By that point, your anger might have dissipated (maybe you listened to a pleasant podcast, I don’t know).
At the start of the year, however, the MTA flipped the switch on cell service and free Wi-Fi in every one of New York’s underground stations. Meaning that just as the subway began to reliably tangle itself into knots during every damn rush hour, the MTA unveiled a system by which New Yorkers could easily pull out their phones, take photo and video of the infrastructural decay, and send it directly to our governor.
Governor Cuomo has provided the citizenry with all of the tools it needs to demonstrate that the subway is in dire need of investment and repair. If he’s smart, he’ll pretend that was his plan all along.