What is an acceptable price to pay for convenience, and who should be responsible for covering this cost? These are the questions on New Yorkers’ minds lately as mass subway delays are disrupting and even damaging the lives of locals. From 24-hour service which interferes with maintenance work to a 100-year-old signal system in need of an update, New York City’s subway system is barely chugging along. At odds with New Yorkers’ fast-paced lifestyle, this city icon has become more of a hindrance than a help to the people it services.
In typical New York fashion, locals have been vocal about their subway stress. A report conducted last month by City Comptroller Scott Stringer revealed that out of over 1,200 commuters, more than 70% suffer “significant delays” at least half the time. The effects of that dreaded “train traffic” announcement? As Stringer’s survey reports it, in the past three months, 74% of commuters have arrived late to work, 65% have been tardy in picking up or dropping off a child, and 29% were made late for a medical appointment as a result of subway delays.
And so the true cost of a subway ride is revealed. Subway delays have damaged New Yorkers’ personal lives, hurt their wages, and, in some cases, have even resulted in job losses. Stringer’s report further uncovered that this “human cost” only increases in the city’s poorer areas. Outer boroughs, such as the Bronx and Queens, reported higher percentages of subway-induced inconveniences and consequences, including missed interviews and job losses. It comes as no surprise then that when it came time to award the subway a letter grade, 68% of Bronx residents graded service a “D” or “F” compared to only 21% of Manhattanites. Overall, the subway earned a “C” or lower from 71% of New York City locals.
Unfortunately, even the city’s response to this crisis has experienced delays. In light of his survey’s findings, Stringer has conceived a $3.5 billion project to fund an updated signal system and track repairs. However, a majority of the improvements scheduled to be made this year are presently delayed, with only one plan expected to be completed by 2018. Until then, New Yorkers must ride knowing that one commute can cost much more than just a swipe of a MetroCard.