And just imagine a barely functional and safe transit system and mobile daily commutes. 72nd Street Station surface upgrade by Yoko Ono Lennon. Not ADA compliant.
New York, N.Y.
2019 has and will become quite an historic year for New York City transit. But most definitely not in a good way. For the future of it looks fucking bleak despite all the optimism being expressed by elected and appointed officials about all the moolah for infrastructure improvements coming.
Now that it has been decided to keep the base fare of a subway/bus ride at 2.75 while eliminating the bonus charges and raising the cost of unlimited weekly and monthly cards, this would be a good time make a layman’s assessment about the current state of the New York City Transit System run by the MTA, the worst fucking transit system in the universe. Because recent incidents and decisions have given sunlight to the crisis below, as well as above and at ground level regarding our mass transit options, which will also have a deleterious effect on traffic on the island of Manhattan and on the streets and highways that will surely continue to deteriorate and the commutes regarding the and safety by all dependent on the buses and trains (not ferries, fucking please). And it’s also shown that no one is truly capable of being assertive, proactive and having independent or rational thoughts or ideas at MTA. It surely isn’t the board whose dithering members are appointed by the mayor and governor, despite it’s alleged independence and expertise.
But it’s clear who is and always was in charge and that’s our third go-round and self-christened progressive Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose very wrong hands and demented disruptor mind has determined the fate of the MTA transit imbroglio. Apparently, the governor is under the borderline mental delusion that he doesn’t have enough control and has divined himself the autocrat savior of the transit system. This is not even as ego driven like his overzealous order to get the 2nd avenue line finished so he can throw a new years party, this is Andy’s id taking control now with this idiotic and dangerous plan to keep the L train running on time. Even Moussilini would’ve shown more restraint and self-awareness.
But how did we get to this current lowly state of mass transit and the commuting crisis in general? It all began back in January, when the decrepit saltwater hurricane Sandy corroded Canarsie Tunnel was about to be shut down in a mere 3.2 months away. After three years of meticulous research and planning by the MTA board and recently installed transit president Andy Byford along with efforts by the D.O.T. to redesign the streets of the L’s path to remediate traffic with bike lanes and improve bus service on 14th st. (despite the haphazard designs), the Governor suddenly had an epiphany induced by a dubious recollection of being grabbed by a stranger who yelled at him, which led to a visit to the tunnel when he last looked longingly at things in there, and bemused to himself that the commute could still be saved.
So Mario’s son looked and pointed at things with an entourage of hoity-toity college academic officials with absolutely no experience assessing mass transit infrastructure, and decided to scrap the 15 month thorough renovation of the tunnel and rely on an earlier rejected plan to rearrange and restructure the infrastructure’s power supplies on top of the tunnel instead. Instead of fixing and fortifying the corrosion and cracks with good old concrete and mortar, the governor and his new egghead crew decided to go with a polymer glass coating instead. During this new surface coating, the L train will continue to run as scheduled on the weekdays while running on one track on the weekend and on nights after 8 p.m. in 20 minute intervals during the two year (or more) reconstruction.
Transit crisis averted? Not exactly, because this plan was previously and soundly rejected by Cuomo’s board because of the deadly risk of spreading and exposure of cancer causing silica dust that would be released during the construction as transit service re-opened. And the GIF NYC transit provided the public with showing how the trains will flow in one tube underwater looks scary as fuck. But Andy’s id was not going to let potential environmental hazard get in the way of slaying the Lpocalypse. This mentally ill megalomaniac decision is already causing reverberations to commutes and literally the environment along the L train’s tunnels path in the niche towns of Williamsburg and Bushwick.
Exactly a month after Andy’s L plan, the Graham Ave. Station in East Williamsburg (or Bushwick as it used to be called) had to be shut down because of an overwhelming pungent gas smell that sickened a few commuters on the train when it was stalled on the tracks and then nauseated the rest of the passengers as it was slow crawling to the ground zero station. In spite of this incident, an MTA official somehow discerned that the air was safe and the L train resume it’s schedule despite the peculiar appearance of high-powered fans laid on the gratings above the tunnel to extract the noxious fuel odors out.
The following day after this announcement, three MTA workers got violently ill from the fumes that were alleged to be gone as other workers took the precaution of pulling their sweaters over their mouths until they received protective face masks.
The source of the fumes had become an evolving mystery but for some bizarre reason, MTA chief safety officer Pat Warren still claimed that the air at Graham Ave. was still safe to breathe. According to lifestyle and occasional actual news blog Gothamist and the NY Daily News, the MTA attributions of the source of the toxic entity changed during the first 48 hours. First it was determined that it was fuel that was accidentally spilled from diesel trains being used during weekend work construction; then it was blamed on an abandoned fuel tank underneath an abandoned gas station; and finally and absurdly, the MTA tried to pin the blame on superfund site Newtown Creek from a Greenpoint refinery spill from the 70’s. Of all those theories, the one that makes the most sense is the first one, being that weekend work has already begun. The other two theories are asinine considering that both of them were unfounded given that there was no evidence the station tank leaked, which probably led to conjuring up some ooze from Newtown Creek that suddenly migrated to the subway tunnels. It seems the MTA is coming up with these theories not to be more transparent but to obviously gaslight commuters and the press from finding out what the fuck is actually going on.
Or maybe the MTA is feigning ignorance. Because when the FDNY showed up in full Hazmat suits to determine the toxic levels of the leak, they did not bother to measure it on orders from the city and state environmental boards.
That’s not the only gaslighting by our servants of mass transit. A month following the gassing of Graham Ave., as the pungent toxicity rose from the crisis below and spread into the ether above permeating apartment buildings and stores in the area, evidence of the error of Cuomo’s Id and his crack Ivy league team’s L revival decision manifested at Bedford Avenue station in Greenpoint, as a cloud of thick dust inundated the station on another Monday morning rush hour.
Well, guess what was the contents of the contamination that scared the shit out of commuters, it was the presence of the predicted silica dust that was prophesized. But the MTA spokesman wasn’t divulging much but did proclaim that despite evidence of the thickness and noxious odor of the particles and the sight of workers and police with protective face masks on the platform, that the air was still safe to breathe! It evidently seems that the MTA is utilizing the same spin control that Christie Todd Whitman utilized to assuage the public back in 2001 that the air was safe to breathe at Ground Zero weeks after 9/11/2001 so the traumatized city service workers could resume excavating remains at the destroyed WTC site.
Evidently, the MTA is clearly trying to distract their worried commuters from the fact that the weekend work that was approved by Cuomo’s id is causing the environmental hazard it was expected to cause. Which is why this plan that was revived was rejected in the first place. And the MTA’s crass denials of the air quality should cause immediate pause to anyone that what if these were attempts by terrorists to poison the tunnels instead of just causations from worker incompetence.
Another little problem with Cuomo/MTA tunnel surface remediation plan? Well, last summer on the Jersey Transit, a PATH tunnel with similar infrastructure with overhead wiring exploded causing a metal bracket to pierce through a train’s ceiling like a spear, causing 700 passengers to evacuate awaiting a rescue train and another 350 remaining stuck on a train behind it from the sharpnel and debris on the tracks . Fortunately for them, they were near Penn Station. What’s going to happen when this happens on the L train when they are done moving that wiring on the Canarsie roof and putting that polymer balm on the cracks and crevices around the walls and the floor bed?
With the frightening prospect of taking the L as construction continues for the next 20 months (but certainly more than that). Mayor de Blasio, while nowhere to be found during those two toxic transit disasters as well as four recent incidents of transit debris falling from the elevated tracks in Woodside and Richmond Hill, continues to push his stupid and expensive NYC Ferry transportation option as well as funding another study for the loathed and loathsome BQX trolley.
As was expected of anything de Blasio promotes and focusing his attention on, the NYC Ferry has turned into a disastrously expensive boondoggle. For the subsidized costs for each $2.75 ride amounts to $10.73, which went up four and change from the 6 buck estimate from last year and went up two bucks from estimates a few months ago. As the costs of the new ferries on the way is going to cost another $369 million. The timing of this report coincides de Blasio’s announcement of the ferry’s expansion of new stops in Staten Island and Coney Island, which will not be ready till 2020 and 2021 respectively and another one at the Brooklyn Navy Yard which will be ready to launch this May. The launching of the Coney Island one next year is expected to balloon the already high subsidy costs to $24.75 for every fare.
As if de Blasio’s prioritizing of the ferry over the dilapidated condition of the subway and roads and the snails pace speed of the city buses wasn’t crass enough, somehow he couldn’t placate residents of the town of Canarsie with a ferry stop of their own, even though they compiled 6,000 signatures and actually have a dock ready for renovation. Which unsurprisingly validates the fact this ferry are basically ersatz yachts and is only beneficial and necessary for the wealthy and tourists and not meant for the commuting needs of the proletariat masses. Which the ready made stop at hipster frequented Brooklyn Navy yard as well as all the luxury development stops on the East River in Manhattan proves the inequitable treatment against the more frequented subway and bus services in spades (or anchors?). Besides, Canarsie didn’t have a chance because those real estate gentrification enabling porch monkeys at the city’s Economic Development Corporation didn’t put the town on the feasibility list, even though the Bronx town of Soundview never even had a pier before and they were declared feasible by the EDC. Amazing what becoming a real estate speculative hot bed with looming parasitic tower hyperdevelopment can do for an selective area. But despite being a reverse revenue generator, de Blasio’s inducement of the NYC ferry is a city taxpayer funded investment now even though the only benefit to come from this seasonal leisure service will go straight into the bank account of EDC board member Mark Patricof who has a conflicted invested interest he holds in Hornblower from previously working in private equity firm with holdings in the transit yacht provider.
But these are not the only transit offenses against the citizenry he swore to serve these last 6 long years, especially the poor he pandered to get elected in 2013. After much cajoling by house speaker Corey Johnson, Da Mayor relented and implemented the Fair Fares program to begin at the start of 2019 to be available to 700,000 struggling citizens. And what came naturally from the notoriously tardy and slow mayor, the program took nearly a month to send the discounts out and limited the distribution to 30,000 applicants. Expectedly from the two-faced liar, it was nothing but a half-measure because the cards were sent out as unlimited weekly or monthly cards instead of day to day purchases which these commuters usually spend, being that they don’t have 20 or 60 dollars to plunk down right away or even have the cash at all if they are without a job. The expected diminished result is barely over hundred people are using these Fair Fares. Why couldn’t the city tell the MTA to arrange the card like its done with the school and senior citizen reduced cards. But being helpful to the most financially burdened has never been much of concern for the notorious Mayor Big Slow.
Of course, forgotten in this whole MTA mess is the man who was assigned to save it while stressing transparency and credibility for the agency, Transit President Andy Byford who arrived last year with such great fanfare and who was recently featured on 60 minutes last autumn, whose nfluence, authority and plans now been undermined and virtually eliminated by Andy’s id . His absence from the L train aborted shutdown announcement and his lack of input of the decision to sugarcoat the cracked tunnel walls and floorboards with polymer, which the initial contractor rightfully thought was a stupid and dangerous idea 2 years ago, was majorly conspicuous. Compounded with Gov. Stugots autocratic decision to junk Andy’s proven idea to upgrade the anachronistic signal system with a computer based CBTC that has been used successfully when he ran the tube in London and the subway in Toronto and has been effective since it’s been applied to the L line (figures) with some ultraband radio wave bullshit idea that Andy’s id got from Elon Musk, while Byford’s thoroughly detailed Fast Foward plan has not gotten one penny for its funding to this day since it was announced with great fanfare and widespread media coverage.
And it was looking very certain that he and FF will never get it, and recent and current history validates that horrendous fact according to NYS Comptroller Thomas de Napoli’s report as surmounting debts are going to interfere with all other moderation and renovations of the subways infrastructure. The Fast Forward plan as devolved into the Flying Fuck, meaning that Governor Stugots doesn’t give one about it at all. These two have not been in the same photo op together since I don’t know fuck when.
And Byford’s plan to make 50 stations handicap accessible was about to get chopped to 36 because of these looming debts, which derived from the blowback of the underfunding for the accessibility retrofits over a decade ago when just 1.8% was allocated for it and with the funding about to dry up as the final days of the current five year transit plan is about to end this year If this wasn’t horrendous enough consider that 6 stations were shut down for months for surface and aesthetic modernizations like self-indulgent art and led screens flashing MTA bulletins and maps. The 72nd St B/C Station and the 23rd Street Station comes to mind.
With these dubious upgrades, Andy’s id’s MTA proves that the only subway improvements are designed for tourists to navigate through the city and niche parts of Brooklyn and Queens (and even the Bronx) on nice screens like the theme park this city has turned into. And all this art being installed is just there for the Instagram addicted. Supposedly the funding is only a morsel of budgetary spending, that morsel could have been allocated for initial funding on an elevator that could have been installed at a station where a mother killed herself falling down the steps while carrying a full stroller and her toddler daughter.
Too bad and too little too late that a federal judge recently decided that the MTA had to require all station renovations must be ADA compliant. The problem of course is where to get the funding again to honor the judge’s decision, because Mario’s son’s MTA burned through all the money that was to upgrade other stations, which would have also went into art that nobody asked for instead of signal and infrastructure upgrades, unsightly dilapidation of the ceilings, walls and stairs and of course elevators for the disabled as well for the elderly and children’s strollers. The latter which recently got tragic attention when a woman died trying to carry her stroller with child down along with shopping bags as she fell down the stairs when there was no escalator available in the city’s 7th avenue station.
But all is not lost for these looming and practically insurmountable expenses, for Governor Stugots budget passed with the ratification of congestion pricing to supposedly fix the MTA once and for all. Expected to accrue funding for the subway, a tolling system will be put in place to charge regular car drivers $11 and commercial truck drivers $25 to enter Manhattan below 60th street to downtown. Because that’s the way to derive funding for mass transit and levy it on people who choose to own a vehicle so they never use it and also to people that are just in town to do their jobs.
The thing is this tax levy on car owning commuters and delivery workers (a glut of them who don’t make a living wage) won’t be implemented until 2020, conveniently after the next election for Albany’s assembly and senate.
The only saving grace for car owners is that the congestion fees/taxes for driving in Manhattan will not be implemented until December 2020 (conveniently after the next election) and won’t go into effect in another two years, or maybe more being that there will have to be a system to take all the congestion tolls. Probably something like those ugly ass LINKNYC data succubi kiosks.
Of course there were more reliable and faster ways to come up with the billions to fix the crisis below; like the long overdue, sensible and fiscally responsible legalization of marijuana. But the arguments among all officials (mostly paranoid) about how it will be distributed and who should profit from it first and also expected resistance from rigid Republican elected officials and the upper echelons of law enforcement. But it got nixed from consideration in the budget hearings, so New York is going to continue to lag behind other states like Colorado, Massachusettes, California and the nation of Canada and lose billions in tax dollars from the manufacturing and selling of it.
And the big dirty obscene open secret of the minuscule taxes oligarchs pay for pied-e-terres in supertall dark luxury towers. But that immediately got crushed when REBNY sent their wormtongue minions to inundate news sites with developer agitprop and to Albany and persuaded the Assembly that these investor citizens ossified personal wealth absolutely can’t be sacrificed for the transit needs and safety of daily commuters. Despite recent heinous news of a billionaire hedge fund owner who paid $238 million for a sky high home on Central Park South and Jeff Bezos looking to purchase another multi-million dollar abode in the same building along with the four other ones he owns nearby on Central Park West. Hundreds of millions of dollars that would have been extracted from these welfare oligarchs and also from other American and foreign billion and hundred millionaire sloths who purchased these tax shelters in various luxury monoliths that have sprouted in Manhattan as well as the East River coasts of towns in Brooklyn and Queens are now gone. Gone with all the money that was never accounted for prior to this proposal.
You think the feckless Albany cowards would have debunked whatever bullshit REBNY’s wormtongues were spewing when all they had to do is look at Hudson Yards, where a train station built there before the gilded age girder and glass beanstalks were planted. While the developers, city and state were gerrymandering districts (and including Central Park) to pilfer billions from areas that needed it for affordable housing to fund it’s manifestation, the station flooded every time it rained and the escalators consistently break down even to this day. In a way, it looks like having people walk up almost 3 flights from the subway is a good way to train for the useless shawarma art staircase that you first see coming out of the station.
Which leads to the obvious conclusion that our elected leaders, appointed officials and the fucking MTA are relying on the neoliberal doctrine of using austerity measures to rebuild and improve mass transit. What usually happens with cutting costs for government projects and the abject refusal from officials to accrue funding from the wealthiest individuals, austerity always devastates the livelihoods of the lower tiers of the income ladder. Because with congestion pricing, the needs of the few (or the one) outweigh the needs of the many.
Like the taxi drivers, who currently contribute $2.50 to add on to the base fare while tech corporations like Uber and Lyft only charge an extra quarter even though there are five times more of those app-hail cars on the streets that’s actually is at fault for all the congestion. Because of cab and livery drivers taking their own lives in the past year, this has been dubbed as the “suicide surcharge” by taxi veterans and representatives.
And everyone else will also be levied with this tax when you go to any store that sells goods, from supermarkets to department stores, because those costs are going to be added right to your purchases, adding to the prices that are already rising because of onerous state and city taxes and rent ossification. Even all you pious non-driving, bike, scooter and skateboard riding dependent on your butler apps for Amazon to deliver shit to your shiftless asses, you will be seeing costs escalate for your online consuming too and y’all know Bezos is not above gouging his customers as you’re transit commutes get more chaotic.
As for the #LpocalypseProject’s schedule, Northeast Brooklyn’s millenial urban professionals (hey, Muppies!) who will not tolerate waiting for 20 minutes or more or even the risk of getting poisoned from silica wafting in the air, they will predictably press their little apps and take pricey trips in those Ubers, Lyfts and all their imitators (and certainly more to come) to the city. While the added fees will get accrued for MTA funding it will predictably cause more congestion. No wonder Uber spent 2 million dollars lobbying to get this austerity measure ratified. They are going to make huge bank in the next year and no wonder the city rushed to get the suicide surcharge approved for just the cabs and apphails. That actually makes fiscal sense despite the levies it’s placing on their customers. But if they can afford 1700 to live in an SRO or 2200 for an “affordable” studio, the Muppies can deal with this hardship. But it still going to be a pain in the ass commute for everyone from the not yet gentrified towns of East New York, Brownsville and the ferry-less Canarsie.
As for the Canarsie Tunnel, that also is an austerity measure with inequitable results between the affluent and the working class grinders. Because this polymer coating is just a half-measured temporary fix that is going to have disastrous consequences when the next hurricane hits this city (remember that bitch Sandy was just a cat. 1, what’s going to happen when it’s a cat. 3 or even 2?), and this infrastructure donut glaze coating of the walls and floorboards is just as cheap and effective as treating a wall with mold and grime on it by painting over it, which the MTA actually did at Union Square last winter.
Or covering it up with a nice poster
While service will continue to lag behind in the borough’s towns without niche, the city provided frequent bus transfers for L project sufferers so they can get to the J/M and G trains across town. Which will certainly be busier on the evenings and weekends than the rest of the borough’s long bus routes that are still suffering from slow speeds and late arrivals caused by…traffic congestion.
The appalling inequities that are present with the Lpocalypse Project I base on the fact that the MTA should have fixed this and shut down this tunnel immediately after the flood waters emptied out back in 2011. But that would have thrown a wrench on the over-luxury-hyper-development and fabrication-speculation market rate values of Williamsburg and then onward to neighboring Bushwick and Greenpoint and the Gentrification Industrial Complex of real estate, venture capital, private equity and the government they bought and now own were not going to let something like the safety of millions of commuters get in the way of the demographic they want that are willing to spend frivolously and mindlessly to live in proximity of the dreaded L line.
The coddling of the moneyed hipster demo that overspends and resides along the L train line fearing that they won’t make any readjustments to their morning and evening commutes or routines. More essential to the Guvner and the Hotel and Hospitality overlords is that this L train fakeout will keep service still convenient for tourists residing in high end flophouse hotels and airbnbs in the Meatpacking district, Chelsea, LES, East Village and Williamsburg to continue frequenting all those theme bars, beer gardens, restaurants and cache take out joints in those areas being that they only need to travel a few stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn
And even the MTA is cognizant of this, because they are going head on to phase out the metrocard and replace it with a stylish but lamely named access card called OMNY, which operates as a worker I.D. card which will be used to tap a screen to pay instead of swiping. And it also will be app-accessible so you can use your cellphone to pay. Even though the brainiacs behind this stupid tech bullshit method refuse to reveal how this will effect people who pay cash (and people that will still prefer to pay cash). These type of transactions have proved to be discriminatory and the prospects for unwanted data extraction will be (hopefully) met with universal anger from commuters. Of course, the officials pushing this pay method (including Byford) responded with the tone-deaf default excuse that everyone already is distributing their data with their cellphone social media and app purchasing habits, so what does the right to privacy and individuality matter when convenience takes precedence over constitutional rights.
But like Moussilli, Andy’s Id still kept the trains running (assuming on time is pure conjecture at this point) despite all the ominous toxic signs from the two incidents in February in March. Further evidence of Governor Stugots austerity measures for the MTA is assigning his Ivy league team who convinced him to keep the L running during the tunnel reconstruction for every other remediation and renovation projects, which includes the upgrading of the signals thus superseding and undermining Andy Byford in the same manner that former Mayor Giuliani projected his seething jealousy on former Commissioner Bratton for his accomplishments in bringing down crime.
Cuomo’s adamant megalomania and de Blasio’s spineless indifference will add to the risks and dangers of the continued exacerbation of the subway. In the midst of this MTA manic depression breakdown, at least one of their board members reassured the reality of their transit surroundings by admitting and actually apologizing for the existential lousiness of the subway.
Now it’s day two of the Lpocalypse Project and as expected shit went wrong on the L with delays lasting up to 40 minutes. It looks like the folks at NYC Transit thought the GIF they provided of the trains navigating the single tube passage looked easier than they thought. But at least they deployed MTA workers to act as commuting ushers to help the critical masses of people to get on board the trains.
But tomorrow is Monday and that’s when shit gets real. Because there is still the menacing prospect of particle pollution that will surely appear again on Bedford Ave if the MTA doesn’t contain it, some of the workers moving commuters were already wearing masks as a precaution. And the shit’s gonna hit the fan now that it’s May and it’s almost summer. Will Governor Stugots Cuomo whoosh down from Albany to look at the results of his manic change of mind when the crisis below exacerbates?
Wait with abated breath. Which actually would prudent to do if you still are taking the L all the way through.
Good luck L commuters. You’re gonna really need it. But you’re gonna need a chemical mask even more.