The 30-Second Silent Video That Every MTA Rider Should See

The next time you hear a friend talking about the time their train stayed still for 30 minutes because of signal problems, or the time they waited 45 minutes for a bus then watched four buses pull up simultaneously, or the time they almost got pushed onto the tracks because the platform was so crowded, point them to this video from the Riders Alliance. It’s 30 seconds of truth about Andrew Cuomo.

What the clip lacks in decibels it makes up for in directness. We have a governor who thinks a press conference about wi-fi on buses can substitute for a transit system that meets the demands of a city of 8.5 million residents and growing. Spread the word!

  • Komanoff

    Wish I had the$$ to put this on millions of screens.

  • Anonymous

    “The next time you hear a friend talking about the time their train stayed still for 30 minutes because of signal problems, or the time they waited 45 minutes for a bus then watched four buses pull up simultaneously, or the time they almost got pushed onto the tracks because the platform was so crowded…”

    None of the problems mentioned require $7.3 billion to solve them. They are operational problems that, if the MTA was run like a private company, would be solved by process improvement, just-in-time supply chain management, kaizen, firing the worst workers, upgrading IT systems, giving bonuses and promotions to the best employees, etc – all the soft “corporate” stuff that would actually cut costs, not require new investments.

    The only reason this video is effective is because the call for funding will push state legislators (and perhaps Cuomo) towards MoveNY. We should have toll reform for many reasons; but new funding is not going to make bus dispatchers do their job better; it’s not going to stop signal maintenance managers from falsifying records; it’s not going to stop promotions based on seniority instead of qualifications; etc. Transparency and accountability will do that, and for much cheaper. Reforming the civil service will do that. Performance metrics will do that. More money will not.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, we need more funding for the MTA but at the same time we need to demand more efficiency. Right now an oft-used acronym for MTA is Money Thrown Away. It’s sadly not too far from the truth. Antiquated work rules, plus a union determined to protect obsolete jobs forever, is a big part of the problem. So are shoddy work practices. If there was a real threat of losing your job, your pension, for non-performance then things would change.

    I wholeheartedly agree promotions should be based on qualifications, not how long you’ve worked there. Same thing with pay. Union pay scales based solely on seniority discourage doing anything more than the bare minimum needed to keep your job. We need people who go the extra mile. For that we need to reward them.

  • William Farrell

    On the contrary, I think that many of these problems are rooted in capital side, which in turn affects the operational side. Decrepit century-old infrastructure including 19th century signal technology contribute substantially to subway delays. Upgrading signals and automating certain processes will absolutely increase the system’s reliability. Not to mention half-century old rolling stock which will certainly break down more often, and our lack of open-gangway cars which could increase capacity by up to 10%. Decades-old fare payment technology inflate bus loading times, though a lot of the problems with the bus must be addressed through NYCDOT, which controls the right-of-way at the surface level.

    Of course there is much to be improved with the MTA, in terms of operational and capital expenditures, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • Joe R.

    In personally don’t understand why the next order of subway cars isn’t open gangway. The MTA is ordering one train of test cars with open gangways. One train! I feel like butt slapping them. This isn’t some experimental new technology never used anywhere in the world. Open gangway cars have been in use in transit systems overseas for well over a decade, if not more.

    The signals absolutely need upgrading for two reasons. One, they’re unreliable. Two, they give the MTA an excuse to cripple their trains and increase running times.

  • Anonymous

    In general, I agree with you. I’m just trying to point out that some things that, in the public mind, have to do with the infusion of new capital, are in reality about operations.

    There is a difference between “decrepit” and “outdated.” The former implies that something breaks more often than it should. If a signal breaks once a week it’s because it’s not maintained properly. The latter means that something is intrinsically poorly designed or doesn’t use the latest technology. A relay that takes five seconds to switch states is old – but five seconds will not materially affect how on-time a train is!

    Antique automobiles run beautifully, because they are well maintained. But fail to change the oil in a modern car for 20,000 miles, and it will stall. If the MTA had a proper maintenance regimen that fixed things before they failed, signals wouldn’t fail, even if they are 100 years old.


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