While Cuomo Drives a 1930s Car, Subway System’s 1930s Tech Melts Down

Multiple lines were delayed on Friday — but here's the good news: the governor got to drive his favorite old car across the Tappan Zee Bridge!

Gov. Cuomo loves cars. Can he do what it takes to rein them in, as the new climate-change bill requires? Photo: Governor's office
Gov. Cuomo loves cars. Can he do what it takes to rein them in, as the new climate-change bill requires? Photo: Governor's office

Another subway meltdown, another day when Gov. Cuomo celebrated cars.

On Friday morning, no less than 12 subway lines were delayed during rush hour because of failures by the subway system’s signal system, with parts dating back to the 1930s. At roughly the same time, Cuomo, who oversees the subway system, was driving a 1930s car over the new Tappan Zee Bridge, a juxtaposition that we turned into this handy photo:

Photo (left): Governor's office. Photo (right): Matt Swider, via Twitter
Photo (left): Governor’s office. Photo (right): Matt Swider, via Twitter

The Riders Alliance listed the full magnitude of the problem for the subway customers in the photo at right:

The crowded E and M trains were each delayed twice, by two different signal problems. At the height of the morning commute, between 8:30 and 9 a.m., trains were simultaneously delayed on the packed Queens Boulevard, Fulton Street, and Lexington Avenue lines. Altogether, riders on the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, C, E, F, J, M, and R trains had their commutes to work upended by broken subway signals.
New signals to replace the faulty 1930s-era technology still in use today are at the heart of the MTA’s Fast Forward plan to fix the subway, which state government in Albany has yet to fund … The governor, who controls the MTA and the state budget process, is the only person in New York who can solve this problem.

“In all it took me over an hour and a half to get to work today,” said one of the group’s organizers, Samaya Abdus-Salaam, whose commute from the Bronx to Manhattan on the 6 train usually takes 50 minutes.  “We couldn’t move. So I got off the 6, took the bus all the way to Grand Concourse, transferred to the D to West 4th and then finally caught the E to Spring Street.”

Abdus-Salaam’s pro-transit group was not alone in pointing out the juxtaposition of the Governor’s mode of transportation on Friday and the failing system left to straphangers:

And Nolan Hicks of the New York Post added some context:

Cuomo’s Democratic challenger and noted subway rider Cynthia Nixon was herself delayed this morning.

“We did arrive home late, and the trains were absolutely packed,” said campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt. “We almost missed the 1 because there was no space.”

Nixon later tweeted about the incumbent’s stewardship of the system.

Before fully demonizing the people who run the subway system, at least note that the NYCT Subway Twitter account was very apologetic.

The agency did own up to a blown fuse that hurt service on the 4, 5 and 6 line and the C train. And a broken signal at Court Square. There was also a suicide on the Q train.

The Riders Alliance asked straphangers to sign a petition or share their war stories at ridersny.org/mycommute.
Story was updated to include a comment from the Nixon campaign.
  • Joe R.

    It’s been a challenging morning for our subway system. This is not the service we hope to provide. Please continue to expect delays as we resolve several issues and clear congestion.

    Rough translation:

    Sorry straphangers but we really don’t know what the f*ck we’re doing here. After all, we always thought the sole purpose of the MTA was to provide do-nothing jobs to politically connected people. It comes as a shock to us that we’re actually supposed to provide transit service. Give us some time to figure out how to do that. In the meantime bear with us and be grateful the rare times we actually get you where you’re going before you’re old enough to collect Social Security.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Here is the thing — if you think that what has gone on for 25 years can be fixed in two, it ain’t so. The MTA is about were Lucy and Ethel are at 1:30.

  • Joe R.

    Basically what the MTA has been doing is the polar opposite of the saying “Don’t let your failure to plan become my emergency.”

    Everything that is happening with the system now is the end result of pretending problems don’t exist. If this has really been going on for the last 25 years as you say, it’s worthy of criminal charges against those involved.

  • Larry Littlefield

    They got a lot of them on other charges rather than the real crimes, though not enough.


    Big picture — the entire economy isn’t that much different than the I Love Lucy piece — as a generation tries to hide the consequences of nearly four decades of future selling away until they can get “grandfathered” into all the benefits they have promised themselves before the bills come due.


  • Rail Provocateur

    Cuomo never fails to evidence the problem with vainly seeking to maintain an enduring legacy that persistently fails to live up to that image, perpetually plaguing the state with one party rule that seeps into the 5 boroughs led by a similar inept political protege.

    The end result is quite obvious–a failed subway system that had been repaired once before by David Gunn, with the backing of Mayor Giuliani. Cuomo is fixated on “Back to the Future” redux, bu diverting dedicating funding from subway signaling systems and improved infrastructure to splashier projects for his smiley face to appear upon. The MTA persists in walking in circles in its bloated bureaucracy. Thanks to Cuomo and DeBlasio, the unions run rampant with their outdated work rules foisting upon any transit project excessive numbers of idle workers at extraordinary costs; yet, nothing is accomplished in time or on budget. The bottom line–neither Cuomo nor DeBlasio are anything close to how great LaGuardia was; though it is never too late to learn.

    The question all should be asking right now is as the subway is allowed to deteriorate during these high times, what will happen if a second super recession hits and their is no funding to salvage the subways..?

  • Joe R.

    A super recession might be a blessing in disguise. The city can use the reduced tax revenues as justification to default on bonds and reduce pensions to what the workers signed up for, not the pension they’re receiving due to unfunded retroactive pension increases.

    To be fair, the MTA isn’t the only entity with the problems you mention. We can easily cut the budgets of the NYPD and DOE in half and nobody would notice (except the people who currently have do-nothing patronage jobs).

  • Larry Littlefield

    That is the question. And not just about the MTA.

  • Daisy Executive Limousine LLC

    Always eager to create memorable experiences, some of Europe’s best hotels are introducing their guests to some of Europe’s most celebrated motor vehicles.

    I first got an inkling of this trend upon exiting the Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel in Monte Carlo one morning this past summer. Parked out front was a Citroen DS19 convertible, which, I learned, I could rent from a local company that works with the Beach Plaza and other Cote d’Azur hotels to provide guests with a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.

    Yes, thrill. I get emotional whenever I see a Citroen because I owned a 1972 DS21 for seven wonderful years during which the car, although admittedly idiosyncratic and requiring a certain amount of coddling, never failed or stranded me.

    And I’m not alone in my adulation. The Wall Street Journal’s esteemed automobile writer, Dan Neil, has called the Citroen DS “the most beautiful car of all time.” And Jay Leno calls it “the most innovative car ever designed” and “the most comfortable car ever built.”

    You’ve seen this car before: it has starred in countless films and TV shows. Chevy Chase drove one in “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” it appeared in “The Pink Panther 2,” and most recently in “Call Me by Your Name.” And in fact the Citroen I saw in Monte Carlo was the very same car that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie drive during the opening credits of 2015’s “By the Sea,” set on the Cote d’Azur in the 1960s. They play a couple on the verge of divorce, ironically. http://www.daisylimo.com


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