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.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

If Crowded Old Airports Are “Un-New York,” What Are Crowded Old Trains?

|
Andrew Cuomo’s big infrastructure announcement with VP Joe Biden today was, if nothing else, a tidy encapsulation of how little the governor cares about the big problems facing New York’s transportation systems. For days the governor’s office had been hyping his appearance with Biden. Was Cuomo finally about to tell New Yorkers how he’s going to modernize the trains and buses […]

Bloomberg Announces Carpool Rule for Manhattan-Bound Drivers

|
After a morning and afternoon when car traffic completely clogged NYC streets and river crossings, Mayor Bloomberg announced new restrictions for drivers entering Manhattan via bridges and tunnels on Thursday and Friday. On most crossings, only cars with three or more people will be allowed to enter Manhattan. “Anybody that tried to drive around New […]

Are Subway Riders the Angriest Commuters?

|
The Times has been running a series this month, called Next Stop, about the experience of commuting in the New York metro region. Reporter Billie Cohen took a different route to or from Manhattan every weekday, riding all manner of buses, trains, and subways. No bike commutes so far (and with just a few days […]