A broken escalator and a credibility gap


In the Daily News today, Erin Durkin has a fairly routine story on an escalator outage at the High St. subway stop. One of the escalators at the deep-cavern station has been out since September 9, and despite MTA pledges to fix it in a timely fashion, the authority has already missed three repair dates. Many older riders struggle to mount the 60 stairs, and Brooklyn politicians are disappointed. “A broken escalator is frustrating, but missed deadlines and broken promises make a bad problem a whole lot worse,” State Senator Daniel Squadron said.

The MTA has long had a touch-and-go relationship with its escalators. Sometimes, the private developers responsible for maintaining the escalators don’t pick up their end of the deal; at other times, Transit’s own crews underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete the job. It doesn’t matter what the excuse is, but this problem gets at the MTA’s credibility gap. No matter how much effort the authority puts toward internal restructuring and cost-cutting, no matter how many improvements they make, until they can show to the public that seemingly minor repairs — such as a broken escalator — can be made in an efficiently and timely fashion, New Yorkers will never believe the authority can do all it says it can do in the transit realm.

One teacher who lives in Brooklyn Heights put it best. “We don’t believe them anymore,” Helen Pearlstein said. “They say the end of October, then they said the beginning of November, then they said the 15th. Residents here are just so frustrated.”

Categories : Asides, MTA Absurdity

5 Responses to “A broken escalator and a credibility gap”

  1. Ray says:

    One word. Outsource.

  2. Think twice says:

    Several things:

    I wonder what’s the NYCDOT’s and PA’s track record for getting routine repairs done? If it’s better, then what can MTA learn from it.

    This, in a nutshell, is what I dread about the very expensive, deep-level, high maintenance, disconcertingly delicate-looking stations their building for the SAS and perhaps for every new subway station henceforth. All on the premise that “every other city is building ’em like this”, but not every city masochistically hires “Vinnie Boombatz’s Escalator/Elevator Repair” time and time again.

    I know we discussed station naming rights and station sponsorships. But is there any precedent anywhere for “complete station operation”? Something along the lines of what CTA and Apple did. Where a private or independent entity is contracted for a set period of time to maintain, routinely repair, or enhance an entire subway station. In other words, instill a profit-motive for good station maintenance. I see Bryant Park taking control of it’s own destiny and doing creative things that no other park seems to do. Getting it’s shit done. I see the Cemusa bus shelters and newsstands popping up everywhere and realize that if a regular government bureaucracy was tasked to do this themselves, it would have taken decades to bring this many bus shelters and newsstands up to the new standard.

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