Aug
13

A never-ending wishlist for transit improvements

By

Early last month, the MTA announced their latest customer feedback initiative. With the promise of free rides for a few lucky participants, the agency launched a customer survey initiative designed to help the MTA better understand their riders’ opinions of existing services and their priorities for improvement. Three to five times per year, the MTA will approach those who sign up, and as a carrot for completion, some participants will receive a free pass good for 10 rides somewhere.

“We need a larger customer sample to drive our understanding of customer priorities down to finer levels of operation, such as individual subway lines or groups of stations,” Peter Harris, MTA Director of Market Research, said last month. “Our goals are to increase public participation while providing MTA planners with more in-depth, actionable information faster and at no extra cost, which we can do by adding well-designed online surveys to our existing research program.”

The few public responses to the survey announcement show the never-ending litany of suggestions and complaints. An article in The Poughkeepsie Journal highlighted practical and mundane areas of improvement. These suggestions ranged from doing away with a controversial $10 refund processing fee to better identifying Metro-North’s quiet cars to making sure fare vending machines aren’t reflecting the sun. Suburban commuters, it seems, have less to complain about on a day to day level than subway riders.

Within the five boroughs, complaints are endless. Gripes about delays are less indicative of systematic failures than they are of the daily ebb and flow of subway commuters. The louder complaints though concern the infrastructure. As pulsating LED lights have debuted at Bleecker St., riders from outside the core of the system are less than thrilled with station upgrades that seemingly never arrive.

One SAS reader complained of conditions at 191st Street, and I’ve heard similar complaints regarding the stations at 168th and 181st Sts. that are literally falling apart. Chambers St. on the BMT Nassau St. line sits underneath the building that houses much of the New York City bureaucracy, and it too is in shambles.

Venturing outside of Manhattan, we find recent coverage of conditions along the Sea Beach line. From the photos, you would never know some of these station elements date only from the 1980s as stairwells are eroding, and retaining walls at risk of giving out. Station conditions are grim, and it may be still be anywhere from two to six years until the MTA gets around to fixing up these stops. Subchatters are concerned with the structural integrity of the trench walls, and politicians are calling for emergency repairs.

All of which is to say that the list for improvements is endless, and then the cycle starts all over again. Even if the MTA can rehab every single station, they’ll eventually have to start over again as stations that were renovated within the past 15 years start to show their age. It’s the wear and tear of the daily commute played up against a backdrop of an agency that doesn’t have enough money to do what it needs to do and isn’t trusted with the dollars it has.

So the list will grow. Everyone wants his or her own local station to look the nicest, to be well lit, to have less water damage and fewer falling tiles, and when those renovations come, they cost too much and take too long. Just ask anyone waiting endlessly for the Bleecker St./Broadway-Lafayette transfer to finally open.



Categories : MTA Construction

60 Responses to “A never-ending wishlist for transit improvements”

  1. Alex C says:

    The Ave O entrance stairway to the northbound platform at the Bay Parkway station on the Sea Beach line had at one point smelled like fecal matter. The smell was there for about 6 months. That says it all.

    • I believe it. The stairs on the back part of the unused staircase on the Manhattan-bound platform at 7th Ave. on the Brighton Line are eroding from human urine damage and I’ve seen fecal matter on that platform more than once over the past six years. The horror stories like those are voluminous.

    • Sharon says:

      The sea beach line is the worst I have seen. The problem was for many years the Italian population did not care about the subways at all. The stations are decrepit to the point that when it rains, count on coming home covered in muck from the swish cheese holes in every corner of the station. The chinease population along this line has exploded in the last 15 years. These stations need redesign not just renovation including elevators at most stations especially bay parkway, 18 th ave and 9 th ave. these stations will see double digit increases in usage due to more Italians moving out and more Asians moving in including many older Asians.mwith the. It’s dead bent on killing off the privates operated Asian buses, thieir will even be more need

      • Nathanael says:

        “From the photos, you would never know some of these station elements date only from the 1980s as stairwells are eroding, and retaining walls at risk of giving out.”

        Did the MTA know how to build anything during the ’80s? Seriously, stuff from the 1980s falling apart?

        Hell, do they know now? Look at South Ferry.

        There seems to be some serious construction management failure at the MTA…

  2. John-2 says:

    Failure to be able to maintain the structural safety/passenger safety of many secondary entrances/passageways underground, both within and outside fare control, is the reason why so many were closed over the years. And the same holds true today — maintaining the subway is the same as the description of painting/rustproofing the Golden Gate Bridge, in that once they finish at one end, they just go back at start all over again.

    The subway is so vast you can never get it 100 percent fixed; you just have to repair things in order, then start all over again. But if the funds aren’t there to finish one round of repairs before the next round starts, either the MTA needs more cash or has to cut out some non-essential sections of the system they can’t maintain with cash on hand.

    • Bolwerk says:

      Okay, maybe 100% fixed is statistically impossible, and that’s fine, but well above 90% should be a given.

      The real problem is they don’t utilize resources they have well. Take the fact that every minor station has a token booth clerk who probably has little to do most of the day. Or that extra crewman aboard each train. Just those things alone are probably 9 figures each year that can be spent on maintenance.

      • Jeff says:

        You are expecting too much. There’s simply too much infrastructure in the NYC Subway system. Think about it – no other subway system in the world even comes close to having 400+ stations, and add in all of the track mileage and an ancient signal system and you have one of the biggest maintenance nightmares of all time.

        And no, taking food from Joe to feed Fred isn’t going to solve the problem either. It’ll definitely create new ones though.

        • Phantom says:

          Some stations should be closed, which would make for better maintenance for the rest, and faster service on the affected lines.

          • Marc Shepherd says:

            Your proposal is hard to weigh without your naming specific stations. Some of the least-used stations are near the ends of lines. Eliminating them would, in many cases, leave riders in those neighborhoods either without transit, or with considerably worse transit, than they had before. Those areas are not the most affluent, so eliminating transit for those riders would come across as decidedly elitist.

            A station like 18th Street on the #1 clearly could be eliminated, since no other line has a stop between 14th St. and 23rd St. But if you rank stations from most to least used, 18th St. is in the upper half, despite having two stations rather close by, so it would be passing strange to eliminate it, when there are hundreds of other stations that are less busy.

            • Phantom says:

              Some of the Rockaway stations are really close to other stations and have minimal riders every day. If the system was built new, no one would ever design it that way.

              You could probably close 25 stations easy while not causing disruption to any significant number of people.

              • Marc Shepherd says:

                OK, game on. Name the 25. There aren’t that many on the Rockaway line, so they’re going to have to come from somewhere else.

                • Key here is to define disruption adequately enough. I bet we could come up with 25 stations that wouldn’t cause major disruptions, but closing any stations would cause some disruption. I’m willing to tackle this challenge in a post just for the sake of the thought exercise.

                  • Phantom says:

                    Marc

                    I will turn that around – you tell me how many stations should be closed. None?

                    I will ponder your question, but not right away.

                    • Marc Shepherd says:

                      There are six closed stations along existing lines: Dean Street (Franklin Shuttle); City Hall, Worth, 18th (Lex); 91st (7th/Bdwy); Myrtle Ave (near DeKalb).

                      (These are stations where the line still exists, but trains bypass the spot where they formerly stopped. I’m not counting places where the whole line was demolished or no longer passes the former station location.)

                      All of the above were quite close to another station. There are certainly a few similar examples that are still open. Most of them fail as closure candidates for some obvious reason: either they’re busy stations (Fulton and Wall on the 2/3), or useful transfer points (Park Place on the 2/3).

                      I already mentioned above that 18th St on the #1 is above the 50th percentile in terms of traffic, despite having two other stations very close by. It would be rather silly to close a station that is busier than more than half of the system.

                      The public perception of closing stations is extremely negative, and unlike bus stops, the decision is extremely difficult to reverse if it turns out to be a mistake.

                      I am not really convinced that the system suffers from too many stations. I just spent a weekend in Paris, where many of the stations are quite close together, and they don’t seem to think it’s a problem.

                      I do agree with Bolwerk (below) that Cortelyou Rd might be a valid example, but closing it would hardly improve the MTA’s finances by very much.

                    • Alon Levy says:

                      Marc, in Paris the short stop spacing is an extreme problem. The Métro’s average speed is 20 km/h; as a result, extensions into all but the nearest suburbs are impossible, and the city had to build new tunnels for the RER, at great expense. Just hooking Line 1 to existing commuter lines instead of building the RER A would not work because travel time would be too long. The newest Métro line, Line 14, was built with much wider stop spacing, to allow for the possibility of suburban extensions.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    I think this is harder than Phantom thinks. The only one that might be almost a complete wash is Courtelyou Road. I’m not familiar with ridership patterns in most other places where stations are that close apart to comment.

                    A major criterion would be, does it cause undue crowding elsewhere? Losing the L stop on Third Ave. would probably crowd First Ave. or Union Square.

                    Park Place in Manhattan would be an obvious candidate, were it not for the transfer it provides to the E. And even then, it probably keeps other stations (Fulton and Chambers) from being too crowded.

                  • notalawyer says:

                    Disruption = any non-essential repair that increases a local residents commute by more than 50%. My commute is 1hr 5min each way. If something added more than 30 min to that I’d be upset. I think most can handle up to that for temporary, essential repairs. I think a strategy might be to close alternating stations when not Fastracking. Ex: if you were numbering stations, leave the first open, close the second, the third open, the fourth closed. Then switch. This would require someone to get off one station early or late, but probably not cause a “disruption”. These are just off the top of my head. happy to revise or hear feedback.

            • Sharon says:

              Two station that could be combined that would save operational costs is Beverly road and courtelu road on the Brighton. You would not be closing the station but rather combing them. It would be a major project but it should be planned into the time when the support walls need to be replaced.

              In addition the mta should be looking into how they can increase ridership at low volume stations. For instance There is a tremendous opurtunities to increase ridership at low volume stations south of kings highway on the f line which would also increase property values and take riders off higher volume li es such as the Brighton and sea beach.

              The state needs to have a bigger Vision on how to finance the mta. The subways companies were real estate developements companies. There are areas that the state/ city could pone in exchange or a percentage of the increased value of the results g developement . This is a win win.

          • Bolwerk says:

            I don’t see why many should be closed. Stop staffing them and most of the cost of keeping them is gone without losing the revenue they provide. At most, staff key transfer stations.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Bah, the ol’ New York is speschul argument. It’s a rationalization. Plenty of other transit systems in the world maintain a state of cleanliness and good repair with a staffing level proportionately much lower than NYC’s. We should be appalled.

          taking food from Joe to feed Fred isn’t going to solve the problem either. It’ll definitely create new ones though.

          It’s more like, Joe needs to cut the processed carbohydrates. And Fred needs to treatment for his narcolepsy.

          I’m not one of the Libertardian austerity fappers who thinks we should starve the system for the free market to take over or to punish the union, but to pretend we’re not seriously misusing resources is equally delusional.

          • John-2 says:

            There’s definitely waste, fraud and abuse. But it’s also up to the representatives, including those outside of the CBD in midtown and downtown that the MTA focuses on, to make sure the put pressure on the agency and others to stop squandering cash. But then you get to the same problem that created the preventive maintenance shortfalls in the first place — the pols all want to take credit for a new line, station, rail cars or exit/transfer point, because that’s in the public view all the time. It’s tougher to get them to push hard on providing adequate funds to maintain the system, because most of that work is behind-the-scenes and earn the pols little direct credit (something WMATA has been learning the last few years, as their system starts to reach the age NYC’s was in at the midpoint of the last century and shows the same signs of deterioration).

            • Bolwerk says:

              Think about that for a second. Are you really saying people are so stupid they can’t figure out that something going on behind the scenes is the reason why that glittering new equipment the pols get to take credit for is moving at the same snail pace as the old stuff? I can buy they don’t know that it might be the signals, worn out tracks, or dumb operating procedures. But a politician who doesn’t want to take credit for making the system more punctual is a dumb one indeed.

              The truth is simply that politicians are more scared of the TWU than they are of voters.

              • John-2 says:

                The people figure it out, eventually. But cutting corners on preventive maintenance in areas nobody sees is one of those things that tends to sneak up on voters — i.e., William Ronan didn’t announce to the Tri-State area in 1970 that the core of the new agency’s preventive maintenance plan would be to just keep painting and repainting the carbon steel trains in the MTA’s new corporate colors while ignoring the minute details, but that’s essentially what happened.

                People would see a ‘new’ R-17 roll into Grand Central on the 6, complete with silver and blue exterior and gray and pistachio green interior and believed the MTA was taking care of the system. We didn’t find out buying an ocean of paint, and removing gum and soda machines, were pretty much all Bill was doing to improve the system until 3-4 years later, when the graffiti epidemic had exploded and the trains were breaking down while the tracks and signals were falling apart.

                You couldn’t expect the average rider in 1970 to predict that, because they saw the new paint on the trains and thought other works was being done (OK, maybe not when they painted the R-7/9s — nobody in 1973 was THAT gullible), or if you rode the BMT, saw the new cider block tile stations on Broadway and Fourth Avenue and thought the stations were being properly maintained.

                Having been once burned, riders who remember the 1970s and 80s may be more likely to be on alert for any MTA mission slippage, which for now may keep things from going back to the old ways (and yes, every time the MTA finds itself with a few extra $$$ the TWU and the pols can’t come running for it like ants to a picnic. A scared John Lindsay opening up the candy story to Mike Quill in 1966 and then gutlessly throwing the keys to the store at Nelson Rockefeller wasn’t the entire reason the system fell apart in the 1970s, but it was a major component).

                • Bolwerk says:

                  If your expectations are already low, as I assume any NYCTA rider’s after the 1950s should have been, that may be true. But as things stand today, backend improvements could mean a major performance boost. Even if nobody is thinking about it now, a more efficient system is something people would thank their pols at the polls for. Again, why wouldn’t a savvy pol want to exploit that?

                  The answer is, again, they would if they didn’t feel the need to answer to someone else.

        • Larry Littlefield says:

          “Think about it – no other subway system in the world even comes close to having 400+ stations.”

          London has far more stations relative to its ridership, which I imagine must be something of an economic burden.

          • Nathanael says:

            In addition to the 260 London Tube stations, London has 357 “surface” rail stations *within London*.

            They are striving to make them ALL accessible. It’s taking a while, but they are far, far ahead of NYC.

          • Henry says:

            London also has a lot less track (New York is the only subway that I know of with comprehensive express-lcoal service), and the central London stations get so much ridership that they’re promoting other means of transport.

        • Sharon says:

          The signal system is not so ancient. Most lines system dates back to the late 1980s or early 1990′s. Nyct transits biggest problem is paid off politicians support the union resistance to work rule changes that would yield savings and help better maintain stations. Money is poorly spent on job functions that are siloed into specific tasks while a mess is all around. The best example(besides station agent who sleep in booth due to bordom) is the train cleaners who work at the end of subway l as still well ave Island(I transfer there at least 15 times each month). They only clean trains, you see them sitting down next to a huge mess on the platforms, overstuffed trash can etc.
          I know most new Yorkers and meyers on this board are democrats like myself, but the union power to stick riders with ever increasing fares and tax the middle class out of the city has to stop. I am down in Florida visiting a friend for the summer. In her developement , 6 out of 15 people have recently moved out of NYC due to the high taxes and nothi g is good unless our fair u ion members get raises while the rest of us pay for it. Most are minorities. The car rental guy at the airport told me he can live without subsidies in his own house vs NYC taxes killed him

    • Marc Shepherd says:

      I don’t think any significant number of the secondary entrances/passagways were closed for structural reasons. I can’t actually think of any that were closed for that. It was, in practically every case, because they were considered crime magnets, a broader problem that the MTA couldn’t have been expected to fix on its own.

      As dirty, smelly, and ugly as some of the stations are, I doubt that anyone would choose to close them, in lieu of leaving them to limp along as-is, until they are up for renovation, even if that takes years. The main problem is that almost everyone thinks these problems ought to be fixed, but almost no one wants their own fares or taxes to go up, in order to pay for them.

      This problem isn’t unique to New York’s transit system. For instance, most Americans think the Federal government is too large and taxes too high, but hardly anyone proposes enough cuts to eliminate the deficit. It is a lot easier to complain in the abstract than to actually do anything about it.

      • Bolwerk says:

        They seem to think they’ll still be crime magnets, despite vast demographic changes.

        I don’t think

        The main problem is that almost everyone thinks these problems ought to be fixed, but almost no one wants their own fares or taxes to go up, in order to pay for them.

        is necessary true. Nobody wants their fares to go up, but I think most people would accept it if we got the impression the MTA was more or less doing its best to utilize what resources it has. Recent fare increases have largely had to do with debt service, pensions, and unwarranted pay increases – on an already over-staffed system. There is no sign that anyone at the table – the pols, the union, management – gives a sweet damn about the riders or the future of the system.

        • Jerrold says:

          Are you SURE that the subway system is overstaffed?
          Then why did they decide to close up so many of the token booths, if not for a shortage of employees to staff them?

          • A shortage of employees is not at all why they closed token booths. They closed token booths to eliminate a large number of workers who had very little to do during their shifts and to cut down on salary expenditures overall.

          • Bolwerk says:

            Token booths aren’t even a necessary part of the system. I can understand having them in some busier stations, but they’re mostly a symptom of over-staffing, not a victim of it.

            • Jason B. says:

              For some it’s true. But at 110th on the Lex, it’s been horrible having the uptown booth eliminated. There is so much loitering going on just outside the fare zone that was not there when the booth was in place, and the MVMs rarely are 100% operational. Some of the loiterers purposely jam the MVMs to sell $2 swipes, and tape over the magnetic strip readers. At least half the time I’m in the station, it’s coins only. And the downtown platform where the agent is? There’s always at least one fully working MVM.

              Station agents may have seemed like a financial burden, but I’m also wondering what the cost of dispatching MVM technicians every other day is versus not having a problem in the first place.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Sounds like a policing problem to me. Install closed-circuit cameras, get someone to watch off-site, and distract the police from doing something illegal long enough to arrest the perpetrators.

          • Sharon says:

            Those booths were planned to be closed since the 1990′s. The mta lfiredoff hundreds of people in order to save mo eh. Money that should have been saved a decade earlier. It was the unions and the politics,and who spread fear that forced the mta to keep the booths open. As it is the booths are not needed and riders would be much better off if the mta used station agent mo ey and put it into fare enforcement and rules enforcement .

            Off on a tangent, i find it discusting that ny1 allows the twu president onto inside city hall and allow him to blame the mta debt on big banks without challenging this half truth Most bonds are held by individuals and pension funds. It’s true the fees charged were excessive, but that is more to due with back room political deals and represents a small portion of the total debt costs

  3. Larry Littlefield says:

    “All of which is to say that the list for improvements is endless, and then the cycle starts all over again. Even if the MTA can rehab every single station, they’ll eventually have to start over again as stations that were renovated within the past 15 years start to show their age.”

    Right, and the same for signal systems, track, structures, power, subway cars, buses. These are ongoing expenses.

    Now consider the implication of the fact that money was borrowed for 30 to 50! years (with refinancing) to pay for the ongoing normal replacement that has gone on for the past 20 years. What about the next 20 years?

    The “megaprojects,” costly and overpriced as they are, are not the issue. Generation Greed has wrecked us, and not just at the MTA. Pataki and Bruno are gone. Sheldon Silver (and my rep Jim Brennan) are still there. And suggest borrowing more.

    • pete says:

      How about firing the contractor if the paint falls off after 15 years. A Poland Spring bottle lasts 100 years in the ocean. Paint should last atleast 1/4 of that.

  4. MP says:

    How would a program to modernize every signal in the system look, in terms of cost and time?

    • Larry Littlefield says:

      That is simply not financially and practically possible.

      Based on current prices and replacement rates replacing the signal systems costs about as much as replacing the subway cars. That’s once every 60 years for the signals, once every 40 or 50 for the cars.

      The once every 60 year cycle has been in effect for most of the history of New York City transit — except in the 1970s, when the work stopped. As a result a rising share of the signal systems (generally on the IND) are more than 75 years old and at a high risk for failure.

      And we may be heading for another work stoppage when this capital plan runs out. Or, after they borrow more, the next capital plan runs out.

      • MP says:

        But a program to make the oldest signals less than 60 years old would be feasible?

        • Larry Littlefield says:

          It’s a matter of money. Money that is now going to debt service.

          Even if signals are only replaced at a 60 year rate, after 60 years they’ll all be up to date. You just live with the consequences in between.

          And in fact, that’s what the MTA mostly has done in the MTA Capital Plan era. It never really did much accelerated to catch up, aside from the car overhaul push in the 1980s. We’re just living with the conditions caused by past neglect, as in the stations.

          The good news, however, is that the big expensive station complexes HAVE been largely fixed up and modernized, so the remaining local stations ought to be cheaper.

      • Sharon says:

        The mta is such a big customer they can squeeze out better deals except the politicians have put in clauses that they need to pay over inflated union rates . The problem is the public perception carefully crafted by labor leader is that these construction guys are not paid well. The work rules also require extra workers and the various union refuse to work in the same area of the same projects at the same it e adding to costs and time the public is delayed . It even goes down as far as the guy who delivers tires to construction site has to pay union dues or the workers refuse to work. My uncle owned a commercial tire shop back around 9/11 and workers down at ground zero put down thier tools because he was nonunion(worked trucks solo ) . He had to pay I to the u ion fu d unordered to get access to the site and the union bosses give him a call if he bids too low on a project

        • Larry Littlefield says:

          “The mta is such a big customer they can squeeze out better deals.”

          All the signal contractors in the country went bankrupt (despite making big profits from the MTA) and merged into one monopoly — Railworks.

          The only way to squeeze out better deals is to set a price at say half what has been paid recently and tell Railworks it will get no more work until it meets that price — and then don’t let them out of it even if they go bankrupt (the private railroads didn’t).

          Having aging signals ready to fail, however, doesn’t help the MTA’s leverage.

  5. Nathaniel says:

    I know everyone wants their local station to look the prettiest, but the 7th Ave F/G stop needs some SERIOUS renovation. Maybe that’ll happen when the Culver Viaduct project is completed, in about 20 years…

    • Sharon says:

      The problem is even after the renovation the cleaning staff does not do an effective job. If a person can only sweep a floor and another paint over walls, that means two people are needed to do the job of o e plus travel to e etc. the public will be shocked that these cleaners make $26 an hour plus benefits worth in excess of an additional $10 an hour. That’s $36 an hour for a broom pusher who does less than a $17 an hour cleaner in public schools and a $10 an hour cleaner in most private jobs. I am all for paying a living wage for jobs that deserve to paid a living wage. A brio. Usher is not one of them unless they can do other skills. A broom pusher is a $12 an hour job at best. Make a real road to advancement for hard working individuals( give preference for other roles that pay more) and you will have a cleaner more cost effective tea sit system

      • Sharon says:

        Most cleaner hate thier job and life no matter how much they are paid. That is a major problem at the mta and unionized jobs in general. If there is no bennifit for working hard, no advancent opurtunities, you will have workers not pushing to do thier best. This is especially true if you have managers who do not recognize hard work and lazy coworkers who pressure you to slow down and not make them look bad.

        One of the most successful employers that should be copied as a model is ups. Every driver needs to start off loading trucks at a distribution center. Every manager up and down the line including the CEO needs to do the same. Workers work hard to move up the line.

  6. lawhawk says:

    Should it really be a wish list to demand that the system be in a state of good repair?

    That’s really setting the bar low if you ask me.

    What we need to be doing is holding station managers responsible for their station performance (maintenance, reducing/preventing farebeaters) etc.) It means liberalizing and/or changing work rules so that MTA staff can do what it needs to keep the stations working in a state of good repair. That means allowing the individual stations the ability to paint and deal with problems before they decay into bigger issues. It’s more difficult to deal with the areas that are on the track side of the stations (inaccessible unless trains are diverted/stopped), but that’s where projects like Fastrack and regular maintenance can help tremendously).

  7. BrooklynBus says:

    One question.

    The original stations were in excellent condition for the first 50 years and began to show wear and tear during the next 30. When the first station rehab program was announced in the 1980s, everyone figured the rebuilt stations would last as long as the original ones and it was still doubtful if we could rebuild all of them before they were in total disrepair.

    So the question is why should stations rebuilt only 15 years ago already start to show signs of disrepair? If that continues, we we be doomed to having no more than a handful of nice looking stations and the rest will always be falling apart.

    • Are you absolutely positive the stations were in excellent shape for their first 50 years? We’re talking here about some of the oldest rail infrastructure in Brooklyn. The line dates, in various parts, to the 1870s. Plus, I don’t believe rebuilt structures are ever expected to last as long as the originals without a 100 percent rebuild.

      Anyway, these are stations that were rebuilt 30, not 15, years ago. By now, 15 years ago was 1997. That doesn’t excuse their current conditions.

      • Yeechang Lee says:

        Are you absolutely positive the stations were in excellent shape for their first 50 years?

        That’s something I’ve always wondered about. We all know what happened to the system in the ’70s, and I’ve seen my share of pre-1970 photos of the system, but how clean and well-maintained were the stations before the bad times, both in the core and in the outer boroughs? I don’t expect they were ever at the Hong Kong/Tokyo floors-clean-enough-to-eat-off-of level, but maybe as good as, say, the Washington Metro?

  8. pea-jay says:

    I’d love to see dynamic line mapping that would show re-routes, train congestion and incidents much like many DOTs do with highway traffic status mapping. But I guess I can settle for having the letter lines other than the (L) to have count down clocks.

  9. Henry says:

    If I were to put an item on this wishlist, I would have to say – clean bathrooms. I know some subway stations have bathrooms, but they seem to be a last resort – bathrooms at fast food restaurants look cleaner.

  10. Someone says:

    I would say: CBTC, platform screen doors, and air-conditioning on the platforms.

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