In 2016 (or 2017 or 2018), the MTA is going to unveil a new subway line. The Second Ave. Subway’s Phase 1 will run from 57th St. and Broadway to 96th St. and 2nd Ave. It will cost nearly $5 billion. One day in the future, a full-length subway route will run from 125th St. to Hanover Square, and it will be seen as a great accomplishment in the history of a city that hasn’t expanded its system since the mid-1930s.
Today, in Beijing, the Chinese are celebrating the opening of five new subway lines that cover over 67 miles. It cost just over $9 billion to build this brand new system, and Chinese authorities believe it will help ease congestion and bring economic development to poor areas of the vast country’s capital. The Chinese aren’t done either. They plan to build out the Beijing subway, currently just over 200 miles, to 348 miles by 2015 and to as much as 600 miles by 2020.
So as we sit here waiting for a two-mile subway extension to open in six years if we’re lucky, I have to wonder: Where did it all go wrong? How will we compete in a global economy if our competitors are doubling and tripling their subway lines while we can’t get 12,000 new feet built at a reasonable price and in a reasonable amount of time?