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How to Fix New York’s Totally F*cked Subway System

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The path to real reform and accountability is to end the subsidies from drivers and taxpayers, and make the subway live off its customers once and for all.

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The New York City Subway is the circulatory system for the global capital of finance and media, and today this 114-year-old engineering marvel is coming apart. Stalled trains, signal breakdowns, and constant line closures are complicating the lives of New Yorkers, who ride the trains more than five and a half million times a day.

The MTA, the public agency that runs the subways, is woefully mismanaged, fiscally irresponsible, and politically captured. Thanks to the clout of the Transit Workers Union, subway workers on average make $155,000 in total annual compensation, or more than twice as much as the passengers they serve.

The political response to this crisis has been mainly to devise new ways to collect more money for this troubled operation, such as a new “millionaires tax” or by imposing additional tolls and surcharges on cars.

But a major lesson from the first 114 years of subway history is that giving the MTA more money from outside sources is like bringing an alcoholic to an open bar. The path to real reform and accountability is to make the subway live off its customers once and for all.

Go here for full text, links, and downloadable versions:

Written, shot, and edited by Jim Epstein. Narrated by Nick Gillespie. Interview cameras by Mark McDaniel and Todd Krainin.

“New Baby” and “Subway Song” by Nicola Paone, Public Domain, archive.org.

“Fun in a Bottle”, “Fast Talkin,” and “C-Funk – Funkorama” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Photo Credits:

Andrew Cuomo: Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/Newscom

Save Our Subways Protester: Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/Newscom

Bill de Blasio: Paul Martinka / Splash News/Newscom

Make the Rich Pay: Michael Nigro/Sipa USA/Newscom

Congestion pricing now: Erik McGregor / Pacific Press/Newscom

Sheldon Silver and Cuomo: HANS PENNINK/REUTERS/Newscom

Nelson Rockefeller: Danita Delimont Photography/Newscom

NYC Toolbooth: Susan Pease / DanitaDelimont.com “Danita Delimont Photography”/Newscom

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32 Comments
  1. Bluegill Phil says

    When I left NY in 1969 a subway fare was .10 cents , Staten Is. Ferry was a NICKLE !

  2. Gladus B says

    Ass

  3. Gladus B says

    What is he talking about? Is he going to pay $8 to $10 dollars a day? The monthly already cost 121 dollars!!!! Is he kidding me??

  4. Liz A. says

    Get the hell out of here $8 one way is insane. You’re going to penalize people living far out in the boroughs, more than we already are hurt for not being in the city proper. Disgusting.

  5. Angelo Guainazzi says

    They are saying there is a problem on how money are spent and suggesting the solution is changing the source of the money (increasing the fare). How does this make sense?
    Plus in this way you are incentivating people to drive more in a super congested place like manhattan. This the most illogical solution to fix the subway

  6. GCBrad says

    We need train lines that are geared to the other boroughs. There should be a line that cuts across the Bronx from the Riverdale area, that runs southeast across and all the way to queens, where it could connect with both other Bronx and queens lines

  7. Winston Quezada says

    Corrupt pigs and mismanagement is the cause of crumbling subway system. 🤫🤦‍♂️👎

  8. reckless says

    They need to fix ny in general piece of shit city

  9. Azmol Hossain says

    "8 or 10 dollars not much". Most of us earn minimum of $13 an hour. And you expect me to spend half of money on transportation? This subway system is getting wrose and wrose by day.

  10. Junior Portorreal says

    People are struggling to eat in New York plus half the people here are homeless fix that and then you can make us pay the full price of the train.

  11. Nelly Nel says

    Is this fucking guy high? 5$ 8-10$? Gtfoh dude. If the budget stops being fucked with things should b fine. This guys remedy is really making the already cash strapped, 50-70 hour a week working commuter pay what a meal costs for one way. Fuxk u. It's easy to say that when u prob drive and reside somewhere in the UES or tribeca asshole. Wow that upset me

  12. sanitman1 says

    The US is 20 trillion dollars in debt. New York State has two communist motherf$&kers running it into the ground, cuomo and dibasio. MTA will never be fixed to the state compared to other transit systems worldwide.

  13. Klem Kaddlehopper says

    Unions ruin all they touch. Examples= Healthcare,USPS, Education, Entertainment, Sports, and the MSM. All UNIONS must be disbanded for the sake of our country. UNIONS cater to Unions by extorting the populace.

  14. aaubrey Wallace says

    That's the worse 😎 economic bull i have heard presented 🤗 this is not a Third world financial.thats wall street gibberish.u saying they will serve the people better if people paid total cost.10$,, a ride.and that will stop delays ,,fix signals and mabe the xpress will go faster than the local at rush hour.it will also ease Traffic up Ahead.sir with all due respect if you were standing in front of me taking that shit.i would be tempted to bitch slap u🤗 violence disturbs me so I'll look through u as if uar non existant . I'll pretend I never heard this presentation 🤗 nuff said

  15. Daniel Smith says

    If the MTA announced that the fair was going to 8 dollars the city would riot for days

  16. Marty Lynchian says

    Sound like they problem is they are paying stupid black people $155,000 a year. WTF, there are some doctors who don't make that.

  17. joel k says

    So a "reporter" from the Reason Channel is interviewing an "expert" from the Reason Foundation?  Yeah, I'm sure we're getting an impartial knowledgable analysis here.  Any REAL transportation expert will tell you that public transit cannot be self-supporting, never has been, and never will be.

  18. Hayden Cooper V says

    Here the London Underground is ran by Transport for London which is government owned, yet service is still very good (despite what most other Londoners would say). You don’t need to privatise it and charge eight fucking dollars per journey to get this

  19. Dylan B says

    As a New Yorker, get outta here. You can say 10 bucks isn't that much but working class people rely on the subway to get to work. Making the subway more expensive will just decrease passengers. And it won't incentivize money to go towards fixing actual problems. You can talk all you want about fudning determining who gets the benefits, but that's not why changes do or don't get made. They do or don't get made because of political will in Albany. That's the case no matter where the initial revenue streams are.

  20. Chris Kotsopoulos says

    They hired Andy Byford on as president. He'll fix it right up.

  21. Julio Zam says

    Aré transfers covered by the $8?

  22. Dave Black says

    The last words in this video should be the MTA motto "we apologize for any inconvenience…thank you for your patience". I've been riding the NYC subways since the early 60s and recently went back to NYC for 2 days and heard this 4 times for different problems!!

  23. DerpMans Derpyskin says

    Wait- if fares make up just under half of the cost of the subway right now, why would we have to raise the cost of fares from 2, to 5,8, or 10 dollars? Would it not be reasonable to set the fare at 4, or at most 5 dollars?

  24. Sorzin says

    For a news organisation Reason isn't being very logical or honest. Especially when they show an old cartoon of the IRT. There were 3 transit organizations from 1904-1940. The private BMT and IRT, and the public IND. Out of the three it was the public IND that survived and it was the public IND that absorbed the rest because those private transit corporations were failing. Never once has this video ever brought about this distinction and gives the impression that the NYC transit of 1904 is the same NYC transit of 20018. The NYC transit was under complete city control until 1964 when under a deal it was placed along with the LIRR and Metro Notth Rail under New Yotk state under the governors control. The 90's were the best time for NYC transit until it was forced to take out loans for maintenance and capital projects and the Republican Mayor and Republican governor used it as a piggy bank to redirect funds that were for the MTA to their own interest and rather than increasing taxes to compensate for the missing revenue he took from the mta he decides to pass a tax cut so now the mta is getting less revenue to take care of their subway system on top of the missing revenue they could'vs used to upgrade rail and install cbct and create new lines on top of paying back the bonds they were forced to take in the first place. Even the compensation is misleading. You can pick someone off the street and have them drive a heavy rail car. It requires training not to mention compensation for hearing damage and therapy for watching people commit suicide. Also 8 dollars one way that is ridiculous especially when NYC as such a large pop density. If all those problems I mentioned were fixed this video wouldn't exist.

  25. rrrglynn says

    Terrible idea. I mean raising the fare to like $3.25 wouldn’t be that bad. Fares based off of distance are not fair because people who are farther from the city tend to have lower incomes. One city one fare! That’s the way it has been and the way it should be!

  26. Lei一一一 says

    As long as human beings exist, I truly believe that subway will not be being re-building

  27. Greg Savacool says

    How about we make the rich pay god damn taxes to pay for these services. How long do we blame the poor for being poor, if wages would go up I don't think $5 would be bad, but wages stay stagnant, and then you blame the customer for not being able to afford shit when it gets more expensive.

  28. Meme Pope says

    $10 a ride? Get absolutely fucked. Half my rides are 1 or 2 stops. New Yorkers would revolt if they tried to charge us this much to subsidize low income riders and six figure track workers.

  29. snoopycache says

    Does this Feiganbaum bro even ride the subway?

  30. John Smith says

    Unions must be abolished

  31. Alex Daniel says

    every headline seems to come from the New York Post. I wonder if this scam artist posing as a journalist works for Murdoch and his cronies?? Hmmm let me think.

  32. Jasmine Ju says

    5 cents in 1905 is $1.35 today. What's killing the subway is not government, it's government AND corporations. Cronyism.

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