Hello MTA ? Can you come here for a minute? Please — have a seat. Yes, all your friends and family are here, because we need to talk. We’re here because we love you: we’re not here to judge you. OK, maybe there will be a little judging, but only because you deserve it.
Let’s not mince words: everyone here knows that you have a problem. Your trains don’t run right.
I know this is hard for you to listen to, but you’ve had this problem for a while now. We’ve all noticed it. First, you were in denial. You kept saying things like “I’ll fix it!” and then, “I could fix it, if I had the right budget!” Lately, you’ve been trying to tell us you HAVE fixed it, because you’ve got guys in orange suits with flashlights instead of the kind of train signals that other cities installed as soon as computers were invented.
Next stage: excuses. “What do you expect? We’re not as young as we used to be. We’re 113! Our switches need replacing. You think that’s easy?” When we point to other systems, like BART, or the D.C. Metro, you always had a ready excuse: “they don’t run 24 hours like I do! They don’t have as many stops, or as many employees!” When you blew four billion-with-a-b on a nice shopping mall with a PATH station in it, we were shocked. Four billion? For one station? Downtown? I know – downtown deserves a nice station, but could you maybe have spared a few bills to fix, oh, I don’t know, ….everything from 125th street up to the Bronx? Everything from Battery Park to Far Rockaway? I’m pretty sure 4 billion would have gone a long way for the outer boroughs.
Then, bargaining. This is my personal favorite. “I’m sorry about that Path Train thing, but look what I got you! WiFi in every station! Phone signals on the train! The Subway Library! It’s free! You like books, don’t you?” Yes, yes, that’s all very nice. But… and I want this to sink in …the whole point of having you in my life is to make the trains run. I would happily give up free Wi-Fi in exchange for a seat. I would wait for texts until I reached my destination, if I could, indeed, get to my destination. Frankly, the Subway Library is just weird. It’s almost like you’re telling me “I know you’re going to be down here a long, long time. Why don’t you bone up on War and Peace?”
But now, things have gone too far. We’ve had it. Last week, the Hub was stuck on the F train for 45 minutes. In the tunnel, no lights. It’s ruining the lives of your friends and family. Today, the A train went local during the height of rush hour, and so did everything else. We were all steamed, especially when you went to your go-to excuse “Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s train traffic ahead of us. We will be moving shortly.” No shit there’s train traffic ahead of us – your signals on the express track died, and you had to squeeze every fricking train from four separate lines onto the local!
I don’t like bringing up the past, but do you remember our magical first ride on the new Second Avenue line? I wasn’t there, but my friend Maureen was. She wangled a ticket on the maiden voyage, but her joy turned to disbelief when you trotted out that same, tired excuse! You thought it was a secret, but she told me about it. The first new train…right out of the station. Nothing but new signals and clear track ahead. Screeching halt. And then: “Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s train traffic ahead of us. We will be moving shortly.”
It’s not that we don’t need you any more. We do – more than ever. But we’ve seen you this way before. Remember, early in our relationship, how horrible you were? You would go for days at a time without washing. You were late and had way too many people with you when you arrived. Sometimes, you didn’t even show up at all. But then, you cleaned up your act for a while. You were dependable. You showed up, and everything was shiny and new.
I don’t want to think the good times are over. This is just a bump in the road. You’re strong. Have a positive attitude. Take it one day at a time. And fix your damn signals!