I have one friend who uses Citi Bike to get to important meetings < 30 blocks away, because they don't trust the subway to get them there on time (and during peak hours, cabs are even slower). I have another who goes pretty far out of their way to avoid the more troublesome lines (the F, specifically). Some have started using the bus much more regularly, because at least the bus doesn't break down for an hour at a time. One manager I know just stopped scheduling any meetings before 11, because they got tired of having people miss meetings or come in late because of the trains.
I think people who don't live in the city don't realize how (relatively) stressful it can be when the trains are late. Riding the train during peak hours is already a pretty stressful experience: The sardine analogy is very real, and it's fairly common for trains to be so packed that I literally don't have room to even put my phone in front of my face (let alone a book or anything else) to pass the time.
Now imagine that, but the train platform is also similarly packed. And people are fighting (sometimes literally) to get onto the packed train. And you'll have to wait for 2-3 trains to pass, because there's no empty space on the trains. And you're late, and you have no idea when you'll get to where you're going because the train ETA board just says "Delay". And when you need to get off the train, you'll have to just pray that people make room for you or you'll have to really force your way through the crowd on your way out.
> realize how (relatively) stressful it can be
> when the trains are late.
So much this. I always thought that the typical characterization of Germany, "the trains run on time" was a put down for how boring and uptight we are.
Then I lived in places where the trains do not run on time.
Oh my god.
Whenever I travelled back to Berlin, I wanted to hug the BVG employees.
And of course, everything is relative. German trains are fairly punctual (although there is this famous saying, "the German railway has four enemies: spring, summer, autumn and winter"), but Swiss trains are even more punctual. Not sure if it's true, but I've been told that when the trains depart at Zurich Central at the top of the hour, the power frequency graph makes a small dent because of all the train engines drawing power at the same time.
Not just because of how well it works, but how it is accepted by all. Bankers in Zürich hop on the tram just like everyone else.
I assure you it’s not immigrants running NY subway and the MTA. they’re not the corrupt politicians pilfering funds away from it either. It’s not immigrants who think they’re too good for the subway so they grab Uber everywhere and have no vested interest in public transport.
I remember being slightly anxious because there was only a four minute window according to the schedule between when my first train would arrive and when the second train would leave. What if the first train was late? What if I couldn't find the platform for the second train (I don't speak German)?
Turns out I just had to walk to the other side of the same platform. I spent three excruciatingly boring minutes waiting for the second train to leave according to schedule. German railways are glorious.
Between my own bike and Citi Bike I can get everywhere I need to without relying on any form of mass transportation. Biking is frequently the fastest form of transportation, depending start/end point of the trip anyway. It certainly is for my daily commute.
I think this is partially because bicycles are not that popular here, but there are provisions for bikes that go above and beyond cars. Having seen Bruges in Belgium, The bike queue can be comparable to a car queue (narrower, but none the less). I imagine other cycling heavy countries are similar.
As you said, it's more of a cultural problem, that can be solved. If we accept that motorbikers need lots of specialized equipment to ride, we can accept that cyclists need a couple bits of extra clothing every now and then.
Given that I've seen car users complain about using public transit because they have to wait for a few minutes or sit next to someone they don't know, needing to buy specific clothing is likely to deter them even more from biking.
It's a cultural problem.
There are days when the weather should preclude driving too.
Biking is not viable for about a 1/3 of the year. Ice, snow and low temperatures make biking extremely dangerous.
My city is known as being extremely biker friendly, yet virtually nobody bikes for 4-5 months every year.
Canada is big but most of its population lives in the south. If you're in Yellowknife that could be different, of course.
However, the reality for most Canadians is that above all we need public transport that can be used year round. Most Canadians don't live in B.C., and pretty much everywhere else we have harsh winters (yes, even in the south).
The obvious counterexamples are the highly successful bike routes in northern European cities.. plenty of rain there.
Years ago, I used to bike from Sunnyvale to Menlo Park once or twice a week, and 85% of the route was away from traffic. The delay was in crossing Embarcadero.
Although this is probably dependent on your local laws and how much you abide by those laws, as I know lane filtering and such is illegal in a lot of the US.
But yeah, this is more of a special case than generally applicable to most places. On your typical suburban commute you can definitely save time by filtering between rows of parked cars at lights. That just doesn't work here very well.
IIRC only California allows lane splitting. So this is a legal issue as well.
And you're forgetting the double parking, bad parking, standing cars, building construction, street construction, etc. Streets of Manhattan are chaotic. Trust me when I say that there is often not any room for motorcyclists to filter past cars, especially not when bicycle lanes are present.
It being legal or not isn't the issue; it's not possible.
On the other hand, you have a history of adding comments like this. Good luck with that.
Edit: I noticed you are editing your comment. When I replied it read "This comment, as nice as it may have sounded to you, doesn't contribute anything to the conversation - in fact, it amounts essentially to bragging."
And, no surprise, a lot of my coworkers who also bike to work similarly choose where they live in order to be within cycling range of work. A monthly bus/subway pass is $116.50, whereas Citi Bike is an annualized $14/month. So you can save $100/month by not needing to take transit, which isn't nothing.
Don't underestimate the much bigger monthly savings of not owning a car, though. I moved from the suburbs in MD where having a car was essentially required to here, and that saved at least $600 per month. All told I haven't found it much more expensive to live in NYC; yes, rent is more, but transportation costs are way less.
It’s no Switzerland or Japan, but it’s what a reasonably well run system looks like.
It's common for people to just head for the subway without knowing when the next train's arriving, which at off-hours can mean a 10-15+ minute wait for the next train. By which I mean: The concept of waiting around for an unknown amount of time for the next train isn't a huge deal.
The problem is how miserable the whole experience becomes when it's an unexpected delay at peak hours. If unexpected delays meant just hanging out on an uncrowded platform for 15 minutes to wait for an uncrowded train, the amount of complaining would be significantly lower.
That might seem like the obvious reason, but it's not the case at all. Read up on the NYC subway and its recent problems and their causes. Politicians use the growth in ridership as a scapegoat. There's more to the story than that. There's no physical/mathematical reason why a metro system of a bigger scale is precluded from running well.
Here's an article that offers a glimpse into various other angles and reasons:
I certainly agree with you that population density isn't the root cause of the recent subway issues - as evidenced by the fact that Tokyo's train system is working just fine.
Which is why I bicycle into work. Sure it takes 90 minutes (I'm as fast as the train with all the stops) but my soul isn't squashed out by all the other sad salary men.
This is a reflection of under investment and lack of maintenance and upkeep which was exacerbated by Hurrixane Sandy damaging the subway system significantly. It brought the chickens home to roost.
Comparing Sweden to NYC isn't fair.
NYC Subway has ~742 stations (v. ~100 in Stockholm) and 1,756M in annual ridership (v. ~328M in Stockholm). This is just for the subway and excludes NY transit bus ridership.
Perhaps area is not a representative metric since you have to factor in population density when deciding where to site stations. Wikipedia says that NYC Subway is 380.2 km (236.2 mi) long while Moscow Metro is 364.9 km (226.7 mi) long, so the two are close in terms of route length. Also, Moscow beats out New York in terms annual ridership: 2.4b vs 1.8b.
> The official count of stations is 472; however, this tabulation classifies some transfer stations as two or more stations, which are called "station complexes" within the nomenclature of the New York City Subway. If station complexes are counted as one station each, the number of stations is 424.
I definitely did! Should be 472 (as you stated.) Thank you for correcting.
The wiki says 179 (1/10th your number).
There is also Toei Subway, JR East trains, Minato-Mirai, ...the list goes on.
2100 may work for the entire metropolitan area of greater Tokyo.
In any case, the city is massive, extremely well connected by public transport, and services millions of people daily without delay.
I could probably believe the 2,100 number if you include all the surrounding prefectures that are in the broader Tokyo area, and if you count stations multiple times for each railway operator services them (it's not uncommon for a single station in Tokyo to be run by three or five different companies).
> There are around 136 individual rail lines in the Greater Tokyo Area, and between 1,000 and 1,200 railway stations depending on one's definition of the area.
so here's my personal theory.
all numbers - city population count, station numbers, system length and ridership - scale at a pretty much constant factor of 4. there are at least two huge differences though: density - that's ny:28,491/sq mi vs. vie:11,205/sq mi and year of opening is 1904 vs. 1976.
i'm pretty sure density is one of the deciding factors here, but let's pretend it's not - as ridership is comparatively lower at 3.99x -, what else might be different is the budget. viennas subway system is excellent but is so far up the curve of diminishing returns that the last few percent of reliability that sets it apart come at a steep price (the city pays with taxes).
other factors: vienna has a lot of alternatives in the form of trams and busses (and to a certain extend, trains), which take pressure of the subway. rate of biking is actually low compared to other cities because the public transport system is so good (and cheap).
so, some guesses as to why the ny subway system is so much worse:
* age: 1904 vs. 1976 - not sure if there's much of a difference as stations, trains and tracks have to be renewed periodically anyway.
* density: population density is almost trice as high, but actual ridership scales linearly with the rest
* travel distance in a randomized environment with choke points: if you'd assume that entry and exit stations are randomly distributed and the average travel distance is thus 4 times as long, the risk of encountering a malfunction is 4 times as high - and it takes just one to fuck your timetable up. not sure how likely that is, as, i guess, travels tend not to be randomly distributed in real life (i.e. you'll more likely choose a job that's closer to home).
* budget: the big question here. is the ny subway public transport system 4 times as expensive as the viennese one? do they employ 4 times as many people? do they have the same level of machinery maintenance?
As a result of this lineage it also has quite frequent stops, which are easy to put in when the subway is just a stairway's height beneath the street. To give you an idea, the 1 line stops at 14th, 18th, 23rd, 28th, and 34th Streets. That's five stops in one mile.
This table has the subway at the world's ninth oldest, which is definitely still one of the oldest considering there's hundreds now: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-world-s-oldest-metro...
As a tangent, London is adding overground trains as part of its expansion. The Overground is pretty recent (and it shows) as is the fully-automated DLR, and now there's a Crossrail making an appearance. NY hasn't invested in a hell of a lot in overground infrastructure and it feels like that's a logical step in the outer boroughs.
Quick Wiki search indicates NYC has about 1,112 km of rail vs Stockholms 105.7 km. So about 8-9 times the distance
I had to move back to Queens a few months ago near where I grew up and the trip to SoHo that used to take at most 45 minutes is now 60-90 min. A few times I was stuck on the E for around 2.5 hours.
Living in the outer boroughs has become a huge disadvantage.
They also make for a great homeless shelter because they are one of the longer routes and never go above ground. I've had mornings where the first 4-5 cars where full of sleeping homeless people. It's almost as bad as every other street in SF.
Was also one of the few in the office who lived in Manhattan. Everyone else was either Long Island or Jersey. So when bad weather hit, I had no excuse.
It was slowly driving me insane at my last job. Now, I just have to dial in to the morning meeting, then I can work from home for about an hour before heading in to the office, and we've been asked to stay home even for fairly light snowstorms this winter. I wouldn't be surprised if other tech companies in the city are adding more flexibility to their work hours.
There's literally no excuse for not maintaining your infrastructure. Every probably can be solved. Shut down a line every night till the job is done. Or shut it down for a day or two. Is the line integrated with others? Maybe you'll have to shut down three or four lines. People will hate it. But if it avoids months and months of problems to have a few days, they'll cope.
What helps London is that the system shuts down for a few hours each night (except weekends on some lines). That allows most repairs and maintenance to take place without altering schedules.
At the core of it, New York City simply has too many people on an old, straining infrastructure. And yes, though there are a few people who grow ever richer and a bloated City and State bureaucracy which are problematic, but there is also an enormous number of people who cannot and will not ever afford to live there - not middle class people hanging on, but a large number deep in poverty who won't ever get a foothold. And that's because there are actually a lot of services available. The city's has more than 10% of the entire homeless U.S. population, many of whom come out of state, and an estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants. With a population density is more than 2X that of many other thriving metropolises in the country, there's a lot of unnecessary suffering. When you're on either end of the economic spectrum, you can get a pretty good deal here. When you're in the middle, you get squeezed.
P.S. I don't know if you actually take the LIRR, but it's an absolute pleasure to ride compared to the subway.
And the 2020 estmate has already been exceeded. Please check and cite your sources before making claims.
Also, I never said raw population size was the cause, but that it was the combination of a larger than ever population on an aging infrastructure. Lots of what is still crucial to daily life in NY, in particular the subways, had 60 years more usable life in the 1950s.
I for one would much rather live in a NY dealing with some temporary growth success issues than live in NY during the 70s (or really, any time before).
I suggest you fly into Laguardia airport to see some world class prosperity.
If you want to enjoy even more "prosperity", you can pay $344 a month to ride the LIRR (as long as you don't have to get anywhere on time).
NYC's issues are entirely about politics and leadership and nothing to do with anything unique to NYC
que more excuses
Using replacement buses works but would likely damage 24h businesses and take one of New York's advantages away.
Both these systems operate from around 5am till midnight (approx). NYC Subway operates 24 hours. These few hours downtime, make a huge difference with respect to maintainability and upkeep. These 4 hours each day adds up to ~60 full days of maintenance window.
Maybe NYC can stop the late-night services for a year or so and I am sure better brains than mine have considered this.
On a separate note, it might help to note that usage of NYC Subway has increased by 80% over the last ~20 years (1). It will be interesting to see the same trend for Moscow and Tokyo subways.
NewYorker here and Subway rider here.
Or isn't NYC Metro card integrated between different modes of transportation?
At least it should be possible for a temporary maintenance window?
eg. today, the 6th is not operating uptown, between 9:45 last night, and 6:am next morning
You say, fine, I will take another line, but then the 2 and 3 are not operating at all due to 'tunnel repair',
You need to go to work? Your choice is go downtown, take one of the express trains to uptown, and take another downtown train.
So, your 15 minutes train ride becomes 45+ minutes. You can always take a cab, but this becomes expensive to do regularly, plus during rush hour it is hard to catch one.
NYC's subway runs 24hrs in theory only. It is always a whack-amole game if the train is 1. late, or overcrowded, your 2. station is closed, 3. the whole line is not running that day, and My least favorite: 4. Tain strands you for a while, because "there is traffic ahead", or some accident happen.
Just as the article mentioned, I noticed I had to start leaving early to make sure I make my soccer games in time (they are in brooklyn). In case the usual route has issues (which happens about 25-30%% of the time during weekends).
Step 1: a train gets delayed for a minute somewhere on the line. A dozen common reasons exist- someone becomes ill, mechanical issue, debris on the tracks, etc.
Step 2: Because it's rush hour, there's minimal buffer time between trains so the train behind it must also stop (and the one behind it, and the one behind it, etc). Even a 60 second delay of one train can back up the whole line.
Step 3: Because a train is late, there's more people trying to get on and off, which makes it take more time per station. As well, with more people per train, there's more human-related delays per train. The additional delays mean "go to 1".
With large enough buffers between trains, the system is stable- the problems get smoothed out. With small buffers, like during rush hour, the system can get into a feedback-loop total system failure. A 30 minute trip becomes hours long.
At least back in 2012 or so, when I cared, the A train did keep reasonably close to this schedule (effectively genuinely on it when it wasn't rush hour). It definitely does not keep to this schedule now.
Now, do New Yorkers actually know this schedule? Well, sometimes, actually: while trains do come every few minutes in Manhattan, any specific train comes much more rarely, up to about every 20 minutes for the A train I linked above. This matters if you can't afford to live in Manhattan, or even if you live far away: for about a year, I commuted regularly from 181st St. to Fulton St. on the A, and you better damn well believe I had a specific train I wanted for that trip.
But even for those who don't, if the train gets too far off schedule, you start getting delays, because the trains cannot handle the throughput. Maybe for those commuting within the Midtown area, you know that a train will come every 3-5 minutes, but if the train that would normally take you is still 15 minutes away, then you've got at least a 12 minute backup of extra people who are going to be on that platform. Not only does that mean you won't manage to get your normal train (because you won't be able to reach the platform); it also compounds, since it'll cause people to enter and exit the trains more slowly. There are also many times when trains join or split from sharing the same track, and scheduling delays can change a smooth swapping of a switch back and forth to a traffic jam as controllers try to figure out whether it matters more to give the E or F priority on such-and-such a segment given that the nearest D and C trains are in such-and-such a place. You get this same kind of thing on your compute with disk seeks: it may not seem like a big deal if a read request shows up a millisecond late due to bus contention, but if it means that the drive head has just moved past the data you want, you're gonna have a long delay while it sweeps back, and that in turn may mean that other requests get delayed and so on.
So: yes, the schedule matters even if you don't know the schedule; but it still causes problems even if you want to think of it purely as "bandwidth."
It also matters if you’re catching a regional rail train (e.g. on the Metro-North or LIRR), which tend to run on time to the minute.
I lived in NYC for 5 years, and had no idea that the subways were on a fixed schedule. I thought they just came when they came.
I commute now from Albany where there's no tunnel, we are east of the Hudson the whole time and nobody to fight with to get in to Penn (except when, due to every other train having delays getting OUT of Penn there are sometimes no free tracks to come in on, but this is rare).
And in my experience there is no cell service when you’re in the tunnels, so you can’t even let your work know there’s a problem.
These euphemisms might sound, well, overly euphemistic or irreverent, but if they help curb the number of railway suicides, then I find that hard to argue with.
Obviously, some people work overnight shifts or have other critical needs for transport around the clock, so there needs to be a reasonable level of public transport services for that purpose. But if the problem is that people can't stay out late at bars, then... maybe they just shouldn't stay out late at bars if they don't have a way home?
I am deliberately ignoring the obvious issues with drink driving risks, flow-on effects of the "nighttime economy" and so on here. Also, I'm an introverted non-drinker who doesn't understand why people are out drinking at 2am when they could be sleeping at 2am... So more practically, yes, you need decent coverage of night-time substitute bus routes.
It is possible to stay at a private club until the train restarts around 5am. Alternates is Internet / Manga Cafes complete with shower rooms, coin operated clean underwear dispensers, and lounge chairs that lie almost flat. Also helpful is the convenience stores that sell dress shirts.
It got a bit less overwhelming when they started running the night buses from all over central London rather than just from Trafalgar Square. It's changed again recently now that some underground lines are 24 hour.
assuming I can get someone to actually take me across the bridge
It's a reassuring signal that American democracy is working as intended: its results truly reflect our values.
Public transit doesn't get funded because it only works in dense urban areas and the wealthier folks drive anyway. European and Asian countries with the better public transit systems seem to be smaller geographically and connect cities to cities with federal funding. To illustrate we've got the Bos-Wash corridor connected via Amtrak but there would be backlash if we tried to fund a super awesome high speed rail there with federal funds because nobody else outside that area would benefit.
For comparison the size of Japan is basically our Eastern Seaboard or California and the UK would be the Northeast Corridor.
The personal car took over America because the auto companies waged a campaign to dismantle the transit systems that American cities already had.
"Car culture" and "suburbs" are only something that started in the 1950's after the Eisenhower Interstate System got built.
And ridesharing is showing that people will give up a personal car if there is an alternative.
Ridesharing is still cars. Whether the steering wheel is operated by you, a robot, or a contractor is irrelevant. Ridesharing takes you directly from door to door in a private, enclosed, climate-controlled bubble.
>The personal car took over America because the auto companies waged a campaign to dismantle the transit systems that American cities already had. "Car culture" and "suburbs" are only something that started in the 1950's after the Eisenhower Interstate System got built.
It's true that our car infrastructure is a human construction, but it's one that public transit advocates admit they can't compete with. Weakening the capacity and increasing the cost of roads and parking are considered necessary even alongside a best-case public transit buildout because status-quo car infrastructure will always be preferable on an individual basis. This is justified by its high collective costs.
This is a silly debate, however. Not many places get to choose whether to be auto- or transit-centric. America's economy is centralizing into a few cities; public transit will be geometrically obligatory in those cities, and financially impossible in the ones that are emptying out.
From the perspective of the infrastructure required, there's huge differences in parking and land space needed. Taxis have to keep moving, so you need to dedicate more land to vehicle movements (instead of human movements); on the other hand, private cars need somewhere to go to sleep at each destination, so you have to dedicate land to parking instead of more productive use. Considering the massive subsidy to cars in the form of minimum parking requirements, it's a surprise anyone in America does anything other than sitting in a car getting fat.
Of course daily riders do and will forever complain. As someone who riders infrequently and is warned about impending doom, I find myself too often pleasantly surprised.
I'm tired of hearing people make excuses for the NYC subway system such as age and complexity, seemingly ignorant that there's plenty of large cities in other first-world countries in the 10+ million range that do a much better job. Tokyo was bombed to the ground in WW2 and still manages to do better.
I think the actual explanation is that the NYC system was not properly maintained during the postwar period, when America focused on car transit instead.
Although plenty of people complain, there is no political will to fix the problem, either at the top or at the bottom.
The 24/7 operation and fixed ticket price don't help.
An argument could be made that that's exactly why it's doing better. Since it got completely destroyed, it could be built from the ground up without the legacy costs that are now plaguing NYC's subway.
>fixed ticket price don't help
I simply can't see the MTA adopting ticket prices that are based on zones. The outcry would be larger than anything seen to date.
What kind of "legacy costs" are you referring to, which would be higher than the cost to build the system from the ground up?
> I simply can't see the MTA adopting ticket prices that are based on zones. The outcry would be larger than anything seen to date.
Yes, hence "lack of political will." There are too many people who benefit from some aspect of the inefficient status quo, be it outer borough commuters, late night partiers, or people living next to minor subway stations. Knowing American politics, that's why I am pessimistic that the dysfunctional status quo in the NYC subway will ever change.
The costs (direct and cascading) of displacing essentially all riders for some undetermined amount of time? Tokyo had no choice but to do this.
Also my understanding is that European unions are less corrupt than American ones.
I get it, you’ve driven a poorly made American car once and it your blaming the union workers who built it. Not the factory managers, not the engineers who design with poor tolerances, not the accountants who choose cheap, poor material.
I’ve met unionized school teachers who get fired in June and rehired in August. Why? So the schoolboard won’t have to pay mandatory cost of living increases that the union negotiated for. Better to pay teachers less every year.
I know for the underground, all profit is reinvested, maybe that's the problem in America? Many contractors all wanting their share? At the end of the day you just have to accept that while a good public transport system looks like a big loss on paper, it brings so many benefits.
Too often, excuses are made, and nothing gets done, and then the next election cycle, the same decision is made until the problem starts to appear insurmountable.
Except the Underground more or less breaks even from fare revenue (Google "farebox recovery"). NYC's MTA does not, and is heavily subsidized by tax dollars.
Picture this: Along most of the major roads fit very tall archways every few hundred feet, and place the Monorail on-top. As long as traffic below can continue unobstructed, then the two can co-exist. Additionally add direct-into-building entrances/exits at the monorail platform height (2nd or 3rd storey (US buildings called the 'ground' floor '1st', right?) ). Monorail can be driver-less, and run on clean energy. It seems a bit of a no-brainer to me.
 For various values of 'clean'.
But often the problems are structural and underfunding just erodes efficiency further.
Now it could be if the unique issues that are causing problems with the NYC subway were not present, it would still be a disaster due to the problems laid out in your comment.
At least, that's how it works here in Washington State.
The country people see that and think, "Well whatever they're axin fer that I can stop - I'll stop that. Maybe then I'll have some influence."
They probably don't see it with quite the same analysis as I've put here, but it's much closer to what's really happening than your rendition.
It's probably necessary that in any developed economy, the cities will do better. But over the last several decades, it seems the problem to any complaint has been "let's just reduce business taxes and increase free trade", which is obviously aggravating to the people who are hurt by those policies. The policies proposed by the left have usually been "let's try to increase the lot of the absolute worst off without affecting the top of the middle", which of course squeezes the people in the middle and makes it easier for them to fall into the worst off category. Moreover it's kinda obvious to everyone that the left is using the resources that traditionally have gone to middle to help the worst off (instead of taking some of the top's excess). So there isn't a clearly pro-systematic way of getting better short of complaint and preventing things. And you get a culture of "us against them, black against white, city against country", rather than "all for one and one for all".
It takes just a moment to look back at everything that's happened over the last couple of decades and realise that this analysis is accessible to the distressed, fair to them, and accounts for the data.
[ed: they're -> their in first sentence]
I've been commuting (by car) for 30-60 minutes one way depending on my job for 20+ years in Atlanta. I didn't realize that a 30 minute commute was considered "bad".
It really doesn't bother me. I put on a podcast and enjoy the downtime. I also don't have young kids.
When my 15 year old son has to stay late and I can't get to him,I just tell him to take Uber. My wife and I have agreed to "work hard, play hard". We cherish our weekends.
All that being said, I can understand the difference being stuck outside in the cold at the whims of public transportation and being in your own car.
When I was dating my now wife, we lived in opposite sides of town - 38 miles apart. That's life in a major metro area.
You either live in the burbs where you can get a nice affordable big house or live closer to where the jobs are and live in a shoebox.
Both metros should have barrier between platforms and tracks since they know where the doors will open. It's sad but a non-negligible cause of delays are due to people jumping on the tracks.
Every now and again I look at the 1960s photos of the implementation of the metro system and the main idea that I take away from it is that something of that scale is pretty much impossible today.
For rail those tend to be fairly reliable, though most rail alignments buy two or three so they can bore from both ends, and have a spare in case it pulls a Bertha (Seattle's recent highway tunneling nightmare).
What is different today is how impacts are considered. Politically savvy communities are able to cause perfectly good rights of way with existing rail to not be used for light rail or commuter rail. Happened over in Bellevue, much to the detriment of the city and its surrounding towns. Microsoft ain't too happy about that one!
This only works for environments with one type of rolling stock only. It's not uncommon that you take a ride in a decades-old train (e.g. the oldest trains in the Munich subway hail from 1971, they are expected to run for essentially over 50 years!), switch lines at a station and end up in a train that rolled off the factory line 2 years ago. Each new train generation has, for example, different door widths, door positions, even the number of doors per wagon can change.
Admittedly I hadn't thought of that, but I don't think there's that much variety in rolling stock for a given location, and when speccing out replacements I don't think it's too much to ask that the doors are in the same place (cars are purchased in dozens...), maybe I'm wrong. Montreal is a much smaller network than New York.
that pretty much only works if you have 1 generation of rolling stock currently in use, and you know (or forsee) that you want to install platform doors. considering that the new york subways were built before platform doors were a thing, I can totally see how door location wasn't even a concern when purchasing rolling stock.
Then I was in Brooklyn to watch a show that night, we got out around 9PM and was trying to figure out how to get back into the city, the line that was suppose to take us wasn't running it's normal route, so we had to take one stop into Barclays Center which renamed another line to the line that we wanted to go on. Seemed like the locals knew about this though.
I didn't experience any major delays, but it was more like there was so much work being done that you had to spend extra energy remembering which line was available only one way and starting at which station. Google Maps was definitely very helpful.
I think about this a lot. I know what it means when the AC is rerouted along the F to West 4th and can plan accordingly. How the hell is a tourist supposed to figure out how to get to Fulton?
In the London Underground pretty much everywhere you look in the carriage, there is a map or route diagram, with clear announcements and digital signage telling you where you are and where the train is going. Same with the platforms - the station name is repeated many many times everywhere on the platform and there are maps, signage and route plans all over the place.
In NYC it seems that maps and signs are kept to a minimum, with some stations just having a singal initial (!) on a grubby ceramic wall tile to identify the station IIRC. The driver might mutter something over the tannoy, but if you're not familiar with the vernacular or plain just don't understand what they said, your often left confused about where you are or if you are going in the right direction.
Has there been some very rapid drop in service? is this something which forseeably could get better soon, or is it a one-way hole without a huge capital investment?
SHOWTIME folks seem to be starting again. I still have a strange anxiety that some crazy person will push me into the tracks if I get too close after those string of incidents a few years back. And now I also wonder when the next train derailment will be since those seem to now be a real possibility. Some of our trains are literally past their expiration date and begging for an accident. .
Sure it sucks if you're early but I suppose they could also just get some take-home work (like grading tests) that's not due that day or prepare some stuff. Sure, some of them probably killed the time with morning newspaper and coffee... but still.