We need to get away from this idea that public transport systems need to break even or turn a profit. They are there to help make money in other ways. An efficient reliable transport system should cost the taxpayer money, but they will get that back in profit elsewhere through a thriving local economy.
MTA is broke because it costs several times as much for MTA to do anything compared to its counterparts in other Europe: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/nyregion/new-york-subway-....
Osaka (OMTB) 137%,
Hong Kong MTR 124%,
Osaka (Hankyu Railway) 123%,
Tokyo Metro 119%,
London Underground 107%,
Singapore (SMRT) 101%,
Taipei Metro 100%.
Clearly it is possible to have profitable subways, so I don't think we should drop profitability as a goal.
"As compensation for the cost of building railway networks, the government grants the MTR Corporation land development rights along its rail lines, stations and depots – an increasingly lucrative business in recent years amid a red-hot property market."
In Asia transit hubs are often also retail hubs and the commercial rents become profit for the public transit system. This makes perfect sense as the retail value of the nearby land can most obviously be credited to the transit system.
I'd imagine that the problem with the United States is that this real estate was sold early on or was never owned by by the transit system allowing the spillover benefits of transit hubs to be captured by private interests.
I'm not all knowledgeable in this, so if someone who knows more of its history can chime in please do.
I would argue none of these should be issues in NYC except for the "culture", if in that you include mismanagement culture.
IT is possible to devise a tax system that will capture some of that positive externality and make the subway better. It should be intuitive that the properties that got amazing value increases due to the subway should have an increased tax burden on them. A subway-proximity tax could be enough to turn subway profitable: and to easily fund expanding it!
London's network is older and has smaller tunnels. It also only has single tunnels in each direction (so if a train breaks down the whole line stops).
The difference is that the network has had steady investment under single management for a prolonged period. Londoners have suffered through closures for engineering work, but ageing systems have been upgraded and gradually the benefit is being felt.
Whilst in general I agree with the sentiment of your comment, this is not true. Lots of residential areas in Greater London will have ~20 min walk to nearest tube or overground, and if you're going across the city, the train part of your journey can definitely be > 40 min.
As an example, I've got two friends, one lives in Wimbledon (far south), the other in Barnet (far north). It takes quite a bit longer than an hour for one to get to the other's house.
That isn't a fair assessment. Metro lines are used to enhance mobility within urban areas. Their goal is to replace cars and 20-30min walks with a 5-10 metro ride with an additional 5min walk. That's why typically subway stations are placed about 500m to 800m apart, and the system's commercial speed is designed to be around 50km/h.
For long commutes, such as going from far north to far south, there is an entirely different system: commuter rail. Their stations are further apart, their commercial speed is higher, and so is the passenger volume.
Just to provide an example, Madrid is served by both rapid transit network (madrid metro) ans a commuter rail system (madrid cercanias). It takes between 30 and 40 minutes to cross Madrid riding the metro network, but the commuter rail takes about 15 or 20 minutes.
Taking London as an example, there aren't many ways to cross London in such a way using commuter rail (ThamesLink currently and Crossrail in the future are probably the only two?). Most people would still use the tube.
That's why 1hr + journeys in London are not uncommon.
(edited to add) London and New York are also much much larger cities than Madrid. It's not really a fair comparison.
NYC isn't circular so going from Bronx to Brooklyn is 30 miles.
Ha, what? My old commute on the Singapore MRT - 5 stations - cost me the grand sum of SGD$1.07 (USD0.78). Even to the airport is only a couple of bucks.
Tokyo isn't quite as cheap but it's still very affordable.
Seems like an incredidibly narrow-minded way to gauge its economic value to me.
Well, we could do some one-off studies and hope that Excel is used properly, but why? We already have mechanisms that figure out the value of things and allocate resources appropriately, they're markets. The unviable nature of public transit suggests systematic resource allocation problems, created politically. If there were really such huge beneficial side effects, it wouldn't matter if ticket prices rose a lot, that'd just get priced in to other things like cost of goods near transit stops.
For instance maybe every ride in NY should be 2x or 3x the current price for the costs of the system to be worthwhile, but public transit is usually government owned and politicians aren't willing to bite the bullet on that.
I don't disagree that it's hard to quantify the exact economic value, but you can't use a free market to solve coordination problems like public transit.
Coordination failure in stages:
1) A transit line that goes where you want, when you want for only a fraction of your trips means you need a second means of travel the rest of the time.
2) Having a second means of travel on hand (e.g. a car) means that you're less likely to use the transit line when it would work for you.
3) Lack of use of the transit line leads halted growth and reduced service.
4) Reduced service further drives users away
5) Evidence of failure causes a loss of investor/government support.
6) Transit line dies slowly to the extent that political inertia allows.
Or to put it another way, asking a transit line to pay to for itself is like saying "if human beings really wanted world peace they could have all just disarmed!", ignoring the fact that until everyone else is disarmed you'd be a fool to disarm yourself.
And if you succeed and build a critical-mass, sustainable system you've just swapped your market problem for a natural monopoly and have to use non-market techniques to deal with the monopoly service provider. (And now we're back to NY)
This is the entire point. You cannot dismiss it. What conditions allow the costs to rise so high in NYC?
> A transit line that goes where you want, when you want for only a fraction of your trips means you need a second means of travel the rest of the time.
Why should anyone want to go any place, and what makes them so entitled to receive such a transportation service? People, like businesses, will follow economic incentives. I'm sure landlords and real estate developers love the metro system, it brings great value to the otherwise less desirable realestate. For ever dollar someone doesn't pay to ride the metro, that's a dollar more in rent an apartment can charge.
You have to look at the big picture and figure out who these mass transit systems actually benefit.
No one is entitled to anything - you added that word apropos of nothing in my post.
People need to see public transport as "roads that don't need cars".
Semis cause 1,400x more wear than cars .
I'm not sure the potato subsidy is worth distorting the transport economics.
The problem is that non-truck solutions cost more relatively due to government intervention, messing up the market's ability to find more optimal solutions. This one is simple, it doesn't even require you to think about carbon taxes to do the math. It's direct costs, subsidies to a certain technology. Don't pick winners and losers, create an environment where capitalism can function and find the actual best solutions.
Charge trucks for damage they directly cause to roads. Simple.
Then again, if everyone in my apartment complex splits a water bill, there's not much incentive for me to use less water.
If it's truly the heavy vehicles ruining the road, and so we somehow charge the much more, then perhaps measures will be taken to address that cost...
"Talk about a ‘superload’! Check out what just crawled along Washington highways"
If the road maintenance cost of transporting the potatoes is priced into the potatoes, then the potato company might opt to transport the potatoes in a different (cheaper) way.
But if the road maintenance costs appear free or near-free to the potato company, they have no incentive to care about it. Also it makes drivers who don't eat potatoes subsidize the potato consumers.
That's actually not true. Capitalism always works, no matter the problem. However, free markets don't account for externalities, and in some cases supply/demand constraints create unacceptable non-economic problems. Thus, to avoid the effects of non-economical problems then it's preferable to create economic incentives that reflect the non-economic constraints.
If road taxes are directly tied to the things causing wear, then every company causing that wear has an incentive to find a transport method that causes less wear (assuming that the additional cost of that transport method is lower than the cost of the road wear - that's why some people argue that using markets is better than using rules; if you've properly priced the market, the market will balance between road and rail based on cost.)
That's why it's important to make sure that all externalities are directly tied into the cost of whatever is creating those externalities.
If the potato trucks had to pay for the full cost of roads, then they would be incentived to drive that cost down.
Aligning incentives is important.
More realistically, potato prices would go up to reflect operational costs.
Which is the entire point. To incentivize people to change their behavior.
Net result would be better prices for local farms, less road maintenance needed, no impact to the end consumer overall (less taxes to support less roads).
Maybe. Reduced transportation costs to businesses permit lower cost goods to end consumers. Your car transporting you to work isn't your only reliance on the road grid.
Buying less stuff > spending tens of extra hours per week getting from place to place.
Honestly, I feel the same way, since most time I spend driving I spend sitting in traffic or something.
When I need to clear my head, I still hop in the car and go for a drive with music. Not also afraid to admit -- I've had some of my most cathartic, emotional-cleansing crys in the vehicle by myself.
In this day and age where there are fewer and fewer places to go to truly be alone with one's own thoughts, sometimes my vehicle is my own personal sanctuary.
However, there really is an element of freedom. You can drive where you want when you want. It's just that the average person sits in bumper to bumper traffic.
American rail systems largely didn't develop around their stations, and if they bothered to develop around their stations they sold the land after construction and that was it. For them to do so today would require billions, if not tens of billions of dollars to provide fair compensation for eminent domain for land and property around stations. And that's before the legal costs to fight all the resulting litigation, if they even were allowed to do it.
No North American transit operator makes money, so they have no way to buy up land in the first place.
This article from last year does a much better job of covering how things have gotten to the state they're in - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/18/nyregion/new-york-subway-...
In London that same fare in rush hour would be anywhere between $4 and $15+ depending on the length of the journey (and NYC has much higher GDP per capita than London, plus the £ is on its arse at the moment). Even Berlin is marginally more expensive, in a much smaller & less economically prosperous city.
Keep in mind also that if you don't raise fares you are effectively cutting them because of inflation.
Europe isn't the only "developed world," mate. My morning commute in Hong Kong (which is roughly the same distance as Brooklyn to the LES or, say, King's Cross to Paddington) costs around $0.50. I can go all the way to mainland China for ~$3.00.
$2.75 is roughly the maximum fare in Tokyo (where an unlimited day pass can be had for $5.25), and $3.00 in Seoul will take you 145 kilometers away.
As a side note, there sure are a lot of people in China that get prickly about the definition of "developed".
> I'm neither upset nor in China
You don't know what you are talking about when it comes to Tokyo, mate. 600 yen covers a day pass for the Tokyo Metro only, doesn't cover any JR lines at all. And even then, it is only for the local/regular express trains not commuter express trains. Additionally, Tokyo metro lines mostly only cover, well... the metro area. Not the suburbs or places where a lot of people live.
One way to work for me in Tokyo is about 500 yen and I live relatively close by, I just have to switch train operators twice (you get charged both on distance, and a flat fee by each train operator). Many of my coworkers who live out in the suburbs with families pay a lot more, but luckily most Japanese companies cover transportation fees as part of your salary.
As far as the rest of what you are talking about, you are very much ignoring the difference in economies between those places. 10 HKD goes a lot farther in Hong Kong than the equivalent would in New York.
As I said elsewhere, I'm specifically only talking about the Tokyo Metro. I didn't include JR just like I wouldn't include the LIRR when talking about the NYC subway.
> Tokyo metro lines mostly only cover, well... the metro area. Not the suburbs or places where a lot of people live.
The same goes for the NYC subway. If I took the A train from one end to the other (uptown to queens), it's about 45km - only 5km more than going from Wakoshi to Shin-kiba, or riding the Yurakucho line end-to-end.
> 10 HKD goes a lot farther in Hong Kong than the equivalent would in New York.
I don't know how you're coming to this conclusion; Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
I've been to plenty of developed world cities where the cost is under $3.
Keep in mind the distances that the subway does (and has express service on) make it similar to the RER in Paris more than the metro.
You might be thinking of the RER, that has different pricing.
I understand your point now though: it's the long fares that are insanely cheap, due to the flat pricing model. There are only a few comparison points I guess since very few cities have a "subway" system that large (some may have large transit systems that reach the suburbs, but they are often separate from the subway and with a different pricing structure).
Being run entirely from fares means you are not at the whim of politicians for subsidies and grants that can change overnight with an election, which makes it very hard to think longer term.
I think this is what NYC should be aiming for - operationally covering its own operational costs from fares, advertising and property revenues with then state/federal grants for larger capital projects.
A fee increase to that level in other cities might have the opposite effect of reducing ridership and total revenues, against a largely fixed expense base, condemning the subway to a real "death subway".
The externalities of transport are massive, if a small number of people device to spend 15 minutes more in traffic to save the 8 pounds subway fare, the costs to society are simply astronomical because now everybody else has to spend those 15 minutes more too to get to where they need to go, even if they don't have the option of public transport for their route.
My point really is that "even" £8 isn't that expensive in the grand scheme of things. And that money going into the system allows it to work well.
Unlike roads which are entirely funded by government. So a comparison is always going to make "public transport" (ironic considering it's the transport not receiving public funds) look more expensive.
It's also worth noting buses are much cheaper than the tube and quite accessible compared to a lot of places, though much slower.
I guess they should just buy a car instead, right? Or live in Manhattan and walk to work?
There are much better ways to do this, eg offer discounted trip cards to people on certain social security programs (Medicaid eligibility comes to mind). Price differentiation 101. This should be funded out of social security budgets, not transport budgets IMO.
Not a crazy idea considering how some systems operate in the East - Tokyo, Osaka and Hong Kong systems not only pay for themselves, but churn out profits along the way. Singapore’s MRT is designed to operate at break-even.
The trick is to allow the transportation authority to own and manage its own real estate. This way when a new station or line is built out, the sharp increase in land value is captured by leasing the space above it to a giant mall, office complex or a mixed-use megacomplex like Roppongi Hills.
The US model seems to reward random real estate developers who just happened to own the land near the future station. It also seems to frown upon the idea of concessions or any commercial exploitation - for instance, San Jose or San Francisco Catrain stations receive more foot traffic than many commercial centers in the area, yet choose to wow their visitors with a mediocre coffee stand and a dirty bathroom.
Well, that seems like a pretty major subsidy. So if a new line or station is built, the government uses eminent domain (or equivalent) to buy the land, and gives it to the transport authority?
I mean, it might be better in that it lets the transport authority operate without being dependent on government handouts that can vary wildly from year to year due to local politics.
> The US model seems to reward random real estate developers who just happened to own the land near the future station.
The government should apply some form of land value taxation to (partially) fix this. Would fix a lot of other problems too, but I digress.
Transportation hubs create far more value via their impact on nearby real estate values than from the fares they collect. Asia cities correctly capture the value created by public transit by having major retail hubs above or surrounding subway stations, all of which is paying rent to the transit authority.
Even this is a generous compromise, because the benefit to real estate value really radiates outward to the entire walkable radius, it's just the immediate retail hub that could attribute most of it's value to the station.
So if anything, the problem with the US is that public transit is just a massive economy handout to private landowners, leaving just the scraps (the fares) to the transit authority.
Hence why the NYC mayor is so intent on funding worthless streetcars and ferries; they let him get out from under the thumb of the state.
The best public transport model is the one in London.
I did a quick and dirty check on Google for "new york state population"  and " "new york city population"  and the percentage I get is 43%.
EDIT: As did a few others, I read "<0.5" as "<0.5%".
I'm assuming you're using the "worthless" adjective only for the streetcars - I use the NYC Ferry regularly (a stop opened near my apt last year) and it's way better than the subway. I have to walk a bit further on the other side, but it's still way more comfortable.
However, it is a valuable augment to the surface system. The point is that it helps "connect the dots" (providing more options for people to get from A to B) - hence making the system more effective as a whole.
They don't compare remotely favorably to the subway along any axis except start-up cost (it's cheaper to buy a boat and build some piers than to build a subway tunnel).
Which is, well, hugely significant when you think about it.
Some people tried to make the math work for the L shutdown and even if you had a line of ferries just following each other as close as safely possible it wouldn’t be nearly enough. Subways are incredibly efficient at moving large numbers of people.
But I guess those discussions will need to happen elsewhere.
Worthless? The ferries are one of the few unequivocally positive things to have happened to the city in recent decades.
The Tokyu Corporation (one of the 10 or so companies running trains in Tokyo) is currently building several 20 to 40 story buildings in Shibuya, one of which Google Japan will move into next September. They make money renting the building all of which are next to their station
> 'in 2017 there were 99 fare-free public transport networks around the world: 57 in Europe, 27 in North America, 11 in South America, 3 in China and one in Australia. Many are smaller than Dunkirk and offer free transit limited to certain times, routes and people.'
Once a public transit system is convenient and is used by a large percentage of the population, let's say 30-90%, then it will surely be profitable except if it's grossly mismanaged.
Incidental tip: buy stocks of Hong Kong public transit companies, they're doing amazing.
How about seeing that once the Subway was private and ran well and it ended up the way it did thanks to state intervention trying to make the subways out of business and then buying it out?
Private rail systems in Europe eventually were nationalized during the warring decades of the 1900s and remained that way longer than in the US, while in the US the government spun up Amtrak to relieve rail operators from passenger rail and its rapidly declining revenues, while letting freight railroads go through waves of mergers until only a handful remained. Soon after Amtrak, the airline industry was deregulated, and airlines proceeded to copy the idea: rack up costs, declare bankruptcy, sell, reset.
Truth is, big, ambitious construction projects, and big, ambitious service networks have always sucked, and the ones that remain went through many cycles of overruns and disappointment and service reduction before they stuck. Maybe what ought to worry us isn't that we've lost the magic touch of delivering ambitious, long-running deliverables (railroads, infrastructure, cities, government services...) sustainably, but that we never mastered it in the first place, and the things we have now are the much-recycled husks of former grand ideas that managed to eke by.
I'll make the case that, as a nation, we have lost the ability to deliver civil infrastructure projects on time and on budget, not to mention manage them once they are operational.
Regarding NYC MTA, I'll share an anecdote. I have a very close friend who worked on the second avenue Subway line a few years back. He's a civil engineer by training and was in middle management on this project, employed by the general contractor awarded this contact. His comment was along the lines of: "imagine dozens of dump trucks full of hundred dollar bills backing up to an incinerator and dumping the money. That's what the MTA does. Burn money." The sentiment was that these public institutions are chuck full of incompetence with no repercussions for mismanagement or incentive to excel. As a life long New Yorker, I don't have to work in the tunnels to know that he's right.
I'll make the case that, as a nation, we're doing fine with the ability to deliver civil infrastructure projects on time and on budget, and to manage them once they are operational, in those regions where they actually care about their infrastructure. See, e.g., LA Metro, Denver's metro, Cleveland's RTA, our utilities grid post-Enron. These are all things done at a scale and density that have been equaled or exceeded only by authoritarian states.
"New York’s Second Avenue Subway cost $2.6 billion per mile... The approximate range of underground rail construction costs in continental Europe and Japan is between $100 million per mile, at the lowest end, and $1 billion at the highest. Most subway lines cluster in the range of $200 million to $500 million per mile."
Rushing to post "but what about the Second Avenue Subway" in any thread on this topic is not useful, since you've provided no evidence that it's representative enough to generalize to all infrastructure projects in all cities of all states of the US.
The former was a relatively standard tunnel using standard machines, while the latter was the largest single-bore tunnel ever attempted.
As a nation we have delivered a massive and continuous civil project for the past 70 years: our sprawling suburban road & utility network. Nobody ever notices it because roads are just background at this point.
This is true, but only part of the story. The private railroads (and indeed much internet infrastructure) had two phases. In the first, early entrants made big profits by picking the low hanging fruit (i.e. most profitable opportunities) in a new market.
This created investor euphoria just as the opportunities for "easy" profits were drying up. So things turned towards speculative, even fraudulent investments that left the investors out of pocket. But, as you point out, even the second phase left some infrastructure on the ground that could be operated at a profit once bought at firesale prices.
The problem is basic day to day maintenance is really not
enough, infrastructure get's increasingly complex and expensive over time. Now compare this with you example city's 70 years ago and it's a rather different situation. Singapore for example did not even start construction on a subway system until 1982.
There are some of the cars on other lines (like line 10 I'm taking to go to work) are more than 40 years old (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MF_67), but they've been through some refurbishment since then.
You own it, you maintain it. Good luck.
The A/C/J/Z lines still contain R32 cars, which were built 54 years ago, and are 20 years past their service life. These cars were built before the moon landing, have terrible brakes, have terrible air conditioning, and are, generally speaking, sweltering rattly deathtraps.
The Second Avenue line is 100 years in the making and has a grand total of...drum roll...3 stations. That opened in 2017.
But hey, they're getting WiFi in the tunnels and installing flatscreen TVs in the stations. Three cheers for more ad space! Personally, I'd rather have less station closures, less delays, and less stopping-and-waiting-20-minutes because of track congestion.
Consumer-grade connectivity within tunnels is likely piggy-backed on the connectivity required for the trains infrastructure. Currently the subway operates a system from 1930s to control the lights and detect train positions. It is based on mechanical / magnetic relays, and is prone to break often.
Replacing that with redundant modern electronics and fiber optics wold increase MTBF dramatically, lowering maintenance costs and wait times. One thing that the current antiquated system is limiting is train speed. Trains used to be faster, but were slowed down because of safety reasons. If the new connectivity allows them to run 30% faster again (or even faster, where the tracks allow), that would be a huge win.
(Written on a subway train crawling through the ancient tunnels.)
Installing countdown clocks on only the lettered subway lines cost $209 million. This doesn't include the numbered lines which have had them for about 10 years which also cost hundreds of millions. In all the project took 29 years. 
If you want to know how much it cost to install WiFi is was budgeted for $200 million and ended up at around $300 million. 
Remember how that healthcare.gov Website cost hundreds of millions and was a failure? It cost $250 million and came with a $75 million maintenance cost. And then a small group came in at the end and fixed it for $4 million with yearly maintenance of $1 million? Well, the MTA has a ton of these projects.
Except that none of this money came from the MTA. The complete project was funded by private entities. Most of the cost was passed through to the four major wireless carriers. Those carriers continue to pay, on a monthly basis, for their ability to offer services in the Subway and the MTA receives portion of that payment. So, from the MTA's perspective, this project generates revenue. Same goes for a number of similar projects.
How many people die on them every year?
Are they really deathtraps? Or are they just old train cars?
Some of these are much easier fixes than others.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s planned to add amenities like new lighting and USB ports at nearly three dozen New York City subway stations, Completely side-stepping DeBlasio.
In February, Cuomo put the vote forth to The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, (they control the MTA), voted 10-3 vote in favor, to approve 1 billion dollars of contracts to refurbish nine of the thirteen stations.
This is all apart of Cuomo's Enhanced Station Initiative which is entirely focused on cosmetics.
It's a shame.
But this is the first comment that points out that Cuomo owns the MTA, is responsible for maintaining and improving it, and has a long history of looting the MTA's funds for other projects, or forcing them to spend money on cosmetic changes (does no one remember his big announcement last year that he was going to take 200 million from the MTA to force them to make NYC bridge lights multi-colored? Really?). Service was fine before this man got elected, and plummeted afterward.
It might be that Cuomo's not to blame, any more than any other possible cause. I don't know, I'm not an expert.
But you know what I never hear? Any form of leadership or direction that makes it sound like his people are trying to fix this issue. Which again, means in some sense, Cuomo is still to blame. We don't have reliable transit, and Cuomo's answer is: "Maybe we can get a very controversial new tax passed to pay for it?" From the guy who has a habit of stealing funds from the MTA? Deblasio's condition for more funding was that Cuomo had to promise it will go to the subway and not another one of Cuomo's upstate pet projects... and Cuomo said no.
Until we have a governor who cares, I don't have much hope here. It just doesn't appear to be a priority for him. He declared a state of emergency, and promptly followed up with no headline making changes. Unless I missed something (pls link me! : )
He did, however, name a bridge after his father. Maybe the ceremony would have been better if the bridge sparkled in more colors.
Contrast that with NY state, where the state legislature and governor can interfere with MTA affairs. Cuomo is a huge part of the problem.
There's another option: disband the MTA Union, the primary driver of operations costs. They have blocked technology and safety upgrades for decades to keep 'those darn computers and robots from taking jobs from poor workers just trying to make a living'.
* Unionized workers make very good money in New York.
* Unions are a primary political driver behind those expensive contracts.
* There's more to unions than conductors. Construction and maintenance, for example.
* The unions routinely put up strong opposition to any meaningful expense or quality control. They also strongly oppose any modernization attempts that might threaten their jobs. They've opposed electronic signaling and control for decades. The worse the subways are, the better it is for them.
* Unions are politically untouchable. No matter what the consequences for the public, people are willing to leap to the defense of the noble workingman. Actually, the noble workingman who needs a "living wage" is riding the subways, not maintaining them. The poor and desperate are found among the five million people who ride the subway every day. Transportation is a public good. It shouldn't be beholden to a small group of highly paid laborers.
I didn't believe a friend of mine who only finish college was making $218,000 a year basically for early morning train track cleanups (device to pickup trash, stay away from 3rd rail), until I saw his bi-weekly paycheck with my own eyes. He's been doing that for last 5 years and they hire more people to do the same. What an insult to anyone with MBA, PhD., anyone pretty much who doesn't work for Union.
That being said, paying union construction workers $1k/day (!) to do nothing is pretty egregious as well 
Unions work on both goals simultaneously, increasing wages but also providing job security to their base, inserting strong restrictions on who can perform certain labors etc. The more employees, the higher the power of the union, it's not like a competitor could spring up and kill their host.
It's not a white/black issue, laborers need protection but should not use a privileged position in the economy to seek a rent at the expense of everybody else.
On top of this, but actively lobbying against having driverless trains and other cost-saving technologies leaves NYC with the most expensive and antiquated system in the world
Though I'm sure the MTA will pay billions more in contracts over the next few years to halfway automate a few small parts of their jobs.
Now, I agree that it's not a very moral position, but we don't expect property owners in SF to keep rents reasonable. They should charge as much as they can, that's the only thing that makes sense from a business perspective!
Capitalism (idealized) is when you use get an advantage by selling superior goods or services, while competing with others, without leveraging any state-given privilege.
We need (even) more capitalism in the US, if anything.
See the GoA4 list
It requires conductors because of the union contract requires them. Not only it requires an engineer "driving" the train (aka pushing a button "I'm here") but also the second one looking to make sure that the train doors can be closed ( or closing them on the person )
So just on the L train MTA can cut 50% of the conductors by fully engaging automated train control and merging door checker engineer duties with the "I'm here" engineer duties.
There’s also some arcane areas of NY law that drive labor costs dramatically in NYC versus other places. I think a tunnel boring machine in Paris (hardly corporate paradise) operates with something like 80% less manpower than the NYC equivalent.
>One point construction experts are making, however, is that taxpayers are paying premiums for these public projects since they aren’t being done open shop. The Empire Center report calculated that the government ends up paying 25 percent more for public projects in New York City because of the high prevailing wages.
This is the cost no one wants to talk about.
Good! Living in NYC costs more than living just about anywhere in the USA. Well over 25% more than where I live, a top 50 metro.