Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Summer of Our Discontent

Now is the summer of our discontent, made more infernal by the son of Cuomo.

Such is life in New York this summer, as the subway system continues to malfunction and as Penn Station, a major transportation hub is falling apart.

Were you to read the press you would come away with the impression that it’s all an act of God, that it had nothing to do with human error or even human malfeasance.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page examined the problem and discovered, lo and behold, that the fault lay with politicians and bureaucrats, labor unions and lawyers.

Who knew?

The Journal describes the breakdown of a goodly part of New York’s public transportation system:

Hundreds of trains that run through New York City will be delayed or diverted this summer so Amtrak can make long overdue track repairs at Penn Station, the busiest rail hub in North America. Derailments are now common, and New York’s subways are also breaking down. The mess is a mere portent of the misery that commuters will experience when the 107-year-old tunnel under the Hudson River, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, undergoes repairs.

How did we get to this point? The Journal explains:

The answer is that modern progressives prefer doling out transfer payments to voters and public workers rather than make long-term investments in subway cars, tunnels and bridges. And even when they do build something, they pile on the costs to pay off their other political constituencies.

Why repair the system when you can buy votes by funneling money to the workers and their union bosses.

Anyway, the Journal continues to show the influence of environmentalists and lawyers in working out the Hudson tunnel retrofit:

Take the Hudson tunnel retrofit, which the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) draft environmental impact statement last week pegged at $13 billion, up from $7.7 billion from just last year. Cost drivers include measures to minimize traffic delays, but also defensive contracting to avoid lawsuits. The FRA proposes blocking ugly views of construction with barricades and fencing that are “clad with aesthetically attractive or artistically enhanced fabric.” Marsh-pennywort plants in the Meadowlands would be transplanted to protected areas.

To be clear, for those who want to know where the money is going, the answer resides in increased labor costs:

Since 2005 the MTA’s labor costs—which account for 60% of expenses—have swelled by 80%. Pension and health costs have doubled. In January the agency bumped pay by an additional 5% over the next two years, threw in a $500 bonus and agreed to hire 100 workers to remodel worker facilities.

It makes you long for the joys of the Paris Metro. That city might be a socialist paradise, but at least the subways run, cleanly and efficiently. If Paris is a socialist city, what does that say about New York. No wonder Donald Trump wanted to get out of town.

In New York, no one cares about fixing the system:

With all the money that government spends on labor and marsh-pennyworts, it’s no surprise that capital investment has been neglected. The MTA’s rolling stock hasn’t been replaced for 20 to 30 years since Mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani prioritized service improvements. The MTA still uses block signals from the 1930s, which explains why so many are malfunctioning and causing delays. While the current capital plan allocates $2.8 billion to modernize the signal system, the upgrade won’t be finished for half a century.

Think about that, fifty years to modernize the signal system. That's what happens when we put politicians and bureaucrats in charge:

Progressives say we don’t spend enough on public works, but dedicated taxes for New York’s MTA have doubled over the last decade. Washington is spending 35% more on public transit than a decade ago. Don’t forget the $11 billion that the Northeast got from Hurricane Sandy relief for transportation, which should have covered the cost for signal repairs. But politicians instead prioritized spending $15.9 billion for “community development” and billions more in pork. As taxes rise most of the money goes to buying votes rather than upgrades that will be finished on some other politician’s watch.

One thing we know for certain. The fault does not lie with the Tea Party. If it did, you would be hearing no end of recriminations against right wing extremists and how they are destroying our cities. And Andrew Cuomo has dreams of running for president.

Have a nice day!

[Addendum: I should have put this link in the body of the text, so with a mea culpa, here's a story from the Daily News on yesterday's subway disaster, burning trash that shut down large parts of the system: Link here. How do you spell-- third world?]


trigger warning said...

My career-spanning maxim has been "data always [ahem] trumps theory". It's a rewording of the Feynman Principle (ie, "It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is...[etc]"), and axiomatic to an objective understanding of reality since Roger Bacon, OFM.

My understanding of Progressive theory is generally pretty good (limited, naturally, by its inherent incoherence). Basically, Progressive theory describes what has been called by some a Shining Path, a Sendero Luminoso, to material paradise and pristine equalitarianism.

Sadly, the data from NYC, Detroit, Chicago, Oakland, Illinois, Connecticut, Venezuela, Greece, etc trump the theory.

But there's a bright side (since I don't live in any of those places). Progressive theory is much like a wedding cake designed by Uncle Fester; amusing in its bizarre arabesques and flourishes, but basically inedible. The fun part comes, not from consuming the product, but from yanking the nipple rings of the bakers.

I delight (from afar) in tbe artisanal urinary aromatherapy, filth, violence, and frottage offered to the sweltering, immobile customers of the MTA, declared in a "state of emergency" by Mr Cuomo, and benignly administered by Mr de Blasio.

It is, after all, what the good, non-deplorable, high-information citizens of NYC voted for.

Shaun F said...

Stuart - A comment about the Paris metro - in the 80s they still had first and second class metro cars.

I saw it and rode in em.

Sam L. said...

Why are blue cities such pits of corruption and misspending? (h/t, Instapundit).

Anonymous said...

Lived in NYC for 5+ years.

Visit Singapore annually.

No public transport comparisons possible.

New Yorkers ought to be legendary for their provincialism.


PS - TW should get Stuart's blog award today for this one:

"But there's a bright side (since I don't live in any of those places). Progressive theory is much like a wedding cake designed by Uncle Fester; amusing in its bizarre arabesques and flourishes, but basically inedible. The fun part comes, not from consuming the product, but from yanking the nipple rings of the bakers."

Sam L. said...

Does anybody in NYT have the knowledge and enough smarts to run a trolley line? Anyone?