Last Friday I was hired to babysit in the East Village, incredibly far from where I live. The trip would take around 40 minutes, but it was also my first time traveling to this specific area, therefore I allotted myself more than an hour to get there. Unfortunately, the train system that day was not only delayed, but throughout my trip, the train would repeatedly brake and start again on the tracks. I ended up missing my stop, confused with directions, and I was led to Fulton Street. Already I was worried about time because I had an important meeting to attend before my babysitting gig; based on how the travel was progressing so far, there was a chance that with one more mistake, I was going to miss that meeting. Fulton Street destroyed any possibilities of me making it to that meeting because once I exited the train and entered the station, I was completely lost. I spent 5-10 minutes walking around the station, figuring out which train to take, and looking for where that train line was located. Once I found what line I should get on to get to my babysitting appt. as fast as I could, I also faced the struggle of figuring out which was uptown and which was downtown.
What am I touching on here? Before I had even got to Fulton Street, the blue line (also known as the 8th avenue line) that I took was already detrimental to my ability to arrive on time to my obligations. What’s worse is that not everyone I was traveling with was as lucky as I was and able to eventually get where I needed to be. Some people who had issues with delays or their train jolting back and forth between starting and stopping were probably late or forced to cancel meetings, appointments, classes, or job opportunities. A station like the one at Fulton Street is obviously costly for New York, and, as I’ve previously detailed, grossly unnecessary. In fact, 1.4 billion USD was funneled into work that is largely unhelpful for New Yorkers and tourists, instead of a beneficial upgrade for those who live here and rely on the city’s public transportation. While the city is continuously spending these large sums of money on cosmetic renovations, stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens are literally falling apart. According to the Daily News, 45% of the stations in Queens are deteriorating and do not meet standards, with that number jumping to 94% for stations in Brooklyn and 100% for the stations in the Bronx. So why should NYC fund big or expensive station advancements instead of developing the actual trains that those stations are for?
To make a difference, a moratorium needs to be placed on the MTA’s use of money for visual and aesthetic improvements on NYC stations. Until train issues, such as stations of the outer boroughs falling apart or not having up-to-date materials, are solved and prioritized (this would imply that the equipment is either upgraded or repaired) to at least 85%, money should not be spent on accessories (i.e. Fulton Street train station). These upgrades for the run-down stations that require help can be paid for through the cycling of train fares and taxes of the area in need back into the advancements they need. This way, the money that the people of these neighborhoods with under qualified train systems give to taxes can be put to good use and assist them.