How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways


Soaring Salaries

Even within the face of the monetary disaster and price range shortfalls, the M.T.A. has given concession after concession to its major labor union.

Members of the Transport Workers Union acquired a complete of 19 p.c in pay raises between 2009 and 2016, in contrast with 12 p.c for the town’s lecturers union over the identical interval.

The labor contracts additionally gave members lifetime spousal well being advantages and free rides on the Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road. (They already had been allowed to experience the subway without spending a dime.)

According to a former union president, John Samuelsen, the group has secured higher offers over the previous eight years than every other public labor group in New York.

“I look back with satisfaction on what, together, we have accomplished,” Mr. Samuelsen mentioned in a September letter baderting that he was turning into the union’s worldwide president.

Each of three offers signed from 2009 to 2017 value greater than the M.T.A. anticipated, forcing it to take cash from different components of the price range. The 2014 deal, which value $525 million, was funded by tapping right into a pay-as-you-go account that was meant to pay for capital work, former officers mentioned.

New York vs. Other Major Subways

New York zero65%
Mexico City zero71%
San Francisco zero86%
Washington zero88%
Madrid zero91%
Miami zero92%
Baltimore zero95%
Chicago zero96%
Vancouver, British Columbia zero96%
Toronto zero96%
Atlanta zero97%
Boston zero97%
Montreal zero98%
Philadelphia zero98%
Paris zero98%
Berlin zero99%
Seoul, South Korea zero99%
Los Angeles >99%
Singapore >99%
Taipei >99%
Hong Kong >99%

Subway staff now make a median of $170,00zero yearly in wage, time beyond regulation and advantages, in accordance with a Times evaluation of knowledge compiled by the federal Department of Transportation. That is way over in every other American transit system; the common in cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington is about $100,00zero in complete compensation yearly.

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The pay for managers is much more extraordinary. The practically 2,500 individuals who work in New York subway administration make, on common, $280,00zero in wage, time beyond regulation and advantages. The common elsewhere is $115,00zero.

New York is dearer than most different cities, however not by that a lot. The newest estimate from the federal Department of Commerce mentioned the area’s value of residing was 22 p.c greater than the nationwide common and 10 p.c greater than the common for different areas with subways.

Mr. Samuelsen rejected the concept that subway staff had been overpaid, arguing that it’s a harmful job through which badault is frequent. “We earn every penny that we make,” he mentioned. “This is New York City. This isn’t Mayberry. It costs $700,000 to buy a house in Brooklyn. What do you want us to make? Fifteen dollars an hour?”

Union guidelines additionally drive up prices, together with by requiring two M.T.A. staff on each prepare — one to drive, and one to supervise boarding. Virtually each different subway on the planet staffs trains with just one employee; if New York did that, it might save practically $200 million a yr, in accordance with an inner M.T.A. evaluation obtained by The Times.

Several M.T.A. officers concerned in negotiating latest contracts mentioned that there was one motive they accepted the union’s phrases: Mr. Cuomo.

The governor, who’s carefully aligned with the union and has obtained $165,00zero in marketing campaign contributions from the labor group, as soon as dispatched a prime aide to ship a message, they mentioned.

Pay the union and fear about discovering the cash later, the aide mentioned, in accordance with two former M.T.A. officers who had been within the room.

Mr. Cuomo’s workplace mentioned in an announcement that the M.T.A. dealt with its personal labor negotiations and that marketing campaign contributions had not influenced any of his actions.


Commuters on the four, 5 and 6 platform in Union Square.

A Vast Personal Toll

The value of accelerating delays may be measured not solely in numbers, but in addition in painful absences on particular events, misplaced wages and blown alternatives. Over the summer season, The Times requested readers to share their experiences with the subway. More than 1,00zero responded, principally with tales of sorrow.

Ashley Patterson, 24, from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, started having anxiousness badaults on the subway this summer season and now follows a cautious routine to maintain calm throughout delays.

“I think that that’s something that the M.T.A. should be thinking about,” Ms. Patterson mentioned. “It’s not just about the inconvenience of being late to work. There’s this mental health aspect.”

Laura Hernandez, 34, a metropolis worker from Woodside, Queens, missed an appointment to examine the housing situations of the purchasers of a social service company. “I am a new employee on probation, and it does not look good to arrive over an hour late for an appointment,” Ms. Hernandez mentioned.

Juliana S. Karol, 30, from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is a rabbinical scholar at Hebrew Union College downtown. She was late to a gathering to debate her senior thesis, ordination and job placement. She was additionally 38 weeks pregnant.

“I actually ended up writing my High Holy Days sermon about the subway,” Ms. Karol mentioned. “About the opportunities that the subway crisis gives us to reframe both the gratitude we have when things are going right and how we respond when they are not.”

The total fifth-grade clbad at Public School 32 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, needed to cancel a area journey to see a film — a reward for finishing math exams.

“They had actually gone to the station, and they just ended up waiting forever,” mentioned Dawn Reed, 52, whose son was one of many disenchanted college students. She mentioned she used the expertise to show him about managing expectations. “It’s getting progressively worse,” she mentioned of the subway. “And delays are a part of life, and it’s difficult to have any sense of consistency.”

Ariel Leigh Cohen, 26, from Sunnyside, Queens, missed an interview for a job portray surroundings for a significant Broadway present. It would have paid twice her wage as a salon receptionist and introduced her nearer to her dream of working in present enterprise.

“I was trying to change my life and do what I came to New York to do,” Ms. Cohen mentioned. “It would’ve opened up another world of possibilities. Opportunities like that don’t come around often at all.”

And then there are tales like Rosalie Osian’s. A chaplain who comforts the terminally in poor health for Caring Hospice Services, Ms. Osian, 58, acquired phrase one Friday affected person was dying in Brooklyn, and he or she struck out on a 2 prepare from 72nd Street in Manhattan.

She made it so far as Fulton Street downtown earlier than an announcement informed her to change to the four or 5. Problems on that line compelled her to change trains once more, and at one level she was left standing on a platform, racked by the should be with the affected person and put together the household for grief and pending loss. She was late getting there however made it earlier than the affected person died.

“I’m not the only one,” Ms. Osian mentioned. “There are people traveling the city all day helping people. There are home health aides and others. And if the subways are delayed, they can’t get to their work.”

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