The NYC Transit Mess
When Governor Cuomo and the state legislature passed last year’s budget, they formed a committee to address the growing crisis in the NYC metro area transportation systems. That committee was chaired by my longtime friend Kathy Wylde, who runs and has run the NYC Partnership for many years. Anyone who knows Kathy knows she is all business and does not mince words. The world could use more people like Kathy, particularly in public service.
The committee released their report this week and you can read it here. The NY Times also covered the release of the report here.
The bottom line is that the MTA which controls much of the transit and tunnel and bridge infrastructure for the NYC metro area transit system needs between $45bn and $60bn over the 2020-2024 five year capital planning window. That compares to $33bn over the prior five year period from 2015-2019.
How does the city and state and region come with up to $60bn? Well, one of the ideas is to implement congestion pricing in the “central business district” in Manhattan. That is an idea that has been proposed a number of times over the years, most notably by Mayor Bloomberg during his tenure. It is a good idea and long overdue. A dense urban environment should have excellent mass transit and incentives to use it and should have disincentives to drive cars. Taxing cars in Manhattan and using the revenues to maintain and improve our subways seems like an obvious thing to do.
Congestion pricing in the central business district in Manhattan should produce upwards of $1bn a year in new revenues. If a surcharge was applied to “for hire vehicles” (taxis, Uber, Lyft, etc) in the same central business district, another $400mm a year could be generated.
If you bonded the $1bn, that could produce $15bn. If you bonded the for hire vehicle surcharge, that could produce another $9bn. Those are big numbers and would go a long way to funding the 2020-2024 capital plans.
But as Bliss McCrum, who taught me much about venture capital and recently passed away, would say “don’t put good money after bad without first making some changes.”
And the changes Bliss was talking about was the team, the operating model, and the strategy.
So the other recommendations from the committee should be taken seriously before fully funding the 2020-2024 plan. Breaking up the MTA is at the top of the list. It is a monstrous bureaucracy which is wasteful and badly mismanaged. If it were a privately held company, it would have been bankrupt and reorganized long ago. We should treat it as bankrupt and reorganize it now.
There is very little that can’t be fixed by good management, a business minded operating model, and a responsible investment plan. Unfortunately government is not rich with any of those. But our transportation systems should be and those in government can and should make that a priority. Nothing less than the future of our city is at stake.
The MTA will get their money. Bank on that.We will get the same ol’ bureaucracy. Bank on that too!
I just pulled up that the MTA employs 74,000 people.The MTA is not run and operated by the high achievers, movers, and the shakers who flocked to NYC because it’s the land of opportunity. It has the type of people that are typical in any town in the US. Just punching a clock and waiting for the weekend barbecue or sports event.I’ve employed these type of people. Only about 1 out of 10 of them you can count on day to day to work hard and show up with no issues. The ones that are good? What happens? They move on and the organization is left with the mediocre balance who are lifers and have zero motivation to do anything special. It’s baked into that type of job.
Really think Esty’s or Twitter’s workers were slaving away day after day? Funny think happens when you respect workers, the good employees stick around. It’s all about respect. Once again, Fred talks and seals clap. Be contrarians people.
Estys? What is that?
EtsyDo I have to spell it out for you ! Ha!
Of course I knew you meant that but I was in shock at this statement:Funny think happens when you respect workers, the good employees stick around. It’s all about respect.So to be clear you really think that some business operating in the Bronx, Staten Island or in some average town in NJ can attract the same type and quality of person (all educated and fresh scrubbed with enthusiasm and promise)  as would work at the Etsy offices in Brooklyn? And that all you have to do is ‘respect’ them?It’s like saying a woman or a man wants respect. Sure that is the case but if you don’t have the ‘good looks’ (or some other remarkable advantage) you are dead in the water dating wise. At least typically. Any obstacle can be overcome. But as an outlier.Please don’t compare venture/angel funded companies that can afford to lose money for years before profitability and are sitting on ‘runway’ to the traditional small business that can’t get it wrong at all and is living day to day either on the owner’s money or some bank loan etc. And in some cases Ivy League degrees doing what in other businesses would be considered back office or menial non desirable work (paying the bills or admin assistant one example – I run into that frequently).
The Brooklyn card – and the quality of life – is overhyped. I understand why Staten Island may be marked for life, but Brooklyn cant hold a candle to the educated work force that NJ or Boston has to offer.Don’t confuse these places with Philadelphia which lost its way years ago. Do you think there is a big pharma company longing to relocate in Brooklyn? Next thing you’ll hear is how amazing Howard Beach is?
The one thing Philly has going for it is that it’s far enough away from Manhattan that nobody in Manhattan makes fun of Philly. Because it doesn’t even matter enough to say anything at all. They do make fun of NJ though. Philly isn’t even a place they feel they need to deride. And it is actually a nice now to be (compared to when I was there).Fred went to school in Philly of course. Has Fred ever mentioned Philly? Not that I recall.
I actually enjoyed philly for a summer. I lived in DT Philly during college for an engineering summer internship. Just amazed how little it lived up to its potential. As for NJ, NJ may be the most underrated state in the country. Between its acess to NYC, it’s rivers and brooks, rolling country side and shore line (cape May etc.), it’s a beautiful state. It does of course connect to Staten Island. As to Staten Island, I caught the shortest straw and was sentenced to middle and high school in Staten Island. Talk about man’s ability to absolutely tragedy pristine real estate ! Not to mention the unmentionable. I could write a crime novel about my time there. But back to Brooklyn, people romanticize it. It’s still about a tough way of life for those without significant financial means.
I thought Fred was an “army brat” who went to many schools in many places e.g. Germany.
College MBA at Wharton,.
OK, so Wharton is in Philadelphia? We never hear anything about contemporary Philadelphia in the UK. It’s DC, NYC, and LA.
Well NJ is the only place you have to pay to get out of. :-)You have to pay in NY, DE, and PA to get out of NJ.Kidding aside it does amaze me how far West Philadelphia and Brooklyn have come.I remember when I was working in for Mitsubishi Corp in the late 1980’s early 90’s I was banned from taking people to Peter Luger’s because it was thought the neighborhood was too bad.
I’d love to know the breakdown on that. How many are cops, bus drivers, subway drivers, maintenance people, doers.
And also compare the workforce to the other lard laden MTA’s in other cities. Would be interesting to see the differences. Something that newspapers would take on when they use to be swimming in money. It’s the perfect story since you can just use whatever numbers and whatever angles you are trying to make.These are the people that Albert thinks will be doing arts and learning languages if they are out of a job because of automation.
I do know one person in the MTA. he’s there because he really likes trains and wants to make them work well. When he’s not at the MTA he takes train trips as vacations.Don’t paint everyone with the mta with the same brush. It’s like any bigorg, public or private. Some people want to punch in, some people want to do well
Put on a MTA uniform for a week and maybe stop ooogling about google’s social heroes and maybe we will get talented people step up and work for the MTA.
See my comment. Not going to happen. The reason is people want to work around people who are like them and share their values in a nice pleasant environment. By the way ideas are zero without the cooperation and buy in of the proletariat workers.Remember the stories I told of hiring in the 80’s for my small company? There were people that had interviews scheduled and wouldn’t even come in when they saw the building and the work environment. They wanted a nice office and an attractive place of work. And per my other comment anyone good worked for some time and then left for a better opportunity. Trying to get temp help? You got the dregs. The good people got placed at jobs in big companies and in nice office buildings. That said I made money and did very well despite that. But I couldn’t wait to get out of the place and sell there was really nobody working for me with maybe one exception who would have been a peer.
Maybe you should blog for a week and then we’ll all get the true measure of your mind. I might take my own advice.
Fred, per one of your blogs a few weeks ago, I applied to the innovation challenge that the MTA put out. So far it has been very open and honest. I hope that they will allow us a real chance to implement impactful solutions which stand on true data. I wish they had started this a long time ago…but it is what it is….They will announce the next phase of the challenge at the end of this month….so only a few days left.
go Marvin! keep me posted on the project, happy to help if i can.
I gather that NYC likes to think of itself as special, a cut above just about everywhere else (a view that global quality of life indices do not support), but its atomic unit is its people, going places. That happens elsewhere. Does this MTA edifice get out much, to see how things happen elsewhere?
“If you bonded the $1bn, that could produce $15bn. If you bonded the for hire vehicle surcharge, that could produce another $9bn.” What’s the calculation for these numbers?
Back of the envelope. But you take the revenue and divide by the interest rate that the bondholders would charge
Since my friend started working the MBTA in Boston I have started to learn how much impact technology can have on public transit. Lots of opportunity for software and the teachings of Silicon Valley to create better public transit. You might enjoy this article about improving green line service: https://medium.com/mbta-tec…. There is so much opportunity for good people to do things in these organizations if they are given the chance and resources.
Agree. And thanks for the link. I will read it
ooo, would he want to be interviewed?
+100 on congestion pricing! I was in London recently and its apparent that it works! Let’s learn from London’s experiment and introduce a better version in NYC. https://www.citylab.com/tra…
NYC will officially not be America if that happens.
I completely disagree. Now I would agree the revenue would probably be squandered, but it would do what I always say: “Money focuses the mind”
Individuals trump communities in America.Telling people where they can go is not the government’s job in America.
Telling me I can’t go to NYC is one thing. Telling me if I want to go to NYC and drive my car at 9am it is going to cost me is not.Hey if I want to live on Central Park West it is going to cost me something fierce.All you are saying is residents want cars to be an expensive tier.Ok, that’s fine. You can’t drive your car in Herald Square. Does that mean you can’t go to Macy’s for Christmas?Now I am completely appalled at public transit and the amount of waste in schools money /= quality.But to me this is the ultimate solution to the tragedy of the commons and exactly is what government should do.It is the ultimate expression of capitalism, money is free to allocate resources.Again sadly I think it will be wasted and that is your only argument. The argument is the more you tax the more you spend, and on this I can agree.If the world were ruled by me for the next five years, each $1 in tax increase would have to be offset by $1 in government decrease.
No, I think you will find a surprisingly strong backlash from limo drivers et al – this is America you can’t Tell Me what to do!Merry Christmas Phill!
Merry Christmas!I think if you are a limo driver you will love it. Everybody’s price goes up and you move faster and make more money.
what does that mean?
Telling people when they can and cannot come into Manhattan is community based policy.America is founded on policy that is individually based.Major difference between America and the rest of the western world.
Merry Christmas. Great name.
Andy Byford, CEO of Transit Authority, saying the subway system could enter a “death spiral” without major cash infusion.I’d rather walk 30 blocks then go wait for a train.
Singapore, where I’m about to live for the winter (well, there and Bali), has had the CBD system in place since 1998 (when I first visited), and it always seemed to make total sense.They have some fairly ugly RFID overhead gates that cars pass under– that’s the piece that I would hope that modern tech can eliminate or improve, as again, it’s ugly, although it’s also an in-your-face reminder that you’re passing through a toll area (see pic here): https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…
I love the Hawker stands in Singapore.
I don’t know the internals of Singapore’s road-pricing technology but the equivalent in New York City, which is much more recently installed, is not too ugly as street furniture goes. It works on all vehicles, you get a discount if you have an EZPass tag in your car. It does use flashing lights to take pictures of passing license plates — not an issue at, say, a tunnel entrance, but could be an issue if the sensors are installed on the streets of Manhattan, near to apartments and office buildings.
AHA- looks like NYC MTA *already* has all of this in place, using the current EZPass system. There are today loads of readers all over, far away from bridges and tunnels, plus cameras on many streetlights.All this for better or for worse, as there are quite a few privacy concerns now:https://newyork.cbslocal.co…https://www.nyclu.org/en/e-…
I realize this is a pipedream but there’s a great blockchain opportunity here, to provide a paid-for public service (controlling congestion) with assured payment (no cheating) and anonymity for the user (the traffic authorities collect the money but don’t know from whom).
Go buy a car there and tell me what you spend, see my post above.I am not saying NYC shouldn’t have peak pricing.I will say when you go to Singapore and see that really nice building here is what happens there:. Changi Prison Complex serves as the detention site for death row inmates at Changi, before they are executed by hanging, traditionally on a Friday morning. It is also one of the main places (though not the only one) where judicial corporal punishment by caning is carried out. Caning sessions at Changi are held twice per week. A former employee of the prison was quoted in 1995 as saying: “They are flogging more and more these days. Before they were doing maybe 60 on Tuesdays and Fridays, now they’re doing a hundred”
Road pricing strategy is easy. $100k tax per car. https://dollarsandsense.sg/… It’s why other than taxi’s or work trucks (must somehow get an exemption) you see nothing but really good cars.Now I travel a ton. When people start comparing the U.S. to other places for anything it breaks down.We can take parts of other’s systems.
Just saying “should” is not going to work. The only way to affect change is from within. Capable business people need to run for office, like Bloomberg did. Fred? Anyone else?
How much could be saved by going to defined contribution vs defined benefit pensions, and a non-unionized workforce? Agree that a congestion tax should be implemented. I’d also look at data on capacity-are buses full? Maybe have less buses giving room to more ridesharing vehicles that pay the tax. It’s also impossible to build and extend new lines. We have that problem in Chicago. Our L is great but it would be nice to be able to take the L from the Loop to the University of Chicago campus. Can’t really do it. We need the L to run to more neighborhoods. Having efficient public transport allows people from those communities to participate in the economy without the hurdle of a long long stop and go commute.
In NYC we’ve built and extended lines recently. How about the cost of the social results of making those changes? Congestion pricing decreases traffic which decreases the receipt from the pricing. Changing pension to ‘defined contribution’ changes the economics of the work force which can motivate strikes and other social problems. Mechanizing (robotizing) without re-reimbursing the workers for the loss of work and the increased income also has costs not accounted for in the original ‘cold’ estimates. These costs are just now coming online in society, causing problems forward, which are not so obvious given the other more pressing (orange) hazards.
Here is my belief. People don’t value a defined benefit pension for what it is worth. Literally less than 1%. Now they really value them when they retire, but not while they are working. And the government because they don’t have to deal with accounting rules really is the only one providing those now. I mean I have heard people say I don’t get paid well, but then you realize they will retire at 55 with a six figure pension and medical benefits. Hell most of us even those that have cashed in don’t have that in the bank right now.
Defined pensions should be encouraged and funded.
Defined benefit is an incredible deal for the workers who’d benefit. It can be a great way for regular workers to benefit from company’s profits and their many years of work. It’s too bad that many public institutions butcher this by applying corrupt accounting to habitually under-fund their plans. The workers and tax payers are held hostage by the fall-out of these accounting & funding practices.
The problem is this: Anything that allows you to financial engineer gets corrupted.We went over this in an accounting post. I really believe this.
Few major companies do DB anymore.Can’t afford it.
Defined benefit plans were perfect for Americans. They were the equivalent of a weight watchers and gym membership for the retirement. There was a catch, it was tied to a lower salary. The problem was society convinced us to keep up with the jones’ and mr and ms Jones both took jobs without defined benefits but with higher salaries.
.Before ERISA and the “most highly compensated 10%” rules, DB was not only the way, it was a way to get and stay rich.DB v defined contribution is just expense management at the corporate income statement and balance sheet level.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
And DB plans are forced saving which all else being equal – and even if not – make so much better for the unsophisticated investor and at much better at minimizing mulitigenerational wealth transfer.
I am not a compensation wizard, so, you may be right.All I can tell you is that pension obligations may bankrupt the majority of cities in California & that my senior executive father in law pulled the plug on his career @ a discount @ age 52…..25 years ago.I am not sure how he could have matched that amount with a DC plan.
CA state pension funding is about Arnold 65%. N.Y. is at 90 by comparison. CA would have been fine had it not been for some curruption and incompetence. Many hospitals however are fully funded.
City FD & PD unions have held cities at gunpoint – Houston just had a plebiscite that gave the FD a raise that the Mayor – who has done an amazing job with Houston’s finances – would be crippling.CA is flush with potential civic bankruptcies.
The girl that I dated whose parents were NYC teachers (as the girl was) kept talking about this thing they had which they called the $1m TDA. For ‘teachers defined annuity’. They would retire like clockwork on that and live off of it.Here is the thing though. The reason higher earners don’t have that is that people tend to spend up or near the level of what they make per year. But in other jobs they tend to spend a lower amount and lifestyle because the take home is gutted for the pension with that forced savings. Countering that though is the tendency to blow money on credit card interest and other poor financial decisions.Honestly all pensions are more than anything is a way to make sure people don’t blow money which they will do if you pay it to them in a salary.
Don’t mess with buses. We need more not less. As for retirement, drive a bus for 40 years and then get back to me.
I’d also look at data on capacity-are buses full? Maybe have less buses giving room to more ridesharing vehicles that pay the taxThis statement got me thinking. My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that the planning for what buses go where and at one time runs on some antiquated written in cobol application that the MTA has used since we had 40 states. What if there was a transit system that ran with both large buses (where needed) but also ‘little buses’ on other routes depending on the time. And anyone can take the little bus not just (ok forget the joke). Yield management just like the airlines do. For whatever reason I will guess that they are not deploying the buses with the most efficiency.So instead of ride sharing vehicles there are larger vehicles going here and there and someone with an app can locate the next vehicle which is alerted to them because it knows where they need to go and has more than 5 seats in it. Hypothetically.
Great thought. The smaller buses would take less space and be more fuel efficient as well. Maybe even electric
Most buses run on natural gas.
We have that in LA. The little buses are .35 cents vs 1.50 for the normal routes. I addition, they have a third line that are express (they stop at every 10th stop).
The problem with the little busses is that they tend to have lower boardings/hour of service than a big busIf you are really curious about the numbers behind this, Jarrett Walker talks about this on his blog a lothttps://humantransit.org/#
Yes to the busses being full in NYC, particularly cross town and cross borough busses, which was one of the geneses of the SBS busses (which are also often full)(and ahhahahahah about the L to the U of C, every student’s dream)
I would love to hear/read a separate explanation of how bonds and associated math work.I dealt with this briefly when I was involved in wifi on metro systems (early 2000s), but it usually doesn’t come into play in regular private software startup businesses, can be powerful stuff.
Congestion pricing should in general be much easier to securitize than technology, simply because the revenue streams are (at least perceived to be) more stable and predictable, and the model more established – very similar to bonds secured by revenues from toll roads, which have existed for decades. Great idea.
Take the revenue and divide by the interest rate bondholders expect. Example is $1.4bn/.06 = $23.33bn
To complement raising money, costs must be addressed as well. In addition to pensions, salaries are also inflated with 25% of MTA personnel making 6 figures: https://nypost.com/2015/07/… To quote, “the average MTA employee’s salary was almost $81,000 in 2014, up from $73,355 a year earlier” with the average pay for MTA Police at $135,598. Wow.Like any other broken business, the solution better include BOTH increasing the top line and reducing / streamlining expense. That’s another strong argument why you need business people to both run for office and to be appointed to run the MTA.
“…why you need business people to both run for office….” Because that is working so well at the presidential level….
Funny, but the orange thing in the Oval Office is not really a businessman. He’s never run a large organization with real business people reporting to him. Bloomberg did, and look what he’s done for the city. Fred can we talk you into running?
Point well taken….
Fred has said he would suck at running a business.He is a partner in a 4 person shop – his experience is not analogous to Bloomberg’s.
Truth. You missed the part about bilking billions from investors.
.Take Pres Trump’s personality and your hate for him out of the equation and focus on the following:1. Tax cut bill;2. Economy;3. Jobs — particularly the trickle down to minority hiring;4. Knocking the crap out of ISIS;5. NAFTA v USMCA;6. Getting China to the table on IP theft, currency manipulation, and tariffs;7. Withdrawing from Syria;8. Judicial reform bill;9. Appointing Judges to SCOTUS (might not be everybody’s cup of tea);10. Lessening tension with NK;11. Cleaning up the Veterans Administration (very dear to this vet).I limit it at eleven, but I could go on — the Canadian Softwoods Lumber Tariff being my all time favorite.Getting immigration to the front burner — make no mistake, this will be an amnesty before it’s done. Trust me. Anybody on this blog could cut this deal — anchor babies, chain migration, Dreamers, wall, quality legal immigration. It is an easy trade.If you can step away from the hate, this is a solid record of policy achievement.Some of these issues — Judicial Reform, NK, China — have been kicked down the road for almost four decades.Love him or hate him, there is a lot of policy being made out there.I love the policy. Meh — on the rest of it.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
You need to lay off the egg nog!!
Do you know what is truly disgusting? It’s not that that MTA cop makes that much when you put the pension and benefits in it is like $250k. It’s the amount of admin. Admin is their biggest expense. Name me one place where you have tons of secretaries (not degrading them) but literally if you go to any non government entity, I have never seen one where nearly every administrator has a personal assistant. Sure there might be one or two that are “shared” resources, but literally you don’t have one per, except for maybe the very top person.
Politics and commerce, unfortunately, don’t make for good, objective bedfellows. Breaking up the MTA will be a challenge when the union donates heartily to local and statewide political campaigns. How acceptance isn’t a conflict of interest is beyond me, but campaign finance reform is hardly a new and much needed issue.Hurricane Sandy cost the MTA $5B in damages to stations, switches, etc. I only read the Exec Summary and NYT piece, but any new natural disaster or extreme weather could create add’l havoc to any 5-year major capital improvement plan implemented.The city needs far more Fed investment in NYC subway infrastructure. Any significant breakdown can create a significant loss of local revenue and, to some extent, nationally too. Ironically, NYC is Trump’s home base, but he won’t be advocating any support for a blue municipality that is continually trying to take him down.
You know campaign finance reform is so needed but just like term limits it doesn’t benefit those currently in power. This is not a partisan statement. Everyone.The other thing is how much money gets wasted in government. LE would say it gives people employment but it is like dragging the anchor for the rest of us. Because frankly when you aren’t producing you have the time to mess with those that do and not do the right thing.I oft thell the the story of a business partner of mine who retired and went on the school board and eventually took control of it. He went on the school board because they said they had no money to pay for the band. Now this is a huge football player guy that I am sure of sometime in his life has said a homophobic slur about people that play in the band.He thought I am paying how much in taxes and they can’t have a band?What he found was stunning. $5k per computer they paid….$5k. That doesn’t even count the overhead they spent paying that much. (and frankly probably the company that sold it to them it cost that much) They spent another $150k building a bigger shed so they could fit the new huge mower and awesome diesel pickup truck with a plow they bought. He said how much do we pay that person that uses them? $85k plus full benefits and pension. So make that at least $150k. Wait…..we have landscapers here that would do that job for less than $2k a month.
LE would say it gives people employmentLE would say that but you have to separate money paid in wages for work (even if it’s sub par work) and the rest of your comment where you highlight bad purchasing decisions which is a big villain.For example in a condo that I own the manager I have heard (have not verified) makes $100k a year which is really outrageous. But more importantly she has no clue how to manage money or projects. She has zero ability to understand the things she needs to know to do a good job. And anyone with ability is not going to work at this job at a typical salary (which probably should be $40k to $60k let’s say.)Recently she sent around a notice saying the building spent $14k to install 6 additional cctv cameras on each floor to catch people that are throwing trash away that they shouldn’t be disposing of in that way. So I asked her for the invoice showing what they bought. What did she send me? An quote which basically listed two options and zero detail for what they building would be getting. One quote at $14k ‘for 6 cameras’ and one quote at $9k ‘for lesser cameras’ (to summarize not exactly the words but close). So I wrote back (the work was already done) and said ‘exactly what types of cameras did we buy what is the detail?’. So she requests that from the vendor and I get the detail which they had obviously constructed solely for the purpose of my request (red flag I could tell by the way it was stated and footed!). One thing immediately stood out. First that the cameras were 12mp. Second a hard drive that I buy was about 3x what I pay for the same hard drive (Wd 2tb purple drive I know what they are). Then a bunch of other problems including $140 per man hour of labor for 2 men over two days. To fish wires where there is a channel already.  Very easily they paid more by perhaps anywhere from 30% to 50%. They didn’t even get competitive quotes. Just went with the existing vendor (and no need to btw). And who needs 12mp cameras anyway to watch trash bins in a residential condo building? This is not the money room at a casino, right? Further the NVR system required licenses. Why do we have a system that needs that? Once again not a hotel, hospital or casino but a residential condo building. Small example but that is the shit that goes on in places where you have ‘these types of people’ doing these jobs. Spending other people’s money and not having a clue about what they are doing. A bad combination. And no oversight (even if a board they have no clue one guy heads a hospital system and they spend on medical grade solutions, right? So to him it seemed ok I guess.)At the building that I am on the board at (the office) I had the electrical panels inspected (because they looked like shit I was the only one who even noticed) and they needed to be replaced ‘ready to fail’. So the building wants to do the work over the weekend where you need to pay PSEG to be onsite at a cost of $8k (for only 1 building and we have 7 that will need to be replaced over the next 2 years). If you do the work M-F there is no cost for PSEG (some union thing). So I say ‘well we will just tell doctors they can’t schedule patients the day that PSEG is here’. If I hadn’t said that they would have done it on the weekend and had the $8k of extra costs. They said ‘people will not be happy’. I said ‘they have 2 months to plan around it no way we should spend the extra $8k’. And by the way ‘who cares if they aren’t happy let them join the board then (empty seat)’.By the way this is one of the reasons I am always rallying against academics, writers and so on. They have no real life experience (at least typically) with how the world actually operates and how people think and make decisions. What is so super smart about what I did in the two examples (and you have your own)? Absolutely nothing at all. Did not take anything but common sense to make those suggestions or ask those questions.
Further explanation of why she is in that job. As you know I investigate all sorts of things just for fun (with time not spent on sports). So I find out her hiring coincided with the board president becoming President who is some big shot in the horse racing business. An older guy, SOB type attorney,  maybe mid to late 70’s. The woman is a big horse person. Her office is all horse this and horse that. And while she is not young she is actually pretty well put together for her age and let’s say 20 to 25 years younger than him. Always dresses to the 9’s (whatever that means she does it). So my guess is that he got her the job because he knows her from horses. I don’t know that for a fact but the high salary and coincidences lead me to believe that is the case. No other explanation for the alleged high pay.She is very nice and tries. But way overpaid. Threatened someone else who wanted to be on the board physically in front of his wife. You would have flattened him but the guy he threatened doesn’t roll that way.
I too have looked her up…….world too flat these days.
Raise real estate taxes in manhattan. This is not a federal program and financing it with federal borrowing is selfish. With all the weath in nyc, it’s embarrassing that they can’t get the wealthy to fund 20 billion. It would hurt, but hey you need to get rich once in life.
The city needs far more Fed investment in Nyc subway infrastructure. Why not just raise property taxes and pay that way? Never going to happen. Property taxes in NYC are remarkably low.https://www1.nyc.gov/assets…Separately if the MTA has 74k employees and earns what they make because of the union then what happens to the NY economy (and those people) if you all the sudden take away what they earn since we know the majority are probably living hand to mouth on that MTA salary. Just like teachers and other public employees (such as those that work for the port authority). What you have here is the same problem and reason they couldn’t just decide to make cigarettes illegal; to many intertwined finances are based on the lard.
You can’t look at RE taxes in the abstract. NYC residents are already burdened w/ high fed, state and city income tax (triple taxation), on top of a fairly high sales tax. How much blood can you squeeze from a stone? Plus, the notion that only the rich own homes in nyc is a fallacy.
Pretty sure anyone owning a 5-10 + million home can have their real estate taxes increased. Residential real estate weath should be discouraged anyway. It’s an unproductive asset.
$5-10M+ home owners, even in nyc, are outliers.
Ok, let’s start with the outliers.
I’m good with that. The city needs to tap into any rev stream that it reasonably can. Look, NYC is hemorrhaging. They seem to be okay w/ congestion pricing, but no consensus on weed and sports betting. Why not? What choice do they really have? I can see an argument against implementation, but broader needs outpace those concerns.
Exactly, ask Fred to support a crypto currency betting tax and he will run for the Hills. Crypto was almost a $ 1 trillion industry. Getting $20 billion form hit would have been trivial. Carried trade tax review ? Way to much mendacity!
Fed doesn’t count. We all pay federal taxes.Local/State: Compare it to New Jersey and then come back and tell me about ‘burden’ of taxes.How much blood can you squeeze from a stone?If you want to fix the transportation problem maybe you need to squeeze some more that way.
.The unions wrecked the car industry in Detroit and then took Detroit with them.Car industry went to the hinterlands.Same problem with MTA. Unfortunately, they cannot go anywhere.Jabba the Hutt like greed will kill the city.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Too simple an answer! Correlation is not causation. There are so many confounding variables. How much marajuuania was smoked in the 50s (great cars) vs the 70s (abysmal cars).
.WTF is “marajuuania”?You high?JK – go with “weed.”Sometimes correlation is a true pic of causation. [Well, if you’re not high.]Merry Christmas.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Weak. You missed a chance to address the point. These same unionized workers were likely victims of pathetic schools system, probably think R. Emerson made guitars.Hey, I could have used an emoji .The great thing about modern communication is no proof reading or spell check is needed. There is no chance that Einstein would have spent a second proofing his tweets.Texting while walking gets 99% of the point across.
Unionized workforces came from a view that workers were not partners in the success of an automated production line – which was held by both parties.Lots of union bosses are great corporate partners.Lots are politicians looking to advance themselves only.My wife works with senior executives who were public school kids, technical college grads, operators in a plant, who are now top notch leaders.It is more about the person these days, than anything else.Talent is in demand and sourcing talent is nearly barrierless.
I agree with you, more than you agree with yourself (on most days).Unionized organizations are so tough to change.
but also not forgetting those bureaucratised organisations.
.Unions have totally lost their way in the USA. You know I was a union cement finisher in HS and college.I had to go to the hall to take training on Tuesday nights. In less than a month, I was finishing sidewalks like a champ.Because I worked the level, the stick, and could turn an angle on a theodolite, the business agent got me another $0.50/hr.Sounds like small potatoes, but I was making $1.40/hr raised to $1.65/hr raised to $1.95/hr because I was training. On top of that, I got the additional $0.50/hr if I sniffed that level.I used to see the business agent at church on Sunday and he would squeeze my cheek and tell my mother, “He’s a good kid.”Now all the union does is collect dues, pay themselves obscene comp, give money to the Dems.The unions are nothing any more.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I will give one point to one of the unions that work with the MTA – The Sandhogs have a far better safety record than their non-union counterparts, to the point where I have heard of civil engineers preferring to work with them even if they aren’t pro-unionhttp://www.sandhogs147.org/
If you’re interested in these topics overall, I’d recommend the “War on Cars” podcast done by my friends Sarah Goodyear and Aaron Naparstek, along with Doug Gordon. As the name implies, they have a point of view. It’s a great ongoing discussion of transit and transportation in the US and around the world, albeit with a heavy dose of NYC and, especially, Brooklyn, where they all (and I) live and work. I’ve suggested they ask our host here to be a guest as I think he’d be a great interview and clearly thinks a lot about these topics given his love of NYC.https://soundcloud.com/user…
I don’t go on tech/startup/VC podcasts because I get a ton of asks and generally decline all of them unless there is a clear reason not to.But I love the idea about talking about other stuff that I care about
So I guess that’s a no on my new “cool restaurants in Brooklyn; Skiing and Snowboarding; coding in schools; and Phish is the best band in the world, podcast” 😉
Public transportation is not a business in a traditiondal sense. It should be fully funded, at any cost.
“at any cost”. That’s the problem.
Bottomless pit. I suggest elsewhere that therefore Goldman Sachs ought to be very interested in assisting the MTA. It is Christmas.
“There is very little that can’t be fixed by good management, a business minded operating model, and a responsible investment plan.”Let’s get T-shirts with the MTA logo and that line on them.
.So, you’re comfortable with the risk of spontaneous combustion and self-immolation?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Bliss McCrum (of Euclid) for anyone interested (I was):Among other notable things:- Military (Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in peacekeeping in Germany)- Wharton MBA ’58- Involved in education of underprivileged children- His motto was ‘“learn, earn, and return.”https://ncadvertiser.com/12…https://paw.princeton.edu/m…
He did return
A list of Blissisms might be a good post.No Good $ after Bad $ without Change is a winner.
.The NYC subway system, airports, port are unique gateways to America.That argument is powerful enough to drive a conversation about Federal grants beyond the normal transportation grants which are available to any major city.That is not an argument that I personally favor as a general proposition, but I think it is the right argument, a winning argument.Does NYC get a better deal than ATX? Yeah, they do.It is a political argument and, therefore, is currently a losing argument.When the hurricane wiped out Rockport, Texas the Texas delegation saddled up and got the money. Huge gobs of money. Obscene piles of money from every pocket the Feds have. Not just hurricane relief, FEMA, but Corps of Engineers, etc.One of the reasons they got it was that the state of Texas made a huge promise to write a big check. Will it happen? Stay tuned.Big point — the Texas Congressional delegation caucuses by state, not political party, so there was no political game playing and nobody stood in the limelight trying to hog the credit. You know who drove this effort? Teddy the Cruz and Johnny Boy Cornyn. They never got any credit, but Texas got the money.When the hurricane hit NYC, the NY Congressional delegation didn’t work together and, therefore, did not get sufficient money. All the energy they could have leveraged v the Federal gov’t was wasted on internal squabbling.Politics is a business of compromise, mutual back scratching, and personality.You even have a NYC President, but you’re not going to get the President to support something when the NY minority leader of the Senate spends all his time peeing on the President’s leg.Not saying anybody should be changing what they think, but this is a money game intertwined with politics and the money is real. Just dial it down for six months.A more clever guy than Schumer would have this trade done and if in the course of it the President got $5B for the wall, so what?Same thing happened on the NY-NJ tunnel project. Fix was in, but the politicians had to muck it up. The Northeast Gateway Project is an outgrowth of the ARC (Accessing the Region’s Core) which was screwed up, it won’t have a chance of being completed before 2030.Now, the project is underfunded, late, and going to have massive cost overruns.So, yeah, NYC should get a special deal for subways, airports, and ports. A good first step would be to slim down that Jabba the Hutt MTA payroll.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
You even have a NYC President, but you’re not going to get the President to support something when the NY minority leader of the Senate spends all his time peeing on the President’s leg.You know the Simon and Garfunkle song ‘Mrs Robinson’ where they say ‘where have you gone Joe Dimaggio’? So I wonder why people have lost the concept of sucking up to someone who has the ability to butter your bread. It’s kind of a basic thing that has gone on forever to get what you want in cases where you might very well despise the person you are dealing with.A more clever guy than Schumer would have this trade done and if in the course of it the President got $5B for the wall, so what?(I think you mean ‘less clever guy?’). Schumer has stunning academic accomplishments. Harvard undergrad and law degree. Scored a perfect 1600 on the SAT’s. High School valedictorian.Unfortunately the vortex of hate that he shares with many others and that the President sucks and must be defeated at all costs clouds his deal making ability and judgement. Plus he is a career politician meaning it’s impossible for him to be a real person and just step back and say things and not sound like a pol.
.I spent an hour w/ Schumer about a decade ago one-on-one.Nice enough guy, and I did have the sense he was a very smart guy. Very New York guy.Smart is not the same thing as clever. Tip O’Neill was clever and he and Reagan got along and got some stuff done.Would a good politician eat a little haggis to get something done? A good one would.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
I’m guessing that Trump is lining up Nasty Nancy, Chucky Tears, and nearly all the Democrats for, by analogy, the chute into kill and cut operation: In simple terms, the more the Democrats fight The Wall, border security, deportations of illegals, ICE and try to be a rich uncle for the illegals, the more publicity they give the issue.Then with the issue a very public, painful boil, at the right moment, that is, when the audience is huge and listening, Trump can fire the stun gun and win.Or in the last few days we’ve seen the Nancy/Chucky, the newsies, and Trump all increasing attention to the issue, making the sore boil bigger:(1) In the Oval Office Nancy/Chucky and their apparently practiced tag team attack on Trump, they increased attention.(2) In that fireworks show, Trump had the last word with a flat statement that he was going to get The Wall one way or another. For more attention. Nancy kept quiet, and Chucky turned away and said that they would agree to disagree.(3) Outside, Nancy/Chucky made statements like they had won and The Wall was dead, thus providing more attention.But Nancy’s ire looks like junior high stage acting: I.e., soon she was a happy as an 8th grade cheerleader getting attention from the senior captain of the football team:https://www.gannett-cdn.com…(4) Trump threatened not to sign for more spending and, thus, a case of a partial government shutdown.(4) Mitch, et al. came up with a continuing resolution for money but omitted funds for The Wall, more attention.(5) The newsies, A. Coulter, R. Limbaugh all claimed that Trump had gone soft and given up, more attention.(6) Now just today Trump has stated that he won’t sign the continuing resolution without funding for “border security”, that is, The Wall.(7) From the current state of the news and attention, the attention stands to continue to increase for, say some weeks.The bottom line is that no doubt the Nancy/Chucky position is against the interests, often the strong interests, of 90+% of the voters. So, with the Democrats helping to make their dreams of slave labor, open borders, catch and release, sanctuary cities, Green cards, Dreamers, amnesty, chain migration, anchor babies, diversity lottery, etc. and ignoring putting US citizens out of work and the resulting costs of them on welfare, the drugs killing 72,000 US citizens a year, MS-13 crime, the costs for welfare, education, and medical care, the threats to US public health, e.g., TB, the cash economy that doesn’t pay taxes, workman’s compensation, or Social Security, etc. Trump just needs to emphasize US border security is US national security and win.For a real explanation, i.e. getting at the root cause, we should start with the usual (1) always look for the hidden agenda and (2) follow the money. So for (1) part of the hidden agenda is just slavery, and for (2) I smell really big money flowing in big rivers to Democrat campaign coffers. E.g., where did Beto get so much money? And the guy who beat Faso in NYS? And some more of the recent House/Senate elections.Then for more of (1), maybe Chucky sees that the gig is about up but still wants to look good in front of the big money giving slavers. So, Chucky is like a lawyer with a losing case making a big noise for his client, if not to win for his client then at least to make a big noise in front of his client to mollify the client as they lose.On immigration, the slavers, newsies, Democrats, and Nancy/Chucky are hurting 90+% of US voters and, thus, are very much on a losing issue. Apparently as this issue loses, some powerful, old stealthy special interests are being throttled, hurt, maybe eviscerated.People tend to underestimate Trump. I believe that Trump is correct, that he is going to get The Wall one way or another.Trump said he was going to be the best Jobs President. Well, with trade deals that lower the US balance of trade deficits and throttle various classic attacks on US business, mostly long illegal in the US, throttle the illegal immigrant slave labor, get US manufacturing, oil, coal, steel, and aluminum going again, etc., Trump is well on the way.Here Trump has had to battle the right wing of the Republican party, e.g., Paul Ryan, along with the Democrats and newsies apparently all bought off by the slavers.
“Stunning academic accomplishments”At this point in US university education, “Stunning academic accomplishments” mean some or all of just three things, research, research, and research that is peer-reviewed and published in a suitable peer-reviewed journal. The usual standards for publication are that the paper have content that is “new, correct, and significant”.What was the observation, “A kind word and a gun is effective as a gun alone” or some such. Well 1600 SAT scores, an Ivy League undergraduate degree, with a Harvard law degree and good research is as good as and really no better than the research alone.For “Stunning academic accomplishments”, really, grade point averages, SAT scores, etc. no longer count. What does count is the research.More of the attitude is that what’s in the research library is already known. No one is expected to try to carry that library around between their ears. So, in research commonly we learn what we need to know when we need to know it for our research. But that approach alone mostly doesn’t work because a good foundation is usually from helpful to important to necessary. In particular, for “Stunning academic accomplishments”, having an especially large fraction of the library between the ears is neither necessary nor sufficient; instead, good research is both necessary and sufficient.There is formal education for research — the Ph.D.I’ve done and published some good research and have a good Ph.D., and IMHO that work is quite different from the work in K-12, college, and a Master’s. Indeed, it is common for students with fantastic records K-Master’s to struggle terribly at the research for a Ph.D. Some people start a Ph.D. program, go some years without finishing, and say that they are ABD — all but dissertation, that is, the research. Well, for a Ph.D., the research is about ALL there is. Indeed, in some of the best research universities, there is no coursework requirement for a Ph.D. Yup, instead, the requirement is research.More generally, for doing well in the real world what is in the research universities is sometimes helpful, maybe very much so, but usually much more is required.In research universities, the professors advance based on research and, in particular, research grants and associated reputations. That career track is highly competitive.E.g., there are recent laments in the physics community that new results as exciting as from 1905 through the Higgs have been coming forward very slowly. Well, is this because the physicists are lazy? Not entirely! Due to the role of competition, we can be sure that hundreds of physicists are working hard doing their best.In some cases, good research can be useful and valuable outside high end research academics, at times even in entrepreneurship.Net, with current research university values, the background I’ve heard about for Senator Schumer doesn’t qualify for “Stunning academic accomplishments”. Moreover, as I outlined, even with Harvard, etc., being very successful in either research inside academics or anything outside academics needs more that is rare.
Yes but you have to put the comment in context to the fact that it is me that is saying it. It’s like my mom who knows nothing about computers at all and sees some tricked out gaming computer with flashing lights and concludes that it seems like a really good computer (based on trivial appearance).
Yup. My reply was to be informative, not critical or derogatory.The information is easy enough to understand given an explanation. But outside of high end academics it would be absurd to guess all that, all those values. Moreover, floating around our society are lots of attitudes, assumptions, etc. about the importance of doing well in school, going to an Ivy League university, getting a Ph.D., MD, or LLB, etc., and that situation commonly misleads parents, students, and, really, nearly all the teachers not in a research university. Such being misled commonly eventually surprises or even shocks parents and seriously hurts way too many students. Due to the potential for pain and harm, I feel a moral obligation to pass out the information.That said, the information I gave is still narrow. So there is more that is true and likely important: There can be good reasons for students to do at least fairly well in K-Master’s. It’s easy enough to list powerful advantages of a college education and still more powerful ones for an Ivy League Bachelor’s degree.But again on the importance of getting the information, I would warn parents and students that all of US formal education is too commonly destructive, e.g., abuses students. In particular, the teachers in K through four year college commonly have little down to no understanding of what is important for research and, thus, too often emphasize the wrong stuff and denigrate some of the right stuff.E.g., some parents can push and push their children to do really well, Honor Role, Dean’s List, scholarships, etc. in K-college, encourage them to get a Ph.D. but encounter disaster as the student discovers the hard way that research is quite different from nearly all the earlier work and the approaches to that earlier work, especially pleasing the teacher by doing very well at exactly what they ask, is from poor down to disastrous for research. Indeed, essentially just by definition, research is doing something new, e.g., that no one, not even the teacher or professor, knew before the student did the research. So, IMHO some of what can be good for research is some contempt for what is known and commonly taught and some impatience and drive to find some things new and better — “new, correct, and significant”. Contempt for the material tends to anger teachers in K-12!The bottom line remains: Doing well in life requires lots of luck and/or lots of working smart and hard. Again, academics can be a big help but nearly always more is needed.Maybe there’s one more: For a person to do well in life, they can’t be alone. So, they have to do well with other people. But a huge fraction of the common persons on the street, IMHO well over 50%, have some serious problems. The military via its training and leadership usually can do well with people with problems, but otherwise at least some good leadership will be needed. For a person to do well, understanding the flaws, frailties, follies (awful alliteration) of others is from important to crucial. In particular, can’t judge a book by its cover, and can’t very accurately evaluate people just on some quick review of simple criteria — more is needed. It’s good to have some lists of the flaws, etc. and how common they are.For this lesson, I “paid full tuition” (JLM). The lesson is not very difficult once the basics are explained and more information is gathered. In particular, to me the best source I found on the motivations, flaws, etc. of people is E. Fromm, The Art of Loving. E.g., IIRC,The fundamental problem in life is getting security in the face of the anxiety from our realization that alone we are vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature and society.The description is explicit, but frequently what it says is a good contribution to understanding people, including ones without any such explicit formulation, articulation, or realization.In particular, paranoia, hysteria, obsessive-compulsive, and more are all anxiety diseases and no doubt frequently from the anxiety that Fromm mentions. Then some people try to use education as a response to that anxiety; reading more of Fromm, education is not even on Fromm’s list of the best three responses to the anxiety. Instead, all three have to do with cases of not being alone.
“Same thing happened on the NY-NJ tunnel project. Fix was in, but the politicians had to muck it up.”Chao put the knife in and Trump hammered it home. It was a total about face by those two. My source is first hand.
.The Big DigHuge lesson from the Big Dig (Central Artery/Tunnel Project, putting IH93 and IH90 underground) in Boston — original 1985 cost estimate $2.8B with 1998 EDC.Final cost in 2007, $14.6B.So wildly fucked up as to be beyond the creativity of a Hollywood script. Had great design engineers, world class contractor (Bechtel) ended up with lawsuits, crimes, death.They built the Tip O’Neill Tunnel, the Teddy Ballgame Tunnel, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenbelt and put the kill mojo on big transportation projects for the rest of time.Public entities do not have the management expertise to run these kind of projects and don’t have the humility to turn them loose.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Your last paragraph statement is so true. Same in Canada where the state of roads is so dismal. They can’t put asphalt that lasts more than 2 years, and they can’t fix potholes without causing major traffic disruptions that last months and years.Go to Europe or Japan and you see impeccable freeways and inner roads in most places.I’ve had it with poorly run government institutions like the post office, liquor control, hydro, regulated airlines, bank cartels, telco monopolies, etc – all remnants of the so-called crown corporation mentality, that we can’t shake off. (In Canada)
Aren’t you the same guy pushing for government run healthcare ?
It’s obvious you are misinformed about the Canadian healthcare system. The government doesn’t run the system. They fund it. Doctors provide the care, and they are equally qualified as US doctors. Hospitals are run independently. If anything, it’s the US government that can’t undo the mess and bureaucracy of payors / insurers which causes the system to be the most ridicously expensive in the world.
The govt doesn’t run it they just find it and sets the rules who has access it, and what the accepted protocols are. Who’s being naive now?
You. And being the usual dick you are with me.
I’m pretty sure that personal attacks violate Fred’s policies.
Being contrarian is an art form.
Has Canada considered becoming a republic? France has good systems. Germany too. The UK is poor, but it’s much to do with it being an island, which creates inefficient costs of construction and distribution to the edges.
I’m not sure I’m following. What does “becoming a republic” mean?
Is Canada’s head of state still Lizzie, the old girl over here in London?
Your Queen?She doesn’t interfere. You know her role is symbolic at best.
i like her, she appears to have a will of iron to deal with all she’s dealt with
Could not agree more. Let’s just look at the numbers: 424 Subway stops. Put $10mm in each…..I mean think about that $10mm. Ok, so we have $5B there.Redo all of the tracks……ok another $5B.All new cars they cost $2mm (seems expensive but ok) another $5BThrow in another $5B just to upgrade stuff (I mean that is a serious slush fund)So I am at $20B.
.Unfortunately, that $20B is the initial estimate with a 5-7 year estimated date of completion.By the time it’s finished 15 years later, the price will be $40-80B based on Big Dig experience.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
Oh, I am not debating what it will cost. I am just putting it into a private company perspective.I mean I can buy a laptop for every kid for $500. I can get your gigabyte wifi installed in schools for let’s say $500 a month for multiple gigs. Me and a couple of Dad’s can put in a wifi hotspot in every classroom in a weekend. Microsoft office will cost me $1 per student per month.Now……is that what it will cost? No. $5k per kid to share.
so, would it become cheaper to buy the new cars if they spent money shutting down the irt line and redoing the tracks?
I don’t know, I am just saying those numbers are huge.
Loved seeing that Natalia Quintero is now focused on helping to accelerate a lot of these efforts as she helps lead the Transit Tech Lab [https://medium.com/datadriv…]Gives me more conviction in a bright future of transit in NYC and the mess being cleaned up…
Hear, hear! Don’t stop at the MTA, reform the whole Port Authority, which is a political fifedom of unaccountable power that manages to turn dollars into pennies. Remember Chris Christie’s Bridgegate and all the assorted sleazebags?!https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…
Radical idea. Pay people to walk, paid for by those unwilling to walk (i.e. an MTA walk tax). All through the wonders of the mobile phone. It could slash passenger numbers for short journeys.
America is a wasteful culture with short time horizons.I worked for a specialty backfill contractor whose process cost 20% more, but resulted in faster construction times (less traffic disruption and lower costs), fewer potholes, frost-heaves and roads which lasted 10-20 years vs 3-5 before repaving.Since that particular material is typically 20% of a standard underground fiber/electric job on city streets we’re talking about 4% additional cost, yet saving 20%-30% in direct project costs and another 30-80% in future repaving costs; not including all the associated disruption and insurances to all drivers and pedestrians in the present and future.But our decision making systems do not a) allow for risk-taking, or b) make those who make the decisions accountable in the long-run.I’m sure the same issues confront the MTA.
Oops. Duplicate comment. Ignore. It was good, but two of the same is head swell territory.
Perhaps Goldman Sachs should take over and rebrand it 1MTA.
I’m not sure if breaking it up is the right answer in terms of a restructureRemember that one of the reasons the MTA has a hard time buying subway cars is that the irt and the bmt use different track gauges – a problem that would never have happened had all the lines either been centralized (or regulated so the gauge was the same)I think the biggest change – the MTA has a very strange relationship with its unions (both construction and management) for both good and ill. That relationship has been trending towards ill, and the MTA needs to be able to negotiate with them from a stronger position. Whatever the re-org, if this problem isn’t solved, the new organizational structure won’t fix any problems