Underground Wailroad

June 28, 2017

New York City’s “Summer of Hell” just got hotter. Following yesterday morning’s A train derailment in Harlem, which left almost 40 injured, hundreds stuck, and everyone delayed, riders took to the streets today. Several dozen of them gathered in front of Governor Coumo’s  NYC office on 3rd Ave to let him know that they’ve had enough.

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Earlier this month, passengers locked inside a stuck F train endured hot and nearly airless conditions for an hour before escaping. Both of these incidents underscored not only the ragged condition of the subway system generally but the need for better communication with the public regarding emergency evacs as well.

Today’s gathering was intended to reroute the Governor’s attention to the MTA’s myriad problems which have been a long time developing. Despite fare increases and changes in personnel at the top, service has deteriorated sharply during Cuomo’s tenure. Fingers have been pointed, excuses given, and promises made but the commute just keeps getting worse.

Everyday D train rider Joe Lalli, who grades his commute from the Bronx a B+, just wishes someone would take responsibility for the transit mess. Maria Nunez of Brooklyn complained of delays on the J train and B60 bus she rides, and said she often waits 20 minutes or longer to get moving. Riders Alliance community organizer Masha Burina of Ridgewood rides the L and gives it a B+. “Governor Cuomo’s not the first one to under invest in the MTA but he’s had 6 years and it’s crashing. It’s his responsibility to fund it,” Masha told The Gazette.

Transit Center Executive Director David Bragdon said, “the accident yesterday is just the latest example of the decline that’s been happening for years.” He awarded a grade of C to the subway based on (lack of) reliability and cleanliness. John Raskin, Executive Director of Riders Alliance addressed the rally and called on Governor Cuomo to fix the transit mess. CPUSA organizer Estevan Nembhard said he was there in support of the riders’ rally and had recently returned from Buffalo, NY, where the cancellation of bus routes was a hot issue. He proposed looking at the big picture and asking “development for who? 421a is a billion dollar giveaway to landlords” and called for using those funds to improve mass transit instead.

Subway Conductor John Ferretti told the rally that the TWU bus and train workers are on the same side as riders. When train crews don’t provide good information it’s because they aren’t getting it themselves, often due to inoperable radios. He said the MTA has aggressively gone after employee compensation even as they’ve jacked up fares and allowed service to deteriorate.

The Summer of Hell continues tomorrow with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and other transit advocates holding forth at the 31st and 8th entrance to Penn Station at 10:30 AM. His committee oversees the MTA in the New York State Assembly.

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