The failing NYC subway spends its money on opulent station makeovers, ski resorts, and $300,000 salaries for some employees

The 1930s-era signal system hasn't been updated.

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The 1930s-era signal system hasn’t been updated.
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Yana Paskova/Getty Images

  • New Yorkers love to hate on the subway.
  • The New York Times investigated the subway system’s particularly awful record for 2017.
  • It found a series of financial issues, and pointed to the MTA’s money woes caused by fiscal mismanagement and pandering to unions.

New Yorkers constantly gripe about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)-run subway system. But 2017 was particularly egregious.

A subway car derailed injuring 39 people, an F train got stuck underground for almost an hour without air conditioning during the summer, and a track fire caused widespread delays.

The New York Times examined how the situation became so disastrous, and pointed to the MTA’s money woes caused by fiscal mismanagement and pandering to unions.

Below are some of the most shocking financial issues The Times uncovered:

  • Subway managers make an average of $300,000 a year. But those hefty salaries have put lower paid workers – like mechanics – out of jobs, increasing the frequency of signal problems and car equipment failures.
  • Rising salaries for workers run along side inflated construction costs, which stem from agreements with labor unions and private contractors.
  • The increase in costs has led the MTA to borrow to fund its cash shortfalls, but it has saddled it with debt. The MTA has $5 billion in interest payments and nearly 17% of its budget goes to pay down debt – that’s triple what it paid in 1997.
  • The MTA spent billions”on opulent station makeovers and other projects that did nothing to boost service or reliability, while leaving the actual movement of trains to rely on a 1930s-era signal system with fraying, cloth-covered cables,” wrote The Times.
  • The Cuomo Administration sent $5 million to “bail out three state-run ski resorts that were struggling after a warm winter.”

In June, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a state of emergency for the failing subway system. But the problems, which were decades in the making, will likely take much more time and money to resolve.

Read the full New York Times report »