We didn’t move willingly out to the suburbs. We were pushed out of New York City by the need for good neighborhood schools and the mosquito-like annoyances of being poor in the city — alternative side of the street parking, inconvenient laundry, four flights of stairs, a heating system that might conk out in the middle of winter for two days, cockroaches in the kitchen. There wasn’t one particular issue, but when all those problems swarmed around you constantly, nipping at your ankles, city life became draining.
Still, in the back of our heads, we planned to move back when the kids finished school. Since Ian will be in the system until he’s 21, we thought we had another six years before getting a two bedroom on the A Train line.
But I’m not so sure about that anymore. My family and friends who live in New York City, DIE-HARD city-types, are miserable. The subway system is falling apart. The cars are more crowded than ever. Crammed into cars trying to grasp a handrail isn’t a fun way to start the day. And the trains keep breaking down. Repairs means that trains are rerouted, so it might take three trains to get to work, instead of one.
Everybody knows that the subway system, which still uses 120-year old parts, is falling apart. While corruption and union rules have made repairs prohibitively expensive, the real solution is to rip it all out and start over again. Which is impossible. Nobody could get to work or school for five years.
And then getting around the city by car has also been a nightmare. We drove into the city to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this week. In ten degree weather, the line to get into the museum curled around the front fountains. (Insider tip — the parking lot entrance to the museum was empty, so we zipped right in.) There are tons and tons of tourists in New York City these days.
After the museum, we went to our favorite dive Chinese restaurant in Chelsea. We drove down Fifth Avenue. It was bumper to bumper Uber cars all the way downtown. Uber cars have made traffic so much worse.
So, that’s just my commuter gossip for the day.
Dr. Manhattan sent me two links to transportation articles that he likes. I’m still reading them: James Q. Wilson piece from 20 years ago writes there’s no way in hell the car could be invented today. Charles C.W. Cooke piece on the politics of self-driving cars.
The Times has had several excellent articles on the transportation issues: How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways and Your Uber Car Creates Congestion.