Inequality and the New York subway
April 16, 2013 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Inequality and the New York subway. An infographic from the New Yorker: The United States has a problem with income inequality. And it’s particularly bad in New York City—according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, if the borough of Manhattan were a country, the income gap between the richest twenty per cent and the poorest twenty per cent would be on par with countries like Sierra Leone, Namibia, and Lesotho.
posted by nickyskye (69 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
pretty sure gentrification is gonna solve this problem within the next 2 to 3 years. and not in a good way.
posted by spicynuts at 1:44 PM on April 16, 2013


I like visiting New York/Manhattan, but that is definitely one of the most striking and depressing things about the city. I thought the charts would be much more distorted.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:45 PM on April 16, 2013


Fascinating!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:46 PM on April 16, 2013


NYC is allready heading to being post-gentrified, housing prices even in the furthest flung areas have shot far and away beyond the reach of the majority of people and large chunks of Manhattan have been Belgravia'ed - second homes for the super rich that sit empty half the year.
posted by The Whelk at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just in case it is lost on anyone, I need to point out that 2 and 3 (the ones with the most inequality) look like middle fingers coming from Manhattan. This made me laugh, but not necessarily in a funny way.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:52 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


New York is the center of the american finance industry, so anything less would be surprising to me.
posted by Phredward at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, those numbers hovering down toward the 0 line are grim.
posted by sweetkid at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2013


One of the things that still surprises me about New York is that the subway is so well built and extensive that "the poors" can conveniently can move around the city to where the jobs are--in fact, that's what it was built for 100 years ago when they put in underground trains from the slums in the Garment District. Income equality on the subway has always been around.

There are problems in New York, but subways aren't one of them. This is a neat graphic, but also--count your blessings New Yorkers, there is still more diversity, even in Manhattan, than in most cities, and the subway has a lot to do with it. I think NYC is totally unlike most other parts of the country in this respect.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:55 PM on April 16, 2013 [27 favorites]


Interesting, but is it really surprising? This is New York, after all.

Furthermore, I'm not sure it's even meaningful all that much other than ideologically. Income inequality isn't a problem. Poverty is. Tossing out comparisons with African countries sounds a bit axe grindy to me.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:58 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was very surprised how high the incomes at Chambers St. and Park Place were, comparatively. I mean, yes, SoHo is expensive, but I wasn't aware it was that much more expensive than the UWS.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:00 PM on April 16, 2013


Needs the (proposed) 2nd Ave. subway.

I'd been thinking about this recently, glad someone actually went ahead and did it!
posted by Eideteker at 2:01 PM on April 16, 2013


The upper west side is actually a relatively inexpensive place to live in Manhattan.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:01 PM on April 16, 2013


Yeah the UWS has some price breaks on it due to the large elderly population, concentration of rent-controlled apartments, and the closeness of Columbia University.

SoHo is where you live if your Dad dated Diane von Fürstenberg briefly in the 70s and/or your movie just grossed a record weekend box office.
posted by The Whelk at 2:04 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised the Bedford Ave L stop median income isn't higher.
posted by sweetkid at 2:04 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


(unusually inexpensive? In that it's cheaper then you would think? The Wall Street area, none of the masters of the universe actually want to live where they work so there's relatively large housing stock available. The downside is, of course, you have to live near Wall Street which blows.)
posted by The Whelk at 2:05 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is extremely fun to play with, but it is important to note that it only takes into account the actual, immediate census tract in which each subway stop in located. Census tracts, especially in Manhattan, are very wee in area. Individual census tracts aren't always indicative of entire neighborhoods.
posted by millipede at 2:08 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised the Bedford Ave L stop median income isn't higher.

Maybe "having your dad pay your rent" doesn't count as income.
posted by saladin at 2:10 PM on April 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Bingo.
posted by spicynuts at 2:11 PM on April 16, 2013


The data is actually pretty terrible and not so super meaningful. Census tracts are so small the catchment area is much larger. For example the 34th street stops on the 8th ave and 7th ave line show a 100k difference in incomes. They are, as you can guess, a block apart.
posted by JPD at 2:15 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Posted by 2N2222 at 4:58 PM on April 16 : Income inequality isn't a problem. Poverty is.

Actually, it IS a problem. Income inequality correlates better with poorer life expectancy, crime, and an all around shittier-society than income in and of itself.

Here is a graph (of US States, not "poor African Countries") comparing various well-being measures with income inequality, compared to general wealth.

More here.
posted by cacofonie at 2:17 PM on April 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


Aw, I used to live off the Montrose stop! Would you look at that dip!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:19 PM on April 16, 2013


Here's the Bedford Av L stop census tract. 055300/Kings
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 2:19 PM on April 16, 2013


Weird, to me, linearly, the Bronx should be on the left and Brooklyn on the right.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 2:19 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bedford Ave... Maybe "having your dad pay your rent" doesn't count as income.

I'd be really curious to see those stats. It's a big stereotype of the neighborhood, but I've lived in the area for a few years now and I've only heard vague stories of friends of friends in that situation. I've never met a real live trust funder myself.
posted by the jam at 2:24 PM on April 16, 2013


This is interesting, but I won't be surprised if it turns up on Junk Charts. What extra information or clarity comes from restricting the data to individual subway lines and binning it by stop? What does the New Yorker graphic do that this one doesn't do better?

A thing that would be really cool: the topography of income distributions along an entire route (and ideally through all the tracts it intersects). Imagine a bumpy tube following the subway line, where each slice is a 2d graph of income distribution in that tract. In this case, restricting the data to each line would make sense out of data too difficult to comprehend at once.
posted by ecmendenhall at 2:27 PM on April 16, 2013


The United States has a problem with income inequality.

When did it get decided that income inequality is inherently a bad thing? I didn't get the memo.

Actually, I did get it. This is an example of the "relative immiseration thesis", the modern successor to the "immiseration thesis". That was going to be the thing that set off the great socialist uprising of the proletariat. ("You have nothing to lose but your chains!") Problem is, it didn't happen. Capitalism ended up floating nearly all boats. (But if floated some a lot more.) The proletariat ended up with a lot to lose besides notional chains.

"Poor" people in the US usually have refrigerators, televisions, cars, electric lighting, indoor plumbing, telephones, furniture, and enough to eat. "Poor" people in the US enjoy a standard of living that the majority of the people in the world can only dream about. (During the Depression it was said that only in America, poor people drove cars to pick up their unemployment checks.)

The "relative immiseration thesis" is the idea that the proletariat can be roused to revolution by this idea: "I'm doing pretty well, but someone else is doing a lot better." Not by desperation, but by envy. Modern Marxists, despairing that the proletariat will ever decide to revolt against the capitalists, keep harping on income inequality in the (apparently vain) hope that this will finally inspire the great revolution and bring about the grand Socialist utopia prophesied by the sainted Marx.

It must be sad to be a Marxist. Like millennial Christians, they keep expecting the great Coming, but somehow it never happens.

Anyway, if you don't happen to be a Marxist, then why is income inequality inherently a bad thing? Obviously if a few have everything and the majority have nothing at all, that's not very nice. But if the majority have a lot but the few have more, what's wrong with that?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:27 PM on April 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Are the low incomes biased by student incomes? Low incomes in the 12k-20k range seem crazy crazy low.
posted by Riton at 2:28 PM on April 16, 2013


I actually only met one honest to god trust fund kid on Bedford, or at least one who was out about it and like, it was obvious and apparent.
posted by The Whelk at 2:28 PM on April 16, 2013


Man, the blip between $28,000 and $50,000 on that chart just looks so tiny compared to the higher numbers, and yet $28k and $50k are worlds apart if you happen to live in that range...
posted by schmod at 2:31 PM on April 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Income inequality and the extreme concentration of wealth is its own form of centralized planning.

As a result, we now have the equivalent of centralized planning in global marketplaces. A few thousand extremely wealthy people making decisions on the allocation of our collective wealth. The result was inevitable: gross misallocation across all facets of the private economy.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 2:34 PM on April 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Low incomes in the 12k-20k range seem crazy crazy low.

I've lived (well survived, at least, how much living I was doing is a matter of opinion) on about $25K a year for a while.

For the actual impoverished: between Section 8 housing, TANF, food stamps/WIC and so on, it's possible to be poorer in NYC than most other places and still survive.
posted by griphus at 2:35 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huh, I just did the math and it was closer to $21K a year. How about that.
posted by griphus at 2:36 PM on April 16, 2013


Relative income (ie, income disparity) is just one indicator. To do a full comparison with [choose your stereotypical poverty-stricken nation populated by brown-skinned people, oh we should feel so sorry for them], you need to look at infant mortality, life expectancy, literacy, access to clean/potable water, access to health care, nutrition, purchasing power ("Big Mac Index").

Even in New York you don't have a large percentage of the population having to walk to the Hudson River to get water to cook with, for example, and I can't recall the last Blackwater fever outbreak in the lower 48.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:38 PM on April 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are the low incomes biased by student incomes? Low incomes in the 12k-20k range seem crazy crazy low.

If a minimum wage worker is employed full-time (forty hours per week for 52 weeks), that worker would earn $15,080 annually.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 2:38 PM on April 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I live more or less equidistant from the 1 train and B/C train stations at 103rd Street. The 103rd C train station corresponds to a census tract whose statistics are dominated by the presence of a large public housing project, so it's no wonder that the median income is $33,482. The 103rd 1 train station corresponds to a census tract that is on the other side of Broadway for the most part, and has a considerably higher median income at $88,445. What is striking to me is that the C train census tract has almost double the population density compared to the 1 train census tract, and this is almost entirely due to the projects. I bet if we separated out the projects the median incomes would be a lot closer, although they would still get higher the further west you go. I usually take the B or C train, because they are less crowded, bigger, quieter and more reliable. And, while the area is certainly downscale compared to the area on Broadway around the 1 train, it certainly doesn't feel like a place where the median family income is $33,482.
posted by slkinsey at 2:40 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are the low incomes biased by student incomes? Low incomes in the 12k-20k range seem crazy crazy low.

I don't know if it is included in the data but there are tons of people who get by on odd jobs, get paid in cash, and have never paid taxes.

A lot of people who grew up here have huge support networks of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents to help out with everything from child care to cooking.

It is much harder if you move here and don't know a soul. Maybe you can crash in a friends couch for a couple nights but they aint going to out you up for a year, and feed you, like your grandmother would.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:51 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, the blip between $28,000 and $50,000 on that chart just looks so tiny compared to the higher numbers, and yet $28k and $50k are worlds apart if you happen to live in that range...

It really would make sense to plot the incomes on a log scale - that way the difference between 28k and 50k would look the same as the difference between incomes five times bigger, namely 140k and 250k.

(I'd argue that the difference between 28k and 50k is bigger than the difference between 140k and 250k, but that might just be because I can imagine 28k and 50k pretty easily, whereas 140k and 250k are both just "amounts of money I've never made".)
posted by madcaptenor at 2:56 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh! And I believe Section 8 housing is heritable to immediate family members. I could be wrong though.
posted by griphus at 2:57 PM on April 16, 2013


People say New York is expensive, but it's also got an exceedingly stronger safety net than many MANY other cities. DC for instance, is a nightmare if you're poor. If you need to live near a train stop 1 hour from the city center you can rent or buy on a minimum wage subway in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or Queens. Not that the current administration or city council would like that to continue. Rent control is fading, subway fares are going up, and soon the projects, even the safe, comfortable ones will be torn down to build more million dollar condos with river views.

Vote Bill DeBlasio for Mayor in 2013.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:06 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno about Section 8, but NYCHA housing is indeed heritable.
There are lots of old people living off social security and disabled people living off SSI, that'll all pull down the median income.
*grew up where the F,J,M lines descend into really low-income before leaving Manhattan for Brooklyn*

I like these maps, kind of wish they had just used a buffer of arbitrary distance (quarter or half mile?) and crunched the census data in those instead. Or how about some voronoi polygons centered on each station? Come on now!

(How did they handle stations which fall at the border between two census tracts?!)
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 3:08 PM on April 16, 2013


I mean, yes, SoHo is expensive, but I wasn't aware it was that much more expensive than the UWS.

That Chambers street bump isn't Soho, it's Tribeca. Specifically it is the zip code 10013, arguably the most expensive zip code in the United States.
posted by The Bellman at 3:13 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rent control is fading

I wondered how true that was when I first saw your comment and then saw this chart on the Rent Control wikipedia page. If things continue at that rate, rent-controlled apartments will be very, very rare in about 25 years.

I know at least two families living in rent-controlled apartments- one is living in a gorgeous classic six on the UWS that was Dad's childhood home, and one is the living in the apartment next door to us; we're not certain but we think that apartment is at least two bedrooms (not 100% the apartment is rent-controlled, just guessing based on things we've overheard when Dad is having a screaming tantrum in the hallway- if not controlled, it's definitely stabilized at a very low rate). The UWS family could probably afford to pay market value on an apartment somewhere in NYC, the family next to us probably could not. I imagine that's true of a good chunk of the units in the building. I wonder sometimes what the place will be like when it's been completely gentrified (Columbia has just started building a huge education center right across the street, so surely it will be a hot spot for faculty & students to live once that's done)- like that line in In The Heights: "In five years when this whole city's rich folks and hipsters, who's gonna miss this raggedy little business?"
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:31 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was very surprised how high the incomes at Chambers St. and Park Place were, comparatively. I mean, yes, SoHo is expensive, but I wasn't aware it was that much more expensive than the UWS.

Tribeca and Battery Park City. Honestly, I'm surprised the numbers for those stations aren't higher.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 3:40 PM on April 16, 2013


> I'm surprised the Bedford Ave L stop median income isn't higher.

I'm surprised too, and I live right there.

Not that it's full of trust fund kids - seems to me that the 30-something parents outnumber them by about two to one. (That joke was more accurate five years ago - if you're going to rag on hipsters you need to stay up-to-date...)

No, I think it's the fact that a lot it is still owned by the Polish people who were living here when we, the hipsters, first moved in here in the late 80s. Good. Decent people, solid neighbors.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:15 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"When did it get decided that income inequality is inherently a bad thing? I didn't get the memo.

Actually, I did get it. This is an example of the "relative immiseration thesis", the modern successor to the "immiseration thesis". That was going to be the thing that set off the great socialist uprising of the proletariat. ("You have nothing to lose but your chains!") Problem is, it didn't happen. Capitalism ended up floating nearly all boats. (But if floated some a lot more.) The proletariat ended up with a lot to lose besides notional chains.
"

I know that reading is hard when you're about to spurt your capitalism nut, but if you read the comment five above yours, you'd actually have gotten the memo and not have to resort to fantasies of Marxism.

I mean, if you want to contribute to a conversation, instead of just wanking. But that might be an overly charitable assumption.
posted by klangklangston at 4:24 PM on April 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah the Brooklynite Baby Boom is a big factor (Williamsburg is a slightly less posh Park Slope these days, so many Happy Families), I have no idea how those people afford all those kids, although if they stay to areas where the Original immigrants own the buildings it usually keeps costs from going up into the insane- No idea where teenagers are going to party, if anywhere, possibly a pocket dimension.
posted by The Whelk at 4:35 PM on April 16, 2013


Chocolate Pickle, you've done Rumpelstiltskin one better and spun nothing into straw. The New Yorker, the most genteel of the major magazines, is no fount of Marxist thought.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:39 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know that reading is hard when you're about to spurt your capitalism nut, but if you read the comment five above yours, you'd actually have gotten the memo and not have to resort to fantasies of Marxism.

Eh. I read that comment and the links, but one correlation with a shit ton of lurking variables isn't exactly a slam-dunk argument. And note the placement of New York on the graph.
posted by eugenen at 4:50 PM on April 16, 2013


The classic boppy TED Talk look at the problem of income inequality is here. It's by Richard Wilkinson who is the source of some of those charts.

Despite being a TED talk, I have yet to see that video thoroughly and decisively debunked!!?!
posted by tychotesla at 4:59 PM on April 16, 2013


I was very surprised how high the incomes at Chambers St. and Park Place were, comparatively.
Me too - yes, Tribeca and all, but given that it's basically Financial District North I'm surprised that it's so much higher than Broadway-Lafayette or West 4th.

Or if you look at the 4, for some reason Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall is higher than Union Square, when I would have thought the latter is much more desireable.

And looking at the Q, how is it that Canal St. is so much higher than Union Square and 34th street?

Basically in every one of these the far downtown stops are going for a way higher premium than I expected. I used to ride to Chambers St every day for work and thought it was kind of a drab, unpleasant area distant from all the interesting neighborhoods - don't know why anyone who makes a lot of money would want to live there, but I've never understood the appeal of Tribeca.

Although it's an interesting infographic, it's worth mentioning NYC has one of the most affordable public transit systems relative to local income. Even on an absolute dollar level the NYC subway fare is probably among the cheapest in the world. And it's flat rate to ride the entire system rather than charging extra for distance as in other cities, which taxes the lower income people who live further out.
posted by pravit at 5:53 PM on April 16, 2013


but I've never understood the appeal of Tribeca.

The area went from unused shipping dept space to luxury lofts without a middle period, so it appeals to people who want and can afford a (comparatively) huuuuge place in Manhattan and doesn't really need day to day stuff like markets or laundrimats cause they send everything out, get deliveries, have people for that, etc.
posted by The Whelk at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


And bonus, there's no poor people in the neighborhood they have to kick out first!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:16 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a map of median income by census tract for the NYC area - looks like the same data as used in the subway infographic, if you line up the census tracts referenced.

Looks like there are some holes in the data, or whoever lives on Madison Ave just west of Grand Central is just barrrely scraping by on $9,750 a year.

Other interesting takeaways: Median household income in the West Village and "Nolita" is much lower than I thought. I guess since it's by household, the areas where mostly singles live are going to be lower compared to where families live.
posted by pravit at 6:25 PM on April 16, 2013


"Poor" people in the US usually have refrigerators, televisions, cars, electric lighting, indoor plumbing, telephones, furniture, and enough to eat. "Poor" people in the US enjoy a standard of living that the majority of the people in the world can only dream about. (During the Depression it was said that only in America, poor people drove cars to pick up their unemployment checks.)

Fine, but I don't understand why this is supposed to be some sort of argument against doing something about, say, the fact that 20% of American children are at risk of hunger. Like, American poors are better off than any poors anywhere else, so who cares if their lives compared to other Americans are kind of miserable? What is that, exactly? Because it doesn't make a ton of sense to me.
posted by liketitanic at 7:03 PM on April 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


And also, that line of argumentation is usually a veiled way of saying that "poor people" don't really know what it means to SUFFER and, because they have all those comparative luxuries, don't "deserve" things like, I don't know, any kind of government assistance.
posted by liketitanic at 7:16 PM on April 16, 2013


"Eh. I read that comment and the links, but one correlation with a shit ton of lurking variables isn't exactly a slam-dunk argument. And note the placement of New York on the graph."

It's not the be-all-end-all, but since there's actually a shit-ton of actual social science and economic research on income inequality, reducing it to some cod Marxist bullshit as a way to snidely dismiss the post is idiotic at best, and says more about Chocolate Pickle's hobby horses than anything about income inequality.
posted by klangklangston at 7:21 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


See I look at these graphs, for what value they have, and see something else. Sure, unequal society is unequal. But what I choose to take away...

In how many other places in the world would the same method of travel be used, and be a viably convenient option, both by those making $20k/year and $200k/year?

Most parts of the developed and undeveloped world are designed to keep rich and poor apart...or more accurately, keep poverty out of view of the rich (and even much of the middle class where it exists). In New York they ride the same damn train.

Yes, there are huge locational income disparities, and income is probably inversely correlated with how much time you have to spend on the subway. But put another way, the service worker from Bed-Stuy has a longer ride, but gets a seat, while the architect from Park Slope has to be content as a sardined straphanger.

So, as long as inequality is going to exist, I'm okay with the reality these charts convey.
posted by dry white toast at 7:52 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Poor" people in the US usually have refrigerators,

Did John Stewart say something along the lines of "Those refridgerator-owning parasites...?"
posted by ovvl at 7:52 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Poor people really do have it great in the USA. That is why I support taxing all rich people down to 15k a year income left over. It's still a luxury lifestyle, they won't have anything to complain about.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:45 PM on April 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


Wealth GINI From what I can tell from the table at the link, the USA in 2000 had one of the world's most unequal distributions of wealth. It even was more unequal in wealth distribution than Brazil. This was before Dubya's tax breaks.
posted by millardsarpy at 9:00 PM on April 16, 2013


In how many other places in the world would the same method of travel be used, and be a viably convenient option, both by those making $20k/year and $200k/year?

Anywhere with a decent public transit system--London, Paris, Tokyo?

Anyway, If I understand them correctly, the maps are showing incomes for the areas that the subways pass through, not the incomes of the riders themselves.

So while you may be correct in that both $200K bankers and $30K teachers take the subway (I would argue not at the same rates, for damn sure), that's not what these graphs are about.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:42 PM on April 16, 2013


I love it when New Yorkers talk extemporaneously about how great New York is. Like that comment about cheap and wonderful the subway is.

I have to wonder about if you have ever been to other countries, because wow. I would rather take the subway in Mexico City than NYC in terms of both route accessibility and cleanliness and it's like 30 cents.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 3:38 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The bus should be free. Willie Brown proposed it once, but it didn't fly.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:25 AM on April 17, 2013


Judging from how many of my fellow Muni passengers don't seem to pay when they get on, the bus is free already.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:57 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Consumer goods in a capitalist society are not an indicator of the good life.

It's like arguing tenant farmers had it good because look! Free corn right there in the field!

Capitalism creates cheap surplus consumer goods because that's what capitalism does. Just because you can buy a used refridgerator from Craigslist for the cost of a day's wages from the temp agency you sometimes can find work at doesn't mean you're educated, physically safe, emotionally secure, part of a community, able to cope with getting ill or any other minor emergency, or sure where your next meal is coming from.
posted by jsturgill at 9:29 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


The best thing about the NYC subway is that it runs all night so you can have a job that ends at 4 am.
posted by The Whelk at 10:11 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love it when New Yorkers talk extemporaneously about how great New York is. Like that comment about cheap and wonderful the subway is.

I have to wonder about if you have ever been to other countries, because wow. I would rather take the subway in Mexico City than NYC in terms of both route accessibility and cleanliness and it's like 30 cents.

Out of all the subway systems I have ridden NYC's is no doubt the dirtiest - some of the stations are just in awful shape. I wish they would do something about it. But off the top of my head, on an absolute basis it is cheaper than Toronto, London, Stockholm, especially for traveling long distances.
posted by pravit at 4:16 PM on April 17, 2013


Yea, it would be nice if the stations were a lot cleaner. But this is an expensive town and I wonder if the MTA could afford to hire enough cleaning crews to keep every station sparkling without substantially raising prices. Unlike a lot of other systems, the state isn't going to kick in money to keep the stations clean. NYS likes to take tax dollars out of NYC, not the other way around.

The New York City subway is the second oldest system in the world, with most of the original infrastructure being between 100 and 75 years old. It has the most stations and miles of track. It's open 24/7. It has one of the highest riderships in the world. Much of it is in situated in land that is constantly leaking water into the tunnels. It's not really fair to compare this to systems that were mostly constructed in the 1980s or afterwards, and which receive a lot of government subsidy. It's also worthy of note that New York City was on the brink of going broke for around 20 years, and the system was almost entirely neglected during that time. We are still recovering from that, and every so often when the MTA starts to run low on money station maintenance is one of the first things they cut. Unfortunately, unlike London, whose system is even older than ours (and also more expensive), we have not had the political will to massively reinvest in our mass transit infrastructure.
posted by slkinsey at 7:19 AM on April 18, 2013


Subways/Metros what ever. Some version of the Tolstoy quote about families.
posted by JPD at 7:49 AM on April 18, 2013


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