The recent visit by Janette Sadik-Khan serving as the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, seemed to create a blog frenzy about how New York was today’s transit nirvana, but with a population of over 8 million (or about the same population as BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan combined), the city does have the population to sustain a large metro network. But not all is well with New York’s subway and the following article from the Guardian shows some of the finical dilemma’s facing the operators of large metro systems.
London’s transportation agencies have followed the 21st century operating philosophy that: “Public transit is seen by the public as a product and if the customer (public) do not think they are getting good value for the product or do not like the product, they will not buy the product.”
One wishes TransLink would enter the 21st century and offer quality transit products, instead of forcing vast amounts of bus riders onto SkyTrain or RAV and pretend all is well.
London transit executives may head to New York to consult on subway
The battle between two of the world’s great urban train systems enters a new chapter
Ed Pilkington in New York Friday 23 October 2009
The perennial rivalry between two of the world’s great underground railways, the New York subway and the London tube, has erupted once more after the subway announced that it plans to fly over Transport for London executives to advise it on how to modernise its systems.
The apparent admission of inferiority on the part of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority towards its equivalent public body across the pond has been greeted with predictable anguished cries. The New York Times carried the news under the headline Will Subway Riders Start Calling It the Tube?
Under the plan, pending MTA board approval at a meeting on Wednesday, some $500,000 (£350,000) would be spent jetting in senior Transport for London staff to act as consultants to the subway. They would be paid up to $200 an hour, have their travel and hotel expenses covered, and stay for two to four weeks at a stretch.
As an added twist, the plan is the brainchild of the subway’s new chief, Jay Walder, who until 2006 worked for Transport for London. He took over as chairman of the MTA earlier this month, and brought with him from London Charles Monheim, his chief operating officer.
Together, they plan to introduce to New York some of the innovations that Walder has been credited with successfully implementing in London — notably the Oyster card automatic payment system, and electronic boards informing passengers how long they will have to wait for the next train. Studies have shown that riders are three times more anxious about waiting when they have no idea how long the delay will be.
In comparison with the tube, the New York network is starting to look distinctly antiquated: it long ago removed the graffiti that clung to its carriages, but it lacks the digital convenience that Londoners have come to expect. New York’s attempts to introduce electronic boards have been beset with problems and currently only exists on one subway line and on bus stops in one midtown street.
A Transport for London spokesperson confirmed today that talks were under way: “We are in discussions with the MTA on a proposed cooperation agreement under which we might work together, at no cost to London’s fare payers or taxpayers, on areas of mutual interest. We will ensure that this arrangement financially benefits London, as well as providing New York with the benefit of London’s experience in Oyster technology and the provision of customer information. The details have yet to be finalised.”
If this sounds like the ultimate victory for the London tube over the New York subway, think again.
Walder is himself a native of the New York borough of Queens, who cut his teeth on the subway and taught at Harvard before leaving America to become planning and finance director of Transport for London in 2000.
So it could be argued that it took an American to spruce up the London tube, and having taught the British how to do it he is now bringing the trophy back home. “This is truly a homecoming for me,” he said recently.
“I’m a kid from Queens. I grew up riding the subway.”