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NYC Subway System: Over 100 years of “Can-Do”

It is no small feat for a major transportation system to continue running for over 100 years, with only 2 system-wide shutdowns to speak of. In a way, the NYC subway system is more reliable than the postal service and their script:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

This transit system faces some harsh extremes weather-wise: heavy snows in the winter, torrential rains in spring, blazing heat in the summer and in fall.. well, maybe that’s the only reprieve they get during the year… except when it snows in October.

Yet, it just keeps on running.

It is no exaggeration that the subway is the lifeblood of this city. Millions use this to get to and from work every single day as their main, if not, primary source of transportation. When the trains go out, it becomes almost impossible to get around.

Notice I have not mentioned buses and commuter rails like LIRR and Metro-North. They pale in comparison in terms of consistency, ridership and dependability. Buses break down often, stranding customers and creating severe delays. The commuter rails also provide a valuable service bringing in thousands from Westchester and Long Island, but their departure frequency is, at the minimum, every 30 minutes. Imagine a NYC subway train coming every 30 minutes; every train car would be packed to capacity and the MTA would be out of business. Those time intervals are just not frequent enough to support millions of riders.

No, it really is the subway that wins. So when the MTA decided to raise the fares, it hurt, especially in this economy and the cost of living in NYC. But to some extent, I get it. They could stand to be more efficient, of course, but all in all, compared to transit systems around the world that charge by distance and for the reliability alone, it’s a pretty good deal.