The New York Times - Two of the biggest transit projects in New York City are poised to miss approaching deadlines, the latest in a string of delays involving Metropolitan Transportation Authority capital projects.
The soaring Fulton Street Transit Center, which commuters in Lower Manhattan have been counting on to untangle the knot of subway lines that converge east of the World Trade Center, was supposed to open on Thursday. But that has been pushed back 60 to 90 days because of testing delays and unfinished elevators, transit officials said on Monday during an authority board meeting.
Elevator troubles and other problems have also slowed construction at the new subway station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which is the linchpin of the planned extension of the No. 7 train to the Far West Side of Manhattan. That project, which had been scheduled to open by the end of this year, will not be completed before February 2015, even on a newly accelerated timeline, an engineering consultant, Darlene Rivera, told board members. If contractors cannot meet the new timeline, the project could drag on until spring 2015.
The push to speed progress on the No. 7 train extension produced one of the meeting’s more tense exchanges, offering a hint of the pressure transit officials are under as they try to avoid additional delays. Michael Horodniceanu, president of the authority’s capital construction company, bristled when a board member pressed him over how contractors could hasten their work.
“I would rather have this dialogue offline,” Mr. Horodniceanu said, “because we are in negotiations right now with the contractor to get where we need them to get.”
A custom-built, diagonal elevator system is a key part of the new No. 7 station, but installation and testing have been plagued by problems and delays. Beyond the elevators, engineers are struggling to repair eight high-speed ventilation fans along the extension. Designed to push hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of air per minute, the fans have shown a tendency to vibrate during tests, and officials are trying to figure out why. Each fan requires over a week to test, which could mean months of delays for the fans alone.
An authority board member, Andrew B. Albert, said that the problems involving elevators and escalators were well known, but that the vibrating fans were “a surprise” to him. Engineers plan to begin new testing on the elevators in July, Mr. Horodniceanu said, though he cautioned that “if the past is any indication,” additional hurdles may await. Transit officials had initially hoped to finish the project before the end of 2013, in time for the departing mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, to celebrate its completion.
While the problems with the No. 7 extension and the Fulton Street center faced the most scrutiny at the meeting on Monday, the Second Avenue subway project was not entirely spared bad news. Anil Parikh, program executive for the Second Avenue subway, said the new line was expected to meet its December 2016 service date. But an engineering consultant, Kent Haggas, citing unfinished equipment rooms at 72nd Street and delays to power equipment, cautioned that “the schedule for the project is still in a rebuilding mode.” About 25 issues that engineers asked to be addressed in December 2012 still have not been fully resolved, even as that list has grown to 80, Mr. Haggas said.
The Second Avenue subway remains unfinished some 85 years after its conception.
Long story, but I figured it necessary to post the whole thing because, if you actually read it, it really is just gem after fucking gem. I highlighted my favorite parts in bold. Look, I've said it before, I get it, MTA, your job is tough. I couldn't even imagine trying to first set up and then maintain one of the most complex public transportation systems in the world. But you're a multi-billion dollar company! And you can't get your shit together to meet a construction deadline because of a fucking elevator/fan problem!? "But, dude, it's a really big fan..." It's a fucking fan! I don't care how big it is, just make it spin around and, boom, it works.*
I honestly couldn't fathom how this could happen, so I did a little research. Apparently, MTA is simply one of the worst managed companies in the world in terms of financial structure. They have an annual revenue of around $6 billion (!) while their operating costs are around $13 billion (!!). So they make less than half they spend, which is completely crazy when you think about how many people pay to use their services on a daily, fuck even hourly, basis. Metrocard fares have been hiked up four times since 2008 and are scheduled to go up again soon, and yet the odds of even making a dent in a $6+ billion annual debt are pretty much impossible at this point. So then you inevitably ask the next question: what the fuck are they spending all this money on? How can you not operate under $6 billion as a transportation company? Is there perhaps a direct correlation between you fucking up on meeting any deadline or doing anything you say you will do (like build a 2nd avenue subway in less than a century) and your business model sucking ass? Hmm, worthwhile question.
So to summarize, there is nothing we can do to fix it, and there's nothing they can do either. It's really not even worth getting upset over because at this point it's a simple inevitability: MTA is going to suck forever. We're all fucked and will continue to be anus-plundered by these morons for as long as we want to get around in the city without having to walk, overpay a cabbie, or gamble with our lives on a bike. Do you MTA. Do you.
P.S. By the way, am I the only one who feels like MTA is condescending me with their "Improving Non-Stop" ad campaign? You know, this one:
Oh, thank you so much for your subtle but totally not subtle humble brag, MTA. They're like the kid in your class who was always a dickhead and talked down to everyone, talked incessantly about how great he was while constantly fucking shit up.... but at the same time his house was great for parties so he was sort of a necessary evil... Yeah, that's the MTA.
* A fucking fan takes a week to test!? A fucking fan!? Did I miss the boat on advancements in fan technology? I guess I always just assumed fan design fell in to the "ain't broke don't fix it" category, who knew we were breaking new ground with week-long-tested super fans.