A New York comic: "Are any of you here from out of town? Yes? For those of you unfamiliar with the subway, it's an underground system of urinals connected by trains." Perhaps I should add, "patrolled by rats."
There is little that says New York like the subway system, lying just beneath the city's surface, acting as its central nervous system. Trains and train service is a highly contentious subject, often maligned and frequently praised. Its failings are many as are the reasons for the problems. One reader response to a subway article on Gothamist says:
The NYC subway system is evocative of some third-world country.
All you need are some goats and chickens in the subway cars to complete the picture.
Perhaps the most common word used in explanations regarding things that ail New York residents and visitors is TOO. Many have commented as I have over the years of how nice it would be to have subway trains with rubber tires as do many other cities. However, a transit authority spokesperson said it was not possible - too much wear and our trains are too heavy.
The enormous number of people in a non-heterogeneous mix is one of the key factors to make New York what many tout as the greatest city in the world. Of course, population size alone does not insure greatness, but it certainly is a contributing factor, providing support for a seemingly endless number of services, businesses and cultural opportunities. How else could you support the world's only 24 hour subway system? But there are numerous serious issues, not the least of which is that it is literally deafening - noise levels in the Spring Street station running the Lexington Avenue line having been measured at 105 decibels (see article here). Noise at this level for one or two minutes each day can do permanent hearing damage over time. For now, too bad.
The New York City subway is one of the world's cheapest rides. Many feel that cost and the 24/7 service trump all negative concerns. But for others, the TOOs are a deal breaker: too dirty, too loud, too hot in the summer, too dilapidated, too outdated, too smelly, too crowded, too many stairs, too confusing, too many shutdowns and reroutings and too few attended token booths. Got to go now. I hear a train coming and it's screaming TOO TOO New York :)