If we view the subway as a public good, what better way to spend money raised in taxes from mass transit than an underground train and a comfortable climate-controlled motorbus that for a reasonable fee takes you to distant places in a sprawling urban metropolis like New York City. And yet, for those working to provide these services, an observation:
What appears to be the indifference of scheduling that will, regularly during my daily commute, thwart a very convenient transfer when the D Train, an express line to Manhattan, arrives in Brooklyn’s Atlantic terminal less than a minute before the announcement of the arrival of the northboard local R train. The doors open for the express, then close, the R Train pulls into the station with, on average, several hundred commuters like me looking to make this desirable transfer, only to be disappointed, if not angered, by the sight of the express train pulling out of the station.
How to feel for the motorpeople and conductors on both of these trains. All day long this happens, say, in a regular eight-hour shift, in places all along the system, each time the train employees have to feel the charged energy of the poorly served fee-paying passengers. A week, a month of this kind of inhumane treatment and what results? A disrespect for the riders, the losers and poor saps. The absence of pride that comes from a job well done. At best, a sense of frustration that their bosses obviously don’t give a hoot about them, the front-line workers who must fill the impossible roles of being just cogs in a wheel that doesn’t roll as it should.
It would take only a simple tool to fix this scheduling problem, to correct it like one does a flat tire, but the bosses don’t think enough of their workers to provide them the tool. So they give up. Drive the train; open the subway doors. Collect their pay. The promise of a public good lost in the miasma of bureaucracy.
Next: Running for Your Life: Paris Mood 2015