Il Bocca Al Lupo
11-08-2009 Brooklyn, NY
As most of you know, I love subways. Even the odd smells that frequently emanate during summertime, squealing brakes, malfunctioning doors, scratchy intercoms, noisy panhandlers, rush-hour cars packed like sardine cans, sticky floors, wet seats and arrogant Jesus freaks that suddenly start preaching at the top of their lungs. Despite all of this, riding the subway from A to B is usually one of the very few moments of solace I get during hectic work weeks. It’s the one time to quietly listen to music, read a book or simply ponder the past, present and future.
During the early 70′s, Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) was having somewhat of a renaissance. After years of neglect, the city decided to revamp the system by renovating stations, introducing new trains, and adding employees to assist riders during their trips. Less than ten years later, these changes became an after thought. The city had lost too much money during the economic downturn and couldn’t fund the MTA. Most projects fell by the wayside and the subways began a slow downturn that has continued into today’s era.
Today, we have a system that is a shell of its former self. Not only has the MTA raised prices, but the service is an absolute mess. If customers want to travel after dark on weeknights or during the weekends, they should expect to take numerous trains where they usually need just one. Express trains run local and most lines have been bastardized to run on others. Basically, all transit maps are null and void because they serve no purpose. I’ve gotten calls from friends who have lived here for years and ended up in odd places because the maps weren’t sound. In a nutshell, nothing can be trusted in the New York City subway system.
To top it off, pension plans for MTA employees have sunk the organization so far in debt, it’s nearly impossible to get out of the red. I hate seeing 70 year-old people standing on a crowded, delayed train, paying more so that 55 year-old MTA employees can live like kings on the city’s arm. The budgets are also terribly faulty, with strange surpluses coming here and there while statements come back bloody during budgeting season. Corruption is rampant. One example I wrote about earlier this year concerned the Atlantic Yards project. For land that was appraised at $214 million, the MTA took the absolute lowest bid of $100 million. When that wasn’t paid, they didn’t break contract and try to negotiate with other parties, they lowered the original amount to $20 million upfront (with the remaining 80 million to be paid over the course of 22 years)!! Who ends up paying for that difference? The commuters who rely on the subways every day. As long as buffoons like Howard H. Roberts continue to head the Authority, the downward spiral will not cease.
Il Boca Al Lupo is an Italian phrase that means “Good Luck”, but literally translates as “into the wolf’s mouth”. The appropriate response to this is Crepi Lupo, or “May the wolf die”. In all my years of riding the subways, I’ve never seen this much chaos and disruption in service. Every time you ride the subways after dark or on a weekend, you’re literally going into the wolf’s mouth and need as much luck as possible to reach your destination without a service change sabotaging your trip. These recent pitfalls have literally turned the NYCTS into a dangerous place… a reeking, craggy, unreliable cesspool of kickbacks and faulty budgets. Considering this, I only have one thing to say about them… Crepi Lupo!