NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Over the past month, subway commuters have survived derailments, track fires, signal issues and crowded platforms. But these problems are minor compared to the problems of the 1980s when the system was at its lowest point, the MTA has said.
And riders remember. "Kind of horrendous," "graffiti," "horrible," and "I used to wear gloves," are the ways some people described that era.
"Gridlock" Sam Schwartz is one of the people to thank for the improvements to the subways. He was the city's traffic commissioner back then. He told Fox 5 what worked then and could work now.
"I think what we saw in the 1980s was the collective agreements between the city and state to fund the MTA," Schwartz said. "They began doing it, part of it, with tolls – increasing the tolls that motorists were paying would go towards the subway system."
The result: graffiti was gone, subways got cleaner, crime went down, rails were repaired, and service became reliable. However, one piece of the equation that worked then may be difficult to achieve now.
"There was teamwork even if there was enmity between the [mayor and governor]," Schwartz said. "And that's what we've got to see. We've got to see our elected officials get together. They don't have to love each other – we really don't care about that. What we care about is, 'Let's get the job done.'"
Which is a far cry from now, as the feud between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the governor-controlled MTA continued Friday when words were exchanged – again.