Posts Tagged ‘subway’

The Prince of 125th and Lexington

December 6th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Prince Arala Osula has no lavish palace but rules the downtown train platform at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. If you’ve taken a four, five or six train, headed downtown from that stop, you have probably heard him. And if you had a hankering for some reggae or rock that day, you may have even spoken with him.

Prince isn’t into performing just to get the royal treatment. He claims he was called by God to play not just at 125th and Lexington, but specifically to play on the downtown platform. Whether it was a calling from God or the desire to be discovered, Prince is serious about his work.

He’s been at the station for five years and has regulars. Fans range from school kids to the New York Police who Prince ubiquitously calls “Finest”. But Prince also welcomes tourist and often has a song from a visitor’s native country.

Here is a brief “backstage” tour with Prince. 

To make the case for MTA’s fare hikes

September 26th, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

By Tuan Nguyen

New Yorkers are not happy with MTA’s plan to increase fare starting January next year. MTA officials have been received with frustration and anger during hearings with straphangers of five boroughs so far.

Populists have reasons to blame MTA to increase fares during a difficult time of economic downturn. If the proposed hikes take effect it will result in an over 30 percent increase over the last five years. The situation is like a nagging pain that has been going on and on. Still, a look at the whole picture, MTA has its reasons for the increase.

How reasonable is MTA’s plan of fare hikes?

George Carrano, former senior Vice President of New York City’s Transit Authority and the official responsible for swapping the MetroCard for tokens, explains that NYC’s subway fare is still among the cheapest of major cities worldwide.

New York City’s subway is also the only one that runs 24/7. In big cities like Tokyo, Berlin, Paris or London most the subway system stops after midnight. In New York, you can return late from party or work at 3 or 4 am in the morning and can still take a subway home. The cost for around the clock travel is a mammoth cost. Construction or maintenance of the system is more intricate: it takes twice as long at least. There have been cases of workers hit by trains during construction as the trains run day and night.

In a not far away memory, during the 1970s, the subway system of New York derailed or collided on average every 15 days. From the late 1970s, MTA issued bonds to upgrade this wrecked-system and now New Yorkers have the most extensive network in the world with over 660 miles of track. A collateral result is an outstanding debt of more than $31 billion to date.

According to Carrano, current fare only covers 70% of operation cost for MTA. The rest comes either from federal subsidies or bond issuance. No New Yorker wants to return to the old bad days of a decayed subway system and it’s time for us to accept the inevitability of the hike.