is the fascinating and dramatic story behind New York City's struggle
to build a new subway line under Second Avenue and improve transit
services all across the city. With his extraordinary access to powerful
players and internal documents, Philip Mark Plotch reveals why the
city's subway system, once the best in the world, is now too often
unreliable, overcrowded, and uncomfortable. He explains how a series of
uninformed and self-serving elected officials have fostered false
expectations about the city's ability to adequately maintain and
significantly expand its transit system.
Since the 1920s, New Yorkers have been promised a Second Avenue
subway. When the first of four planned phases opened on Manhattan's
Upper East Side in 2017, subway service improved for tens of thousands
of people. Riders have been delighted with the clean, quiet, and
spacious new stations. Yet these types of accomplishments will not be
repeated unless New Yorkers learn from their century-long struggle.
Last Subway offers valuable lessons in how governments can
overcome political gridlock and enormous obstacles to build grand
projects. However, it is also a cautionary tale for cities. Plotch
reveals how false promises, redirected funds and political ambitions
have derailed subway improvements. Given the ridiculously high cost of
building new subways in New York and their lengthy construction period,
the Second Avenue subway (if it is ever completed) will be the last
subway built in New York for generations to come.