For an Idea of what National Health Care would be like just ride Metro-North

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 23rd, 2014

Week in Review

People don’t want national health care.  Which is why President Obama lied when he said “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”  Because if he told the truth and told people they would lose the health care plans and doctors they liked and wanted to keep they would have opposed the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) with a passion.  For they would have seen the Affordable Care Act as nothing but a prelude for national health care.  A health care system run by government.  And we know how well government runs things (see The Perils of Metro-North by Lynnley Browning posted 2/20/2014 on Newsweek).

The high-profile trains, run by the state of New York entity Metro North Commuter Railroad, convey middle-class commuters but also a sizable chunk of the 1 percent, all along a 74-mile stretch between New Haven, Conn., and New York City — to hedge funds in Connecticut and to global banks, consulting, design and advertising firms in Manhattan. But these days, the rail’s increasingly delay-plagued service to one of the planet’s largest metropolises seems less an odd contrast of Third World and First World and more a taste of Dante’s Inferno…

Epic frustration and stress have reached an inflection point for the estimated 136,600 weekday riders on Metro-North’s New Haven Line, the transportation lifeblood of America’s monied and professional class living in Connecticut and working in New York (though some riders reverse commute to hedge funds in Greenwich and banks in Stamford). Long plagued by outdated cars, sketchy, aging tracks and accusations of mismanagement, the commuter rail has seen its dwindling reputation tarnished further in recent months by mishaps and delays, some lasting hours in freezing, unheated cars…

The entire line needs $3.6 billion in urgent repairs, according to the Regional Plan Association, an independent think tank.

Trash and piles of metal parts line many tracks. Smelly cars dating to the 1970s shake passengers in stiff seats from side to side like livestock. Floors are perpetually grimy, and train cars are in short supply. Expensive equipment sits idle. “One day the toilet flooded and the water was just seeping into the vestibule,” recalls Noelle Villanueva, a trader at First New York Securities who commutes from Fairfield, Conn., a large commuter town.

Engineers – the people driving the trains – occasionally “overshoot” their stops and, if the tracks allow it, have to back up, leaving commuters like Lamorte to wonder if the people behind the wheel are asleep, or drunk. Trains come in unannounced on the wrong platform, sending riders to scamper like voles across crumbling overhead passageways to the correct platform. A 117-year-old bridge spanning the Norwalk River, in Norwalk, Conn., sports gaping holes beside the tracks. “They have a rescue boat, but the guy’s usually 1,000 feet away, fishing, so you’ll be dead by the time he gets to you,” says Bill, an ironworker for Metro-North. (He declined to give his last name, citing a fear of retaliation…)

Commuters are increasingly wondering when someone else might die. Late last July, as temperatures soared near 100 degrees, a train near Westport broke down in the afternoon, leaving passengers, including several pregnant women, trapped in unairconditioned cars whose doors and windows would not open…

The lack of communication – think digital signs at stations that almost uniformly announce “Good service” – irks riders, some of whom pay $400 a month and more.

Passenger rail is a horrible economic model.  The costs are so great that it is virtually impossible for it to work without government subsidies.  But in places like the island of Manhattan there are few viable transportation options.  For though costly it can move a lot of people into and out of a very congested city.  But the problem with passenger rail in big cities is all the other big city problems that come with it.  Unions, lack of competition, corruption, etc.  It’s so bad that even when some of the 136,600 weekday riders pay $400 a month (the equivalent of a car payment) the money is so mismanaged that wear and tear adds up on the system over time to the tune of $3.6 billion.  Which is why people don’t want national health care.  They don’t want a health care system operated like Metro-North.  Which is why they are so mad at President Obama for his lie about Obamacare.  And taking away the health care plans and doctors they liked and wanted to keep.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , ,