Some of the largest subway systems in the world, including New York’s, participate in a consortium called CoMET, or Community of Metros. The project is obscure in New York, but London uses it to compare the Underground with other large rapid transit networks.
A report from the project about comparative operating costs can be found here.
Other than the London Underground, systems are only identified by their continental zone; New York is Am, for Americas. But the system with the highest operating costs, on page 7 of the PDF (slide 5), is New York – it matches the costs reported by the National Transit Database. On the next page, with many more systems added from another community (Nova), New York is #2. A cost breakdown shows that among the CoMET systems, New York is #1 in operating costs excluding maintenance, and in maintenance costs for fixed infrastructure, while train maintenance costs are fairly average. Maintenance costs can be explained by 24/7 operations – elsewhere in the world, transit agencies do maintenance at night when trains aren’t running. But for New York’s high operating costs, there is no excuse.
Alon grew up in Tel Aviv and Singapore; subsequently lived in New York, Providence, Vancouver, and Stockholm; and currently lives in Paris. His writings on urban planning and mass transit incorporate substantive statistical analysis and cross-national comparisons of policies that create functional cities. You can find him on Twitter at @alon_levy and on the blogosphere at pedestrianobservations.com.
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