Problem Statement

Why have the mass transportation systems in Washington, D.C. and New York City deteriorated so badly over the past several decades? The subway systems in these cities are in such terrible condition, many federal, state, and local officials have said they are unsafe for the travelers who depend on them. During the Presidential Campaign of 2016 both candidates articulated the need for the United States to make substantial economic investments in rebuilding its transportation infrastructure. How much is needed and who should pay for upgrading the nation’s transportation infrastructure are two questions that produce an array of answers across the political spectrum.

Subway systems in Washington, D.C. and New York City have experienced several derailments that have resulted in numerous fatalities and injuries over the past several decades. One issue is that these two mass transportation systems have delayed maintenance and upgrades for years, which has caused severe degradation of the mass transportation infrastructure. “In the past two years, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, or (WMATA), has undergone a series of power-system fires, derailments and other service disruptions…In New York City, on the Second Avenue subway, three of the four stations were new, but they still had to tie into the existing, 100-plus-year-old network” (Cho, 2012, p. 16).

As two of the nation’s largest cities continue to flirt with disaster, the lives of millions of passengers that use these mass transit systems are at stake. “With three derailings since March, Amtrak has been forced to undertake repairs to the tunnels into and out of Penn Station, which will severely cut capacity at a time when the system is already bursting at the seams” (Paumgarten, 2017, p.16).

Are the problems that plague the subway systems of New York and Washington D.C. mainly centered around funding? Some politicians argue that federal and state governments have already spent multiple billions of dollars on the nation’s mass transit infrastructure over the past several decades; but the transit systems of these two major U.S. cities have not improved. This issue will be addressed in this project.