THE STATE OF THE SUBWAYS
THE TRANSIT CRISIS, THE AESTHETICS OF FEAR,
AND THE SECOND “WAR ON GRAFFITI”
The MTA's capital improvement projects are funded through the sale of bonds. Like New York City's government, the MTA by the late 1970s had for some time been routinely dipping into capital improvement funds to cover deficits in its yearly operating budget. 1 This sort of “creative accounting” was part of a much longer history of underfunding both day-today subway operations and capital improvements. Without funding, the system had not been adequately maintained, rebuilt, or extended since the independent commercial systems were unified as a public authority two decades before. 2 Given this history, it remains an open question as to whether a subway crisis of some sort was inevitable, come New York City's municipal bankruptcy or not.
After 1975, a “crisis” in the subway system was assured. The City of New York provides a significant portion of the operating funds for the Transit Authority (TA). During his first year in office (1974), Mayor Beame began