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Cuomo takes a step toward saving the MTA’s night trains

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Cuomo takes a step toward saving the MTA’s night trains

Gov. Cuomo took a moment out of his bad week to do one good thing for Gotham: announce the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority will reduce overnight subway closures from four hours to two. 

New York City won’t be back to normal until the subways are open all the time, but hopefully, the COVID experiment in cutting off service will forever end the perennial calls from good-government groups to save money by shutting transit. 

The subways’ 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. closure, now shortened to between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., started in May, making the Big Apple’s grim outlook for a fast recovery even grimmer. Even during the worst days of the pandemic, 11,000 people relied on overnight trains to get to and from work. 

These commuters lost out because of Mayor de Blasio’s inability to prevent an estimated 2,000 homeless people from using transit for shelter. Shutting down the subways didn’t fix that problem, as the recent stabbing murders of two homeless people and the wounding of two others by a fifth homeless person made clear. 

If an unstated goal of the shutdowns was to reduce subway crime, the murders show it didn’t work. What difference does it make that the killings occurred around midnight rather than at 2 a.m.? 

The closures didn’t prevent trespassers who commit assaults against transit workers. An assailant threw a transit worker to the tracks just after Christmas, even though the station was closed. With 472 stations, most with multiple entrances, the subway is ­impossible to “close.” 

Riders, workers and police suffered 62 assaults over the past six weeks, the same number as last year during the same time frame, even though subways were much busier last January and February. 

Finally: In May, food-delivery worker Mamadou Diallo was shot to death by a robber in Harlem, while waiting for the bus instead of the train. Cutting off basic services to low-paid workers is a strange way to try to cut crime. 

Sure, closing the subways makes it easier to deep-clean stations and trains. But most trains aren’t in use overnight, anyway, leaving them free for cleaning. The MTA can cordon off parts of a station for scrubbing. 

And it makes construction work easier. But 24-hour service doesn’t prevent the MTA from shutting down service on one line, for weeks or months, so it can do work on that line. 

Finally, and the most important for the long-term picture: Overnight shutdowns don’t save money. To give customers alternate service, the MTA had to add 344 buses to its regular 235 during these hours. But it still had to move trains back and forth on a normal schedule to get its own workers around. 

Shutdowns won’t save money when the pandemic is over, either. Before COVID-19, nearly 15,000 people left Manhattan during the 1 a.m. hour alone. They did so on 51 trains. 

Without trains, you’d need nearly 400 buses to move the same number of people, meaning higher labor costs. Another 9,000 people normally take trains into Manhattan during the 4 a.m. hour. During the pandemic, more than 10,000 people took buses in September during the 4 a.m. hour, compared with 3,000 in April, before the MTA shut the subways, meaning many had migrated from the far more efficient trains.

Absent a pandemic, there is no sustained overnight “shift,” like 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. or midnight to 8 a.m., during which people stay home. When we aren’t locked in our apartments, nearly 100,000 people regularly use the subways during the witching hours. Restaurants, bars, clubs, concert venues all depend on it. 

Close the subways at 1, and people will leave the bar at 12:20, for fear of missing the last train. And some will drive drunk or speed on roads with little nighttime traffic, killing themselves or others. More night-owl workers will buy cars and use them for daytime trips, too, causing more traffic. 

Other cities shut down subway service overnight, sure. Have you ever tried to make an 11 p.m. dinner reservation in any of those places? Before the pandemic, London had launched 24-hour “Night Tube” service, with the goal of injecting life into its nightlife. 

Before the pandemic, nighttime shutdowns were one of those ideas whose time had never come — for good reason. 

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor of City Journal.

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Opinion

NYC needs a fighter for mayor, not a technocrat

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NYC needs a fighter for mayor, not a technocrat

Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia touts her career in city government and technocratic skills as reasons she should be your pick for mayor. Problem is, what New York needs right now is not just impressive-sounding plans, but the ability to fight for what the city needs.

Frankly, being a good-government star of the de Blasio city administration is a pretty minor achievement: The competition wasn’t exactly fierce. Nor did Garcia’s much-touted talent for logistics always prove true.

Back in November 2018, a mere six inches of snow paralyzed the city and left thousands of schoolkids trapped on school buses for hours. The response was so poor that Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for hearings into Garcia’s handling of the storm. She also ran into trouble as interim city Housing Authority chief, letting the insiders lead her to deliver false testimony about lead-paint remediation.

During the lockdowns, the mayor put her in charge of delivering emergency food to needy seniors. But her system demanded seniors use unfamiliar technology to sign up, and as The Post reported, the “beneficiaries” also had issues with food quality and delivery.

But the bigger issue isn’t dealing with the bureaucracy, but with the politicians. It’s not enough to reject “Defund the Police” nonsense: The city’s next mayor will need to muscle the City Council and Legislature into amending the anti-anti-crime laws they’ve passed in recent years, from the city’s “chokehold” mistake to the disastrous “no bail” legislation.

Brooklyn’s Eric Adams has the contacts from his time in the state Senate to move Albany, and the cred from a lifetime of fighting for police reform to argue persuasively against bad police reforms.

Garcia just hasn’t been in the political trenches. Indeed, two veteran Democratic operatives told The Post’s Julia Marsh that her lack of such seasoning would harm her ability to handle pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the council and the feds.

Coming out of the pandemic, New York City faces multiple crises: public safety, fiscal, economic. The next mayor can hire wonks, planners and managers; the talent he or she must have is a proven ability to make the right calls, as Adams did in centering his campaign on public safety from the start, and to beat the other politicians into going along. That’s why Eric Adams remains our choice.

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The old Cold War models can’t help us meet today’s Russian threat

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The old Cold War models can’t help us meet today’s Russian threat

President Joe Biden and Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet Wednesday for the first time since Biden was elected president.

For many in the foreign-policy establishment, this is an exciting opportunity to conjure some Cold War drama. Historically, such summits were major happenings. They were premised on the idea that tensions between the two nuclear powers were so great and grave, merely talking was an accomplishment in its own right.

Conservatives contend that the summit is a mistake primarily because it gives Putin the prestige he craves while giving Biden nothing in return. I tend to agree. But this argument also draws on the same Cold War nostalgia.

Conservatives often opposed US-Soviet summits, because they were seen as part of a process of “normalization” and détente that not only lent the Soviets undeserved legitimacy but often ended with concessions that strengthened our enemy.

Worse, such summits were often used to buy cover or time for Soviet expansionism. Forty-two years ago this week, Jimmy Carter met with Leonid Brezhnev in Vienna to sign the SALT II treaty. Brezhnev personally promised his peaceful intentions to Carter, and six months later, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

You can see how those arguments could be applied today, but I think we’d all be better served to ditch the Cold War stuff, because circumstances have changed.

First, Russia is a basket case. Rife with corruption, entirely dependent on oil and gas revenues and starving for foreign investment, Russia’s entire GDP ($1.7 trillion) is smaller than Biden’s first COVID relief package.

Second, as morally bankrupt as Soviet Communism was, it nonetheless appealed to the hearts and minds of millions around the globe. No one, save would-be despots, looks at the Russian “model” as something they want to emulate. We’re not competing with Russia for moral leadership.

That’s because Putin is better understood as a cross between a conventional mob boss, a James Bond villain and a Latin-American strongman. Estimates of his personal wealth range from $40 billion to $200 billion. Whatever the right number, he didn’t get that rich from wisely investing his $300,000 salary.

Putin holds onto power in part through crushing domestic opposition, intimidating or killing dissidents, blackmail, censorship and other tactics of ruthless tyrants. But he also maintains control by keeping Russian society in a constant state of crisis by relentlessly fueling paranoia that the West is at war with Russia and he’s the only leader strong enough to hold her enemies at bay. A true Cold War nostalgic, he believes that relations with the West are zero-sum: Whatever is bad for the West is good for Russia.

That’s why Russia is constantly meddling in Western elections, including our own in 2016. It’s also why Russia’s propaganda machine loves to amplify America’s domestic shortcomings.

The idea that Biden (or anyone) can talk Putin out of his perceived self-interest is ludicrous. Someone who has clung to power through murder and oppression can’t be made to see the light with finger-wagging bromides.

Biden would be well-served to tell Putin simply and bluntly that there will be concrete consequences to his actions — assuming Biden is willing to follow through. Beyond that, Biden should take a page from Putin himself. The Russian dictator sees these summits as a propaganda opportunity, domestically and internationally. Biden should, too.

Propaganda has taken on a negative connotation, suggesting pernicious state misinformation. But propaganda was originally about propagating the faith, specifically Catholicism. To his credit, Biden seems to be sincerely interested in propagating the faith of democracy, the rule of law and Western resolve. He won’t be able to persuade Putin of any of that. But that’s not the audience that matters. There are people throughout Russia who need to hear it — and in America, too.

Twitter: @JonahDispatch

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Step up for the cops, says ex-NYPD brass Joanne Jaffe

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Step up for the cops, says ex-NYPD brass Joanne Jaffe

Three-star chief commander, highest-ranking female ever in the NYPD, Joanne Jaffe was let go. Despite her pending lawsuit relative to discriminating employment practices, she has workable ideas about handling our crime problem.

“My first day as a cop, 1979, a 4 to 12 tour along totally decimated, blown out Pitkin Avenue’s boarded up buildings, my first thought? ‘How to go to the bathroom?’

“As for now, this city’s thousands of religious leaders with influence over communities they serve must step up to preserve the sanctity of life. Our priority is their priority. They should be out in the streets saying, ‘Stop the violence.’ Also our grandmothers. They’re influential over grandchildren. Let them be involved in what their kids and great-grandchildren are doing.

“Plus, a block watch program that really works. There’s 77 precincts. Plus, 12 transit districts. But we need the community. Disagree with the police, OK, but be part of discussions. Understand the anger.

“There’s a supervision of homeless shelters, so why are police the repository of all society’s social ills? More things get shoved onto the police when other agencies haven’t training or ability to cope.

“There’s city agencies. Pick the top hundred families that can help with medical, economic, education problems. You only hear about keeping kids out of jail. How about before they go to jail? Instead of watching TV all day, we’ve got to build school relationships in a different way.

“Politicians knowing nothing sit at tables making decisions. They don’t invite police officials. Don’t know what it’s like struggling in the middle of a crowd, things thrown at you, fighting you. Not clean. Nothing’s pretty. These pols have rallies. They march. They don’t even know what they’re talking about.

“Our cops know who it is. They know their people. Others tell them. They know who, what. They know how to calm things down. We need people to come out, like when a child gets shot. When these tragedies happen they shout out for two days and then slink back. We need them to stay out. Our elected officials are busy with rallies. We need them, our religious leaders, our grandparents, our top families to come out!

“Cops aren’t engaging now because they feel unsupported. Disillusioned. Morale is low. They’re no longer willing to risk. It’s not defund the police or support the police. It’s come to the middle.”

Unlucky with Leo?

DiCaprioJulianne Hough’s niece, being a yenta, has claimed her aunt told her Leo is not “King of the World” between the sheets. Then on Howard Stern’s show recently a caller said he stood next to Leo at the urinal in Sunset Beach on Shelter Island and assessed DiCaprio’s various parts. Not king-sized burbled this one. Stern, skeptical, admitted, “I know that bathroom and never use it. Rather pee in my pants if I have to.”


THE good news. Finally, we’re dragging out last year’s stylish clothes. The bad news? Thanks to our pandemic’s stay-home/eat-home year — nothing fits.

Not only in New York, kids, not only in New York.

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