Wright looks at how public transportation authorities evolved from being well-funded and largely independent entities to resource-starved institutions vulnerable to political intrusion. The advent of the automobile and the federally subsidized highway system catalyzed many of the New York metropolitan region's public authorities to merge, Wright explains, exposing them to political influence at the same time as demand for public transit waned.
Today, as transit ridership is surging throughout the region and along the Northeast Corridor, the infrastructure managed by these authorities has suffered from decades of disinvestment and a lack of collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries.
Nothing is more emblematic of these challenges than the rail tunnels crossing the Hudson River. "Crumbling Hudson River tunnels have become a national symbol of aging infrastructure and political shortsightedness," says Wright in the op-ed. "They represent nothing less than our failure to keep up with the rest of the world."