NYC Taxi Cabs in a traffic jam in New York

Five surefire ways to make New York City better

Or #DearMayorAdams

New York City and I have had a love hate relationship for more than 25 years. Well, it has always loved me because I am awesome (or so other people say) but on my side I haven’t always been so loving.

I might have been at the I ❤️ NY tshirt wearing stage back in 1995 but since then I’ve spent a lot more time hunting for the non-existent I THINK NY IS OK top.

A black and white image of the Manhattan skyline taken from the water
The Manhattan skyline is much nicer than that of London (“New York skyline” by is marked with CC BY 2.0.)
Slices of New York cheescake at Dave and Buster's
New York cheesecake is very popular, because it is delicious (“Dave & Busters ‘New York Cheesecake’” by Charles Siritho is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.)

A lot of this is for personal reasons but – in a kind of open letter to the so-called leaders – there are a lot of things that Mayor Eric Adams can do to make the city better.

1. Fix the problems with JFK International Airport

A sign at JFK International Airport says welcome to New York
Maybe JFK International Airport was more welcoming when this picture was taken in 2005 (“NYC: JFK Airport – Welcome to New York” by wallyg is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

In recent months I’ve been to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Reagan National Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and JFK International Airport and JFK is definitely the worst by far. It’s worse than London Luton Airport on the first week of the school holidays and that is bad.

Arriving there from London Heathrow to be faced with a two hour line for border control because someone couldn’t be arsed to get more staff working definitely wasn’t the ‘Welcome to America’ anyone wanted.

If getting back on the plane had been an option I would have done it to avoid the overheated arrivals area where everyone had to spend far too long looking at the uninspiring mural.

It’s something the New York Times or the New York Post should investigate.

Going back to London was equally chaotic thanks to the staff who clearly didn’t know wtf they were doing.

My friend and I wanted to join a passport check line but were prevented from doing so by a staff member who might have thought she was doing a good thing by directing us to a shorter line. In the olden days this might have been the case but where she sent us was the frequent flyer pay money to be here queue and we were then sent back to the original line.

All this frustration could have been avoided if the staff were better.

2. Improve the Subway system

A New York subway platform
The word ‘express’ is kind of a misnomer in the New York Subway (“new york subway” by Ed Coyle Photography is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0.)

Travellers using the Tube in London are greeted with more than one poster on a platform telling them where the train they are waiting for is going.

In the carriages they can look at an easy to read display telling them where the train they are on is going.

They are also mostly used to Tube trains that arrive at the central London stations at least every two minutes.

This isn’t the case in New York. God forbid anyone from out of town would be able to truly know where they were going at more than one location on a subway car.

For some reason New York also never got the memo that its underground transportation system should be quick and efficient.

The Subway is old, it is clunky and rattles along the line at a very slow pace.

Having not visited NYC for 10 years I’d forgotten how bad the system is.

At point my friends and I waited 19 minutes for an express subway. This was in the middle of the day but no-one else seemed to question why there wasn’t more than one train every 19 minutes.

I think New Yorkers need to demand more from their public transport system.

3. Ensure taxi drivers know where they are going

NYC Taxi Cabs in a traffic jam in New York
You want one New York City taxi cab and then lots turn up at the same time (“NYC Taxi Cabs” by @KevinCase is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.)

If you get a Lyft or an Uber in New York they will put your desired location in a satnav and take you there.

If you get a yellow cab you seemingly have to guide them down every street. Why is this?

4. Encourage New Yorkers to walk faster

People cross the road in New York City
The slowness of New Yorkers can be quite frustrating (“Crossing Process” by Joel Bedford is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

I read an article which implied that New Yorkers seem to think they walk quickly.

Spoiler alert: Most of them dawdle along like they are living in a village instead of the city that never sleeps. (Maybe it doesn’t sleep to give people more time to get places.)

And when I say village I don’t mean Greenwich Village.

I respectfully suggest the ideal walking speed for a city dweller should be 4.1 to 4.2 miles an hour but in New York I doubt if most people scraped above 3 miles an hour.

It was surprising and frustrating.

5. Bring in a national health system

A graffiti-style image of an NHS worker as Superman
The United States of America really needs a national health system (“Super NHS UK.” by Loco Steve is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.)

This isn’t one the mayor can bring about as such (the clue being the word ‘national’) but they can have discussions with Washington about how it should work.

And you only need to take a five minute trip on a subway line to find out why it is necessary.

Everyone who needs it should be able to get help for mental health issues but in the private American system it is unaffordable for those who haven’t got health insurance.

And sadly you can see the knock on effects of this on the subway where there are a lot of people with serious mental health issues who simply can’t afford the treatment they need.

With those five improvements I think I may be a little bit closer to being in the I ❤️ NY camp next time I visit.

Stay safe for another week!