The Second Avenue Subway: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help


I WON’T lie: the newsletter drew me in. I was interested as soon as I saw it lying on the counter at a relative’s apartment in New York. It featured bright colors, crisp design, good use of white space and interesting headlines. Even the paperstock was high-quality. Was this one-page masterpiece produced by a new business, or perhaps a museum? No—it was the monthly neighborhood newsletter of the Second Avenue Subway project, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 85-year-old white whale of an idea to extend the city’s metro system.

The MTA launched the newsletter in 2012. Distributed by hardcopy (at stations and local businesses) and via e-mail, it aims to keep residents and businessowners updated on the progress of the subway project. Normally Gulliver wouldn’t take note of this. But good, pro-active public relations from transit authorities (especially in America) is so rare that this one is worth highlighting. Transit, of course, has long been associated with great graphic design. But newsletters, a useful website, and even “ask the experts” sessions from a public construction project? That’s above and beyond the call of duty.

  • Monarch Airlines goes into administration

  • China is turning against cryptocurrencies

  • The Tory conference reflects the dismal state of the party

  • At least 58 people are killed and 515 injured in a shooting in Las Vegas

  • A Nobel prize for medicine for the understanding of body clocks

  • Why Swedish troops just finished their biggest war games in 23 years

It is a good thing, too; the MTA needs some effective PR. The Second Avenue Subway “has been so long-promised that it seemed near-mythical to residents and business owners,” according to a recent New York Times story. The MTA has said that this phase of the project, which includes new tunnels and stations between 63rd St. and 96th St. on the east side of Manhattan, will “probably” finish under budget. But regular Gulliver readers will know that the cost-per-mile of building subways (or, really, any new infrastructure) in America is dramatically higher than it is in other developed countries. Perhaps that’s why there’s so little money left to go around—to finish the Second Avenue Subway, or even to replace a crucial bridge on the Hackansack River. America needs some smart people to figure this out—and show the rest of the country how it’s done.