It is two years since my last visit to New York. City born and city bred in Shanghai, I am really familiar with the smell of the cosmopolitan, which I shll never have chance to access in Buffalo. Last time when I was in New York was during my CYDP program to Columbia University while this time I am only a graduate school student. I still remember the day in New York since it is most resemblance to my homeland, which you might argue my nostalgia dominates in my spirit at this time.
In the New York the first thing is the subway. No matter where you go in Manhattan, the quickest way is to take the subway, particularly during the peak hours. It is reported that the Mayor Michael Bloomberg takes the subway to office each week to test the quality of public transportation and at the same time save a little precious time. Built one hundred years ago, New York subway still remains the feeling of old days. Old ornament swaying and sweltering platform with no air conditioning facilities excruciating, I would rather say the subway system in Shanghai is far more advanced than that in New York. Maybe someday I should write to mayor Bloomberg to advice him to install air-conditioners and shielding barriers on the platform, as it is reported 55 will killed by subway trains last year. What a horrible thing it is! Notice that in Shanghai almost nobody is killed after the installation of shielding barriers, the social planner of New York ought to consider to install such kind of facilities to protect citizens from being hurt from trains, where can in a great extent reduce the casualty during commute everyday. I was told since my early age that the American government shows great respect to human beings and design everything suitable to supply convenience to citizens. But it is the truth in small city but not in cosmopolitan. In NYC hardly could I find a restroom vacant on the fifth avenue, which made me wait for five minutes outside the door of a male restroom in McDonald’s. That is a first-time wonderful experience that I have never undergone before. Back to the topic of the subway shielding barriers. Experts estimate that such kind of facilities can not only protect the live of human beings but save the energy cost and reduce the noise in the station as well. That is another reason it is a must to install barriers. The one-hundred-year-old New York subway brings such insupportable great noise to the passengers so that it seems an earthquake hits the station when the train approaching. Comparing with the huge benefits of installation of the barriers, the expense can be neglected no matter how expensive the labor costs. Someone may argue the New York subway is 24-hour running and consequently results in no time to cover such installing. The solution is quite simple. We can shut down the some stations on weekend and accomplish such kind of installation. I don’t think workers with high efficiency in such a quick pace cosmopolitan can fail to finish this task in a weekend, where I gain from the experience in Shanghai that workers can finish such installation in ten hours.
To tell the truth, all cosmopolitans are similar with each other with fast pace, crowed streets, inconvenient restrooms, running the red light, dirty streets, congested public transportations and traffic, and countless skyscrapers. Comparing with the low pace in small cities, I still like the feeling of New York and Shanghai firstly because I have little people to meet with in small cities and mainly because Shanghai is the city I grow up and live for 22 years. Unhesitatingly I can say I am a social animal and have to have close connection with people nearby. No matter how magnificent scenery of the Niagara Falls, I could no longer prefer this life track, sort of, to the crowed streets and abundant life in a cosmopolitan. I can go to the museums, theaters, film centers, shopping malls, Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road in Shanghai while in Buffalo I can only go to church on weekend. You may argue China has severe air pollution and political problems but what I shall tell you I have never heard of bed bugs in Shanghai. This kind of bed begs can torture you more than a bad authority.
Moving back to the topic of New York subway, I would rather say I admire the designer of the subway system of New York, who can separate the local train to the express one hundred years ago by constructing four paralleling railways. I can be transported from the Time Square to 96th street in several minutes taking the express line 2 with only one stop between crossing 54 blocks. If there were only one railway in the uptown direction, I should have had to endure twenty minutes or more to commute. The original designer of New York subway must be a genius, for he could foresee the crowded and congested Manhattan Island one hundred years later and reserved the express railway for his offspring. Why do our social planner lack such kind of capability the reserve convenience for the future? For instance, the metro line 3 and line 4 in Shanghai shares nine stations in common at the very beginning of the construction of line 4 to reduce to cost. But with so many people rush to the city, the designer plans to separate line 4 from the shared railway because the original design restricts the capacity of line 4. The cost of separation greatly exceeds the expense of building separate railways and stations at the very beginning but unfortunately our social planner is shortsighted. The designer of New York subway adds a railway track at the very beginning to reserve for the future while our designer reduces a track to save cost. Sarcastically finally we have to put more money to redesign and rebuild the line 4. We are paying for our shortsightedness no only in the metro design.