Turn the Subway Into a Lazy River

“This new proposal offers significant protection against surges while also creating new housing. To do this, it extends Manhattan into New York Harbor by 1,760 acres. This landfill development, like many others in the city’s past, would reshape the southern Manhattan shoreline. We can call the created area New Mannahatta.” — New York Times

What’re two things every New Yorker tries to ignore on a daily basis? Climate change and homeless people. There’s a way to solve both issues in one fell swoop: a lazy river.

The New York City subway system is noisy, dirty, and full of homeless. It consumes enough energy annually to light up the city of Buffalo for a year. Let’s bring Buffalo into the light by pulling those wasteful subways out, filling the tunnels with water, and buying 10 million or so flotation devices. It’s a much more eco-friendly way to get around town, and it solves the homeless problem in a number of ways.

  1. It’s hard to panhandle while floating alone through a pitch black tunnel
  2. It’s extremely likely that the homeless will fall out of their flotation device into the water, providing them with a much-needed (and totally free) bath.

New Yorkers (the rich ones) have spoken: they simply don’t want to hurtle through darkness on a rickety, COVID-filled metal contraption. Instead, let’s give them the option to drift slowly through darkness and look for omens in the water like they’re in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

And before you mock my bold thinking on Twitter, allow me answer some of your objectionable questions.

How will a lazy river get me where I need to go fast?

It won’t. And I’d argue that’s a good thing. After two anxiety-filled years of a pandemic, I think the best thing for our collective mental health is to hop on a little floatie, kick our legs up, and drift serenely through the labyrinth of our city’s underground tunnel system. No lights. No WiFi. Just you, your thoughts, and whatever may be floating in the water beneath you.

It doesn’t seem good for the infrastructure of the city to have flooded tunnels everywhere.

Thanks to climate change, the tunnels already flood every time it rains. With our climate resilient lazy river, extra flooding just means a few rapids (you said you wanted to go fast).

What about the above ground parts of the subway?

That’s mostly in the outer boroughs, which we do a terrible job of serving anyway. So keeping with that tradition, we won’t offer a solution.

As for the Manhattan and Queensboro Bridges, we’ll give you a paddle so you can row across the East River. Just look both ways before you cross the shipping lanes.

What about the areas were the subway slopes downhill.


What about the areas were the subway goes uphill?

An MTA worker will throw you a rope and pull you up.

I can’t swim. What happens if I fall out of my flotation device?

All MTA workers will receive certified lifeguard training.

What kinds of floatation devices will be provided?

We’ll offer a diverse selection of floaties, including donuts, pool mats, giant inflatable unicorns, ride-on bananas, and more. On weekends, we’ll blow up some inflatable beer pong floats and send them down the 456 line near Murray Hill. Maybe we can set up a few inflatable basketball hoops and get some games of pool ball going in Grand Central Terminal.

When’s the last time the MTA did ANYTHING to improve your day? We’re gonna have fun!

This is gross.

So is sitting on a seat someone used as their toilet last night.

At least now you won’t have to share the airspace with a bunch of folks emitting a deadly pathogen into the air.

Also, by dumping a bunch of water onto the tracks, we can flush out some of the rats and garbage.

Did we mention you won’t have to wear a mask?

This seems like a half-baked, unrealistic idea to address real issues.

Drastic times call for drastic measures. Climate change and the homeless are bearing down on us. We could either build more public housing and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or take the “world’s longest lazy river” title from Texas.

Also, is it any worse than giving the southern tip of Manhattan a giant erection?

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