Transport Infrastructure in New York in the Article “Why New York Can’t Have Nice Things”

Summary of the Case

The article “Why New York Can’t Have Nice Things” discusses transport infrastructure in New York, and it shows how the city’s travel system is subpar to that of other cities in the world. The author states that New York is wealthier and more cosmopolitan than Paris and London, so its transportation systems should be more advanced (Barro). However, it appears that plans aimed at developing New York are plagued by delays and high costs, and many of them are not designed to completely transform the metropolis in the long term. New projects, as well as repairs, are very expensive, and yet they take longer to complete, delivering fewer services than expected. This has made it impossible for the city to provide its residents with transformative transportation similar to what is available in other parts of the world.

The author recommends that stakeholders should examine the root cause of the problem, which is accountability, in order to find a solution. Also, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) should be given control so that it unifies project teams and is held accountable for all tasks, which, in turn, will reduce costs (Barro). Such strategies will ensure that the MTA has final approval over every plan and that there is limited political interference that further delays completion. Ultimately, better management systems will make sure that all projects are affordable, timely, and effectively designed to meet consumer needs.

Risks and Rewards Inherent in Such Large Projects

The case study indicates that there are risks and rewards in large projects. For instance, managerial capabilities become more complex because there are numerous stakeholders involved. Each stakeholder might want to gain control, and this will delay the development plan and also potentially increase overall costs (Gyan and Ampomah 1). For example, in the New York case study, transportation projects would involve the MTA, politicians, utility companies, multiple government agencies, and external agencies. Projects are, therefore, not completed promptly, expensive labor gets wasted, and conflicts arise due to different expectations and interests.

Another risk in large projects is potentially high costs because of constant delays. Managers might design and budget for a certain amount of money, but the longer a project takes due to conflicts and emergencies, the more resources are required to complete the plan (Gyan and Ampomah 4). Most developments in New York are selected by politicians and are, thereafter, followed by reviews and outreach processes to determine if these preferences will gain support (Barro). Also, environmental appraisals are lengthy and do not take into consideration the impact of blocking tasks from being started on time. Government agencies in such schemes often have conflicting interests, and the projects are sometimes overstaffed, which consumes a significant portion of financial assets. It is, thus, critical to implement a program which takes into consideration these factors to ensure that infrastructure construction proceeds smoothly from the beginning.

One of the rewards in undertaking large-scale projects is that there are usually significant financial and resource investments. If these assets are effectively utilized, they can produce a high-quality and innovative product that will satisfy users. Government agencies are among the biggest stakeholders in such schemes, and their participation helps pursue social goals, such as the provision of affordable goods and services (Patanakul et al. 1). Therefore, if New York’s transport infrastructure program were properly managed, it would enable commuters to spend less time reaching their destinations, which, in turn, reduces their overall travel costs and increases their productivity.

Why Public Works Projects Are Impossible to Stop

There are various reasons why it can be impossible to stop public works projects once they have commenced even when costs continue to rise. First, they are difficult to stop because of the significant financial and material assets already invested in them. Therefore, rather than stopping the projects, managers opt to add more resources until they are completed. Stakeholders often believe that stopping such plans would mean wasting all the money that has already been spent. Secondly, these schemes often have a large number of stakeholders involved (Usmani). Coordination becomes difficult, and the various interested parties have differing opinions and priorities. This makes it difficult for them to agree on the right moment to stop in case the venture becomes untenable.

Delusion and Deception in Large Infrastructure Projects

The advocates in large ventures often suffer from delusion and deception. Their delusions lead to ballooning budgets because the stakeholders might underestimate the project risk of scope, the level of complexity of the job, and the presence of unexpected geological features (Flyvbjerg et al. 5). As a result, the costs may drastically increase due to these unforeseen circumstances because the managers were optimistic rather than rational in weighing the gains, losses, and probabilities. This leads to imagined success and ignorance of potential miscalculations and mistakes. The estimates concerning benefits are exaggerated, while timelines and financial resources are underestimated. In the end, the management continues with the plan even though it is overdue and has exceeded the financial limits described in the scope.

Deception also occurs in large projects, and it refers to the strategic manipulation of information or processes in order to achieve a goal. It affects final project budget overruns because the various stakeholders have different incentives and preferences (Flyvbjerg et al. 6). They will intentionally and tactically overestimate the benefits of the scheme while underestimating costs so that their plans get approved for funding and implementation. It is only after authorization and beginning the venture that the actual expenses will be known, and this eventually creates budget overruns at the end.

Using Project Management Skills to Minimize Such Issues in Future Projects

Project management skills can, nevertheless, be used to minimize such issues. For instance, managers can ensure transparency before, during, and after a scheme in order to eliminate misrepresentation (Flyvbjerg et al. 6). When stakeholders realize that all their actions need to be ethical and clearly expressed, they will have less incentive to deceive. Also, providing accountability for all tasks performed will help because everyone will understand that all activities are under scrutiny. On the other hand, delusion can be mitigated when interested parties adopt an external view of the project. This means that they need to ignore the specific details of their plan and comprehensively examine previously completed ventures’ costs and risks. Such strategy will ensure that teams understand the potential outcomes in their own task and what they should change in order to finish in time and with minimal resources.


This paper concludes that large projects can be costly if they are not properly managed. The case study indicates that delays, budget overruns, and too many participants in the New York infrastructure projects have led to insufficient services for travelers in the city. However, streamlining plans and ensuring that they are controlled by one agency is likely to increase project completion. This will also reduce potential deceptions and delusions so that in the long term, ventures are concluded to satisfy the needs of all interested stakeholders.

Works Cited

Barro, Josh. “Why New York Can’t Have Nice Things.” Intelligencer, 2019. Web.

Flyvbjerg, Bent, Massimo Garbuio, and Dan Lovallo. “Delusion and Deception in Large Infrastructure Projects: Two Models for Explaining and Preventing Executive Disaster.” Defense AR Journal, vol. 24, no. 3, 2017, pp. 1-40.

Gyan, Charles, and Abena Oforiwaa Ampomah. “Effects of Stakeholder Conflicts on Community Development Projects in Kenyase.” Sage Open, vol. 6, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-8.

Patanakul, Peerasit, et al. “What Impacts the Performance of Large-Scale Government Projects?” International Journal of Project Management, vol. 34, no. 3, 2016, pp. 452-466.

Usmani, Fahad. Stakeholders in Project Management. PM Study Circle, 2020.

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DemoEssays. "Transport Infrastructure in New York in the Article “Why New York Can't Have Nice Things”." February 9, 2022.