Last Subway

Last Subway is the dramatic story behind New York City’s struggle to build a new subway line under Second Avenue and improve transit services all across the city. With his extraordinary access to powerful players and internal documents, Philip Mark Plotch reveals why the city’s subway system, once the best in the world, is now too often unreliable, overcrowded, and uncomfortable. Last Subway is a cautionary tale about how false promises, redirected funds and political ambitions can derail important public works projects. An audio book version is available at

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@Philip Mark Plotch 2019


Politics at its best is about making the impossible happen, and for too long I was told that completing the Second Avenue Subway was impossible. After a nearly century-long battle, the first phase of the Second Avenue line is finally complete. Philip Mark Plotch beautifully details the complex history of the Second Avenue Subway and takes you behind the scenes of the project's many twists and turns.

- U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, New York's 12th District

Last Subway is an important addition to our understanding of how complex engineering and political decisions are made in large metropolitan areas. Engaging and filled with intriguing insights, it is essential reading to those interested in improving the quality of life in our cities.

- Jameson Doig, Dartmouth College, author of Empire on the Hudson

Far too little has been written about public transportation in the United States. Last Subway is a thoughtful and successful effort to describe the history of the subway system which over a billion people a year ride.

- Richard Ravitch, former Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority

For nearly three quarters of a century, the Second Avenue Subway was notorious as the most famous thing New York never built. Now Philip Mark Plotch takes you into decades of political struggle for a glimpse of how megaprojects can beat back the million-to-one odds against them.

- Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney, NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign

The intersection of politics and real estate with mass transit is at the heart of The Last Subway. Philip Plotch details the complexity of realizing a subway dream that was deferred by close to a century, and he highlights how politics derailed, again and again, the building of the Second Avenue Subway. A must-read for all straphangers!

- Jose Martinez, Senior Reporter, THE CITY


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Late Train. City Journal. June 2020.

Book review by Zachary Schrag (George Mason University). Journal of Transport Reviews. May 2020.

NYCT Second Avenue Subway: Past, Present and Future (Maybe). Railway Age. May 2020.

Why Can’t We Build Infrastructure Cheaply, Quickly and Well? Governing. April 2020.

The Page 99 Test. Campaign for the American Reader. March 2020.

New Book Argues Cuomo’s 2nd Avenue Subway Push Exacerbated MTA's 2017 decline. Politico. January 2020.

Why New York City will never build another subway station? New York Post, July 2020.

From the right: New York’s sad transit history. The Island Now. June 2020.