A few years ago I flew from Cannes to NYC. What struck me about the airport at Nice was how polished and professional everyone was - agents to bag handlers to cleaning staff. Actually commented about this to my wife. Lovely location may have something to do with that.
Then we landed at JFK. It was like landing in a fucking train station in India at rush hour. Actually, I've done that and it was a damn sight better than JFK.
What the subways need is another Bloomberg-like ego "screw you guys, I know best and am doing what I want" and just simply start over. Rip it all out and just keep the holes. Also needs a mind shift on the part of users to stop throwing their garbage on the tracks and treating it like a sewer. I think that one is close.