Gray said the escalator repair time, which he attributed to bureaucratic issues, was “embarrassing.”
“We saw somebody's website — they built a 30-story hotel in 15 days,” he said. “That seemed a little suspect to me. But the idea that it takes nine months to fix escalators! And people have these eloquently developed excuses. ‘The parts aren't available.’ It's always somebody else's fault.”
Gray’s comments echoed an interview Foreign Policy conducted with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last month. In comments that drew the ire of several conservative activists, LaHood also said it was easier to build infrastructure in China than it is in the United States because there are fewer regulations there.
“The Chinese are more successful [in building infrastructure] because in their country, only three people make the decision. In our country, 3,000 people do, 3 million," LaHood said in an interview with Foreign Policy's The Cable blog.
"In a country where only three people make the decision, they can decide where to put their rail line, get the money and do it. We don't do it that way in America," LaHood continued, though he quickly added, "We have the best system of government anywhere on the planet.”
Gray offered a similar analysis during his interview, published Tuesday.
“I think it's an autocratic system, much more autocratic than we are, but at the same time there's a lot of innovation — innovation beyond what I fully understood,” he said. “And it's interesting to be able to see the innovation that has taken place.”
But quickly, the D.C. mayor added that “there's no question that they can get things done in ways that we can't get things done — or won't get them done, let's put it that way.
“Some of the labor practices are probably not ones that would ever be tolerated in this city,” he said.