Howard Roberts wants your grades

By · Published in 2007


This man wants your views on the subways. Let’s give it to him. (Photo by Joe Fornabaio for The New York Times)

Stealing a page from the Straphangers Campaign’s Subway Report Card, Howard Roberts, the new president of New York City Transit, wants subway riders to grade the system.

Roberts, who came up with this plan because he, like everyone else, complains about the subways, will hand out report cards this summer to riders on the 7 train. The cards will come with prepaid postage and will request that riders evaluate everything from security to cleanliness to timeliness If this pilot effort is successful, the City’s other subway lines will find themselves up for grading in the fall.

But who wants to wait until fall? Let’s get to the grading!

Timeliness: During rush hour, the subways run often. There’s always a train when I want one. But try getting anywhere late at night or on the weekends. Even the MTA’s own service advisory Website doesn’t know which trains are running express, which are running local and which aren’t running at all. And don’t even get me started on the presence or lack thereof of the G train, the delays on the L line and the headaches of getting anywhere on the N line late at night.

Cleanliness: Gross. The unidentified sticky stuff on the seats and the floors, the scattered newspapers, the graffiti, the strange ickiness of the poles: This all adds up to not clean. And we shouldn’t forget about the stations. Black gum spots dot even the newest of platforms, sewage leaks from corroded pipes and green-brown water fills up the track bed as newspapers, umbrellas, batteries, free newspapers and just about everything else float by. Also, rats.

Public Address Announcements: Fkaliecd idjkcdke ckdieudka kdkfssdco epskdclw standclearcloshingdoorkadkfie kdiufke. Dkjslk dfiue redsignaldksjdi urkc ieplskiem ckakshhhhhh. Esidkqp dkcndk390 kdjxkcmd. Nextstopdk ieukcalep. Exactly.

Security: Howard Roberts wants us to grade security. So here’s your A, Howard. The subways haven’t been attacked yet and those annoyingly loud reminders to check myself (before I wreck myself) and watch my belongings has stopped countless terrorists from planting anything in my stuff. But then again, officials seem to disagree with my grade, and no one thinks the subways receive enough anti-terrorism funds. But, hey, if you see something, say something! Go get ’em, Tiger. (P.S. The subways are not safe for little children. Breakdancers attack them. If you click on one link in this post, follow that one. Great YouTube video there.)

Responsiveness of Employees: This is another category Roberts requested. Really, Howard, let’s not go there. Last year, your agency was sued because a station clerk saw a rape but stayed in the booth and did nothing. This seems to be a common occurrence. Also, your employees never know anything about which trains are running and when. Needs improvement.

Comfort: Based on the number of homeless people I see sleeping on the trains these days, those hard plastic seats must be pretty comfortable. So this one gets an A+! That’s something the MTA has right: Subway trains make great beds.

So there you go, Howard. Your first report card. You can get better grades if you make trains arrive as soon as I get down to the platform, clean up a bit and fix those public address speakers. You may want to do something about all of the people who reside in the subway cars overnight, but that’s your call. Good luck.

Categories : Rider Report Cards

14 Responses to “Howard Roberts wants your grades”

  1. Marsha says:

    All trains get an F for scratchiti. Can’t anyone figure out how to put scratch-free glass in subway cars? (Please insert subway line F into my comment.)

  2. stepheneliot says:

    I can tell you that rriding the rails from Washington Heights to Stuyvesant High School in the early 1950’s seems no better now than it did then. People don’t seem to change no matter the decade from the ones who run the trains to the bums who sleep on them. What we need is a new DNA for all of us to fix these problems.

  3. Victoria says:

    Hahahahah “Esidkqp dkcndk390 kdjxkcmd. Nextstopdk ieukcalep” is my favorite announcement!!!

  4. Marsha says:

    No, no. “standclearcloshingdoorkadkfie” is the best announcement.

  5. Joanna says:

    I’m more than disgusted by the rape incident. MTA, wow; I hope she won her case against you.

  6. ginger says:

    PLEASE investigate the F situation. The F is named after the grade it receives.

    Please hand out grade forms to F commuters (I have a feeling this is the most neglected line of all lines in NYC).

    -constantly filthy (including the people…trains are NOT homes)

    -extremely slow (consider creating a 24 hour express track somehow!? I’ll take a tax increase)

  7. anonymous says:

    dear ginger,

    as someone who has just moved from living in a part of brooklyn serviced exclusively by the G line to a part of manhattan wherein the F is the principal subway, i can tell you to shut the hell up about the F line. the F is reasonably frequent and reliable, though crowded.

    perspective is good. so shut up.

  8. tee007 says:

    I think your grades are pretty AWESOME. I must say NYC subway must be renovated. I feel like it is pretty rundown. Last summer, I was in D.C, and their metro is better than ours. It is really cool. I can’t understand why we could not have batter mass transportation system. I think if you should also write about the grades of buses also. Now, I’m in Minneapolis-St.Paul, you know what their buses are running like Swiss precision. Just +3 or -3 min. It is simply amazing, and very reliable even in the mid of the very hash winter. I think it might be good idea to encourage the employees of NYC subway come and get trainings in MNSP.

  9. ginger says:

    sorry to hear your troubles about the G…I imagine its service isn’t as convenient, but your rent must be fantastic!


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