Back in May, New York City Transit President Howard Roberts announced his plans to have riders grade the subway lines. When the first report cards came out, I was underwhelmed. They offered little in terms of creativity and a lot in terms of your standard subway gripes.
Now, it looks like the first set of results — an underwhelming C- for the purple 7 trains — are proving that, yes, the subways have problems we all know about.
Late this afternoon, conveniently on the day before the start of a three-day weekend during which approximately no one will read this news, the MTA issued a press released discussing the findings of the rider report card for the 7 train. The results, linked in the previous paragraph, are less than stellar for the popular IRT Flushing line.
Before we delve into the complaints, let’s start out with some good news. The MTA received a high rate of response to their surveys. They handed out 88,000 report cards over a three-day period in July, and they received back 16,000 responses. Statistically, an 18 percent response rate is stellar. People want their voices heard when it comes to subway issues.
MTA CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander recognized the people’s voices as well. “The response to the Rider Report Card was phenomenal,” Sander said. “Clearly, riders wanted to express their opinions and we will respond with several initiatives to improve service in the areas where they feel we’re lacking.”
But the reality of the situation is a bit grim. Riders want their voices heard because they’re less than thrilled with the level of service. A C- is barely passing. The MTA asked the straphangers to rate what they see are areas in which the MTA needs to improve. The results please:
- "Adequate room on board at rush hour"
- "Minimal delays during trips"
- "Reasonable wait time for trains"
- "Train announcements that are easy to hear"
- "Station announcements that are easy to hear"
- "Cleanliness of stations"
- "Working elevators and escalators"
- "Sense of security on trains."
- "Cleanliness of subway cars"
- "Sense of security in stations"
To anyone who rides the overcrowded, oft-delayed, somewhat dirty subways, these results tell us nothing new. We know the subways are overcrowded; that’s why the MTA is trying to build the Second Ave. Subway. We know train announcements are unintelligible. We know the subway’s aren’t the safest things in the city.
Now, we also know that Joe and Jane Straphanger are thinking along the same wavelengths as those of us that read and write about the subways on the Internet. Of course, with this all in mind, the MTA has to address these concerns, and I think they’re working on it. With limited financial flexibility and few miles of unused tracks, the Authority can only do so much.
Of course, my 15-minute wait at 11:40 p.m. tonight for any downtown train on the BMT platform at Union Square is hardly comforting. But at least the MTA and NYCT are listening, and hopefully Sander and Roberts mean business when they say service will improve. Time will be the judge of that.
Update: I missed this link last night: Howard Roberts has released the full results of the survey. While the C- sounds mediocre, the overall results are not pretty to say the least. Take a look:
|Minimal delays during trips||C-|
|Reasonable wait times for trains||C|
|Adequate room on board at rush hour||D|
|Sense of security in stations||C|
|Sense of security on trains||C|
|Working elevators and escalators in stations||C-|
|Signs in stations that help riders find their way||C+|
|Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way||C|
|Cleanliness of stations||C-|
|Cleanliness of subway cars||C-|
|Station announcements that are easy to hear||D+|
|Station announcements that are informative||D+|
|Train announcements that are easy to hear||D+|
|Train announcements that are informative||D+|
|Lack of graffiti in stations||C+|
|Lack of graffiti in subway cars||C+|
|Lack of scratchitti in subway cars||C-|
|Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel||C|
|Comfortable temperature in subway cars||C|
|Ease of use of subway turnstiles||C+|
|Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines||B-|