Sep
28

Straphangers say ‘C’ ya later to the L train

By

Update 1:26 p.m.: The MTA has released the complete survey info. You can get it at the bottom of this post.

=======

The MTA is learning that when you ask honest opinion, you’ll get back an honest answer. And when it comes to the quality of service in the subways, honesty doesn’t lead to high grades.

Later today, the Authority will release the results of the rider report cards for the L train, but The Times’ Cityroom blog already has the story. While the 7 train received a C-minus a few weeks ago, the L train improves on that grade. By a little.

The old BMT 14th St./Canarsie line received a C from its riders. Sewell Chan, with an assist from transit beat writer William Neuman, has more on the grade breakdown:

The mediocre grade is somewhat surprising, given that New York City Transit has spent millions on a computerized system of speakers and electronic signs on the crosstown L line. Yet straphangers who took the survey were unimpressed; they gave a C grade when asked if station announcements on the line were easy to hear and a C-minus when asked if the announcements were informative….

Overall, L train riders said overcrowding was their top priority. Transit officials said they will go ahead with plans already in place to add trains to the line…The top three areas in which L riders wanted to see improvements were more room on board during peak hours; fewer delays during trips; and shorter wait times for trains.

For those of you keeping score — or is that grading? — at home, the L received a D for the “adequate room at rush hour” category only because giving out an F was not an option a few customers must like feeling as though they’re on an overstuffed cattle car. (Ends up that F was an option!) I’ll have the full grade breakdown later today.

The MTA must be at least somewhat discouraged by this news. As Chan and Neuman note, the MTA has invested a highly-publicized $17.6 million into installing train information screens (that don’t work in an ideal way) and the capacity for automated trains (that don’t seem to work yet either) along stations in the L line. When train information displays at on the Brooklyn-bound 1st Ave. L platform are displaying the minutes until the next 8th Ave.-bound L train, L train riders are apt to rate the line poorly.

For his part, Howard Roberts was gracious in receiving the bad news. He said to Chan and Neuman that due to the overcrowding — which the MTA hopes to alleviate — and the constant service changes and shuttle buses, he was “not totally surprised” by the mediocre grade. But the MTA is now pulling down a C/C- on your typical grading scale.

I hope the MTA has plans to address the myriad concerns raised in these reports. We’re hearing the same issues — overcrowding, poor rush hour service, incomprehensible announcements — over and over again. And while a C may be good enough for the President of the United States, it sure isn’t acceptable to those of us riding the New York City subways every day.

Rider Ratings of Service 2007 Grade
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 B-
Cleanliness of stations C-
Cleanliness of subway cars C+
Station announcements that are easy to hear C
Station announcements that are informative C-
Train announcements that are easy to hear C
Train announcements that are informative C
Lack of graffiti in stations C+
Lack of graffiti in subway cars B-
Lack of scratchitti in subway cars C+
Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel C
Comfortable temperature in subway cars B-
Ease of use of subway turnstiles B-
Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines B-
Overall performance C

And for your enjoyment, the aspects of the L line that need improvement, in ordering of ranking. While “adequate room on board at rush hour” is number one on the list, it didn’t get a failing grade.

1. Adequate room on board at rush hour
2. Minimal delays during trips
3. Reasonable wait times for trains
4. Cleanliness of stations
5. Sense of security in stations
6. Sense of security on trains
7. Station announcements that are easy to hear
8. Station announcements that are informative
9. Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel
10. Train announcements that are easy to hear
11. Train announcements that are informative
12. Working elevators and escalators in stations
13. Cleanliness of subway cars
14. Comfortable temperature in subway cars
15. Ease of use of subway turnstiles
16. Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines
17. Signs in stations that help riders find their way
18. Lack of scratchitti in subway car
19. Lack of graffiti in stations
20. Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way
21. Lack of graffiti in subway cars



Categories : Rider Report Cards

11 Responses to “Straphangers say ‘C’ ya later to the L train”

  1. Marc Shepherd says:

    The L is not my regular train, but when I use it, the electronic platform displays are almost never working.

    Overcrowding will probably be the dominant issue on many of these report cards, and it’s the issue the MTA can do the least about. Most of the lines have structural capacity constraints caused by design mistakes and decades of poor planning.

    The MTA is planning to add more trains to the L, but as overcrowded as that line is, it will never reach a point that riders consider acceptable. The L’s real problem is that it was designed without express service, and it’s limited to 8-car trains. Neither problem has a quick fix.

  2. David says:

    As far as planning goes, I don’t think anyone could have expected the amount of people this city holds. In all honesty the L should not have an express as it would be a waste. The line from end to end is a shade under 40 minutes long & it does not make that many stops. A crosstown line would lose effectiveness if it was to be an express.

    Considering the curves the L has at different junctions, express service would never reach its full potential. I think the line is fine as it is as far as stops are concerned. They do need to find a way to work on the crowding issue though. The trains seemed to be jammed pack up until a certain point 24 hours a day. Although I tend to notice that a lot of the crowding is in bunches as everyone wants to be closest to the exit of their station.

  3. Jack says:

    The MTA is just intentionally hard on themselves for some reason or other.

    A ‘C’ in the report denotes ‘Satisfactory’, which means that riders ARE satisfied by the line. No one seems to comment on that however.

  4. Marc Shepherd says:

    As far as planning goes, I don’t think anyone could have expected the amount of people this city holds.

    The underinvestment in our transit infrastructure has been well known, and well documented, for decades. No great insights were required to see it. The L line is only just now receiving technological improvements that London and other cities have had for years.

    The one valid point you have, is that the upscale population growth in Williamsburg and Greenpoint probably couldn’t have been forcasted. But the fragility of the system as a whole has been long known. I mean, they knew in the 1920s that a new subway was needed along Second Avenue.

  5. Tomás says:

    I agree with Mr. Shepherd, it’s true that maybe no one planned the population growth in Williamsburg (as I noted in my own blog), but also the fragility of the system is long known.

    Sadly the system is needed more than ever.

  6. Alon Levy says:

    The main problem with the L is that for some reason, its headways are crap. The line can currently hold 15 tph, and CBTC is expected to raise that to 26. The 2/3, 4/5, 6, and 7 are all in the 20s already, and the MTA lists its official track capacity as 30.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] too thrilled. No one wants to pay more when the MTA isn’t providing adequate service — a C is hardly a stunning grade — and is projected an economic windfall this [...]

  2. [...] the MTA, this is their third grade of the year. Last week, the L received a C, and at the end of August, the 7 also received a C-. With these three grades in the books, the MTA [...]

  3. [...] about it; heck, even the MTA knew about it. But not until those two lines received bad grades (7, L), in the highly unscientific Rider Report Card surveys did the MTA do anything about [...]

  4. [...] response to those Rider Report Cards, today marked the first day of the expanded service on the L train. While the Internet’s most [...]

  5. [...] for the second round, and as expected, improvements will incremental. The L, which last year pulled down a C, managed a C-minus this time while the 7 saw its grade rise from a C-minus to a C. Small [...]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>