Wrong and right views of subway serviceBy
Earlier this week, lost amidst the brouhaha over the MTA’s capital plan and the TWU arbitration victory, was an internal MTA study on the state of the subways. While the Straphangers Campaign offers up its own take on our transit system, the MTA conducts an annual survey of riders to get their opinions on the underground.
While people love to complain about the state of the MTA and the subway, according to amNew York’s Heather Haddon, the grades weren’t all that bad. On a scale of 10, New Yorkers ranked the subways a 6.4.
According to the report, the MTA is improving in some areas while declining in others. Stations seem safer and subways faster than they were ten years ago. Transit, however, is suffering in areas concerning crowding, buses in general and, of course, fares.
Haddon reports that 75 percent say they were “satisfied overall with subway system.” Twenty years ago, fewer than half expressed that level of satisfaction. The investment efforts are paying off.
Of concern, though, was one category: station smells. Ten years ago, straphangers rated the odor of the system at a mediocre 5.6. Today, the subways are stinkier with a 4.8 rating. This is of course the never-ending problem with operating a 24-hour system. Keeping the smell out is nigh impossible.
While these ratings are generally in line with my views of the subway system, some of the rider opinions expressed in Haddon’s article are patently absurd. One rider — Shawn Kelloway of Brooklyn — had this stupid comment: “Give me a break man. It’s a rip-off.”
The subways are far from a rip-off. With average fares lower than they were 15 years ago and fare-discount options widely available, I think the subways are a good deal. How else can you get from Inwood to Rockaway for less than the cost of a slice of pizza?