Home MTA Absurdity On Transit’s rapid response to a viral video

On Transit’s rapid response to a viral video

by Benjamin Kabak

By now, I’m sure many of you have seen the video from Dean Peterson that’s been making the rounds. The Brooklyn-based videographer took to his local subway station — 36th St. along 4th Ave. — and filmed an amusing two minutes of straphangers tripping up the stairs. This station, along with some others, has an uneven staircase that has long been a part of station lore. No one had bothered to fix it until today.

The video has been viewed now over 530,000 times, and apparently, someone at the MTA noted it as well for, as NBC New York reported, the staircase is now closed for repairs. Considering Transit’s track record with staircase repair work, I’d imagine this entrance will be out of commission for a few weeks as crews realign the steps, but that’s practically besides the point. Why did it take a viral video to gain some attention?

It seems that no one at Transit had realized the imperfection, and that’s somewhat reasonable. No one is measuring every step at every station. Furthermore, perhaps straphangers who tripped simply chalked it up to their own stumbles. But if one person noticed the same stair as a problem over and over again, I’m sure some others did as well. Shouldn’t we have a system in place that allows New Yorkers to report these problems to someone who will listen? I don’t think viral videos are the way to go to get every routine maintenance problem in the subway addressed.

Thanks to @TheRealKroll and @tommy_bennett for passing this one along.

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21 comments

Chet June 28, 2012 - 1:01 pm

I’ve tripped on that staircase myself. I often drive to that station (or 59th St) from Staten Island when I want to go to Manhattan.

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stairbob June 28, 2012 - 2:03 pm

So I wonder how long the staircase will be out of commission. As far as I can tell, that’s the only entrance on that side of 4th Avenue. You might argue that it’s more dangerous to cross that busy thoroughfare than to risk using the troublesome staircase.

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John S July 1, 2012 - 10:23 pm

Well, shocker of all shockers, it sounds like MTA redid the staircase this weekend.

http://twitpic.com/a2t1mg
http://twitpic.com/a2syc6
http://twitpic.com/a2sulr
http://twitpic.com/a2swba

(I have my RSS reader set to follow their twitpic postings – imagine my surprise when I saw these pics!)

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Al D June 28, 2012 - 3:03 pm

There is a system in place. Go the MTA website and complete the form.

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Al D June 28, 2012 - 3:05 pm

That’s the problem though isn’t it? Like many things MTA, it’s an ineffective system and it doesn’t work.

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Kai B June 28, 2012 - 5:10 pm

I have an open ticket with them about the SIR. Since there was no SIR category on the online form I used “subways”.

Three weeks later I received a response that my inquiry would be sent to the appropriate people at SIR.

Another four weeks later, no response yet.

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mike d. June 28, 2012 - 6:31 pm

MTA slogan: Going your way.

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Paulie3jobs June 28, 2012 - 7:10 pm

More like : GO AWAY

mike d. June 28, 2012 - 4:28 pm

Except the computer reads the complaints instead of a monkey and throw it away to the recycle bin.

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Anon June 28, 2012 - 6:29 pm

http://www.mta.info/

Top Right Hand Corner “Contact Us”

http://mta-nyc.custhelp.com/cg.....er/ask.php

Category “Complaint”

Though there should definitely be an app to take photo and send gps coordinates w/comment

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mike d. June 28, 2012 - 6:33 pm

Though there should definitely be an app to take photo and send gps coordinates w/comment

No need to do that… its call Youtube and sell it to local news to spread the ugly truth.

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Peter June 28, 2012 - 7:47 pm

How many TA employees walk up and down those steps every day? Scores.

They just don’t give a sh*t.

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Al D June 29, 2012 - 9:40 am

It’s a corporate culture type of thing. MTA likes to think that they operate like a private business but they are far, far from it. A corporate culture of a company that provides customers a service would typically be to enable the customer facing staff to be professional and respectful and courteous. But it starts at the top, and trickles down. So what you are seeing is what trickles down through the countless levels of management and supervision.

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Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines June 29, 2012 - 8:58 am

[…] Viral Video Showing Subway Stair Stumbles Gets Quick Results From MTA (NYT, Kabak) […]

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lawhawk June 29, 2012 - 10:21 am

Shouldn’t we have a system in place that allows New Yorkers to report these problems to someone who will listen? I don’t think viral videos are the way to go to get every routine maintenance problem in the subway addressed.

There is a system that does just that – 311. Or at least that’s how 311 should be working. 311 should enable New Yorkers to inform the agency that there’s a problem with the station(s) that need to be addressed.

That’s also available online. It shouldn’t be buried on a FAQ/Contact Us page that makes it tough to submit requests for repairs.

And perhaps the MTA site should have a more visible method of addressing these kinds of concerns.

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BrooklynBus June 29, 2012 - 1:43 pm

Exactly. If the MTA wanted to hear complaints there would be a big button as soon as you log on saying “complaints and suggestions. Instead on the weekend you first have to know how to find the tiny gray home button. Then you have to search all over for Contact Us, then you have to choose a method. All that should be unnecessary. The “MTA” doesnt care what you think. They’d rather you just disappear. I have. Gotten results from them but only by dealing with individuals directly, not by going through official channels.

How long has this problem existed and how. Many other stations are affected. How much in lawsuits for tripping has the MTA already paid out by not addressing here situations? I also don’t understand why they need to rebuild the entire staircase and not just the problem step and the ones above it.

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Benjamin Kabak June 29, 2012 - 1:45 pm

I’m with you up until the end:

I also don’t understand why they need to rebuild the entire staircase and not just the problem step and the ones above it.

That’s a math issue. If you do that, you’ll have the steps below at a different height from the steps above, and you won’t actually address the problem of the uneven height. The only way to do this is to rebuild the whole thing.

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Andrew July 2, 2012 - 11:35 pm

I realize that you are the exception, but the vast majority of visitors to the MTA website are looking for information, not to register a complaint. The “Contact Us” link is at the top of the page, where anybody who wants to make contact can find it easily.

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BrooklynBus July 5, 2012 - 9:58 am

Except on the weekends when you first have to find the link to the home page, then look for the small contact us link in the corner, then pick your method, then first press e-mail and fill out the form.

Wouldn’t a simple complaint button prominently displayed whether it be weekday or weekend be much simpler? Or does the MTA prefer not hear any complaints?

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Johnny June 29, 2012 - 10:51 am

Ah, good old union workmanship. Maybe this time these union chumps will use a ruler. I wouldn’t count on it–they’d probably have to hire an two extra guys–one to hold the ruler and one to take the measurement..

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BrooklynBus June 29, 2012 - 11:34 pm

The same thing happened with my neighbor’s staircase. He put new stairs in and someone didn’t measure correctly and. Top stair was noticeably shorter than the rest, much bigger than the difference at this station. He called another contractor to rebuild the whole stairway. Then I looked at his neighbor’s stairway and the top stair was noticeably higher than the others and was never fixed. Guess this happens all the time. The difference is that it’s a bigger hazard at the subway stations because some people run up and down and the stairs are constantly in use.

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