Home New York City Transit Poll: Are you not satisfied?

Poll: Are you not satisfied?

by Benjamin Kabak

In the month of August, 138.7 million New Yorkers rode the subway, with trains seeing 5.113 million riders per weekday and 5.717 million riders on Saturday and Sunday combined. That’s a lot of people. In fact, it’s a new 45-year record high for August for the MTA, and the initial figures for September are even higher.

For better or worse than, a lot of people are riding the subway. Tourists, residents, students, workers, business folk and retirees are all taking the train everywhere, and even as the fares went up in March, so too did ridership. Now, the MTA is planning to increase service across eight lines to better meet peak-hour demand, and ridership shows no signs of slowing down. It is, in other words, a far cry from the subway system of my youth.

New Yorkers ride the trains because they have to do, but complaints are always on the rise — which leads me to question just how much we’re enjoying the service. I marvel at the ability to get around relatively quickly, easily and cheaply, but sardine-like rush hour trains are no joy. The MTA too is interested in rider feedback, and today, they released the results of their rider survey. It ends up that we’re mostly satisfied, maybe.

I’ve always been skeptical of the MTA’s ridership survey. It’s a self-serving poll in which the threshold for “satisfaction” is a 6 out of 10. Batting .600 would make you the best baseball player in the world, but succeeding satisfactorily 60 percent of the time is hardly brag-worthy in other contexts. That said, 76 percent of riders are satisfied with subway service while 77 percent were satisfied with the station environment. Only 67 percent are satisfied with the overall value for the money. To me, those numbers are backwards as the value remains high but the quality of service and especially the station environments is generally closer to adequate.

In terms of security, riders feel safer during the day than at night with 83 percent saying personal security before 8 p.m. is A-OK while 71 percent say the same thing after 8 p.m. That’s up from 67 percent last year, though the bump is within the poll’s margin of error. Rush hour crowding is the biggest problem with only 43 percent of riders feeling good about the crush loads. On the other hand, satisfaction with information about unscheduled delays has hit a three-year high of 69 percent.

Now, based on complaints about the subway, these numbers have always struck me as high but perhaps they’re indicative of a perspective on the city’s transit network. We may complain about the problems, but generally, day in and day out, we get where we need to be on time and with relatively little hassle. (Or else the numbers are inflated. Both answers are quite likely.)

So here’s my question to you: Based upon your daily experiences, are you happy? Are you satisfied? I think I am, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of room for improvement. “Satisfied” is, after all, a fairly low bar to climb.

How satisfied are you with subway service?
View Results

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Phillip Roncoroni November 12, 2013 - 2:45 pm

I’m generally satisfied with the subways, although I feel they’re much too artificially speed limited in the name of “safety.”

The buses are a different story though, those are terrible.

Spiderpig November 12, 2013 - 2:52 pm

It’s amazing to think about the future when a one-way fare will probably be $5 in my lifetime. And it would still be a good value for certain distances.

Nyland8 November 12, 2013 - 3:04 pm

There are so many potential areas for improvement that, even if one buys into simple things like price, convenience and reliability, we could still gripe about other issues ad nauseam.

Why are some motormen so demonstrably shittier than others? By that I mean, why is it that some trains can run full tilt into a station and brake smoothly to a stop, while others feel the need to tap the brakes 4 or 5 times, jostling the standing passenger so much they bang into each other? And then they’re going to slow, so they accelerate again!! It’s as if they’re deliberately trying to upend the customer. Doesn’t anyone review their performance before they give them the reins?

I find it hard to believe that the MTA doesn’t know how bad some of their engineers are. They ride the subway too, so you’d think they would notice. How do they get their job without meeting some minimum requirement for aptitude?

Lots of drivers operate their automobiles the same way, but at least there’s nobody trying to stand up in their car.

These people shouldn’t be in control of a rush-hour train until they know how to operate it.

Vinny O'Hare November 12, 2013 - 3:17 pm

Satisfied with the subway all depends on where you live and where you travel.

The A train hasn’t run to the Rockaway on the weekend in 2 or 3 months. With 20 minute wait times in the middle of the night it is not good here. The time to the city is too long when the trains run normally I feel bad for the people who work nights and weekends out here.

Larry Littlefield November 12, 2013 - 3:47 pm

I demand an end to fare increases, retroactive raises and a 20/50 pension for the TWU, two station agents in every station, and the completion of a full length Second Avenue Subway within five years, all with no more tax increases and the elimination of the payroll tax.

Are you listening Bill DeBlasio?


Jim Brennan and Sheldon Silver

As for Larry Littlefield, he’s happy riding a bike three or four days a week. But increasingly, on the other day or days, there is a problem on the subway, such as the signal problem at 42nd Street on the F this morning that screwed up the commute.

Bolwerk November 12, 2013 - 4:55 pm

Whether you’re satisfied or not probably all comes down to location. Things could be better for me, but I can get to most of the places I want to go fairly quickly.

Phantom November 12, 2013 - 5:43 pm

The NYC subway and bus system provides a superb and safe service for most New Yorkers. It is off the charts better, and is much cheaper on an inflation adjusted / transfer adjusted basis than it was in the seventies.

For the entire package, including the 24 hour service, I’ll put it up against the London Underground or most any other system I’ve had the pleasure to ride.

The professional complainers should not drown out a truth that any of us long time residents can see with our own eyes.

pete November 12, 2013 - 8:19 pm

Slowest non-street running metro in the world I have been on in my life. With CBTC on the IND you will never see >25 mph again.

Roxie November 12, 2013 - 10:58 pm

I’m cool with the subways. The buses, on the other hand, make me want to commit murder. Between bus drivers with bad attitudes and completely idiotic routes (why the hell does the Bx28 run in a god damn S between Bedford Park Boulevard and Gun Hill Road???), it’s really awful to have to ride a bus these days. Never mind the traffic, even. (I complain less about that because that’s not the MTA’s fault for the most part.)

BoerumBum November 13, 2013 - 11:49 am

Our great-grandparents and grandparents laid the groundwork to make the system what it is today. It’s up to us to make sure that our kids and grandkids have the system they deserve.

Phantom November 13, 2013 - 1:44 pm

Agree with Phillip and Pete that some subway lines run far too slowly. Where there are curves, it’s understood. Where it’s a straight run, as between 59th and 125th on the A or D, there’s no reason why trains can’t run at a more proper speed. They ran noticeably faster in the seventies.

And the escalators also run way too slow, perhaps in line with our dysfunctional jackpot justice legal system.

Phantom November 13, 2013 - 2:06 pm

Twelve respondents claim that they ” dread ” their daily subway ride.

Unless these responses were pranks, I’d like for them to explain why that is so.


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