Archive for Rider Report Cards

nwbullets.jpg As loyal readers of Second Ave. Sagas may have noticed, I’ve fallen down on the job a bit with the results of the Rider Report Cards. With only six subway lines and the Staten Island Railroad left, I haven’t posted the results in a while.

Honestly, I grew tired of the report cards. Basically, you know the drill: Riders don’t like the crowds, the wait or the announcements. Some lines are seemingly less safe than others, and the subways should be cleaner. These complaints are nothing new, and it’s little wonder than that the City Council criticized the MTA for running the report card project as a publicity stunt. Did they really have to spend a reported $15,000 per subway line just to find this out?

But now we return to the Rider Report Cards. I want to have all of the results up before posting my annotated report card later this week. So stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, let’s turn our attention to the N and W lines. The N — the Broadway Express — runs from Coney Island to Astoria via the Sea Beach line, the Fourth Avenue line, the Manhattan Bridge, the Broadway line and the Astoria line. The W — the part-time Broadway local — runs from Whitehall St. up the Broadway and Astoria lines to Ditmas Boulevard. The W runs from 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. during the week, and during the weekends, the N takes the Montague Street tunnel instead of the Manhattan Bridge.

You know the drill with these lines: They’re not the most reliable; they’re a bit sluggish; and they can get fairly crowded. The report cards reflect this reality. The N received a C-minus, and the W pulled down a D-plus. That’s hardly a vote of confidence for the only trains servicing Astoria and large parts of South Brooklyn.

For the report cards, 6,384 riders graded the N, and 1174 riders graded the W. The top ten complaints are what you would expect:

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trips
  3. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  4. Cleanliness of stations
  5. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  6. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  7. Sense of security in stations
  8. Station announcements that are informative
  9. Sense of security on trains
  10. Cleanliness of subway cars

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trips
  3. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  4. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  5. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  6. Cleanliness of subway cars
  7. Station announcements that are informative
  8. Cleanliness of stations
  9. Sense of security in stations
  10. Sense of security on trains

After the jump, full grades.

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Categories : Rider Report Cards
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Oh, those pesky Rider Report Cards. The City Council thinks they were just a grand publicity stunt, but the MTA seems set on responding to the issues raised by the hordes of disgruntled riders.

After adding service on just two of the 22 lines in response to rider complains, the MTA is skipping the next two complaints — more room on board at rush hour and fewer delays — and moving on to the fourth complaint because they can actually solve this problem. In a stunning move, the MTA is planning on addressing the shortcomings in their public address system. They’re going to start by outfitting the remaining 86 stations currently lacking PA systems with the appropriate technology. Pete Donohue has more:

Every subway station should have a public-address system in about two years, NYC Transit President Howard Roberts declared [last week]. “I would like to be able to go into the Rail Control Center, pick up a microphone and speak to everybody that’s on every platform in the system,” Roberts said at a City Council Transportation Committee meeting.

Roberts, who became president last year, said he was surprised to learn that 86 of the 468 hubs lack public-address systems. He said he is seeking to secure funding in the MTA’s next capital plan, now being drafted, to rig up the hubs.

That’s not a mistake; nearly twenty percent of all New York City subway stops are without a public address system. The City Council members were not thrilled to hear this on Thursday, and many expressed concerns that the MTA is not adequately prepared for an emergency if they don’t have a way to communicate throughout the system. Of course, this criticism ignores the fact that the stations lacking PA systems are aboveground, but the point is still a valid one.

Now, it’s all well and good for the MTA to equip these 86 stations, but what about the PA systems in the other 382 stations? Right now, the PA systems in the subway run the gamut from the crisply audible to the unintelligible gibberish. If Roberts is serious about responding to concerns over the PA system, he would do well to look at how to get comprehendible public address systems installed in the subway.

Since most of the stations suffering from the gibberish syndrome are underground and in more populous and popular areas, it’s probably more important to address these problems than it is to outfit a few stations in the far reaches of the city’s outer boroughs with public address sytems that won’t be all that vital to subway operations.

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Because John Liu is still one of the city’s elected representatives, the City Council is gearing up for another run at the MTA. This time, they are going to hold a hearing on the lack of response from the Rider Report Card program. Only 7 percent of the 700,000 were turned to the MTA, and City Council Transportation Committee Chair John Liu feels that the report cards were simply a “wasteful gimmick.” Funny; that’s exactly what I think of Liu. [New York Sun]

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It’s grade time, baby! After a few weeks of silence — and missing grades for the Q and W — the MTA issued some Rider Report Cards on Friday. The E and the G, the train everyone loves to the hate, both received their results, and they both landed D-pluses. That’s pretty sad.

Let’s start with the G because it’s way more interesting. The G runs from Smith-Ninth Streets in Brooklyn to Court Square in Queens. It used to run all the way out to the 71st Ave. in Forest Hills, but the train will no longer head that far into Queens when the service additions go into place next year.

The riders of the G, the only non-shuttle subway to avoid Manhattan, don’t smile upon it. They term it the Ghost train because it never shows up, and it even has its own community organization devoted to Saving the G Train. In fact, most riders were expecting it to receive an F. They will be sorely disappointed to hear this news.

So what did the riders think of the G? The Top Ten list please:

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trips
  3. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  4. Sense of security in stations
  5. Cleanliness of stations
  6. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  7. Sense of security on trains
  8. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  9. Station announcements that are informative
  10. Cleanliness of subway cars

For all of the rider report cards, I think this is the most accurate Top Ten list I’ve seen so far. Wait times for G trains are beyond unreasonable, and the stations at non-peak hours are fairly deserted and rather unsafe. To be fair, the train runs through some of the city’s less safe areas, but the MTA could do more to staff these stations. The four-car trains don’t lend much room to rush hour crowds either. When the MTA starts extending the trains to Church Ave., they should run longer, more frequent trains. The time of the G is upon us.

On the other hand, we have the E train. This train starts at the World Trade Center stop and heads up 8th Ave. as a local. It cuts across 53rd St. with the V and into Queens where it runs express along the Queens Boulevard line. It terminates at Jamaica Center with a connection available to JFK Airport at its second-to-last stop in Queens.

As a primary express route into Manhattan from Queens, it’s a fairly high-volume train, and the riders don’t like it. The Top Ten problems:

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trips
  3. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  4. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  5. Cleanliness of stations
  6. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  7. Sense of security on trains
  8. Cleanliness of subway cars
  9. Sense of security in stations
  10. Comfortable temperature in subway cars

I can’t speak for the E train really. I ride the train usually just one stop from West 4th to 14th St. in the morning, and it never really gives me much of a problem. So I’ll take the riders’ words for it.

Anyway, there you go: two more unimpressive grades for the city’s subways. After the jump are the full grades.

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Dec
11

Part-time trains get poor marks

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We’re hitting the home stretch with these Rider Report Cards, and it’ll be time to start all over again before you know it. As the new line managers on the 7 and L took over on Monday, the MTA will wait with bated breath to see if their management plan actually improves straphanger feelings on service.

But in the meantime, we’ve got Rider Report Cards to dole out. Today, we’ve got the V and the R, two part-time trains that, when running make a ton of stops. The V, 6th Avenue local that will one day feed Brooklyn as part of the F Express Plan, received a C-minus, and the R, Broadway local, also took home a C-minus. That seems par for the course these days.

The V train services Queens and Manhattan. It runs from 6 a.m. to midnight during weekdays, starting at Forest Hills-71st Ave. It runs local underneath Queens Boulevard before jetting under the East River via the 53rd St. Tunnel and south down 6th Ave. before terminating at Second Ave. The riders, all 1636 of them, thought the train could use some work.

The R serves Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. From 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., the R makes 44 stops from Forest Hills-71st Ave. along Queens Boulevard and into Manhattan via the 60th St. Tunnel. It runs local down Broadway and into Brooklyn where it runs — you guessed it — local down 4th Ave. to Bay Ridge. From 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., the R runs back and forth from Bay Ridge to 36th St.

The R and I have a decent relationship. It runs past Union St. in Brooklyn, and I’ll frequent that station now and then. In general, the R is a sluggish trek through many local stops that are just too close together. The trains are old, and the stations — especially those far out in Brooklyn — are in sorry states of disrepair. The Top Ten list of complains will, as you’ll see in a minute, reflect those feelings.

The V is one train I don’t ride too often. Rarely am I going to just Second Ave. on the 6th Ave. line from points north, and the V is useless in Brooklyn (hint, hint, hint). But riders in Queens claim they appreciate it as an alternative to the R along the crowded Queens Boulevard line. Still, that C-minus doesn’t reflect too much love.

Both of these lines will represent tough challenges for the MTA. The V always shares tracks with other trains, whether those trains are the R, G, E or F, and the R shares tracks with, at various points on the route and during the day, the G, V, W, N and M trains. While not at capacity adding service along these lines while cutting down on in-route delays will be tricky.

On to the rankings. Complete grades follow the jump.

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trips
  3. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  4. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  5. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  6. Cleanliness of stations
  7. Station announcements that are informative
  8. Cleanliness of subway cars
  9. Sense of security in stations
  10. Working elevators and escalators in stations

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trips
  3. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  4. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  5. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  6. Cleanliness of stations
  7. Cleanliness of subway cars
  8. Sense of security in stations
  9. Sense of security on trains
  10. Station announcements that are informative

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Dec
05

A six-month publicity stunt

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Anne Karni, in a piece for which I was interviewed but not quoted, takes a look at the Rider Report Cards in today’s Sun. The conclusion of everyone interviewed is that these report cards aren’t breaking new ground and that they are an attempt by the MTA to put a good public face on problems they cannot solve. As these report cards have been well covered on SAS, I’m planning a much bigger post on the points in Karni’s article once all the report cards are in. [New York Sun]

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Ah, the F train. You know, loyal readers, that I’ve been waiting for this Rider Report Card to show up for a while. The F, you see, the latest recipient of a C-minus grade, is a frequent topic around here.

One of the longest – and slowest – routes in the system, the F starts out at Coney Island and runs, as we know, local, painfully, slowly local up the Culver Line and through Brooklyn. It crosses into Manhattan via the Rutgers St. tunnel before taking the local route up 6th Ave. It crosses into Queens via the 63rd St tunnel with a stop on Roosevelt Island before running express out to 179th St. in Jamaica via Queens Boulevard.

For months, the F has been the focus of Gary Reilly’s advocacy work. With unused express tracks from Jay St on south, the F rides along one of the most underused and overcrowded sections of track in New York City. We’ve tried for months to convince NYCT to run the F as an express and the V as a local out to Church Ave., but four years of construction on the Gowanus Viaduct has rendered this opporunity moot. Instead we’ll just suffer the ails of an overcrowded train.

Gary and I aren’t the only ones bemoaning the F. The 13,000 riders who gave the train a C-minus are right there along with us, and on the top of the list of complains are those same two issues an F express would alleviate: The trains are too crowded and too slow, and they don’t arrive often enough. No kidding.

This time, however, the fix will be easy enough, and NYCT knows it. When the construction is completed, riders on this line will reportedly enjoy express service through parts of Brooklyn. Hopefully, with some trains running express through rapidly-growing population centers in Carroll Garden, Park Slope and Kensington, this line, well under capacity, will see an increase in service across the board as well.

Meanwhile, as to the other top complaints – station quality and the quality of announcements – the F has a long way to go. Old cars with aging public address systems do not lend themselves to intelligible announcements, and with service changes planned for the next few years, this problem will only get worse before it gets better.

What follows are the top ten complaints for another C-minus grade joining a long line of mediocre grades. After the jump, the full grade breakdown.

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  3. Minimal delays during trips
  4. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  5. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  6. Cleanliness of stations
  7. Cleanliness of subway cars
  8. Sense of security in stations
  9. Station announcements that are informative
  10. Sense of security on trains

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With all of the talk recently about fare hikes, I’ve let the Rider Report Card results slide a bit. Well, let’s catch up.

At the end of last week, buried during the Thanksgiving holiday, the MTA released Rider Report Card results for the IND lines. The Eighth Avenue Express, the Eighth Avenue Local and the Rockaway Park Shuttle received their grades. The results were far from impressive.

We begin with the A train. Immortalized in song, the Eighth Avenue Express runs express down Eight Avenue from Inwood in northern Manhattan to the Rockaways via Howard Beach/JFK Airport or, sometimes, to Lefferts Boulevard. It’s quite the run, but the riders aren’t huge fans. The A pulled down a C-minus for its efforts from 6703 riders.

The C train is the A’s lesser cousin. This Eighth Avenue local starts at Washington Heights-168th St. and runs local to Euclid Ave. except between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. The trains are also shorter than the A trains. The C received an unimpressive D-plus from its 3967 voters.

The Rockaway Park Shuttle reaches from Broad Channel to Rockaway Park-Beach 116 Street. It is one of only two subways in New York – the other being on Staten Island – on which I’ve never ridden, and the 132 graders who give it a a D-plus tell me I’m not missing much.

For the A and the C, the major problems were the same: wait times are unreasonable; delays plague the trips; and room on board at rush hour is scarce. I couldn’t agree more. The A as an express train south of 59th St. is a joke. It takes the same amount of time to go anywhere in a local as it does on the A, and I’ve spent many an evening at 6 p.m. waiting 10-15 minutes for any 8th Ave. IND train to show up.

From a practical purpose, addressing these problems could be tricky. For much of their runs in Manhattan, the A and C are sharing tracks with other trains. The A runs with the D from 145th St. to 59th St., and the C runs with the B from 145th St. to 59th St. and then with the E south of 59th St. to Canal St. Increasing capacity on these lines will require a fair amount of scheduling adjustments.

Top ten complaints are below. Full grades are after the jump.

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trips
  3. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  4. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  5. Cleanliness of stations
  6. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  7. Sense of security on trains
  8. Cleanliness of subway cars
  9. Sense of security in stations
  10. Comfortable temperature in subway cars

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trips
  3. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  4. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  5. Cleanliness of stations
  6. Train announcements that are easy to hear
  7. Sense of security in stations
  8. Cleanliness of subway cars
  9. Sense of security on trains
  10. Station announcements that are informative

  1. Reasonable wait times for trains
  2. Minimal delays during trip
  3. Cleanliness of stations
  4. Sense of security in stations
  5. Cleanliness of subway cars
  6. Sense of security on trains
  7. Lack of scratchitti in subway cars
  8. Train announcements that are easy to hea
  9. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  10. Working elevators and escalators in stations

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It’s nearly time for the G train’s moment in the sun, and the line’s riders couldn’t be happier.

Last week, the MTA passed out the Rider Report Cards at the stations along the much-maligned and neglected G train, and, as The Times wrote in the City Section yesterday, G train advocates are gearing up for the line to receive an F when the grades are released next month.

The G train has long been regarded by those who rely on it as the MTA’s neglected stepchild. The train, the only non-Shuttle train never to reach Manhattan, can’t quite fulfill the promise of reaching all the way to 71st St-Continental Ave. in Queens, and service is spotty at best. During peak hours, trains — four cars instead of the MTA’s usual eight- or ten-car affairs — are supposed to show up every 7-9 minutes, and only about three or four off-peak trains run per hour. No wonder the people who love to hate the G train affectionately term it the Ghost train.

The Times details how those riders — among them Teresa Toro who runs Save the G Train! and the organization’s accompanying blog — are getting ready for the worst:

“Everybody knows what the rider report card on the G is going to be,” said Teresa Toro…

Ms. Toro, for her part, has urged riders to candidly respond to the transportation authority on her blog Save the G, which takes its name from a coalition of community advocates in Brooklyn and Queens. For each line, the agency distributes paper report cards to riders at train stations for one week, and riders have additional time to fill out identical report cards online. The deadline for the G train was Thursday; Marisa Baldeo, an M.T.A. spokeswoman, said the results would be announced in December.

But this fatalistic attitude is not without its upside. Riders are hoping that the report card results will catapult the problems of the G onto the plates of MTA officials. When the complaints come in about infrequent service, could those riders who need or want better G service be in for more frequent service and longer trains?

Maybe the tide really is turning on the G train. The service extension to Church Ave. in Kensington, once thought to be temporary, will remain in place permanently once work on the Culver Viaduct is completed. With, as The Brooklyn Paper reported last week, the population and ridership exploding along the G line, maybe its day in the sun will finally come. Who needs Manhattan anyway?

The map of the permanent G extension comes to us via The Brooklyn Paper.

Categories : Rider Report Cards
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Well, sad to say, but that one B-minus grade was an aberration. The B train, the peak-hour conterpart to the Q in Brooklyn and the D in Manhattan, received its Rider Report Card today. As with many other trains, the results were less than stellar. The B took home a C-minus.

The B is a fairly popular train, and as part of my morning commute, it’s near and dear to my heart. One of the competitors during Yankee Stadium’s Great City Subway Race, the B runs local from Bedford Park Boulevard in the Bronx along the IND Concourse Line. In Manhattan, the train runs local along the 8th Ave. line to Columbus Circle and then express along the 6th Ave. line across the Manhattan Bridge. In Brooklyn, the B runs as an express along the BMT Brighton Line terminating at Brighton Beach. The B runs during the week and from 6 a.m. to about 9:30 p.m.

Snaking through three boroughs, the trains fill up in the morning, and the riders are not amused. The top ten problems, if you will:

  1. Minimal delays during trips
  2. Reasonable wait times for trains
  3. Adequate room on board at rush hour
  4. Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel
  5. Station announcements that are informative
  6. Cleanliness of subway cars
  7. Comfortable temperature in subway cars
  8. Working elevators and escalators in stations
  9. Station announcements that are easy to hear
  10. Train announcements that are easy to hear

In all honesty, I’m a bit surprised by these results. Most notable are the train announcements in the 10 spot. I find the train announcement on the B train all but unintelligible. It’s impossible to hear or discern what the conductors are saying. This may be a problem stemming from the use of the 40-year-old R40 trains on the B line.

Otherwise, the top three spots as voted on by 2,630 B train passengers are right on. The trains often back up before the Manhattan Bridge and again before Columbus Circle. It’s often faster to walk from 7th Ave. and 53rd St. to Columbus Circle than to wait for the train traffic to clear up. Wait times are a hardly-stellar six minutes at rush hour, and until Rockefeller Center, space is scarce inside these cars.

For the MTA, this marks another poor grade in a long line of them, and again, the MTA is stuck. I’d love to see more service on the B train, but the shared tracks with the Q, D and C make that a near impossibility. It will be tough to upgrade the B.

As always, full grades after the jump.

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