Home New York City Transit Subway delays picking up

Subway delays picking up

by Benjamin Kabak

Today hasn’t been the best day of the year for me. I just wrapped up two hours spent dealing with a TimeBridge e-mail sent to every single one of my Gmail contacts. Prior to that, however, I had a lovely Monday morning commute.

Arriving at the 7th Ave. stop in Brooklyn at around 8:30 a.m., hordes of people standing on the platform greeted me. This should have been a warning sign, but when a B pulled up a few minutes later, I eagerly smushed myself into the packed car. I needed to get to class post haste, and the train had just enough room for me. After pulling in to De Kalb Ave., we sat for longer than normal, and once in the tunnel approaching the Manhattan Bridge, the dreaded announcement came.

“Due to a sick passenger at 7th Ave. in Manhattan, this train will be going up the Broadway line,” intoned the conductor. Why couldn’t she tell us this before leaving De Kalb? As we crossed the bridge, I spied a B train just sitting on the Sixth Ave. side, facing an interminable red signal. At Canal St., I switched to an uptown R and made it to class just a few minutes late.

Little was I surprised then upon scanning the daily headlines to come across a story on the increasing number of subway delays in The Post. While a sick passenger is hardly the same as an avoidable delay, the news is alarming nonetheless. Reports Bill Sanderson:

New Yorkers’ subway commutes have slowed significantly over the last three years, according to the latest NYC Transit data. The city is still far from the 1970s bad old days of broken-down, graffiti-scarred trains – but the downward trend in the quality of subway service is unmistakable.

Through June, the number of delayed trains is up an average 24 percent from two years earlier, and 71 percent from three years earlier. And the distance trains travel without breaking down was down 7 percent in July from two years earlier, and 17 percent from three years earlier.

Subway bosses blame the problems on more track work, heavy ridership, and less money for maintaining cars.

In other words, if your ride seems slower than it used to, that’s because it is, and this problem figures to get worse before it gets any better.

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Ellie October 6, 2008 - 1:23 pm

I still say that if you are sick, do not get on the subway! Go to the station booth and get help! But do not get on the train!

One funny thing is that I’ve realized that taking the uptown C to 155th from 34th is faster than taking the A to 145th then transferring to the C to 155th. I hate all of those stops, but it takes less time. 🙂

Todd October 6, 2008 - 1:46 pm

Go to the station booth and get help

Apparently the token booth workers aren’t much help.


eric October 6, 2008 - 3:56 pm

If that MTA clerk would have left his booth to try and help that woman he would have been fired!!! It is against the TA’s policies and they have ZERO sympathy for employees unless they are upper managment!

This is a tragic story that happens way to often because there isn’t enough of a human presence in the subways at night. The police spend most of there time hiding and sleeping in the TA employee crew facilities and unmanned towers throughout the system.

Todd October 7, 2008 - 11:09 am

Possibility of being fired vs saving a woman who is being attacked.


eric October 7, 2008 - 4:11 pm

OK so lets say you intervene and then you get fired, now you can’t support your family. That is an easy choice.

I know a conductor who a few years ago helped a woman carry her stroller with a child inside up a flight of subway stairs. The woman intentionally dropped her end and sued the TA. The conductor was fired immediately!!!!! He is now a cop but it could have worked out much worse.

Todd October 7, 2008 - 8:04 pm

Carrying a stroller vs helping a woman who is being attacked.

Are you completely insane?

eric October 7, 2008 - 9:02 pm

Simply put the rules that are SRTICTLY enforced about leaving there booth may be flawed. The problem is with management NOT with the hard working blue collar guy just trying to make ends meet.

The MTA doesn’t want there employees to help passengers in any dangerous situation. They are instructed to call for help which this clerk did.

It’s people like you that always want to look down on the worker who follows rules rather than the management who makes these rules and NEVER bends on enforcing them!

Todd October 9, 2008 - 10:57 pm

…and it’s people like you literally who look down at a woman while she’s being attacked.

Ellie October 7, 2008 - 12:44 am

Dag. I don’t even know what to say about that.

Chris October 6, 2008 - 1:53 pm

One thing that I realized while riding the trains is that the operators don’t always give the passengers the full story of whats going on. When it looks like there could be a delay, I fire up the radio scanner I carry with me to listen to the dispatcher to figure out what is really going on.

I’ve found that you frequently get better and more timely information this way. If you’re interested, here are the main frequencies to listen on with a FM scanner:

IRT: 161.190 MHz
BMT: 161.505 MHz
IND: 161.565 MHz

Other interesting frequencies include the Transit Police frequencies. More information on relevant frequencies to listen on (and the districts map for the NYCTPD) are collected by a ham radio operator here: N2NOV.net.

Happy travels.

Joe October 6, 2008 - 3:49 pm

Sick passengers all over the place this morning. My packed uptown 4 train stopped at 8:30am around Bleecker St., because of a “sick passenger at Union Square.” As we sat there for 5 minutes or so, a woman near me almost fainted (a sick passenger due to a sick passenger?), but someone was nice enough to give her a seat. Then the train crept into Union Square, and (after letting everyone on and off the train), the conductor announced that the sick passenger was actually at Grand Central (or was there a new sick passenger?), and that we should take the 6 train. This caused another stampede off that 4 train and onto another 4 train, which was running local because of the sick passenger(s). Good times.

Gary October 6, 2008 - 5:20 pm

This morning they announced at Bergen that we’d be running over the G line. I stayed on to switch to an A at Hoyt Schermerhorn. A train was going nowhere due to backups from a brake problem at 59th Street.

Walked to a 4/5, had to wait for second train b/c first one was packed solid.

The other night, I faced this: V train from 53rd to Rock Center. Hop on F train – Home free! Not so fast. We’re running on the B line. Escape at Broadway Lafayette for downtown 6, switch to a 4 at City Hall, switch to a C at Fulton/Broadway-Nassau, finally switch back to my F train at Jay Street and make it home to Carroll Gardens.

6 train commute – beats my old record from the flood last year – less walking though.

Things are definitely getting worse.


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