From Coney Island to Astoria via Canal St., the Q train offers up a culinary tour of New York City. The train starts at Nathan’s, stops a few blocks from DiFara’s, swings past Chinatown and ends in a hot bed of Greek dining. One day, it’ll service the Upper East Side too via that Second Ave. Subway. It is also, according to the latest edition of the Straphangers’ State of the Subway report, the best train in the city.
While the C train was rated the worst line for the fourth year running, the Q came out on top for the first time since 2001. “The subways are a story of winners and losers,” Gene Russianoff, Straphangers Campaign senior attorney said of the results. “Riders on the best line – the Q – have much more reliable cars, frequent service, subway car cleanliness and car announcements than riders on the worst line, the C. Sharp disparities among subway lines can be seen throughout the system.”
I’m a frequent Q train rider, and many people I know are as well. It’s tough to say if I’d rate the line the highest in the system due to what often seem to be excruciating waits between trains and the generally slow ride over the Manhattan Bridge. So how did the Q train win exactly?
According to the Straphangers, though, the Q won because it had the best P.A. announcements and above average performance in avoiding delays, car breakdowns, seat availability during rush hour and car cleanliness. With some of the newer rolling stock around, Q trains break down once every 690,000 miles, and from experience, it’s possible to nab a seat at rush hour.
Much like last year, meanwhile, the C train with its decrepit rolling stock ranked last again. It won’t move up the list until new cars arrive as the Straphangers dock it for frequent breakdowns, car cleanliness and inaudible announcements. Same as it ever was.
As part of the report card, the Straphangers also assign a value to each subway line, and here is where I take issue with the report. The organization is ostensibly a rider advocacy group, but they don’t view any subway line as worthy of the cost of the fare. The Q gets only a $1.60 rating while the C is worth 85 cents. Most lines are worth between $1.20 and $1.40, far less than what all but the most frequent users of a 30-day Metrocard pay.
Last year, the Straphangers acknowledged this complaint: “Some riders may find this scale too generous, believing that performance levels should be far better than they are now. Other riders, who value transit service over other ways to travel in New York City, may believe the subways and buses to be a bargain.”
On the bright side, the winner this year is “worth” 15 cents more than last year’s victors. Still, these ratings seem to be cheapening transit at a time when it needs some support.