Opinion: Sept. 20, 2015
By Melissa Orlando, founder of Access Queens/7 Train Blues.
The 2015 State of the Subways Report Card is out and riders in Queens are confused. For the second year in a row, the 7 was ranked the best out of all of the subway lines. The best?
For the past nine months, via Facebook and Twitter, 7 train riders have been sharing information about delays, dangerous overcrowding, and near daily system issues such as stalled cars and signal malfunctions via 7 Train Blues.
These issues are constant and systemic and they certainly didn’t show up overnight. So we were in disbelief to learn that our train had been ranked number one by the Straphangers Campaign in its yearly report card of the NYC Subway system.
The Report Card ranks the subways on six different metrics and uses the previous year’s performance data to rank 19 subway lines. Each metric carries a different weight, with the most weight being given to the amount of scheduled service.
For those of us on the 7, and I’d imagine many of the other lines as well, the metrics seem to need adjustment. Some metrics, like the chance of getting a seat during rush hour, have become irrelevant, as the number of riders has skyrocketed in the past few years. Others, like the number of scheduled trains, become less relevant when there’s a 10-minute wait for a train during rush hour. Another metric is how clean is the subway, which is not going to get you to work on time.
The questions we hear every single day:
1) How long will I have to wait for a train?
2) Are there delays/service issues?
3) Will I be able to get on the train when it gets to the platform?
These are the key metrics that merit the most weight.
Was the 7 really that much better in 2014 (the data the study was based on) than this year?
There does seem to be a very steep decline in service this year, particularly after the snowstorms and dangerously cold temperatures this winter. But most of us that take the line regularly have a hard time believing that has been anything close to number one in many years.
The 7 has been plagued by service outages and dangerous overcrowding, as well as weekend service changes (not measured in this analysis) for years. At Access Queens, we’re asking that MTA conduct a full line review of the 7. With the opening of Hudson Yards, an examination of the line’s performance as well as a review of the loading guidelines are certainly in order.
On next year’s Report Card, we’d ask to see a greater focus on rider-reported data and would be happy to help in that regard. Our subways won’t improve if the baseline isn’t accurate and we’re not asking the most relevant questions.
If Mr. Russianoff – or anyone at the Straphangers Campaign – would like to join us during rush hour on the 7, we have many enthusiastic tour guides.
– Melissa Orlando is the founder of Access Queens/7 Train Blues.
These are the views of Melissa Orlando and do not reflect those of this publication.
Three packed trains – no one can get on. Today = travel disaster. Tweet your photos! #7Trainblues @MTA @NYCTSubway pic.twitter.com/Z2dTQqJmk6
— 7 Train Blues (@7trainblues) April 14, 2015
Yes, Asia has a few longer systems, just completed as I was writing the previous post.
Agreed. Plus our “transit system” is older than that of any other large city, except London, which has other issues. Like no express trains, for instance. Sure, there are other huge cities now, but they weren’t digging tunnels in 1904. NYC has more track (almost 500 miles) and more stations than anywhere else.
The amount of cash that the MTA gets to subsidize its operations is much lower than in other cities with world-class transit systems. So either the city and state need to significantly increase the subsidy or riders need to cough up more to paying the full cost of your subway ride, or some combination of the two. All other options just won’t cut it.
Completely true. But a symptom of the general lack of priority this country places on infrastructure. Its not an excuse – people should be held accountable. This city can’t function without the subway. And it shouldn’t be upstate state senators in Albany making the decisions on what NYC needs.
I agree. But many of the same people arguing for much improved transit systems are also those with fat incomes who refuse to pay more in tax to fund “socialist” projects. It isn’t just upstate politicians who don’t want to pay more for the subway. New York City, which doesn’t cough up nearly enough to the subway and bus transit, can pony up more money, but it doesn’t. A very small tax on Wall Street transactions dedicated to public transit would deliver us a system that would be the envy of the world.
Hopefully awarding the 7 train best in the city will open some people’s eyes that New York is absolutely not the greatest city in the world for everything, and that our infrastructure in particular is third world in its reliability, maintenance, and utility. MTA should be ashamed this is apparently as good as it gets…