by Paul Bisceglio
Have a favorite subway line? So does the New York Public Interest Research Group, whose Straphangers Campaign released its annual State of the Subway report last week.
The report ranks subway lines from best to worst by compiling MTA New York City Transit data from 2011 in six categories: amount of scheduled service, regularity of service, breakdown rate, chance of getting a seat, interior cleanliness and in-car announcements. The list includes 19 of the 20 major lines across the city — all except the G, for which reliable crowding data is unavailable, says the report.
The Q line came out on top, with major points for a low breakdown rate, regular service, seat availability and cleanliness. Apparently, this line also has the best announcements in the system. It ranked relatively low, though, on the amount of scheduled service.
Probably to few New Yorkers’ surprise, the C line came in last. For the fourth year in a row, its notoriously grimy cars, frequent breakdowns and infrequent appearances kept it at the bottom. It ranked second to last on in-car announcements, which tend to sound like the conductor is speaking cyborg from a mile away while gargling marbles.
The 7 took second place, despite having the worst announcements on record, and the J and Z’s clockwork-like regularity helped win it third. The 4 and 5 were third and second to last, respectively, both weighed down by heavy crowding.
The MTA released a tepid reply to the rankings, emphasizing that progress was being made across the board.
“While we appreciate the positive results of the Straphangers’ latest survey, those results do not tell the full story,” they said in an official response. “We believe that NYC Transit’s Key Performance Indicators methodology, reported monthly in the Committee Agenda, offers a fairer and more complete assessment of subway service and includes information gleaned from actual customer surveys taken from the passengers’ point of view.”
They also noted that service frequency for each individual line is affected by other lines that share the same track. “The Straphangers report would be more relevant if it viewed service by corridor rather than by individual train line,” they claimed.
Nevertheless, they acknowledge that there is work to be done. “Continuing our commitment to improving service, 300 new subway cars are currently on order for lettered line routes, and their arrival will help further modernize our car fleet by allowing us to retire C Line cars (R32s), which are the oldest in current operation.”
The new C line cars will not arrive until at least 2017, so it’s likely that the C is not at the end of its losing streak.
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