Guitar Center: The Bad

3 days ago, I finally got around to writing about my trip to the Guitar Center in Queens. Now I must share the other half of the story from a completely different day. Based on the title you can just tell how it went however you may continue reading on.

6 days after I first went to Guitar Center, I decided to go back & see my buddies while picking up a few things. I was considering buying another amp for the apartment along with some other accessories that I forgot to get the first time. The planned route was the same as always, the to 59th Street where I would then catch the to 46th Street. As usual I was not looking forward to the last leg of the trip since depending on the can be hazardous to your health.

Unfortunately the reverted back to its normal self when I arrived at Lexington Ave. The trip down on the was fast & efficient as I would expect. As I & many others were heading downstairs, I heard a train leave. Judging by the sound & direction of it, I assumed it was either a Queens bound or . However when I got downstairs, I realized that it could not have been either as the Queens bound portion of the platform was filled with people waiting. Unfortunately the activity of waiting is one all of us were going to be practicing together for awhile.

I along with many others stood on the platform for approximately 15-20 minutes which I verified by looking at my Treo a few times. The was nowhere to be found & I was getting frustrated as each minute went by. However the soon to be riders were not the only ones becoming frustrated. During this time not one showed up either. So we had a dangerously crowded platform that resembled what you would see during rush hour. After looking at my Treo one last time, I finally saw a train approaching & thankfully it was the . I heard a few sighs of relief when the was pulling in. Unfortunately I heard moans from those who were still waiting for the . Let me congratulate the MTA for no announcements as well!

Eventually I leave Guitar Center with a new pedal & an extra instrument cable. I slowly walk back to the 46th Street station as I am trying to collect my thoughts. I decided to call one of my best friends Trish as I stood outside the station. After speaking for a couple of minutes, I decided I better go as I want to beat the heavy rain that was expected & it was already starting to drizzle. I get downstairs & see a good number of people waiting for the . It was painfully obvious that a train had not come in awhile. I figured one must be coming soon so my wait would be short. WRONG!!!!!!

I once again stood on a platform for almost 20 minutes waiting for the to arrive. During this time multiple Forest Hills/71st Ave bound came & went. This was deja vu from earlier when one Brooklyn bound & came & went as we waited & waited! I was beyond pissed & realized why I & so many others despise the . I don’t think a line exists that is as pathetic & inconsistent as the is! Eventually the train came & I finally got to Lexington Avenue where I could transfer to hands down the best line in the system, the & go home! I seriously wonder if I should ever move away from the as I am completely spoiled!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Guitar Center: The Good

I admit I was one of the millions who waited until the last minute to do Christmas shopping. I actually finished my shopping during the evening on Christmas Eve. However the day before Christmas Eve, I headed to Guitar Center to get a gift for my dad. I was getting him a combo amplifier that he could use around the house. I decided to go to the Guitar Center in Long Island City since I knew a couple of the guys working there.

The planned commute was a simple 2 train ride consisting of the to 59th Street & the to 46th Street. I admit that I was not looking forward to the back half of the commute since it consisted of counting on the which is always a dangerous proposition. We all know how I feel about that line & how the “R” stands for “rarely”. However I must confess, I did not get the usual showing.

When I arrived at 59th Street & walked downstairs, the came within 1-2 minutes. After hanging out in the store & picking up the amp along with a new axe for myself, I walked back to the station expecting a long wait. However the once again showed up within 1-2 minutes. I was so shocked that I almost dropped my stuff. The actually took a little longer to show up but only by 1-2 minutes more. However I never thought the day would come when my wait would be longer for the compared to the . I should have played the lotto as it was clear that luck was on my side!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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5 Train Service Alert (Updated 1:43 pm)

The MTA has a service alert posted about delays on Bowling Green bound service due to a smoke condition at the Gun Hill Road station. However there is some breaking news that is related to 5 train service but not due to the posted smoke condition.

There is no service on the between East 180th Street & Dyre Avenue due to a tree falling on the tracks approximately 1000 feet south of the Baychester Avenue station.

==========

Updated: 1:43 pm

The area has been completely cleared. A train is about to go through the area as a test & service should be restored in the next couple of minutes.

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It Deserved Better!


Pelham Bay Park bound 6 entering Parkchester during the Feb. 06 blizzard. Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Here we are, the final 2007 “Rider Report Card” grade & low & behold it is my home line. The earned a C from the 7,261 riders (myself included) who filled out a report card. Let me first say that I am not biased with what I am about to say because the is my home line. The deserved a better grade as this line is not close to being average. Before I get into my feelings about the report card results, let me post the full breakdown.

Top 10 priorities that train riders would like to see improvement on:

01. Adequate room on board at rush hour
02. Reasonable wait times for trains
03. Minimal delays during trips
04. Station announcements that are easy to hear
05. Cleanliness of stations
06. Sense of security on trains
07. Sense of security in stations
08. Station announcements that are informative
09. Train announcements that are easy to hear
10. Working elevators and escalators in stations

Now here is the entire order of train riders priorities:

01. Adequate room on board at rush hour
02. Reasonable wait times for trains
03. Minimal delays during trips
04. Station announcements that are easy to hear
05. Cleanliness of stations
06. Sense of security on trains
07. Sense of security in stations
08. Station announcements that are informative
09. Train announcements that are easy to hear
10. Working elevators and escalators in stations
11. Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel
12. Cleanliness of subway cars
13. Comfortable temperature in subway cars
14. Train announcements that are informative
15. Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines
16. Ease of use of subway turnstiles
17. Signs in stations that help riders find their way
18. Lack of scratchitti in subway cars
19. Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way
20. Lack of graffiti in stations
21. Lack of graffiti in subway cars

Now here is the graded breakdown of all 21 categories:

Minimal delays during trips C
Reasonable wait times for trains C
Adequate room on board at rush hour D
Sense of security in stations C+
Sense of security on trains C
Working elevators and escalators in stations C
Signs in stations that help riders find their way C+
Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way B-
Cleanliness of stations C-
Cleanliness of subway cars C+
Station announcements that are easy to hear C-
Station announcements that are informative C-
Train announcements that are easy to hear C
Train announcements that are informative C
Lack of graffiti in stations B-
Lack of graffiti in subway cars B-
Lack of scratchitti in subway cars C+
Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel C+
Comfortable temperature in subway cars C+
Ease of use of subway turnstiles B-
Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines B-

Now let me start off by saying that in my honest opinion I felt the deserved at worst a B-. Quite frankly the is the most consistent line in the entire system. The only line that I would consider close is the in terms of service. Let me go into a few categories.

I will not disagree with the majority of riders who feel “Adequate room on board at rush hour” is a problem. Even with all the service the has, finding free space is usually an issue. I am a veteran of the line so I know little tricks to get seats such as proper standing location depending on the stop & time of day for starters. However I do not expect many people to think like me so I can see why they feel this is an issue. During the morning rush hour, getting a seat is tough & I board at a station towards the beginning/end of the line.

I will completely disagree with priority #2 being “Reasonable wait times for trains”. As I have said, I feel the is the most consistent line in the system bar none. The service on this line is quite high in terms of the number of trains per hour at one’s disposal. If you consistently ride the line during the rush hour, it is quite common to have trains come every 30-60 seconds for a long stretch of time. The only time I ever waited a long time for a to come during the rush hour is because of an incident that caused delays throughout the line.

I would be curious as to what time of the day were the majority of riders basing their grade on for this category. If the has a weak spot in terms of wait times, it is the weekends where here & there the wait feels like it is about 10-15 minutes during the day. However most times it is less than 10 minutes but I feel there is plenty of room for improvement. I am going to assume the majority of riders were basing their grade on rush hour service. If so they are completely off base as a C is completely out of whack with reality. I would give the a B+ or at worst a B- for rush hour service & a B- to a C for weekend midday service.

Now before I go on to the next grade, I would like to bring up another possible angle for the “Reasonable wait time for trains” grade. I would love to know the grades received by people from a select number of spots. The reason I say this is because for all the experience I have with the , I have picked up all the tendencies for the line. I have noticed that if there is a weak link in service based on line chunks, it would be stops below Grand Central-42nd Street.

I have noticed many times that there seems to be a sizable gap between trains even during rush hour. I know this isn’t the case but one would think some trains were being turned around at Grand Central-42nd Street for uptown service. I have spent many times standing on a downtown platform at a stop below Grand Central-42nd Street & watch 2-4 uptown trains arrive before a downtown does. If that isn’t happening, then I would see a couple of downtown trains doing battery runs & passing us by. Now if the majority of riders were from such stops, I could start to understand their grading it as average at best.

As far as “Minimal delays on trips” are concerned, I don’t think the has much issues. The only weakness I see is the tendency to do a few battery runs of 2-4 stations between Hunts Point Ave & 3rd. Ave-E. 138th St. or ones below Grand Central-42nd Street. I think with so much service on the line, the slightest hiccup forces the train to have to catch up somehow. I think there is definite room for improvement in this area & hopefully 2008 will see those improvements. I admit though I have smiled at saving a couple of minutes because of the battery run. However I know that is a selfish way to think.

Most of the other priorities do not come as much of a shock. Many of the indoor stations in the Bronx are not in the greatest condition. A humongous scrub job might start to scratch the surface as a complete cleaning overhaul is definitely in order. I do not see many cops frequent the but to be honest I feel safe on the line. This is one line that is never really empty even during the overnight hours which is a time I ride the a lot. The crowd size is usually pretty strong especially in Manhattan. While the numbers do decrease when we enter the Bronx, it is not as big of a drop off as one would think. I know that I usually have a decent size crowd get off with me at my home stop.

One category that I feel does not deserve to be in the top 10 is “Train announcements that are easy to hear”. The ‘s fleet is made up 100% of R142A subway cars. As we know, the announcements on these trains are loud, & clear at all times. So why this category is considered a top 10 priority for improvement is unknown to me.

However I feel that one category that did not make the top 10 but should have is “Lack of scratchitti in subway cars”. While I would not have put it in the top 5 most likely, I do think it has a place in the bottom 5 of the top 10. Over the last year, I have noticed a spike in the amount of “scratchitti” on some of the subway cars. This while not shocking to me is quite disappointing. It is truly pathetic how people continue to show no appreciation or respect for the system that millions depend on daily to get around the best city in the world. I hope the MTA can do something to combat this problem as these cars are not cheap & do not need to start looking beat up when they are still fairly young.

In the end, I feel the deserved a better grade & I will continue to believe that until I am proven wrong by the MTA & more specifically New York City Transit. Lets hope that the people in charge do the best they can to fix the few issues the line has & continue to improve on its pretty consistent level of quality service.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Straphangers Say The 1 Is Not #1

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242nd St.-Van Cortlandt Park bound 1 train approaching 125th St.; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

According to the almost 10,000 (9.903 to be exact) who filled out the “Rider Report Card”, the is not #1! The line which serves as the Broadway-7th Avenue local between 242nd Street-Van Cortlandt Park & South Ferry earned a D+. Lets go straight to the breakdown.

Top 10 priorities that train riders would like to see improvement on:

01. Reasonable wait times for trains
02. Adequate room on board at rush hour
03. Minimal delays during trips
04. Station announcements that are easy to hear
05. Train announcements that are easy to hear
06. Cleanliness of stations
07. Station announcements that are informative
08. Sense of security on trains
09. Sense of security in stations
10. Working elevators and escalators in stations

Now here is the entire order of train riders priorities:

01. Reasonable wait times for trains
02. Adequate room on board at rush hour
03. Minimal delays during trips
04. Station announcements that are easy to hear
05. Train announcements that are easy to hear
06. Cleanliness of stations
07. Station announcements that are informative
08. Sense of security on trains
09. Sense of security in stations
10. Working elevators and escalators in stations
11. Cleanliness of subway cars
12. Comfortable temperature in subway cars
13. Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel
14. Train announcements that are informative
15. Signs in stations that help riders find their way
16. Lack of scratchitti in subway cars
17. Ease of use of subway turnstiles
18. Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines
19. Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way
20. Lack of graffiti in subway cars
21. Lack of graffiti in stations

Now here is the graded breakdown of all 21 categories:

Minimal delays during trips C
Reasonable wait times for trains C-
Adequate room on board at rush hour D
Sense of security in stations C+
Sense of security on trains C
Working elevators and escalators in stations C
Signs in stations that help riders find their way C+
Signs in subway cars that help riders find their way C
Cleanliness of stations C-
Cleanliness of subway cars C
Station announcements that are easy to hear D
Station announcements that are informative D+
Train announcements that are easy to hear D+
Train announcements that are informative C-
Lack of graffiti in stations C+
Lack of graffiti in subway cars C+
Lack of scratchitti in subway cars C
Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel C
Comfortable temperature in subway cars C+
Ease of use of subway turnstiles B-
Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines B-

The grade says it all for the which might be one of the most frustrating lines in the entire system. If you want to see a true conga line, watch the especially during rush hour. The fact that “Reasonable wait times for trains” is #1 comes as no surprise to me. The issue with the is not scheduling as there is plenty of scheduled service. The problem arises when just one little hiccup can cause a chain reaction up or down the entire line! Unfortunately for riders who depend on this line, this scenario plays out way too often.

One can count on some sort of major issue at least once a day which is unacceptable especially for a line that never shares track space. These delays cause severely inconsistent service where the is either coming every 1-2 minutes or it will come every 8-10. Unfortunately this kind of inconsistency seems to be a daily occurrence especially during rush hour. I don’t think adding trains will help as that will only add to the problem. The main issue is mostly track space but that is a problem that won’t be getting addressed anytime soon if ever in our lifetime.

When the service is operating without issues, there is hardly any room. Now add on delays which cause a train to not be in service or be forced to do a battery run to catch up & you can see how this problem gets magnified. The is definitely a line that you should expect to stand at just about any time of the day or night if you are not boarding near any of the terminals. I don’t see this issue improving too much to be perfectly honest.

“Minimal delays during trips” is clearly aligned with the first two issues & quite frankly I don’t see much changing. Maybe having a line manager will help but I would take a wait & see approach on that one. Until the 1 finds a way to avoid a typical hiccup in operations, riders should continue to expect inconsistency for a line that greatly needs changes.

Look at the bright side, at least the got 2 above average grades although they were in the freebie “Ease of use of subway turnstiles” & “Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines” categories!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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