The C Did Not C A Passing Grade….

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Brooklyn bound C train entering 2nd Avenue station during a G.O.; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

So the title is not the catchiest, it is the best I could come up with at 3:21 p.m.! Anyhow, the MTA has seen yet another line get a failing grade. The culprit is the dreaded C train which serves as the 8th Avenue local & runs from 168 St./Washington Heights to Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn. The C earned a pitiful but deserved D+ from the 3,967 people who responded. The number of responses is what I expected so no surprise there. Lets go straight to the breakdown shall we.

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

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

Now here is the entire order of train riders’ priorities:

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

Here is a report card that I feel the riders were accurate with their grades. The only argument that could be made is that the line deserved a lower overall grade & a lower grade in certain categories. Let me say for starters I try to avoid the Eighth Avenue lines as much as possible. The wait times are consistently poor, the trips are usually slow, & the crowds are horrific. To put it bluntly what I describe is an accurate vision of what it is like to ride the A or the C. However I will get to the A’s report card next so for now I will focus on the C.

For starters the C gets what I & other straphangers like to call the “stepchild” treatment. This sort of treatment is usually reserved for lines that clearly are not a priority in the eyes of the MTA. The C joins the family with such lines as the 3, 5, & G for starters. The C from end to end on a good day takes forever, however throw in the fact that most days are usually not good & you can see why the line got a D+ as its overall grade.

The times I have ridden the C, I wanted to pull my hair out. Every time I need to take the C, I feel like I am waiting at least 10-12 minutes before one shows up. Do you know how frustrating it is to see one A after another whiz by or stop on the express platform while I just stand & wait. Sometimes the ratio is 3-1 of A trains to C trains. Then when the train does arrive it is usually ridiculously crowded. This is not the kind of exacta people look forward too! Who wants to wait forever for a train to show up just for it to be packed. Lets not get started with the shady individuals who frequent this line especially in Brooklyn. I am always prepared for the worst riding any of the Eighth Avenue lines.

When you do finally get on the C, we now have to get used to the delays during the trip. The infamous line I would hear is the train is being delayed due to train traffic ahead of us. I don’t know if I should laugh uncontrollably or hit someone after hearing that one especially when we are in Brooklyn. I & others waited for what seemed like ages for this train to come, what the hell kind of train traffic are you facing? We are not sharing the local track with anyone & I know damn well we didn’t catch up with the previous C that arrived in the last decade!

The MTA needs to realize how pitiful this line is which is a shame as it has potential to be so much more. They have to realize why this line earned C’s & D’s in every category except one. Yes, the one B- came from the “Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines” category. I need to look back but I could swear every line has earned at least a B in that category. One could look at that category as the free square. Unfortunately for the C & the straphangers who depend on it, the reality is the free square is as good as it gets on this line.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Rockaway Park Shuttle Fails Miserably!


Not the Rockaway Park Shuttle but a shuttle train nonetheless! Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Unfortunately for the MTA, the Rockaway Park Shuttle could not match the successful grade earned by its fellow shuttle counterpart, the Times Square-Grand Central shuttle. The Rockaway Park Shuttle earned a horrific overall grade of a D+. Now it is time to breakdown the full results.

Top 10 priorities that 42nd Street train riders’ would like to see improvement on:

01. Reasonable wait times for trains
02. Minimal delays during trip
03. Cleanliness of stations
04. Sense of security in stations
05. Cleanliness of subway cars
06. Sense of security on trains
07. Lack of scratchitti in subway cars
08. Train announcements that are easy to hear
09. Station announcements that are easy to hear
10. Working elevators and escalators in stations

Now here is the entire order of 42nd Street train riders’ priorities:

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

I rarely ride this shuttle so my comments are based on my limited experience of riding it. I think the number one priority is deadly accurate. When I have taken this shuttle, it felt like I was waiting forever for it to show up. The time of day one rode the shuttle did not seem to matter as far as waiting times were concerned.

One felt like they were waiting forever whether it was 8 a.m. 1 p.m. or 9 p.m. This is something that the MTA should look into as such inadequate service defeats the point of having a shuttle. Here is a link to the thread I posted on the Straphangers Campaign’s Rider Diaries forum about the shuttle’s report card grade. Based on the initial responses, it seems that the line was accurately graded.

The last thing I will leave you with is the amount of responses the MTA received for this report card. Drum roll please………. the total amount of responses received was 132! How absolutely pathetic is that? I should not be surprised considering the highest used shuttle, the Times Square-Grand Central shuttle only received 380. I think the funniest thing for me is how the MTA worded their acknowledgment in the opening paragraph for these results. Here is what they wrote:

Your Rider Report Card results are in.

First, let me acknowledge you for your enthusiastic participation. We asked for your opinion, and 132 of you responded – that’s outstanding. Thank you.

I felt the sarcasm oozing out of my monitor after reading that. I give kudos to Howard H Roberts Jr. if he really came up with that opener. If it was not him, I will extend the kudos to whomever it was. Either way I can always appreciate some great sarcasm especially when it is deserved.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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NYC Subway Delays Are Growing; No, Really????

Straight from the desk of “Captain Obvious”, the New York City Transit department of the MTA is reporting that nyc subway delays are growing. We as straphangers did not need them to tell us this as we already knew that based on our commutes. However the agency decided to share the statistics over the weekend. Oh & in case you were wondering, the agency considers trains late if they arrive at their terminals more than 5 minutes late. So lets go to the stats….

According to New York City Transit, on average nearly 7% of weekday trains ran late during a 12 month period that ended September 30th. This is up from the 3% average from 2003. The biggest culprit was track work & various construction work which accounted for an average of 2,235 delays a month. The next biggest culprit was signal problems which accounted for an average of 657 delays a month. My fellow straphangers were third on the list with the ever annoying door holding which accounted for an average of 518 delays a month.

The worst part of this “Captain Obvious” report is the suggestion that came from New York City Transit President Howard H. Roberts Jr. in which he states that a possible solution to the problem could be a cutback in the amount of rush hour trains. According to this brilliant man, this might lessen backups.

Mr. Roberts I urge you to put down the drink or whatever you are smoking as it is clearly causing you to lose your mind. Most of our system is bursting at the seams so how in the world could you think that cutting back on rush hour trains would help with delays. Common sense would show that such a plan would lead to even further delays.

Lets imagine some cutbacks on the busiest & most important trunk in the system, the Lexington Avenue lines. We at times have delays especially on the express due to trains running at capacity & being packed like a can of sardines. Now lets say we cutback a few rush hour trains, what do you think will happen next? The stations which are already crowded as it is will become even more crowded as there will be less trains to take them out of the station. Lets not forget that with decreasing the amount of trains, you are just leading to the scenario where people will be forced to pass on trains as they can’t fit. Oh & don’t think for one second people won’t try to squeeze in to such trains which will lead to dwelling delays which can cause a domino effect up & down the line.

While I doubt the agency would cutback on Lexington Avenue rush hour trains, the same scenario can be translated to every other line in the system. The fact is the idea of cutting back on rush hour service is not only a horrible idea but I will guarantee it will lead to even further delays. I will even go on the record to say that if such a plan was implemented system wide, New York City Transit will see the on average percentage of delays double at minimum!

It is clearly time to go back to the drawing board Howard!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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3 New Rider Report Grades Are In

The overall grade for the , , & Rockaway Park are in for their respective 2007 Rider Report Card. Lets start with the A which earned an overall grade of a C-. Some of the individual grades for the included a D for “adequate room on board at rush hour” as well as for hard to hear station announcements.

The earned an overall grade of a D+. Some of the individual grades for the C included a D for “reasonable wait times for trains” as well as for sub par station & train announcements. The highest grade earned was a B- for the availability of Metrocard machines.

The Rockaway Park earned an overall grade of a D+. Some of the individual grades for the shuttle included a D for “reasonable wait times for trains” & a B- for the availability of Metrocard machines. The highest grade earned was a B- not just the Metrocard machine availability but for “adequate room on board at rush hour” as well.

The MTA has not released the full results as of yet. However when they are released, I will provide the usual full breakdown along with my analysis of the grades earned.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Should They Really?

The Daily News, some local politicians & transit officials seem to think so. The question I’m referring to is should the MTA consolidate all six of their operating divisions. This past Friday, Pete Donohue wrote an article about this topic as part of the New York Daily News’ “Halt The Hike” campaign. Here is the entire article courtesy of the New York Daily News:

The MTA – which still wants to raise multi ride transit fares to close a budget gap – could save millions of dollars with some common sense and union cooperation, officials and advocates say.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has six operating divisions, including NYC Transit, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North railroad.

Each has a president and executive staff handling human resources, legal matters, labor relations and other duties.

Fiscal watchdogs and transit officials say consolidating operations is a potential gold mine of savings.

A glimpse of the potential savings emerged in July. The MTA awarded a $25 million contract for office supplies used by many divisions, which had been striking individual deals at higher prices. The negotiated bulk purchase with reduced prices will save approximately $8.5 million over five years, documents show.

Still, officials say, the MTA as a whole has not saved much money through its so-called shared services initiative.

“Progress has been slow,” an August report by state Controller Thomas DiNapoli said.

A major challenge facing the MTA is existing labor contracts, officials said. A LIRR worker, for example, can’t be assigned a task now solely the responsibility of a Metro-North worker, officials said.

Transit advocates and experts acknowledge the MTA can’t fill projected 2009 budget gaps by cost-cutting alone, but there still is strong opposition to plans to hike fares and tolls.

The MTA first wanted to generate $580 million over the next two years with higher travel prices to start in February. That revenue target was slashed by $220 million Tuesday when Gov. Spitzer announced the MTA is in better financial shape than was predicted in July.

Many state legislators, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), want to avoid hikes completely by getting more mass transit money in state budget deliberations with Spitzer in January. They want hikes delayed until mid-April so they can work toward that goal.

Three board members have voiced support for a delay. Mayor Bloomberg, who has four votes on the board, has not taken a position, but he has said his support for hikes depends on whether he thinks the MTA is being as efficient as possible.

Meanwhile, the MTA has spent a lot of money to try to save money. Since March 2005, the MTA has awarded about $6.6 million in contracts to two consultants to study and develop shared services plans, records show.

The MTA is “eagerly awaiting” the results of one consultant’s study about creating a central business center to handle some payroll, billing and other duties on an MTA-wide basis, MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said. The report is expected in January.

“Streamlining MTA services to improve efficiency is one of the MTA’s top priorities and we recognize its potential for savings,” he said. “The business service center, while costly to implement, is expected to save the MTA millions over the long term.”

Quite frankly I don’t see this ever happening & question whether it would be a good idea. I understand the MTA would most likely save a ton of money from consolidating all six of their operating divisions. However sometimes in life it is better to let things run separate even if they are all related. i think this theory is definitely the case when it comes to the MTA. I do want to give this some thought just to be fare so look for me to address this idea in the near future.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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