(N)ever Fails…….

N Train
Coney Island-Stillwell Ave. bound N entering 39th Ave. station; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

So how do I start off the new year? I start it off by catching up on blog posts for all of my loyal readers. Before I begin, let me wish each & every one of you a Happy New Year! I hope your 2008 is everything you hope for & then some! Now let me get straight to the updates by starting out with a below average rider report card result. The C- which was earned by the null train comes as a surprise to no one. Here is the full breakdown:

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. Cleanliness of stations
05. Station announcements that are easy to hear
06. Train announcements that are easy to hear
07. Sense of security in stations
08. Station announcements that are informative
09. Sense of security on trains
10. Cleanliness of subway cars

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

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

I think the N got the grade it deserved as I personally thought it deserved either a C or C-. The problem I & many others seem to have with the N is the inconsistency which plagues the line. When things are going well, you feel pretty satisfied with your commute. The unfortunate part is you never know which N you will get. Will you get the N that is consistent & provides good service from Astoria to Coney Island or will you get the N which many feel stands for “never” as never showing up?

6,384 feel the latter of the two is what they have come to expect. Considering this is the case, it is no surprise that “Reasonable wait times for trains” is the #1 priority for riders. To be honest, I wouldn’t have ranked “Minimal delays during trips” as the second biggest priority. In my years of riding the N, I felt the biggest issue outside of wait times was actual space on the train. It is a rare thing to comfortably get a seat on the N during any part of the day. As one would expect, riders closest to the terminal on either end usually don’t face as many seating issues. While “Adequate room on board at rush hour” was the #3 priority, I think it deserved the #2 spot.

Like the “Adequate room on board at rush hour” & “Minimal delays during trips”, both announcement categories earned a D+. The announcement issue is one I expect to improve by leaps & bounds when the line is filled with the new R160B subway cars. Hopefully these new cars will also help improve service with more reliability & faster service.

In the end, it is just about to impossible to argue with how the 6,384 riders graded the . I am really curious to see what the line will grade out after having its entire fleet made up of R160B cars. Lets hope that this coupled in with its own line manager helps move the N forward since change is desperately needed for the riders who depend on it!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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No, It Can’t Be!

Two G trains by the Smith-9th Streets station; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Every time I look at the results & tell myself that it can’t be! How did the not earn a F for an overall grade in the 2007 Rider Report Cards. While the line did fail as it earned a D+ for its overall grade, it surprised many bloggers & riders such as myself who fully expected this line to earn a F. This was the only line almost everyone assumed would get the F as no other line seemed to stand a chance of earning the dubious honor. Anyhow enough with the upset of the century that might rival Appalachian State defeating Michigan (if you believe the so called experts, I knew they would beat them personally), lets get straight to the full breakdown:

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. Sense of security in stations
05. Cleanliness of stations
06. Station announcements that are easy to hear
07. Sense of security on trains
08. Train announcements that are easy to hear
09. Station announcements that are informative
10. Cleanliness of subway cars

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. Sense of security in stations
05. Cleanliness of stations
06. Station announcements that are easy to hear
07. Sense of security on trains
08. Train announcements that are easy to hear
09. Station announcements that are informative
10. Cleanliness of subway cars
11. Working elevators and escalators in stations
12. Courtesy and helpfulness of station personnel
13. Comfortable temperature in subway cars
14. Ease of use of subway turnstiles
15. Availability of MetroCard Vending Machines
16. Signs in stations that help riders find their way
17. Train announcements that are informative
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 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 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 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 C+

As I stated earlier, the overall grade not being an F ranks as a huge upset. I mean where does one begin with this line which is clearly the stepchild of the MTA. How can anyone take this line seriously when it is the only non-shuttle line to run in service with less than a full compliment of subway cars? From the top of my head I would swear that the Times Square shuttle for instance runs more cars! Lets not even get started on the running joke of this line serving as a Queens Blvd local.

The MTA might as well remove the G from any signs at Queens Blvd stations as it rarely runs along the corridor nowadays. The E is pretty much a loner during the overnight hours which is a joke in of itself but that is a topic for another time. We always hear how the G isn’t running along Queens Blvd due to construction. Well call me crazy but after all these years, I never see the damn construction that prevents this line from running along the corridor 24×7. Why don’t they just admit that they want to make Court Square its permanent terminal in Queens!

Quite frankly I wouldn’t disagree with anyone who wanted to give the G an F in just about every category on the “Rider Report Card” as it would be deserved. The biggest priority being “Reasonable wait times for trains” can’t be argued as one could grow old waiting for a G to arrive. You might as well save yourself time from looking at the schedule as the G rarely sticks to one. There is a reason why according to most the G stands for “Ghost” because you would swear you saw one when you actually see a G arrive!

The fact the train only runs 4 cars leads to the crowding issues the line faces. The G goes through some neighborhoods that have gone through or are continuing to go through gentrification. The population is growing in many of the neighborhoods the line serves yet the MTA displays ass backwards thinking in providing less service & equipment to match. Good one!!!!! Lets not also forget the dangerous “G Train Dash” which many go through everyday when they don’t know the line only runs with 4 cars. The more I see the dash, the more angry I get with the MTA. Seriously 4 cars, wtf!!!!!!

I am not one who usually pays much attention to the sense of security in stations grade but in this case I must. The stations along this line have a very deserted & unsafe aura about them. I am a strong 6’4″ man & feel that I have to pay extra attention at G train stations. There is just something to the aura of these stations that I have never gotten at any other stations in the system. It is hard to explain but I am sure G train regulars know what I am talking about. If you want to experience this aura first hand, go to the 21st St.-Van Alst station which hands down has the strongest negative aura of any station I have ever been in!

I am going to not dwell on the amount of responses the MTA received for this report card. However I do want to dwell on something that truly shows how pathetic this line is. As you know I have repeatedly laughed or questioned how every single line earned at least a B- for the “Availability Of MetroCard Vending Machines’. It was to the point that I considered it a free square on the card. Well leave it to the G train to be the first line to fail to earn at least a B- in the category. Seriously if that is not a sign of how bad this line is currently, then I don’t know what a sign in that respect is!

Lets hope that when the G gets extended in Brooklyn permanently, the line will realize its full potential! Hell at this point even a 1/3 of its potential would be a huge upgrade over what we have today!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Straphangers Say The E Is Far From Excellent!

 

E train layup at the Kew Gardens-Union Tpke. station; Resized photo courtesy of Eye On Transit

Most of the NYC Subway lines earned a barely passing grade in the “2007 Rider Report Cards”. Unfortunately for the E train, it failed to earn a spot in that category. The straphangers have clearly spoken & their message is “The E Is Far From Excellent” as the line earned a D+ from the 6,301 who filled out the report cards. Lets go straight the full breakdown:

Top 10 priorities that null 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 on trains
08. Cleanliness of subway cars
09. Sense of security in stations
10. Comfortable temperature in subway cars

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

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

I have to say I think the straphangers graded this line pretty accurately outside of the top priority which I question a bit. I have many years of experience riding this line especially dating back to my days of riding it to Jamaica Station for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) after hanging out somewhere in Manhattan. The while serving as one of the big two along Queens Blvd with its express partner, the train, does have its fair share of problems which prevent it from being what it could be.

While I feel the line was graded pretty accurately, I do question the top priority. I am questioning why the riders feel that reasonable wait times is the #1 priority that needs improvement. What time of the day are they basing these feelings on? My years of experience riding the line tell me that wait times are not the #1 problem for this line. The E seems to have the most frequent arrivals along the Queens Blvd. corridor & definitely along the 8th Avenue corridor locally, hell possibly including the express.

In my opinion the clear #1 priority that needs improvement is  “Adequate room on board at rush hour”! This line is a complete nightmare to ride during the rush hour especially if you are not boarding at one of the first couple of stations on either end. I spent many trips standing from Lexington Avenue all the way out to whatever my destination was in Queens, usually anywhere from Kew Gardens-Union Tpke. & after!

Unfortunately I don’t know what can be done about crowding on the E as there is little or no room for additional trains as the corridor is pretty much at capacity nowadays. If anything maybe 1-3 more trains could be added per hour & that is stretching it. Even if they were added, I don’t know how much relief it would provide as the line is truly that packed pretty much all times of the day especially rush hour! The E was lucky to only get a D in this category as a F would be the most accurate grade for it.

Delays along the Queens Blvd. corridor are what most likely lead to “Minimal delays during trips” being the 2nd highest priority in need of improvement. With so many expresses running along the corridor, any little hiccup causes repercussions that are felt up & down the corridor. I also notice that the expresses have a huge habit of catching up with each other which causes minor delays here & there.

Not surprisingly the only good grade the E earned was for the “Availability of MetroCard Machines” as it was the lone shiny grade earned that was above a C. Seriously did the MTA just paint in a B or B- for that category on every line? The only screwup in that category was the Staten Island Railway which earned a C. However I won’t count that since it is not a NYC Subway line.

The amount of responses for this card was in line with what I thought it would be. With the E being one of the big 2 along the Queens Blvd. corridor, I assumed the least amount of responses received would be 5,000. Hopefully next year the total will be close to or more than double that! Maybe I should stop listening to Blink-182 as I write this entry & put on “Daydream Believer” instead!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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City Officials Continue To Insult The MTA

Last Thursday, outgoing deputy mayor Daniel Doctoroff announced that the city would be willing to pay for half of the costs to build the much talked about Hell’s Kitchen stop at 41st St. & 10th Ave. The most pathetic part of this announcement is the fact that the original plan called for the city to foot the entire bill for the two stop 7 line extension which has now become a 1 stop extension.

The increasing costs of the original plan led city officials to change their plan & only fund the completion of the 34th St. & 11th Ave. stop along with a shell for the Hell’s Kitchen stop at 41st St. & 10th Ave. Approximately six weeks before the ceremonial groundbreaking, city officials announced plans to scrap funding for any work to create the stop at 41st St. & 10th Ave.

I am sorry but the city is looking to give the ultimate screwjob to the MTA with this project. What is even more disgusting is how Mayor Bloomberg & the rest of his cronies are trying to pass the buck to federal officials. As much as the federal government is partially responsible for the lack of adequate funding for the MTA, this one can’t be put on their backs. The city was all excited for this extension when it was obsessed with trying to get the Olympics to New York along with a new New York Jets stadium, but now they want to renege on their promises because they don’t have a huge prize waiting for them behind door number one.

Why should the MTA spend money from their capital fund to help fund a project the city promised to pay for? Why does the city think a tree-lined promenade in the yet to be built Hudson Rail Yards development is more important than a stop in a growing community? Seriously they need to get their heads out of their asses & realize a tree-lined promenade will NEVER be more important than a subway stop. They also need to realize that if they don’t fund the creation of the stop in Hell’s Kitchen now, it will be a huge mistake that will cost much more to fix in the future. While I do not support the extension, I am of the belief that it should be done right the first time instead of trying to fix unnecessary & costly errors in judgment later.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Fulton Transit Center Facing Major Financial Issues

The Fulton Transit Center which is known as the centerpiece for Lower Manhattan’s revival from 9/11 continues to face major financial issues. During a MTA meeting, board member Nancy Shevell said the agency would require serious “soul searching” if it wanted to keep the estimated $888 million dollar work tab from expanding out of control. Patrick Arden of Metro wrote a brief article about the situation:

MIDTOWN. Hailed as a centerpiece of Lower Manhattan’s revival after 9/11, the Fulton Street Transit Center has seen its price tag jump $138 million since 2004.

At an MTA meeting this week, board member Nancy Shevell warned some serious “soul-searching” would be required to keep the estimated $888 million tab from growing.

That cost is already $41 million higher than the federal funds allotted for the project. Working against rising real estate prices, historic preservation laws and strict demolition procedures mandated for buildings around Ground Zero, the MTA’s chief of capital construction, Mysore Nagaraja, has whittled away at the station’s size, most notably in the glass dome once meant to bring sunlight to subway platforms. A proposal to do away with one passageway connecting the R/W to the E was defeated by board members almost a year ago.

Shevell said tough choices will be discussed at the next construction meeting in January, but she would not be specific. In the East Side Access project, Nagaraja faced a lack of bidders. “The market is still very tight right now, ” he said of a contract that was 8.5 percent higher than expected.

Relief

When it’s complete in late 2009, the Fulton Street Transit Center will ease connections among the , , , , , , , , , , , , & subway lines.

Lets just say the MTA is in a huge pickle with this one. The project as noted is already $41 million dollars over the federal funds alloted for the project. Now mix in the fact that the construction is so far along, it isn’t something that can be abandoned or severely altered & you can see what kind of jam the MTA is in. Lets hope they fix this as this project has a lot of positives going for it.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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