|Embargoed for Release:|
Tuesday, July 29, 2008, 10:30 a.m.
|For More Info: Gene Russianoff
(212) 349-6460 or (917) 575-9434
Straphangers Campaign Issues Annual “State of the Subways” Report
Best: L with “MetroCard Rating” of $1.40; 7 Comes in Second at $1.30
Both 7 and L in Pilot Line Manager Program
Worst: W at 70¢
Weak Showing for Subways:
More Car Breakdowns, Poor Announcements;
Other Measures Stagnant
The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign today issued its eleventh annual “State of the Subways” Report Card, rating the L as the best of 22 subway lines with a “MetroCard Rating” of $1.40 and the W the worst with a rating of 70 cents. The 7 line came in second with a $1.30 MetroCard Rating.
Both the 7 and L are in a management pilot program and are run by Line General Managers who have been given a greater degree of independence, as well as accountability to the riders on these two lines.
The 44-page report is based on an extensive review of official data on subway service, much of which has not been released before on a line-by-line basis. It includes detailed one-page profiles of 22 lines and a Straphangers Campaign MetroCard Rating.
The profiles show six measures of service, based on recent data from MTA New York City Transit, largely covering the last half of 2007. The measures are: the amount of scheduled service; the regularity of train arrivals; mechanical failures of subway cars; chance of getting a seat at the most congested point; cleanliness of subway car floors and seats; and adequacy of announcements.
The MetroCard Ratings are a shorthand tool to compare lines and are based on a formula developed in consultation with independent transportation experts. A line could receive a rating of $2.00 if it scored, on average, in the top 5% on the six measures of service.
“Riders on the L and 7 are benefiting from more independent managers and more resources, but the subway system as a whole performs weakly,” said Gene Russianoff, Straphangers Campaign senior attorney. “Most troubling is the widespread increase in subway car breakdowns – on 17 of the 22 subway lines – which cause delays and inconvenience for hundreds of thousands of riders.” Russianoff added: “Subway car announcements are worse, with no improvement in the number of regular arrivals or clean cars.”
Our findings show the following picture of how New York City’s subways are doing:
- The best subway line in the city is the L with a MetroCard Rating of $1.40. The L ranked highest because it performs best in the system on two measures—regularity of service and announcements—and well above average on three other measures: frequency of scheduled service, delays caused by mechanical breakdowns and the percentage of dirty cars. The line did not get a higher rating because it performed well below average on: a chance of getting a seat during rush hour. The L runs between 14th Street/Eighth Avenue in Manhattan and Canarsie in Brooklyn. The previous top-rated line—the 1—dropped to a fourth-place tie.
- The 7 came in second behind the L with a MetroCard Rating of $1.30. Both the 7 and L are in a pilot “Line General Managers” program, which appears to be benefiting riders. According to New York City Transit leadership: “the new positions will be responsible for virtually all elements of the day-to-day operations on both of these lines [and] will be given their own railroads and the responsibility for running them to the satisfaction of our customers.” The 7 performed above average on four measures: frequency of scheduled service, regularity of service, delays caused by mechanical breakdowns and chance of getting a seat during rush hour. The line did not get a higher rating because it performed below average on: the percentage of dirty cars and adequate announcements. The 7 runs between Times Square in Manhattan and Flushing, Queens.
- The W was ranked the worst subway line, with a MetroCard Rating of 70 cents. The W line has a low level of scheduled service and performs below average on four other measures: regularity of service, car breakdowns, car cleanliness and announcements. The W did not receive a lower rating because it performed above average on: a chance of getting a seat during rush hour. The W line operates between Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan and Astoria, Queens. In last year’s survey, the W tied for the worst line with the C.
- Overall, we found a weak showing for subway service. Car breakdowns worsened from a mechanical failure every 156,624 miles in 2006 to one every 149,646 miles in 2007. Subway car announcements deteriorated from 90% in the second half of 2006 to 85% in the second half of 2007. Two other measures showed no sign of improvement: regularity of arriving trains and car cleanliness. (We were unable to compare the remaining two measures.)
- The car fleet breakdown rate worsened from an average mechanical failure every 156,624 miles in 2006 to every 149,646 miles in 2007. This is a troubling trend, raising questions about the condition and maintenance of the aging transit fleet. We found that: seventeen lines worsened (1, 4, 6, A, B, C, D, F, G, J/Z, L, M, N, Q, R, V and W), while just five lines improved (2, 3, 5, 7 and E).
- Accurate and understandable subway car announcements worsened, going from 90% in the second half of 2006 to 85% in the second half of 2007. We found that: fifteen lines worsened (1, 3, 7, B, C, D, E, F, G, J/Z, M, Q, R, V and W) five lines improved (2, 4, A, L and N) and two remained unchanged (5 and 6).
- Subway cars arrived with nearly identical regularity, with 87% regular arrivals during the daytime in our last report, to 86% in this report. We found that: thirteen lines got worse (1, 3, 4, A, B, D, E, F, G, M, N, V and W) and nine improved (2, 5, 6, 7, C, J/Z, L, Q and R).
- Subway cars did not change on cleanliness, staying at 87% rated clean in both our last and current reports. We found: ten lines worsened (1, 5, B, D, E, G, M, N, R and W), ten improved (2, 3, 4, 7, A, C, F, J/Z, L and Q) and two did not change (6 and V).
There are large disparities in how subway lines perform.
- Breakdowns: Cars on the Q had the best record on delays caused by car mechanical failures: once every 342,711 miles. Cars on the G line had the worst, experiencing breakdown delays more than five times as often: once every 67,044 miles.
- Cleanliness: The 3 was the cleanest line, with only 3% of its cars having moderate or heavy dirt, while 31% of cars on the dirtiest line—the G—had moderate or heavy dirt, a rate more than ten times higher.
- Chance of getting a seat: We rate a rider’s chance of getting a seat at the most congested point on the line. We found the best chance is on the Q line, where riders had a 58% chance of getting a seat during rush hour. The 2 and the 6 ranked worst and were much more crowded, with riders having only a 24% chance of getting a seat.
- Amount of scheduled service: The 6 and the 7 lines had the most scheduled service, with two-and-a-half minute intervals between trains during the morning rush hour. The M and W ranked worst, with ten-minute intervals between trains during the day.
- Regularity of service: The L and the J/Z lines had the greatest regularity of service, arriving within two to four minutes of its scheduled interval 92% of the time. The most irregular line is the 4, which performed with regularity only 78% of the time.
- In-car announcements: The 2, 5 and L lines had a perfect performance for adequate announcements made in its subway cars, missing no announcements, reflecting the automation of announcements on these lines. In contrast, the B was the worst, missing announcements 29% of the time.
The full report can be found at http://www.straphangers.org.
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