Brooklyn’s hippest subway is also the city’s best, a commuter advocacy group determined this week.
But even so, the L train, which rumbles through trendy Williamsburg—as well as less stylish Canarsie—isn’t worth a full fare.
According to the Straphangers Campaign’s eleventh annual “State of the Subways Report,” the top-rated L train is only worth $1.40—60 cents less than riders actually pay.
“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, the Straphangers Campaign senior attorney.
The 7 train, which connects Manhattan to Queens, came in second, with a $1.30 rating.
The M and the W trains were the lowest ranked of the 22 trains surveyed, receiving “MetroCard Ratings” of 75 and 70 cents, respectively. The highest grade possible is $2.
The report reviewed data on subway service, compiled in the last half of 2007 by MTA-NYC Transit, which operates the trains.
Ratings take into account six measures of service, including the amount of scheduled service and the regularity of train arrivals; mechanical failures of subway cars; cleanliness; chance of getting a seat at the most congested point; and the adequacy of announcements.
“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 said.
Moreover, he continued, “Subway car announcements are worse, with no improvement in the number of regular arrivals or clean cars.”
According to NYC Transit, both the L and the 7 are in a pilot Line General Managers program, which has shifted management philosophy, placing a higher priority on customer concerns. This appears to be paying off, the Straphangers noted in their report.
Not so for the W, which travels between lower Manhattan and Queens. The ‘w’oeful line was found to have a low level of scheduled service, and it performed below average on four other measures: regularity of service, car cleanliness, car breakdowns, and in-car announcements.
Its best attribute was the chance of getting a seat during rush hour, which at 46 percent was above the system-wide average of 43 percent.
Overall, the report found a “weak showing for subway service,” with mechanical failure found one out of 149,646 miles in 2007, compared to one every 156,624 miles in 2006. “This is a troubling trend, raising questions about the condition and maintenance of the aging transit fleet,” the report concludes.
Accurate and understandable subway car announcements deteriorated from 90 percent in the second half of 2006 to 85 percent in the second half of 2007.
NYC Transit has this to say about the report: “We are grateful for the Straphangers’ acknowledgement of the early positive results of the Line General Manager program. We fully expect similar results in the future as the program is rolled out to other lines in the system.”
“While the mean distance between failures (reliability) of New York City Transit’s subway car fleet has been falling in recent years in part due to the increasing average age, it remains far more reliable than any other rapid transit fleet in the nation,” the agency continued.
Cars on the Q train, which lumbers along in Brooklyn from Dekalb Avenue to Coney Island, making local stops, had the best record on delays caused by car mechanical failures, once every 342,711—still worse than last year’s one every 376,877 miles.
The best chance of getting a seat was also on the Q line, where riders had a 58 percent chance of comfort during rush hour. The 2 and 6 were the worst, at 24 percent.
Breakdowns on the G—which runs through Carroll Gardens and Greenpoint — were less infrequent, with one breakdown every 67,044 miles—the worst in the survey.
The 3 train, which travels in Brooklyn through Brooklyn Heights to East New York, was found to be the cleanest line, with just three percent of its cars found to have “moderate or heavy dirt.”
The G was the dirtiest line, with 31 percent of its cars in ill condition, the report found.
Both the 6 and 7 lines had the most scheduled service, at two and a half minutes between trains, while the M and W had the worst—with ten-minute intervals between trains during the day.
The 2, 5 and L were found to have perfect performance for adequate announcements made in subway cars.
Deciphering an announcement on the B train, which runs express in Brooklyn from Dekalb Avenue to Brighton Beach, is more of a challenge, the report found. Twenty nine percent of in-car announcements on this line were found to be either inaccurate or difficult to understand, making it the worst in this category.
To see the full report, go to www.straphangers.org.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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