Opinion: Sept. 20, 2015
By Melissa Orlando, founder of Access Queens/7 Train Blues.
The 2015 State of the Subways Report Card is out and riders in Queens are confused. For the second year in a row, the 7 was ranked the best out of all of the subway lines. The best?
For the past nine months, via Facebook and Twitter, 7 train riders have been sharing information about delays, dangerous overcrowding, and near daily system issues such as stalled cars and signal malfunctions via 7 Train Blues.
These issues are constant and systemic and they certainly didn’t show up overnight. So we were in disbelief to learn that our train had been ranked number one by the Straphangers Campaign in its yearly report card of the NYC Subway system.
The Report Card ranks the subways on six different metrics and uses the previous year’s performance data to rank 19 subway lines. Each metric carries a different weight, with the most weight being given to the amount of scheduled service.
For those of us on the 7, and I’d imagine many of the other lines as well, the metrics seem to need adjustment. Some metrics, like the chance of getting a seat during rush hour, have become irrelevant, as the number of riders has skyrocketed in the past few years. Others, like the number of scheduled trains, become less relevant when there’s a 10-minute wait for a train during rush hour. Another metric is how clean is the subway, which is not going to get you to work on time.
The questions we hear every single day:
1) How long will I have to wait for a train?
2) Are there delays/service issues?
3) Will I be able to get on the train when it gets to the platform?
These are the key metrics that merit the most weight.
Was the 7 really that much better in 2014 (the data the study was based on) than this year?
There does seem to be a very steep decline in service this year, particularly after the snowstorms and dangerously cold temperatures this winter. But most of us that take the line regularly have a hard time believing that has been anything close to number one in many years.
The 7 has been plagued by service outages and dangerous overcrowding, as well as weekend service changes (not measured in this analysis) for years. At Access Queens, we’re asking that MTA conduct a full line review of the 7. With the opening of Hudson Yards, an examination of the line’s performance as well as a review of the loading guidelines are certainly in order.
On next year’s Report Card, we’d ask to see a greater focus on rider-reported data and would be happy to help in that regard. Our subways won’t improve if the baseline isn’t accurate and we’re not asking the most relevant questions.
If Mr. Russianoff – or anyone at the Straphangers Campaign – would like to join us during rush hour on the 7, we have many enthusiastic tour guides.
– Melissa Orlando is the founder of Access Queens/7 Train Blues.
These are the views of Melissa Orlando and do not reflect those of this publication.
— 7 Train Blues (@7trainblues) April 14, 2015