Best and Worst Subways Report: And the Winner is…

| August 24, 2011 10:30 AM

On an empty 7 train platform. The Straphangers Campaign report claims you have a 70 percent chance of finding a seat on the 7 during rush hour. Flickr/garybembridge

Each year the New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign releases its detailed “State of the Subways” report, the veritable World Series of subway performance over the past year.

The report provides New Yorkers with individual profiles of 20 subway lines, and comparative ratings between them.

Each subway line was given a MetroCard rating — a “monetary” score which seems to humorously suggest how much you’re “really getting” for your fare.

Lines that scored in the 50th percentile received a MetroCard rating of $1.15, lines in the 95th percentile received a MetroCard rating of $2.25 and lines that fell in bottom 41st percentile received a measly $1.00 score. Hey, that’s not even enough for a hot dog!

Here are the highs and lows of this year’s report:

Winner: The J/Z line was ranked the best subway in the city with a MetroCard rating of $1.45. This is the J/Z’s first number one ranking since the report began in 1997. While the line showed average performance in terms of cleanliness and scheduled service, its regularity of service was stronger than any other line.

The J/Z performed particularly well in the areas of seat availability, lack of mechanical breakdowns and car announcements that you can actually understand. If the J/Z was a New York Yankee, it would be Andy Pettite, the retired left-handed pitcher praised for his near super-human reliability at the mound.

Danny Tartabull and the C Train. Both were noted for weak service and poorly worded announcements. Main photo AP. Inset photo Flickr/annie mole.

Loser(s): The C train scored the worst for the third year in a row and received a MetroCard rating of 90 cents for its frequent breakdowns and record of incomprehensible, meaningless subway car announcements.

Straphangers said the C would have received a lower rating if not for its general cleanliness and the frequency of available seats, which makes sense since fewer people are wont to  ride this Danny Tartabull of subways (the hitter, signed for $5 million, was notorious for his ill-advised announcements against Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and his tendency to breakdown under pressure at the plate).

However, the C was tied for the disgraceful last spot with a first-time loser, the 2 line. The 2 performed worst in the areas of seat availability during rush hour and irregularity of service.

The 2 redeemed itself however with above average ratings for subway announcements, mechanical breakdowns and scheduled service. The 2 finds its baseball affinity with Jorge Posada, who is no stranger to taking up space on the bench.

Overall Performance: System-wide, the report shows that car breakdowns decreased by 15 percent over a 12 month span, which Straphangers says reflects the arrival of newer models of subways cars in recent years.

Overall cleanliness decreased from a 95 percent approval rating to 94 percent, and the quality of subway car announcements declined from 91 to 87 percent since the last report.

Honorable mentions

  • The M had the fewest number of mechanical breakdowns.
  • The C and E were the cleanest lines.
  • The 7 had the highest rates of seat availability. The 7 train riders had a 70 percent chance of getting a seat at rush hour.
  • The 6 had the most scheduled service, with trains arriving every two and a half minutes on average during peak hours.

To create the report, NYPIRG reviewed MTA data from 2010 and used survey data showing which aspects of service were most important to transit experts and subway riders.

The six aspects of service, which served as the criteria for the report, in order of their importance to subway riders and transit experts are:

  1. Scheduled service
  2. Service regularity
  3. Frequency of train breakdowns
  4. Crowdedness (chance of getting a seat)
  5. Cleanliness
  6. Quality of subway car announcements

Click here to see how your most-oft used commuting line performed.

  • Richard

    Jimmy Piersall suffered a breakdown. Danny Tartabull had a tendency to break down. There’s a difference, learn it!

  • Anna

    Another factor the Campaign might have considered in rating was the likelihood of being groped against your will.

  • JennyR.

    This story was printed in the NYTimes two months ago with clearer and more defined ratings.

  • Jim

    I question the availability of seats on the 7 line. It may be true when the doors open at the first stop on Main St, but as soon as those doors close, its SRO all the way into Manhattan.

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