NYC Subways Report Card: Q Train Gets the Gold

NYC Subways Report Card: Q Train Gets the Gold

August 01, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Olympic athletes aren’t the only ones competing this week.

Gene Russianoff, the Straphangers Campaign senior attorney, explains the "MetroCard Ratings" at its 2012 State of the Subways announcement at the Times Square - 42nd Street subway station on Wednesday morning. MetroFocus/Esha Ray.

This Wednesday, the Straphangers Campaign, a project of the New York Public Interest Research Group, released its 15th annual “State of the Subways” report card, ranking 19 of the 20 major subway lines in the city from best to worst (the G train was not given a MetroCard rating due to insufficient data). The Q train won the top ranking for the first time since 2001, while the C train was ranked the worst line for the fourth year in a row.

Each of the trains were given “MetroCard Ratings” expressed in dollar values.  For example, a line received a rating of $2.25 (the current price of a MetroCard) if it scored, on average, in the top 10 percent on the six measures selected by Straphangers and determined by MTA data. The Q train won with a high rating of $1.60, while the C train rated very low at 85 cents. This year’s high is a 15-cent improvement over last year’s winner, but the C sank its losing score by 5 cents.

Click to enlarge this chart from the 2012 State of the Subways report. Shown here are the rankings of 19 out of 20 major MTA subway lines. Image courtesy of Straphangers Campaign/NYPIRG.

In defense of the last place finisher, Lansing Moore, a commuter from Westchester County said, “The C train works pretty well for me. I know it gets a bad rap, but it’s efficient when I’m trying to get to work.”

Straphangers rated each line based on variables such as frequency, regularity of service, breakdowns, seat availability, cleanliness, and whether its announcements were understandable. Overall, the data showed that subway cars declined in cleanliness from 94 percent to 90 percent since last year’s report, but that announcements were more intelligible this year, jumping from 87 percent to 90 percent.

Gene Russianoff, Straphangers Campaign senior attorney, presented the results in a cramped corner near the entrance to the Times Square station’s 1, 2, 3 subway lines, among the hustle and bustle of hurrying people. Regular subway riders and tourists alike stopped briefly to watch the presentation and see if the scores looked accurate.

“I take the L and it’s pretty clean and I can always find seat,” said Shanay Dixon, a Brooklyn resident, commenting on the L train’s relatively high score of $1.45. “Taking the train from 8th Avenue is easier though, because it’s the last stop on the train and it stays in the station for a while.”

“Once it gets past 11 p.m., the 1 train is horrible,” said Anderson Footman, a Hell’s Kitchen resident. “The red line is so unreliable, you’re always like, ‘What train is coming next?'” In contrast to his opinion, the 1 train fared quite well with a score of $1.50, and was also ranked the cleanest line, although the 2 and 3 trains were ranked much lower with scores of $1.15 and $1.20, respectively.

In fact, compared to last year’s report, the 1 train made the most improvement, moving from eighth to fourth place in the overall “MetroCard Rating” and leaping from 13th to first place for cleanliness. It improved its service regularity as well (how often the train came without huge gaps in service) rising from 17th to ninth place.

The Q train won the top prize with a ranking of $1.60, winning for the first time since 2001. MetroFocus/Esha Ray.

The Straphangers Campaign also released the results of its first “State of the Station Platforms” survey this past February, which asked riders to rank the upkeep of stations. The data was compiled from 120 randomly chosen subway stations, out of 909 total subway stations.

The results were broken down into the “good,” the “bad,” and “the ugly.” One-hundred percent of stations had garbage cans with little to no overflowing garbage, 11 percent of stations had rats, and half of the stations observed had water damage.

New Yorkers are used to the various delays, breakdowns, and sundry irritations within the city subway system, but tourists have the fresh eye.

“I’ve only taken [the N train] so far, and it’s pretty clean on the inside,” said Lori Janssen, a tourist from Wisconsin. “You know who has an awesome subway system? Germany.”

Last year’s winner was the J/Z line, a first-time winner with a score of $1.45. The line runs between Broad Street in Manhattan and Jamaica Center in Queens. In 2011 it ranked best in service regularity but ranked average in cleanliness, delays caused by car breakdowns, and seat availability. It tied for secon place this year, but it’s dollar value went up 10 cents.