Straphangers' NYC Subway Report Card: 'Q' Is For Quality, 'C' Is For Crummy

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - 11:00 AM

(New York, NY - WNYC) For the fourth year in a row, the C train ranked last among New York City's 20 major subway lines. That's according to The Straphangers Campaign, an advocacy group, which says the C performed worst or next to worst on several measures:

Amount of scheduled service
Delays caused by mechanical breakdowns
Subway car cleanliness
Style points

OK, we threw in that last one. But the train's rolling-tin-can look is part of what makes it so mockable. The R32 cars used on the line are nearly 50 years old, and have a hard time showing up more often than every ten minutes during peak periods. That's last among lines.

On the bright side, the C plied its route between East New York in Brooklyn and Washington Heights in Manhattan in a way that made it above average in two categories: regularity of service--which means it is infrequent but tends to be on time--and chance of getting a seat during rush hour. That matters because the cars' suspension produces a rocking ride that is better experienced sitting down or on Dramamine.

The NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority did commit last year to spending $24 million to spruce up the cars on the line, which are among the oldest in operation in the world. But that was merely to stretch out their use until 2017.

The best-ranked line was the Q train, which Straphangers found to be clean with clear announcements, and least plagued by delays from mechanical breakdowns. It was the Q's first time in the top spot since 2001.

This is the Straphangers' 15th annual report card on the New York City subway system. The group said it's seeing "a positive trend for subway car breakdown rates and announcements," but that trains are getting dirtier. The group concludes: "Future performance will be a challenge given the MTA's tight budget."

To see the report, which includes profiles and comparisons of subway lines, go here.


Comments [3]


I kind of like those R-32s. They are old and A/C doesn't always work but they have a cool vintage feel, like getting to ride a museum train, and they are the only ones in service that afford a nice view out the front window. Headways definitely need to improve though.

Aug. 02 2012 02:41 PM
james hanbury

What about capacity or the percentage of passengers actually carried vs the theoretical maximum? My understanding and view is that the east side local (6) is the worst in this regard.

Aug. 01 2012 05:12 PM

I wonder what lines the Straphangers assessors are _dependent_ on, or if they all live in Manhattan within walking distance of work. For example, the Q train is clean and all, but I typically find myself waiting ten minutes or so in Brooklyn for the Q. It's running on time, it's just painfully infrequent and really crowded. I'd rather have dirtier, older cars if I can have them more frequently.

Aug. 01 2012 04:27 PM

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