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Are Subway Riders the Angriest Commuters?

10:25 AM EST on January 29, 2008

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The Times has been running a series this month, called Next Stop, about the experience of commuting in the New York metro region. Reporter Billie Cohen took a different route to or from Manhattan every weekday, riding all manner of buses, trains, and subways. No bike commutes so far (and with just a few days left in the series it's probably safe to assume there won't be any).

Of particular interest, given the relevance of transit access to the discussion of congestion pricing, was this profile of the X68 Express Bus from Midtown to Floral Park, Queens, which left me wondering how those commuters might see their trips change -- or not -- in the coming year.

Then on Sunday, in an article summarizing her experience, Cohen uncorked this dour portrait of subway commuters:

...the unhappiest travelers I found were on the subway. Worn out by drudgery, angered by slow service, they were the most vocal and the least satisfied, and that makes sense.

Despite their deep wells of anger, subway riders were generally the most reticent and the most difficult to engage. In a city of ubiquitous crowds, their commute remains a bastion of anonymity.

Speaking for everyone who rides the subway, I'll admit there's a grain of truth to this, but c'mon -- "deep wells of anger"? Sure it's frustrating when there's a service delay or the train gets packed, and maybe people on the subway do want to keep to themselves by and large. Despite all that, any anger on display runs pretty shallow, I think, compared to the code of conduct and common decency most straphangers abide by -- not to mention the deep-seated anger to be found above ground.

Photo: Runs With Scissors/Flickr

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