Lousy Commutes? Transit Advocates Throw the Book at Andrew Cuomo!
1:00 PM EST on December 3, 2018
Mostly, we look at the crumbling subway and bus system in raw, cold data — cratering ridership numbers, ever-upward fare projections, depressing maintenance statistics.
But sometimes, it's best to put a human face on the story of transit misery.
On Monday, the Riders Alliance did just that, releasing its long-awaited book, "The Worst Commutes of 2018."
We wish we could say it fiction. The book, which is dedicated to "New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the leaders and members of the Assembly and Senate," aims to remind lawmakers of "the big toll of poor transit service and the anxiety it brings New York's working families." The group says congestion pricing would end a "generation of disinvestment" at the MTA while also improving the delivery of goods and services from a reduction in traffic.
The book contains 45 commuter horror stories. We've excerpted the best of the worst below (read the full book here):
Thank God I Didn't Have to go to the Bathroom
I got stuck on a G for nearly two and a half hours because of signal problems in the entire area surrounding Bergen Street.Thank god I didn’t have to go to the bathroom and thank god I have a phone fully charged and a book. I thought, “Ok, this is it, these are the people I will spend the rest of my life with. I’ll never see my cat again or my partner and we will starve to death in the G train.” I was going into some pretty dark places of my mind. I was thinking, “What is happening in the world outside? Is this going to be on NBC4? I bet people are tweeting right now about how shitty the G train is. I have lost two hours of my life I’ll never regain.” I thought,“This is it. I need to make peace with this, become friends with all my fellow inmates, and just accept it.” People began sharing stories about where they were supposed to be, and what they were missing. Upon release, I immediately contacted a Lyft. No way in Dante’s G train hell was I going to get inside another public transit vehicle.
I Missed My Job Interview
I was nearly an hour late to an important third round job interview at Burberry. I live in Jamaica and take the E to 34th Street, which normally takes me 45 minutes (at the most).The morning of my inter- view, scheduled for 11 am on 57th Street, I left at 10am. I anticipated arriving at the location at least 15 minutes early, including the walk. But the E stalled for at least 10 minutes before reaching Kew Gardens, the next stop. I tried to call the interviewer but I kept losing service. Then the train proceeded to stall and crawl in and between each stop going all the way throughout Queens. At 11:50, I finally arrived and the interviewer was very perturbed. She told me,“I saw online there was a power outage at 42nd street, so I understand.” Had the booth attendant told us the train would be delayed, I would have called in at 10 am or taken the LIRR, but that didn’t happen. I haven’t heard from them since. Thanks, MTA.
I Am On Thin Ice at Work Due to Timeliness
I, along with many coworkers, am on thin ice due to timeliness. My once 25-minute commute now has me leaving more than an hour early for work “just to be safe.” Only I still find myself arriving late. For the last two weeks, the EMFR trains have stopped running at 9:30 pm. But that’s when I get out of work. Even when I leave early, I still somehow miss the last train home because they close inexplicably early! Last week, miraculously catching my train, I stayed on board until 36th Street in Queens. Like most trips in and out of Queens, there were delays. After 45 minutes, I had to just get out and take a cab home — only to have to do the same thing over again the next night. I’m looking for new work within walking distance so I can avoid taking the train on nights like this. I also miss being able to explore the city reliably. It’s sad.
I Have No Idea Why, But it Took More than Two Hours
At 8:35 am, I left my house in Astoria. At 8:45, I approached my station to find the surrounding streets filled with confused people. They seemed listless, meandering in all directions, on their phones, asking each other questions with no answers, crowding all the bus stops. No CitiBikes were available. At 8:48, though, I boarded an N train but then the announcement came: “We are having significant delays. I have no idea when we will start moving.” At 9 we started moving. At 9:02 we stopped, having only traveled 1 stop. At 9:10, I got off the train in response to the following announcement: “What the crap is that? Why didn’t we tell the customers? Why didn’t they tell us at the terminal? ... Ladies and gentlemen, we are not moving. I have no idea when we will ever start moving. We recommend you take the M60 at street-level.” By 9:12 I was at the bus stop but didn’t get on the bus for another 33 minutes. Another hour later, more than two hours after leaving home and still bewildered by our subway, I arrived at work in Chelsea.
I Could Have Walked Home — And Back — In Less Time
After a long day at work, I went to the City Hall station where I hoped to catch the southbound R train to Brooklyn.After a45-minute wait, my foolish hopes were dashed when we were told to take the R train to Canal Street and from there board a southbound train to Brooklyn. After an additional 15 minute wait, I took the northbound train to Canal Street, where I waited another 35 minutes for a train to Brooklyn. While I was waiting, it occurred to me that I left my office more than 90 minutes earlier and I was further away from home than when I started. It took an additional torturous hour to get home. I calculated that my 7-mile commute had an average rate of speed of 1.2 miles an hour. I could have walked home and back to work in less time.What other subway system can boast that type of service?
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