MTA Catastrophe: A Typical Week on the NYC Subway

Us, New Yorkers, have a love-hate relationship with our subway system. We love that we can stay out all night and not worry about the subway closing at any point, unlike European cities, and everything else we hate. While delays here and there are common, lately NYC Subways have been a hot mess. And by a hot mess, I don’t mean white-girl drunk at a party, I mean hot because it’s always gross and uncomfortably warm down there and simply a mess. It doesn’t cut it anymore to take a train that’s three or five minutes early in order to account time for delays. It seems that in order to make it to work on time you should take the train thirty minutes earlier.

On a good day, I arrive to work fifteen minutes early. On a bad day, when I tend to get dressed slowly, I’m at work ten to five minutes early. My regular commute, according to google maps, is fifty-six minutes long. Some days it takes longer, other days it’s shorter. I usually give myself between an hour and ten minutes and an hour and twenty minutes to make sure that I make it to my job with plenty of time. This also allows me to not push people on the train and not to rush when catching my transfer train. Seems reasonable, no?

The 1,2, 3 lines this past week took the award for the most screwed up lines in the MTA Subway system. On Monday, the delays were minor, no big deal. On Tuesday, the delays were bad, but I managed to catch the transfer train before train traffic really hit (although it’s ironic because the whole point of the subway system is to avoid traffic) and somehow managed to get to my desk exactly at 9:00 o’clock. Wednesday, on the other hand, was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. As I got on the one train, I was very pleased to find a seat–I took this as a good omen that there wasn’t going to be any delays. I counted my blessings too soon.

Three stops in, we had our first delay, the passengers were staring at their phones, perhaps hoping to slow down time: We sat there for three minutes, people just sighed heavily, five minutes passed, some passengers got off the train to transfer to the A train instead. Seconds later, they all hurried back into the train, hoping their seats were waiting for them–there was an extremely long line to get to the second platform where the A train was. Seven more minutes passed, and at that point, I wrote an email to boss letting him know that although it’s early, things were not looking good underground. After eight minutes, the train finally started moving. I was optimistic that this was going to be the worst part of the commute. And oh was I wrong! On the next stop, the train conductor let the passengers know that a 2 train broke down and that 2 and 3 trains were going to run on the local track. Well, we all got kicked off the train because that train was going to turn back around.

As everyone huffed and puffed, we all knew that we were not all going to fit into the following train. Everyone was shifting closer to the edge of the platform, looking off the corners of our eyes. Five minutes later, when the 1 train arrived, everyone pushed trying to make it inside. We were a pack of sardines. The passengers that were currently inside the 1 train stared in awe as we all swarm inside. Many passengers that didn’t make the cut and couldn’t get in, were pissed at the man that had a child in the stroller. Poor dad, poor kid. Yes, let’s blame the poor father and child in the stroller for taking up too much space on the train.

When we finally reached 96th street, I transferred to the 2 train, which also had delays. I bumped into a Russian lady who asked if this was a common occurrence, she was in disbelief with our subway system. It took me an hour and thirty minutes to get to work. Luckily, I have a boss that’s understanding. For many New Yorkers, not only is arriving fifteen minutes late to work unacceptable, but can also get you fired. The MTA’s bad maintenance practices not only affects a New Yorkers quality of life but can also cost you a job.

While the MTA is not to blame for long commutes, it is to blame for making commutes longer than necessary and stressful. Reports show that New Yorkers have the longest commute in all of the United States. We spend an average of 6.18 hours commuting to and from work per week. Personally, my commute averages out to 9.05 hours per week and this does not include delays. Yet, the MTA does not understand why New Yorkers complain about the subway system. There’s no need to wait until a train stops working at 8:35 am to then fix it on the go. A couple of weeks ago, we were groaning and moaning about the prospect of an increase in fare rates. Thankfully, the moaning and the groaning worked because the fare prices will remain the same, however, there is going to be a decrease in bonuses, the monthly MetroCard passes will increase by $4, and the weekly MetroCard will increase by $1.

According to the New York Times, “Officials at the authority have said they must raise fares every two years to pay for the rising costs of providing service.” Yeah, great. Is this an increase for mediocre service? Before they think about increasing the fare every two years, the MTA should first make sure they have reliable trains that do not break down, that will allow for New Yorkers to keep their jobs in order to pay for the already expensive MetroCard passes. Who’s going to be able to live in NYC besides the rich, the pigeons, and the rats? We’ll have to wait and see.

By: Glindys Luciano

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