Staff Rider Report Cards: Michelle Ernst

As noted in the press, NYC Transit has been passing out “rider report cards” on its subway lines to gauge customer satisfaction. Most TSTC staffers happen to be NYC Transit customers as well. So how satisfied are we? The fifth in a series of answers to that question comes from staff analyst Michelle Ernst, who gives the E train a grade of C.

Home: Spring Street/SoHo
Work: 34th Street/Penn Station
4 Stops/15 minutes

I admit I have a relatively easy commute, especially in comparison to some of my colleagues who face long delays and torturous rides. I can take either the C or E train from Spring Street, though as Ryan noted in his report card, the E train runs much more frequently.

Because the E originates downtown, there are usually plenty of seats on my way to work, at least until we get to West 4th Street and pick up the flood of commuters from the F/V/B/D lines. Still, I listed “adequate room on board at rush hour” as my top priority, maybe as a show of solidarity to the riders who pack in the train at West 4th and 14th Street. And my return trip is usually standing-room-only, even after the bursting trains empty out at Penn Station.

My other primary complaints are about the poor communication to riders. Sometimes it seems as if the station managers maliciously wait until a train is pulling into the station to make an important announcement. You can almost see them laughing as they do it. But even when the announcements are audible, they are often not remotely helpful. I don’t think anyone really cares about the cause of a delay, whether it be a signal malfunction, a sick passenger, or police activity. Riders just want to know how long they will have to wait until the next train arrives so they can decide if they need to find an alternate way to get to work.

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Staff Rider Report Cards: Ryan Lynch

As noted in the press, NYC Transit has been passing out “rider report cards” on its subway lines to gauge customer satisfaction. Most TSTC staffers happen to be NYC Transit customers as well. So how satisfied are we? The fourth in a series of answers to that question comes from senior planner […]

Staff Rider Report Cards: Kyle Wiswall

As noted in the press, NYC Transit has been passing out “rider report cards” on its subway lines to gauge customer satisfaction. Most TSTC staffers happen to be NYC Transit customers as well. So how satisfied are we? The third in a series of answers to that question comes from general counsel Kyle Wiswall, who gives the 2 train a grade of B.

Home: Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum

Work: 34th Street/Penn Station

14 stops/ average 40 minutes

At the onset, I must say that my subway commute is relatively painless. Having read others accounts, in these virtual pages and elsewhere, I feel pretty fortunate. A couple of caveats: I bike to work nearly as often as I take the train and I’ve only lived on this line for 3 months. So, with grains of salt near at hand:

With startling regularity, I come down the stairs at Eastern Parkway to find a train arriving at the station. If the tracks are empty, or the train’s just pulling away (also a common occurrence – though I’ve noticed on the subway, everything seems like it happens all the time), I haven’t waited for more than 5 minutes on a weekday for another train. Weekends are another story – I can catch a nap, read a couple of chapters, and still have time to pace, stare down the dark tunnel and swear under my breath a few times before a train shows up. Time between trains on weekends can range from 10 minutes to a personal high of 25 minutes!

The trip is normally speedy, with few delays thus far. The 2 is called “express,” but I only enjoy that eponymous function for my final two morning stops. Before that, the 2 is painfully local. One particular section never fails to metaphorically chap my hide: from Wall Street to Chambers the 2 and 3 make four, count ‘em, four stops. Between Park Place and Chambers, it seems the front end of the train is pulling in to one stop before the back has left the last.

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Staff Rider Report Cards: Veronica Vanterpool

As noted in the press, NYC Transit has been passing out “rider report cards” on its subway lines to gauge customer satisfaction. Most TSTC staffers happen to be NYC Transit customers as well. So how satisfied are we? The second in a series of answers to that question comes from policy advocate and Bronx resident Veronica Vanterpool, who gives the 5 train a grade of F.

Riding the #5 train from the Bronx makes a daily commuter want to find a job outside of Manhattan. Station managers and attendants along the line are clueless, the trains are ridiculously crowded, service downtown is suspended (and riders are stranded) at least 5 times a month, and delays are frequent.

I take the 8:10 #5 at Gun Hill Road that comes from its starting point, Dyre Avenue, 3 stations north. Immediately upon entering the station, you realize how much attention this station needs. I walk into an 80’s snapshot: drab, beige paint that dulls the senses, colorful artwork courtesy of “john wayne” the local graffiti artist, and 2 flashing light bulbs located in the right uppermost corner of the station, where I am sure everyone can see them, that inform straphangers of approaching trains. One bulb blinks for the train coming “from city”; the other “to city.” The whole city has graduated to a red LED display, but we in the Bronx rely on bulbs. This embarrassing alert is not even environmentally friendly–no CFL bulbs here.

I head down the stairs because there is no other way down to the platform. Definitely not ADA compliant. I usually get an early clue as to how bad my commute will be depending on the amount of passengers on the platform. On a normal morning, there are probably about 500-750 people between any 5 minute interval waiting for the train downtown. When I see riders about 6 people deep from the platform edge, I know one of the following is about to happen: » Continue reading…

Staff Rider Report Cards: Steven Higashide

F Train As noted in the press, NYC Transit has been passing out “rider report cards” on its subway lines to gauge customer satisfaction. Most TSTC staffers happen to be NYC Transit customers as well. So how satisfied are we? The first in a series of answers to that question comes from communications associate and MTR co-editor Steven Higashide, who gives the F train a grade of B- (an earlier version of this feature appeared in MTR # 566).

My commute is blessedly predictable:

1. I leave my home in Midtown and walk to the station at 47-50th St-Rockefeller Center (B/D/F/V). I push my way down the stairs to the station level and swipe in. The trains seem to empty out at Rockefeller, which means two things.

First, I inevitably miss the train because every staircase leading down to the platform level is filled with disembarking commuters walking up. On the plus side, when the next train arrives I nearly always find a seat.

2. I’m off in two stops, at 34th St-Herald Square. The escalator I use is broken, though the MTA has promised to repair it by mid-September, and then early, mid-, and late October, and then early November, and, as of today, mid-November.

3. Once on the street, I walk the two-and-a-half blocks to the Campaign’s offices on 31st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

It is–by far–the shortest and easiest commute of anyone at the office.

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