C Train the Worst in the City for Fourth Straight Year, Survey Finds

By Jill Colvin on August 1, 2012 11:05am 

A person landed under the C train at 155th Street and St. Nicholas.
A person landed under the C train at 155th Street and St. Nicholas.
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MIDTOWN — It looks like the C train is getting a big, fat F...again.

The Eighth Avenue subway line was ranked the worst line in the city for the fourth straight year, according to the Straphangers Campaign’s annual subway report card.

The line performed worst or next-to worst on a slew of key measures, with infrequent service, numerous delays caused by mechanical breakdowns, litter-strewn cars and garbled announcements.

The one saving grace for riders traveling from East New York in Brooklyn to Washington Heights in Manhattan on the line? A higher-than-average likelihood of finding a seat at the height of the rush hour crush.

On the other side of the spectrum was the Q train, which earned the top-ranked spot for the first time since 2001. The line got top ratings for many of the top categories including announcements, delays due to mechanical breakdowns, available seats at rush hour and relatively clean trains. However, the Coney Island-to-Astoria line under-performed when it came to how frequently trains are scheduled and service regularity.

“The subways are a story of winners and losers,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the transit campaign, who said that sharp disparities can be seen throughout the system.

“Riders on the best line — the Q — have much more reliable cars, frequent service, subway car cleanliness and car announcements than riders on the worst line, the C,” he said.

The study found that overall, the subway system's cleanliness has taken a nosedive. The group noted a 4 percent drop in the cleanliness of subway cars overall, with major differences between lines.

The C train again ranked worst on cleanliness, with 25 percent of its cars rated moderately or heavily dirty — more than eight times the rate on the 1 train, where only 3 percent of cars logged moderate or heavy dirtiness.

The R train earned the best ratings for snagging an available seat during rush hour, with a 71 percent chance of getting a seat — much better than on the 5 train, where passengers are out of luck three out of four times they try to sit down.

The group did find some improvements from last year's survey, with 1.5 percent fewer car breakdowns, thanks to newer cars and better maintenance, and 3.4 percent more in-train announcements.

The findings were no surprise for riders, including Sandeep Gopalan who lives on the Upper East Side and rides the Q train every day to and from his Midtown office.

"I''m not going to say it's clean, but it's on time and it's pretty frequent," said Gopalan, 29. But he said on the weekends, service can be a "a nightmare."

Florence Lastique, 50, who lives in Queens, agreed the Q deserved top prize.

"It's always clean, it's always air conditioned, and whenever I'm waiting for the R and N, there's always a Q sailing by."

But the daily C train rider said she was shocked to learn the line was in the dumps yet again.

"Really? It could not be worse than the D and B!" she said, slamming the Sixth Avenue line for filthy cars that rarely run on time.

The annual report card is based on official data provided by the MTA. Lines are rated based on six measures, including the frequency of scheduled service; the regularity of train arrivals; mechanical failures; the accuracy and clarity of in-car announcements; the cleanliness of subway car floors and seats; and the chance of scoring a seat at rush hour.

The MTA is set to raise fares next year by about 7.5 percent.

Some City Council members are pushing legislation that would force the MTA to grade individual stations based on factors like rats and trash as well.

The Overall Ratings:

Top 5:

  1. Q
  2. 7/J/Z (a tie)
  3. 1
  4. L/6 (a tie)
  5. E/F (a tie)

Bottom 5:

  1. C
  2. 6
  3. 4/A/B/2 (a tie)
  4. D/3/N/R (a tie)
  5. M

Amount of Scheduled Service:

Top 5:

  1. 6
  2. 7
  3. 1
  4. L
  5. E/F (a tie)

Bottom 5:

  1. C
  2. M
  3. G
  4. B
  5. N

Regularity of Service:

Top 5:

  1. J/Z
  2. G
  3. C
  4. L
  5. D

Bottom 5:

  1. 5
  2. 2
  3. 4
  4. E
  5. F

Breakdown Rate:

Top 5:

  1. E
  2. F
  3. Q
  4. M
  5. N

Bottom 5:

  1. C
  2. R
  3. G
  4. A
  5. 1

Chance of Getting a Seat:

Top 5:

  1. R
  2. 7
  3. B
  4. C
  5. 1

Bottom 5:

  1. 5
  2. 4
  3. E
  4. 6
  5. L

Cleanliness:

Top 5:

  1. 1
  2. 7
  3. G
  4. 6/E/Q (a tie)
  5. 5

Bottom 5:

  1. C
  2. F
  3. D/N (a tie)
  4. B/L/M/R (a tie)
  5. 3//4/J/Z (a tie)

In-Car Announcements:

Top 5:

  1. 4/Q (a tie)
  2. 2/6/E (a tie)
  3. F/M/N (a tie)
  4. 5/L (a tie)
  5. J/Z

Bottom 5:

  1. 7
  2. C
  3. R
  4. 1/3 (a tie)
  5. B

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