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Unsurprisingly, MTA lags on fixing subway cars with broken A/C

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The agency urges riders to report hot subway cars but what is being done?

On a sweltering summer day—which New York City has gotten more than its fair share of this season—the last thing anyone wants is to get stuck in a subway car that has busted air conditioning. The MTA has vowed to take cars with faulty A/C out of service and repair them as quickly as possible. Yet as reported by WNYC, things are not being handled quickly as promised.

At least 20 different subway cars continued to operate after the MTA received, on average, five complaints per car, according to WNYC. For example, one car on the 6 line was the subject of 12 complaints between July 14 through early August, but its A/C wasn’t permanently fixed until August 16. But MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told WNYC that it's "inaccurate to say that cars are running without A/C for months at a time." According to Ortiz, cars are inspected once a complaint is received, the system is reset, and the car’s service is restored.

The problem? The MTA can't afford to take busted subway cars out of service for every complaint they receive because there aren’t enough backup cars. With the amount of complaints being so concentrated along the 1 and 6 lines, it presents even more of a challenge to get all of those cars out of commission for repairs. "[I]t’s going to be a challenge to fix it," said Ben Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas.

Still, a more effective method of dealing with the issue is certainly needed. "When people get into a hot car, it gives them a sense not only that … the city is not quite working in the way that people need it to," said transit advocate John Raskin of Riders Alliance.