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This week’s New Yorker cover perfectly renders NYC’s summer of transit hell

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Bob Staake’s “Hell Train” feels like an accurate depiction of dealing with the subway this summer

When Governor Andrew Cuomo said that New York commuters would endure a “summer of hell” this year, he was referring to the track work that would take some trains at Penn Station out of commission.

But as summer has progressed, that phrase has become more applicable to the problems—aging infrastructure, constant delays, derailments, you know the drill—that have gripped the NYC subway.

And now, the latest New Yorker cover tackles the subway’s epic meltdown, and the terribleness that has gripped the system in the weeks and months since. Titled “Hell Train,” the cartoon by illustrator Bob Staake (who also did the magazine’s elegant tribute to Prince last year) is a completely, 100 percent accurate depiction of how awful commuting has been this summer.

Well, no, not really; in Staake’s illustration, a scheming devil drives an “H” train with flames behind it, as a mix of commuters—some sweaty, some pissed, some staring, unawares, at their phones—waits on the platform.

Staake told the magazine that even though he doesn’t ride the subway regularly—he lives in Cape Cod—he knows the frustration that commuters are enduring. “[M]aybe I don’t have to ride the subway every day, but my kids, who live in Brooklyn and Queens, do,” he said. “For me, the only thing worse than descending into a New York City subway in July is descending into a New York City subway in August.”

And the only thing worse than that is descending into a New York City subway in August and being faced with the uncertainty of whether or not your train will actually arrive on time or at all—which this cover captures quite well.