Subway problems—signal malfunctions, track fires, debris falling from the ceiling, and the like—have made many New Yorkers’ daily commutes a frustrating, sometimes nightmarish endeavor. And while there have been small improvements since Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the beleaguered subway system, it still frequently feels like the system is failing New Yorkers.
In an effort to call attention to the problem—and put a human face on it—the transit advocacy group Riders Alliance has compiled tales of terrible commutes, which it crowdsourced from straphangers throughout 2018, into a book that it plans to deliver to Cuomo, along with state legislators.
The Worst Commutes of 2018—which is dedicated “To New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the leaders and members of the Assembly and Senate”—collects dozens of stories from frustrated straphangers who have missed classes or job interviews, who are now in trouble with their bosses because the subway makes them late (side note to those bosses: chill), and people who experience both physical and mental trauma due to the constant delays, signal problems, and other malfunctions on the subway.
“Unfortunately, riders still face a crisis of delays and unreliable service,” reads a letter from Riders Alliance to state legislators that will accompany the book. “We hope that, reflecting on these stories, you will return to Albany committed to fully funding our transit system and adopting congestion pricing as the core of a fair and sustainable funding plan in next year’s budget.”
So what do some of New York’s worst commutes entail? Here’s a snippet from Tara S.:
I got stuck on a G for nearly two and a half hours because of signal problems in the entire area surrounding Bergen Street. Thank god I didn’t have to go to the bathroom and thank god I have a phone fully charged and a book. I thought, “Ok, this is it, these are the people I will spend the rest of my life with. I’ll never see my cat again or my partner and we will starve to death in the G train.”
And one from Deborah D. that underscores why you should give your seat to pregnant commuters:
My train was stuck in the tunnel between 116th Street and 110th Street. I was pregnant. It turns out that there was a fire on the tracks. I had to sit on train until the FDNY came. I went into pre-labor and then went to straight to hospital once I got off that train
A frustrating story from Lissette U.:
My husband took a flight from Boston and landed at JFK, all while I was on the subway commuting to work from Queens to Manhattan.
And one from Susan G., a 70-year-old rider recovering from shingles:
I nominate the A as the worst train. Wednesday’s wait was 30 minutes. Thursday’s wait was 25 minutes, and the countdown clock for the train said “1 minute” the whole time. In each case, an out-of-service train passed us halfway through our wait. … I can hardly walk today.
And even one commuter, Luke D., who’s thinking about leaving New York altogether:
I leave my house at the same time every day but never know whether I’ll be early, on time, or late for work. … With what I pay for a monthly unlimited ride, I’m definitely not getting my money’s worth. In short, every day is the worst commute of the week. I’m thinking about moving away from the city because of these type of issues.
Riders Alliance is one of several transit advocacy groups that’s pushing for the state legislature to adopt congestion pricing as a way of funding fixes to the subway system, including the expansive (and pricey) ones put forth in NYCT chief Andy Byford’s Fast Forward plan.
“Beyond the eight million daily riders reliant on subways and buses, the entire city and state economy and tax base depend on the efficient movement of people that only public transit allows,” the letter accompanying the book reads. “As the Worst Commutes describe, a generation of disinvestment is now catching up to us and imperiling everything our state has worked for. It is time to fully fund transit and adopt congestion pricing in next year’s budget.”