Riders Alliance book reveals worst subway commutes

December 5, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Riders Alliance held a rally outside the West Fourth Street subway station in Greenwich Village to announce the hurried-up release of a new book detailing the nightmare rides commuters have taken on subways. Photo courtesy of Riders Alliance

Transit advocates say Cuomo, legislators to get copies

It’s too soon to tell if a new book issued by the transit advocacy group the Riders Alliance will make the New York Times best-seller list. But the group’s leaders said they’re hoping that at least Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of the state Legislature find the time to read it.

The Riders Alliance announced that it rushed the release of “The Worst Commutes of 2018,” hoping the 32-page book will end up in the hands of the people who are in a position to do something about the deteriorating service on the city’s subway system.

The book’s pages are filled with first-person accounts from everyday New Yorkers who have endured nightmare rides on the subway. The stories were compiled from entries in the alliance’s “Worst Commutes” contest, a competition launched earlier this year during which riders were invited to submit tales of terrible train commutes.

“The Worst Commutes of 2018” was released on Monday, the same day riders on the F and G trains faced long delays due to signal problems. Councilmember Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) wrote about the subway mess on Twitter. “Major delays on F and G trains this morning due to signal problems at Bergen Street (of course),” the lawmaker wrote. “But hey, it’s not like anyone has to go to school or work.”

Riders Alliance leaders pointed to the F and G troubles as the straw that broke the camel’s back and the impetus for their decision to rush the book’s release.

“For tens of thousands of F and G riders, this morning’s subway service meltdown was yet another ‘Worst Commute,’ an unnecessary reminder that the governor and legislators must act on funding to fix the subway,” said Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director of the Riders Alliance.

“This holiday season, riders are demanding from elected officials what they need from Albany: to arrive on time and get home safe,” Pearlstein added.

Among the stories featured in “The Worst Commutes of 2018” is one from a woman identified as Angela T., who endured a two-hour ride home via the N and R trains.

“My R train from Manhattan stopped running at 36th Street. Everyone was told to wait for the N train to 59th Street and then transfer to a shuttle bus. The N train took more than 30 minutes to arrive. Everyone on the crowded platform piled in. At 59th Street, we waited almost 20 minutes outside for a shuttle bus. Then someone said, ‘There’s no shuttle bus service.’ An angry crowd just trying to get home got the runaround from MTA staff who didn’t know what was going on,” Angela T. wrote.

She eventually re-entered the 59th Street station and got on a southbound R train. “Great, but I still had a bus ride over the bridge to Staten Island ahead of me. It took me more than two hours to get home,” she wrote.

The Riders Alliance is demanding that Cuomo and the state Legislature consider congestion pricing as a means to generate funding to fix the subway system.

Under congestion pricing, drivers would be charged a fee to enter Manhattan, and the money would be used to make system-wide repairs and upgrades of the subways.

“Congestion pricing is essential to making major progress on crucial transit infrastructure upgrades in coming years. It’s also fair. New York households with cars earn twice those without them. Four percent of commuters from the outer boroughs drive into Manhattan. Thirty-eight times as many poor commuters rely on transit to get to work as would pay a congestion charge,” the alliance’s leaders wrote in a cover letter they are sending to top lawmakers along with the book.

A spokesperson for the MTA issued a statement on the agency’s efforts to improve subway service. “Millions of New Yorkers a day ride the subway and we’re focused on improving service for each and every one of them — tireless efforts over the last year have stabilized and begun to turn service around and our efforts are not letting up,” the statement read.
UPDATE: Article was updated to include MTA statement.