News & Politics

Ranking Your Subway Ride


The Straphangers say even the best subway lines are only worth $1.25.
Photo by Duddyfunk via Flickr

The 1 train is indeed No 1. And the C and W trains are the worst, according to the Straphangers Campaign, which issued its annual Subways Report Card today. Despite countless hellish weekends of shuttle bus service, the L train still ranked second behind the 1 train. How can that be?

The tenth annual report card found that:

* The best subway line in the city is the 1 for the first time since we began these rankings, with a “MetroCard Rating” of $1.25. The previous top-rated line—the 6—dropped to a third-place tie. The 1 ranked highest because it performs above average on four of six measures: frequently scheduled service, arriving with more regularity, fewer dirty cars, and better announcements. The line did not get a higher rating because it performed below average on: a chance of getting a seat during rush hours, and delays caused by mechanical breakdowns. The 1 runs between South Ferry in Lower Manhattan and 242nd Street in the Bronx.

* The C and W were ranked the worst subway lines, with a MetroCard Rating of 65 cents. The C and W lines both have a low level of scheduled service, and each performs below average on three additional measures: car breakdowns, chance of getting a seat during rush hours and announcements. The C and W did not get lower ratings because they perform at or above the system average on arriving with regularity and above average on interior cleanliness. The C line operates between Euclid Avenue in Queens and 168th Street in Manhattan. The W line operates between Ditmas Boulevard in Queens and Whitehall Street in Manhattan.

* Overall, we found a mixed picture for subway service. On the plus side, the cleanliness of the interior of cars improved form 79% rated clean in the second half of 2005 to 87% for the same time period in 2006. But car breakdowns worsened from a mechanical failure from every 178,085 miles in 2005 to one every 156,624 miles.

The Straphangers used the following formula to arrive at the ratings:

Amount of service
• scheduled amount of service: 30%

Dependability of service
• percent of trains arriving at regular intervals: 22.5%
• breakdown rate: 12.5%

• chance of getting a seat: 15%
• interior cleanliness: 10%
• adequacy of in-car announcements: 10%

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