An article in the New York Times today alerts us to something you’ve probably known about, at least anecdotally, for a while. Good to have it proven, though, if only so your complaining can be official! Despite New York subways frequently having longer waits, screwy and/or incomplete routes, and stops skipped over the weekend, New Yorkers are traveling on the subway over the weekend in almost the same numbers they do over the rest of the week. In fact, we’ve hit “the biggest weekend passenger load” in several decades of New York City subway-ing, reports the Times.
Weekend trips have doubled in the past 20 years, far outpacing the growth of ridership during the workweek. Last year, the subway had 5.36 million rides on average during weekends, one of the highest counts on record, transit officials said.
“You would probably have to go back to close to World War II — when people were working six days a week — to find a similar trend,” said William M. Wheeler, the director of planning at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Why? Partly because the subway has actually gotten better, despite what you might think. But also because an array of factors have made the subway our default mode of transit, regardless of day of week (and some people work on weekends, too). Also, cabbies who refuse to go to Brooklyn, maybe? At any rate, on the Bedford L and the Prince Street stop in SoHo, weekend riders number 90 percent and 85 percent of the weekday ridership, respectively.
This all presents a problem for subway maintenance work done on the weekends, when people still, actually, want to use the subway. Which is only fair: Your monthly pass does include Saturday and Sunday. But, as Charles F. Seaton, New York City Transit spokesman, said, “This is the only time available to get these projects completed.” Fortunately, there are audio announcements, among other things, to help!
Remember that when the E train is running on the F line and you have no idea whether it’s becoming the F at Jay Street or remaining the E, or becoming something else entirely, and the announcer’s garbled spiel is no help whatsoever. Whatever, it’s the weekend! Or not…
“The M.T.A. can no longer have the luxury to think that weekends are expendable; weekends are commuting days now,” said John C. Liu, the city comptroller, whose office is conducting an audit of the agency’s weekend service. “People who commute Monday to Friday say nice things about the subways. But the complaints about weekend service resound all throughout the city.”
Get it together, MTA! We want to say nice things all the time.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 11, 2011