We’re taking a quick break from nonstop hurricane reporting to announce that Transportation Alternatives has just released a very important informational report on New York City’s smelliest subways as part of their “Rank the Stank” campaign. New Yorkers voted among four nominees, selected via online polls, for the honor — 138th Street-Grand Concourse in the Bronx, 34th Street-Herald Square in Manhattan, Jamaica Center, Queens, and Grant Avenue, Brooklyn. The absolute smelliest station, garnering 79 percent of vote, was 138th Street-Grand Concourse. Congrats! As for this campaign, however, we were curious. What was the methodology? Who were the unfortunate souls forced to identify the various levels of subway smell? What good does any of this do us, anyway?
We talked to Transportation Alternative’s Noah Budnick, who explained that the survey was based on an initial open solicitation from riders, who nominated stations based on their various smell-speriences (our word, not his). Dozens came in, which were then sorted by borough (Staten Island, which has one above-ground train, was not represented). Then a text-message campaign began in which people voted for their favorite smelly station from among the four represented. No poor intern was sent out to smell and catalog all of the stations, which was something we admit we had sort of hoped for.
Rank the Stank is part of Tranportation Alternative’s Rider Rebellion campaign that, Budnick says, “Gives riders a voice.” Despite what you might think, though, it’s not about shaming the MTA: “Everybody points the finger at the MTA, but this isn’t a problem with the MTA. It’s a problem with our elected officials robbing transit riders of money. The MTA can only work with the amount of funding and resources that it has. We like to draw the analogy to schools — when school funding is slashed, people don’t blame the teachers, they blame the elected officials.”
This is the first “ranking of the stanking,” Budnick said. “This is the daily life of eight and a half million people. Smell is something everyone talks about; everyone has a story about a smelly station.”
Good news! You won’t have to smell anything this weekend, because the subways may not even be running.