British Journalist Flooded With Hate Mail After Ridiculous Screed About the NYC Subway


The subway is just not that bad. For all our complaining about the fickle ways of the G train, our homicidal feelings during the absurdly lengthy wait for a C around 5 p.m., or the whole-body despair we experience when J mysteriously skips our stop during the height of morning rush hour, the subway is still fast, cheap, easy to navigate, and open 24-7. Which is why it’s only right that visiting Guardian journalist Bim Adewunmi has been roundly mocked for a laughably wrong piece she wrote yesterday calling our subway system “patently ridiculous” and “the work of a sadist, cooked up in a fever dream and delivered with a flourish and an unhinged grin.”

– See also: Your Train Is Usually on Time, and Getting More Reliable Every Year, You Ungrateful Whiner

Adewunmi, who’s visiting our fair city on sabbatical, takes issue with the subway maps, which she calls ” a mess of fonts and colours,” and with the whole idea of making multiple lines the same color:

The city’s subway map is dense and needlessly complex. Where in London the Central line (red) is distinct from the Piccadilly (dark blue), which is markedly different from the Hammersmith and City line (pink), New York’s map has designated the same forest green to the 4, the 5 and the 6 lines. The B, D, F and M all rejoice in exactly the same shade of violent orange. And I’m almost entirely certain that the blue of the A, C, and E lines is the last thing you see before death’s sweet embrace. Why would you do this? The whole thing resembles a child’s approximation of a city transit system: it makes no sense.

Yeah, no. Millions of people each day manage to make sense of that “needlessly complex” system, many of them non-English-speaking or extremely drunk. The color-coded lines convey — duh — that those lines go to roughly the same place. Adewunmi also complains that when a train arrives, “you have to check the front of it to figure out which train it is,” a criticism that seems mainly geared toward the A and C trains. (Hint: The C is the stubby little train that comes into the station with paralyzing slowness. Also, the conductor will say “This is a [whatever direction]-bound C train,” usually a dead giveaway.)

But really, Bim? You’re mad you have to look at a train to know which train it is? The London Tube must be some sort of magical system where one can just stumble at random onto any train and it will whisk you merrily to your destination, presumably while “God Save the Queen” tinkles in the background and someone whispers the latest cricket scores seductively into your ear. Adewunmi also seems horrified by the dirtiness of the subway stations, noting the “peeling paintwork and pockets of such urine-stench that my eyes water.” Coming to New York and complaining about urine smell is a bit like going to England and getting upset that everyone is serving tea.

In a statement to Gothamist, Metropolitan Transit Authority spokesman Adam Lisberg quickly savaged Adewunmi’s complaints, noting that the MTA uses just one font and a single design, and that no one else seems to find the color system even slightly confusing.

“[I]f she blames the subway for ruining the New York City of her dreams,” he adds, “she should stop complaining for a moment and realize the problem with her life isn’t the subway — it’s her attitude.”

Amen. But Adewunmi is apparently getting deluged with some less-polite hate mail. On Twitter yesterday, she seemed to be getting a little frustrated:

In truth, though, some of the responses do seem to be going a bit far:

Or are just kind of dickish:

Let’s leave colonialism out of this. But if Adewunmi writes anything today complaining about our bagels, our parks, or our museums, it’s on.