June 26, 2007
If you take the 4, 5, or 6 to work, you are justified in hating your life
[photo by Cresny]
You are also entitled to throw regular hissyfits about your commute if you take the E, L, 2, 3, F, 7, or V.
Because all of those lines' cars are either full beyond reasonable capacity every day during rush hour, or those lines' tracks are filled to capacity with trains so that no more can be added during rush hour, or for some extra lucky New Yorkers, both.
In what the Times describes as "an unusually candid effort at self-examination for a habitually insular agency," NYC Transit released a study that reveals how much car and track capacity each line is running at, and how often each line runs on time. And they admit it: it ain't pretty. The MTA has concluded via carefully analyzed data that many subway trains are often crowded. (I know!) The east side lines are the worst, with the 4, 5, and 6 carrying over 100% capacity in passenger loads, and running trains at 100% of their 27 trains/hour track capacity. The L is at over 100% of its maximum passenger load too, but the article's graph suggests that a few more trains could be added to help disperse all those L riders.
I generally think of New York as having a pretty thoughtful approach to city planning, but in the case of development, traffic, and public transportation, the system is clearly on the verge of breaking down. Enormous development is still going on in the upper east side and in Williamsburg, and the subway lines that support those neighborhoods are already stretched beyond capacity. Yeah, yeah, the 2nd Avenue line is going to be breathtaking and will totally transform public transportation as we know it; I'll just say that there is no way I would ever move to any neighborhood accessible only by the 6 train between now and 2014.
Also Bloomberg's congestion pricing proposal that assumes that people who opt not to drive into Manhattan will just ride the subway instead needs a major rethinking for drivers who would theoretically start riding any of the above lines.
Lines that have the emptiest cars on average and also, not surprisingly, most often run on time: B, C, D, G, J, M, Z, and W.
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