Saturday, June 21, 2008

Filling out the MTA survey

'This is a Brooklyn Bridge-bound 6 local train.
The next stop is...overcrowding.'

I can't wait until the 2nd Ave subway line is done. Taking the 6 train in the morning is a disaster right now, and taxis are even worse. I live near the 77th St 6 subway station and go downtown to the 23rd St station for work. If you try to catch a train between 8 AM and about 9:30 you are guaranteed to be squished together with 40-50 other angry, squished commuters in a car where the air conditioning may or may not work.

Around 8:45 there is usually a pack of 3 trains that comes one after another. Were we smart, we would wait for the last and theoretically least crowded train (though in my experience, least crowded is quite relative). But because the station is so miserably hot and crowded we force ourselves into the 1st and 2nd trains, shoving women, children and the elderly alike. I'm embarrassed to be a human at times like these.

Lately my favorite moment of the morning has come at 33rd St, where the conductor often announces "Ladies and gentlemen, due to crowding the next stop on this train will be Union Square." Fuck all. I cannot express how annoying it is to be on a local train that turns express. I'm not sure what problem this solves exactly, since the car pretty much empties and we all just crowd onto the next train instead.

So when I got a MTA survey in the mail, I was excited to complete it. Because it's not just the 6 train that's a fucking mess and I'm more than happy to tell anyone that will listen. The M79 bus is a crowded mess on weekends, and so are any of the 5th Ave buses. Don't even get me started on Metro North. The new train cars for the New Haven line cannot come fast enough. I would recommend avoiding subway elevators. And has anyone actually ever seen a V train? I'm just wondering because the ratio seems to be 5 E or F trains for every one V as you travel along the line.

But the two things that have me the most riled right now are that 1) the MTA board apparently doesn't use public transportation and won't pay tolls unless they're comped and 2) that despite promises to the contrary, it sounds like another fare hike is coming even though fares just went up.

I was really hoping to be able to address both of those items in the survey somewhere, but surprise surprise it's just a readership study with no room to write your actual feedback on the MTA's services. With a sigh of resignation I still filled the damn thing out so they can at least reflect my travel habits.

The survey was three parts: a demographics survey and two daily travel logs. What a disappointment. Two days hardly accounts for the various lines I use. I chose to fill out one of the travel surveys on a weekend day when I was going to Connecticut, just so I could include more modes of transportation. I filled out the survey and mailed it back but you can also call in to a call center. There is, of course, no online option. There's also nowhere to record things like delays, the state of the trains, or other useful information that I think the MTA would want to know about.

As I put the survey back into the mailer, I seriously doubted the usefulness of it. Sure, ridership rates and routines are good to know but does two days really add up to a routine? With no area to give feedback what am I really telling the MTA? And will they really do anything with the information I give them? Something tells me the answer to my last question is no.

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