Although the subways have improved overall in the past year, the No. 7 line has been derailed from its four-year run as the citys best because even the famed red bird line has fallen victim to overcrowding and other problems.
Thats the assessment of the Straphangers Campaign, the transit advocacy organization in its fifth annual State of the Subways report card.
Transit riders are getting more for the fares they pay, said Gene Russianoff, attorney for the Straphangers. There have been fewer breakdowns, more regular service and cleaner cars.
The No. 7 was replaced as the top-rated subway by the Q, which the Straphangers said had the fewest breakdowns of any line and runs with much greater regularity than most of them. It was still lacking when it came to car cleanliness and the chance of getting a seat during rush hour, however.
The No. 7 lost its top billing because of a worsening breakdown rate, more crowding and poorer announcements, the Straphangers said.
The No. 7 runs from Times Square and Grand Central in Manhattan to Main Street, Flushing and the Q operates from Coney Island, Brooklyn to Queensbridge, Long Island City on weekdays only.
The C train was judged the citys worst, replacing the No. 5 at the bottom because of low marks for breakdowns, adequate car announcements, amount of service and the chance of getting a seat during rush hour.
The C operates between northern Manhattan and East New York, Brooklyn.
Perhaps the biggest problem for riders is crowding.
The report said a riders chance of getting a seat during rush hour periods is 28 percent, down from 31 percent two years ago. Ten lines grew more crowded in the past year: the No. 4, No. 5, No. 7, the B, E, J/Z, L, M, Q and R.
The 1/9, 2, 3, 6, A, C, D, F and N lines became less crowded than a year ago.
The line on which riders had the best chance of getting a seat was the B line, with a 37 percent chance. The N, which begins at Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria, was the worst with riders having only a 19 percent chance of finding a seat.
Its not surprising that theres more crowding, the Straphangers report said. Transit service has lagged badly behind an explosive growth in both subway and bus ridership.
MTA officials admit that subway ridership has increased 29 percent between 1996 and 2001 but has been met with only an 11 percent increase in service with much of that targeted to nights and weekends, it said.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.
©2001 Community News Group
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