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In Response to a Rider Survey, More Trains on the 7 Line

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In Response to a Rider Survey, More Trains on the 7 Line



August 31, 2007


Is it worth getting up 20 minutes earlier if it means your train to work will be less crowded?


Howard H. Roberts Jr., the president of New York City Transit, said yesterday that he planned to add extra trains on the No. 7 line before and after the peak commuting period, to address rider complaints about overcrowded trains.


The added trains mean that if riders are willing to travel a little earlier or a little later than they currently do, they may be rewarded with a less crowded ride.


The new measure, which will begin in December, was Mr. Roberts’s response to a survey of riders on the No. 7 line that named overcrowding as the top priority for improvement. The survey drew 16,000 responses.


Mr. Roberts has sought to project an image of greater openness to riders since he took over the transit agency in April. And he has said that the surveys, which he calls rider report cards, are a prime tool in getting to know what riders think and convincing them that they are being heard.


No. 7 was the first line to be surveyed, and Mr. Roberts said he expected to complete surveys on all the lines by November.


“This is our prescription,” Mr. Roberts said of the survey results, which he announced yesterday at a news conference. “If we want to persuade our riders that we are making the system better, here’s the road map.”


Mr. Roberts said that he could not add more trains during the busiest period in the morning and evening, which lasts roughly an hour, because the line was already running at capacity then. But by adding trains before and after, he said, he hoped to be able to “spread the peak” and change the habits of some riders.


He was unable to provide details, however, about how many trains would be added or what time they would run. The additional service cannot begin until December because of union work rules on how train crews are assigned, he said.


During the busiest times on the No. 7, trains arrive about every two minutes at express stations. Mr. Roberts said he would aim to reach that frequency of service during a more extended period in the morning and evening.


The riders, who mailed in the surveys or submitted them online, gave overall service on the No. 7 line a C-minus.


Asked about individual aspects of service, they gave the lowest mark, a D, to lack of room on the trains at rush hour. On another part of the survey, they listed overcrowding as their top priority for improvement. The riders also gave a D-plus for hard-to-understand announcements in stations and on trains and a C-minus for cleanliness.


Gene Russianoff, staff lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group, said that asking riders for their opinions was a significant change.


“It’s kind of unthinkable that they would have done this in the last regime,” he said, referring to the survey and the response.


Mr. Russianoff added: “I think some people will take advantage of more frequent service on the off-peak periods. The reason people like rush hour so much, in addition to the fact that it meets their work schedule, is that the trains come so often.”


Mr. Roberts also said he would change the way trains are cleaned on the 7 line.


Now the trains are cleaned when they arrive at the Main Street station at the end of the line in Queens. That means they accumulate trash all the way to Manhattan and back again before anyone sweeps them out. He said additional crews at Times Square, the Manhattan terminus, would clean the trains before they head back to Queens.


And to address garbled announcements, he said he would have workers make daily checks of the speaker system in trains and stations and make repairs when problems are found.


Asked if he was disappointed by the low marks in the survey, Mr. Roberts said he was not.


“The purpose of the whole exercise is to find out what the riders think,” he said. “Up to this point in time we didn’t know what the riders thought, and now we know.”

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The people who have the nerve to give the 7 train a C minus grade clearly haven't experienced the rest of the subway yet. I would be more than happy to trade their 7 train with my R train, see what they have to say after that.

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I'd say that the (7) is one of the most efficient lines in the city. Those who gave it such a low rating probably aren't familiar with the other lines, as Error46146 pointed out.

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