NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign
Lower Your Fare
Schedules
Complaints that
get results!
How Does Your
Line Rate?
Rider Diaries
Take Action
Reports & Features
Opinion Poll
Fun & Games
Getting Around (maps)
Links
Make a Donation
to Straphangers
HOME

 
SITE SEARCH:

 

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, February 1, 2005              
For info, contact:
Neysa Pranger at (212) 349-6460 or (917) 532-0567
or Mike Hernandez at (212)349-6460

BASIC SUBWAY CAR ANNOUNCEMENTS IMPROVE, SURVEY FINDS; PERFORMANCE ON EIGHT LINES IMPROVE, FOUR WORSEN, TEN ARE UNCHANGED

BEST LINE IN SURVEY: 5; WORST: J/Z LINES

IN 5 OF EVERY 6 DELAYS, SURVEY FOUND NO ANNOUNCEMENT — OR AN INAUDIBLE, GARBLED OR USELESS ONE

Subway car announcements improved in the last year for the subway system overall but announcements of delays and service changes remain poor, according to a new NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign survey of subway car announcements.

The survey found that basic subway car announcements—those giving the names of upcoming stations and transfer information—improved. Basic car announcements were found to be made 73% of the time in 2004, compared to 67% in 2003 and 73% in 2002. The improvement in the last year was statistically significant. (See attached tables.)

The survey also found that in more than five of every six delays and disruptions experienced by surveyors (84%), there was either no announcement at all—or an inaudible, garbled or useless one.

Official transit guidelines require conductors to make basic, in-car announcements including the line, station name and any transfer points. The guidelines list 17 possible delay announcements with reasons for the delay ranging from "unruly person on train" to "waiting for a connecting train." The policy says, "If there is a delay, the conductor must make an announcement immediately [and again] within two minutes."

"Riders need better announcements to get around the system and to cope with delays and re-routings, particularly in the wake of last weeks disruptions to the A and C lines," said Neysa Pranger, the campaign coordinator who oversaw the survey.

"Given all the recent changes delay announcements should be getting better, not worse," said Mike Hernandez, field organizer for the campaign.

The survey was conducted by 86 volunteers between January 2, 2004 and January 11, 2005. They made 6,600 observations on 22 subway lines of opportunities to make car announcements.

The survey follows six similar surveys conducted between 1997 and 2003. (See methodology.)

Among the key findings of the survey were:

  • For all lines combined, adequate basic announcements increased from 67% in 2003 to 73% in 2004, a statistically significant improvement. Of the 27% rated inadequate, no basic announcement was made at all 8% of the time and announcements were inaudible or garbled 20% of the time. (These two figures do not total 27% due to rounding.)
  • In more than five out of every six delays and disruptions experienced by our raters (84%), there was either no announcement—or an inaudible, garbled or useless one. Of the 84% inadequate delay or disruption announcements, 23% were not made at all; 10% were inaudible or garbled; and 51% were rated "not useful," such as meaningless announcements that "we have a red signal" or ones with jargon such as "we're being held by dispatch."
  • The 5 line performed the best in making basic announcements, while the J/Z performed worst in our survey. Our raters heard basic announcements that were clear, ungarbled and audible a near-perfect 98% of the time on the 5, compared to 46% of the time on the J/Z. The 5 has clearly benefited from its large complement of new technology cars with recorded announcements.
  • Eight lines improved on basic announcements between 2003 and 2004—the 1/9, 4, 5, B, C, D, N and V. The most improved line was the B, which increased from a system-low 42% in 2003 to 73% in 2004.
  • There was significant worsening in basic announcements on four lines, the 7, J/Z, L and M. The most deteriorated line for announcements in the last year was the J/Z, which ranks worst in this year's survey. The line went from 60% adequate basic announcements in 2003 to only 46% in 2004.
  • Ten lines showed no significant difference—the 2, 3, 6, A, E, F, G, Q, R and W.
  • New York City Transit reported a small decline in "percentage of cars with Public Address Announcements." The agency's figure went from 89% in the first half of 2003 to 87% in the first half of 2004. NYC Transit adopted a more lenient standard for rating subway car announcements in the fall of 2000, raising their performance on paper. The agency also found a decline in performance in "station delay announcements," falling from 23% understandable/correct in the first half of 2003 compared to 15% in the first half of 2004.

This survey was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a leader in supporting assessment of public services across the United States.

news release | methodology | tables _____________________________________________________________
www.straphangers.org | www.nypirg.org