NEWS RELEASE

For immediate release: For more information, contact:
Thursday, March 23, 2000 Gene Russianoff at (212) 349-6460


RIDERS GIVE LOWER RATINGS TO SUBWAYS AND BUSES IN LAST YEAR, MTA’S OWN POLL SHOWS

SUBWAYS AND BUSES MORE CROWDED AND LESS ON TIME, ACCORDING TO POLL OF 1,200 NEW YORKERS

ON POSITIVE SIDE, 3/4 OF RIDERS PERCEIVE FARES AS “REASONABLE” AND METROCARD GETS GOOD GRADES


Riders rate the subways as more crowded, less safe, less on time, slower, smellier, less clean, and doing worse on announcing delays in the last year, according to a poll of 1,200 New York City residents conducted for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1999 and released today by the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.

Riders also rate local bus service worse, giving significantly lower ratings in 1999 compared to a 1998 poll for “having space to sit or stand.” “reliability of schedules.” “getting there on time.” “not having to wait too long.” “safety from accidents.” and “clarity/correctness of announcements.”

Lieberman Research East of Great Neck conducted the poll for the MTA, which has been conducting similar polls annually since 1983. The 1997 and 1998 polls were conducted in early April in those years; the 1999 poll does not indicate when it was conducted. The 1999 survey has not been previously released to the media and is the most recently available citywide survey of riders.

In the survey, the firm concluded: “After two years of improving satisfaction, perceptions of overall subway service declined among riders in 1999. This decline was more pronounced for factors relating to transit environment and ride quality. Expanding ridership has contributed to increased subway and local bus use. This increased patronage has in turn resulted in more crowding (particularly during rush hours) and on occasion, delays.” (See attached summary of poll.)

The poll was released by the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, which recently obtained a copy from the MTA. Gene Russianoff, Straphangers staff attorney said, “Transit officials have failed to provide enough service to meet the tidal wave of riders attracted by fare discounts.”

Subway ridership has increased by 17% between 1996 and 1999, but only 4% more service has been added, noted Russianoff. For buses, ridership is up 38% but service had only been increased 9% between 1996 and 1999.

In total, there are one million more rides on an average workday on city subways and buses than there were three years ago.

Riders in the poll said the “most desired improvements" are “more frequent and more on time trains, as well as greater cleanliness and improved security.”

Below are the poll’s key findings for the subways; quotes are taken directly from the report:

  • "New York City residents opinions of overall subway service decreased significantly [in 1999], with average ratings dropping from 6.3 in 1998 to 6.1 in 1999 (on a scale of one to ten). Overall, and across most subway service dimensions, New York City residents have become less satisfied with service.”
  • "The two largest rating decreases were for “scratch graffiti (6.0 to 5.3).” and “crowding on platforms during rush hour (5.1 to 4.5.)" “Having space to sit or stand" also experienced a large decrease in satisfaction from 1998 to 1999 (5.3 to 4.9.)"
  • "Crowding and the presence of police on trains experienced two of the largest drops in satisfaction from 1998 to 1999"[crowding on platforms dropping from 6.0 to 5.3 and police presence on cars from 4.9 to 4.4.] “[These] are now among the lowest rated service attributes.”
  • "New York City residents overall sense of personal security in the subway decreased significantly this year (from 6.2 to 5.8) after five years of maintaining or improving this perception. This decrease in the rating of personal security is apparent across all travel-time segments as well.”
  • "Riders were most dissatisfied with the information on train delays" (dropping from 5.5 to 5.1.)

The rating for “stations don’t smell" also dropped, from 5.6 to 5.1.

Among the poll’s key findings for buses are:

  • “Overall ratings for local bus service declined this year, after reaching a high point in 1998.”
  • The greatest decreases in 1999 were “having space to sit or stand 6.2 to 5.6).” “reliability of schedules (5.6 to 5.1).” “getting there on time (6.0 to 5.6).” “not having to wait too long (5.4 to 4.9).” “safety from accidents (7.1 to 6.7).” and “clarity/correctness of announcements (6.5 to 6.1)" Unlike for subways, riders' perceptions of bus cleanliness did not drop
  • “The largest declines in 1999 [for buses] pertain to efficiency of service (reliability of schedules, not having to wait, and getting there on time, crowding (having space to sit or stand) and safety from accidents. Crowding and the related problems of reliability and having to wait were the weakest aspects of bus performance.”

Among the poll’s key findings for fares and MetroCard:

  • “Nearly three-fourths (74%) now agree that New York City Transit is reasonable compared to other modes of transportation.” MetroCard “customer satisfaction ratings remain very strong.”

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