NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign
Lower Your Fare
Complaints that
get results!
How Does Your
Line Rate?
Rider Diaries
Take Action
Our Reports
Opinion Poll
Fun & Games
Getting Around (maps)

Introduction |  The Poll |  Our Findings |  Tables 1-6
Station Profiles |  Recommendations |  Methodology


This Rider’s Guide is a first for the Straphangers Campaign in several ways.

After more than two decades of rating New York’s 20 subway lines, this is our first-ever rating of the city’s major subway stations. It’s also our first report based on a poll of rider opinion.

The campaign believes that polling riders is the fairest and most effective way to rate stations. New Yorkers rate everything from restaurants to nightlife, so why not subway stations?

A poll also puts the passengers in the driver’s seat, giving them a way to tell transit officials how they feel about their stations.

The “Rider’s Guide to the City’s Major Subway Stations” comes in two main sections. The first is a review of our findings, which comes immediately below. The second is a profile for each of the 15 stations. The profiles include: the ratings; selected comments of polled riders; amenities at the stations, such as number of elevators, escalators, newsstands, benches, maps and pay phones; major institutions served by the station; how much use has increased in the last year; when the station was built and last rehabilitated; and the name and contact information for the station’s manager.

As always, the Straphangers Campaign hopes this Guide empowers riders to win improvements to the system–and provides them with information that will improve their daily rides.

The Poll

Between April 25th and August 14th 2000, the Straphangers Campaign distributed 39,500 postcards to riders at 15 highly-used stations in the four New York City boroughs served by subways.

We asked the riders to rate the stations on a scale of one to five for cleanliness, security, crowding, ease of getting around; and available information, such as announcements and signs.

We received a total of 3,879 legible, complete and usable postcards from riders who mailed the postcard back to us, yielding nearly a 10% response rate and a statistically valid sample.

A detailed description of our methodology and a copy of the poll postcard can be found in section III of the Guide.

Our Findings

The poll results are presented in the maps and tables that follow this introduction and summary of findings. Among our key findings:

• Riders gave their highest overall mark to the Yankee Stadium/161st station, which serves the C, D and 4 lines in the Bronx. It received an overall rating of 3.2 out of five and among the highest ratings on security, crowding, and information. (See Map One.)

• The 51st Street and Lexington Avenue station, which serves the E, F and 6 lines in Manhattan, had the lowest overall rating–2.2 out of five. It was “in the cellar” on four of the five conditions rated in the poll–all but cleanliness, where the station was next to the lowest.

• Overall, riders gave their lowest rating to “crowding” for the five conditions surveyed–2.5 out of five. The number of riders entering these 15 stations on an average weekday increased by 8%–more than 58,000 riders a day–between 1998 and 1999, according to transit officials. Comparable data is not available for earlier years, but the increase is likely to be at least 17% between 1997 and 2000, given the overall increase in ridership in that period.

Crowding: Riders were the least unhappy about crowding at the Court Street/Borough Hall station in Brooklyn (M,N,R,2,3,4,5), which received the highest rating, 3.1. Riders were most unhappy with crowding at the 51st Street and Lexington Avenue station (6, E, F), with a rating of 1.5. Riders expressed strong concern that severe crowding there could lead to tragedy. (See Table Two and comments in Recommendation section at end of this report.)

Cleanliness: The Chambers Street/World Trade Center station (A,C,E,2,3) in Manhattan received the highest rating on cleanliness (3.3); the Roosevelt Avenue/74th Street station in Queens (E,F,G,R,7) had the lowest rating (2.4). (See Table Three.)

Security: The Yankee Stadium/161st Street station received the highest rating on security (3.5); the 51st Street and Lexington Avenue station the lowest (2.3). (See Table Four.)

Ease of Movement: Riders at the Court Street/Borough Hall station (M,N,R,2,3,4,5) were the most satisfied with the ease of movement at the station (3.4); riders at the 51st Street and Lexington Avenue station felt it was the hardest to get around (2.0). (See Table Five.)

Station Information (Signs and Announcements): The 34th and 6th Avenue/Herald Square station (B,D,F,N,Q,R) got the best marks for available information (3.3); the 51st Street and Lexington Avenue got the poorest marks on available information (2.7). (See Table Six.)

Comparison to MTA New York City Transit Poll

A telephone poll of transit riders is commissioned annually by MTA New York City Transit. How do our results compare to theirs?

It is important to note first that there are major differences in how the two polls are conducted. New York City Transit’s is based on a telephone survey of 1,200 people; ours is based on the voluntary return of postcards from 3,879 riders. Theirs covers a wide range of service issues; ours focuses on station conditions. Theirs does not break down ratings by individual stations; ours does. There are also some slight differences in wording of questions and in what’s rated. In New York City Transit’s poll, riders are asked to rate conditions on a scale of one to ten; it’s a scale of one to five in our survey. Their most recently released survey was conducted in 1999; ours in 2000.

Because our poll is new, we cannot compare to previous years; New York City Transit conducted a poll in 1998, so it can make comparisons between 1998 and 1999. (See Tables Seven and Eight.)

Despite the differing methodologies, there are some similarities in the findings:

• Riders in both surveys give their lowest ratings to crowding. In New York City Transit’s poll, “crowding on station platforms” gets a 4.5 out of ten. That’s the lowest rating given to any aspect of station conditions surveyed. That’s the same in our poll, where “crowding” comes in with the lowest of the five ratings, at 2.5 out of five. Both scores are well below the mid-point for each survey. Riders are growing more unhappy with crowding, according to New York City Transit’s poll; crowding ratings were significantly worse between 1998 and 1999, dropping from 5.1 to 4.5.

• Overall, riders were somewhat more satisfied with stations in the New York City Transit poll than in the one we conducted. Riders in the New York City Transit poll gave the “subway station environment” a 5.9 out of 10 – a rating that is slightly above the 5.5 mid-point of their survey. Riders in our survey gave a 2.9 out of five – slightly below our 3.0 mid-point. (It should be noted that the poll’s difference in approach here. In the New York City Transit poll, riders are asked to rate the “overall subway station environment,” as well as to rate specific aspects of stations. We average the five specific ratings to get an overall rating.)

Below is a comparison of the similar aspects of service rated in both surveys:

New York City Transit Straphangers Campaign
"Crowding on station platforms” 4.5 out of 10 Crowding 2.5 out of 5
"Cleanliness of stations” 5.8 out of 10 Cleanliness 3.0 out of 5
"Stations feel safe and secure” 5.7 out of 10 Security 2.9 out of 5
"Clarity of platform announcements” 4.8 out of 10
"Info in station on train delays” 4.9 out of 10
Information: 3.0 out of 5

findings | recommendations | methodology | station profiles | tables | top

_____________________________________________________________________ www.straphangers.org | www.nypirg.org |