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New York subway: Report card says C and 2 lines are the worst

August 24, 2011 |  1:36 pm

Subway 
Attention riders, this is an important announcement!

Blah blah blah grrrr pfffffffzzzzzz, and blah blah bladiblahblah or brrrrrrrrrrrrrrooooom!

If that's how the public service announcements sound on your commute, there's a chance you're riding the New York City subway's C line, which for the third year in a row was ranked the city's lousiest line by the Straphangers Campaign. The C was tied with the 2 line, but as the Straphangers report released Wednesday said, it could have scored higher if it weren't for its poor subway car announcements. It was also slammed for delays caused by breakdowns.

The Straphangers Campaign, a non-governmental organization formed in 1979, has been issuing report cards on city subway lines since 1997. This year's survey of all 18 subway lines, based on official transit corporation information, had some good news: Breakdowns are down.

But, it said, there was no discernible improvement in other categories such as cleanliness, frequency of service, crowding and other issues that riders rank as most important to them.

The best line was the one carrying J and Z trains, which run between Manhattan and Queens. Using a system that sets the estimated value of a ride on the train versus the actual $2.25 that riders must pay, it said the J/Z line earned a $1.45 rating. Not only did it best other lines for its regularity of service, it suffered few breakdowns, usually had seats open even during rush hour, and boasted comprehensible announcements.

But pity the riders chained to the C line, which snakes from Brooklyn to Upper Manhattan. A ride on it is worth only about 90 cents, according to the Straphangers. The average wait for a C train during the evening rush is 10 minutes, compared to the system-wide average of a little more than five minutes. It doesn't run overnight -- most lines do -- and its cars break down more than other lines. Check the details here.

After years on the "worst" list, C riders might not be fazed by this year's report card. But riders on the 2 train had a right to be shocked. With an estimated ride value tying the C's shoddy 90 cents, this was the first time the Brooklyn-Manhattan line had scored so poorly, primarily because it's nearly impossible to score a seat on the train during rush hour.

On the plus side, the 2 line's announcements are nearly always correct and comprehensible, the report said. The C line's announcements made sense just 72% of the time.

Thank you for your attention, and pdududfeee blah blah yadda yadda yadda.

-- Tina Susman in New York

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Photo: A beleaguered C train pulls into a station in Brooklyn. Credit: Tina Susman / Los Angeles Times

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