Riders Alliance petitions state to fund MTA improvements
by Patrick Kearns
Mar 17, 2015 | 7683 views | 0 0 comments | 183 183 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Grisley Arias, a student who relies on the 7 Train, shares his subway horror story.
Grisley Arias, a student who relies on the 7 Train, shares his subway horror story.
Throughout the week, The Riders Alliance has been gathering “horror stories” from New York City subway riders to show the state legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo the importance of fully funding the MTA’s proposed five-year $32 billion capital improvement plan.

The alliance began collecting the stories in response to an increase in complaints from the group’s members regarding signal malfunctions, unexplained train delays and generally deteriorating service in recent weeks.

Fares will also increase to $2.75 per ride starting on March 22.

“All of the problems essentially add up to the MTA needing basic repairs,” Jess Nizar, the group’s senior organizer, told this paper Tuesday morning during one such event.

She said the state has said they can only fund half of the capital improvement plan, which will force the MTA into greater debt. That debt ultimately trickles down to the riders in the form of fare increases, according to Nizar.

She was joined by other activists on March 17 at the Manhattan-bound N/Q/7 train platform at Queensborough Plaza to collect horror stories from riders, who wrote messages like: “Watching three trains pass because they’re full.”

“If they’re supposed to be raising fares, why is the service getting [worse],” wondered one student who wished to be identified as Ruby C.

The story she shared: she was once stuck on the train for three hours with no heat and no idea what was happening.

Others shared stories of packed cars and massive delays.

“7 Trains [are] always packed and have people all in your face,” Grisley Arias, a student said.

Members of the Riders Alliance also shared their stories.

“My job depends on the subways working well,” said Ryan Adams, a Riders Alliance member and a Forest Hills resident. “More than once I have missed appointments or even lost clients because of the unreliability of NYC public transit. Why should I have to pay such high fares with such terrible service?”

The lack of consistent, reliable service is also a safety issue, according to the alliance.

“It isn’t safe to be kicked off a train to fend for yourself in a deserted part of town at night, especially when the only options to complete the trip are buses that run twice an hour or less” said Emily Hultman, a Riders Alliance member and N/Q rider in Queens.

“I want the governor to realize that we rely on public transportation to get us home safely and we need his support.”

The group is collecting stories throughout the boroughs and shared some stories from Brooklyn-based members of the organization as well, to show troubles with the trains aren’t limited to Queens.

“’Signal problems,’ ‘power failure’ and ‘disabled train’ seem to be the themes of the winter,” said David Estrada, a Riders Alliance member who lives off of the F and G trains at the 15th Street-Prospect Park stop. “We need a well-funded capital plan that will provide the money for countdown clocks, service announcements and faster trains.”

And in light of two straight mornings of rail troubles that have cause massive commuting delays on some L trains terminating in Brooklyn and not even making it to Manhattan, Mazin Melegy of Crown Heights shared some thoughts.

"The L train is a disaster,” Melegy said. “I had to wait for 35 minutes as I watched six packed cars pass before I was able to squeeze onto one. This is unacceptable. Our elected officials need to do something about this."

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