Rating The Rides

In light of the recent subway outage I actually decided to fill the MTA’s rider report cards for the trains I take most frequently. Overall I’m not terribly impressed with the A’s sporadic service especially during off hours, but I’ve generally found the 2-3 and 4-5-6 to be pretty efficient.
A better question would be if the MTA actually takes these things seriously since there is little incentive to improve. In free market economies competitions drives innovation and a greater concern for customer service as dissatisfied consumers would simply take their business elsewhere. But for many New Yorkers, the MTA is the only realistic option for transportation. Cars are too expensive with purchasing, ownership, insurance, and parking. Cabs and car services are not only expensive but their service is unpredictable depending on the neighborhood. Bicycles are a cheaper alternative, but are more dangerous, require physical stamina, and are impractical for transporting packages. We also cannot ignore the elderly population, many of whom are physically unable to drive or bike or are on fixed incomes and could not afford the other alternatives. Because of people’s dependence on public transit, the MTA could hike fares with only political opposition as opposed to facing a consumer revolt.
Furthermore, I’m skeptical how much the MTA can improve its service. Aside from management being politically motivated, the reliance on union labor and its regulations ensures that even mediocre (or incompetent) employees will be overpaid for as long as possible (not to mention pension obligations).
My guess is that just like every other year the NYPost and Daily News will write a few stories on the pluses and minuses of each line, there will be editorials bemoaning the negatives and life will go on as usual. Then again New Yorkers are never shy about sharing their opinions – usually unsolicited – so go ahead and let them know what you think.
Bonus: Try filling one out in Hebrew or Yiddish.

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