On a good day Melissa Orlando’s trip from Sunnyside, Queens, to her downtown job takes 45 minutes. Those good days, however, are as rare as Orlando finding a seat on the crowded 7 train.
“Sometimes you just can’t get on the train because it’s too crowded, so you wait,” said Orlando, 43, a nonprofit worker and mom.
And that is just the start; on particularly bad days the train creeps into Manhattan so slowly the commute can take 90 minutes, Orlando said. Fed up with delays, Orlando and a few fellow-commuters started a Facebook page, the 7 Train Blues, where passengers can commiserate about their wretched rides. It now has around 2,300 members.
Complaining about the subway is as much a part of life in New York as the subway itself, but Queens riders have particular cause to gripe. No borough served by the subway is shortchanged to the extent that Queens is. In fact, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz calls the borough a “transit desert.” And with more construction cranes hovering over Queens than ever, commutes are likely to become worse before they get better.
A look at a subway map shows large blank areas in eastern Queens and even neighborhoods closer to Manhattan. An analysis of city and MTA data shows that Queens ranks last in subway access. For instance, Queens has 81 stations, compared to Brooklyn’s 170 and 148 in Manhattan. Only the Bronx has fewer stations, 70, but that borough has nearly 900,000 fewer people than Queens' 2.3 million and it’s less than half the size.