Ridership on the New York City subway system has increased 30 percent since 1998. But the happiness of straphangers hasn’t kept pace, a new report released yesterday found.
Transportation Alternatives, a rider advocacy group, surveyed subway and bus riders on the quality of their public travel experiences over the past three years. According to the survey, participants were asked the question, “Since 2009, has your commute on the NYC subway or bus gotten better or worse?”
Of nearly 700 respondents, a whopping 61 percent said their commute had worsened since 2009, while just 13 percent said it got better.
“This survey confirms what every bus and subway rider in this city knows,” said Paul Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives. “After years of declining transit funding from Albany and the resulting service cuts, our commutes have gotten worse.”
White cited higher fares, longer wait times and overcrowded trains as all contributing to the lower-quality experiences. He said riders haven’t forgotten how service cuts the MTA enacted in 2010 cost them two subway lines, 36 bus routes and 570 bus stops.
Gene Russianoff, director of the New York City Straphangers’ Campaign, said he wasn’t surprised by the survey results.
“There have been two fare hikes and the worst service cuts in a generation,” Russianoff said. “New Yorkers hate paying more for less.”
The MTA declined to comment on the survey.
Calling out Albany
While Transportation Alternatives blasted the MTA, it also singled out state officials for “stealing” dedicated transit funds.
“Beyond the frustration of a longer commute and higher fares, these results should be a wake-up call to our leaders in state government,” said Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives. “They can fund transit and make a positive impact on millions of people, or they can continue to defund the system and contribute to their struggle.”
For three consecutive budgets since 2009, state elected officials took $260 million from dedicated transit money and used the revenue to fund other projects, said White.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyAEpstein