Barely a day goes by without New Yorkers experiencing a snafu on the city’s subway system. Some may even experience their worst commute ever, up until that particular moment.
With delays tripling between 2012 and 2017 and major issues continuing to plague the Gov. Cuomo-run MTA, Riders Alliance announced a weekly “Worst Commute” contest for straphangers to share their horror stories. The person with the winning submission can take their frustrations out by chomping down on their prize, a chocolate MetroCard.
“As a small consolation, the Riders Alliance will reward New Yorkers with a chocolate MetroCard for the worst commute of the week until the governor enacts a sustainable, progressive long-term plan to fund the modernization of the subway,” said Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director for the advocacy group.
Just hours before Riders Alliance announced the contest outside the Canal Street ACE station Thursday, “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers had what could well be the worst commute of the week,” Pearlstein said, as eight train lines had signal problems, three had sick passengers and another three experienced mechanical issues.
The worst commute contest will continue “until Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers pass a plan to fund and fix the transit system,” the organization said, and the competition is officially underway.
Submissions are due by midnight on Fridays using #WorstCommute and tagging Riders Alliance on Facebook and Twitter or filling out a form at ridersny.org/worstcommute. Stories should be 100 words or less. Winners will be announced on Mondays, and their chocolate MetroCards will be mailed if they don’t want to pick it up at the Riders Alliance SoHo office.
“I’m expecting New Yorkers to flood our office with horrible commutes,” said Danna Dennis, community organizer for the Alliance. “I think that people want to share their stories, and this is a very good outlet. And we have the chocolate MetroCards — who doesn’t want a MetroCard they can eat?”
Prior to joining Riders Alliance two months ago, Dennis was an active member. The former home health aide had one of her worst commutes on the Q line in Brooklyn a few months ago as she traveled from Crown Heights to Sheepshead Bay.
“It took me two and a half hours to get to my client,” she said. “My patient had dementia, and when you have a patient who suffers from that or Alzheimer’s, being an hour and a half late can throw off their entire day, their medication.”
This reporter had a particularly rough journey this week when a track fire at 125th Street halted service along the ABCD at 145th Street. The ride to Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn that should have taken about an hour took two and a half, and despite leaving 90 minutes early, she was still 30 minutes late to an appointment.
“It’s frustrating when you leave early, which most New Yorkers are doing, and most times we end up still being late,” Dennis said. “We’re at the point where our subways are in crisis, our subways are failing us. Within a five-day workweek, we’re running into delays two or three times. We need help. We need funding not only for the subway, but overall for transit.”
When asked for comment about Riders Alliance’s #WorstCommute contest, MTA’s Director of Communications Jon Weinstein told Metro, “Today, 50,000 New York City Transit employees moved nearly 6 million people on the subway and 2.5 million bus riders. They operated trains, fixed signals and switches, repaired track, navigated the clogged streets of New York City and helped customers find their way — that’s what we’re focused on.”