Rats on the tracks. A broken fibula. Missed job interviews, falling pipes and a 46 block walk home.
These are some of the 400 horror stories collected by Riders Alliance, the transit advocacy group who stalked busy subway stations in March and April, collecting stories from fed-up subway riders. The best of the best were compiled in a book called “Subway Horror Stories.”
The group launched the book, which is dedicated to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while camped on the sidewalk in front of his midtown office on Sunday. The riders staged a campfire scene, complete with what appeared to be papier mache logs, flashlights and a dramatic reading of the tales of woe.
The group is hoping the stories compel Cuomo and the legislature to contribute more to the MTA’s $32 billion, five-year Capital Program, which was passed despite a $15 billion funding gap. Transit advocates fear the average rider will have to pay for the funding gap through higher fares.
“I am in the subway every morning at 4:45 a.m. and the rats in this subway station are so horrible that sometimes you can’t even walk up and down the steps because the rats are on the steps to the platform,” reads Tolani Adeboye, recounting a Manhattan woman’s horror story in the book. “They get really close to people — it’s disgusting and dangerous. Please get rid of the rats before someone gets bitten!”
“I know all too well the dangers of not having a publicly funded mass transit system, because I get that lesson everyday on the 7 train,” said Brian Zumba, a Baruch College student and Riders Alliance member.
Zumba said during midterms week he added 30 minutes to his commute, but ended up getting stuck on the train during a signal malfunction, and showing up 15 minutes late.
“We’re essentially paying more and more for a less reliable service,” Zumba said.
“I remember those times when broken down trains and delays were the norm,” said Bonnie Nelson of Brooklyn, who has been riding mass transit since the 1960s. “One of the reasons why New York became the dysfunctional city if the 70s and the 80s was because we stopped investing in infrastructure like mass transit. I don’t want to go back to those scary days and pay more for it.”
Numbers released by the MTA last month showed subway ridership grew by 2.6 percent in 2014, the largest increase in 65 years, with 1.751 billion people riding the trains. At the time, MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said minor disruptions can mean major delays for the 6 million people riding the MTA everyday, and that the organization is “aggressively working to combat delays and improve maintenance,” but infrastructure improvements will keep the trains running smoothly.
MetroCard fares increased to $2.75 a ride in March, and the MTA also raised train ticket and bridge tolls are part of “modest, predictable, regularly scheduled increases” that will in part fund the capital program.
Read more subway horror stories here.